Behind the Russia-Hack Allegations

Though no public evidence has yet been provided, it’s now conventional wisdom that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election, a dangerous moment in U.S.-Russia relations, explains ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

By Graham E. Fuller

I cannot recall a period in which the U.S. public debate across the media has reached such implacably partisan and toxic proportions. The issues are indeed important — particularly the specific allegation of Russian involvement in helping make public the activities of the Democratic National Committee — information that was strongly unfavorable to the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton.

It is imperative that such Russian actions be thoroughly investigated and aired publicly by responsible authority as soon as possible. To date such information has not been forthcoming.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Worse, however, is that such information war — while venerable in the history of intelligence organizations — now has achieved greater clout with the advent of electronic media and Internet.

As a former CIA operations officer I can well remember routinely helping promote anti-Soviet material, usually veering towards disinformation or “false news,” to be played in various overseas media to weaken the Soviet image and position. The Soviets were spreading similar disinformation about the U.S.

But a traditional game is getting ever more dangerous now, and new rules of the road have yet to be written. Broad investigation of the doings of Russia, China and indeed the U.S. itself needs to be aired as a foundation for reaching some potential agreement on what states may or may not do in interfering in whatever way in foreign affairs and elections. Indeed, as the article I reproduce below points out, “legal” efforts by foreign countries to tilt American elections have been in place for a long time, including from foreign “friends.”

But it’s not like Russia can simply throw stuff out on the table and the damage is done. We also need to perceive the diverse agendas at work here, the co-actors in the heated rhetoric issuing from among various U.S. groups on the Russian issue.

The Political Motive

First, harping on the alleged Russian role in publicizing the backroom activities of the DNC is designed to distract attention from the actual content of that DNC activity which aimed (successfully) at denigrating and weakening the candidacy of Bernie Sanders; all of that now conveniently shoved under the rug. Yet it mattered heavily to our democracy.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN.

Second, it represents a drive to delegitimize the victory of Donald Trump. Now Trump is a figure about whose presidency I feel the deepest forebodings. But delegitimization of now-elected officials is in the longer run even more unhealthy to the political health of the Republic, yet it seems now to be part of the new U.S. politics since President Obama took office. (Obama also was subjected to efforts at delegitimization, including bogus claims that he was born in Kenya, a charge popularized ironically by Donald Trump). Opposition yes, delegitimization no.

Third, the Russian theme represents from the conservative and neocon side a desire to undercut any effort by Trump to improve relations with Russia; the anti-Putin cabal is deeply tied into the roots of the Cold War. An improvement of relations with Russia is furthermore very bad news for the military industrial complex and all its outlying organizations and consultants in and out of government.

Any improvement of relations with Russia also undercuts those who still yearn for “U.S. leadership” against global enemies — with Russia and China at the top of the list. These are the people who view international relations as a zero-sum game; whatever benefits China or Russia is automatically and by definition a setback for the U.S. Everything is win-lose, never a possible win-win game.

At this point I am delighted to turn over the rest of this blog to offer a highly balanced and insightful commentary on all these issues by Ambassador Robert E. Hunter. Hunter says it as well or better than I could; his piece is required reading in the midst of so much herd mentality in the national press.

Hunter offers a wise and sober commentary on the toxic state of politics in Washington today. He also reminds us of many of the core realities of international relations that we often forget. Equally importantly, he writes as a solidly establishment figure in U.S. foreign affairs and defense circles: Robert E. Hunter is a former senior National Security Council official and was U.S. Ambassador to NATO in the Bill Clinton administration.

Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World; his latest book is Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American’s crisis of conscience in Pakistan. (Amazon, Kindle) grahamefuller.com

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http://lobelog.com/rex-tillerson-and-the-russian-problem/

Rex Tillerson and the Russian Problem

by Robert E. Hunter

Lobelog, December 16, 2016

Washington, DC, our nation’s capital and the center of governmental angst in fair times and foul, is going through its most profound trauma in years, a collective PTSD. For most of Washington’s political class, even on the Republican side of the aisle that divides the city, “this wasn’t supposed to happen.”

Hillary Clinton was to be president and Donald Trump an also-ran, a showman who provided entertainment, though all-too-often holding up a mirror to the foibles and hypocrisies of those who do politics for a living.

But here we are.

At least three major institutions have been given an unprecedented shaking: the pollsters, who believe that their computer-driven Ouija boards can be dignified by a formal name–psephology; the Mainstream Media that (with few exceptions) worked assiduously to defeat Donald Trump, after first having raked in the big bucks by promoting him when they thought he was just a second-rate Elmer Gantry; and the foreign policy establishment, most of whose members will now be excluded from power and influence, deprived of their God-given right to set the nation’s agenda abroad and determine its directions.

The turmoil in these three institutions (and there are others) is so profound that more than a month after the election provided a definitive outcome – by the rule-book that every political animal knows by heart and follows assiduously, even when believing that the Electoral College “are an ass” – efforts are still underway to reverse Nov. 8’s outcome.

A truly minor candidate asked for and got recounts in three key Trump states – Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania – which, if Mrs. Clinton were judged the victor in all three, would have made her president. This maneuver came up empty.

