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Russophobia And The Specter Of War

Who are the extremists, aggressors, and warmongers seemingly invested in the new Cold-War brinkmanship? 

The Duran

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Authored by Carl Boggs via Counterpunch.org:


Could global warming pose the greatest threat to the future of life on the planet?  Quite possibly, if we believe the international (and scientific) consensus, despite a widening stratum of debunkers, deniers, and skeptics.  What about the prospects of thermonuclear war between the United States and Russia, two countries armed to the max and seemingly moving toward the brink of military conflict?  Where does that rate?   If the question is asked of most any Beltway denizen, the response might be something along lines of “sounds frightening, but right now we have other priorities, and we can’t lose sight of the Russian threat”.

As American political life continues to deteriorate, matters of war and peace rarely merit attention amidst the sound and fury of manufactured news, moral posturing, personal scandals, and tweeting exchanges. Good for TV ratings and maybe partisan advantage, decidedly less so for addressing issues of political relevance.   Now we have two years of frenzied Russiagate and its attendant neo-McCarthyism.   That the intensifying hostility directed by one nuclear power toward another might bring the world closer to a war that could end all wars seems bizarrely remote to a political class obsessed with little beyond its own power and wealth, faintly camouflaged by identity politics; the “unthinkable” remains, well, unthinkable.

As anti-Russia hysteria spreads, speech taboos harden; any discourse at odds with tightening official political/media consensus brings immediate blowback, smear-mongering, and (where possible) silencing.  It is so obvious that Vladimir Putin is a ruthless, aggressive monster that any dissenting view must be the product of either insanity or Russian propaganda.    In this one-dimensional world the recent appearance of Stephen F. Cohen’s important book, War with Russia?, comes with special urgency, Cohen being one of the few public intellectuals to challenge the onslaught of Russophobic narratives churned out relentlessly by the political/media establishment.  And he remains virtually alone in going so far as to write about very real specter of nuclear catastrophe.

Longtime scholar of Soviet/Russian studies, Cohen has for years resisted the tide of mindless Russia bashing that gathered steam first, with the 2014 Ukraine events, and then with Trump’s unacceptable rise to the White House.   For his informed and dispassionate analysis of Russian history and politics, Cohen has been denounced as “Putin’s number one American apologist”, charged by some for having been “duped” by that great Russian mastermind.  Appearing recently on CNN with Anderson Cooper and the neocon warmonger Max Boot, Cohen’s stubborn refusal to see Putin as the worst of all tyrannical evils triggered Boot, who proceeded to attack Cohen for decades of apologetics, followed by a dire warning: “Russia is attacking us right now”.   Such is the state of American media discourse that Boot had no need to furnish evidence of any such “attack”, and Cooper was not about to demand it.

Cohen’s book – a lengthy collection of recent essays – convincingly demolishes every fictional narrative behind Russiagate, the same arguments ritually presented as earth-shattering news at CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, and elsewhere across the corporate media.  In contrast to earlier cycles of anti-Soviet hysteria, including 1950s McCarthyism, the newer variant comes not from the extreme right but mainly from liberal Democrats and their allies in the “intel community”, warfare state, and media culture.  With an abundance of logic and facts, Cohen eviscerates the familiar myths and lies: Putin the maniacal dictator, Russia the imperial aggressor, Ukraine the model democracy, Trump’s love affair with Putin, and of course Putin’s notorious “attack on our democracy”.

In fact the new Cold War is entirely an American creation, starting in the early 1990s and continuing along multiple fronts: NATO expansion to Russian borders, economic sanctions designed to “cripple” the Russian economy, neo-fascist coup in Ukraine promoted in Washington, American withdrawal from the 1972 ABM nuclear treaty, groundless accusations that Moscow conspired to rig the 2016 U.S. presidential election, ongoing economic and military threats.  Nothing of the sort has been carried out by the Russian side.

Cohen shows how the new Cold War and Russiagate effectively constrain President Trump’s flexibility to defuse or at least manage U.S.-Russia conflict.  Any Trump move toward cooperation with Russia – vital to international nuclear sanity – will now surely bring accusations of “collusion”, even treason, reflected in the silly media outrage at Trump’s rather innocuous July summit meeting with Putin in Helsinki.  Room for maneuver has perilously narrowed, negating prospects for détente of the sort historically achieved by the likes of Nixon and Reagan (with the Soviets, no less).   The danger of such global hostilities hardly require elaboration.

