Democrat Senators publish a deeply disturbing and profoundly racist report about Russia

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By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | January 12, 2018

In the aftermath of Russiagate a group of Democratic Party Senators have published one of the most bizarre and disturbing reports ever to issue from the US Senate.

The best way to summarise it is to say that it takes every single charge which has ever been made against Vladimir Putin and Russia and repeats them whilst ignoring any evidence which contradicts them.

The whole dreary catalogue is there: the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings, the Khodorkovsky prosecutions, the Politkovskaya and Litvinenko murders, the Magnitsky affair, Putin’s billions, Chechnya, the 2008 South Ossetia war, Crimea, the Ukrainian conflict, the state sponsorship of organised crime, the use of gas exports as a political weapon, the malign influence of RT and Sputnik, the sponsorship of extreme right groups in Europe, the Russian role in the Brexit vote, and even the Russian Olympic doping scandal.

To anyone accustomed to reading articles about Vladimir Putin and Russia in such places as the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Economist and the Guardian, it is all very familiar.  Indeed at times the report reads like an extended version of one of those articles.

In every case Vladimir Putin is the villain of the piece, demonically plotting to destroy democracy both in Russia and the West for reasons which incidentally are never made wholly clear.

As examples of where the report ignores contradictory evidence in order to make its case I will cite just five examples amongst the many others which could be made:

(1) The report claims that no-one has ever “credibly” claimed responsibility for the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings.

To this day, no credible source has ever claimed credit for the bombings and no credible evidence has been presented by the Russian authorities linking Chechen terrorists, or anyone else, to the Moscow bombings. As the public polling results show, there is still considerable doubt

The report says this in order to support its claim that Vladimir Putin and the Russian security services were actually responsible for the bombings.

However this is simply not true.  The Chechen and Jihadi warlord Shamil Basayev and his Saudi associate Al-Khattab made quite clear who was responsible for the bombings in comments made shortly after they took place, linking the bombings quite clearly to the ongoing conflict in the Russian Caucasian republic of Dagestan, which they had just invaded with a volunteer army of Jihadi fighters.

Here is how Wikipedia reports their comments

Commenting on the attacks, Shamil Basayev said: “The latest blast in Moscow is not our work, but the work of the Dagestanis. Russia has been openly terrorizing Dagestan, it encircled three villages in the centre of Dagestan, did not allow women and children to leave.”[35] Al-Khattab, who was reportedly close with Basayev, said the attacks were a response to what the Russians had done in Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi, two Dagestani villages where followers of the Wahhabi sect were living until the Russian army bombed them out.[39] A group called the Liberation army of Dagestan claimed responsibility for the apartment bombings.[39][40][41][42]

The “Liberation Army of Dagestan” is now widely acknowledged to be one and the same as the Islamic Army of Dagestan formed by Basayev and Al-Khattab in 1999 to attack Dagestan.

There is no doubt that Jihadi terrorists were responsible for the Moscow apartment bombings.  As the report rather grudgingly acknowledges many of those involved in the bombings were subsequently rounded up and put on trial for the bombings by the Russian authorities.

The outcome of the trials has never to my knowledge been challenged by the European Court of Human Rights which has the jurisdiction to do so and which would no doubt have done so if there had been anything about the trials which was obviously wrong.

All the major participants in the bombings have been identified and are known and it is or should be a fringe conspiracy theory to allege that Putin and the Russian authorities were responsible for them.

It is nonetheless that fringe conspiracy theory which the Democratic Senators have adopted for their report.

(2) The report repeats the common Western charge that the Russian billionaire oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested and persecuted because of his political activities

Putin and his allies have neutered political competition by creating rubber-stamp opposition parties and harassing legitimate opposition. For example, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the founder of the Russian oil company Yukos, was imprisoned for more than a decade on a spate of charges deemed to be politically motivated.

His prosecution could be broadly interpreted as a signal to other powerful oligarchs that supporting independent or anti-Putin parties carries great risk to one’s personal wealth and well-being.

This ignores the fact the European Court of Human Rights – the court with the authority to pronounce on this issue – has repeatedly said in a lengthy succession of Judgments that Khodorkovsky was convicted and imprisoned not because of his political activities but because he carried out a gigantic tax fraud – just as the Russian authorities have said – and that the case against him was not therefore brought for political reasons as the report says.

(3) The report repeats the charge that President Putin did away with direct election of governors in 2004 as part of a cynical power-grab

In 2004, Putin ‘‘radically restructured’’ the Russian political system by eliminating the election of regional governors by popular vote in favor of centrally directed appointments, characterizing this significant power grab as an effort to forge ‘‘national cohesion’’ in the wake of the terrorist attack at a school in Beslan in North Ossetia.

This ignores the fact that in 2012 direct election of governors was brought back again, something which the report never mentions.

It is fair to say that this reversal of the supposed “radical restructuring” of the Russian political system which took place in 2004 has not led to the dramatic changes in political conditions in Russia that some expected.

However that points to the underlying truth about the supposedly “radical restructuring” which supposedly took place in 2004: it wasn’t radical at all.

Though it is true that in 2004 Putin assumed the power to appoint governors to Russian regions, these appointments had to be approved by the parliament of the region to which the governor was appointed.

In practise regional parliaments showed no interest in challenging Putin’s nominees, just as regional electorates have shown little interest in the gubernational elections which were reintroduced in 2012, which almost always result in Putin’s nominees being elected.

This points to the political reality in Russia today.  As is the case in most countries – including by the way the US – there is scant interest in politics at a regional level, whilst the reason Russia is politically stable is not because of the country’s institutional structure – which is its internal affair – but because the government is popular and enjoys legitimacy.

