What Can Go Wrong?
- That he may not be “qualified” is unimportant.
That he’s never
held a government or elected position is unimportant.
That on a
personal level he may be a shmuck is unimportant.
What counts to
me mainly at this early stage is that he – as opposed to
dear Hillary – is unlikely to start a war against
Russia. His questioning of the absolute sacredness of
NATO, calling it “obsolete”, and his meeting with
Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, an outspoken
critic of US regime-change policy, specifically Syria,
are encouraging signs.
Even more so is
his appointment of General Michael Flynn as National
Security Adviser. Flynn dined last year in Moscow with
Vladimir Putin at a gala celebrating RT (Russia Today),
the Russian state’s English-language, leftist-leaning TV
channel. Flynn now carries the stigma in the American
media as an individual who does not see Russia or Putin
as the devil. It is truly remarkable how nonchalantly
American journalists can look upon the possibility of a
war with Russia, even a nuclear war.
(I can now
expect a barrage of emails from my excessively
politically-correct readers about Flynn’s alleged
anti-Islam side. But that, even if true, is irrelevant
to this discussion of avoiding a war with Russia.)
American influence under Trump could also inspire a
solution to the bloody Russia-Ukraine crisis, which is
the result of the US overthrow of the
democratically-elected Ukrainian government in 2014 to
further advance the US/NATO surrounding of Russia; after
which he could end the US-imposed sanctions against
Russia, which hardly anyone in Europe benefits from or
wants; and then – finally! – an end to the embargo
against Cuba. What a day for celebration that will be!
Too bad that Fidel won’t be around to enjoy it.
We may have
other days of celebration if Trump pardons or in some
other manner frees Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange,
and/or Edward Snowden. Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary
Clinton would do this, but I think there’s at least a
chance with the Donald. And those three heroes may now
enjoy feeling at least a modicum of hope. Picture a
meeting of them all together on some future marvelous
day with you watching it on a video.
Trump will also
probably not hold back on military actions against
radical Islam because of any fear of being called
anti-Islam. He’s repulsed enough by ISIS to want to
destroy them, something that can’t always be said about
trade deals, written by corporate lawyers for the
benefit of their bosses, with little concern about the
rest of us, may have rougher sailing in the Trump White
House than is usually the case with such deals.
critics of Trump foreign policy should be embarrassed,
even humbled, by what they supported in Afghanistan,
Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Instead, what bothers them about
the president-elect is his lack of desire to make the
rest of the world in America’s image. He appears rather
to be more concerned with the world not making America
in its image.
In the latest
chapter of Alice in Trumpland he now says that he does
not plan to prosecute Hillary Clinton, that he has an
“open mind” about a climate-change accord from which he
had vowed to withdraw the United States, and that he’s
no longer certain that torturing terrorism suspects is a
good idea. So whatever fears you may have about certain
of his expressed weird policies … just wait … they may
fall by the wayside just as easily; although I still
think that on a personal level he’s a [two-syllable
word: first syllable is a synonym for a donkey; second
syllable means “an opening”]
apparently deep-seated need for approval may continue to
succumb poorly to widespread criticism and protests.
Poor little Donald … so powerful … yet so vulnerable.
dilemma, as well as the whole Hillary Clinton mess,
could have probably been avoided if Bernie Sanders had
been nominated. That large historical “if” is almost on
a par with the Democrats choosing Harry Truman to
replace Henry Wallace in 1944 as the ailing Roosevelt’s
vice-president. Truman brought us a charming little
thing called the Cold War, which in turn gave us
McCarthyism. But Wallace, like Sanders, was just a
little too damn leftist for the refined Democratic Party
State-owned media: The good, the bad,
and the ugly
On November 16,
at a State Department press briefing, department
spokesperson John Kirby was having one of his frequent
adversarial dialogues with Gayane Chichakyan, a reporter
for RT (Russia Today); this time concerning US charges
of Russia bombing hospitals in Syria and blocking the UN
from delivering aid to the trapped population. When
Chichakyan asked for some detail about these charges,
Kirby replied: “Why don’t you ask your defense
GK: Do you –
can you give any specific information on when Russia or
the Syrian Government blocked the UN from delivering
aid? Just any specific information.
hasn’t been any aid delivered in the last month.