The reigning assumption is that Putin – virtually alone among world leaders – cannot be a legitimate participant in normal international diplomacy; mere contact with Russian elites can nowadays be regarded as criminal.  U.S. partnership with Communist dictator Josef Stalin during World War II apparently met criteria for a working partnership, while the popularly-elected Putin is disqualified, forever discredited as “former KGB thug”.  The political/media establishment routinely castigates Putin as a tyrant, imperialist, racist, anti-Semite, and wanton murderer of political enemies though, as Cohen demonstrates, these charges fail to pass close scrutiny.  Since no clear ideological rationale exists for all the Russia bashing – the Communist regime disappeared nearly three decades ago – the new Cold Warriors are forced to rely strictly on personal demonization.

Cohen writes that “The other fallacious sub-axiom is that Putin has always been ‘anti-Western’, specifically ‘anti-American’, has always viewed the United States with ‘smoldering suspicion’ – so much so that he eventually set in motion a ‘Plot Against America’.”   A more careful reading of Putin’s years in power tells a different story.  A Westernized Russian, Putin came to the presidency in 2000 following the tradition of Gorbachev and Yeltsin, hoping for a “strategic friendship and partnership” with the U.S.  Amazingly, if one believes his speeches and interviews, Putin still embraces that vision even today.

Cohen takes up the problem of sanctions that Washington has clumsily and repeatedly imposed on Russia, with at best limited success – though a common view in Moscow is that sanctions amount to economic warfare.   That “warfare” actually has a protracted history, going back to the first stirrings of the Bolshevik regime.  It is worth asking what might have been gained from such punishment, aside from needlessly cementing hostile relations with a Eurasian nuclear power?  Nothing much constructive.  Cohen points out that, “Historically, sanctions were not problem-solving measures advancing American national security but more akin to temper tantrums or road rage, making things worse, than to real policy-making.”  One geopolitical outcome, in recent years, has been to push the Russians closer to China and Iran.  Beyond that, sanctions have worked to Putin’s favor as his efforts to persuade “oligarchs” (business elites) to repatriate tens of billions of dollars from offshore enterprises has finally borne fruit.

The very logic of U.S.-imposed sanctions, moreover, is fraudulent: the Ukraine crisis was, more than anything, provoked by regime change sponsored by American neocons. Punishing Russia for its “attack on American democracy” makes even less sense, as “In reality, there was no ‘attack’, no Pearl Harbor, no 9/11, no Russian parachuters descending on Washington [contrary to Boot’s twisted fantasy] – only the kind of ‘meddling’ and ‘interference’ in the other’s domestic politics that countries have practiced almost ritualistically for nearly a hundred years.”  Cohen adds: “Whatever ‘meddling’ Russian actors did in 2016 may well have been jaywalking compared to the Clinton administration’s highly intrusive political and financial intervention on behalf of Russian president Yeltsin’s reelection campaign in 1996.”   Not to mention brazen and repeated U.S. regime-change interventions, often with military force, since World War II.

One result of Russiagate and the new McCarthyism is that, in the virtuous land of freedom and democracy there are nowadays declining levels of both.  At present, in Cohen’s words, “there remained, for the first time in decades of Cold War history, no countervailing forces in Washington – no pro-détente wing of the Democratic or Republican parties, no influential anti-Cold War opposition anywhere, no real debate.”  Congress, the media, academia, think tanks – all seem engulfed, to varying degrees, in the same Russophobia.

From the outset Russiagate was an elite strategy having little to do with the “left” or “extreme left” of FOX News lore – although, sadly, plenty of leftish liberals and progressives have joined a cynical scheme promoted at the summits of power, where the imperial warfare state always requires a diabolical enemy.  Indeed vilification of Putin attracts relatively little public attention, much less fear.   After years of media-fueled tales of terrible Russian deeds, Cohen refers to a 2018 Gallup poll showing that 58 percent of Americans want to “improve relations with Russia”, compared to 36 percent who do not.

In an essay titled “Russiagate and the Risk of Nuclear War”, Cohen observes that Beltway elites remain strangely indifferent to the threat of nuclear catastrophe.  Could a Doomsday scenario end up as the ultimate collateral damage, the legacy of relentless anti-Russia fanaticism?   Cohen writes: “We might fault Trump for being insufficiently strong – politically or psychologically – to resist warfare demands that he prove his ‘innocence’, butthe primary responsibility lies with Russiagate promoters who seek obsessively to impeach the president: politicians and journalists for whom a porn actress, Stormy Daniels, seems to be a higher priority than averting nuclear war with Russia.”  Could there be a more depressing commentary on the current state of American political culture?