(4) The report gives an extraordinarily elliptical and mendacious account of the causes of the 2008 South Ossetia war

Leading up to August 2008, tensions had been growing in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, regions that had been contested since Georgia’s independence in 1991. South Ossetian separatists shelled Georgian villages in early August, which led to the deployment of the Georgian military to the area.417 The Russian military responded by pushing the Georgian troops out of South Ossetia with a heavy assault of tanks.418 It soon became clear that the Russian attack was not limited to just conventional military means, but was much more comprehensive in scope

This completely ignores the fact that the EU’s Independent Fact Finding Mission Report headed by the Swiss lawyer Heidi Tagliavini, though making severe criticisms of Russia’s conduct during the war, nonetheless concluded that it was Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili not Russia who started the war.

As it happens Vladimir Putin was away in Beijing attending the 2008 Summer Olympics at the time when the war started.  That is hardly consistent with him planning or indeed expecting the war to start when it did.

(5) The report in a lengthy appendix discussing the Russian Olympic doping scandal treats the Russian government’s involvement in the doping of Russian athletes as proved. However the International Olympic Committee’s own investigation of this claim says quite clearly that it has not been proved.  See my detailed discussion here.

These are just five examples taken at random where the report simply ignores contrary evidence in order to make its case.

Anyone willing to plough through the 200 plus pages of the report is welcome to do so if they wish to find others.

The report is also characterised by some quite remarkable leaps of logic.

For example the fact that President Putin and Russia are extremely popular in Bulgaria is President Putin’s and Russia’s fault.  President Putin and Russia are also somehow to blame for the fact that there is massive corruption in Ukraine.

Presumably President Putin and Russia should be working to make themselves unpopular in Bulgaria, and presumably they also control Ukraine’s anti-corruption endeavours and are responsible for their failure despite the intense hostility to Russia of the current Ukrainian government.

The report in fact harps on the subject of “Russian corruption” to a frankly unhinged degree.

Not only are Putin and Russia corrupt but they ‘export’ corruption everywhere so that corruption wherever it happens whether in Ukraine or elsewhere is caused by them.

By way of example the political conflict in Catalonia is not the result of internal tensions within Catalonia.  It is the result of a plan by corrupt Russian businessmen and organised crime chiefs to gain control of Catalonia in order to secure the wealth they have hidden there, and to gain control of Catalonia’s economy by driving out the Spanish and European firms which were formerly based there.

The association of Russia with corruption highlights another fact about the report.

It begins with the common ritual statement that its quarrel is with President Putin and his “regime” and not with the Russian people

…..it is important to draw a distinction between Mr. Putin’s corrupt regime and the people of Russia. Many Russian citizens strive for a transparent, accountable government that operates under the democratic rule of law, and we hold hope for better relations in the future with a Russian government that reflects these demands.

In practice, as the obsession with Russian corruption all too clearly shows, the report finds it impossible to sustain this claim.  Hostility not just to Putin and his “regime” but to Russia itself is in fact present in every paragraph.

Thus the report contains a lengthy and tendentious discussion of Soviet disinformation activities during the Cold War though their relevance to what President Putin and his government are doing today is not obvious.

However the Soviets who carried out these disinformation activities were (mainly) Russians, which is obviously the reason the report discusses them at such length.

In other words Russians always and invariably engage in disinformation: they did so during the Cold War at the time of the USSR, and – because they are Russians – they are doing so again now.

Even the Russian government’s efforts to support Russian culture both at home and abroad is somehow sinister, as if the promotion of Russian culture is in itself sinister

Under Putin, the Kremlin has engaged and boosted cultural forces and religious institutions inside Russia to provide an additional bulwark against the democratic values and actors it paints as anathema to the country’s interests….

The Kremlin funds, directly or indirectly, a number of government-organized non-governmental organizations (GONGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and think tanks throughout Russia and Europe. These groups carry out a number of functions, from disseminating pro-Kremlin views to seeking to influence elections abroad.

Following a series of ‘‘color revolutions’’ in former Soviet Union republics like Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, in 2006 the Russian government established the World Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots, which is responsible for coordinating the activities of Russian organizations abroad and their communications with the Kremlin.

Some GONGOs that receive and disburse funds from the Kremlin, such as the Russkiy Mir Foundation and Rossotrudnichestvo, established in 2007 and 2008, are headquartered in Russia but have branches throughout the EU, and are led by senior Russian political figures like the foreign minister or the chair of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of the parliament.

Kremlin-linked oligarchs also sit on the boards of many of the GONGOs.

Based on conservative estimates from publicly available data, the Kremlin spends about $130 million a year through foundations like Rossotrudnichestvo and the Gorchakov fund, and, in 2015, channeled another $103 million in presidential grants to NGOs; after including support from state enterprises and private companies, however, actual funding levels may be much higher.

Most of the Russian government’s funding is focused on post-Soviet ‘’swing states’’ like Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia, but Kremlin-supported groups also operate in the Baltic states and the Balkans, especially Serbia and Bulgaria.

The Russkiy Mir Foundation which is referred to here is a cultural foundation and is Russia’s equivalent of the British Council and Germany’s Goethe Institute.

Rossotrudnichestvo is a Russian government agency concerned with administering civilian foreign aid programmes, principally within the territories of the former USSR.

The Gorchakov Fund is a publicly funded body intended to support Russian diplomacy (Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and former Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov are both trustees).

There is no justification for conflating the work of Rossotrudnichestvo and of the Gorchakov Fund with the quite different work of the Russkiy Mir Foundation, and it misrepresents the nature of the Russkiy Mir Foundation to do so.

Consistent with its hostility to the Russian government’s efforts to support Russian culture is the report’s intense and frankly sinister hostility to the Orthodox Church, to which the report devotes a whole chapter.  Thus we read

One prominent example is the strong ties that Putin and his inner circle have forged with the Russian Orthodox Church and its affiliates.

