Deconstructing “Morell and Vickers: An open letter to Donald Trump” – published by the The Washington Post on its opinion page September 10, 2016.
Many years ago, I used to engage in rebutting – paragraph-by-paragraph – the most egregious propaganda nonsense the American media could stoop to. But it is time consuming and maddening. I hate giving time to hateful and small minds. But this op-ed forces me to react. My words are in italics.
“Mr. Trump, with all due respect to you as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, you cannot credibly serve as commander in chief if you embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader has repeatedly shown himself to be an adversary of the United States. Putin, during his long tenure, has repeatedly pursued policies that undermine U.S. interests and those of our allies and partners. He has steadily but systematically moved Russia from a fledgling democratic state to an authoritarian one. He is the last foreign leader you should be praising.”
Indeed! Russia under the presidency of Vladimir Putin has and will stand up to Washington’s designs to surround, isolate and attempt to destroy the sovereign state of Russia. This is what the Russian people expect of their elected leader. Yes, Putin does push back. He pushes back against attempts to destabilize and overturn Russia’s constitutional order. Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yelstin bowed to Washington’s demand of appeasement – Putin refuses to. I ask Morell and Vickers a simple question: If Putin wasn’t legitimately elected to the presidency three times, then who was? Morell says the U.S. needs to start killing Russians, while Trump and Putin say their two countries should engage in dialogue. How is that wrong and not commonsensical? Who is undermining a more stable international order based on law and who backs more militarism and foreign interventionism? And which foreign leader should we praise? Obama? Hillary Clinton – the War Party’s candidate?
“Abroad, Putin has interfered in the internal affairs of a host of nations on his periphery — through information operations, manipulation of elections and direct support, including providing weapons, to insurgent groups. Most significant, in the past decade, Putin has invaded two neighbors, Georgia and Ukraine — including annexing Crimea, the first major land grab in Europe since World War II. Putin’s goal in doing this is to keep the nations of the former Soviet Union from linking their futures to that of Europe and the West. Do you back these actions?”
The United State interferes in the internal affairs of countries all over the world. It does it all the time, almost everywhere and with dire consequences. It engages in widespread misinformation campaigns, bribes and threatens countries to tow the Washington line, and illegally funds and arms groups. Russia never invaded Georgia. Though Georgia, being American client, assaulted South Ossetia in August 2008 – killing civilians in their beds and internationally recognized peacekeepers. Washington backed an illegal regime change in Ukraine in 2014. It’s the Kiev regime that breaks international law, commits war crimes and will not implement the proposed Minsk Accords to end the conflict. This is Washington’s fault – not Russia’s. Crimea voted to return to Russia because it feared the hostile regime installed in Kiev at the behest of Washington. And it is good that they did – the Kiev regime has killed about 10,000 of its own citizens in eastern Ukraine. If Russia wants to recreate the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire, then why didn’t it occupy Tbilisi in August 2008 and Kiev in 2014?
“Putin’s support of insurgents in eastern Ukraine resulted in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed 298 innocent civilians. Under Putin’s direction, Russian special forces provided the insurgents with and trained them how to use the air-defense system that brought down the plane. As intelligence officers who oversaw covert action, we can tell you that when a country provides overt or covert support to proxies, that nation is responsible for what those proxies do with that support. That makes Putin responsible for downing the airliner. Do you hold him responsible?”
To be polite and civil, Morell and Vickers write out their sleeves. There is no evidence supporting the above paragraph. The U.S. has never released surveillance data about this tragedy. You should ask yourself why. Washington has never held its Kiev proxy to account. And the EU is spineless for its lack of responsibly for supporting Washington’s position. This paragraph is pure and cheap propaganda.
“Also abroad, Putin has aggressively supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brutality against his own people. Putin’s significant intervention in Syria 12 months ago — via the Russian air force and Russian special forces — propped up Assad at the exact moment that the Syrian leader appeared to be losing his grip on power and might therefore be amenable to negotiating a transition of power. As such, Putin is in part responsible for the continuing civil war that has resulted in the deaths of 500,000 Syrians and displaced 10 million others, the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. Do you support what Putin has done in Syria?”
