The fifth season of “The Americans,” the FX series about two Soviet spies posing as an American couple living near Washington DC in the 1980s, began airing this week. The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus tweeted:
So excited to be watching The Americans, throwback to a simpler time when everyone considered Russia the enemy. Even the president.
It’s a funny line, but when it comes to U.S.-Russia relations, the 1980s weren’t really a simpler time, and returning to the costly threats and risks of the height of the Cold War are almost certainly not in the interests of the United States.
“There are consequences if we don’t get the relationship right,” said Paul Saunders, the executive director of CTNI. “Anyone who thinks we’re in a hostile relationship now, I would suggest there are a number of things that could be worse than they are now.”
The latest problems with Russia stem from U.S. intelligence agencies’ report, widely accepted by those who have seen the classified intelligence undergirding it, that state-involved hackers successfully spearfished John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, and obtained documents from the Democratic National Committee. The information they gleaned was released publicly via WikiLeaks. The information was deemed “boring,” “honest and boring,” and “a damp squib” by many in the media before the election. After the surprise victory of Trump, the release of information was deemed a national security threat of the highest order.
Various media and political interests (on both sides of the aisle) are pushing for more than the current investigations against Russia. Further, despite no evidence or allegations from named sources to substantiate claims of wrongdoing, various media outlets have been suggesting illegal ties of President Trump’s foreign policy with Russia. This after months of asserting that Russia “hacked” not just Democratic political operatives but the very election itself.
The large type at the top of the page read “Russia mystery threatens to consume DC.” Other top headlines included:
Media outlets are now writing up stories about Americans having ever met with Russians. One media outlet reported that while one Russian businessman and Donald Trump didn’t meet in October, their planes did. Yes, their planes did.
We are in the midst of a full-blown Red Scare conspiracy theory. It’s hard to shake the feeling that the real problems caused by Russian hacking and releasing of real emails — sent by Democrats and media figures to each other — are being exacerbated for political reasons. But the consequences are not minor.
At the Center for the National Interest event, analysts and experts who worked for both Democrats and Republicans, and at think tanks and strategic analysis firms across the spectrum, were upset at the treatment Kislyak has been subjected to.
In a front-page story at CNN.com last week, reporters Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and Eli Watkins alleged that Kislyak, who has been the ambassador to the United States since 2008, is “one of Russia’s top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington.” The reporters sourced the claim to anonymous “current and former senior US government officials.”
“Is this an indication that the U.S. will not be capable of conducting any meaningful diplomacy?” he asked regarding the attacks on Kislyak. “Any attempt to have a meaningful conversation with nuances, if leaked to the press next morning and leaked in a very selective way, it’s very difficult to conduct meaningful diplomacy.” He warned that further demonization of Kislyak could have significant fallout for U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft. Russia could decide to shut down the access Tefft has if the media and political opponents of Trump succeed in making diplomacy with the Russian ambassador impossible.
“The job of diplomats is to facilitate as many meetings as possible with a wide spectrum of the host country’s domestic political establishment on a wide range of issues,” wrote Nikolas Gvosdev, professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, in his essay “Damage Done: How Russia Hysteria Has Hurt U.S.-Russia Relations.” In fact, while the media frets about Trump officials talking to foreign officials, the bigger problem is not enough such meetings during the transition from the Obama presidency to the early days of the Trump presidency. Foreign ministers and bureaucrats in other countries have been complaining about not knowing who their new contacts are or will be, leading to confusion and delays in productive discussions.”
Michael Haltzel, a senior fellow at at the Center for Transatlantic Relations of Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies and a former aide to Sen. Joe Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, harshly criticized Sessions for his handling of the question about contacts with Russia, but he agreed that attacks on Kislyak were unfortunate.
Wayne Merry, a veteran of the Foreign Service who was stationed in Moscow in 1993, said “ I have known Sergei Kislyak, I totally agree that what he has been exposed to is demonization. It’s total garbage. He’s a first-class professional. He’s being treated very shabbily.”
Even John Beyrle and the excitable Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassadors to Russia during Obama’s time in office, have warned that “America’s long-term interests are not served by attempting to suggest that contacts between American officials and Russian diplomats constitutes a treasonous or criminal act.”
I should mention that I also pushed back on the claim in a CNN appearance here. In any case, far from what the anonymous sources allegedly told CNN, Kislyak is widely regarded by those who have dealt with him as a top-notch diplomat who serves his country’s interests well. His post in Washington is expected to be his last, and his treatment in his remaining time here is considered an insult by both Americans and Russians. His rumored successor Anatoly Antonov will be “a force to be reckoned with,” as Matthew Rojansky, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, has put it. Rojansky has also defended Kislyak in the media, and says he has “no indication” that Kislyak is a spy.
Just as the treatment of Kislyak could result in the U.S. ambassador to Russia’s diminished standing and ability to accomplish his goals in Moscow, the general hysteria surrounding Russia might harm the United State’s serious foreign policy goals.