The Russian Orthodox Church enjoys special recognition under Russian law, while in contrast, laws such as the 2006 NGO laws and the 2016 ‘‘Yarovaya’’ package of counterterrorism laws have enabled pressure against non-Russian Orthodox religious entities through cumbersome registration processes and administrative constraints, restrictions on proselytizing, and expanded surveillance.

Additionally, the U.S. State Department has reported that the Russian state has provided security and official vehicles to the Russian Orthodox patriarch (but not to other religious leaders) and noted reports that the Russian Orthodox Church has been a ‘‘primary beneficiary’’ of presidential grants ostensibly designed to reduce NGO dependence on foreign funding.103 In return for the state’s favor, the Russian Orthodox Church has promoted Putin and the state’s policies at multiple turns.

A former editor of the official journal of the Moscow Patriarchate (the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church and its affiliated churches outside the country) told The New York Times in 2016 that ‘‘The [Russian Orthodox] church has become an instrument of the Russian state. It is used to extend and legitimize the interests of the Kremlin.’’

This is noteworthy given Putin’s roots in the KGB—the tip of the Soviet spear in restricting religious activity during the Communist era—and it reflects a careful cultivation of his identity as a man of faith and a defender of the Orthodox faithful.

The image of Putin as defender of traditional religious and cultural values has also been leveraged by the Kremlin ‘‘as both an ideology and a source of influence abroad.’’

In projecting itself as ‘‘the natural ally of those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalization, multiculturalism and women’s and gay rights,’’ the Russian government has been able to mobilize some Orthodox actors in places like Moldova and Montenegro to vigorously oppose integration with the West…..

Just as the Kremlin has strengthened its relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church and used it to bolster its standing at home, the Russian Orthodox Church also serves as its proxy abroad, and the two institutions [Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian Orthodox Church – AM] have several overlapping foreign policy objectives……

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also used Kirill to promote a relativistic view of human rights at the United Nations, arranging for him to give a speech in 2008 (before he was Patriarch) at the UN Human Rights Council, where he bemoaned that ‘‘there is a strong influence of feministic views and homosexual attitudes in the formulation of rules, recommendations and programs in human rights advocacy.’’

According to a report by Chatham House, in Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia, Orthodox parent committees, modelled on similar Russian Orthodox committees, have launched attacks on LGBT and feminist groups.

These committees ‘‘claim that gender equality is a Western construct intended to spread homosexuality in Eastern Europe, blaming the United States and the EU for the decay of ‘moral health’ in the respective societies.’’

The Russian Orthodox Church also enjoys strong financial backing from Kremlin-linked oligarchs Konstantin Malofeev and Vladimir Yakunin, who are both under U.S. sanctions.

In Bulgaria and Romania, the Kremlin even allegedly coopted Orthodox priests to lead anti-fracking protests.

In Moldova, senior priests have worked to halt the country’s integration with Europe (leading anti-homosexual protests and even claiming that new biometric passports for the EU were ‘’satanic’’ because they had a 13-digit number), and priests in Montenegro led efforts to block the country from joining NATO.

These comments paint Orthodox priests and believers everywhere and not just in Russia as proxies of the Kremlin, denying them any independent agency – at least when they speak out against Western cultural practices and US policies – and representing them as enemies of democracy.

To which all I can say is that Western attitudes to the Orthodox Church have witnessed an extraordinary reversal within my lifetime.

During the Soviet period the Orthodox Church was the heroic victim of Soviet persecution.  Today it is the despicable handmaiden of Russian power. The one constant is Western hostility to the Russian government.  That never changes.

The greater part of the report is however taken up with the now standard accusations about Russia’s supposed disinformation strategy and the way Russian media agencies like RT and Sputnik are supposedly destabilising the West and are interfering in Western political processes.

There are the usual calls to counter and censor these agencies and to police social media and the internet in order to discredit or eliminate these pro-Russian voices, “pro-Russian” in this context being anyone anywhere who voices any criticisms of the foreign policy of the United States or who makes any criticisms of its domestic conditions, even if that person is an American.

This harping on Russia’s disinformation strategy is every bit as obsessive as everything else in the report.

Its starting point is the belief that Russians – including of course the Russian media – have no right to hold or express views on any question which disagree with those of the US government.

That in turn leads inexorably to the assumption that when Russians do express such views they must be acting in bad faith.

The totalitarian nature of this reasoning is obvious, but the Democratic Senators who have authored the report seem oblivious to it.

Reading the report it is in fact quite clear that its authors believe that ‘disinformation’ is what Russians do, so that the Russians are ultimately responsible for all ‘disinformation’ wherever it takes place.  Thus if a false story appears anywhere on the internet it must be the Russians who are to blame for it.

Moreover since no right thinking person could ever agree with the Russians on any issue – and certainly not on any issue which involves criticism of or disagreement with the US government – it follows that anyone who does so must be either a Russian agent or a “useful idiot”.

This is not just totalitarian thinking; it is also profoundly paranoid thinking.  At one level it demonstrates an astonishing loss of nerve.  During the Cold War it was the Soviets who placed restrictions on the flow of information.  Now the reverse is happening.  It is however the paranoia which stands out.

This is all the more ironic in that the report actually contains a chapter entitled “the Kremlin’s paranoid pathology”.

This chapter despite its title in fact contains only one passage which discusses Russian beliefs in order to show that they are paranoid

Putin’s regime and most of the Russian people view the history of the late 20th century and early 21st century in a starkly different light than most of the West does. The historical narrative popular in Russia paints this period as one of repeated attempts by the West to undermine and humiliate Russia.

In reality, the perceived aggression of the United States and the West against Russia allows Putin to ignore his domestic failures and present himself as the leader of a wartime nation: a ‘‘Fortress Russia.’’

This narrative repeatedly flogs core themes like enemy encirclement, conspiracy, and struggle, and portrays the United States, NATO, and Europe as conspiring to encircle Russia and make it subservient to the West. As part of this supposed conspiracy, the EU goes after former Soviet lands like Ukraine, and Western spies use civil society groups to meddle in and interfere with Russian affairs.

