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All you need to know about ‘Russiagate’ but were too afraid to ask

Trump-haters hoping Mike Flynn will blow the lid of Trump supposed collusion with Moscow will be disappointed – here’s why

Caitlin Johnstone

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(Medium) – Michael Flynn is in the news again. Russiagaters are gushing with excitementat the revelation that Flynn’s lawyers are no longer sharing information with the president’s legal team now that Robert Mueller’s investigation is looking more closely at the former National Security Advisor’s involvement in the production of a film about an exiled cleric from Turkey. The story goes that this separation means that Flynn has struck a deal with Mueller, which Mueller wouldn’t permit him to do if he didn’t have damning information on Trump.

Of course this excitement is dependent on the false belief that Mueller’s job is to get the president impeached, and that he would only cut deals toward that ultimate end. It is also dependent on the false belief that there is any evidence to be found that Trump illegally colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election. And, like the rest of the Russiagate enthusiasm around Flynn, it is also somewhat dependent on compartmentalizing away from the fact the Turkey and Russia are two completely different countries.

This is all par for course in the interminable dance of soaring excitement followed by thinly veiled disappointment that Russiagaters have been engaged in for over a year. I’ve been receiving some complaints that I don’t recap enough on the specific details of why I reject the establishment Russia narrative so aggressively, so if you’re just tuning in, what follows is a quick synopsis of how this weird thing has been going so far.

At the beginning of 2015 Hillary Clinton was already scaring people with her intensely hawkish positions on Russia, long before she went all-in on her horrifying support for a no-fly zone in a region where Russian military planes were conducting operations. Coincidentally this same nation Clinton wanted to fight happens to be the nation everyone in her political party is supporting new cold war escalations with today.

When WikiLeaks began releasing Democratic party emails, those ever-trustworthy truth angels collectively known as the US intelligence community began asserting that the leaks were provided by Russian hackers, a claim WikiLeaks denies. Clinton, still widely expected to win the presidency, used that opportunity to call for “military responses” to cyber intrusions, saying as president she would “make it clear that the United States will treat cyber attacks just like any other attack.”

In a debate with Trump in October of 2016, Clinton asserted that “17 intelligence agencies” had all concluded that Russia was behind the WikiLeaks releases, which this year we learned was actually four agencies, which was actually three agencies plus Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, which was actually two dozen agents from the CIA, FBI and NSA that Clapper hand-picked himself. James Clapper is a known Russophobic racistwho has said that Russians “are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever,” and that “It is in their genes to be opposed, diametrically opposed to the United States and to Western democracies.”

Clinton has continued to repeat the “17 intelligence agencies” lie long after it was conclusively debunked, and Democratic party loyalists continue to repeat it to this day. They do this to manufacture the illusion that this is something agreed upon by the entire US intelligence community and not two dozen analysts picked by a man with a seething eugenicist hatred of Russians.

Russia, incidentally, functions with regard to the United States as the right arm of China, the chief rival of the US power establishment Clinton has spent her career immersed in.

In January Clapper’s ODNI released its much anticipated intelligence reporton the Russian hacking allegations to the public, which spent much of its space bizarrely talking about the fact that RT America covers third party presidential candidates and Occupy Wall Street. It ties Guccifer 2.0 to the WikiLeaks releases on very shaky grounds, despite an abundance of evidencethat “Guccifer 2.0” is in fact an US establishment psyop and not a hacker at all.

To this day we’ve seen no hard evidence of Russian hacking the Democratic party emails despite assurances from NSA veterans that if such evidence exists it can surely be found on NSA records and safely shared with the public without exposing any sources or compromising any methods that aren’t public knowledge already. And yet the anti-Russia sentiment that assertion sparked has been used to manufacture support for sanctions, troops along Russia’s border, NATO expansionism and proxy conflicts. This is simply unacceptable in a post-Iraq invasion world. When it comes to assertions which lead to war, including cold war, the US intelligence community must be considered guilty until proven innocent. They have lost the trust of every sensible person forever.

