Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Russo-American Situation Today

This may be a bit off-topic but I am going to address it because I think its importance justifies doing so. It has become a tradition, sadly, in the United States of America to start out each new presidential term by trying to undermine the legitimacy of the incoming president. Leftists started this with their effort to de-legitimize George W. Bush following the Bush-Gore presidential contest which was so close it had to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the end, Bush won but because Gore won the “popular vote” the Clinton/Gore camp said that Bush was illegitimate. When Obama was elected there was nothing as serious as that but one prominent businessman, namely Donald J. Trump, took up the issue, which again originated with the Clinton family, that Obama had not been born in the United States as he claimed. The Republican Party did not want to touch the issue but Trump was all over it. Despite what many think, there were reasons to be suspicious. In publicizing his first book, Obama’s literary agent put out promotional material saying he had been born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. This was not changed for 16 years until Obama ran for president. There were assertions that he was registered as a foreign student during his higher education but, as his school records were quickly sealed, no one could confirm this. In any event, Trump was accused of trying to undermine the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency.

Now, once again, the Democrats, liberals, progressives, leftists etc, particularly of the Clinton camp are trying to undermine the legitimacy of Trump by accusing him of being a stooge for Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Trump did not really beat Hillary Clinton in the election but that it was stolen from her by the Russians, aided by once again touting that Hillary won the “popular” vote despite her overwhelming loss in the Electoral College which actually chooses the president. It is unfortunate that this has become standard procedure but it is, I submit, even more dangerous this time because, unlike with Bush and Obama, this effort to de-legitimize Trump carries serious consequences for U.S. foreign policy and national security. The Clinton camp also has many allies in this given that the old boy network of the Republican Party has always opposed Trump, continues to oppose Trump and the issue has also been taken up by the Republican “war hawks” such as Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio who seem to want nothing more than a humanity-ending war with Russia and will work with the Democrats in playing up the accusations that Trump was put in office by Vladimir Putin rather than the American people. This is not only wrong but it is dangerous but, unfortunately, it may have already worked and Trump has not even actually become President of the United States yet.

In the first place, it seems necessary to emphasize that the election was not as “close” as the Clinton camp likes to say. There is no such thing as “the popular vote” there is just “the vote”. Yes, more people in the country as a whole voted for Clinton but most people in most states voted for Trump and America is not a unitary country, it is a federal union of states -that is and always has been the basis of how the country is organized. Hillary gets her “popular vote” argument thanks to New York City and Los Angeles, the first and second most populous cities in the country. The Electoral College was established in the first place so that one state with an extremely large population could not rule the whole country according to its own interests and disregard the interests of all the other states. There is only one vote on election day and that vote is held in every state and determines which candidate that state’s electors will vote for. Most of the people in most of the states voted for Trump so the electors of those states voted for Trump and he was chosen to be President. Talking about the “popular vote” as if that were an actual ‘thing’ is pointless and doing away with the Electoral College in favor of direct democracy would, I think, simply destroy the country because a great many of the other 49 states are not going to be content to be ruled by whoever the voters in California thinks is best.

As to the allegations that Russia “stole” the election from Hillary, this is a more complicated issue because what exactly the Russian government is being accused of tends to be rather hard to pin down. You cannot “hack” an election as Obama himself stated before Trump surprised everyone by winning. There is, as stated above, no single vote in the country but 50 elections held in all 50 states using various voting methods. Some use machines, some use pencil and paper, in Alaska I think everyone shoots a moose with a candidate’s name on it, I’m not sure. The point is, there is no one vote that could be hacked. Even the Electoral College vote does not work like that. The electors get together and cast their votes in their state capitals and the results are then ratified by the Senate. When you boil down the “hacking” issue it basically comes down to this; you cannot “hack” the election but the Russians are accused of hacking into the email accounts of members of the Democrat party and Clinton campaign, passing these emails to “Wikileaks” which then made them public. These emails contained private information that was damaging to the Clinton campaign and, the Democrats argue, swung public opinion against Clinton causing her to lose the election.