(bold italics added)

This is the only passage in the report which admits that the Russian people and President Putin and the Russian government on a specific issue believe one and the same thing.

The problem with this passage is however that the Russian beliefs it discusses cannot be described as paranoid for the simple reason that Russians are right to believe them.

Recently declassified documents have now confirmed what in truth has been known all along: that the West promised Russia on multiple occasions that NATO would not be extended eastwards, and that the West subsequently broke this promise.

Western interference in Ukraine is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact.

So is Western interference in Russian domestic politics, with Time magazine for example openly bragging about the US’s role in engineering Boris Yeltsin’s fraudulent election victory in 1996.

By contrast believing that stories which appear in the Russian media and the relatively small number of often contradictory social media messages which are claimed to originate in Russia can have any significant impact on Western political processes is paranoid, as is constantly harping on about supposed Russian misdeeds even when evidence has appeared which proves they are not true (see above).

What then is the significance of this strange report?

At its most basic, the report must be seen as a shot in the bitter partisan conflict which is currently raging in the US between President Trump and his Democratic Party opponents.

That the primary target of the report is actually President Trump – who continues to say that he wants better relations with Russia – is confirmed by these words in the report

Following attacks like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, U.S. presidents have rallied the country and the world to address the challenges facing the nation. Yet the current President of the United States has barely acknowledged the threat posed by Mr. Putin’s repeated attacks on democratic governments and institutions, let alone exercised the kind of leadership history has shown is necessary to effectively counter this kind of aggression.

Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president.

The threat posed by Mr. Putin’s meddling existed before the current U.S. Administration, and may well extend beyond it. Yet, as this report will demonstrate, the Russian government’s malign influence operations can be deterred.

Several countries in Europe took notice of the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and realized the danger posed to their democracies. They have taken steps to build resilience against Mr. Putin’s aggression and interference, and the range of effective measures implemented by European countries provide valuable lessons for the United States.

To that end, this report recommends a series of actions that the United States should take across government, civil society, and the private sector—and in cooperation with our allies—to push back against the Kremlin’s aggression and establish a set of long-term norms that can neutralize such efforts to undermine democracy.

Yet it must be noted that without leadership from the President, any attempt to marshal such a response will be inherently weakened at the outset

(bold italics added)

The trouble is that the paranoid language of the report shows that the Democratic Party Senators who have authored it believe what they say.

They are not conjuring up an invented threat from Russia in order to attack Donald Trump. Rather their reason for attacking Donald Trump is first and foremost because he does not share their paranoid view of Russia.

To suppose otherwise would be both complacent and wrong.

That makes the prospect of any rapprochement taking place between the US and Russia in any foreseeable future extremely improbable, to put it mildly.

Even if this is only a minority report, the fact that it has not been ridiculed and criticised across the US for the paranoid and preposterous document that it is shows the extent to which paranoia about Russia within the US elite has become universal and internalised.

Paranoia of this intensity is not susceptible to reason or argument, and it is all but impossible to see how a rapprochement between the US and Russia is possible when there are so many powerful people in the US who hold these views.

The report also shows the intense pressure Donald Trump is under to be even tougher with Russia than the US already is.

As well as demanding the banning or restriction of “pro-Russian” voices in the media and on the internet, the authors of the report press for intensified confrontation with Russia on every possible front.

They want more military spending to confront Russia, more military deployments close to Russia’s borders, more interference in Russian domestic processes, more efforts to block Russian oil and gas exports to Europe, they want Nord Stream 2 cancelled, and they demand an almost certainly illegal prohibition on US citizens buying Russian sovereign debt.

Even if some of these demands are unworkable or are resisted, the pressure is so intense that some of them at least are likely to be implemented, whilst the prospect of any relaxation of the restrictions which are already in place quite simply is not there.

In the longer term it is difficult to avoid being deeply disturbed by all this.

Back on 12th October 2016 I wrote an article for The Duran discussing how racism against Russians has become the one form of racism which continues to be acceptable in the West, and how this racism and the ugly stereotyping of Russians to which it gives rise is dangerous because it lowers the threshold where violence against Russians becomes acceptable.

This report – with its hostile attitude towards the spread of Russian culture and to the Russian Orthodox Church, and its depiction of corruption, aggression, disinformation and organised crime activity as peculiarly Russian activities – is a case in point.

It is inconceivable that such a report could be written about the cultural, religious and information policies of any other other country – Israel or China are obvious example – without this provoking a furious outcry. By contrast in the case of Russia such a report not only can be published; it is widely treated as authoritative and goes unchallenged.

What the report shows is how far these anti-Russian attitudes which can be accurately called racist – and which President Putin has recently compared to anti-semitism – have become internalised even at the highest levels of the US government and of the US political elite, so that it is not only possible but even respectable to repeat them there.

That is a very worrying fact, and it is impossible to see how it can end any way but badly.

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Such an idiot, Boris Johnson Attacks Russia Before Moscow Visit

UK Foreign Chief Attacks Russia Before Moscow Visit

UK Foreign Chief Attacks Russia Before Moscow Visit

Boris Johnson arrives in Moscow on Dec. 21 to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov the next day – the first visit to Russia by a British foreign minister in five years. International security issues are to top the agenda, including North Korea, Iran and regional stability in the Middle East as well as security for the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament in Russia. This is the time the bilateral relationship is at the lowest ebb due to the differences over Ukraine, Syria, and the allegations of Moscow’s meddling in the politics of various European countries. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has dramatically escalated attacks on Russia recently, accusing it of malign influence and hostile intentions.Mr. Johnson gave an interview to the Sunday Times as he prepares for the trip to Moscow, in which he said that “Russia has not been so hostile to the UK or to Western interests since the end of the Cold War.” According to him, “In the Crimea, capturing a part of sovereign, besides, European territory from someone else’s country and holding it for the first time since 1945.” But the Crimean War, in which the UK and Russia fought each other, ended in 1856. Crimea was reunited with Russia in 2014. How does this reunification hurt British interests and where are the examples of hostility Mr. Johnson is talking about?

