All posts by Justin Raimondo

Defeat the Deep State – or Lose Your Freedom!

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The crisis is upon us, and yet hardly anyone outside of a few old-fashioned liberals sees it. Their view is obscured by the Brobdingnagian figure of Donald J. Trump towering over us all as left and right battle it out in his shadow. Yet the real battle, and the actual combatants, are obscured by this spectacle.

The Deep State – i.e. the constellation of national security agencies and private actors who have directed and maintained our globalist foreign policy since the end of World War II – would have targeted Trump in any case, due to his hostility to their interventionist foreign policy. And yet I believe they would’ve gone after him anyway due to his populist outsider persona, which the self-appointed guardians of the Empire consider dangerous per se.

The bottom line is that the intelligence services of the United States, and top officials of the FBI, have indeed launched a regime change operation comparable to the dozens carried out by these very same spooks over the years from Latin America to the Middle East. Like most of these campaigns, it’s a multilateral effort, with the intelligence services of at least three “allied” countries involved. Co-authored with the Clintonistas, the Russia-gate hoax is their invention: it was the perfect pretext to conduct surveillance on a rival presidential campaign. For all the talk of “collusion,” the real colluders were the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign organization who utilized the British “former” MI6 agent, Christopher Steele, and his infamous dossier. This fake intelligence was used by the Justice Department to justify spying on Carter Page, George Pappadapoulos, and other Trump campaign contacts.

There’s your collusion.

The regime-changers are operating on several levels at once. At the lowest level: suddenly black-clad “Antifa” dromedaries appear in the streets, attacking Trump supporters – and, in one case, Trump himself. The assaulter is later treated to a lionizing interview with CNN.

At the highest level, top FBI and CIA officials deploy the assets available to the most powerful government on earth to harass, undermine, and betray a sitting President, subverting the constitutional order and establishing a fateful precedent. For the goal of this regime change campaign isn’t just to get rid of Trump – that’s just the icing on the cake. The primary goal is to establish the Deep State’s veto over who can – and cannot – inhabit the White House.

What’s interesting is the international dimension of all this. If we’re looking to see who originated the Russia-gate narrative, all roads lead to London. Not only Christopher Steele and his “private” intelligence-gathering agency made up of “ex”-MI6 spooks, but also the roles played by the Australian diplomat Alexander Downer in his interactions with Pappadopolos: why would the former Australian high commissioner to the UK seek out a low-level youngster peripherally involved with the Trump campaign?

Carter Page was also sought out by professor Stefan Halper, of Cambridge University, whose longtime links to Western intelligence sources are not due to just a scholarly interest. This was clearly an attempt to penetrate the Trump campaign and plant the earliest seeds of Russia-gate, as Halper reported to the FBI and his British overlords.

And what about the role played by the mysterious Joseph Mifsud, whose fake-thinktank located in the UK provided a cover for luring Pappadopolos into his orbit. It was “professor” Mifsud who first suggested to his young protégé that the Russians had incriminating emails from the DNC. Is anyone surprised that Mifsud has since disappeared – and that the authorities have shown little interest in finding him?

In short, Russia-gate was a setup.

The principal players – the FBI, the Clinton campaign, the Clinton-allied Fusion GPS, the “intelligence community” – were pawns in a game coordinated and directly largely by foreign actors. Not only the British, but also the Australians, the Ukrainians, and the Estonians all played some part in a disinformation campaign designed to bring down the Trump administration.

Why the foreign involvement? The American Empire is a cash cow for many overseas interests: as the Euro-weenies huddle under the American defense umbrella, they can well afford to maintain extensive welfare states. And there’s also an ideological rationale: the Atlanticist conception of the “Anglosphere,” which sees the continuation of the old British imperium in a US-led international order.,

On another level, this regime-change operation is being waged in the media – or, rather, by the media, since 95% of the “mainstream” news outlets have been turned into anti-Trump propaganda outfits, emitting straight polemics 24/7. It’s no different from what they did in Chile, in 1973, when the CIA overthrew Salvador Allende, using clandestine contacts with the media to target the government with black propaganda, false flag incidents, and a general atmosphere of instability and crisis.

If it wasn’t Donald Trump, the Deep State would’ve eventually targeted some other populist figure who dares dissent from the foreign policy consensus of perpetual war for perpetual peace. The coup plotters are fortunate in that the President presents such a ready-made diversion from the Deep State’s assault on the constitutional order.

This isn’t about Trump. The stakes are much higher than the fate of his presidency and political fortunes. It’s about preserving what’s left of our old republic. So long as “The Resistance” can obscure this stark reality with emotional appeals, and diversionary tactics, they’ll succeed in setting the cornerstone of a new American political system – one in which an unelected permanent bureaucracy rules the roost and makes the rules.

The Deep State must be defeated. After we do that, we can argue about Trump

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

The New Cold War Flops

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Has there ever been a country so vilified as Russia, a leader so demonized as Vladimir Putin?

It makes me dizzy just to think of all the crimes that have been laid at that particular doorstep. I could spend the rest of this column simply listing them, from the deaths of numerous Russian journalists to the extinction of Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions – that and so much more! The omnipotent Russian President has apparently poisoned so many Russian expatriates in Britain that the streets are awash in polonium, novichok, and god knows what else. Why, it only took a few thousand bucks spent on some Facebook ads that practically no one saw to steal the presidential election from the rightful winner. Vlad the Bad is the all-powerful villain at the center of so many sinister conspiracies that it’s hard to keep track of them.

The anti-Russian campaign that the media has been hyping ever since Trump took office isn’t anything new. Those of us born during the cold war years – the first cold war, that is – remember all too well the atmosphere of hysteria and unreason that prevailed in those days. The fear of Communist agents under every bed was exploited by the War Party to no end – no good end, that is – and one would’ve thought that the collapse of communism and the end of the cold war would put a stop to it.

No such luck. It started in 2003, when the neocons declared war on Russia for Putin’s refusal to sign on to the Iraq war. Richard Perle led the charge, demanding Russia’s expulsion from the G-8.

The hate-on-Russia campaign has been ongoing ever since that time, only increasing in intensity and changing as to the details over the years. The main instrument of this effort has been the “mainstream” media, which, like the “intelligence community,” has now begun openly acting in a coordinated manner, an activist component of the anti-Trump popular front. The Russia-gate hoax is the central narrative of the NeverTrumpers, and hatred of Russia is therefore central to the emerging ideology of #TheResistance – a trend that does not bode well for the future of what was once known as American liberalism.

What does bode well for the country, however, is the fact that the American people aren’t buying the new cold war. After all those years of frenetic propaganda, a new Gallup poll shows that nearly 60% of the American people prefer diplomacy over confrontation with Russia:

“In an era of increasingly tense US-Russian relations marked by allegations of Russian meddling in US elections, Americans believe it is more important to try to continue efforts to improve relations between the countries (58%), rather than taking strong diplomatic and economic steps against Russia (36%).”

Every fifty years or so the War Party migrates to the other side of the political spectrum, and this poll shows that the switching of partisan polarities is well underway. The majority of Democrats – 51% — say it’s more important to impose sanctions and take other hostile actions against Russia than to engage in diplomacy, while a whopping 74% of Republicans take the opposite view of diplomacy over confrontation. The Trumpification of the GOP means a less interventionist Republican electorate, as I’ve been saying for many months. This poll confirms it: the Republicans (in general!) are the party of peace.

