All posts by John V. Walsh

Woodward: “No Evidence Of Trump-Russia Collusion, I Searched Hard For Two Years”

Bob Woodward’s book Fury has been a sensation in many respects.  But one aspect has barely been mentioned.  After two years of exhaustive research for his book, Woodward says that he has found no evidence of collusion between Putin’s government and Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.  Zilch, nada, zero.  And Woodward strained very hard looking for it.

This largely ignored blockbuster admission came in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt reported by Real Clear Politics here, where a recording of the full interview can also be found.   Real Clear Politics reports the text of the exchange thus:

“In an interview with Hugh Hewitt on Friday, Bob Woodward said that in his two years of investigating for his new book, Fear, he found no evidence of collusion or espionage between Trump and Russia. Woodward said he looked for it ‘hard’ and yet turned up nothing.

“’Did you, Bob Woodward, hear anything in your research in your interviews that sounded like espionage or collusion?’ Hugh Hewitt asked Woodward.

“’I did not, and of course, I looked for it, looked for it hard,’ Woodward answered. ‘And so you know, there we are. …..’ (Emphasis, jw)

“’But you’ve seen no collusion?’ Hewitt asked again to confirm.

“’I have not,’ Woodward affirmed.

“Hewitt would once again ask Woodward about collusion at the conclusion of the interview.

“’Very last question, Bob Woodward, I just want to confirm, at the end of two years of writing this book, this intensive effort, you saw no effort, you, personally, had no evidence of collusion or espionage by the president presented to you?’ Hewitt asked.

“’That is correct,’ Woodward said.”

The attitude in the mass media with respect to the work that Woodward has done on Fury borders on a sort of deification.  He is considered careful, exhaustive and reliable.  He is considered to have sources throughout the government that provide the best information possible.  So it is said, over and over.  Thus, his word on this issue should be worth its weight in gold.  Unfortunately, this failure to uncover collusion barely gets covered.

Perhaps the need to emphasize the importance of this issue needs to be emphasized more. The issue of collusion is of great importance, because it hangs over the head of the Presidency, unresolved after two years.  Why is this of great importance?  It should not need to be said, but the issue of collusion involves the two nuclear superpowers, each of which has 1550 nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert ready to go at a moment’s notice and capable of reaching one another within minutes.  It is an issue that can affect our very survival.

As Daniel Ellsberg informs us in his book, The Doomsday Machine, this situation is fraught with the chance of miscalculation or accident, which would immediately engulf us in nuclear holocaust leading to the death of billions and possibly of all humanity.  This issue of collusion and its embodiment in the Mueller investigation in a dispute often called Russiagate has prevented the Presidents of Russia and the US from meeting sufficiently long to deal with this nuclear danger.  And as Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian History at Princeton University, has often pointed out, this prevents our President from making concessions on some issues to get movement on others.  Anything less than a tough guy approach, the approach of an Über-hawk, is treated by an hysterical press with suspicion and denunciation.

Take the recent and very brief Summit between Trump and Putin in Helsinki as an example.  Condemnation was everywhere in the media and the follow-up Summit has been postponed until next year, probably out of concern for how the press would treat it leading up to the midterms. This has happened even though it does not quite make sense.  Polling showed that a majority of the American people approved of the Helsinki Summit and also of the planned follow-up.  Over 60% desire improved relationship with Russia, sometimes called Détente 2.0. And yet there was virtually no support voiced for this Summit from the US Peace Community, CodePink being a prominent exception.

So let us take note.  Woodward has added his voice to those who have been unable to find any evidence of collusion with Russia.  After two years of finding nothing and given the danger that the crippling of US-Russia relation poses to our survival, is it not time to say “Enough”?

Woodward has now added his voice to many, many others.  They have worked hard for years and have found no evidence for collusion.  Enough of Partisanship and hysteria.  For the sake of our survival, Enough.

• Author’s Note:  Thanks to Jean Bricmont, author of Humanitarian Imperialism, for calling the Hewitt-Woodward interview to my attention.

Medicare for All: Let 50 Flowers Bloom.

It has long been clear that health care in America is a disaster, an overpriced and underperforming bureaucratic behemoth.  It has also been clear that the answer is Medicare for All, aka Single Payer Health Care, a tried and proven solution to the problems of health care in modern, developed societies.  It is also true that a majority of Americans favor such a system.

But alas, we have no such system here in the US.  How to get it is one of the pressing political and humanitarian questions of the day.  The Purple World: Healing the Harm in American Health Care, a new book by Dr. Joseph Jarvis, suggests some interesting answers.

Much of this book deals with Dr. Jarvis’s years as one of the two leading public health officials in Nevada.  This part is engaging, enlightening and a bit scary at one or two points as Jarvis relates his struggles to ensure proper public health standards.  For example, a convention center restaurant wanted to cover up a case of food poisoning that disabled hundreds of conventioneers.  Or proper protections were not being enforced in Nevada’s brothels, leaving both employees and customers at risk.  At one point the brothel employers let Jarvis know that they were well aware of where he and his family lived!  It read like a scene out of The Godfather.  The brave Dr. Jarvis was not stopped.   Many of these tales are very revealing about the practice of medicine and public health and they make for spell-binding reading.

But the main interest of this book is a discussion of how to get Single Payer, and the book opens some interesting new angles on this effort.

Single Payer is Attractive to Conservatives as well as Progressives

For starters, too many seem to think that Single Payer only has appeal for liberals, progressives and Leftists.  Dr. Jarvis is living testimony that such is not the case.  He is a political conservative and a devout Mormon; and in this book, we find him pressing the case for Single Payer with great passion.  And he has done so tirelessly for decades in op-eds, lectures, interviews and even twice running for the Utah legislature.

The lesson is that the movement for Single Payer must be broadened to appeal to those who share Dr. Jarvis’s conservatism.  Single Payer must not be perceived as a wholly owned progressive enterprise.  That means uncoupling the crusade for Single Payer from other programs that Left leaning activists advocate.  There is no reason that Trump populists cannot embrace Single Payer every bit as much as Bernie Sanders populists.

And for this Dr. Jarvis sees hope in the 2016 election. He feels that the 2106 election created:

what felt like the most significant change in governance during my lifetime…..The American electorate became less reliably red or blue (in other words, it became more purple), and therefore much more unpredictable, more irascible and more demanding of its government.  (Emphasis, JW.)

From this comes the book’s title The Purple World. In both Democratic and Republican primaries, voters showed their independence and admirable irascibility by turning from the Elite Party leaders to the upstart populists, Trump and Sanders.

With voters more willing to think for themselves rather than act according to Party establishment diktat, the question must be asked how Single Payer can be made attractive to conservatives.  As I noted above, one way is to decouple it from other progressive issues.  It must not be seen as simply another plank of a Left-wing platform.  Opposition to coal mining or to gun rights, as examples, should not be made a prerequisite for Single Payer advocacy or a condition for working hand in hand with progressives in the Single Payer movement.  And meetings of Single Payer activists, should not drift into such areas which are guaranteed to make conservatives feel unwelcome.