While part of problem with the U.S.’ Syria policy during the previous administration was an inability to articulate U.S. interest in the region, there is some consensus about destroying ISIS and enabling refugees from the Syrian conflict to return home. Both the United States and Europe have an interest in the successful return of refugees. If the United States therefore wants a say in Syria, it will have to work with Russians to facilitate those objectives. Russia has a strong military presence, has brokered some management in the region, and has a willingness to work with partners. That means the country has to keep lines of communication and room for negotiation open. It also needs to clarify its position on Iran, since Russia views Iran as a key partner.
“If Russia and the U.S. can habituate themselves to cooperation in Syria, that can rebuild habits of cooperation that can spill over into other areas where you could see beneficial results occur,” said Gvosdev. But, he added, “that window is not going to stay open on this forever.” If the United States doesn’t make meaningful moves soon, there may not be many more opportunities before Russia, Turkey, and Iran move forward without the United States.
Russian aggression in Ukraine has unsettled the region for several years, both in the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in the Donbass region. The United States and Europe imposed sanctions on Russia and Russians, but there is no resolution in sight. Russia is willing to keep fighting and has not buckled under the sanctions. Ukraine’s economy is suffering from lack of access to Russian markets. If the United States isn’t interested in brokering a peace, is it willing to arm Ukrainian forces and subsidize the country’s faltering economy? Is there an appetite on either the Left or Right for such intervention?
Not Going To War
The 1980s were fun, as Ruth Marcus noted above, but threat of nuclear annihilation was not so fun. Russia is not a superpower on par with the United States, but it is the only country that can take out the United States in short order. The United States needs to broker arms deals as well as encourage Russia not to get too cozy with China, forming alliances that could put U.S. interests at risk.
Trade is one of the best ways to improve political relationships bilaterally. But not only is trade becoming quite difficult between Russia and the United States, on account of the sanctions, it was never a particularly deep relationship. Now there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding sanctions and how they will or won’t be enforced, a climate not conducive to business investment. Many people have argued that the “U.S. and Russia need to work on that to provide ballast and strengthen links in that relationship, creating incentives for a relationship that’s more of a practical relationship and less of a highly variable political relationship,” said Saunders, adding that the political climate is not very good for movement in that direction.
The bottom line is that the United States is embroiled in a hysterical reaction to Russian meddling in the Democratic Party that could spill over into far more serious consequences for the United States. Unless politicians and the media want the United States to have little to no leverage against ISIS or on behalf of Syrian refugees, want the United States to provide significant military and economic subsidies for Ukraine to fight Russia, are willing to risk war or proxy war with a nuclear power, and want to avoid peaceful means of improved relationships, they should think about whether pushing conspiracy theories for short-term domestic political gain is such a great idea.
Yes, a United States senator really did collude with the Russians to influence the outcome of a presidential election. His name was Ted Kennedy.
While Sen. Al Franken (D-Ringling Bros.) and other Democrats have the vapors over a truthful, complete, and correct answer Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave in his confirmation hearing, it’s worth remembering the reprehensible behavior of Senator Ted Kennedy in 1984.
This reprehensible behavior didn’t involve launching an Oldsmobile Delmont 88 into a tidal channel while drunk. This reprehensible behavior was collusion with America’s most deadly enemy in an effort to defeat Ronald Reagan’s reelection.
You won’t hear much about that from CNN and the clown from Minnesota.
To recap, from Forbes:
Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”
Among the promises Kennedy made the Soviets was he that would ensure that the television networks gave the Soviet leader primetime slots to speak directly to the American people, thus undermining Reagan’s framing of the sinister nature of the USSR. Event then, the Democrats had the power to collude with the legacy media. Kennedy also promised to help Andropov penetrate the American message with his Soviet agitprop.
That’s right, folks. Even 30 years ago, Democrat senators were colluding with America’s enemies to bring down Republicans.
And no, Jeff Sessions didn’t perjure himself. It’s not even a close call.
So now they are after Jeff Sessions instead of Ronald Reagan. Ideological comrades throughout the Justice Department are helping out this time. Just before Trump’s inauguration, the Obamites widely distributed intelligence information throughout the Department of Justice, where their political comrades could be counted on to leak the information after January 20.
This is a problem that will plague President Trump and General Sessions until they drain the swamp at the Justice Department — something that isn’t even close to getting started. Ideological leftists throughout the DOJ are serving as agents of the Obama regime and undermining the new administration.
For example, even now, the front office at the Civil Rights Division is largely made up of Obama holdovers and “permanent career political” appointees. The Obamaites expanded the number of deputy assistant attorney general slots throughout the Department of Justice and populated them with the most reliably radical people. They also appointed swarms of radicals into political offices on January 18 to “assist” the transition. They, too, are still there watching, observing, and probably “reporting.”