Already, there are some obvious problems with this accusation. In the first place, none of the emails have had their veracity disputed. So, what the Russians are being accused of is getting facts to American voters that were obtained unjustly. American voters were told the truth and, evidently, the Democrats did not want that to happen and believes the truth harmed their campaign. But, on the other hand, the Democrats are the ones constantly trumpeting the fact that Hillary won the “popular vote” (as if that were a thing). So, how exactly did this impact the election? Looking at the country as a whole, most people were obviously unmoved by the emails if most people voted for Hillary Clinton, as most people did given that there are more people in New York and Los Angeles than in a number of entire countries in the world. Were the facts revealed in these emails more or less alarming depending on where they were read? Why would people in Michigan be more bothered by their contents than people in California? Can they really say for a fact that it was these leaked emails, supposedly provided by Russia, that caused Hillary to lose Wisconsin and not the fact that Hillary so took their votes for granted that she didn’t even bother to campaign in that state? I do not see how you possibly could.

Nonetheless, we are told that the Russians were “meddling” in the presidential election and that this poses a threat to American democracy and undermines the legitimacy of Donald Trump. Well, when Vice President Joe Biden went to Russia when Dmitri Medvedev was president and said that Vladimir Putin (the former president and then prime minister) should not be President of Russia again, was that not “meddling” in Russia’s next election? When Obama used government funds to try to stop Benjamin Netanyahu being reelected as prime minister was that “meddling” in the Israeli elections? In 2013 when Senator John McCain visited Kiev and told crowds of anti-government protestors that, “…Europe will make Ukraine better,” and, “…the destiny you seek lies in Europe,” could that in any way be seen as “meddling”? When the elected Ukrainian president was subsequently overthrown and replaced by a pro-Europe, anti-Russian one, no one in Obama’s administration seemed to think this was a threat to Ukrainian democracy or that this coup against a democratically-elected (though frankly terrible) president should be invalidated because of “meddling” by foreign powers. Obama himself might well be accused of “meddling” in British politics and trying to undermine British democracy when he went to London ahead of the “Brexit” vote and warned that if Britain left the EU he would put the British “at the back of the queue” when it came to trade matters.

This is all pure absurdity. I have no doubt that, given the choice of Clinton or Trump, the Russians would prefer the candidate who wanted to improve relations rather than the one who openly threatened war with Russia. One does not need a super-secret spy agency to come to that conclusion. Add to that the fact that, as yet, no evidence at all has been produced that the Russians were behind the “Wikileaks” revelations in the first place. All we have is the word of the U.S. intelligence agencies to go by that Russia was behind it all. National Intelligence Director James Clapper says the Russians did it. This being the same James Clapper who said that the NSA was not spying on US citizens only for it to come out that they actually were. I would not, personally, take his word that night is dark and day is light based on his record of honesty. This is when the patriot crowd starts to bellow about taking the word of foreigners over our own, all-American, intelligence agents. Sorry, that will not work with me. They have forfeited any claim to our trust by their own record of incompetence and dishonesty. They say they have evidence but as long as this evidence cannot be made public, all we can do is take their word for it and their word does not mean much to me at this point.

Added to this is how everything in the United States has become bitterly partisan at this point. No one trusts anyone from “the other side” and Russia, nor any other foreign power has any responsibility for that. James Clapper, in my book, forfeited my trust when he publicly lied about the NSA collecting data on US citizens. FBI Director James Comey forfeited my trust when he laid out a long list of infractions on the part of Hillary Clinton only to then refuse to bring charges against her. Of course, he then announced he was briefly reopening the case, in the last days of the election, which now has the Democrats baying for his blood since Hillary lost. And that is an illustrative case. When Comey said he was not recommending charges against Hillary, the Democrats held him up as an example of honesty and integrity. Today they are denouncing him as an untrustworthy political hack because Hillary lost. Prior to the election, Obama laughed off warnings from Donald Trump that the election might not be fair. Now that the Democrats have lost, he has placed sanctions on Russia for “meddling” in the election. Does anyone honestly believe he would have done the same if Hillary had won? When the intelligence community under George W. Bush said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the anti-war Democrats said they were wrong and subsequently trumpeted the news that none were found. Now these same Democrats are ready to take the intelligence community’s word for gospel that Russian “meddling” put Donald Trump in the White House. The loss of faith in American institutions is not the fault of any foreign power but the fault of both parties in the American government playing partisan politics with American intelligence agencies and American foreign policy.