GK: And you
believe it was blocked exclusively by Russia and the
no question in our mind that the obstruction is coming
from the regime and from Russia. No question at all.
(Associated Press): Let me –- hold on, just let me say:
Please be careful about saying “your defense minister”
and things like that. I mean, she’s a journalist just
like the rest of us are, so it’s -– she’s asking pointed
questions, but they’re not –
KIRBY: From a
state-owned -– from a state-owned –
they’re not –
KIRBY: From a
state-owned outlet, Matt.
they’re not –
KIRBY: From a
state-owned outlet that’s not independent.
questions that she’s asking are not out of line.
KIRBY: I didn’t
say the questions were out of line.
sorry, but I’m not going to put Russia Today on the same
level with the rest of you who are representing
independent media outlets.
One has to
wonder if State Department spokesperson Kirby knows that
in 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking
declared: “The Russians have opened an
English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few
countries, and it is quite instructive.”
I also wonder
how Mr. Kirby deals with reporters from the BBC, a
STATE-OWNED television and radio entity in the UK,
broadcasting in the US and all around the world.
state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation,
described by Wikipedia as follows: “The corporation
provides television, radio, online and mobile services
throughout metropolitan and regional Australia, as well
as overseas … and is well regarded for quality and
reliability as well as for offering educational and
cultural programming that the commercial sector would be
unlikely to supply on its own.”
Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio Liberty
(Central/Eastern Europe), and Radio Marti (Cuba); all
(US) state-owned, none “independent”, but all deemed
worthy enough by the United States to feed to the world.
And let’s not
forget what Americans have at home: PBS (Public
Broadcasting Service) and NPR (National Public Radio),
which would have a near-impossible time surviving
without large federal government grants. How independent
does this leave them? Has either broadcaster ever
unequivocally opposed a modern American war? There’s
good reason NPR has long been known as National Pentagon
Radio. But it’s part of American media’s ideology to
pretend that it doesn’t have any ideology.
As to the
non-state American media … There are about 1400 daily
newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single
paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally
opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya,
Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and
Vietnam while they were happening, or shortly
thereafter? Or even opposed to any two of these seven
wars? How about one? In 1968, six years into the Vietnam
war, the Boston Globe (February 18, 1968)
surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers
concerning the war and found that “none advocated a
pull-out”. Has the phrase “invasion of Vietnam” ever
appeared in the US mainstream media?
leading cable station MSNBC took the much-admired Phil
Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the
calls for war in Iraq. Mr. Kirby would undoubtedly call
If the American
mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would
they look or sound significantly different when it comes
to US foreign policy?
Soviet observation: “The only
difference between your propaganda and our propaganda is
that you believe yours.”
On November 25,
the Washington Post ran an article entitled:
“Research ties ‘fake news’ to Russia.” It’s all about
how sources in Russia are flooding American media and
the Internet with phoney stories designed as “part of a
broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S.
democracy and its leaders”.
sophistication of the Russian tactics,” the article
says, “may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to
crack down on ‘fake news’.”
states that the Russian tactics included “penetrating
the computers of election officials in several states
and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed
Clinton in the final months of her campaign.”
(Heretofore this had been credited to Wikileaks.)
The story is
simply bursting with anti-Russian references:
- An online
magazine header – “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is
Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”
startling reach and effectiveness of Russian
- “more than
200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian
propaganda during the election season.”
planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign
were viewed more than 213 million times.”
Russian campaign during this election season …
worked by harnessing the online world’s fascination
with ‘buzzy’ content that is surprising and
emotionally potent, and tracks with popular
conspiracy theories about how secret forces dictate
“Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional
news organizations for audience”
- “They use
our technologies and values against us to sow doubt.
It’s starting to undermine our democratic system.”
propaganda operations also worked to promote the
‘Brexit’ departure of Britain from the European
- “Some of
these stories originated with RT and Sputnik,
state-funded Russian information services that mimic
the style and tone of independent news organizations
yet sometimes include false and misleading stories
in their reports.”