In other words the crusade for Medicare for All must be made into a solid single-issue effort that spans parties and ideologies.  In this regard Single Payer activism has much to learn from the struggles for legalized abortion or gay rights or equality for women which grew to span Parties and ideologies.  And it might take a cue from Ralph Nader’s book Unstoppable which advocates just such Right-Left alliances.

A Single State Approach to Single Payer.  The Tenth Amendment Option

The central approach Jarvis advocates to appeal to conservatives is proceeding state by state.  This involves an appeal to the conservative distrust of the federal government and to the conservative commitment to the Tenth Amendment, which states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

With this appeal in mind Jarvis suggests that in the new populist post-2016 environment we turn to winning Single Payer one state at a time.  In sum, a Purple World, Tenth Amendment approach to Single Payer.

But why not simply go the federal route?  The answer is that our Congress is in thrall to the Insurance Company Giants who are in control of most health care in the US and therefore make a bundle from it.  The Insurance Behemoths have been especially powerful in Washington, virtually writing the ObamaCare legislation which codifies and extends the control of the Insurers over the health care system.  There is no doubt that the Insurers also have great influence over State politicians.  But, in general, the more local the government, the greater control the people have over it.  And most importantly States have the ability to enact laws by referendum, so Jarvis’s irascible voters can bypass the politicians entirely.  Still even in the arena of the referendum, there will be a battle between truth and money – and it will not be an easy battle for the truth.

One problem with the Purple World, Tenth Amendment state by state approach is that it too requires an act of Congress.  Congress needs to provide enabling legislation to exempt states from various federal rules and regulations that preclude a Single Payer system.

It is here that the Tenth Amendment approach becomes valuable for it would have appeal to many principled conservatives in Congress.  They might then join an increasing number of liberal Congresspersons to enact such a bill.  And such a measure could enjoy the support of both conservative and progressive/liberal populists at the grassroots level.  With such a law in effect each state could attempt to win single-payer. This would be the Purple World in action.

Such enabling legislation or something very close to it was proposed in the past by former Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington.  And McDermott’s successor, Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal has submitted such legislation again.  Perhaps even more interesting, as Jarvis informs us, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah stated in a TV debate in his election bid in 2011 that each state should be allowed to fashion its own policy for health-system reform, even if it meant the state would create a single payer system.  That statement came in answer to a question posed by Dr. Jarvis who lives in Utah.

The existence of such a bill in Congress would also open the door for votes coming from both Republicans and Democrats, with Republicans able to side with it in a way that is compatible with their Tenth Amendment outlook.  And this would also satisfy another prescription of Jarvis: voters must ruthlessly hold politicians to their promises.  The very existence of such a bill in Congress provides a way to put each member of Congress on record as a co-sponsor – or not.  The irascible populist voter can demand that both conservatives and progressives back such a bill -or give their vote to an opponent of either party who will back such a bill – both by co-sponsorship and by vote.  All of a sudden Democrats must compete with conservative Republicans for the populist voter demanding Single Payer.  There would no longer be a single Party monopoly on Single Payer.

Dr. Jarvis fleshes out this proposal by sketching the outlines of such a Single-Payer bill for his state of Utah.  It merits examination, for as usual there are demons lurking in the details and these demons must be routed.

Let 50 Flowers Bloom

There is now a debate among Single-Payer advocates about which path to take, the national path or the state path.  Some suggest that only the federal path is possible and that state-based approaches would distract attention and divert energy from the national project.  But it is equally true that the two approaches can be complementary, stirring up general interest at all levels.  Two wise and very knowledgeable members of Physicians for a National Health Program suggested to this reviewer that both approaches be pursued since it is impossible to tell where a breakthrough will occur.

The single-state approach would follow in the footsteps of the proven, successful single-province approach in Canada.  There single-payer was first instituted in the Province of Saskatchewan in a mighty and bruising struggle.  But it then spread like wildfire to all the provinces.  Perhaps California or Washington – or Utah – could be the Saskatchewan of the US.  Let 50 flowers bloom!

Progressive Democrats Hate Trump More Than War or Nuclear Annihilation

It is rare that we praise Donald Trump, but meeting with both Kim Jung Un and Vladimir Putin was the right thing to do. If our goal is to build peace, then calm talks, rather than threats and military escalation, are always the better path to take.

— CodePink Statement, June 17, 2018 (Emphasis in the original.)

Thus read CodePink’s remarkable and courageous statement in the wake of the Helsinki Summit.  To link the word “praise” with President Trump is to invite ostracism in progressive circles – even when nuclear Armageddon is the issue.  But CodePink succumbed neither to Trump Derangement Syndrome nor to the related disorder Russophobia.

Does CodePink’s statement portend the dissipation of these twin maladies?  Unfortunately not.  CodePink appears to remain the exception, not the rule.

To understand this, let’s turn to an “Open Letter” in The Nation on July 11, just before the Helsinki Summit, signed by a variety of individuals and appearing under the names of five organizations: RootsAction, Just Foreign Policy, World Beyond War, Progressive Democrats of America and Peace Action –  a cross section of the progressive peace movement.  Let’s note at the outset that some of the Letter’s signatories have done admirable work in combatting Russophobia.

The title of the Open Letter is “Common Ground: For Secure Elections and True National Security.”  “Secure Elections” comes first, a device for once again reminding us of the discredited conspiracy theory of “collusion” in 2016.  The opening sentence reads: “Many Americans remain deeply concerned about reports of Russian interference with the 2016 election.” And fully half the Open Letter deals with this issue.

This, the first half of the Open Letter, has drawn fire in an essay by Truthdig’s Robert Scheer “When Resistance Becomes Capitulation.”  Scheer finds the letter “an inadequate response to the jingoistic blather of the Democratic Party, and of course the GOP leadership.”

Writes Scheer:

But how can the signers of The Nation statement in good conscience issue a warning about this turn of events that omits any reference to the overwhelming intrusive power of the greatest empire the world has ever experienced—our own.

Only late in the second half of the Letter (in the final sentence of the penultimate paragraph) is mention at long last made of the danger of nuclear holocaust, certainly the most important issue facing Russia and the US – and the world.  This unseemly postponement reflects the strategy of the embittered Democratic Party Elite, to wit, draw attention away from the urgency of the Summit to the question of electoral interference.

Most astonishingly there is no mention of the Helsinki Summit even though the then imminent Summit clearly occasioned the Letter.  Absence of mention precludes so much as a smidgen of support.  And the Open Letter came at a time when an all-out effort was being made to stop the Summit and when support for it was badly needed.

It is clear why the Open Letter not take a stand clearly in favor of the Summit.  The Summit was Trump’s work.   This is Trump Derangement Syndrome and partisan hackery at its worst.  It demonstrates that one of the greatest challenges to the peace movement is to get beyond this malady and make an objective assessment of the individual policies of Trump.  Opposition to some policies should not mean an opposition to all.