The good news doesn’t end there. The really great news is that the Democrats are badly split, with a significant minority choosing diplomacy over sanctions. The clincher is that the independents are with the peaceniks in the GOP: diplomacy, they say, is better than conflict.

The Great American Peace Consensus has spoken! If the Democrats run with this Russia-gate nonsense in 2020 they will lose, bigtime. There’s no way they’re going to sell the American people on a cheap remake of “Red Dawn.”

Oh yes, the good news just keeps coming:

“Just 9% of Republicans agree that Russians interfered and changed the outcome of the election. Rather, the majority of Republicans, 58%, believe Russia interfered but it did not change the outcome. Nearly one in three Republicans reject the idea that Russia interfered.”

On the other hand, the Democrats swallow the Russia-gate myth whole: 78% believe it, despite the lack of publicly available evidence.

What this means is that most Democrats are not only epistemologically challenged but they are also more likely to believe authority figures unquestioningly, whereas Republicans are more prone to freethinking – although there are still a few deadheads among them.

We haven’t heard much about this particular poll, and the reason ought to be clear enough: it illustrates the waning power of the “mainstream” media, underscoring their pathetic weakness even when they act in concert. And if you think their coordinated editorials against Trump the other day was the first instance of their consolidation into a political bloc then you haven’t been paying attention. They’ve been peddling this anti-Russian conspiracy narrative for years – and now to see that it has had almost no effect on the majority of ordinary Americans must be so humiliating. All that effort – for nothing! The American people have far more sense than the political class that purports to rule over them, and that includes the media.

Our journalists are extra sensitive these days, responsive to every slight, both real and imagined, precisely because they sense their own impending irrelevance. Do you wonder why it’s the journalists who scream the loudest in favor of censoring alternative voices like Alex Jones? They hate the competition and would love to stamp it out: Jones’s kookiness gives them the perfect foil and pretext.

Trump called them the “enemy of the people,” but that’s letting them off easy. Our media is the enemy of reality, and the servitor of entrenched Power. They’ve inverted their job description: instead of reporting the facts they are intent on hiding them. That’s why alternative media are growing by leaps and bounds, while the legacy media is on its last legs.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

Martyrs to the Cause: Carter Page and Julian Assange

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In an unprecedented move, the Justice Department has released the FISA application submitted by the FBI to spy on Carter Page, the rather hapless would-be advisor to the Trump campaign who has been smeared as a “Russian agent” – but has not been charged after almost two years.

We’ve never before even seen a FISA application, in which law enforcement agents explain to a judge why it is necessary for them to conduct surveillance on an American citizen, and so this is a special treat. The document that came out of this unique Freedom of Information Act request shows that the FBI had an ulterior motive in going after Page – and that they lied to the FISA court judge.

In order to get the judge to agree to the surveillance, the FBI had to establish a fairly convincing probable cause: at a minimum, agents had to identify multiple sources indicating that an act of espionage may have occurred or is about to occur imminently. This FISA application shows that the FBI had a single source: the unverified “dossier,” compiled by “former” MI6 agent Christopher Steele, bought and paid for by the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump. The other ostensible “sources” were news articles by journalists whom Steele had leaked to. There was a clear intent to deceive the judge who read this application.

This technique is a familiar one: remember how the neocons used to quote each other as “proof” that Saddam had “weapons of mass destruction”? It’s the old echo chamber trick, and every third-rate smear artist deploys it. The question arises: so is this how the FBI carries out its “investigations” into espionage?

This whole affair, and the shocking denouement, reminds me of the FBI investigation of … myself and our co-founder, Eric Garris. If you look at the initial memo proposing a “preliminary investigation” of the two of us, it contains an article by raving neocon Ronald Radosh that appeared in the Boston Globe accusing me of trying to create a “red-brown coalition” to oppose the Iraq war. It is full of the most imaginative smears, including a discussion of my alleged sexual proclivities, supposedly proving I’m an “agent of a foreign power” – just like Carter Page.

Apart from fag-baiting, the rest of the Radosh piece is simply a series of epithets – I’m a fascist, a Very Bad Person, etc. etc. Radosh doesn’t bother citing a single complete sentence of anything I’ve written or said. In short, the FBI included this worthless compendium of bile only in order to justify spying on me. But since when does an opinion piece by a clearly biased person serve as “evidence” of anything? Is this how the federal law enforcement authorities routinely guard the nation’s security?

I’m very much afraid that the answer is yes.

Carter Page is just a high profile victim of a widespread practice on the part of those supposedly assigned to guard the nation against espionage, saboteurs, and spies – they make it up as they go along. Since their goal is to conduct surveillance on everyone, they cast as wide a net as possible in hopes of “catching” a real villain. Yet the powerful tools at their disposal married to dubious methods enable the worst excesses – and that is certainly a fair description of what happened in the case of Carter Page. For it wasn’t Page they were really after: they simply used him to get to other members of the Trump campaign staff.

This isn’t mere incompetence: it’s sheer malevolence. This is what happens in police states.

Speaking of unmitigated evil — the Gnostics believed that Satan, not God, reigns in Heaven, and directs the ways of the world, and that certainly explains all too many recent events, especially the continued martyrdom of Julian Assange.

I won’t reiterate the many tortures Assange has had to endure due to his unique position as the greatest truth-teller of modern times. Suffice to say that his long – six years! – imprisonment in London’s Ecuadorian embassy is a sentence that was neither deserved nor was it legal. As far as we know, Assange has not been charged with any crime: contra journalistic malfeasance, he was never actually charged by the Swedish authorities for supposedly engaging in bad behavior with two women. He sought asylum in the embassy because the Swedes, always subservient to Washington, would have shipped him to the United States to stand trial for “espionage” – despite the fact that we don’t know if a grand jury has proffered charges.

Assange was granted sanctuary due to Rafael Correa, then the President of Ecuador: unfortunately, Correa’s successor – one Lenin Moreno – has caved to pressure from the US and Britain, and it looks like Assange is going to be handedover to the British imminently.

What happens next is anybody’s guess, but my own view is that there has indeed been a grand jury secretly deliberating his case, and charges will be made public: which means Assange will be sent to America, and to an uncertain fate.

Uncertain due to the Supreme Court decision in the Pentagon Papers case, in which the Supremes ruled that the First Amendment protects journalists who report facts that may embarrass or otherwise inconvenience the government.

In other circumstances, and in an earlier era, his fate would not be uncertain, it would be sealed. After all, WikiLeaks has revealed more US government secrets than any single individual or state adversary in history. One after another the revelations came – a US helicopter gunship gunning down Iraqi civilians, the entire secret diplomatic history of the US, complete with original documents and references, the methodology of hi-tech US surveillance on ordinary Americans, and the list goes on and on. Assange is, in short, the greatest journalist of our time – and so naturally the rest of the profession hates his guts, and is calling for his head.

The reasons for this should be clear enough: the Russia-gate mythology, a matter of faith for the Fourth Estate, characterizes Assange as one of its chief demons. He is, in their fake-expert phraseology, a Russian “asset,” Putin’s puppet, who deprived Hillary Clinton of her rightful due and “stole” the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump.

There is no evidence for this, although the “mainstream” media and their CIA/FBI handlers carry on as if it’s a settled matter. It isn’t. We have no idea where the DNC files came from, although we do know that John Podesta, Hillary’s top aide, had his email account penetrated because his password was “password.” What anyone who knows anything about attribution of hacking incidents can tell you is that Trump is right: it could have been the Russians, just as it could have been anyone. Assange has strongly hinted that it was an inside job. My own view – no, I can’t prove it — is that it was probably a disaffected Bernie-crat who kept his or her sympathies secret and acted when he or she saw what was going on.