- “a variety
of other false stories — fake reports of a coup
launched at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and stories
about how the United States was going to conduct a
military attack and blame it on Russia”
A former US
ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, is quoted saying
he was “struck by the overt support that Sputnik
expressed for Trump during the campaign, even using the
#CrookedHillary hashtag pushed by the candidate.” McFaul
said Russian propaganda typically is aimed at weakening
opponents and critics. “They don’t try to win the
argument. It’s to make everything seem relative. It’s
kind of an appeal to cynicism.” [Cynicism? Heavens! What
will those Moscow fascists/communists think of next?]
did, however, include the following: “RT disputed the
findings of the researchers in an e-mail on Friday,
saying it played no role in producing or amplifying any
fake news stories related to the U.S. election.” RT was
quoted: “It is the height of irony that an article about
‘fake news’ is built on false, unsubstantiated claims.
RT adamantly rejects any and all claims and insinuations
that the network has originated even a single ‘fake
story’ related to the US election.”
It must be
noted that the Washington Post article fails to
provide a single example showing how the actual facts of
a specific news event were rewritten or distorted by a
Russian agency to produce a news event with a contrary
political message. What then lies behind such blatant
anti-Russian propaganda? In the new Cold War such a
question requires no answer. The new Cold War by
definition exists to discredit Russia simply because it
stands in the way of American world domination. In the
new Cold War the political spectrum in the mainstream
media runs the gamut from A to B.
Cuba, Fidel, Socialism … Hasta la
frequent comment I’ve read in the mainstream media
concerning Fidel Castro’s death is that he was a
“dictator”; almost every heading bore that word. Since
the 1959 revolution, the American mainstream media has
routinely referred to Cuba as a dictatorship. But just
what does Cuba do or lack that makes it a dictatorship?
press”? Apart from the question of how free Western
media is (see the preceding essays), if that’s to be the
standard, what would happen if Cuba announced that from
now on anyone in the country could own any kind of
media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret
and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in
Cuba – would own or control almost all the media worth
owning or controlling?
Is it “free
elections” that Cuba lacks? They regularly have
elections at municipal, regional and national levels.
They do not have direct election of the president, but
neither do Germany or the United Kingdom and many other
countries. The Cuban president is chosen by the
parliament, The National Assembly of People’s Power.
Money plays virtually no role in these elections;
neither does party politics, including the Communist
Party, since all candidates run as individuals. Again,
what is the standard by which Cuban elections are to be
judged? Is it that they don’t have private corporations
to pour in a billion dollars? Most Americans, if they
gave it any thought, might find it difficult to even
imagine what a free and democratic election, without
great concentrations of corporate money, would look
like, or how it would operate. Would Ralph Nader finally
be able to get on all 50 state ballots, take part in
national television debates, and be able to match the
two monopoly parties in media advertising? If that were
the case, I think he’d probably win; which is why it’s
not the case.
Or perhaps what
Cuba lacks is our marvelous “electoral college” system,
where the presidential candidate with the most votes is
not necessarily the winner. Did we need the latest
example of this travesty of democracy to convince us to
finally get rid of it? If we really think this system is
a good example of democracy why don’t we use it for
local and state elections as well?
Is Cuba a
dictatorship because it arrests dissidents? Many
thousands of anti-war and other protesters have been
arrested in the United States in recent years, as in
every period in American history. During the Occupy
Movement of five years ago more than 7,000 people were
arrested, many beaten by police and mistreated while in
custody. And remember: The United States is to the Cuban
government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much
more powerful and much closer; virtually without
exception, Cuban dissidents have been financed by and
aided in other ways by the United States.
Washington ignore a group of Americans receiving funds
from al Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with
known members of that organization? In recent years the
United States has arrested a great many people in the US
and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al
Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has
had with its dissidents’ ties to the United States.
Virtually all of Cuba’s “political prisoners” are such
dissidents. While others may call Cuba’s security
policies dictatorship, I call it self-defense.
William Blum is
an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S.
foreign policy. He is the author of
Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since
World War II and
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,
among others. williamblum.org
expressed in this article are the author's own and do
not necessarily reflect Information Clearing House