Russia, the Election and the Cruise Attack

Regarding the entire issue of alleged Russian interference in US politics and what is now unfolding in Syria, it might be useful to add some historical perspective:

On January 17, 1961, three days before JFK was sworn in, President Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address, famously warning that the government was in danger of being swung into service to the “military-industrial complex.” From our current perspective, we might say he was a master of understatement.

During Eisenhower’s administration, two brothers had more influence over American foreign policy than anyone else: John Foster Dulles as Secretary of State and Allen Dulles as the Director of the CIA. Both were staunch anti-Communists, favouring aggressive–even pre-emptive–military policies. John supported the French in Vietnam and opposed the Geneva Accords. Brother Allen engineered the overthrow of the governments of Iran and Guatemala, the murder of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo and the (Bay of Pigs) attempted overthrow of Fidel Castro.

Eisenhower’s warning was too late. The government had already become what the Catholic monk and peace activist Thomas Merton (in 1963) called, “a warfare state built on affluence, a power structure in which the interests of big business, the obsessions of the military, and the phobias of political extremists both dominate and dictate our national policy.” Has anything really changed?

John Kennedy’s administration was fraught with the covert warfare of the deep state/military industrial complex (MIC) in the persons of the CIA and Joint Chiefs either trying to coerce Kennedy into deeper commitments of military might in Laos, Vietnam and Cuba or shaming him for what they considered timidity with Russia with his recurring talk about disarmament and peace. Kennedy, in private moments, expressed his desire to dismantle the CIA altogether. His adult life was also marked by persistent and serious back pain, yet he had too much backbone when it came to peace to suit them. The existence of an unchecked and unaccountable CIA with a zombie determination to take out Castro and Russia all makes a pretty good case for why he was murdered.

We can at least say that the deep state needs a constant supply of enemies, a continuous and rising flow of appropriations for covert operations, while the DOD needs the development of ever more advanced weapon systems and situations in which to test them. Every major defence contractor has committed fraud and the Pentagon has never been audited. It took until the year 2000 for someone, Chalmers Johnson, to call out the CIA for the consequences that a constant supply of enemies breeds: blowback. Hello, 9/11?

So the current drumbeat of “leaks” demonising Russia for hacking the election, combined with calls for drawing “lines in the sand” on Ukraine, Syria and Crimea should be sounding familiar. There have been recent historical reminders in the media lately about how the US (Bush 41) blatantly broke promises to Gorbachev about NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union, as well as directly intervening in a Russian election in the 90s that eventually lifted Boris Yeltsin to power and the resulting long-simmering resentment that continues to influence Russian decisions today. Hillary’s sabre-rattling during the election campaign should have–and did–tip us off about where the central driving force of US foreign policy is coming from (and where she stood in relation to it): the same place it’s been coming from for nearly 70 years.

But let’s not be confused. Trump’s love of Russia is more about an authoritarian model of governance, a feudal kleptocracy in which the masses give up rights–and a lot more–for “security” than it is about some personal admiration of Putin. Hello, 13th century.  It’s about money, his and his friend’s. And the morally-rudderless GOP is only too happy to get on board.

Even if Russia did hack the election with the intention of aiding Trump, in a historical context it looks like more blowback. There might well have been 1000 paid Russian operators flooding Facebook with sophisticated distractions seen by millions of Bernie supporters, and we may believe the important issue is whether the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power and especially if it involved any transfers of money to swing the election and protect his investments. But in this post-Citizen’s United era, the definition of hacking needn’t involve cyber-warfare at all. Money does the trick. Nor is there any remaining clear boundary between domestic money and foreign money. Dark is Dark.

Which means that electoral integrity is a quixotic vision. If it’s our house we are taking care of, yes, there certainly is a great deal of smoke. As many observers are now saying, the cover-up is becoming increasingly blatant with each passing day. But we have yet to see fire. We may see a slow charade of transparency and the rule of law unfolding against some lesser Trump soldiers. With every domino that falls, there will be an increasing threat of fire against Trump himself if he doesn’t come to heel.

Moral outrage may be a temporary rationale for the attack on Syria (Assad). But seen in the context of a 70 year campaign for control of the foreign policy narrative by the intelligence community and the MIC, and given that Trump has no moral compass, it’s merely a convenient excuse to look “Presidential” (oh, how the cable news networks fawn), distract from the congressional and FBI inquiries and to test the latest cruise missiles. The rest of us will be (already are being) lied to about the particulars of the attack itself, the gas attack that spurred it, its legality and its consequences. Will Trump go to war to save his own ass? Of course he will.

5 thoughts on “Russia, the Election and the Cruise Attack

  1. I think there is much truth in this piece. In our totally fragmented political society false news does flourish as our individual stories are manipulated by expert manipulators. Bernie had his finest moment when he challenged the email story but then his supporters picked up the dishonesty story and repeated it frequently without a lot of balance to the world we live in.

    In this case we also have a pretty good idea that history of Syrian oppression against its own people might (may) be a different story from the one you reported. At what level of oppression is intervention called for? And for a person who believes in non-violence as a better path how does one respond to acts of genocide and mass oppression by a leader. I don’t have simple answers for any of this… It is very painful to see oppression and feel like my only choice is to turn the other cheek.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comments, Victor. If you consider that one of the most significant factors leading directly to the most recent Syrian civil war was the drought, which sent millions of people to the cities, for which the govt did nothing, and this, on top of a generation of repression/oppression, we have to regard the situation as systemic. Our response is a band-aid solution. Most of our responses everywhere are band-aids because they are reactive and driven by short-term thinking. Until there are enough people willing to take on the systemic issues, many people, millions, will continue to suffer and die. Your (and mine) reflex response and pain is not wrong, but unless we are working at a systemic level, we will be doomed to short-term responses.

      America is in the last throes of empire. The body count for this American century so far is large and will continue to rise until the world and our fellow citizens simply will not tolerate any more.

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  2. Hi Gary, I can’t believe how CNN is praising Trump, calling him presidential and even Nicholas Kristof … what an about change. Is it the deep state/military complex that controls CNN and NYT, and the Clintons? — this is what my son Tony, Kenn, Byron think. If so, how did you work so hard for Hillary and the Democrats? Thank you for this excellent piece… I am going to forward it.
    How are you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think mass media are “controlled” as you put it. Influenced, yes, because they are all such “serious people” that they cannot think outside their shrinking boxes–mutually reinforcing delusions. Once Bernie was out of the race, there was no alternative. Now is a different story. Now we are looking at a Dem party that cannot look in the mirror and a president just salivating for his Reichstag moment.

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