Finally, we have the issue that makes this all particularly dangerous. Tensions between Russia and America are probably higher today than they have ever been since the Cuban missile crisis. Putin has been vilified by the American media and the American government like no Russian leader since Stalin, and even Stalin was portrayed as kindly “Uncle Joe” during the World War II years. The efforts to undermine the legitimacy of Bush and Obama did not involve a foreign power. The effort by the Clinton camp to undermine the legitimacy of Trump does and that makes this partisan game extremely dangerous. Trump said he wanted to “get along” with President Putin, suggested re-orienting NATO and working in cooperation with the Russians to fight Islamic terrorism. Hillary Clinton threatened to impose a “no fly zone” over Syria which, as one top American general told a seemingly incredulous panel of politicians, would mean war with Russia. Trump, against all expectations, won the election. The Democrats and Hillary Clinton in particular, were humiliated. This was not like losing to another Bush or losing to a Rubio or even a Ted Cruz but this was losing to a man they had all laughed at, who they had all discounted as being unworthy of serious consideration, a man they thought was not only “deplorable” but an absolute joke. The hysteria level on the left jumped to DEFCON 2.

Hillary had to have some way to explain away losing to this man for whom they had nothing but contempt. Russia and Vladimir Putin was seized on to serve this purpose. Russia immediately became the great, looming villain of the American political scene. Obama, who had once laughed off any concern about Russia, suddenly put sanctions on Russia, vilified the Russian president and dispatched troops to Eastern Europe. Republican war hawks like John McCain, who favored bombing Iran, bombing Iraq, bombing Syria, bombing Libya, happily added Russia to the list of enemies and it is perhaps no coincidence that he and his comrades too have always despised Donald Trump. However, the problem is that Russia is not like Iraq, Iran, Syria or Libya. Russia has the military capacity to hit back at the United States if it comes to that. Russia has no military forces in any country bordering the United States but the United States now has a great many military forces in a number of countries bordering Russia. Most Americans seem oblivious to that fact but the Russians certainly are not. The current NATO build-up, initiated by Obama is, as the Russians have pointed out, this biggest amassing of military forces on their border since the prelude to the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. This is serious.

It is all the more serious because, with NATO having expanded to the Russian border itself, there is no room for Russia to back up any farther. During the Cuban missile crisis, Russia had military forces on the doorstep of America. A deal was agreed to and Russia removed these forces, the missiles were taken away and Russia backed off. Now America has military forces on the doorstep of Russia. The only way this ends is if America backs off and the anti-Russian hysteria, aimed at de-legitimizing Donald Trump, may have already made this impossible. The well has been poisoned. Before even taking office, Trump has been branded by the Democrats and the “establishment” Republicans as Putin’s pliant puppet, a stooge for the Kremlin. Any move he makes to remove the sanctions on Russia, ease tensions, draw back or even talk about some sort of cooperation with Russia will be immediately seized on as “proof” that all the accusations were true about him being the instrument of Moscow. Thus, the Democrats and their pro-war allies have made coming to any accommodation with Russia the purest political poison. Already I have heard from one European reader here saying that the election of Trump has made America, “Russia’s bitch”. Any hope of coming to an understanding between the United States and Russia may well have been destroyed before Trump even takes the oath of office.

So, if America cannot back down and Russia cannot back down; how does this end? No one in Washington seems to be thinking about or indeed the least bit concerned about the inevitable outcome of their actions. Consider the sanctions Obama just placed on Russia over their alleged “meddling” in the election; how do those ever end? Obama sanctioned Russia for something he says they have already done, so it is not as though they can stop doing anything in order for these sanctions to be lifted. What are these sanctions supposed to achieve? What does massing troops on the Russian border accomplish? These countries are already a part of NATO so they already have, effectively, a war guarantee from the United States to go to war with Russia if the Russians so much as lay a finger on them (a mistake in my view), so everyone already knows that if Russia makes a move on the Baltic republics or Poland that this means war with America. All this increased military presence does then is make the already nervous Russians even more nervous and increase the chances of something going wrong and starting a cataclysmic conflict. Does Obama, the Democrats and the McCain-Graham-Rubio trio hope to collapse Putin’s regime? That is not going to happen and it would not be pretty if it did. In the last century Russia collapsed twice and it is not going to happen a third time without others being dragged down with them. Russians today can remember when Russia had troops in Germany, now the United States has troops in Poland. Their backs are to the wall and a country with its back to the wall and a nuclear arsenal at their disposal should not be the focus of saber rattling for the sake of the wounded pride of one political party.