It is not too late for the signatories of the Open Letter to act.  The battle over Helsinki rages on.  A good first step would be for The Nation to put out a document forthwith supporting the Summit.  It may help generate needed support among Democrats and others for the unfolding process of Detente.

Finally let’s consider the relative severity of the two disorders, Trump Derangement Syndrome and Russophobia.  The latter manifests itself primarily in what is now known as Russiagate.  Debunking Russiagate and the ravings of the mainstream media thereon has become standard fare in a handful of progressive outlets. And that is to the good.  But the more stubborn, mulish, unyielding obstacle to Détente with Russia is Trump Derangement Syndrome, because it stands in the way of supporting whatever moves our President makes for “getting along” with Russia, no matter their merit.  Critiques of Trump Derangement Syndrome are sorely lacking on the Left – and badly needed.

Unfortunately, The Nation’s Open Letter is too heavily influenced by the sentiments of those who put hatred of Trump – and Putin – above hatred of major war, desire for Detente or fear of nuclear holocaust.  Who are they?  Given the interest of the Democratic Party Establishment in nourishing Trump Derangement Syndrome and Russophobia, it is not hard to imagine their identity when it comes to influencing progressives.  Let’s not allow them to impose on us a mindset that precludes peace and Détente among the major powers.

The Rocky Road to Helsinki

This is written July 14, two days before the Helsinki summit between Presidents Trump and Putin, and everything is on schedule in very predictable fashion – according to script.

In the US, Rod Rosenstein has released “indictments” of 12 Russians who are accused of “hacking” Democratic National Committee servers other Democratic Party associated computers.  These mysterious hackers are allegedly associated with the Russian government, for which there is not a shred of evidence.  Right on cue, Schumer, Pelosi and other leading Democrats called on Trump to cancel his meeting with Putin.  How lucky for them that these indictments came down precisely at this moment.  It does not take a genius to understand that Rosenstein could have withheld them for a week so as not to undermine the President as he pursues Détente 2.0.

Likewise the discredited Skripal case has been thrust into the headlines again in good time for the summit.  Even Greece, normally very friendly with Russia, expelled a few diplomats several days back due to the resurrection of l’affaire Skripal, thus jeopardizing an upcoming visit by Russian FM Lavrov.

Finally, Trump attended the NATO meetings to assure the “allies” that Putin of the taiga that they so fear would not frighten him.  He even promised to hold fast to “obsolete” NATO if the Europeans provided more Euros for the Cold War behemoth now lumbering about from Afghanistan to Libya and beyond tearing up the place and killing innocents far and wide.  In this way did Trump armor himself against the hawks.

And, of course, the pundits have been shrieking at the top of their lungs that Trump is disrupting the Cold War order.  The air is thick with such emanations as Russian expert Stephen F. Cohen reminds us thus:

As a rule, American presidents have departed for summits with bipartisan support and well-wishes. Trump’s upcoming meeting with Russian President Putin, in Helsinki on July 16, is profoundly different in two respects. US-Russian relations have rarely, if ever, been more dangerous. And never before has a president’s departure—in Trump’s case, first for a NATO summit and then the one with Putin—been accompanied by allegations that he is disloyal to the United States and thus cannot be trusted, defamations once issued only by extremist fringe elements in American politics. Now, however, we are told this daily by mainstream publications, broadcasts, and “think tanks.” According to a representative of the Clintons’ Center for American Progress, “Trump is going to sell out America and its allies.” The New York Times and The Washington Post also feature “experts”—they are chosen accordingly—who “worry” and “fear”that Trump and Putin “will get along.” The Times of London, a bastion of Russophobic Cold War advocacy, captures the mainstream perspective in a single headline: “Fears Grow Over Prospect of Trump ‘Peace Deal’ with Putin.

An anti-“peace” Washington establishment is, of course, what still-unproven Russiagate allegations have wrought, as summed up by a New Yorkmagazine writer who advises us that the Trump-Putin summit may well be “less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.””

The roots and ramifications of this hysteria are explored by CJ Hopkins in the fashion they richly deserve in his essay “Hardcore Hitler on Hitler in Helsinki” here.  And on it goes.

Amidst all this perfervid consternation Trump is enjoying a few rounds of golf in Scotland.  He has also declared that Putin is a “competitor” but not an “enemy,” a distinction the politically anencephalic Cold War set cannot grasp.   But Trump continues to insist that it is a “good thing not a bad thing” for the US “to get along with Russia” – and China and North Korea and others. So Trump continues to stick with this motif from the 2016 campaign even though it eats up a lot of political capital and exposes him to the barrage of hysterical attacks outlined above.  That is a sound sign that his declared intent is genuine.

The Russiagate witch hunt makes it nearly impossible for Trump to make concessions to Russia in return for concessions to us.  Absent that, there is no way forward, no deals, no Détente 2.0.  So the witch hunters are willing to risk nuclear confrontation to preserve the old Cold World Order or to indulge a blanket hatred for all things Trump.  Such monsters do not deserve the time of day, let alone a vote, no matter whether they call themselves conservatives or liberals – and more of them seem to bear the liberal label these days.

This summit will present far more difficult political problems than did the Singapore meeting with Kim Jong-un.  In Singapore all the interested parties wanted denuclearization of the Korean peninsula – Kim, Moon, the people of Korea, Trump, Xi and Putin, and even Abe.  So to begin this deal was a no-brainer, and it is quite astonishing in retrospect that the previous administration failed to do so.

But the Summit poses great problems, because of the political pressures brought to bear on Putin and Trump.  Each leader has hawks in his country opposing Détente 2.0.  Trump’s are headquartered in the “Think” Tanks, the Dem Party Elite, the Main Stream Media, the Military Industrial Congressional Complex and the punditry associated with them all.  Just as important is Israel which does not want peace with Iran, an ally of Russia.  And unfortunately the space between the ears of virtually every US politician, with the exception of a few libertarians, is Israeli occupied territory, and its US Amen Corner stands careful watch over this prized conquest.  The issue of Iran is therefore the Achilles heel of the struggle for Détente 2.0.

But in the midst of all the commotion let us not forget the stakes. According to the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute, the US and Russia each have about 6500 – 7000 nuclear warheads with over 1600 on each side “deployed,” that is placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces.  These are ready to go at a moment’s notice and cause suffering of a sort never before seen in human history, with the death of billions and perhaps the end of all human life, as Daniel Ellsberg informs us in chilling detail in The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.  The carpings of our hawks are as nothing compared to the opportunity to move out from under this nuclear cloud.

If this essay serves any purpose, it is to call more attention to the dangerous atmosphere being created by our media, the Dem pols and our “opinion shapers” in the lead up to the summit.  A plan of action is in order.  Complain like hell to every media outlet guilty of this disgraceful behavior.  It only takes an email and the lords of the media, ever concerned about their bottom line, count them.  Same with our hawkish pols.