Nobody thinks the noise about Jeff Sessions is a substantive issue. Eric Holder was found in criminal contempt of Congress and there wasn’t a fraction of the sanctimonious outrage from Democrats and CNN like we see today.
Today’s Justice Department drama is a tactic by Democrats to personalize and polarize a target. It is a strategy to make Jeff Sessions devote time and energy to this instead of protecting America from foreign influences and cleaning up the Justice Department from the lawless rot that Obama caused. The Democrats prefer the lawless rot, so they want Sessions to be diverted from his job.
Of course the leaks are going to continue until the new administration has the guts to clean the place out of all the radicals that were embedded there.
Leaks are pouring out over large and small matters because so far nobody is afraid of crossing the new administration. The attacks on Sessions started when some of his own employees decided to leak intelligence information — just like happened to General Flynn. It will continue unless the administration realizes the media isn’t the only gang in Washington opposed to the interests of the American people.
(Please see also, Is a Trump-Putin Detente Dead? — DM
I am a Russian-born U.S. citizen. Since my old country is all in the news now, unsurprisingly, several people have asked me about the latest spat between the two countries. I have rounded up a few frequently asked questions (FAQ) in no particular order, and here they are.
Question: Is Russia our foe or ally?
Answer: Neither. Lord Palmerston famously quipped, “Great Britain has no friends, only interests,” and the same applies to other countries. The United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were geopolitical adversaries during the Cold War. Prior to that, they were allies in World War II when both faced an existential threat from Nazi Germany and Japan. Now both Russia and the United States are facing a threat of radical Islam, which may bring the two countries together again.
Q: But can we cooperate with the Russians after they captured large chunks of Ukraine and Georgia?
A: Well, the Soviet Union captured Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in 1939, yet Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill cooperated with Joseph Stalin and actively supported his war efforts. The West never recognized the annexation of the Baltic republics; it just put that matter on the back burner for the sake of a more urgent goal. Henry Kissinger calls this realpolitik.
Q: Donald Trump has picked Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobile, as his secretary of State. Tillerson has warm relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. How do we know which side Tillerson is on?
A: Let me cite a historical precedent. Another famous American oil executive was friendly with Soviet leaders. His name was Armand Hammer. He had numerous personal and business ties with the USSR, starting in the 1920s. In 1957, Hammer became president and CEO of Occidental Petroleum. He used his connections to end the Cold War between the two countries. According to his biographer, Hammer was “a go-between for five Soviet General Secretaries and seven U.S. Presidents.” Paradoxically, Hammer’s efforts on behalf of the USSR made him a darling of the American Left, even though he supported the Republican Party.
Q: Has Putin ordered the murder of Russian journalists and other political opponents?
A: That has not been proven conclusively, but is plausible. Regardless of whether that is the case, it should not determine American foreign policy. That was clear to FDR and Churchill, who were well aware of Stalin’s atrocities.
Q: Did Russia side with Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential race?
A: Of course, it did. Nations do take sides and interfere in other nations’ internal affairs all the time. For example, the United States actively encouraged the Arab Spring in several countries and even supported Syrian and Libyan “moderate” rebels. It was the job of the sitting U.S. president to prevent any Russian interference in U.S. elections.
Q: Is Russian spying on U.S. institutions a new phenomenon?
A: Absolutely not! However, things change. Between the 1940s and the 1960s, it was the conservative Right that was alarmed by Russian spying and Communist infiltration of the federal government. The Left dismissed that concern, mocking it as looking for “reds under the beds.” Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of spying for Russia and executed, became martyrs of the Left. Even in the 1970s when I arrived in the United States, the Left’s favorite motto was “it’s better be red than dead.” Things really changed in the 1980s.
Q: What happened in the 1980s?
A: When Ronald Reagan became president, he faced fierce opposition from the Left. The media elite ridiculed him as an unsophisticated cowboy and right-wing warmonger for calling the USSR an evil empire. The opposition became violent when Reagan proposed an anti-missile defense system, which the media dismissed as a “star wars” program. However, when an opportunity came up, Reagan held productive summits with former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev. These summits eventually led to the end of the Cold War.
Q: Is Putin a reincarnation of Stalin?
A: The two leaders represent two different generations separated by a period of 70 years. During those 70 years, the world has changed, and so has Russia. Stalin ruled Russia with an iron fist, while today’s Russians enjoy a degree of freedom. Putin is more pragmatic than Stalin. Yet contemporary Russian society is still quite different from its Western European counterparts, which is perhaps just fine, given that the latter are in a deep crisis now.
Q: Can the United States rely on Russia in the war on radical Islamic terrorism?
A: If it were a matter of life or death, I would always choose to have Russia on my side, rather than a Western ally, such as France. When Russians wage a war, they do it to win, not to satisfy lawyers by following every rule specifying acceptable ways of killing the enemy.
