The Russian government may or may not have been the source of the Wikileaks revelations that hurt Clinton electorally to an unknown degree. Some sources in the CIA think so, or want us to think so. The Obama Administration, Clinton’s supporters, and large parts of the press concur. Other sources disagree in varying ways.
Some question the motive aspect (to help Trump), others the details of who delivered what, still others the whole story (Craig Murray, the good folks at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, not a few skeptical journalists and of course Julian Assange himself). I tend towards group 3, but remain open to the other possibilities. The one thing that’s clear right now is that the evidence we’ve been shown is unclear.
The Russian issue: Trump, who is, of course, a danger to all of us, seems to want to normalize relations with Russia. He was attacked for this throughout the campaign as a heretic and a “puppet”. You never know what Muscleweenie really thinks on any given day, of course, but he has now made several appointments that seem to bear out his determination to treat Putin’s Russia like it was treated about 15 years ago: as a “partner” in relation to which making money, not geopolitical competition or military conflict, comes first. At least for now.
Red-baiting: The mass media and many hawks in both parties are outraged by every “pro-Russian” appointment, and of course by the very idea of Russian meddling in our election. Many now hope that this will be the wedge to pry enough Republican electors loose to deprive Trump of his new job all together. It’s become the Hail Mary pass for liberals still hoping to prevent the inevitable.
Peace and justice: Given the first and second points, the third is crazy–if you care about peace, justice and the proximate future of the species, that is. Here’s why:
For people on the left, attempting to make use of national-security fever to serve other ends is just not very prudent, to put it mildly. Forget the domestic conflicts that would erupt. Just imagine the geopolitical outcomes if–“best-case scenario”–Hillary Clinton were to gain office via the Russian-intervention gambit.
Imagine its implications for Syria, Ukraine, the Baltics, NATO military and membership policies, missile “defense”, nuclear disarmament, and so on. And consider the fact that Putin is not (by a long shot) the most reactionary politician who could be leading Russia right now, nor the most militaristic, and that reactionary militarism thrives on conflict. So no, this is not the smart way to block Trump (or Russian nationalism).
As a footnote, it reminds me of the way American liberals rallied round the flag when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1980. They thought Carter’s boycotting the Moscow Olympics was quite the righteous gesture, while Brzezinski & Co. of course had their own ideas. This all flowed seamlessly into Reagan’s New Cold War and a decade of support for the jihad in the Hindu Kush. Now how’d that turn out for us on 9-11?
The pot-kettle problem: The United States is the undisputed world champion in the black arts of regime change—including, of course, tweaking or mauling other people’s elections to get the desired results. Only an odious presumption of American exceptionalism (or just plain ignorance) can justify the fake outrage about “foreign interference” now surging through the established media.
This doesn’t make any alleged Russian shenanigans good. But it means you shouldn’t let all the Tom Friedmans or Chuck Schumers out there open their mouths about it without throwing dog feces at them.
Back to the USSR: Until a few years ago, Russia was treated by our government more or less as a “normal” country; since about 2011 it’s mutated into the Evil Empire on steroids. But on any rationally calibrated scale, Putin is no worse than Modi in India, Sisi in Egypt, Xi Jinping in China, Erdogan in Turkey, Saudi’s Salman, Greater Israel’s Netanyahu and so on.
The Putinophobic mania now gripping DC (govt.) and NY (media) is simply a form of institutionally-driven mass hysteria (the worst kind), which we on the left should be deconstructing and deflating, not stoking or instrumentalizing. I realize that this is hard, because Putin and Putinism also deserve to be opposed on their own terms. Although this may put us in a tricky walking-and-chewing-gum situation, I think it’s both possible and necessary.
The panic about Russian influence in the American election has taken on Strangelovian proportions, as discerning readers of the Washington Post by now must realize. According to the new bipartisan hawkish consensus and an unremitting mainstream media chorus, Russia has “bot armies,” dozens of “useful idiot” websites, and almost magical powers to sway electorates across the globe.
Do we really want to be complicit in updating 1950s-style McCarthyist paranoia for the digital age? Whose interests will that really serve? Do you think this won’t redound to the detriment of us dissenters when it matters down the road?
Don’t get me wrong: I hate Donald Trump as much as you do. And I’m all for opposing, exposing and if possible even deposing him, and by all means necessary—but please, just not the ones that promote nationalism, militarism and censorship and might well hasten the end of the planet as we know it.
Photographs courtesy of IoSonoUnaFotoCamera. Published under a Creative Commons license.