Besides, the minister is off base here. The first territory captured from someone else’s country was Kosovo forcibly taken away from Serbia by NATO in 1999 and declared “independent” in 2008.

He also mentions Montenegro. “We literally have Russian fingerprints on an assassination attempt in Montenegro,” the top British diplomat states. Mr. Johnson says “we” talking about an independent state, not a part of British Empire. And how does this example illustrate Russia’s hostility toward the UK?

Then finally Mr. Johnson addresses something Great Britain has an immediate relation to, saying “Look at what they’re doing with cyber- warfare, with attempted disruption of democratic processes in the UK.” The foreign secretary says he has “seen no evidence” that Russian meddling affected the outcome of the EU referendum but adds: “There’s some evidence that there has been Russian trolling on Facebook.” It begs the question how much did Russian Facebook activity target the Brexit vote? The Russia’s Internet Research Agency operatives placed three adverts on Facebook in the run-up to Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership, spending just 97 cents to allegedly raise the issue of immigration. “We have determined that these accounts associated with the IRA spent a small amount of money ($0.97) on advertisements that delivered to UK audiences during that time,” Facebook said. And there is nothing else to confirm the allegation that Russia was involved in any meddling.

So, that’s what all the talks about Russia’s hostility boils down to: Crimea, where not a single shot was fired, Montenegro, a murky story, which has no relation to the UK anyway, and the $0,97 cents allegedly spent to prompt Brexit.

“When I was a kid, Russia was a very scary proposition. The idea of friendship with Russia seemed to be absurd because Russia was threatening us with nuclear warheads,” Mr. Johnson continues. But it was the US, not Russia, who used a nuclear weapon. And it was nobody else but British PM Winston Churchill who urged to “wipe out” Moscow – the city Mr. Johnson is going to visit – with an A-bomb.

The minister made a historical allusion: “I was reading Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian war. It was obvious to me that Athens and its democracy, its openness, its culture and civilisation was the analogue of the United States and the West. Russia for me was closed, nasty, militaristic and antidemocratic — like Sparta. There was an extraordinary moment of hope and change when the [Berlin] wall came down and suddenly everything felt very different. It now feels as if that was a total illusion.” The country he compares with Sparta is not the Russian Federation but the Soviet Union, which does not exist anymore. The territory and political system were different. The times have changed. It should be noted that the wars between Sparta and Athens weakened Classical Greece to make it vulnerable to the conquests of Persia and Macedonia.

Of course, Mr. Johnson could not leave Syria out. “We need to talk to Russia about how they see the endgame in Syria. They have managed to maintain their client Bashar al-Assad in power in Damascus but they have not produced a political solution for Syria,” he says. Is the power of jihadists – the same people who commit terrorist acts in Europe – better that the power of President Assad? No political solution? But the only initiative that has brought tangible results is the Astana peace process with Moscow playing the first fiddle. Are the de-escalation zones, where cease-fire is established, worse than the battlefields, where fierce fighting seemed to last forever? Was it not Russia who organized and is going to host the meeting of “Congress of Syrian National Dialogue” in Sochi? Has the UK ever launched any diplomatic initiative of its own to stop the bloodshed?

Actually, there is nothing new in the views presented by Mr. Johnson in the interview. It’s the same old song and dance – whatever it is, Russia is behind it.

True, the divisions over Ukraine, the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders and the differences over Syria have greatly deteriorated the relationship between the two countries.

Under the circumstances, it would be naïve to expect a diplomatic breakthrough at the upcoming meeting in Moscow. But as permanent members of the UN Security Council the UK and Russia have a special responsibility for global peace and security. Nothing prevents dialogue on specific issues where there is scope for at least partial alignment of the interests, such as Syria, Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, aviation security, the 2018 World Cup and business ties. As the Russian-British Business Forum 2017 held on 28−29 November 2017 showed, there are lucrative prospects for economic cooperation even despite the sanctions war. The two countries can fruitfully cooperate. Just a few days ago, Sir Alan Duncan, the Minister for Europe and the Americas, visited Moscow. The event showed that responsible dialogue is possible. According to him, it is “vital for the UK & Russia, as permanent members of UN Security Council, to engage. Especially where we disagree on international security issues.” That’s the kind of approach that should prevail during Boris Johnson’s visit. It’s more beneficial to talk shop than exchange unfounded accusations emphasizing the divisions instead of concentrating on the areas where cooperation is vital for both nations

Jared Kushner told Michael Flynn to call Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to advance the interests of israel, not Russia

Chris Menahan
InformationLiberation
Dec. 01, 2017

Kushner Told Flynn to Call Russia to Stop Anti-Israel UN Vote: Report

Jared Kushner told Michael Flynn to call Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to advance the interests of Israel, not Russia, according to a new report from Buzzfeed.

From Buzzfeed:

WASHINGTON — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, called Michael Flynn in December 2016 and told him to call members of the UN Security Council in an effort to stop a vote on a resolution critical of Israeli settlement policy, according to a person who was present in the room when Flynn took the call.

Flynn then called Russia’s then-ambassador to the United States to seek his assistance, and later lied to the FBI about having done so, according to documents filed in federal court Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller that explained Flynn’s guilty plea on two counts of lying to federal agents.

The documents do not say on whose behalf Flynn contacted Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, identifying the person only as “a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team.”

But a Trump transition official who was in the room where Flynn took a call regarding the upcoming UN Security Council vote said Flynn identified the caller as Kushner.

“Jared called Flynn and told him you need to get on the phone to every member of the Security Council and tell them to delay the vote,” the person said.