Finally, before anyone says so, no, I’m not a huge fan of Vladimir Putin and I have the articles here and the angry comments from his fan boys to prove it. I wouldn’t be a fan of any regime in Russia that did not have a Romanov at the top of it. However, Putin is not the worst guy in the world, he’s not Hitler and he’s certainly no threat to the United States. I don’t agree with or like many of his foreign policies and if I lived in certain European countries he would probably worry me but this is part of the problem. Saying we should see things from the Russian point of view, saying it would be better not to have World War III break out because Hillary is embarrassed, or just saying that the relationship between America and Russia should be talked about rationally should NOT cause someone to immediately be labeled as a “Putin apologist”. He’s not blameless, he’s done plenty that I do not like but he’s probably the best post-imperial leader Russia has had, which is not too difficult. Henry Kissinger, a man I am certainly no fan of, was, I think, nonetheless correct when he said that the demonization of Putin is not a policy. Right now, Democrats and Republicans are fond of saying that “Russia’s values are not America’s values” and that may be true but were the values of Soviet Russia or Imperial Russia any closer? The U.S. dealt with them and, in fact, was often quite friendly with Imperial Russia and no one claimed that the values of a secular federal republic were at all the same as those of an Orthodox absolute monarchy. What Americans have to do is stop vilifying, stop blaming, stop the hysterics and think, talk, debate and at least have the discussion.

This is not just serious, it is deadly serious and I know most people will probably just roll their eyes at that, confident in the belief that actual war could never happen. I hope you’re right but people said the same thing in 1939. They said it in 1914 and plenty of Americans probably said the same thing in 1861. There are people in the world who have legitimate disagreements with Russia and genuine causes for concern. The United States is not one of them. The United States has never fought a war with Russia, has no territorial disputes with Russia, shares no border with Russia and does relatively little business with Russia. Trump beating Hillary in an election is not justification for conflict with Russia, nor, in my view, does the fate of Syria, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania rise to the level of being vital to American national security. For most of American history Syria belonged to Turkey and the other countries belonged to Russia and it had no impact on the safety of the United States at all. Let the Democrats find some other way of undermining the Trump presidency if they must because this one could get us all killed. Stop saying that Russia committed an “act of war” against the US and stop trying to get every Trump appointee to publicly call Putin a “war criminal”. It is stupid, it is not helpful and I cannot think they themselves even really mean it. It is just political theater for partisan political reasons, because if they really DID mean it, then they would be giving the orders to fire up the bombers, kiss your butt goodbye and prepare to meet Jesus because the world would be about to end. They are showboating for political reasons but, as I said before, the problem is that Russia is not Iraq or Afghanistan. They can hit back and in this scenario, it is not the United States alone that gets to decide when to go to war and when they have had enough. To repeat, Russia is not at America’s doorstep, America is at Russia’s doorstep. They have no room to back up and they are not going to have another 1917 or 1991. They have nowhere to go and nothing left to lose. The clowns in Washington should think about that or at least the American people should think about that and call a halt to this dangerous nonsense.

12 comments:

  1. Everything that you have said here is absolutely true. You are very wise. And unfortunately Barack Obama is not.

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  2. The delusions of democracy are on a path to destroy not just a society, but the people in that society and much of the world. Excellent summary of the terror waiting just around the corner if we don't change direction immediately.

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  3. IMHO it is related more to the warhawk's maneuvering than Hillary's hurt feelings. Bastiat said "When goods will not cross borders, soldiers will" . The war dates you list all have a common economic thread. When we put political personalities and military bluster aside, the more pertinent question becomes: Have we reached a similar imbalance in today's state managed economies? Perhaps the military buildup will only be used to justify more credit expansion without igniting into a conflict.