The many, many gaping plot holes in the Russian hacking narrative are likely why as 2017 has worn on establishment loyalists have been opting to focus more on allegations that Russia used a pervasive propaganda campaign to get Trump elected. This includes RT America, which has the temerity to air the anti-establishment opinions of Americans whom mainstream media outlets refuse to platformPikachu-gate, and a narrative about $100,000 in Facebook ads somehow influencing a $6.8 billion election despite the fact that the ads in question rarely mentioned the election and most of them not being seen until after it was over.

Most disturbingly, the “Russian propaganda” angle has led to a large percentage of the US population supporting and promulgating the narrative that Americans need to be protected from ideas or information, which has led to enormous increases in corporate censorship across all major social media platforms. Which of course works out nicely for the unelected power establishment which has a vested interest in manipulating the ideas and information that Americans consume.

So that’s the narrative about Russia’s half of Russiagate. The story about Trump’s half is even more absurd.

The notion that Democrats may be able to get Trump impeached for colluding with Russia really took hold in January with the release of the now-infamous Christopher Steele dossier, which alleges that Russians have been blackmailing Trump into compliance with their agendas using a video they took years prior of Trump paying a bunch of prostitutes to urinate on a bed the Obamas once slept in. Apart from the obvious fact that nothing about this is even remotely believable, the dossier itself is riddled with significant errorsand mostly unverified, and Steele himself has been distancing himself from parts of it. Some of the more high-octane Russiagaters have claimed that since some small parts of the Dossier have been confirmed to contain accurate basic information it must therefore all be true, which is the same as claiming that since Alex Jones was right about Iraq WMDs he’s definitely right about everything else he says as well.

Oh, and the position on Ukraine that the dossier alleges Trump was blackmailed into espousing? It’s virtually identical to Obama’s, and arguably more anti-Russia.

You’ll also hear a lot of talk about how Trump has “financial ties to Russia”, meaning he is necessarily therefore financially beholden to the Kremlin. This story of course requires that you ignore the many, many other foreign countries with which Trump has financial ties in order to view this as significant. Why would Trump exclude Russia from his map of business deals when the arm-waving hysteria about that country didn’t start until last year? In order to make Russian business ties look significant amid a sea of other foreign business ties you need to make the case that Russia is uniquely nefarious among nations, and few Americans saw it that way until the anti-Russia propaganda campaign began last year.

There’s talk about how some campaign officials met with Russians, which is only suspicious if you ignore all the other foreign nationals they met with and doublethink your way into believing that Russia has always been viewed as uniquely malicious among nations. Manafort and Gates were indicted for stuff that had nothing to do with Trump or Russia, and back in August the Washington Post ran a story explicitly stating that Papadopoulos was a very low-level aide whose attempts to arrange meetings between campaign officials and Russians were consistently rejected by the Trump campaign.

Taken individually, parts of Russiagate look like they could maybe possibly somehow lead somewhere plausible. Taken together, it’s obvious that the American people are being manipulated toward an anti-detente agenda by the Democrats who just want Trump impeached and the US power establishment which wants to secure geopolitical power by aggressively undermining its potential rivals.

The term Gish gallop refers to a fallacious debate tactic in which one barrages one’s opposition with a deluge of individually weak arguments which take far too long to debunk individually in a way that sustains the audience’s interest. This is all Russiagate amounts to. When Russiagaters tell you that there’s “too much smoke for there not to be fire”, they are unwittingly telling you “I’ve been won over by a Gish gallop fallacy.” Every single aspect of their argument can be easily debunked without exception, but since there’s so much of it and since pundits are assuring them of its reality so confidently, they believe.

Every few weeks there’s some major new “bombshell” revelation which Russiagaters get all excited about, only to have people read the actual information in the “bombshell” and find out it’s not actually anything incriminating or particularly remarkable. Take all those “bombshells” together, though, and you create the illusion of something real. That’s all this nonsense is.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

RT

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Via RT…


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.

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Via Zerohedge


In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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