If confirmed, that call would bring prosecutors one step closer to Kushner, who also serves as a senior adviser to Trump.

Kushner, the source said, told Flynn during the phone call that “this was a top priority for the president.”

The source says Flynn took the call at the Trump transition team’s offices in the General Services Administration headquarters in northwest Washington. After hanging up, Flynn told the entire room that they’d have to start pushing to lobby against the UN vote, saying “the president wants this done ASAP.”

The Obama administration let the UN vote condemning Israeli settlements go through unimpeded.

Nothing Kushner has ever done has been successful.

The Guardian has more:

One reason that conversation is important – and potentially highly problematic for Trump and his inner circle – is because of comments made to CNN on 23 December the day after Flynn spoke to Kislyak – by an anonymous Israeli official.

That official admitted that Israel – and reportedly the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, himself – had contacted Trump to seek his assistance in killing the resolution.

The official – in comments that may come back to haunt the White House – said that Israel had “implored the [Obama] White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump”.

“We did reach out to the president-elect,” the official added, “and are deeply appreciative that he weighed in, which was not a simple thing to do.”

Trump himself not only spoke out to condemn the resolution ahead of the vote – highly unusual for a president-elect – but his incoming national security adviser Flynn was also lobbying Moscow to act against then US foreign policy.

While the timeline remains circumstantial, it is highly suggestive. At a time when Israel was asking the Trump transition team to intervene to derail the resolution, the question is whether Flynn would have approached Kislyak on his own initiative.

Flynn’s own answer to that question – in his guilty plea – is now on the record, alleging that a senior member of the Trump transition team “directed” him to make contact with Russian officials in December 2016.

And while the identity of that “senior transition official” has not been revealed there have been hints, not least the Wall Street Journal’s report last month that special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating the attempt by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to block the passage of the resolution 2334 – the same effort that Flynn, it now appears, lied to the FBI about.

We can be certain no one in the US media will demand a thorough investigation into collusion between US officials and Israel. Currently, 51 Senators — from both parties — are signed on to a bill which would make boycotting the state of Israel a criminal offense, First Amendment be damned.

Buzzfeed in their own piece suggested these revelations could only “potentially be relevant to Mueller’s investigation into allegations of collusion between Russian officials and Trump campaign staffers.”

George Soros’s Self-Contradictory Positions on Racism

George Soros’s Self-Contradictory Positions on Racism

ERIC ZUESSE | 30.11.2017 | WORLD / AMERICASMIDDLE EAST

George Soros’s Self-Contradictory Positions on Racism

The international financier George Soros is condemned by the Israeli regime because he opposes that apartheid state — he regards its two-tier system that privileges Jews and disadvantages non-Jews who are Muslims, “Palestinians,” as being the barbarism that it so obviously is (except to the governments of the United States and its allies, who support — and the US even outright donates $3.8 billion per year to — the apartheid Jewish regime there). Earlier, in 1979, Soros had similarly opposed the anti-Black apartheid regime of South Africa. So, his opposition to apartheid is clear, and it is consistent.

However, in regards to bigotry against Russians, Soros intensely champions and funds that particular form of racism, and he has even carried out a major campaign to get EU taxpayers to pick up $50 billion of the cost to impose that racism specifically against Russians and against supporters of Russians who live in Ukraine, and against Russians and pro-Russians who still survive in the parts of Ukraine that in 2014 broke away from Ukraine after US President Barack Obama’s bloody anti-Russian coup just months before, had overthrown the democratically elected President of Ukraine, who was seeking to have good relations with both the United States and Russia. (The Obama regime perpetrated a coup which replaced that Ukrainian President and his allies in the legislature, replaced them by a racist-fascist or ideologically nazi Ukrainian regime that quickly began an ethnic-cleansing operation to kill or drive out the residents in the part of Ukraine that had voted more than 90% for the overthrown President and that refused to be ruled by the Obama-imposed anti-Russian nazis.)

In order to understand these self-contradictions (the anti-apartheid Soros, versus the rabidly bigoted-against-Russians Soros), one needs to understand their origins in Soros’s past, going all the way back to his childhood in an anti-Semitic secular-Jewish home (see page 22) with upper-class parents who had hoped that their having had Jewish ancestors wouldn’t be an insuperable barrier to their achieving personal financial success and personal fulfillment — they had hoped that they would be treated by their fellow-Hungarians as non-Jews because they didn’t believe in Judaism (the literal truthfulness of the Torah, the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Christian Bible).

Hungary was strongly anti-Semitic, and it became conquered first by Nazi Germany’s intensely anti-Semitic Adolf Hitler, who was even-more anti-Semitic, and then by the Georgian former theological student, Joseph Stalin’s, leadership of the communist Soviet Union, from which communist regime Soros fled, after his having thrived under the Nazis by having helped the Nazis to find, and strip the assets from, other Hungarians whom Hitler’s regime labelled to be “Jews.” Soros’s father had been imprisoned by the Soviet Union during and after World War I, and hated Russians. Then, Soros himself, having lived well under the Nazis, moved in 1947 to England to study at the London School of Economics, from which he received an MS in Philosophy in 1952, and then became hired in 1954, entry-level, by the Jewish merchant-banking firm of Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, which was the only financial company that would hire him. In 1956, he moved to NYC, working then for a succession of investment-firms, until setting up in 1969 his Soros Fund Management, which brought in other extremely wealthy people and grew exponentially.

Soros attributes his financial success to the ideas from his former philosophy Professor, Karl Popper, who actually had nothing to do with Soros’s success, but inside information had lots to do with his success, as normally is the case in the financial field.