Here is an example. Somalian pirates threatened international shipping in the Indian Ocean between 2005 and 2013 by taking hostages. The American, French, Italian, and other navies rescued many hostages, caught pirates, and sent them to their countries. The arrests, trials, appeals, and imprisonment cost hundreds of millions of dollars. According to a Guardian report, there was a fear that “trials in European courts would encourage, rather than deter, pirates from committing crimes of piracy.”
In contrast, when a Russian destroyer rescued a Russian tanker with its crew from pirates in 2010, they did not arrest the pirates. They disarmed the pirates and set them adrift in an inflatable boat. The released pirates did not reach the coast. Rumor has it that the rescuers made a hole in the boat before releasing it.
Is a Trump-Putin Detente Dead? Rasmussen Reports, Patrick J. Buchanan, February 21, 2017
(Please see also, Highly Classified National Security Information Must Not be Leaked. — DM)
America’s elites still praise FDR for partnering with one of the great mass murderers of human history, Stalin, to defeat Hitler. They still applaud Nixon for going to China to achieve a rapprochement with the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century, Mao Zedong.
Yet Trump is not to be allowed to achieve a partnership with Putin, whose great crime was a bloodless retrieval of a Crimea that had belonged to Russia since the 18th century.
The anti-Putin paranoia here is astonishing.
Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that he read the nation and the world better than his rivals.
He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethnonationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit.
While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.
While our corporatists burn incense at the shrine of the global economy, Trump went to visit the working-class casualties. And those forgotten Americans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, responded.
And while Bush II and President Obama plunged us into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Trump saw that his countrymen wanted to be rid of the endless wars, and start putting America first.
He offered a new foreign policy. Mitt Romney notwithstanding, said Trump, Putin’s Russia is not “our number one geopolitical foe.”
Moreover, that 67-year-old NATO alliance that commits us to go to war to defend two dozen nations, not one of whom contributes the same share of GDP as do we to national defense, is “obsolete.”
Many of these folks are freeloaders, said Trump. He hopes to work with Russia against our real enemies, al-Qaida and ISIS.
This was the agenda Americans voted for. But what raises doubt about whether Trump can follow through on his commitments is the size and virulence of the anti-Trump forces in this city.
Consider his plan to pursue a rapprochement with Russia such as Ike, JFK at American University, Nixon and Reagan all pursued in a Cold War with a far more menacing Soviet Empire.
America’s elites still praise FDR for partnering with one of the great mass murderers of human history, Stalin, to defeat Hitler. They still applaud Nixon for going to China to achieve a rapprochement with the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century, Mao Zedong.
Yet Trump is not to be allowed to achieve a partnership with Putin, whose great crime was a bloodless retrieval of a Crimea that had belonged to Russia since the 18th century.
The anti-Putin paranoia here is astonishing.
That he is a killer, a KGB thug, a murderer, is part of the daily rant of John McCain. At the Munich Security Conference this last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham promised, “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.” How’s that for statesmanship.
But how does a president negotiate a modus vivendi with a rival great power when the leaders of his own party are sabotaging him and his efforts?
As for the mainstream media, they appear bent upon the ruin of Trump, and the stick with which they mean to beat him to death is this narrative:
Trump is the Siberian Candidate, the creature of Putin and the Kremlin. His ties to the Russians are old and deep. It was to help Trump that Russia hacked the DNC and the computer of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, and saw to it WikiLeaks got the emails out to the American people during the campaign. Trump’s people secretly collaborated with Russian agents.
Believing Putin robbed Hillary Clinton of the presidency, Democrats are bent on revenge — on Putin and Trump.
And the epidemic of Russophobia makes it almost impossible to pursue normal relations. Indeed, in reaction to the constant attacks on them as poodles of Putin, the White House seems to be toughening up toward Russia.
Thus we see U.S. troops headed for Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, NATO troops being sent into the Baltic States, and new tough rhetoric from the White House about Russia having to restore Crimea to Ukraine. We read of Russian spy ships off the coast, Russian planes buzzing U.S. warships in the Black Sea, Russians deploying missiles outlawed by the arms control agreement of 1987.
An Ohio-class U.S. sub just test-fired four Trident missiles, which carry thermonuclear warheads, off the Pacific coast.
Any hope of cutting a deal for a truce in east Ukraine, a lifting of sanctions, and bringing Russia back into Europe seems to be fading.
Where Russians saw hope with Trump’s election, they are now apparently yielding to disillusionment and despair.
The question arises: If not toward better relations with Russia, where are we going with this bellicosity?
Russia is not going to give up Crimea. Not only would Putin not do it, the Russian people would abandon him if he did.
What then is the end goal of this bristling Beltway hostility to Putin and Russia, and the U.S.-NATO buildup in the Baltic and Black Sea regions? Is a Cold War II with Russia now an accepted and acceptable reality?
Where are the voices among Trump’s advisers who will tell him to hold firm against the Russophobic tide and work out a deal with the Russian president?
For a second cold war with Russia, its back up against a wall, may not end quite so happily as the first.