And afterwards if the Summit does not take us in the direction of peace, complain like hell to the White House.  But if the outcome of the Summit inches us away from Armageddon and toward Detente, as did the Singapore summit, have at the naysayers – they are standing in the way of our survival.  And likewise praise to the skies a positive outcome.  It is this attitude that the press is trying to prevent.  Let them not instill in the populace a hatred of Trump that is stronger than the hatred of war.

• First published at Anti-war.com

Three Cheers for Trump’s Peace Trifecta

In the short space of five days, June 8-12, President Trump took three steps that upended the old post WWII global order and moved us a few steps toward a more peaceful world.  Two of those steps are undeniable; the third is perhaps not so obvious.

The Singapore Summit

The Singapore Summit comes first, because it rocked the world.

In this bold and unprecedented meeting President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un, of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK), started down a path to Détente, aiming toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, an intractable problem or so the pundits informed us.  But as Melania warned us with a bemused smile sometime back, “Donald always shakes things up.”

The historic meeting produced more than words; concrete steps were taken:  The DPRK went first, terminating the testing of nuclear warheads, IRBMs and ICBMs and even closing its nuclear test site – all done before the summit. Leading up to the summit, Trump cut back on the extent of annual joint South Korea-US military exercises.  These have been roiling the East Pacific since the 1970s, frightening the North Koreans since these “war games” could abruptly turn into a real invasion as in the Korean War.  At summit’s conclusion Trump went further and terminated those exercises planned for late summer, labeling them “provocative,” as the North Koreans have long described them, and “expensive,” cost always being a big item in the Trumpian mind.  These exercises are also costly for the DPRK since they come at a time of year when agricultural labor is needed and hundreds of thousands of men must be diverted from the fields to join the armed forces in case the war games turn into a real invasion.  This hurts the agricultural output of the DPRK, and one suspects it is designed to do so.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Singapore Summit is the biggest step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula since President Dwight Eisenhower lived up to his 1952 campaign promise to “go to Korea” and end Truman’s deeply unpopular war, which had claimed millions of Korean lives, 1 million Chinese lives and tens of thousands of American ones. Ike ended that genocidal war, which had slaughtered 20% of the population of North Korea primarily by bombing and the use of chemical weapons.  An armistice was negotiated quickly and so the killing stopped, but a formal treaty of peace proved politically impossible.  (Ike, the peacemaker, was criticized by the media for being inarticulate and stupid and for spending too much time on the golf course.  And he had a mistress.  Sound familiar?  But he brought peace.)

Quite rightly the world greeted the Kim-Trump breakthrough with jubilation – save for the US elite and its press, including the interventionist Democratic Party leadership all of which were quite glum or downright enragedThe admirable and effective President Moon of the Republic of Korea (ROK) who himself was a key figure in making the summit possible, gave Trump much credit, and the South Korean people gave Moon’s Party overwhelming victories in the municipal elections on the day after the summit, putting the very political existence of the hawkish leadership of the rival party in question.  There was great celebration in North Korea and even the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe hailed the agreement since it removed a perceived threat.  Needless to say, China and Russia who have long pushed for denuclearization of the peninsula were very pleased; the cessation of US war games in exchange for ending DPRK testing of nukes and rockets was just the sort of first step they had advocated for some time.  And the majority (71%) of the American people approved of the summit. The Monmouth poll taken just after the summit and before the media had time to spin its demented take on events reported:

Most Americans (71%) say that the recent meeting between Trump and Kim was a good idea, including 93% of Republicans, 74% of independents, and 49% of Democrats. Only 20% say it was a bad idea. This positive feeling is somewhat higher than in late April, when 63% said the prospect of having such a meeting was a good idea.

Would it not be correct to say that the Singapore Summit is a move toward a world of peace by Trump and Kim? If so, should not all peace-loving forces support and praise it as a way to protect it from attacks of domestic hawks and to encourage similar steps in foreign policy? Have we?

This is not an academic question. The opposition to this and the policies listed below is large and building as can be seen from the reaction of the press. When Jimmy Carter tried to reach an accommodation with the DPRK and remove US troops and 700 nuclear weapons from the ROK, he was ultimately stopped by the forces we would now call Deep State, as chronicled here.  And similar forces are already organizing to stop Trump. If the peace movement does not do all in its power to back these and the initiatives outlined below, then we will bear part of the blame if those initiatives fail. What side is the peace movement on here?  To this writer the answer is unclear and the clock is ticking.

Let Russia Join the G7, says Trump

Let’s turn to achievement number two over those five days in June.  It came leading up to the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Quebec.  Trump announced beforehand that Russia should be invited back into the G7, a move opposed by all the other members but for Italy’s new government.  The U.S. press went berserk, of course, with many declaring as they do many times daily that Trump’s strings were being pulled by – who else? – Putin.

Putin himself responded to the disagreement at the G7, thus:

As for Russia’s return to ‘the seven,’ ‘the eight’ [G7, G8] – we have not left it. Our colleagues once refused to come to Russia due to well-known reasons. Please, we will be happy to see everyone in Moscow.

Putin made that statement at a press conference in Qingdao, China, at the conclusion of the meeting of the SCO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with its present 8 member states: China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyryzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – with Iran, currently an observer, backed by China to become a full member.  Putin went further in this press conference; and it was reported by RT.com as follows:

The SCO gathering concluded just shortly after the G7 summit, and Russia enjoys the format of the now-eight-member organization after India and Pakistan joined. Putin believes the SCO trumps the G7 in certain aspects. For example, the member states have already overtaken the G7 in purchasing-power parity, the Russian leader said, citing IMF data.

If we calculate… per capita, the seven countries are wealthier, but the size of the SCO economies [combined] GFP is larger. And the population is, of course, much bigger – half of the planet.

That is, the combined gross GDPs of the SCO 8 are larger than the combined economies of the G7 by the PPP-GDP metric used by the IMF and World Bank (and CIA) as can be seen here.  It is noteworthy that Russia’s GDP is about equal to Germany’s, and not the basket case that it is made out to be in the Western press.  In fact, the G7 has only 3 of the world’s 7 largest economies the same number as the SCO-8.  The G7 are really nothing more than the ex-colonial and now neo-colonial countries whose time may be running out with the rise of the economies of the once colonized nations of East and South Asia.

In calling for Russia’s readmission to the G7, Trump was turning his back on the old Cold War alliances and looking to the economic realities of the 21st Century exemplified by the SCO.  He was opting to create an atmosphere of dialogue which would include Russia.  As he later said, the G7 spends 25% of its time discussing Russia- so why not have Russia present and try to work out problems together.

Trump’s appeal to readmit Russia to the G7 is simply a repeat of his call to “get along with Russia” a promise made in the campaign of 2016.  Is this not a good idea?  Is the recognition of new realities not part of creating a peaceful world?

