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Trump and Tillerson: bomb the Taliban to the negotiating table

The latest US plan for Afghanistan: increase the violence in order to end it

Alexander Mercouris

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Following the lengthy discussions in Camp David which I discussed in my previous article, US President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson published on Monday separate statements about the war in Afghanistan.

The focus of attention, understandably enough, has been on President Trump’s statement, though it is Secretary of State Tillerson’s statement and his subsequent answers to the media which is actually more interesting.

Firstly, there is a clear difference between Trump and Tillerson.  Though after lengthy discussions a consensus has clearly been reached, there is no disguising the difference in their views both about the course of the war and about the role of the Taliban in a future Afghanistan.

Trump’s emphasis is heavily on military measures, and though contrary to expectations he did not announce a specific increase in troop numbers, he spoke clearly in terms of achieving victory

First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives.  The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory.  They deserve the tools they need, and the trust they have earned, to fight and to win……

Our troops will fight to win.  We will fight to win.  From now on, victory will have a clear definition:  attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge……

Many of those who have fought and died in Afghanistan enlisted in the months after September 11th, 2001.  They volunteered for a simple reason:  They loved America, and they were determined to protect her.

Now we must secure the cause for which they gave their lives.  We must unite to defend America from its enemies abroad.  We must restore the bonds of loyalty among our citizens at home, and we must achieve an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.

Our actions, and in the months to come, all of them will honor the sacrifice of every fallen hero, every family who lost a loved one, and every wounded warrior who shed their blood in defense of our great nation.  With our resolve, we will ensure that your service and that your families will bring about the defeat of our enemies and the arrival of peace.

We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls, and everlasting pride in each and every one of you.

(bold italics added)

In contrast to all this fighting talk from Trump, Tillerson frankly admits that military victory is unachievable

I think the President was clear this entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Taliban to have the Taliban understand: You will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you.

(bold italics added)

Both Trump and Tillerson say they favour a political solution to the Afghan war, but there is a clear difference in how they expect to achieve it.

Tillerson’s idea is that peace will come through a peace settlement negotiated with the Taliban after the Taliban have been convinced that they cannot win

I think the President was clear this entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Taliban to have the Taliban understand: You will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you. And so at some point we have to come to the negotiating table and find a way to bring this to an end……

When we say no preconditions on the talks, I think what we are saying is, look, the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban representatives need to sit down and sort this out. It’s not for the U.S. to tell them it must be this particular model, it must be under these conditions, and I think that’s what the President means when he says we’re no longer nation building. We’re – look, we’ve tried taking certain principles and forms around the world and sometimes it works; in a lot of places, it doesn’t work.

We don’t know what’s going to emerge here. We’re going to be there, obviously, to encourage others. But it’s going to be up to the Afghan Government and the representatives of the Taliban to work through a reconciliation process of what will serve their needs and achieve the American people’s objectives, which is security – no safe haven for terrorists to operate anywhere in Afghanistan now or in the future.

(bold italics added)

Trump by contrast sees the war ending differently, with Afghanistan regenerating itself and achieving peace and stability under US protection

In this struggle, the heaviest burden will continue to be borne by the good people of Afghanistan and their courageous armed forces.  As the prime minister of Afghanistan has promised, we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us.

Afghanistan is fighting to defend and secure their country against the same enemies who threaten us.  The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do.  Afghans will secure and build their own nation and define their own future.  We want them to succeed…..

Military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in that country.  But strategically applied force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.

Unlike Tillerson, whilst Trump is prepared to countenance talks with the Taliban, he does so with no expectations and little conviction

Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.  America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field.

(Bold italics added)

Note that this does no envisage a settlement with the Taliban as a whole – which is what Tillerson clearly wants and expects – but with ‘moderate’ elements which can be hived off from it.

On one point Trump and Tillerson both agree: huge extra pressure will be brought to bear on Pakistan to close down the Taliban’s base areas and supply lines.  Moreover in order to achieve this both Trump and Tillerson are willing to scare Pakistan by conjuring up the spectre of Indian intervention in Afghanistan in support of the US backed government there.

I think those who say that Trump and Tillerson are oblivious to Pakistani sensitivity about Indian intervention in Afghanistan are completely wrong.  This is clearly a carefully thought out strategy discussed at length at Camp David by the entire US leadership of pressuring Pakistan by using India to scare it.

However though the strategy is thought out it could not in my opinion be more wrong.

Anyone familiar with the present public mood in Pakistan knows that public opinion in this once staunchly pro-American country has been completely alienated over the last 40 years as a result of the way Pakistan’s interests have been repeatedly sacrificed as the US pursues its own constantly fluctuating objectives in Afghanistan at Pakistan’s expense.

US pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the Taliban in Pakistan is certain to encounter strong resistance, and if it leads to a crackdown it could easily spiral into violence.

That ought to be a major concern.  It is not so long ago that a US inspired crackdown in Pakistan during the period of the George W. Bush administration provoked so much resistance that Pakistan’s stability appeared to be threatened.  Given that Pakistan is a nuclear power avoiding that happening again ought to be a priority.  Trump and Tillerson and presumably the rest of the US leadership however seem either indifferent or oblivious to the danger.