Then, in 1979, “When I had more money than I needed”, he established his Open Society Foundation, which seemed to be at least vaguely adhering to his former philosophy professor’s philosophy, which was anti-dictatorial and pro-democratic, but increasingly after the 1991 end of communism in Russia, Soros’s Foundation has been functioning more and more clearly as a funder of Soros’s childhood hatred (even to the extent of ethnic cleansing or even genocide) of Russians, certainly not as any funder of democracy.

Therefore, Soros, who previously was understood in a naive fashion, as being simply anti-communist, is now much more clearly understandable as being anti-Russian.

Just as his father had hoped to be viewed without bigotry because he didn’t believe in Judaism, Russians had hoped to be viewed without bigotry because they don’t any longer believe in communism. However, George Herbert Walker Bush, and the US aristocracy which he represents, and of which Soros is actually a part, refuse to accept Russians as being just another group of human beings, with equal rights to all others, and insist upon crushing them, and crushing all who support their right to equal treatment along with the rest of humanity — including their national sovereignty (the rights of the residents in a land controlling that land), in peace.

If this sounds like it can’t be true, because it sounds like a portrayal of a psychopath, and because Soros has been so favorably described in the liberal press, then consider how else the portrayal of Soros has been slanted by ideological blinders: On 17 October 2017, a news-report in the liberal New York Times headlined “George Soros Transfers Billions to Open Society Foundations”, and indicated that:

In recent years Mr. Soros has moved about $18 billion of his own money into Open Society, making it the second largest foundation in the United States by assets, according to the National Philanthropic Trust. The only larger charity is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has an endowment worth some $40 billion and focuses on global health and development issues.

The benefits of such ‘charities’ were described, but the subtraction of those billions of dollars from the tax-rolls and the consequent increase in the tax-burden that non-billionaires must pay, went unmentioned, as did the increase in the billionaires’ control of public issues by privatizing these powers to such ‘charities’ and by their thereby diminishing democracy (i.e., diminishing control by the public — by the general electorate — moving these issues increasingly to control by the wills of billionaires). Beyond a certain point, the only usefulness to the owner that an added billion dollars has, is to increase his/her power — not to consume that added billion, in any case — and these ‘charities’ are thus intrinsically scams, against all non-billionaires.

An excellent description of the hypocrisy of the liberal Soros’s (and other such) ’charities’ was provided in an entirely accurate opinion-piece in the conservative Wall Street Journal, on 23 November 2017, titled “George Soros’s $18 Billion Tax Shelter”. The facts presented there would disabuse any political progressive of the deceit that Soros is, at all, one of them. There are few, if any, progressive billionaires — and none of them will be ‘donating’ anything to any ‘charity’, except to the Government, in a democracy, via taxes. The aristocracy is intrinsically this way — vastly more taking from the public than giving to the public — but aristocrats are ideologically treated as ‘heros’ by whichever commentators happen to admire a particular aristocrat’s ‘ideology’, which in reality is none at all except endless greed (differing from one-another only in their respective business-plans, because that’s all they actually are).

So: Soros’s hypocrisy regarding racism is part of a broader picture, which includes not only the rest of himself, but also includes all extremely wealthy individuals and their intrinsically destructive relationships toward the society-at-large, and especially toward democracy itself, because endless greed for power is what drives all of them, even the “loafers” amongst them (such as typically are second-and-more generation wealth, the IIs, IIIs, IVs, etc. aristocrats, who don’t have to work for anything).

‘Russian Troll’ Turns Out To Be Glasgow Security Guard

Source

A Twitter handle alleged to be a prime example of a ‘Russian troll’ account was actually run from Glasgow by a Scottish security guard. Asked about his tweets, the Scotsman said he is “just anti-crony capitalism.”

On Monday, crowdfunded journalism outlet Byline published an article detailing a “complicated” analysis of Twitter page @didgery77332nd, also known as ‘Smoo,’ concluding it’s a “fair assessment” that Smoo is a “foreign-based troll pushing Russian messaging.”

The supposed ‘Russian troll’ takedown comes amid recent unfounded claims that Russian bots sought to influence the Brexit referendum. However, the alleged foreign troll ‘Smoo’ has been tracked down and is actually a security guard from Glasgow, according to The Scotsman newspaper.

The man denied his page was anonymous, telling the Scottish newspaper that Smoo is a pet name from his childhood. “Smoo has been my nickname since I was six years old. It’s not difficult to track me down. People might not agree with my opinions, but that doesn’t make me a Russian troll,” he said.

The Byline ‘investigation’ into the social media page was carried out by writer JJ Patrick, who said he undertook the project after the owner of the account responded to his Twitter post about Russian Brexit trolls. Patrick’s analysis details why he suspects Smoo to be a fake Scottish account peddling “Russian or Russian-inspired disinformation”.

His reasoning includes that the account spread conspiracist memes and made “horrific use of English.” The Byline article zeroes in on the Smoo account’s language patterns in a failed attempt to debunk it.

“Their use of the word ‘Way’ to replace ‘With’ is not Scottish. In fact, having confirmed this by consulting a broad spectrum of Twitter users from across Scotland, ‘Way’ would almost certainly not be used. Rather, ‘With’ would be substituted with ‘Wae’ or even ‘Wi’.”

The person behind ‘Smoo’ has since tweeted to say his views “are not pro-Russia just anti-crony capitalism & corrupt governments.”

RT.com has reached out to both ‘Smoo’ and JJ Patrick for comment.

Via RT.

 

US Presidential Election Unaffected by Russia. Americans have only themselves to blame.But it could have been even worse, it could have been Clinton

US Presidential Election Unaffected by Russia

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

US intelligence community hypocrisy on Russian US election meddling baloney is clear for everyone paying attention to facts, not baseless accusations and shameful Russia bashing.

On the one hand, the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin are blamed for what never happened, no corroborating evidence cited after over a year of initial accusations.

On the other, the intelligence community says last year’s presidential election was unaffected by Russia.

Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. The CIA, NSA, FBI and undemocratic Dems claim Russian meddling helped Trump defeat Hillary.