(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)
Evidence of political corruption should be.
It has been obvious since the early Republican primaries that most media coverage of a Trump presidency would be adverse and presented out of context. Perhaps a recent editorial at The Week Magazine explains why, albeit inadvertently. Or maybe this cartoon better explains the media view:
According to The Week Magazine, all leaks are equal. However, we approve of those which fit our politics and disapprove of those which don’t.
Live by the leak, die by the leak. When WikiLeaks was releasing a steady stream of embarrassing emails hacked from Democratic officials during the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and her supporters cried foul, and urged the press not to report their contents. Donald Trump applauded every new revelation, saying the leaks provided voters with important information, and gleefully invited the Russians to find and publish emails she had deleted. “Boy, that WikiLeaks has done a job on her, hasn’t it?” Trump exulted. Now that it’s Trump who is being tortured by leaks, he’s complaining they’re illegal and “un-American.” Democrats, meanwhile, are welcoming the torrent like a rainstorm after a long drought. (See Main Stories.) When it comes to leaks, everyone is a hypocrite. “Good” leaks are ones that damage our opponents. “Bad” leaks are those that hurt Our Side. [Emphasis added.]
But let’s set partisanship aside for a moment. Is it always in the public interest for government officials to leak, and for the media to publish leaked material? Crusading journalist Glenn Greenwald—who angered the Obama administration by publishing Edward Snowden’s trove of stolen NSA documents—argues in TheIntercept.com this week that all leaks exposing “wrong-doing” are good ones, regardless of the leaker’s motives. “Leaks are illegal and hated by those in power (and their followers),” Greenwald says, “precisely because political officials want to be able to lie to the public with impunity and without detection.” The implication of this argument, of course, is that governments, politicians, and organizations should not keep any secrets—that when people in power conceal documents, emails, or information that could embarrass them, they are by definition deceiving the public. Radical transparency certainly sounds noble—but I suspect it’s a standard no public official, or indeed most of us, could survive. It’s so much more convenient to have a double standard: Transparency for thee, but not for me.
I disagree. Leaks of unclassified materials demonstrating corruption of the political process by either party are necessary for an effectively functioning democracy. Leaks of highly classified national security information — particularly in the area of foreign policy — endanger our democracy, are crimes and the perpetrators should be dealt with accordingly. When the media sensationalize leaks of the latter type, they are complicit and must be criticized vigorously.
The press has long served as an objective fail-safe to protect the public from the powers-that-be. That objectivity is now absent and the media’s role in our democratic society is in jeopardy. Rather than self-reflect as to how they got off course, the press have opted to label the man who exposed this derailment as un-American.
What’s un-American is the belief that the press should be unaccountable for its actions. What’s un-American is the belief that any attempt to criticize the press should be viewed as heresy. What’s un-American is the belief that the press is akin to a golden calf that compels Americans, presidents included, to worship the press.
Two very different types of leaks
a. DNC and Podesta e-mails:
The DNC and Podesta e-mails were released as written and posted by DNC officials and Podesta for transmission on unsecured servers easily hacked by modestly competent teenage hackers. I have seen no suggestion that the e-mails were classified. The intelligence community opined that Russian agents had done the hacking, but offered no significant proof beyond that the methods used by the hacker(s) were comparable to those used by Russian hackers in the past.
They found no discrepancies between the original e-mails and those posted by WikiLeaks (which denied that Russia had been the source). The e-mail leaks damaged the Clinton campaign because they portrayed, accurately — and in their own words — dishonest efforts of high-level DNC and Clinton campaign personnel to skew the Democrat primary process in Ms. Clinton’s favor. They did not involve American foreign policy until Obama — who had previously done nothing of significance to halt Russia’s hacking of highly classified information from our intelligence establishment beyond asking, “pretty please, stop” — decided that Russia must be punished for Hillary’s loss of the general election through sanctions and by the expulsion of thirty-five of its diplomats.
Russian president Vladimir Putin had been expected to respond in kind, with the expulsion of US diplomats from its territory.
However, he later said he would not “stoop” to “irresponsible diplomacy”, but rather attempt to repair relations once Donald Trump takes office.
Mr Trump praised the decision as “very smart.”
b. Flynn telephone conversations:
Neither transcripts nor audio recordings of the Flynn telephone conversations were released. Instead, conclusions of the leakers were released. According to House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes,
“I think there is a lot of innuendo out there that the intelligence agencies have a problem with Donald Trump. The rank and file people that are out doing jobs across the world — very difficult places — they don’t pay attention to what is going on in Washington,” the California representative told CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson.
“What we have is we do have people in the last administration, people who are burrowed in, perhaps all throughout the government, who clearly are leaking to the press,” Nunes added. “And it is against the law. Major laws have been broken. If you believe the Washington Post story that said there were nine people who said this, these are nine people who broke the law.” [Emphasis added.]