Yet why, we have to ask, is this relevant? The question of whodunit is surely interesting in itself, but ultimately it doesn’t matter: what mattered then and matters now is that the material uncovered is true. The WikiLeaks document dump exposed the fact that the Democratic primary was rigged from the very beginning. Bernie Sanders never had a chance, due to the machinations of the Democratic National Committee in cahoots with the Clinton campaign. So when the media refers to “stolen emails,” translate that into “rigged primary” and you get an accurate picture of the reality.

There will be considerable pressure on President Trump from his base to pardon Assange if charges are made public and he’s dragged to the US by his British captors. I don’t see how he can pull that one off, politically: I have no doubt that the top leadership of the CIA, the FBI, and various other agencies would collectively resign in protest.

From my perspective, that would be a good thing: it’s one way to get rid of the Deep State, or at least pry the worst ones from the levers of power. Then again, I’m not the President of the United States, Donald Trump is, and I can’t imagine him deliberately provoking an unbelievable uproar and taking the slings and arrows that would come his way if he dared to do it.

On the other hand, I can imagine it. Can’t you?

This is the really interesting thing about such a turn of events: predicting who will be howling for Assange’s blood and who will be demanding that he be set free. It’s the same division that’s occurring over the Russia-gate hoax: the believers (and I mean that in the religious sense) will form a mob straight out of The Lottery. The few skeptics – Tucker Carlson, Glenn Greenwald, a scattering of honest leftists, and most of us libertarians (although who knows if the Kochs will let Reason magazine come out for Assange) – will be his only defenders.

As long as WikiLeaks was exposing the dark underside of the Bush administration’s murderous foreign policy, our virtue-signaling “liberals” were all for it: Assange was a hero in their eyes. Just as soon as Obama took office, however, his left-wing fan club largely turned their backs on him. And during the 2016 presidential election they went after him with a vengeance: Hillary herself wondered aloud if the US could dronestrike him. She was only half-joking.

As in the case of war and peace, so in this very important civil liberties case, the traditional positions of the left and the right are transposed, with the “left” arguing for the continued imprisonment of the man they used to lionize, and the “right” (populist version) rising to defend the civil liberties of journalists everywhere. This division won’t be clean, however: a few liberals (see above) will join with Trump’s base to campaign for Assange’s freedom, and I think we’ll even see some alleged libertarians go A.W.O.L. in this fight. Trump Derangement Syndrome has some pretty ugly symptoms.

Assange, who is very sympathetic to libertarianism, has been swimming against the tide for all of his public life. To say he hasn’t taken the easy way out is a bit of an understatement. Instead of mouthing the expected leftist bromides, and exhibiting the well-known prejudices of the species, Assange has gored everyone’s ox without fear or favor. As a result, his enemies are legion – a situation I can personally sympathize with.

The aura of inevitable doom that has permeated the air around Assange has finally descended on him, and may very well devour him in the end. We can’t let him go down without a fight. President Trump – who hailed WikiLeaksduring the campaign! – is his only hope. Yes, yes, I know – that’s not exactly reassuring. But it’s all we have: it’s all Assange has, at this point.

Call the White House: (202) 456-1111. If Assange is being held by the British, bombard the Brits with your protests – call their Washington embassy and give them holy hell. Don’t let this horrific injustice pass in silence: make noise. Speak up. Fight back.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

A Time to Remember: Some Memorial Weekend Reading

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We’re headed into the Memorial Day weekend, and what better time to remember those stories that held your attention, briefly, weeks or even months and years ago ? Well, here’s some follow-up:

Perfidious Albion, Revisited – Remember when Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News commentator, was suspended from Fox because he highlighted the British connection to the plot to oust Donald Trump? In light of the Christopher Steele dossier, and the even more recent revelation of the Stefan Halper/Sir Richard Dearlove spying mission, it looks like the Judge was right.

Napolitano contended on air that the Obama White House used the Brits to get transcripts of conversations between Trump officials and their contacts so that “no American fingerprints” would be left on the dirty deeds. Yet it looks like they did go through our own FISA court to get a judge to sign on to the surveillance: however, there are many questions about what evidence they used to convince that judge.

The “dirty dossier” was one piece of the puzzle, the information funneled to the FBI by their spie(s) in the campaign was another, and I believe that information provided by foreign intelligence services, including the Brits, was the third addition to this brew.

The President’s critics, as well as his friends, say he could clear all this up by simply declassifying the relevant documents, but this is easier said than done: those documents doubtless implicate our foreign “allies” as the source of the “collusion” charges leveled at Trump. The Democrats didn’t think this up all on their own: the whole Russia-gate hoax originated, I believe, overseas, and was then eagerly adopted by the Clintonites. Rather than cause an international incident – and a serious one, to be sure – all concerned are doing their best to downplay this aspect of the unfolding drama, yet the truth is bound to come out eventually.

Hitlerian Ukraine – Remember Ukraine? That’s the country Vladimir Putin was going to invade any day now – except it never happened. Oh well, the “imminent” Russian invasion was years ago, so why bring it up now? Because Nazis are overrunning the place, that’s why.

The Forward reports:
“A wave of anti-Semitism has swept over Ukraine. In the past three weeks alone, a far-right leader publicly called for cleansing Ukraine of zhidi (a slur equivalent to ‘kike’); a Holocaust memorial in Ternopil was bombed; hundreds marched through Lviv, in honor of an SS unit, complete with Nazi salutes; ‘Death to Zhidi’ graffiti was scrawled in two cities; a revered rabbi’s tomb was vandalized; a Romani campin Kiev was attacked and burned by far-right nationalists, and hundreds rocked out at a neo-Nazi concert clad in swastikas and throwing up Nazi salutes.”
The piece is entitled “Violent Anti-Semitism is Gripping Ukraine – And the Government is Standing Idly By.” But of course they’re standing idly by: as I pointed out four years ago, that’s because they’re in ideological agreement with the neo-Nazis, who make up a large electoral and military constituency.

The openly Nazi Azov Brigade is one of the crack units of the Ukrainian military. Other far right militias associated with Right Sector, an extreme nationalist group, are being trained in the use of American weapons by Army trainers, all of it paid for by the hapless US taxpayers. Indeed, in 2016 an amendment to the military spending bill that would have banned US funding for the neo-Nazi Azov fighters was stripped from the final bill – a maneuver the Ukraine lobby managed to pull off three times since 2015. Finally this year,thanks to Rep. Ro Khanna, the Ukrainian Nazis found themselves out in the cold once again, as an amendment was adopted that forbids US funding to Azov and any military formation inculcated with Nazi ideology.

The current omnibus spending bill lavishes $620,7 million on Ukraine, including $200 million in “lethal” military aid and the rest a gift from the State Department.

Italexit?! – Hey, remember the right-wing populist threat to All Decent People Everywhere that was slated to take over the world upon the election of Donald Trump? Well, the Italian branch of the Great Populist Revolt has taken power in Italy – except it’s not right-wing per se, but rather a unique electoral coalition: a left-right alliance, featuring the ultra-conservative Lega Nord, founded by northern secessionists who wanted an independent state of “Padania,” and the upstart leftist Five Star movement started by comedian Beppe Grillo.