Would it not be correct to say that this move of Trump’s is a move toward a world of peace? If so, should not all peace loving forces support and praise it as a way to protect it from attacks of domestic hawks and to encourage similar steps in foreign policy?  Have we? Again this is not an academic question because the outcome depends in part on our support or lack thereof.

Mercantilism over imperialism and hegemony

The third move in Trump’s weekend trifecta is not so much an action of his in and of itself but the revelation of a mindset behind that action.  Trump has set in motion the imposition of tariffs on countries that he views as unfair in trade with the US.  My point is not to argue whether such tariffs are good or bad or even whether the US has been treated unfairly.  (One might think, however, that the need to impose them is the sign of a trading power in its infancy which needs to protect its key enterprises – or of one in decline which can no longer prevail by virtue of the quality of what it produces.  But that is not of significance for this discussion.)

What is unusual is that Trump did not limit his economic attacks to an official adversary like China.  No, he is also directing them at our “allies,” from NATO all the way to Japan on the other side of the world.  In so doing he shows that commerce is more important to him than alliances that facilitate military actions aimed at domination and hegemony.  It might fairly be said that Trump is putting mercantilism over imperialism – if by mercantilism we mean economic nationalism.  Most of those at the G7 meeting who were aghast at the tariffs are NATO allies.  This action taken without regard to “the alliance” reminds us of Trump’s assertion during the campaign of 2016 that “NATO is obsolete.”

Trump’s stance was criticized by Canada’s PM Trudeau on this very basis, saying:

Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs on our steel and aluminum industry…. For Canadians who…stood shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers in far-off lands and conflicts from the First World War onward…it’s kind of insulting. (Emphasis, jw).

Is fighting in the useless and criminal WWI something to be proud of?  Let’s pass over the many other murderess conflicts that have engaged the US and the G7 in the last 25 years, let alone the past 70 plus years.  Trudeau encompasses all this criminal behavior in the single word “onward.”  The alliances that have made this possible are indeed “obsolete,” in fact, retrograde and dangerous.  Trudeau is simply saying that the G7 have been willing allies in the imperial crimes of the US.  So they expect due economic consideration in return.  Trump is saying no more; now the business of America is business first and foremost.

This does not mean that economic nationalism is the answer to the world’s problems.  But Trump’s action does represent a move away from the “entangling alliances” that have been employed to further the hegemonistic policies of the US.

Would it not be correct to say that favoring competition in trade over cultivating alliances for military hegemony is a positive development? Should not all peace loving forces praise the move away from our “alliances,” away from NATO which has been the agent of so many criminal wars of the last quarter century?

The flies in the Trumpian Ointment

At this point in the conventional treatment of matters Trumpian, it is compulsory to launch into psychobabble about the man, with cries of indignation about his narcissism or vulgarity or some other imagined personality disorder.  This writer is not a mind reader, nor do I have much have faith in the “science” of psychology.  Such anti-Trump disclaimers are more often than not simply inoculation to protect the writer from the wrath of the legions of Trump-haters and Respectables.  Such disclaimers also represent a cheesy substitution of pop psych for political analysis.

In reality none of Trump’s actions outlined above should have been a surprise.  They are fully consistent with what he promised in 2016.  Likewise the war of words between Trump and Kim earlier in the year was simply a way to protect them both from charges of being weak on their adversary by their own hardliners.  Trump himself has admitted they were a charade, and there may have been more to the charade than he admitted.  Kim too had his hardliners although not so numerous or powerful as Trump’s.

That said, the beginnings of Trump foreign policy has not taken us from a quarter century drive toward US unipolar hegemony, which began with the Clintons, to a nirvana of peace in the space of 18 months.  Since the US Empire is the last of the 500 years of European Empires, successor to them all, it would be absurd to even expect such an outcome.  Likewise, it would be easy to google all the things that are wrong with US foreign policy and even growing worse – and there is a cottage industry devoted to just that.

But one of the current problems, US policy toward Iran, looms large and deserves special mention.  Because Iran has support from Russia and because it lies so close to Russia, conflict with Iran is likely to destroy Trump’s desire for Détente with Russia and could therefore drag the US into military conflict with a great nuclear power, even a World War.  Such a thing would be catastrophic for humanity – so it is a very big deal.  Fundamentally Trump’s position on Iran is dictated by Israel which maintains its stranglehold on US foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).  By necessity, given Israel’s power in US politics, and by his conviction as well, one suspects, Trump’s brain is Israeli occupied territory.  And the same malign influence contributes to the criminal US support of the Saudi atrocities in Yemen.  Perhaps discussions with Putin can help Trump on this matter.  But right now Israel poses one of the greatest obstacles to a new and enlightened foreign policy in a key area for all of humanity.

Finally let’s return again to the Singapore Summit.  Please, dear reader, immerse yourself in the jubilation it generated worldwide.  It jumps out of the screen right here Gangnam Style. Be sure the sound is on at the lower right of the screen– and join the dance for joy.

• This article first appeared on Antiwar.com

American Public Troubled by “Deep State”

“Public Troubled by Deep State” is the headline that the Monmouth University Polling Institute tags to its recent poll.

Polling about the term “Deep State” is problematical, because as the polling report says:

Few Americans (13%) are very familiar with the term “Deep State;” another 24% are somewhat familiar, while 63% say they are not familiar with this term.

So the careful pollsters at Monmouth defined the term as follows for their interviewees:

The term Deep State refers to the possible existence of a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy.

Then they asked whether such a group exists.

Monmouth reports the results as follows:

Nearly 3-in-4 (74%) say they believe this type of apparatus exists in Washington. This includes 27% who say it definitely exists and 47% who say it probably exists. Only 1-in-5 say it does not exist (16% probably not and 5% definitely not).

Furthermore, these opinions do not follow a partisan divide.  The report continues:

Belief in the probable existence of a Deep State comes from more than 7-in-10 Americans in each partisan group, although Republicans (31%) and independents (33%) are somewhat more likely than Democrats (19%) to say that the Deep State definitely exists.

This leads the director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, to volunteer:

We usually expect opinions on the operation of government to shift depending on which party is in charge. But there’s an ominous feeling by Democrats and Republicans alike that a ‘Deep State’ of unelected operatives are pulling the levers of power.

In addition, there are some significant but not drastic racial and ethnic differences on this question.  Says the Report:

Americans of black, Latino and Asian backgrounds (35%) are more likely than non-Hispanic whites (23%) to say that the Deep State definitely exists.

The report also asked about government surveillance of the citizenry and here again there is widespread concern: Fully 8-in-10 believe that the U.S. government currently monitors or spies on the activities of American citizens, including a majority (53%) who say this activity is widespread and another 29% who say such monitoring happens but is not widespread. Just 14% say this monitoring does not happen at all. There are no substantial partisan differences in these results.