Nunes said the FBI and other intelligence agencies ought to investigate who has leaked information to the press because so few people in the administration knew these secrets, that it would have had to have been someone at the “highest levels of the Obama administration” who is an acting official until Trump replaces him or her.
Did the leaker(s) try to present the conversations honestly, or to damage President Trump’s efforts to deal with Russia in matters of foreign policy where American and Russian interests coincide? To disrupt America’s badly needed “reset” with Russia which seemed likely to succeed under President Trump after Clinton’s and Obama’s efforts had failed?
Remember the Obama – Romney debate when Romney characterized Russia as America’s greatest geopolitical threat and Obama responded that the cold war was over and that “the 1980’s are calling and want their foreign policy back”?
The position now asserted by the Democrats and the media seems rather like the position that Obama rejected. If the position(s) of the Democrats and the media are now correct and Russia is again our enemy, might it be due to actions which Obama took or failed to take over the past eight years?
It is unfortunate that there has been a resurgence of Democrat (and some Republican) Russophobia when Russia is reassessing her relationship with Iran and America.
On January 22, 2017, the Russian media outlet Pravda.ru published an analysis on Russia-Iran relations. According to the article’s author, Dmitri Nersesov, Iran is becoming a problem for Russian interests. Nersesov also added that Iran wants Russia to choose between Iran and Washington. “Iran wants Russia to recognize that Teheran holds the key to the regulation of the Syrian crisis. Should Russia decide that the real strategy is built on the cooperation between Moscow and Washington, rather than Moscow and Teheran; the Islamic Republic will be extremely disappointed,” Nersesov wrote. [Emphasis added.]
An American – Russian realignment in areas of mutual concern — which as suggested below had seemed to be progressing well until General Flynn ceased to be involved — would be good, not bad. We have many areas of mutual concern, and Iran is one of them. The war in Syria is another. When were Russians last directed to yell Death to America? Or to refer to America as the “Great Satan?”
c. General Flynn, Russia and Iran
General Flynn had, at President Trump’s request, been dealing with Russia concerning the future roles of Iran, Russia and America in the Syria debacle:
Overlaying US President Donald Trump’s extraordinary, hour-long skirmish with reporters Thursday, Feb. 16, was bitter frustration over the domestic obstacles locking him out from his top security and foreign policy goals. [Emphasis added.]
Even before his inauguration four weeks ago, he had arranged to reach those goals by means of an understanding with President Vladimir Putin for military and intelligence cooperation in Syria, both for the war on the Islamic State and for the removal of Iran and its Lebanese surrogate Hizballah from that country. [Emphasis added.]
But his antagonists, including elements of the US intelligence community, were turning his strategy into a blunderbuss for hitting him on the head, with the help of hostile media.
Thursday, in a highly unconventional meeting with the world media, he tried to hit back, and possibly save his strategy.
That won’t be easy. The exit of National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, the prime mover in the US-Russian détente, sent the Kremlin a negative signal. The Russians began unsheathing their claws when they began to suspect that the US president was being forced back from their understanding. The SSV 175 Viktor Leonov spy ship was ordered to move into position opposite Delaware on the East Coast of America; Su-24 warplanes buzzed the USS Porter destroyer in the Black Sea.
Before these events, Washington and Moscow wre moving briskly towards an understanding. debkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that the Kremlin had sent positive messages to the White House on their joint strategy in Syria, clarifying that Moscow was not locked in on Bashar Assad staying on as president. [Emphasis added.]
They also promised to table at the Geneva conference on Syria taking place later this month a demand for the all “foreign forces” to leave Syria. This would apply first and foremost to the pro-Iranian Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan militias brought in by Tehran to fight for Assad under the command of Revolutionary Guards officers, as well as Hizballah. [Emphasis added.]
Deeply troubled by this prospect, Tehran sent Iran’s supreme commander in the Middle East, the Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, to Moscow this week to find out what was going on.
Flynn’s departure put the lid on this progress. Then came the damaging leak to the Wall Street Journal, that quoted an “intelligence official” as saying that his agencies hesitated to reveal to the president the “sources and methods” they use to collect information, due to “possible links between Trump associates and Russia.. Those links, he said “could potentially compromise the security of such classified information.”
A first-year student knows that this claim is nonsense, since no agency ever share its sources and methods with any outsider, however high-placed.
What the leak did reveal was that some Washington insiders were determined at all costs to torpedo the evolving understanding between the American and Russian presidents. The first scapegoat was the strategy the two were developing for working together in Syria. [Emphasis added.]
Defending his policy of warming relations with Moscow, Trump protested that “getting along with Russia is not a bad thing.” He even warned there would be a “nuclear holocaust like no other” if relations between the two superpowers were allowed to deteriorate further.
It is too soon to say whether his Russian policy is finally in shreds or can still be repaired. Trump indicated more than once in his press briefing that he would try and get the relations back on track.