Both parties are on record as considering the European Union the incarnation of Ultimate Evil, yet they will be forced to go to Brussels seeking debt relief. Which means Rome and the Euro-crats are on a collision course.

Italy is not Greece: its economy is roughly the equivalent of California’s. The Greeks can be dictated to: the Italians must be bargained with. And in the post-Brexit world, the possibility of leaving the European Union is no longer inconceivable: in the context of the populist politics that have eliminated the traditional parties in Italy, Italexit – yes, I’m coining this new term right now! – is more than merely possible.

In Italy we are seeing yet more evidence that the two dominant trends in global politics right now – nationalism and decentralism – are working overtime to dismantle the supra-national structures the Davos crowd stupidly thinks are the future.

As a member of NATO, Italy has been complicit in the alliance’s provocative military “exercises” and propagandistic pronouncements targeting Russia. Will the victorious Italian populists have the courage to chart an independent course for Italian foreign policy?

Both parties have opposed sanctions on Russia, but there will be a lot of pressure for them to dump this plank in their respective platforms. No one expects Italy to leave NATO, but the sanctions issue is bound to come up fairly quickly. And if the Italians make the “wrong” decision and go up against Washington, you can be sure the “soft power” regime-change machine will start to whirr and churn. In the aftermath of World War II, the CIA launched afull-scale covert action program to prevent the Communists from taking power in Rome. And while history doesn’t actually repeat itself, as Mark Twain pointed out it does often rhyme.

In Memoriam – My 2011 Memorial Day column just about says everything I have to say about this holiday. Here’s an excerpt:
The war dead are honored, and yet the real reasons for their sacrifice are entirely forgotten, or – worse – mythologized into their exact opposite. We fought two world wars to “make the world safe for democracy” – not to save the British empire, or to establish its American successor. We fought the commies for the same reason – not to establish Western hegemony over the entire world. The history books say so, and so they must be right: who but marginal cranks can doubt these basic lessons of Official American History 101? After all, both liberals and conservatives agree, and since “politics stops at the water’s edge” that’s the only view we get to hear, and, therefore, the only one worth knowing.
Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

A Time to Remember: Some Memorial Weekend Reading

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We’re headed into the Memorial Day weekend, and what better time to remember those stories that held your attention, briefly, weeks or even months and years ago ? Well, here’s some follow-up:

Perfidious Albion, Revisited – Remember when Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News commentator, was suspended from Fox because he highlighted the British connection to the plot to oust Donald Trump? In light of the Christopher Steele dossier, and the even more recent revelation of the Stefan Halper/Sir Richard Dearlove spying mission, it looks like the Judge was right.

Napolitano contended on air that the Obama White House used the Brits to get transcripts of conversations between Trump officials and their contacts so that “no American fingerprints” would be left on the dirty deeds. Yet it looks like they did go through our own FISA court to get a judge to sign on to the surveillance: however, there are many questions about what evidence they used to convince that judge.

The “dirty dossier” was one piece of the puzzle, the information funneled to the FBI by their spie(s) in the campaign was another, and I believe that information provided by foreign intelligence services, including the Brits, was the third addition to this brew.

The President’s critics, as well as his friends, say he could clear all this up by simply declassifying the relevant documents, but this is easier said than done: those documents doubtless implicate our foreign “allies” as the source of the “collusion” charges leveled at Trump. The Democrats didn’t think this up all on their own: the whole Russia-gate hoax originated, I believe, overseas, and was then eagerly adopted by the Clintonites. Rather than cause an international incident – and a serious one, to be sure – all concerned are doing their best to downplay this aspect of the unfolding drama, yet the truth is bound to come out eventually.

Hitlerian Ukraine – Remember Ukraine? That’s the country Vladimir Putin was going to invade any day now – except it never happened. Oh well, the “imminent” Russian invasion was years ago, so why bring it up now? Because Nazis are overrunning the place, that’s why.

The Forward reports:
“A wave of anti-Semitism has swept over Ukraine. In the past three weeks alone, a far-right leader publicly called for cleansing Ukraine of zhidi (a slur equivalent to ‘kike’); a Holocaust memorial in Ternopil was bombed; hundreds marched through Lviv, in honor of an SS unit, complete with Nazi salutes; ‘Death to Zhidi’ graffiti was scrawled in two cities; a revered rabbi’s tomb was vandalized; a Romani campin Kiev was attacked and burned by far-right nationalists, and hundreds rocked out at a neo-Nazi concert clad in swastikas and throwing up Nazi salutes.”
The piece is entitled “Violent Anti-Semitism is Gripping Ukraine – And the Government is Standing Idly By.” But of course they’re standing idly by: as I pointed out four years ago, that’s because they’re in ideological agreement with the neo-Nazis, who make up a large electoral and military constituency.

The openly Nazi Azov Brigade is one of the crack units of the Ukrainian military. Other far right militias associated with Right Sector, an extreme nationalist group, are being trained in the use of American weapons by Army trainers, all of it paid for by the hapless US taxpayers. Indeed, in 2016 an amendment to the military spending bill that would have banned US funding for the neo-Nazi Azov fighters was stripped from the final bill – a maneuver the Ukraine lobby managed to pull off three times since 2015. Finally this year,thanks to Rep. Ro Khanna, the Ukrainian Nazis found themselves out in the cold once again, as an amendment was adopted that forbids US funding to Azov and any military formation inculcated with Nazi ideology.

The current omnibus spending bill lavishes $620,7 million on Ukraine, including $200 million in “lethal” military aid and the rest a gift from the State Department.

Italexit?! – Hey, remember the right-wing populist threat to All Decent People Everywhere that was slated to take over the world upon the election of Donald Trump? Well, the Italian branch of the Great Populist Revolt has taken power in Italy – except it’s not right-wing per se, but rather a unique electoral coalition: a left-right alliance, featuring the ultra-conservative Lega Nord, founded by northern secessionists who wanted an independent state of “Padania,” and the upstart leftist Five Star movement started by comedian Beppe Grillo.

Both parties are on record as considering the European Union the incarnation of Ultimate Evil, yet they will be forced to go to Brussels seeking debt relief. Which means Rome and the Euro-crats are on a collision course.

Italy is not Greece: its economy is roughly the equivalent of California’s. The Greeks can be dictated to: the Italians must be bargained with. And in the post-Brexit world, the possibility of leaving the European Union is no longer inconceivable: in the context of the populist politics that have eliminated the traditional parties in Italy, Italexit – yes, I’m coining this new term right now! – is more than merely possible.

In Italy we are seeing yet more evidence that the two dominant trends in global politics right now – nationalism and decentralism – are working overtime to dismantle the supra-national structures the Davos crowd stupidly thinks are the future.

As a member of NATO, Italy has been complicit in the alliance’s provocative military “exercises” and propagandistic pronouncements targeting Russia. Will the victorious Italian populists have the courage to chart an independent course for Italian foreign policy?

Both parties have opposed sanctions on Russia, but there will be a lot of pressure for them to dump this plank in their respective platforms. No one expects Italy to leave NATO, but the sanctions issue is bound to come up fairly quickly. And if the Italians make the “wrong” decision and go up against Washington, you can be sure the “soft power” regime-change machine will start to whirr and churn. In the aftermath of World War II, the CIA launched afull-scale covert action program to prevent the Communists from taking power in Rome. And while history doesn’t actually repeat itself, as Mark Twain pointed out it does often rhyme.