This too causes the director of the Institute to be concerned.  “This is a worrisome finding. The strength of our government relies on public faith in protecting our freedoms, which is not particularly robust. And it’s not a Democratic or Republican issue. These concerns span the political spectrum,” says director Murray.

We can add to the concern about a manipulative unelected apparatus at work in the government the widespread distrust of the press summarized in this recent Gallup/Knight poll:

Today, 66% of Americans say most news media do not do a good job of separating fact from opinion. In 1984, 42% held this view.

Less than half of Americans, 44%, say they can think of a news source that reports the news objectively.

On a multiple-item media trust scale with scores ranging from a low of zero to a high of 100, the average American scores a 37.

This paints a pretty grim picture of trust in both our government and our media.  Perhaps “Deep Media” should be a term added to “Deep State.”  But perhaps it is cause for optimisim.  It seems that people are waking up and thinking for themselves.  That is bad news for the organs of control and propaganda that direct our lives.  And perhaps it is good news for those who try to fight the endless wars we experience and who feel that it is the Deep State that gins them up and the mainstream media that creates the environment for them.  Skepticism is the first step in getting to the truth and escaping domination.

NY Times Delivers Weekend Scoop: Trump Did Not Fire Mueller in June

The original front page top headline on Friday’s New York Times (Jan. 26) was: “Trump Did Not Fire Mueller in June.”  The subheading was: “Also Trump did not fire Mueller in July, August, September, October, November, December or even January.”

You may be mystified by this, dear reader, since the headline you read, which was not the original but an altered version, was: “Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit.”  Now clearly that first part is not true, for if Trump had ordered Mueller fired, he would not be there now.  But Mueller is still rattling around the precincts of the Capital of Exceptionalism.

So obviously the correct version is; “Trump Did Not Fire Mueller in June.”  The claim that Trump “ordered” Mueller to be fired raises the question of what an “order” is.  And the answer according to the Times is that the “order” is something that has no effect.  Was “the order” a point of discussion or suggestion with the White House Attorney to whom it was allegedly issued?  What exactly was this “order” and where is its text.  An executive order must have a recorded text, but none is to be found or even claimed to exist by the Times.

So how did the original Times headline which we have obtained only with considerable sleuthing get altered?  All of the country outside Washington is abuzz with this question now.  In response to this growing curiosity our intrepid reporters have chased down the following story which is based on interviews with five anonymous sources who are all charter members of The DC Anonymous Sources Club over on D St.  They supplied us with the following transcript of a key exchange between Dean Baquet, Times executive editor, and Maggie Haberman, co-author of the story with Michael Schmidt:

Haberman (opening door to Bacquet’s office where he is alone yelling profanities at a picture of Trump pinned to a dart board): Dean, are you OK?

Baquet (sweating and flushed):  Maggie, you interrupted me during my daily Two Minutes of Hate.  Don’t ever, ever do that again!

Haberman:  But we already had the daily Two Minutes of Hate for the whole newsroom staff, including you, first thing this morning as usual.

Baquet: Maggie, I struggle to keep my edge here; it is hard to keep peddling this stuff every day and keep a straight face.  I need extra Hate minutes to keep me on track.

What do you want?

Haberman: You changed my headline and parts of the article!  What is up? You cannot go messing around with it too much.  We were already out on a limb with the spin I gave this piece. It is no surprise that the Pres. considered at many points firing Mueller as was his right under the Constitution.  He would be crazy were he not to have entertained ridding himself of a corrupt hatchet man nipping at his heels.  And it would have been equally crazy were he not to have consulted his lawyer on the matter.  So when I made it seem nefarious, that was really a stretch already.

Baquet:  You worry too much.

Haberman:  The part about the Counsel threatening to quit is really upsetting.  I could not find anything like that – no documentation whatsoever.  Who are those four anonymous sources?

Baquet:  Four?  I thought that I had only put in three.

Haberman: No, four.

Baquet:  I must have added some extras.

You know we are running into criticism for our use of anonymous sources.  When we made up two, that used to be enough to protect us. But nowadays I think it is better to have more – at least until the government or Google shuts down those dissident web sites.  Why, most of them even undercut our arguments for endless wars.  Scandalous.

Haberman:  Well, Dean, that was not so smart.  I may eventually have to dig up some people who are willing to say that they are the anonymous sources.  And the crew over at D St. will not do that.  So it will be very difficult for me.  And remember I have already been outed as a stenographer for the Clinton campaign, someone who would “tee up” stories for them, someone who “never disappointed.”  That already undercuts my reputation for objectivity. This is not very considerate of you, Dean.

Baquet:  Look Maggie.  I know how you feel, but you have to be a team player here.  You must know after the hard work you have put in these last two years, you are a top contender for the Judith Miller Prize for Creative Journalism.  You would not want to lose that, would you?

Haberman: OK. OK.

One other thing, Dean.  You have insisted we emphasize the “Trump Obstructing Justice” narrative.

Baquet:  That is not me, Maggie.  Mueller is on the phone insisting on that every day.  And he is a nasty SOB.  The FBI has a lot on me – my career would never survive his wrath.  So we will have to keep it up.

Haberman: But Dean, except for Democratic Party zealots, fewer people accept it with every passing day.  How can you have obstruction of justice without a crime?  And Mueller is getting to look absurd pursuing obstruction without naming the crime.  Look if I went to the police and told them that I want them to investigate my neighbor for covering up a crime, they would ask first what is the crime.  And if I said I did not know – yet- they would laugh me out of the station house.  In fact they might even try to have me committed.  How long can we pull this one off?

Baquet: Don’t worry about it. If anyone questions you and me, we will accuse them of being racists and sexists and therefore necessarily Trump supporters.  And we will get plenty of backing on that – especially from NPR.

But look, now that the Russian collusion narrative has collapsed, we gotta have something.  We have to press on.

Haberman (Dejected):  OK, Dean.

(She leaves looking downcast.)

Baquet (to himself):  Poor sucker.  If we get caught out in all this, we will need a fall guy – or gal.  She may be closer to the Judith Miller “prize” than she realizes.

Recording Ends.

Dear reader, if you question the validity of this recording, remember we have five anonymous sources who attest to its authenticity.  The Times only has four.

New York Times Delivers Weekend Scoop: Trump Did Not Fire Mueller in June

The original front page top headline on Friday’s New York Times (January 26) was: “Trump Did Not Fire Mueller in June.”  The subheading was: “Also Trump did not fire Mueller in July, August, September, October, November, December or even January.”

You may be mystified by this, dear reader, since the headline you read, which was not the original but an altered version, was: “Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit.” Now clearly that first part is not true, for if Trump had ordered Mueller fired, he would not be there now.  But Mueller is still rattling around the precincts of the Capital of Exceptionalism.