As for using Pakistan’s fear of India to try to gain leverage over Pakistan, given the level of regional tension in the Indian subcontinent it is difficult to imagine anything more reckless.

Not only will Pakistan be made to feel that the US and India are ganging up against it – with the feeling of betrayal being especially acute given that Pakistan consistently sided with the US against the USSR and India often at considerable cost to itself during the Cold War – but the almost inevitable reaction within Pakistan will be to intensify opposition to a US policy in Afghanistan which favours India over Pakistan.

As for India, whilst no doubt for a while it will play along, Indian opinion – which is both well-informed and highly sophisticated – will have no difficulty seeing that India is being used, and will in time come to resent the fact.

The end result will be to increase regional tensions in the Indian subcontinent over and above their already dangerously high levels, something which given how India and Pakistan feel about each other and given that they are both nuclear powers, is extraordinarily unwise and absolutely not in the US’s best interests.

Perhaps the often spoken of fear of an Indian-Pakistani nuclear war breaking out is exaggerated, but in so tense a region the proper policy ought to be to try to calm regional tensions down, not to make them worse.  Making them worse however seems to be what the US has decided to do.

In truth the only sensible policy for the US to follow is to negotiate with the Taliban without preconditions, with the objective being to achieve an orderly transfer of power to a broad based government capable of peace to Afghanistan, which means one in which the Taliban has the predominant role.

That is the logic of Tillerson’s statement that the US is “unable to win” in Afghanistan.

Obviously the Taliban cannot defeat the US militarily.  However it does not have to.  Henry Kissinger made precisely this point about the conflict in Vietnam in the 1960s, and – following through the logic of Tillerson’s statement – it applies exactly to the war against the Taliban which is being fought in Afghanistan now

We fought a military war; our opponents fought a political one. We sought physical attrition; our opponents aimed for our psychological exhaustion. In the process we lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerrilla war: the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win. The North Vietnamese used their armed forces the way a bull-fighter uses his cape — to keep us lunging in areas of marginal political importance

(bold italics added)

The military escalation President Trump has announced and which Secretary of State Tillerson endorses will not end the war in Afghanistan on US terms.  It will not ‘force’ the Taliban to accept US terms, and it will not force Pakistan to do what the US wants.

What it will do is escalate the war, just as US attempts in the 1960s to cut off North Vietnam’s supply lines through Laos and Cambodia by bombing and engineering coups in those countries ended up spreading the Vietnam war across Indochina.

Already even the “moderate” and “realist” Tillerson is hinting at exactly this, saying things which quite openly point to US ‘special operations’ to ‘take out’ Taliban fighters anywhere in Pakistan.

…..the President has been clear that we are going to protect American troops and servicemen. We are going to attack terrorists wherever they live, and we have put people on notice that if you are harboring and providing safe haven to terrorists, be warned. Be forewarned. And we’re going to engage with those who are providing safe haven and ask them to change what they’re doing and help

It would be difficult to imagine anything more likely to inflame Pakistani opinion or spread the violence further than hit-and-run attacks across the length and breadth of Pakistani territory (not just the North West Frontier region), but that it seems is what we are going to get.

The US made a catastrophic error in 2001 when it conflated the Taliban with Al-Qaeda.  In reality these are two different and wholly separate organisations – the first exclusively Afghan, the second overwhelmingly Arab – the vast majority of whose members neither like nor cooperate with each other.

In 2001 the great majority of Taliban commanders, and the overwhelming majority of Afghanistan’s Muslim clergy, were appalled at the way Al-Qaeda deceived them and abused their hospitality by using Afghanistan without their knowledge or permission as a base from which to launch terrorist attacks against the US.

Afghanistan’s Muslim clergy – the ulema – asked Osama bin Laden to leave Afghanistan immediately, and there is no doubt that that was what most Taliban commanders also wanted.  Several of them actually contacted the US via Pakistan and told the US as much.

The Taliban’s leader – Mullah Mohammed Omar – was reluctant to hand Osama bin Laden over to the US,  Osama being Omar’s personal friend, and Omar being influenced by Osama’s personal assurances that he had not been involved in the 9/11 attacks.

However under intense pressure from his commanders and from Afghanistan’s Muslim clergy Omar eventually relented and made it known that he would accept the ‘guidance’ of the ulema, with the caveat that Osama should leave Afghanistan ‘voluntarily’ ‘of his own accord’ for trial before an Islamic court in some other Muslim country.

Given a little patience the deal that could have been done is plain to see.

Osama and his followers would have had no option but to leave Afghanistan ‘voluntarily’ if Omar and the Taliban had withdrawn their protection and told them it was their ‘wish’ to see them go.

As soon as Osama and his followers left Afghanistan they would have been arrested by the authorities of whatever Muslim country they had gone to.  In 2001 that would undoubtedly have been Pakistan.

Since Osama and his followers would in effect have been publicly expelled from Afghanistan there would have been no question of them going to ground or entering Pakistan in secret.  On the contrary their transfer from Afghanistan to Pakistan would undoubtedly have been negotiated by the Taliban and the Pakistani authorities.