In Memoriam – My 2011 Memorial Day column just about says everything I have to say about this holiday. Here’s an excerpt:
The war dead are honored, and yet the real reasons for their sacrifice are entirely forgotten, or – worse – mythologized into their exact opposite. We fought two world wars to “make the world safe for democracy” – not to save the British empire, or to establish its American successor. We fought the commies for the same reason – not to establish Western hegemony over the entire world. The history books say so, and so they must be right: who but marginal cranks can doubt these basic lessons of Official American History 101? After all, both liberals and conservatives agree, and since “politics stops at the water’s edge” that’s the only view we get to hear, and, therefore, the only one worth knowing.
Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

Trump: Is He Stupid or Dangerously Crazy?

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A child could see through the fake “chemical attack” supposedly launched by Bashar al-Assad just as his troops defeated the jihadists and Trump said he wanted out of Syria. But our President can’t, which raises the question: is he as stupid or stupider than George W. Bush? Or is he crazy?

The bad news is: possibly both. And no, there is no good news.

It was 6 in the morning this Sunday when the President of the United States sent out this tweet:
Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…
We are expected to believe that the Assad regime committed a horrific atrocity against mostly women and children at the very moment when Syrian forces have decisively defeated the Islamist rebels and Trump declared he wanted US troops out of Syria. Days before this fake attack, the Russian Defense Ministry warned that a false flag provocation was in the making.

“Big price,” eh? The person paying that price is going to be Trump himself: his deplorables didn’t vote for him so we could establish an Islamic Sunni state in Syria, as John Bolton has long advocated. If he gets into a war – and the longer we stay in Syria, the bigger are the chances that we’ll be pulled into yet another quagmire – his presidency is doomed.

So let’s get down to brass tacks, as they used to say: doesn’t this prove I was wrong about Trump and his movement all along? Weren’t all the smarty-pants NeverTrumpers right from the very beginning?

I was very wrong to discount the role of character, personality, and intelligence: Trump is simply not fit to be President. The foreign policy he seemed to be promising, summed up in the slogan “America First,” was and is the right path for this country – but life is not about policies divorced from individuals. People like me – writers, journalists, and publicists – think in terms of ideas, but these cannot exist apart from the people who hold them, or pretend to hold them. Trump is a very imperfect vessel for a very good policy – and that is definitely an understatement.

Yet that has nothing to do with what I said and wrote about Trump’s various foreign policy pronouncements right up until very recently: as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, and exhaustively, the very fact that a successful presidential candidate criticized the Iraq war (“they lied”) and our policy of global intervention – e.g., questioned NATO’s existence – was and still is a great step forward. That Trump isn’t living up to his campaign promises and his post-election rhetoric is another matter entirely. The “deplorables” are in open rebellion against this new turn: Trump is losing his base.

So here’s the question: is he stupid, like George W. Bush, or is he crazy, in the tradition of, say, Richard M. Nixon?

The case for stupidity is fairly strong: after all, where’s the evidence that Assad launched a chemical attack? Like the series of fake “attacks” touted by the jihadist rebels over the years, this one lacks verification – but that doesn’t bother the War Party. Since when do they need evidence? Last time Trump fell for this routine it turned out that his own Secretary of Defense admitted – well after the US bombing raid – that there was “no evidence” that the Syrian government had launched a chemical attack. The same dodgy “proof”beleaguers the Skripal “poisoning” case in Britain – and, what a coincidence, the same villains are being blamed – Putin & Co. The idea that Assad had anything to gain from launching such an attack is not even worth refuting: he’d already won the war. So what would be the point? It isn’t hard to understand this, yet our President is clueless – or pretends to be.

The case for craziness – a real mental affliction – is even stronger, in my opinion. When President Obama was confronted with the same phony “attacks,” as reported by jihadist “activists” and “medics,” Trump urged himto stay out of it. Yet now that’s he’s in the Oval Office, he’s doing what he urged Obama not to do. This is the classic behavior pattern of a schizoid nutjob with multiple personalities: it’s “The Three Faces of the Donald,” and the big question is which one will emerge today?

Another issue I was apparently dead wrong about is the ascension of John Bolton as National Security Advisor: no big deal, I said. Wrong! I refuse to believe that Trump is caving in to the War Party on Syria just as Bolton gets the keys to his new office. And here’s another non-coincidence: this new turn comes just after Trump got into an argument with his generals over Syria. He wanted out: they insisted we stay. It didn’t take him long to find an excuse – this bogus “attack” – to cave.

So he’s not just stupid, and crazy – he’s also a coward. He refuses to confront the War Party head on, despite his campaign trail rhetoric. Just the other day he was telling crowds in Ohio how we were on the way out of Syria because “we have to take care of our own country.” The crowd cheered. Would he go back to that same audience and tell them we need to intervene in a country that’s been wracked by warfare for years, with no real hope of a peaceful settlement? Of course not.

He’s a Beta male masquerading as an Alpha.

The top three most powerful foreign lobbies in Washington are pushing the US to not only stay in Syria but to expand the role of US troops: the Saudis, who directly support the jihadist rebels, the Israelis, who have long sought to overthrow Assad, and the British, who are behind the maniacal anti-Russian propaganda campaign, starting with the shenanigans of Christopher Steele. Trump’s craven capitulation to these “allies” is yet more evidence of his cowardice under fire. And there’s no doubt that his blaming Russia – and naming Putin – as supposedly responsible for this “gas attack” is a ploy to get Robert Mueller off his back.

I have to say that the future looks grim. This puts Trump’s entire foreign policy agenda up for grabs, including the once-promising Korean peace initiative. Will he sabotage what might have been his greatest accomplishment – peace on the Korean peninsula?

It’s entirely possible.

We are now entering uncharted territory – although, come to think of it, that’s been true since Election Day, 2016. Hold on to your hats, folks, and get a grip on your nerves – because it’s going to be a long, scary ride.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

The Enemy Within – the ‘Intelligence Community’

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It was the Holy Grail of #TheResistance, the smoking gun they had been desperately searching for, solid evidence that Trump had colluded with the Russians to steal the presidency from its rightful owner: an email written and sent before WikiLeaks published the DNC material directing Trump’s attention to the data dump and even offering an “encryption key,” whatever that may be, so he could get a jump start on the news cycle.

Collusion! Impeach! Gotcha!

Except it wasn’t true. CNN, which initially reported the story, had the date of the email wrong: a 14 had somehow morphed into a 4. It turns out that CNN had never actually seen the email, but only had it described by “multiple sources.” CBS ran a story supposedly “confirming” the provenance of the incriminating email, and MSNBC followed suit with former Los Angeles Times national security reporter Ken Dilanian, whose reputation as a mouthpiece for the CIA is well-earned: Dilanian went on the air endorsing the story and tying it into the by now elaborate conspiracy theories that preoccupy #TheResistance.

Of course it was the purest coincidence that no less than three major media outlets got the Trump email story wrong. Yes, those “multiple sources” sure were busy.

It’s absurd to think that this episode is a case of simply getting it wrong: this was undoubtedly a deliberate lie, planted in the media by the same rogue “intelligence community” that invented Russia-gate. It didn’t matter that the truth would eventually come out: look at how many times the original story was tweeted and retweeted over social media, and then consider how many people don’t know it’s been debunked.

It seems like years since the Russia-gate investigation was launched, amid predictions of Trump’s imminent doom. So what have they come up with so far? Enough evidence of foreign meddling in American politics to drive the Podesta Group out of business. Mike Flynn is in trouble not because of his Russia contacts but due to his lobbying on behalf of Turkey while in office. Of the many Russia-is-after-us stories that have come down the pipeline recently, a good many have been debunked.