Asked how he would react to Russia’s latest provocative moves, he said: “I’m not going to tell you anything about what responses I do. I don’t talk about military responses. I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea,” he stressed.
At all events, his administration seems to be at a crossroads between whether to try and salvage the partnership with Russia for Syria, or treat it as a write-off. If the latter, then Trump must decide whether to send American troops to the war-torn country to achieve his goals, or revert to Barack Obama’s policy of military non-intervention in the conflict. [Emphasis added.]
Substantially more is generally involved in matters of foreign policy than is facially apparent or than government officials should discuss publicly, particularly while negotiations with foreign powers are underway. Leaks by held-over members of the intelligence community did much to reveal the opinions of the leakers but little to reveal what General Flynn had been doing, while upsetting the chances of better American – Russian relations in areas of mutual concern.
Conclusions — The Administrative State
The Federal Government has grown far too big for its britches, giving the unelected “administrative state” substantially more authority, and hence power, than is consistent with a properly functioning democracy. As they have been demonstrating in recent months, holdovers from one administration can succeed, at least partially, in paralyzing a new and democratically elected president. Holdovers with political appointee status can generally be fired. Few others who should be can be.
Getting rid of the obstructionist “civil servants” who have become our masters should rank very high on President Trump’s “to do” list and should be accomplished before it’s too late. The task may be difficult but is not impossible. Perhaps some particularly obnoxious Federal agencies (or departments within those agencies) can be relocated to places less congenial than Washington. Inner City Chicago comes to mind. So do otherwise pleasant cities in California, where housing prices are much higher than in the Washington, D.C. area. How many Federal employees faced with the choice of relocating or resigning would choose the latter option?
There are likely other and probably better ways to get rid of the fat
heads. President Trump’s administration should devise them.
The Russian Conspiracy Theory Boils Over, Front Page Magazine, Matthew Vadum, February 17, 2017
The so-called scandal involving former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn is 9/11, Pearl Harbor, Iran-Contra, Watergate, proof of presidential fascism, a cynical money-making scheme, and a pro-Russian spy thriller all rolled into one, according to the increasingly deranged rants of howling left-wingers and their truth-adverse confederates in the mainstream media.
Despite this relentless barrage of fake news and smears, President Donald Trump pushed back against the orchestrated campaign against him yesterday at what is sure to go down in history as The Best Presidential Press Conference of All Time as he gave the mainstream media the beat-down it deserves. (See transcript.)
“To give you an idea how Trump’s press conference went, afterwards, the press corps demanded a safe space,” Ann Coulter tweeted of the 77-minute long White House event, Trump’s first solo presser as president. “I wish this press conference could go on all day.”
“The public doesn’t believe you people anymore,” a ferocious, animated Trump told the assembled press corps. “Maybe I had something to do with that. I don’t know. But they don’t believe you.”
“This whole Russia scam that you guys” are pushing on people is “so you don’t talk about the real subject which is illegal leaks.”
“The public sees it,” he said. “They see it. They see it’s not fair. You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred. And the public is smart. They understand it.”
“I didn’t do anything for Russia,” he said. “I have done nothing for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of our uranium. Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember with the stupid plastic button that made us look like a bunch of jerks.”
A mewling Chuck Todd of NBC was offended by the president’s conduct at the press conference and tweeted, “This [is] not a laughing matter. I’m sorry, delegitimizing the press is un-American[.]”
Perhaps he shouldn’t have signed on to the effort to delegitimize President Trump.
Todd, of course, is one the members of the media out to get Trump.
He recently said the invented Flynn-Russia crisis is “arguably the biggest presidential scandal involving a foreign government since Iran-Contra.”
Disgraced former anchorman Dan Rather, the poster child for journalistic malfeasance who humiliated himself a decade ago with his proven lies about George W. Bush’s military service record, couldn’t resist hopping on the bandwagon in order to create the illusion he is relevant.
He gravely pontificated that “Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now. It was the closest we came to a debilitating Constitutional crisis, until maybe now.”
This manufactured mass hysteria directed against Trump, a democratically elected president, in order to drive him from office continues. It feeds on itself. It infects. It multiplies. It smothers.
This un-American mobocracy threatens to snuff out American democracy itself if not contained.
Calls for President Trump’s impeachment, removal from office by the Senate or by military coup, and assassination are growing on the Left as it comes to grips with the fact that the Chief Executive is deadly serious about protecting America and rolling back President Obama’s poisonous legacy.
No claim or statement is too crazy, lawless, undemocratic, or barbaric for the Left as it desperately tries to keep the borders open to Muslim terrorists, Americans groaning under the chains of Obamacare, businesses buried in red tape, and the welfare state ballooning.
Exhibit “A” from the magical land of fairy dust and unicorns is communist mockumentary director Michael Moore.
In the complete absence of evidence, Moore called Trump a “Russian traitor” and said he should vacate the White House. “We can do this the easy way (you resign), or the hard way (impeachment).” He also called for Trump to be arrested.