Thereafter what would have followed would have been the Pakistanis handing Osama and his followers over to the US, possibly after some pro forma judgment had been obtained from some Islamic court authorising them to be sent there.

In 2001 there was no possibility of Pakistan acting otherwise, and it is a certainty that if Osama’s transfer from Afghanistan to Pakistan had been agreed between the Taliban and the Pakistani authorities, the Pakistani authorities would in time have handed him over to the US.

At that point, with Osama handed over to the US by the actions of two Muslim states (Pakistan and Afghanistan) Al-Qaeda and its toxic Jihadi ideology would have been visibly rejected by the world’s Muslims and would have promptly collapsed, Osama and his followers would have been put on trial in the US – resolving any remaining doubts about their precise role in 9/11 – and the whole catastrophic ‘War on Terror’ would have been avoided.

In return – after a decent interval – the US and the ‘international community’ would have recognised Afghanistan’s Taliban government, in which case Afghanistan might have become a peaceful country and a friend of the US.

There is nothing farfetched about this scenario.  On the contrary it was the outcome to which the diplomatic moves underway at the time were clearly leading towards.  All it needed was a little time and a little patience and it would have happened.

Instead, though not a single one of the 9/11 hijackers was an Afghan, and though no evidence has ever come to light that any commander or official of the Taliban had anything to do with 9/11, Afghanistan was attacked, Osama escaped, Al-Qaeda survived, the ‘War on Terror’ began, and the rest is history.

Nothing done today can undo the mistakes of the past.  However there is no reason or excuse to go on repeating those mistakes.  Doing so simply prolongs the war to no purpose, which is actually a crime.  That however is what Trump and Tillerson and the the rest of the US leadership have chosen to do.

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Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

“Trump and Tillerson: bomb the Taliban to the negotiating table”

The definition of diplomacy, American style. Bomb and kill first, think what to do next. Dead people don’t contradict the US.

Constantine
Guest
Constantine

Alexander did leave, but some of his people stayed. The Greek presence in the region was quite long and successful. The settlers who remained (or came later) did not plunder the region or engage in wholesale destruction of the natives. That’s why Alexander enjoys a fairly good reputation in Afghanistan today (and to a certain extent so do the modern Greeks, courtesy of their ancestors).

For the record, other ”foreign visitors” came to Afghanistan and conquered it, but all were Asians. Alexander was the only European who succeeded to play ball there.

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

Correct. Alexander started the Golden Age of Hellenism, in Persia, Bactria and the Middle East, by spreading the Greek culture. Greek Pharaohs reigned in Egypt for 300 years. Te last of them was Cleopatra.

mikhas
Guest
mikhas

There’s another problem omitted in this article and is that the US has inserted one of its favourite proxy mercenaries to the Afghan theatre, ISIS.

According to Russia, “unknown” helicopters has been air-dropping munitions and weapons to the area occupied by them and this in a country who’s airspace is totally controlled by NATO. the strategy is clearly twofold, beside fighting the Taliban, ISIS would threaten Russia and eventually, China.

S.M. De Kuyper
Guest
S.M. De Kuyper

mikhas 150% correct.

seby
Guest
seby

It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes… we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions, especially selfish ones.
– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Unknown

S.M. De Kuyper
Guest
S.M. De Kuyper

Neither are necessarily true, sorry!

seby
Guest
seby

War is just a racket…it is conducted for the benefit of the very
few and the expense of the masses…the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag – General Smedley Butler 1935

S.M. De Kuyper
Guest
S.M. De Kuyper

Prolonging the US wars is everything to the the US military, nothing else. Stealing any and all wealths of US vassal states is normalised US Democratic behaviour to ‘pay” US for invading them.This includes any European countries obeying US orders.

Shue
Guest
Shue

Negotiate what? The Taliban control nearly 80% of the Country. That lying weak POTUS has now officially become the NeoCon mouth piece for war. I bet he can’t even point out where Afghanistan is on the map let alone know anything about the place other than what he’s fed.

XRGRSF
Guest
XRGRSF

We tried to bomb North Vietnam to the negotiating table, and………… The North Vietnamese never won a battlefield victory, and……………… The US finally declared victory, and withdrew.

Guy
Member
Guy

Fighting for peace is an oxymoron .

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

And the more you bomb, the more enemies you create and the more the chances (well deserved) to experience serious blowback. You reap what you sow…

Brad Golding
Guest
Brad Golding

Yeah!!! It worked in Vietnam, didn’t it!

stevek9
Guest
stevek9

That we could have had a deal with the Taliban to turn over Bin Laden, was obvious to an ordinary citizen like myself … at the time. A bunch of Arabs had abused their hospitality to launch an attack on the US unbeknownst to them, as described in this article.

Melotte 22
Guest
Melotte 22

16 years later and apart from thriving opium business, US has achieved nothing. Makes you wonder, was that their primary goal.

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

“US has achieved nothing”
On the contrary. It filled up the deep pockets of American weapons and aircraft contractors and the Pentagon with hundreds of billions dollars.

Latest

Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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