This paragraph is more delusion in play. Bashar al-Assad is the legal and legitimate elected leader of Syria. Under international law Syria requested Russian military assistance to fight and destroy
western-backed terrorists. It is the west that is responsible for this proxy war and the ensuing humanitarian crisis. The same humanitarian crisis started five years ago when Washington enacted its policy to forcefully and illegally change the political order in Syria. Russia only intervened a year ago and terrorist fear Moscow’s resolve while Washington cuddles terrorists.
“At home, Putin has jailed and killed political opponents. He has jailed and killed journalists. He has neutered the Russian media to the point that he is in complete control of the message reaching the Russian people. He has the popularity that you so admire only because he determines what the Russian people hear about him and his government. Do you support Putin’s violation of Russian law and his tramping of the civil rights of his populace, explicitly protected in the Russian constitution?”
Typical propaganda – Morell and Vickers don’t name names. Who has been jailed? Which journalists have been killed? Russian media is not closed. As a matter of fact a great deal of print media is critical of Putin’s government. The Russia Internet is active and very nuanced. In truth Putin is often criticized for being too moderate when it comes to dealing with the west’s aggressive posture. Morell and Vickers don’t have a clue when it comes to Russian domestic realities.
“One of the more interesting questions is: Who is the biggest loser from Putin’s policies? Take Putin’s actions in Ukraine. One set of losers, of course, was the Ukrainian people, who had their aspirations crushed. Another was the West, particularly the United States, which looked impotent to stop the Russian aggression. But the biggest loser was the Russian people — because Putin has ended any hope of integrating the Russian economy with that of the West, Russia’s only hope for the future. Given this, do you still think Putin is a great leader?”
The biggest losers are Morell and Vickers and the presidential candidate they slavishly support – Hillary Clinton. Washington crushed Ukraine’s very existence as a sovereign state when interfering in its internal affairs. Siding with corrupt oligarchs and fascists has smashed Ukraine into pieces with the future looking grim. Morrell was very active in doing the same when he supported the illegal war on Iraq in 2003. Morell and Vickers embarrass themselves believing they know what the Russian people want. After living in Russia for 18 years I can say Russians want to live in the world under their own terms and not following any fantasy or illusion Morell and Vickers concoct.
“At the Commander-in-Chief Forum on Sept. 7, you said that as long as Putin says nice things about you, you will say nice things about him. That is not a standard by which a president should make policy decisions. That should not even enter your calculus. Your only question should be “What is in the best interests of the United States?”
Well maybe what is in the best interest of everyone is to be honest, transparent, and reasonable. Morell and Vickers can’t comprehend a world of dialogue and recognition that other countries have legitimate security interests. The world is not only about Washington and its interests. The only standard Morell and Vickers accept is a world that accepts tutelage or war. Morell and Vickers are the kind of people who threat the world with violence and war that are completely unnecessary.
“So, here is our challenge: Demand that Putin stop his aggressive behavior overseas. Demand that he stop his dictatorial moves at home. Tell him that you will live up to our NATO commitments and defend the Baltics if need be. Tell him that you want to work with him on solving the problems in the world — but that he must behave in order to do so. That is what a true commander in chief would do.”
Russia and the rest of the world must behave! This is laughable! Who needs to behave and respect international law? Morell and Vickers write as buffoons. Is Russia threatening NATO? Isn’t it NATO mobilizing against Russia? Russia has no right to defend its borders? Morell and Vickers represent a morbid imperial and colonial mindset.The real problem with Morell and Vickers is the sad reality they believe their own propaganda. I would suggest to Trump to keep speaking his mind.
(Michael Morell was acting director and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013. Mike Vickers was the undersecretary of defense for intelligence from 2011 to 2015. Both writers have served in Democratic and Republican administrations and endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.)
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. He views may or may not reflect those of his employer.