So obviously the correct version is: “Trump Did Not Fire Mueller in June.”  The claim that Trump “ordered” Mueller to be fired raises the question of what an “order” is.  And the answer according to the Times is that the “order” is something that has no effect.  Was “the order” a point of discussion or suggestion with the White House Attorney to whom it was allegedly issued?  What exactly was this “order” and where is its text.  An executive order must have a recorded text, but none is to be found or even claimed to exist by the Times.

So how did the original Times headline which we have obtained only with considerable sleuthing get altered?  All of the country outside Washington is abuzz with this question now.  In response to this growing curiosity our intrepid reporters have chased down the following story which is based on interviews with five anonymous sources who are all charter members of The DC Anonymous Sources Club over on D St.  They supplied us with the following transcript of a key exchange between Dean Baquet, Times executive editor, and Maggie Haberman, co-author of the story with Michael Schmidt:

Haberman (opening door to Bacquet’s office where he is alone yelling profanities at a picture of Trump pinned to a dart board): Dean, are you OK?

Baquet (sweating and flushed):  Maggie, you interrupted me during my daily Two Minutes of Hate.  Don’t ever, ever do that again!

Haberman:  But we already had the daily Two Minutes of Hate for the whole newsroom staff, including you, first thing this morning as usual.

Baquet: Maggie, I struggle to keep my edge here; it is hard to keep peddling this stuff every day and keep a straight face.  I need extra Hate minutes to keep me on track.

What do you want?

Haberman: You changed my headline and parts of the article!  What is up? You cannot go messing around with it too much.  We were already out on a limb with the spin I gave this piece. It is no surprise that the Pres. considered at many points firing Mueller as was his right under the Constitution.  He would be crazy were he not to have entertained ridding himself of a corrupt hatchet man nipping at his heels.  And it would have been equally crazy were he not to have consulted his lawyer on the matter.  So when I made it seem nefarious, that was really a stretch already.

Baquet:  You worry too much.

Haberman:  The part about the Counsel threatening to quit is really upsetting.  I could not find anything like that – no documentation whatsoever.  Who are those four anonymous sources?

Baquet:  Four?  I thought that I had only put in three.

Haberman: No, four.

Baquet:  I must have added some extras.

You know we are running into criticism for our use of anonymous sources.  When we made up two, that used to be enough to protect us. But nowadays I think it is better to have more – at least until the government or Google shuts down those dissident web sites.  Why, most of them even undercut our arguments for endless wars.  Scandalous.

Haberman:  Well, Dean, that was not so smart.  I may eventually have to dig up some people who are willing to say that they are the anonymous sources.  And the crew over at D St. will not do that.  So it will be very difficult for me.  And remember I have already been outed as a stenographer for the Clinton campaign, someone who would “tee up” stories for them, someone who “never disappointed.”  That already undercuts my reputation for objectivity. This is not very considerate of you, Dean.

Baquet:  Look Maggie.  I know how you feel, but you have to be a team player here.  You must know after the hard work you have put in these last two years, you are a top contender for the Judith Miller Prize for Creative Journalism.  You would not want to lose that, would you?

Haberman: OK. OK.

One other thing, Dean.  You have insisted we emphasize the “Trump Obstructing Justice” narrative.

Baquet:  That is not me, Maggie.  Mueller is on the phone insisting on that every day.  And he is a nasty SOB.  The FBI has a lot on me – my career would never survive his wrath.  So we will have to keep it up.

Haberman: But Dean, except for Democratic Party zealots, fewer people accept it with every passing day.  How can you have obstruction of justice without a crime?  And Mueller is getting to look absurd pursuing obstruction without naming the crime.  Look, if I went to the police and told them that I want them to investigate my neighbor for covering up a crime, they would ask first what is the crime.  And if I said I did not know – yet- they would laugh me out of the station house.  In fact, they might even try to have me committed.  How long can we pull this one off?

Baquet: Don’t worry about it. If anyone questions you and me, we will accuse them of being racists and sexists and therefore necessarily Trump supporters.  And we will get plenty of backing on that – especially from NPR.

But look, now that the Russian collusion narrative has collapsed, we gotta have something.  We have to press on.

Haberman (Dejected):  OK, Dean.

(She leaves looking downcast.)

Baquet (to himself):  Poor sucker.  If we get caught out in all this, we will need a fall guy – or gal.  She may be closer to the Judith Miller “prize” than she realizes.

Recording Ends.

Dear reader, if you question the validity of this recording, remember we have five anonymous sources who attest to its authenticity.  The Times only has four.

Why Progressives to Support the Trump-Putin Efforts at Rapprochement

Should progressives support the efforts of Trump and Putin to bring about rapprochement between Russia and the U.S.?  Or to use Trump’s terminology, should progressives support the effort to “get along with Russia”?

This might seem like a no-brainer.  After all Russia and the U.S. are the world’s major nuclear powers.  A war or a mistake resulting in a nuclear exchange would reduce much of the planet to radioactive rubble, ending civilization as we know it, and perhaps even putting the continued existence of the human race at risk.  And yet there are virtually no voices in the progressive community calling for support of Trump’s call to “get along with Russia.”  Almost no voices speaking in favor of his contacts with Putin, for example after their meeting in Hamburg last July with its considerable achievements.  What is going on?  Have the progressives gone mad?

Let us be very clear.  Support for the Trumpian rapprochement with Russia does not mean support for all Trump’s policies or even one other policy of his.  The election of 2016 is long behind us now.  In that election as in all elections, it was necessary to weigh the policies of the opposing candidates and then to make a choice.  One cannot vote for only one policy of a given candidate and against other policies.  It is an all or nothing matter.

But the situation post-election is another story.  Trump is now President, and it is possible and quite normal to oppose some policies and support others.  In the case of Obama, many progressives opposed his continuation and expansion of Bush’s wars but supported ObamaCare. (As a Single Payer advocate and antiwar campaigner, this author supported neither.)  Similarly, in the case of Trump, one may oppose his tax legislation and his health care policies – I certainly do – and yet support the policy of rapprochement with Russia.  Is this not the grown-up thing to do?  Should one not seize on an opportunity to get something worthwhile out of a situation that did not go one’s way – if that is the way one views the election of 2016?  In point of fact, given the danger of nuclear holocaust, it is not only infantile but potentially suicidal to do otherwise.

The crumbling narrative of “collusion” between Putin and Trump in the 2016 election is the major obstacle to the US-Russia rapprochement.  Indeed some progressives have done yeoman’s work in exposing the lies of the media, the Intel agencies and the Democratic Establishment in concocting the Collusion Myth.  Two standouts are Robert Parry and his colleagues at Consortium News and Stephen F. Cohen of The Nation and his colleagues at American Committee for East West Accord.  Parry, for example, meticulously examines and exposes the web of lies, deceit, unsourced stories and downright gossip coming out of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN on a daily basis.  Cohen, Professor emeritus of Russian history at Princeton, in his weekly 45 minute discussions with John Batchelor on WABC radio out of NYC has given an insightful look at developments, especially in the light of Russo-American relations and Russian history.