In short, Russia-gate is getting old, and going nowhere. It needed a jolt to kick it back into life again, and who cares what’s true and what isn’t? The point of circulating a lie, even a debunked one, is to normalize the inconceivable. A coup against the President? Why not? Violence directed at his supporters? Oh, it’s a moral obligation. War propagandists don’t need fact-checkers, and this is a war we’re in. We’re all living on a battlefield as the struggle for power goes on around us and our intelligence community – or at least the leadership – conducts open warfare against the President.

We’ve seen the same pattern unfold abroad, as the CIA and its ancillary organizations undertook regime change operations in countries throughout the world. Remember the “color revolutions” of the Bush II era? Or look at what happened in Ukraine, where the elected president was driven out of office by a CIA-bought-and-paid-for mob. They hope to replicate their Ukrainian success in the US.

Is it really necessary to explain why this is a deadly threat to the Constitution, the rule of law, and everything we stand for as a nation? Are we to be turned into some Third World banana republic, with coups, counter-coups, and a political police answerable to no one?

The repeal of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which forbade the CIA from carrying out actions designed to influence US domestic opinion, was justified by officials on the grounds that these limits prevented them from doing their job. Of course, if we had known that they considered it their job to pick and choose who can be President, perhaps Smith-Mundt would still be intact. As it is now, our spooks can use government resources to push their political agenda, and rest assured they have one: they are a de facto political party as well as a welter of government agencies.

Particularly frightening is the politicization of the FBI, which seems to have become a bludgeon in the hands of the President’s enemies. Their involvement with the Trump “dossier,” their refusal to hand over key documents to congressional oversight committees, not to mention the bizarre grandstanding of former FBI director James Comey – all point to a worrisome partisanship that has somehow infiltrated US law enforcement and called into question the integrity of our entire legal system.

We have given these people access to our most private information: they have a “legal” mandate to invade our privacy at will. We’ve given them unlimited resources, although nobody knows how much they really spend. We’ve allowed them to roam the earth, overthrowing governments, assassinating opponents, and engaging in dirty tricks that we’ll never even know about. So the question isn’t “How did they get to the point where they can conceivably pull off a coup?” – it’s “Why didn’t this happen sooner?”

We are facing a mortal threat to our republic, to our liberties, and to the future of democracy in America, and it’s not coming from overseas. The danger is coming from within our own government – the permanent national security bureaucracy, which was never elected by anyone to anything, and is now determined to impose its will on a country that voted the “wrong” way.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

From ‘Russia-Gate’ to ‘Israel-Gate’

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Life is full of surprises. Like that time you were counting on a new bike for Christmas, and were totally certain your parents were going to come through, and then – lo and behold! – on Christmas morning there it was: a spanking brand-new Segway! The final evidence that, despite your best efforts, you’d always be a nerdy little dork. (And yes, a pocket calculator turned up in your stocking).

That’s just what happened to #TheResistance this holiday season. For months they’ve been salivating heavily in anticipation of the turning of Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor now charged with lying to the FBI. Flynn has admitted doing so on at least two occasions, both involving his answers to questions about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kisylak. During the transition – after Trump’s election but before he took office – Flynn was talking to the Russians about two subjects: the possible blowback from the Obama administration’s decision to impose more sanctions and close the Russian compound in Maryland, and the Russian position on the controversial UN resolution condemning Israel for building yet more “settlements” on Palestinian land.

The incoming Trump team was “intensely focused on improving relations with Moscow and was willing to intervene to pursue that goal,” as the New York Times phrased it, even as the war cries in the Democratic party got louder and demagogues like Adam Schiff waved the bloody shirt of Russia-gate. That took balls: and here’s another instance where the alleged non-interventionists ensconced in the world of thinktanks and academia fail to give the Trump people the credit that is their due.

Think about it, folks: both the US and the Russians possess enough nuclear firepower to destroy all life on earth several times over. This sword of Damocles is hanging over us by a thread, just as it loomed large during the last cold war with Moscow. It’s a  machinery of annihilation that is set on hair-trigger alert, and any number of events could unleash it: a miscalculation, a foolish bluff, a misunderstanding, a technical glitch, a showdown similar to the Cuban missile crisis. All that stands between us and utter extinction is the hope that this apparatus of death can be restrained by mutual agreement. Bravo to the Trump administration for making peace a priority. If this is now a crime, and even “treason,” as the mouth-breathers of #TheResistance would have it, well then let the Washington Inquisition make the most of it.

I feel obligated to repeat my admonition of the various Beltway careerists who light up the small firmament of anti-interventionism: why no defense of the White House on this vitally important issue?

Given the scope of a special counsel’s powers, and the wide berth he is given to pursue possible violations to the law far removed from his original mandate, perhaps we should have expected that some other foreign connection would come to light. Flynn was instructed by none other than Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, to approach “every member of the Security Council” to block the resolution condemning the seizure of Palestinian property. The Russians were directly contacted by Flynn, who asked them to veto the resolution in the Security Council.

Flynn’s unsuccessful efforts on behalf of the Israelis were the fruit of an Israeli appeal to the incoming Trump administration. The day after Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador on this subject an anonymous Israeli official told CNN “that Israel – and reportedly the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, himself – had contacted Trump to seek his assistance in killing the resolution.”

As special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe continues, the full extent of the covert Israeli effort to undermine what was then US policy will come to light, and this may prove to be the most revealing aspect of the whole affair.

What’s interesting is that an Israeli official would come right out and brazenly boast of having turned to the Trump team to stop the resolution:
The official – in comments that may come back to haunt the White House – said that Israel had ‘implored the [Obama] White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump.

‘We did reach out to the president-elect,’ the official added, ‘and are deeply appreciative that he weighed in, which was not a simple thing to do.’
By inserting that information into the public record, the legal case against both Flynn and possibly other figures in the Trump administration is considerably strengthened. Which makes one wonder: did the Israelis deliberately burn Trump?

Yes, I’m indulging in pure speculation, and yet why would an Israeli official openly discuss such a delicate matter? Even as the outgoing Obama-bots were setting the trap for Flynn – an effort Tel Aviv may well have been privy to – the Israelis were letting the world know that they had the Americans in their pocket.

This is more grist for Mueller’s mill: aside from that, Kushner has financial and political links to Israel, and these are now likely coming under the special counsel’s scrutiny. One can now see what direction this investigation may be taking us: Instead of revealing collusion between the Trump team and the Russians, the Flynn indictment exposed Kushner’s collusion with Israel.

Has Russia-gate morphed into Israel-gate?

If this is, indeed, the direction Mueller is taking, then this development is certain to end the fondest hopes of #TheResistance. Because it’s highly unlikely any public official, no matter how compromised, is going to be prosecuted for collusion with the Israelis and/or their American lobby. The last time US law enforcement tried that was back in 2009, in the Larry Franklin spy scandal, in which two employees of AIPAC, the powerful Israeli lobby, were prosecuted for procuring vital secrets from National Security Council analyst Larry Franklin. That case was dropped because pursuing it would have revealed yet more secrets.

That was a case of outright espionage: “collusion” is a far different – and much vaguer – matter. In any event, the fact is that after what seems like years of accusations, not a single iota of actual evidence has corroborated the charge that the Trump campaign plotted with Putin to deprive Hillary Clinton of her divine right of succession to the Oval Office. The foundational myth upon which the Mueller investigation rests – the idea that Russia was behind the WikiLeaks email dump – was never real to begin with: the Mueller probe, therefore, once launched, branched out into a more general look at foreign influence on the incoming administration. Which could and should mean that half of Washington will soon be lawyering up.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

Who’s A ‘Foreign Agent’?

