Issue One: Did Donald Trump and his surrogates “collude” with
The answer to the first question is clearly “yes.” Trump and his
team have been “colluding” (i.e., secretly working together for
mutual advantage) with Russians. But that admission alone does
not appreciably advance our understanding.
It is doubtful that Trump is deliberately “colluding” to serve
the economic or strategic interests of the Russian Federation –
or of the United States for that matter. It should be abundantly
clear to all who are more than casually familiar with Trump’s
behavior and motivations, that the only “interests” that he
cares about are Trump interests. And those interests are
seriously threatened by Special Prosecutor Mueller’s
Trump, it seems, has dug himself into a deep hole with his
Russian investments and loans, and with his association with a
few shady characters both at home and abroad. This explains, in
part, his reluctance to divulge his Federal Income Tax returns.
Because of his numerous bankruptcies, law suits and contract
violations, Trump is unable to obtain loans in the United
States. He has found willing creditors in Russia. American
banks, constrained by federal laws and by fiduciary
responsibility to shareholders, do not grant loans to poor
credit risks. Russian banks take a different approach: if by
granting loans to known grifters and cheats, they can advance
the strategic interests of the Russian government, they might
issue such loans. In addition, these wily Russian are quite
willing to ensnare Trump into some highly embarrassing
situations (which the Russians call “kompromat”). Has Trump been
“compromised” by Russian blackmail, as the Steele dossier
contends? Perhaps, but it is too early to tell. We require more
As Mueller’s bloodhounds sniff out this garbage, Trump is well
aware that their discoveries might very well cost him his
office, his fortune, or even his freedom.
So now Trump is desperately attempting to climb out of the hole
that he has dug for himself, in part by “colluding” with Russian
banks and billionaires. They have Trump “hooked” in a manner
that should not be tolerated in a leader of an independent and
sovereign nation. While one might put his assets into a blind
trust (as Trump has refused to do), one can not put debts and
criminal acts into a blind trust.
In addition, there is that infamous meeting in Trump Tower, in
which the Trump family and Trump operatives “colluded” with
Russians to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton - an
unequivocal violation of election laws.
And so, the answer to the first question is “yes:” Donald Trump
and his surrogates collude with the Russians. But which
Russians? Gangsters and oligarchs to be sure. Russian
government officials? Possibly, but not proven. Was this
collusion treasonous? That is to say, was it done to
deliberately advance the strategic interests of the Russian
government? Absent supporting evidence, that charge is
However, it should be noted that “collusion” is not necessarily
malignant. It can be positive, and even essential. Diplomatic
agreements must always be preceded with secret negotiations.
Juries deliberate secretly before they announce their verdicts.
In 1962, ABC reporter
“colluded” with KGB station chief Alexander Fomin to
initiate the secret negotiations (i.e,, “collusion”) that led to
the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Donald Trump’s “collusion” is not of this kind. It is
self-serving and likely criminal, and thus it seriously
compromises his ability to function as President of the United
Issue Two: Did Russia significantly “meddle” in the 2016
“Everybody knows” that the Russians hacked the Democratic
National Committee’s emails, in an attempt to “tilt” the
election toward Donald Trump. This “knowledge” has advanced from
a suspicion and allegation to an undoubted public truth, through
constant repetition unencumbered by supporting evidence and
uninhibited by dissent.
Patrick Lawrence describes the process supremely well:
Possibilities became allegations, and these became
probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into
certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be
established truths... This was accomplished via the
indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated
incessantly in our leading media.
Wake up, America! Your government lies to you, and the
mainstream media repeats and amplifies those “official lies”
with a unified voice. We know this to be true, because we have
all lived through it, however much most of us are determined to
forget about it.
Have we all forgotten the Bush/Cheny/Rumsfeld/Powell lies that
led us into the Iraq disaster? Have we forgotten the MSM’s
unanimous and uncritical acceptance of those lies – for example,
Judith Miller’s “Aluminum Tubes,” the alleged shipment of Niger
uranium ore to Iraq, etc.
Have we forgotten Colin Powell’s show and tell before the UN
Security Council, with CIA chief George “Slam Dunk” Tenant
seated behind him, providing an official Intelligence imprimatur
upon that disgraceful charade. Once again, the MSM fell solidly
behind the official lies. Typical was the remark of Richard
Cohen of the Washington Post: Powell’s presentation, he wrote,
proved “without a doubt” that Iraq retains its weapons of mass
destruction. “Only a fool – or possibly a Frenchman – could
was echoed in the media throughout the land.