How if electoral results were unaffected by Russia? If meddling occurred, forensic analysis would have found clear evidence – no evidence, no interference, case closed.

At least it should be – not in America, not with a way to keep delegitimizing Trump for the wrong reasons, demonizing Russia at the same time.

Hillary’s whined about her loss for the past year – among other things, claiming “(t)here certainly was communication and there certainly was an understanding of some sort.”

“(T)here’s no doubt in my mind that Putin wanted me to lose and wanted Trump to win.”

“And there’s no doubt in my mind that there are a tangle of financial relationships between Trump and his operation with Russian money.”

“And there’s no doubt in my mind that the Trump campaign and other associates have worked really hard to hide their connections with Russians.”

Fact: There’s no doubt whatever that not a shred of evidence backs her sour grapes – baseless, vindictive and mean-spirited.

Her remarks, inability to accept defeat, and go quietly into the good night show a serious character flaw, among other distasteful things about her, along with her unaccountable high crimes, what’s most important of all.

Sunday on CBS News Face the Nation, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin addressed the phony Russian US election meddling issue, saying:

“…I’ve seen information. I’m not going to comment on any of the confidential information I’ve seen. We are carrying out the sanctions.”

“But let me be clear, nobody thinks this has had any impact on the election. So whatever occurred, there was no impact. So I think the American public is ready to move on to more important issues.”

Last October, CIA director Mike Pompeo said “(w)e conducted an election that had integrity. (T)he intelligence community’s assessment is that (Russia) did not affect the outcome of the election.”

Last January, in testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee members, then DNI James Clapper said “Russia did not change any vote tallies or anything of the sort.”

Senator Tom Cotton asked him “the intelligence community says, ‘(i)t would be extremely difficult for someone – including a nation-state actor to alter actual ballot counts or election results by cyberattack or intrusion,’ and you say to that earlier today as well that we have no evidence that vote tallies were altered or manipulated in anyway?”

Clapper responded: “That’s correct.”

Last November post-election, NSA head Mike Rogers said leaked DNC emails had no effect on the election. “I don’t think in the end it had the (intended) effect.”

Separately, he said “I do not think that the outcome of the election was impacted by” Russia – after earlier claiming “a nation state” tried interfering in the US election.

Let’s recap. The intelligence community and undemocratic Dems blame Russia for Hillary’s defeat.

At the same time, the CIA, NSA, former DNI and Treasury secretary said last year’s presidential election was unaffected by Russia.

If so, how did Trump defeat Hillary with no Russian help? Simple! He got way more Electoral College votes than she did, trouncing her by a 304 – 227 margin.

On November 8, 2016, the presidential campaign ended. He won. She lost. Postmortems continue over a year later.

Only in America!

‘We are at war’…Neocons Launch ‘Committee to Investigate Russia’

“We have been attacked. We are at war.”

These are the opening words in a video uploaded by a new group calling itself the “Committee to Investigate Russia.” The organization was founded by neocon David Frum and Hollywood actor Rob Reiner, who played “the meathead” in the 1970s sitcom “All in the Family.”

Listed on the organization’s advisory board, in addition to Reiner, are Max Boot, James Klapper, Norman Ornstein, and Charles Sykes. Their video, in which they have recruited Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman as spokesperson, kind of leaves you with the feeling that if a white dove carrying an olive branch clasped in its beak ever flew too close to this group, any one of them would likely pull out a shotgun and blast it out of the sky.

It isn’t just that the video is oozing with American exceptionalism–our democracy is no longer a “shining example” of anything other than relentless wars and quest for complete and total global dominance–it is that in raising its shofar, the esteemed “committee” seems to be seeking to establish the pretext for a war with Russia. As independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone puts it in her article on the matter:

…the assertion that America is currently at war with Russia is horrifying, and if Americans start swallowing this disgusting propaganda there’ll be no public outcry if the US really does enter into actual warfare with the only other nuclear superpower on the planet. The evidence-free assertion that America has “been attacked” is plainly geared to elicit a fear response from the video’s intended audience and manufacture support for counter-attacks and/or dangerous new cold war escalations.

Whatever else may be said about Trump, he seems to have succeeded in getting a good bit of the planet’s population on the edge of its seats trying to guess when and where the next world war is going to start. In his speech at the UN yesterday, he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea. On the other hand, the Syrian Army, after crossing the Euphrates River, is now being hit with heavy fire from areas controlled by US and Kurdish forces–so maybe it’ll be Syria.

Or perhaps joker’s wild, and Mattis will decide to nuke Venezuela instead.

Whichever it turns out to be, the underlying strategy in all this seems: instill fear by making the rest of the world think you’re crazy. It’s a tactic that the Trump administration in all likelihood borrowed from Israel. As one political analyst once put it,  “The threatening of wild, irrational violence, in response to political pressure, has been an Israeli impulse from the very earliest days.” America, the largest and most dangerous rogue state on the planet, is now threatening “wild and irrational violence” in multiple directions. And as if that weren’t ominous enough, we now have the emergence of a group proclaiming the US to be at war with Russia.

Here are Reiner and Frum being interviewed on Bloomberg News. Notice Reiner sidestep the question of who is funding his organization:

We have been “attacked by a foreign power,” Reiner claims. How many elections in other countries has the US altered the outcome of? How many other countries have we attacked either directly or through proxies over the last 50 years? Nobody making allegations about “Russian hacking” of the US election ever seems to want to talk about this. They all seem to pretend that America has a sterling record of honoring the sovereignty of other nations.

You might be wondering about the Russian reaction to Reiner and Frum and their little group. RT has published an article on it, and while the piece is devoid of any response from the Russian government, it does note that Freeman’s appearance in the video has prompted “quite a stir on Twitter.” It seems that the actor, in aligning himself with a coterie of neocons, has lost a few fans.

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