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You know life’s become a joke when the US Department of Justice starts requiring foreign media to register as foreign agents. Will the BBC be forced to issue a disclaimer with every broadcast and web posting: “Proceed with caution – British propaganda ahead”? Don’t bet the ranch on it.

Such distinctions are reserved for the current bogeyman of the moment, i.e. typically some marginal outlet with a small-to-minuscule audience, in this case RT, formerly Russia Today, and its companion web site Sputnik. Banned from advertising on Twitter, and the subject of an official investigation by both houses of Congress and a special counsel, these two relatively minor state-sponsored outlets are nonetheless credited with nearly single-handedly putting Donald Trump in the White House.

It didn’t take much to create the kind of atmosphere in which a direct assault on the First Amendment goes largely unnoticed and even implicitly supported. A mysterious Russian “troll farm” amplifying the perfidious “divisiveness” of RT/Sputnik “disinformation,” a few hundred thousand bucks in Facebook ads (mostly placed after the election), and the “expert” testimony of professional hysterics who traffic in the mythology of the new cold war. Such are the ingredients that go into the making of a new industry, or rather a revived one: Kremlinology.

Compared to the “experts” of yesteryear, today’s Kremlinologists are a crankish lot. Bereft of any real knowledge of either Russian politics or the language, their elaborate conspiracy theories are unanchored by observable facts. Instead, we are treated to a series of mysterious “links,” and seemingly ambiguous meetings, which add up to a monumental nothing. Twitter accounts that may or may not be real human beings retweet “fake news” generated and centrally directed by Vladimir Putin, and this – so they tell us – was a meaningful and even a decisive factor in the 2016 presidential election. Yes, this nonsense is now the conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C., where the foreign lobbies that matter, the ones with real power, rule the roost.

Since professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have done such a thorough job documenting the power and influence of Israel’s lobby in the US, the often decisive role played by AIPAC and allied groups is today largely acknowledged, even by the lobby’s partisans. If you have time or inclination, it’s worth looking into how AIPAC – surely not an insignificant force — and its predecessors were exempted from having to register under the terms of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Senator William J. Fulbright and the lobby had quite a go-round during congressional hearings on the subject.

How many foreign-funded thinktanks in Washington are pushing an agenda dictated by the amount of cold hard cash flowing into their coffers from abroad? Shall we have the public pronouncements of the Alliance to Secure Democracy – funded by a bakers’ dozen of foreign governments – labeled with the requisite Department of Justice “disclaimer”? What about the sainted Brookings Institution, which is on the take from a couple of dubious sources? And if not, why not?

Ranked in terms of their real influence and reach, the Russians are on a par with Syria, Zimbabwe, and the office of the Orleanist Pretender to the French Throne. The lobbyists with real clout – the Saudis, the Israelis, the EU/Franco-Gerrman bloc, the China lobbies (Taiwan and the mainland), not to mention George Soros, who surely qualifies as a country – are given free rein. If the feds are now intent on strictly enforcing the FARA, there are an awful lot of folks in the Imperial City who are going to have to come out of the closet, so to speak, and admit they’re simply megaphones for foreign actors.

If we’re going to start prohibiting or even limiting the activities of foreign lobbyists, then groups like the Atlantic Council – flush with foreign cash — are going to be set back on their heels. Which is why a strict double standard is in place and will remain so.

Indeed, ordinary standards of all sort, including the rules of evidence, have been thrown underfoot in the Blame Russia stampede to such an extent that to express certain views — say, on NATO expansion, or the wisdom of carrying out provocative military exercises at the gates of Moscow – is to be labeled an “unconscious agent” of the Russian state. Which means, of course, that anyone who challenges the new cold war paradigm, and criticizes US foreign policy as hegemonist, not in our interests, and dangerous, is part of the alleged Russian conspiracy to “undermine our democracy.”

Like the Kremlinologists of the 1950s, our phony “experts” are shameless opportunists looking to cash in on the latest fad: unlike their predecessors, however, none of these people actually knows anything about Russia, foreign policy, or “Putinism,” so-called. The old school anti-Communist “experts” who solemnly testified before Congress that subversion was everywhere in our midst at least had some real experience: many of them were ex-Communists, who knew the ideology and its adherents inside out.

Not so this latest batch: their insubstantial visions of ghostly cyber-armies who somehow maneuvered not only the election of Donald Trump but also pulled off Brexit, are unconvincing. Yet propaganda, to be effective, needn’t be all that convincing: volume and the power of sheer repetition are often enough to achieve the desired result, which in this case is to demonize anyone who opposes the new cold war with Russia.

That’s why, time after time, we see the professional smear-mongers going after Antiwar.com, as well as any other “alternative” media that fails to go along with the “mainstream” script. Thus I was treated to the ridiculous spectacle of seeing the Russians blamed for the Catalonian secession movement on the grounds that I – being “reliably pro-Russian” – supported the Catalan cause!

The War Party wants to drive anyone who opposes their agenda out of the public square, and silence proponents of peace once and for all. The next phase of this witch-hunt is to go after Putin’s so-called “dupes” and “fellow travelers,” which means anyone who opposes our foreign policy of global intervention but can’t be directly tied to Russia.

The militarists don’t want a foreign policy debate: their whole modus operandi is to shut down debate, to delegitimize dissent from the bipartisan interventionist status quo as a Russian covert operation. You’ll notice that their favorite argument these days is that such-and-such is “divisive.” Brazen and quite clever, actually, this openly censorious quasi-authoritarian tone is really an act of desperation. Faced with the public’s overwhelming opposition to new wars, the War Party has decided to simply outlaw the opposition – that is, to shut it down in the name of curbing “foreign influence.”

As we have seen, however, what’s really going on here is the fierce competition of foreign interests. It’s a question of which foreign interests will gain the favor of the Empire, and thus the upper hand, at any given moment. In the Washington casino, every conceivable country and would-be country is represented with cash on the table, hoping the Wheel of Fashion will turn in their direction. Every interest has a place at the table – with a singe exception. The lobby for America, the one pressure group that puts American interests first, is nowhere in evidence. I’m afraid it’s too much to expect that US government officials are and ought to be the front line defenders of American interests narrowly conceived.

If anyone is surprised that journalists haven’t been the first ones to protest the imposition of content regulations on “foreign” media, then they are being naïve. The “liberal” media has been agitating for some form of censorship, whether governmental edicts against “hate speech” or corporate conformity compacts, and Russia-gate has been their bread and butter. Perhaps this accounts for the tepid statement of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which declared “We’re uncomfortable with governments deciding what constitutes journalism or propaganda.”

An outright assault on the First Amendment is a mere discomfort: is that the Founders I hear weeping?

The Freedom of the Press Foundation worried that the DOJ decision “opens up serious risk of retaliation for many brave journalists who work in Russia – both independent reporters who may get funding from the US and the US government’s own Voice of America.” So their big worry is what this will do to US government propaganda efforts: no hint that a far more important principle is at stake.

What’s in store for us is a full-fledged no-holds-barred all-out witch hunt, with the reincarnation and rebranding of the ill-favored “House Un-American Activities Committee,” and, worse, the revival of the hysteria that made it possible. There can’t be any compromise in a fight of this kind: the enemy is out to illegalize us. They want to make dissent the equivalent of treason. We can’t let them succeed.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.