Of course, subsequent events proved the fool and the
Frenchman to be right.
The Iraq fiasco followed upon a long history of official lies:
the Gulf of Tonkin incident that led to an escalation of the
Viet Nam war; the allegedly eye-witness account of the
“incubator babies” told to Congress by the Kuwaiti “nurse” who
turned out to be a member of the Royal family. And so on.
So now we have Russian hacking of the DNC emails. Another lie?
Possibly not. But surely, by now, we have warrant to be
“But doesn’t the January Intelligence Report prove that the
Russians hacked the election?”
That report was released, secure in the knowledge that most
Americans do not read. So what the public “knows” about the
report is what the MSM has told them about it. What the report
actually tells us is quite different from what the MSM makes it
out to be.
Don’t take my word for it, read it yourself.
But didn’t all seventeen intelligence agencies agree with the
report? “Agree”? Perhaps. But that unanimous "agreement" may be
more political than substantive. We've travelled this road
before. In October 2002, a National Intelligence estimate
(pubic version) proclaimed that
“most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons
program.” We know now that “most analysts” then were wrong.
The parallels between that 2002 Intelligence report and the
January report are startling.
Agreement aside, those seventeen agencies did not all
“participate” in the report. As CIA chief at the time, James
Clapper, told a Senate Committee: “Only three agencies were
directly involved in this assessment.” But doesn’t the Report
supply solid evidence of a hack of the DNC emails? Wrong again.
quoth the Report: “Judgments are not intended to imply that we
have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are
based on collected information, which is often incomplete of
fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”
But now a skunk has wandered into this media lawn party. The
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) , steadfast
American patriots all, have released a report disclosing that a
“hack,” via the internet, was technically impossible. The rate
of data transfer could only be accomplished by a “leak” – an
on-site transfer onto a storage device (presumably a thumb
drive). There are additional problems with the official/media
“hacking” story. VIPS does a far better job of presenting this
evidence than I can,
so I urge you to read their report.
It is quite brief and lucid. For an elaboration of the
several reasons to doubt the official "hacking story" see
Skip Folen and
Best guess: disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters leaked the
emails hoping that they might tell the world that their
candidate was “done in” by “establishment” Clinton partisans in
the DNC. If so, this objective has backfired spectacularly, as
the DNC “regulars?” have successfully shifted blame to the
Russians in an attempt to excuse Clinton’s defeat in the
So did the Russians meddle in the election? When asked that
question, I think of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld lies about
Saddam’s WMDs, and the MSM’s uncritical acceptance of those
lies. And I think of Colin Powell’s dog and pony show at the UN
Security Council. So I have learned this much at least: my
government lies to me without scruple and the MSM amplifies
those lies with a single voice. “Fool me twice? Not gonna be
fooled again.” (GWB)
If the Russians “meddled,” their efforts were insignificant
alongside the meddling of the GOP in that election: uncounted
ballots in Michigan, ballot stuffing in Wisconsin, voter
suppression in North Caroline and Pennsylvania, etc. All this
was briefly noted here and there in the media and then promptly
forgotten. What? You haven’t heard about this? Why am I not
“But we are at war” shouts Morgan Freeman, along with Rachel
Maddow, Malcolm Nance, Joy Reid, and countless others? Meddling
in our election is “equivalent to war,” we are told time and
And yet, “regime change” is an established, open, and
unquestioned aspect of our foreign policy. In violation of the
United Nations Charter, we have appointed ourselves judge, jury
and executioner of other countries’ governments. By some counts,
as many as twenty in the last seventy years. In many cases,
we have overthrown legally elected governments: Iran (1953),
Chile (1973), and arguably Ukraine (2014). In Iran and Chile,
these democracies were replaced with ruthless dictatorships.
And in 1996, American "election experts" along with several
Russia billionaires, succeeded in flipping the election of the
unpopular president, Boris Yeltsin. Far from hiding this
Time Magazine boasted about it,
in a nine page cover story, saying in effect: “aren’t we
Americans clever! We got to select the Russian president!” On
the cover we read: "Yanks to the rescue: the secret story of how
American advisors helped Yeltsin win."
Few Americans are aware of this "meddling" in the Russian
presidential election. Few Russians are not aware of it.