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    1. That may be but all the same, by the Democrats associating Trump with Putin and blaming them for Hillary's loss means that Democrats who usually claim to be about removing sanctions and having 'dialogue' with everyone now have suddenly shifted to the side of the hawks.

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    2. Too true, MM. Hypocrisy abounds. But then, Obama campaigned on the peace platform and even won the 'Nobel' peace prize. The drone strikes and the torture sessions continued uninterrupted.

      Politicians are just salesmen selling the same spiel with different marketing angles. At the end of the day the same elite financiers will cash in, regardless of partisan flavor.

      If the US needs to conquer a foreign nation or poke the Russian bear in the eyes, let us at least call a spade a spade. The usual theatrical gymnastics and phony pretenses for war don't carry the same water in the Internet era.

      Under Bush II, the military was offering something like $40k USD as a bonus for signing up for Iraq. Recruiters kept asking me in parking lots and public places. I was not swayed. I thought about loosing a limb and was more disgusted by the lies that were used to sell the war. To end up like that, for those reasons?!?

      If they had offered no reason other than looting oil wealth and no reward but a landed title in the new colony, I would have jumped at the opportunity.

      The hypocrisy is too much when they spread rubbish about "freedom and democracy" on one hand while the other hand tortures, censors, and clumsily disseminates propaganda. The narrative of democracy exceeds credibility. Not only in the basic philosophical sense, (i.e. how can I give my consent to be governed if it can not be withdrawn) but in the more direct interpretation how can I consent and be held to something which is completely fraudulent and personified by a class of professional liars. No, I think most who identify as individualists, anarchists, minarchists, or libertarians would be willing to consent to the state (and even become patriotic) if only there were a modicum of consistency, credibility, and most of all something in it for the individual.

      Anyways thanks for the blog.

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  4. Great point of view!!! Other things I noticed that made people change their heart at the election day are: Hillary bad doings presented by the media, Democrats are intimidated by the terrorist converting the Islam & Muslim the #1 protected class (once upon the time were the LGTB), The way this present administration/democrats are letting socialism abrase the nation. So, God are giving us another chance... God bless the USA!!! Amen

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  5. Your articles about war have made me wonder, what place do empire and war inhabit in your vision of a return to traditional order? Is it OK for kingdoms to conquer each other? Finally, since most major powers have nuclear arsenals, would you say that war between any of them for any reason would always end with world destruction?

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    1. Second question first: I tend to think it would. If India and Pakistan nuke each other, perhaps not but for the rest it would be extremely hard to contain the damage and the huge number of countries around the world that the U.S. has placed under its "nuclear umbrella" means that the odds if one goes, all go.

      First question, rather timely given the current article I'm writing, is a knee-jerk "no" but actually a "maybe". It would depend on the circumstances. However, the overall message that I often try to convey in writing about these things is to show what the impact was so that people will be more wary about being too strident but also to show that countries which are small and seemingly weak today were once great and powerful, that they accomplished amazing things and had fewer advantages than they do today.

      That doesn't mean they should go on a war of conquest, but I mean to show that they are capable of great things and that their ancestors had the same blood in their veins as people today do. If they could succeed then, you can succeed now, in one field or another.

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    2. Another question about empire: Would you prefer Europe to reassert its control over say Africa (not touching the monarchies, but focusing on the many unstable republics *Gambia*), or would you prefer the world to step away from Africa and let them convert back to their old tribal systems of governance? (considering the host of effects of either choice)

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    3. The record of the African countries after independence has certainly not been a happy one (see all the African refugees going to Europe). I do think that European countries could forge new relationships with their former colonies that would benefit them both. I don't think it has to happen but I think it could be beneficial. For example, take Nigeria and the Boko Haram problem. The British could make an agreement to send in the SAS to wipe out this gang, ensure stability and security in exchange for which Nigeria could give Britain certain trade/economic advantages. This doesn't have to include exclusivity but putting the UK at the front of the line, that sort of thing. Agreements like that, I think, could be quite advantageous to both sides.

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  6. Good article do you have any words of wisdom for an American who wants to support monarchy but has no monarch of their own and no real outlets for monarchists within my country other than the internet.

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