Who’s A ‘Foreign Agent’?

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You know life’s become a joke when the US Department of Justice starts requiring foreign media to register as foreign agents. Will the BBC be forced to issue a disclaimer with every broadcast and web posting: “Proceed with caution – British propaganda ahead”? Don’t bet the ranch on it.

Such distinctions are reserved for the current bogeyman of the moment, i.e. typically some marginal outlet with a small-to-minuscule audience, in this case RT, formerly Russia Today, and its companion web site Sputnik. Banned from advertising on Twitter, and the subject of an official investigation by both houses of Congress and a special counsel, these two relatively minor state-sponsored outlets are nonetheless credited with nearly single-handedly putting Donald Trump in the White House.

It didn’t take much to create the kind of atmosphere in which a direct assault on the First Amendment goes largely unnoticed and even implicitly supported. A mysterious Russian “troll farm” amplifying the perfidious “divisiveness” of RT/Sputnik “disinformation,” a few hundred thousand bucks in Facebook ads (mostly placed after the election), and the “expert” testimony of professional hysterics who traffic in the mythology of the new cold war. Such are the ingredients that go into the making of a new industry, or rather a revived one: Kremlinology.

Compared to the “experts” of yesteryear, today’s Kremlinologists are a crankish lot. Bereft of any real knowledge of either Russian politics or the language, their elaborate conspiracy theories are unanchored by observable facts. Instead, we are treated to a series of mysterious “links,” and seemingly ambiguous meetings, which add up to a monumental nothing. Twitter accounts that may or may not be real human beings retweet “fake news” generated and centrally directed by Vladimir Putin, and this – so they tell us – was a meaningful and even a decisive factor in the 2016 presidential election. Yes, this nonsense is now the conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C., where the foreign lobbies that matter, the ones with real power, rule the roost.

Since professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have done such a thorough job documenting the power and influence of Israel’s lobby in the US, the often decisive role played by AIPAC and allied groups is today largely acknowledged, even by the lobby’s partisans. If you have time or inclination, it’s worth looking into how AIPAC – surely not an insignificant force — and its predecessors were exempted from having to register under the terms of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Senator William J. Fulbright and the lobby had quite a go-round during congressional hearings on the subject.

How many foreign-funded thinktanks in Washington are pushing an agenda dictated by the amount of cold hard cash flowing into their coffers from abroad? Shall we have the public pronouncements of the Alliance to Secure Democracy – funded by a bakers’ dozen of foreign governments – labeled with the requisite Department of Justice “disclaimer”? What about the sainted Brookings Institution, which is on the take from a couple of dubious sources? And if not, why not?

Ranked in terms of their real influence and reach, the Russians are on a par with Syria, Zimbabwe, and the office of the Orleanist Pretender to the French Throne. The lobbyists with real clout – the Saudis, the Israelis, the EU/Franco-Gerrman bloc, the China lobbies (Taiwan and the mainland), not to mention George Soros, who surely qualifies as a country – are given free rein. If the feds are now intent on strictly enforcing the FARA, there are an awful lot of folks in the Imperial City who are going to have to come out of the closet, so to speak, and admit they’re simply megaphones for foreign actors.

If we’re going to start prohibiting or even limiting the activities of foreign lobbyists, then groups like the Atlantic Council – flush with foreign cash — are going to be set back on their heels. Which is why a strict double standard is in place and will remain so.

Indeed, ordinary standards of all sort, including the rules of evidence, have been thrown underfoot in the Blame Russia stampede to such an extent that to express certain views — say, on NATO expansion, or the wisdom of carrying out provocative military exercises at the gates of Moscow – is to be labeled an “unconscious agent” of the Russian state. Which means, of course, that anyone who challenges the new cold war paradigm, and criticizes US foreign policy as hegemonist, not in our interests, and dangerous, is part of the alleged Russian conspiracy to “undermine our democracy.”

Like the Kremlinologists of the 1950s, our phony “experts” are shameless opportunists looking to cash in on the latest fad: unlike their predecessors, however, none of these people actually knows anything about Russia, foreign policy, or “Putinism,” so-called. The old school anti-Communist “experts” who solemnly testified before Congress that subversion was everywhere in our midst at least had some real experience: many of them were ex-Communists, who knew the ideology and its adherents inside out.

Not so this latest batch: their insubstantial visions of ghostly cyber-armies who somehow maneuvered not only the election of Donald Trump but also pulled off Brexit, are unconvincing. Yet propaganda, to be effective, needn’t be all that convincing: volume and the power of sheer repetition are often enough to achieve the desired result, which in this case is to demonize anyone who opposes the new cold war with Russia.

That’s why, time after time, we see the professional smear-mongers going after Antiwar.com, as well as any other “alternative” media that fails to go along with the “mainstream” script. Thus I was treated to the ridiculous spectacle of seeing the Russians blamed for the Catalonian secession movement on the grounds that I – being “reliably pro-Russian” – supported the Catalan cause!

The War Party wants to drive anyone who opposes their agenda out of the public square, and silence proponents of peace once and for all. The next phase of this witch-hunt is to go after Putin’s so-called “dupes” and “fellow travelers,” which means anyone who opposes our foreign policy of global intervention but can’t be directly tied to Russia.

The militarists don’t want a foreign policy debate: their whole modus operandi is to shut down debate, to delegitimize dissent from the bipartisan interventionist status quo as a Russian covert operation. You’ll notice that their favorite argument these days is that such-and-such is “divisive.” Brazen and quite clever, actually, this openly censorious quasi-authoritarian tone is really an act of desperation. Faced with the public’s overwhelming opposition to new wars, the War Party has decided to simply outlaw the opposition – that is, to shut it down in the name of curbing “foreign influence.”

As we have seen, however, what’s really going on here is the fierce competition of foreign interests. It’s a question of which foreign interests will gain the favor of the Empire, and thus the upper hand, at any given moment. In the Washington casino, every conceivable country and would-be country is represented with cash on the table, hoping the Wheel of Fashion will turn in their direction. Every interest has a place at the table – with a singe exception. The lobby for America, the one pressure group that puts American interests first, is nowhere in evidence. I’m afraid it’s too much to expect that US government officials are and ought to be the front line defenders of American interests narrowly conceived.

If anyone is surprised that journalists haven’t been the first ones to protest the imposition of content regulations on “foreign” media, then they are being naïve. The “liberal” media has been agitating for some form of censorship, whether governmental edicts against “hate speech” or corporate conformity compacts, and Russia-gate has been their bread and butter. Perhaps this accounts for the tepid statement of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which declared “We’re uncomfortable with governments deciding what constitutes journalism or propaganda.”

An outright assault on the First Amendment is a mere discomfort: is that the Founders I hear weeping?

The Freedom of the Press Foundation worried that the DOJ decision “opens up serious risk of retaliation for many brave journalists who work in Russia – both independent reporters who may get funding from the US and the US government’s own Voice of America.” So their big worry is what this will do to US government propaganda efforts: no hint that a far more important principle is at stake.

What’s in store for us is a full-fledged no-holds-barred all-out witch hunt, with the reincarnation and rebranding of the ill-favored “House Un-American Activities Committee,” and, worse, the revival of the hysteria that made it possible. There can’t be any compromise in a fight of this kind: the enemy is out to illegalize us. They want to make dissent the equivalent of treason. We can’t let them succeed.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.