If Russia attempts to “meddle” in our election, we are told that
these attempts are “the equivalent of war.” If the United States
does it, it is standard operating procedure -- we call it
"regime change." International norms do not apply to us. But
then, don’t we proudly tell the world that we are an
Add to this, the neo-con’s openly declared intention
to bring about “regime change” in Russia. With a solid
majority of Russians supporting Putin, good luck with that. As
history testifies, outside “meddling” in Russian politics
solidifies support for the Russian leader.
A suggestion: how about a deal with Putin? You keep your
hands off of our politics, and we will do the same with yours.
It would be easy enough for either side to recognize a violation
of the deal. I suspecvt that Putin would accept it. Is it not at
least worth a try?
The second part of the DNI report deals with RT (formerly
“Russia Today”). The DNI reprints a five year old article, which
labors mightily to prove that which is not in dispute: namely,
that RT is supported by the Russian government and thus, not
surprisingly, presents the viewpoint of that government.
But it does much more. The showcase RT panel show, "Crosstalk,"
invites scholars and journalists from around the world, many of
them critical of the Putin regime. A recent "Crosstalk" was
comprised of three American conservatives. We are told that RT
promoted the candidacy of Donald Trump. How then explain the
presence on RT of vehemently anti-Trump commentators such as
Thom Hartmann, Ed Shultz, Chris Hedges, Mike Papantonio and Noam
Chomsky. It is doubtful that any of these progressive voices
could find a place in our “free” mainstream media.
Suppose the US government succeeds in shutting down RT – “The
Voice of Russia.” What follows? Will Putin then order the
The Voice of America? Or might Putin then close the Russian
internet, which is now totally free and unrestricted. (Yes, it’s
true, although the MSM will not tell you this). Will the end of
unrestricted email and Skype follow, ending my conversations
with several friends in Russia? Where does it all end?
For more about the DNI report see my
Throes of a National Hissy Fit.”
Issue Three; Is Russia a dictatorship, oppressing its people,
suppressing free expression, enriching its rulers, etc.?
The MSM would have us believe that today Russia is an economic
and political disaster zone. Consider:
- Income inequality: the top 1% of the country’s
population owns 40% of it wealth.
- The media is almost entirely managed by interests that
support the federal government. Dissent is suppressed.
- The national elections are rigged to support the ruling
- The legislature is responsive to the wealthy and
powerful, not ordinary citizens, who “appear to have only a
minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact
upon public policy.”
Horrible situation, isn’t it. Alas, those poor Russians!
Except that I am describing here conditions in the United States
of America, not in Russia. Here are the references:
Election rigging? There is abundant evidence from exit
polls, steadfastly ignored by the MSM, that paperless voting
machines have been rigged. But let's set all those controversial
issues aside. Other modes of rigging are undisputed, in
particular, "cross checking," voter suppression laws and
As for legislative control, the quotation above is from
Gilens and Page’s landmark study of political influence in
the United States. The full quotation: “the preferences of the
average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero,
statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
Perhaps we Americans should clean up the civic garbage in our
own back yard, rather than complain about the mess in our
Political and economic reform in the United States is our
responsibility. Reform in Russia is the responsibility of the
Russians. Rather than welcome our uninvited “assistance,” the
Russian will more likely tell us to bug-off and mind our own
business, just as we would if the situation were reversed.
Furthermore, our attempts to interfere with the Russians’
domestic affairs is complicated by the fact that Vladimir Putin
enjoys the overwhelming support of the Russian people. To be
sure, the Russian people have much to complain about in Putin’s
Russia, and complain they do – openly and without fear of
My Russian friends, all of whom are openly critical of Putin,
appear to be content with their living conditions. Despite the
sanctions, their standard of living is much improved from the
But what about those billionaire-oligarchs? Some historical
perspective is in order. In the Soviet Union, there were no
billionaires. They appeared during the Yeltsin decade when a few
former Communist aparatchiki and industry managers became
instant capitalists and seized state capital resources for
themselves. When Putin assumed power in January 2000, he made a
deal with the oligarchs:
you may keep your wealth provided you stay out of politics.
Those who refused, such as Boris Berezovsky and Mikhail
Khordokovsky, had their assets seized and were either sent to
prison or exiled.
Our mainstream Ministry of Truth to the contrary
notwithstanding, Vladimir Putin is not an absolute dictator. The
revolutions of 1917 and 1991 constantly remind him that the
patience of the Russian people has its limits. Moreover, the
Russian military demands that Putin defend the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of the Russian Federation. The oligarchs
demand that Putin secure their wealth and investments. If Putin
fails, he will likely be replaced, and by a new leader even more
hostile to the United States.