Todd, Rather, and Moore are far from alone.
On Fox News Channel, Sean Hannity held up an interview CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) as an example of the media’s “abusively biased coverage, this false narrative.”
“If members of the administration are essentially conspiring with Russia either through the campaign earlier or now in the administration itself, I mean, look, Wolf, that’s the definition of treason,” Moulton said. “This is a very, very serious affair.”
From his perch at a glossy, content-free fashion magazine, MSNBC reject Keith Olbermann huffed and puffed. “I call for the immediate indictment of Michael Thomas Flynn on charges of and his immediate arrest on suspicion of violation of the Logan Act,” he said invoking a long-forgotten statute from 1799 under which no one has ever been convicted. Trump should be named as Flynn’s “unindicted co-conspirator,” he added.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) conspiracy-theorized that Trump is using the Flynn saga to privatize intelligence-gathering and help his friends on Wall Street make money off it. Trump plans to ask Stephen A. Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management, to conduct “a broad review of American intelligence agencies,” the New York Times has reported.
“Now what he’s doing is naming another Wall Streeter to go in like a corporate takeover of the intelligence community, clearly with the intent of creating a chilling effect upon these intelligence professionals, who are trying to help America to understand how our security may have been compromised in our relationship with Russia,” Markey said.
Riot-cheerleading Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who claims the Reagan administration flooded the nation’s inner cities with crack cocaine, was overjoyed at Flynn’s ouster, describing him as “a liar and someone who cannot be trusted.”
“I’ve always believed that there has been collusion between the Trump outfit here, and Russia and the Kremlin. So I believe this is the tip of the iceberg … the strategy and the plot, to defend Russia and to work with Russia, is part of who Trump and his organization is,” Waters said.
New York Times columnist and hyperbole junkie Thomas Friedman accused Flynn and Trump of participating in some weird, ill-defined international conspiracy. “After the Russians did not respond harshly to the eviction of their spies and diplomats, Trump actually tweeted out some positive encouragement of this. Did the two of them cook this up all along?”
“And it gets … to two other issues,” Friedman continued. “The first is, we have never taken seriously from the very beginning Russia hacked our election. That was a 9/11-scale event. They attacked the core of our very democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor-scale event.”
Radical kook Chauncey DeVega, who calls Trump a “fascist authoritarian,” hyperventilated at Salon that the president is “a traitor to the United States” and so are all who back him.
Trump’s “voters and other supporters who do not denounce him are also traitors, and any Republican officials who continue to back Trump are traitors as well,” he wrote, as visions of sending patriotic Americans to die in forced labor camps danced in his head.
PJMedia’s Michael Walsh calls what’s happening in the country “a rolling coup attempt” and he’s right.
Make no mistake about what’s happening here: this is a rolling coup attempt, organized by elements of the intelligence community, particularly CIA and NSA, abetted by Obama-era holdovers in the understaffed Justice Department (Sally Yates, take a bow) and the lickspittles of the leftist media, all of whom have signed on with the “Resistance” in order to overturn the results of the November election.
This escalating offensive against Trump kicked up a few notches after Flynn, an arch foe of Islamofascism, was forced out of his critically important advisory role Monday night by what is shaping up to be an East German-style Ben Rhodes-centered deep state cabal.
Flynn, a retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, fell on his sword reportedly for allegedly making contact with a Russian envoy. The White House claims Flynn resigned after admitting he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
It’s not as if we know what actually happened with Flynn and the Russian or Russians at this point, or if there was any contact at all. News reports don’t quote any on-the-record sources.
And despite the lunatic ravings of NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Bill Kristol, David Frum, Sally Kohn, Joan Walsh, Hollywood celebrities, and many others, there is no credible evidence whatsoever that Trump had anything to do with the hacking of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee or that Trump colluded with Russia in whatever may or may not have transpired.
Without proof all of this screaming about Flynn and Trump and their supposedly nefarious connections to Vladimir Putin is just noise.
It could be (and likely is) completely made up.
Fiction is, after all, what Ben Rhodes, now identified as a major player in the plot against the president, specialized in when he worked in the Obama White House. Rhodes bragged to the New York Times about duping Americans by creating a media “echo chamber” to promote the botched, unenforceable nuclear nonproliferation agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran that will actually end up helping the mad mullahs who want to kill us all get the bomb. Rhodes became a misinformation-manufacturing servant of a hostile power while betraying his fellow Americans to help an Islam-loving president cozy up to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.
But as we keep learning more and more about Rhodes and Obama’s post-presidential sabotage apparatus, there was a small victory for common sense as the FBI announced it sees no reason to do anything about the Flynn case because there’s nothing there.
The FBI is still investigating the Russian saga but won’t pursue charges against Flynn “barring new information that changes what they know,” CNN reported last night. Although Flynn stumbled at times during FBI interviews, investigators believe Flynn was “cooperative and provided truthful answers.”
And that can’t be bad.