And there are many other progressive bloggers and writers who do the same.  That is very much to their credit.  But debunking the Collusion Myth, sometimes called Russiagate, is as far as it seems to go.   If the Collusion Narrative is in reality a Big Lie, then one purpose of exposing it should be to correct the path it has put us on.  That path is confrontation with Russia. The next logical step would be to back Trump’s attempts at rapprochement with Russia in the face of daily vicious assaults from the imperial press. But none of that is done.

When one queries progressives about this strange behavior, the first response is to change the subject to tax policy or immigration policy or health care policy.  But except in some pretty woolly “theories of everything,” such policies are readily separable in non-electoral circumstances as discussed above.

The next response is to deny the danger of war that such tensions create.  But everyone familiar the history of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis knows that the risk of miscalculation is greatest when tensions are highest.  The story of Stanislav Petrov and his role in preventing an accidental nuclear exchange should be known by every school child in the US.

One must conclude either that most progressives are blinded by their hatred of Trump or that they are sympathetic to treatment of Russia as an enemy.  The latter is an abandonment of the progresssive commitment to non-interventionism and peace, but neither is a very good sign.  And the deeply devious part of the Elite’s Russiagate strategy is that it presents a giant roadblock to rapprochement since any moves to decrease tensions with Russia will be used as “proof” of Trump’s “collusion” with Russia.

If one presses the question further with progressives who know that Russiagate is a fraud, the response is that to support Trump’s policy is to risk one’s credibility.  Some progressives are quite frank about this and will express fear of being shunned by friends.  Some will even tell you that they have lost friends for so much as hinting that they might support rapprochement – simply because Trump has advocated it. (If you have your doubts about that, read Win Bigly, a book by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert.  Learn what happened to Adams, not for supporting Trump, but merely for predicting a Trump win in 2016!)

It seems that it is time for progressives, even while disagreeing with some things Trumpian or even all other things Trumpian, to stand up and back his moves toward rapprochement with Russia.  Many are already inching in that direction much to their credit.  But the Democratic Party Elite, their neocon partners, the GOP Elite and the servile media will do everything they can to prevent it.  It is time to defy them.

We are rolling the nuclear dice daily.  And time may be running out.

It is Time for Progressives to Support the Trump-Putin Efforts at Rapprochement

Should progressives support the efforts of Trump and Putin to bring about rapprochement between Russia and the U.S.? Or to use Trump’s terminology, should progressives support the effort to “get along with Russia”?

This might seem like a no-brainer.  After all Russia and the U.S. are the world’s major nuclear powers.  A war or a mistake resulting in a nuclear exchange would reduce much of the planet to radioactive rubble, ending civilization as we know it, and perhaps even putting the continued existence of the human race at risk.  And yet there are virtually no voices in the progressive community calling for support of Trump’s call to “get along with Russia.”  Almost no voices speaking in favor of his contacts with Putin, for example after their meeting in Hamburg last July with its considerable achievements. What is going on?  Have the progressives gone mad?

Let us be very clear.  Support for the Trumpian rapprochement with Russia does not mean support for all Trump’s policies or even one other policy of his.  The election of 2016 is long behind us now. In that election as in all elections, it was necessary to weigh the policies of the opposing candidates and then to make a choice.  One cannot vote for only one policy of a given candidate and against other policies.  It is an all or nothing matter.

But the situation post-election is another story.  Trump is now President, and it is possible and quite normal to oppose some policies and support others.  In the case of Obama, many progressives opposed his continuation and expansion of Bush’s wars but supported ObamaCare. (As a Single Payer advocate and antiwar campaigner, this author supported neither.)  Similarly, in the case of Trump, one may oppose his tax legislation and his health care policies – I certainly do – and yet support the policy of rapprochement with Russia.  Is this not the grown-up thing to do?  Should one not seize on an opportunity to get something worthwhile out of a situation that did not go one’s way – if that is the way one views the election of 2016?  In point of fact, given the danger of nuclear holocaust, it is not only infantile but potentially suicidal to do otherwise.

The crumbling narrative of “collusion” between Putin and Trump in the 2016 election is the major obstacle to the US-Russia rapprochement.  Indeed some progressives have done yeoman’s work in exposing the lies of the media, the Intel agencies and the Democratic Establishment in concocting the Collusion Myth.  Two standouts are Robert Parry and his colleagues at Consortium News and Stephen F. Cohen of The Nation and his colleagues at American Committee for East West Accord. Parry, for example, meticulously examines and exposes the web of lies, deceit, unsourced stories and downright gossip coming out of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN on a daily basis.  Cohen, Professor emeritus of Russian history at Princeton, in his weekly 45 minute discussions with John Batchelor on WABC radio out of NYC has given an insightful look at developments, especially in the light of Russo-American relations and Russian history.

And there are many other progressive bloggers and writers who do the same.  That is very much to their credit.  But debunking the Collusion Myth, sometimes called Russiagate, is as far as it seems to go. If the Collusion Narrative is in reality a Big Lie, then one purpose of exposing it should be to correct the path it has put us on.  That path is confrontation with Russia. The next logical step would be to back Trump’s attempts at rapprochement with Russia in the face of daily vicious assaults from the imperial press. But none of that is done.

When one queries progressives about this strange behavior, the first response is to change the subject to tax policy or immigration policy or health care policy.  But except in some pretty woolly “theories of everything,” such policies are readily separable in non-electoral circumstances as discussed above.

The next response is to deny the danger of war that such tensions create.  But everyone familiar the history of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis knows that the risk of miscalculation is greatest when tensions are highest.  The story of Stanislav Petrov and his role in preventing an accidental nuclear exchange should be known by every school child in the US.

One must conclude either that most progressives are blinded by their hatred of Trump or that they are sympathetic to treatment of Russia as an enemy.  The latter is an abandonment of the progresssive commitment to non-interventionism and peace, but neither is a very good sign.  And the deeply devious part of the Elite’s Russiagate strategy is that it presents a giant roadblock to rapprochement since any moves to decrease tensions with Russia will be used as “proof” of Trump’s “collusion” with Russia.

If one presses the question further with progressives who know that Russiagate is a fraud, the response is that to support Trump’s policy is to risk one’s credibility.  Some progressives are quite frank about this and will express fear of being shunned by friends.  Some will even tell you that they have lost friends for so much as hinting that they might support rapprochement – simply because Trump has advocated it. (If you have your doubts about that, read Win Bigly, a book by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert.  Learn what happened to Adams, not for supporting Trump, but merely for predicting a Trump win in 2016!)

It seems that it is time for progressives, even while disagreeing with some things Trumpian or even all other things Trumpian, to stand up and back his moves toward rapprochement with Russia. Many are already inching in that direction much to their credit. But the Democratic Party Elite, their neocon partners, the GOP Elite and the servile media will do everything they can to prevent it.  It is time to defy them.

We are rolling the nuclear dice daily.  And time may be running out.