Issue Four: Is Russia our “enemy”? Are Russian strategic
objectives a threat to American interests and to world peace?
Some time ago, I heard Hillary Clinton proclaim that Russia
“threatens our interests.” I do not recall that she identified
those “interests.” I’ve lost the reference to that Clinton
remark, but no matter, that charge is repeated endlessly by
“opinion leaders in government and media. Rarely are we told
what those interests are.
Could it be that Russia is threatening our “interest” in
becoming the “global hegemon” – an oft-proclaimed goal of the
As Kristol and Kagan explain in an influential Foreign
A hegemon is nothing more or less than a leader with
preponderant influence and authority over all others in its
domain. That is America's position in the world today....
[P]eace and American security depend on American power and
the will to use it... American hegemony is the only reliable
defense against a breakdown of peace and international
order. The appropriate goal of American foreign policy,
therefore, is to preserve that hegemony as far into the
future as possible.” (See also
the Project for a New American Century.)
Putin has said that Russia wishes to be America's "partner,"
while the Americans want Russia to be their "Vassal." (Identical
words in Russian: "партнер" and “вассал”). If the United
States has an “interest” in attacking Russian sovereignty and
reducing Russia to an American “vassal,” Putin, and I dare say
all Russians, will have none of it and they will resist
strenuously, as would we.
So what if the Russians refuse to submit to the neo-con’s global
“hegemony”? Surely China will likewise refuse. And we might well
expect that our European and Asian allies will also resist,
beginning with Germany, France and Japan. The Islamic
countries, excluding Saudi Arabia, are lost to us. If, despite
this resistance, the United States persists in its efforts, in
effect, to make the entire world its colonies, who then is a
threat to peace?
We Americans pride ourselves with the conviction that we are
universally admired and envied throughout the world. It is a
delusion. In fact,
a 2014 International Gallup Poll reveals that the United
States is regarded, far and away, as the greatest threat to
world peace. Russia does not appear among the top six
American global “hegemony” is illegal and immoral. But more
fundamentally, it is impossible. But that claim requires a
separate essay, which is forthcoming.
Perhaps the Russians threaten our interest in remaining “the
leader of the free world.” But that leadership has been severely
diminished, not by the Russians, but rather by the antics of our
buffoonish President. The Russians did not do this to us, we did
this to ourselves.
Similarly, we are often told that Russia is the “primary threat”
to the security of the United States.
With a military budget one tenth as large as that of the United
States, Russia is ill-prepared to restore the old Soviet Union,
or to re-occupy eastern Europe. And there is no evidence
whatever that they wish to do so.
The Russian military has parity with the United States in one
category only: strategic nuclear weapons. And that should worry
both sides, for it suggests that conventional warfare beyond its
borders would quickly “go nuclear.”
While Russian offensive capabilities beyond its borders are
severely limited, the same cannot be said for their defensive
In the late eighteenth century, the Americans showed the world
that the mightiest Empire could not win a war fought on the
enemy’s home territory. We Americans had to be taught the same
lesson by the Vietnamese and now the Afghans. Do we really
believe that we can defeat the Russians militarily on their own
territory, when our “greatest military in history” cannot
prevail over peasant armies in Vietnam and Afghanistan? Come to
think of it, the American military has not won a war in the past
seventy years, unless you count the victory of the US marines
over the Granadian police force.
With these lessons of history in mind, who can imagine that the
United States can succeed in defeating Russia on its own
territory where Napoleon and Hitler failed.
With the Russians unable to win abroad, and “the West” unable
to defeat the Russians on their own territory, where is the
The threat, of course, is that of nuclear war. If there is a
will almost certainly be unintended – by
accident, derangement, or equipment malfunction.
According the the United Nations charter, Russia has the right
to protect its legitimate interests as a sovereign nation.
There is no legitimate right of a nation to impose "global
hegemony" or "regime change" on other nations.
Does Russia have any "illegitimate interests" that threaten our
security and legitimate interests?
If so, name them and provide evidence.
If none, then Russia is not our "enemy."
The threat of nuclear war, along with climate change and
terrorism, are common threats which, in a sane world, would
unite Russia and the United States in common cause.
Unfortunately, this is not a sane world.