It is finally worth asking: exactly who are the extremists, aggressors, and warmongers seemingly invested in the new Cold-War brinkmanship?   Does Putin have troops stationed on American borders?  Is he waging economic combat against the U.S.?   Has he staged a coup in Mexico?   Has he nullified any treaties?  Is he threatening to destroy Washington, D.C.?   Do we find incessant anti-American hysteria across the Russian public sphere?   For the moment, according to Cohen, “Putin still appears to be, in words and deeds, the moderate, calling Western leaders ‘our partners and colleagues’, asking for understanding and negotiations, being far less ‘aggressive’ than he might be.”

It turns out that Russophobia is riddled with its own contradictions – the most obvious being two incompatible views of the Russians: they are genetically corrupt, backward, and dysfunctional, unable to maintain a vital economy, yet are simultaneously global “puppet-masters” (John Brennan’s words) capable of rigging the outcome of a distant and high-tech American election.  Further, since both Putin and Trump are reputed to be rather thick-headed and out of control – Trump now relegated to special “idiot” status, deserving impeachment — it is truly shocking to be informed how they could so brilliantly and secretly collude, and with such marvelous results.

According to the eminent McCarthyite Brennan, himself a big supporter of the Ukraine coup (never described in the media as “former CIA thug”), Trump’s abominable behavior is nothing short of “treasonous”, unprecedented in the annals of the American presidency.   Cohen is on target to note that “Brennan’s views are those of Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover in their prime.”  The difference, of course, is that Brennan is rewarded with a lucrative job at MSNBC and celebrated as truth-teller, while McCarthy was eventually ostracized by Republican colleagues, censored by the Senate, denounced by President Eisenhower, and politically destroyed.

Cohen’s main arguments now seem more rather than less resonant – a bad sign for the trajectory of U.S.-Russia relations and, more ominously, for hopes the new Cold War will never turn into something even hotter than climate change while media attention is fixated elsewhere.  We are not likely to see editorials in the New York Times warning about the perils of disintegrating U.S.-Russia relations. Or special features on CNN.  Or lectures about the threat of nuclear war from Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough, or Don Lemon.  Just more earth-shattering revelations from the Mueller probe and a litany of scandals heroically brought to light by legions of vigilant Russiagate sleuths.

Writing in The Doomsday Machine, Daniel Ellsberg lays out in great detail the advancing likelihood that strategic nuclear systems – above all those of the U.S. and Russia – will, sooner or later, experience some kind of fatal calamity: not only through deliberate attack but from the very real possibility of false alarms, accidents, computer hacks, or even unauthorized launches.  In recent years fail-safe protections have been disastrously weakened or compromised, at a time of sharpening antagonism between the two biggest nuclear states.  The result of an “event”, Ellsberg writes, would likely be several hundred million dead, global fires raging for months, lethal worldwide radiation, and “nuclear winter that would starve to death nearly everyone living.”  That could be the terrible fate of humanity if Russophobia the new Cold War are allowed to follow their confrontational logic.

The undeserving target of personal smears, Stephen F. Cohen ought to be recipient of extraordinary tribute for his determined (and largely thankless) efforts to counter the barrage of endless myths, lies, and threats fueling anti-Russia hysteria that, if not soon subverted, could take the U.S. and rest of humanity along the road to unprecedented disaster.

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Brigitte Meier
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Brigitte Meier

Hitler started a war on Russia when it was already clear that the state was approaching bankruptcy – to take the world with him rather than to let the world take him down. Trump and the Deep State neocons appear to have adopted the same dystopian standpoint in which a nuclear war that will destroy planet earth is far preferable to their demise in shame. As Cohen laconically noticed, the two nuclear superpowers claim the necessity to destroy mankind including themselves and planet earth for self defense! Somebody should get D.C. to look at their logic! Instead, Trump is ousting… Read more »

Olivia Kroth
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Looking at the USA from the European side of the world, those people seem to be all warmongers, with different shades of the same belligerent, imperialist spirit: Bolton, Kelly, Mattis, Pompeo … The whole lot should be dismissed by President Trump.

Isabella
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Isabella

“despite a widening stratum of debunkers, deniers, and skeptics. ” The writer, if he knows the subject, should add here “despite a widening stratum of scientific evidence obtained from the studies of 400,000 yr old ice core studies, solar activity studies and tree ring studies, which show clearly that warming and cooling are natural cycles, that according to the cycles this one has arrive spot on time, and that it is now shown to be preceding a very cold cylce, a mini- Ice age”. There are others who disagree with “AGW” not just his view of those who oppose the… Read more »

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

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The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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