The latest ploy is an effort by several Electors to ask that they play their constitutional role as actual deliberators. Striking, however, is that all but one of the many signatories to this plea come from states that Hillary Clinton won. But to be relevant, at least 37 additional Electors from states that Trump carried would have to play this game. …

Russia and the Election

Each of these points is worth a major article or even a book. But here I will confine myself to the state of play as it relates to foreign policy and national security. There are two primary but interlocking activities underway: one is to reduce the legitimacy of Trump’s victory, perhaps hoping that this will make him more responsive to views of the Disappointed and Dispossessed after he becomes president; the other is to reduce his latitude for action in at least one major area of foreign policy.

The focus of these efforts can be summarized in one word: Russia. For months, there have been reports, some even endorsed by leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community, first, that Russia has been trying to show that American democracy is corrupt and not worthy of emulation; and, second, that Moscow has been using advanced cyber tools both to sow confusion in America and actually to sway votes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd on May 9, 2014, celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Crimean port city of Sevastopol from the Nazis. (Russian government photo)

The clear implication is that Trump won the 2016 presidential election because Russia’s Vladimir Putin interfered, directly and indirectly, in the U.S. electoral process. He was, in this view, violating unwritten rules of how major states are supposed to conduct their struggles for power and influence (latter-day Marquis of Queensbury Rules, which were indeed devised and largely followed during the Cold War, when the consequences of not doing so could have been a nuclear conflict).

Make no mistake: this matter is serious. At the extreme, it could even produce a U.S. constitutional crisis without precedent. It turns on the presumption that the Russian impact on the U.S. electoral process was large enough in key swing states to determine the outcome (or at least to leave the validity of the outcome in doubt.) Maybe so, but highly doubtful.

Yet the idea has attained widespread currency, including White House allegations of Mr. Putin’s direct engagement. The full case has been laid out in a five-page article, beginning in the middle of Page One, in the December 14 New York Times. Its bottom line is summarized as follows:

“Did he [Putin] seek to mar the brand of American democracy, to forestall anti-Russian activism for both Russians and their neighbors? Or to weaken the next American president, since presumably Mr. Putin had no reason to doubt American forecasts that Mrs. Clinton would win easily? Or was it, as the C.I.A. concluded last month, a deliberate attempt to elect Mr. Trump?

In fact, the Russian hack-and-dox scheme accomplished all three goals.”

It would be difficult to be more definitive than that!

Certainly, given the seriousness of the charges, Congressional hearings (endorsed by leaders of both political parties) are appropriate, as is President Barack Obama’s call for a root-and branch investigation. The key question is why he took so long to act, and why he is asking for a report only before he leaves office (January 20)…

“They All Do It”

Anyone with experience in international politics or historical knowledge knows that interfering in other countries’ politics and even elections is SOP–standard operating procedure. Others regularly do it to us: legally through their embassies, tolerated through K Street lobbyists they employ to the tune of millions of dollars, and also through their expatriates or others who convince themselves that the interests of foreign government X are also in the best interests of the United States.

In the early 20th century, Americans of Irish and Italian descent used to be masters of this game. In the 1930s, until discredited by Adolf Hitler’s actions, many German-Americans joined the German American Bund, which tried to keep the United States out of the Second World War. American citizens, misled by foreign propaganda and arguments that the United States had “lost China,” revered Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek and kept the United States from normalizing relations with the People’s Republic of China from 1949 until “Nixon’s visit to China” in 1971. And the Israel lobby actively seeks to influence U.S. Middle East policy. This was evidenced most clearly by congressional cheering for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint session of Congress, when, in speaking of Iran’s nuclear program, he asked its members to trust his judgment rather than that of the U.S. president.

At the same time, the United States has regularly interfered in the politics and elections of other states, notably during the Cold War, and it still does now. People in both political parties argue that it is in a “good cause” or at least in a “necessary cause.” Perhaps at times they are right.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, flanked by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria “Toria” Nuland, addresses Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting room at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, at the outset of a bilateral meeting on July 14, 2016. [State Department Photo]

The New York Times exposé, cited above, elides over one event, when it scolds Russia for “outing” a phone call between the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, as they were trying to affect the outcome of Ukraine’s political struggle. According to the Times: “Ms. [Victoria] Nuland [the assistant secretary] was heard describing a little-known American effort to broker a deal in Ukraine, then in political turmoil.”

In this case, “broker a deal” is a euphemism for “promote a coup d’état.” Maybe that was the right course (though I do not agree), and it certainly did not justify the Russian military intervention in Ukraine that followed; but it was not as though we were the impeccable “good guys,” just trying to promote democracy, to Putin’s demonstrable “bad guy.”

The Tillerson Nomination and Russia

Now, from the wings, enters Mr. Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil. With all the media coverage, it is not necessary here to recount all the potential problems there might be with this choice in the one place that matters, legally if not politically: the U.S. Senate.

Suffice it to recall that Mr. Tillerson’s company has massive business dealings in the Russian Federation, some of which he negotiated personally, that he is on record as having opposed sanctions imposed when Mr. Putin seized Crimea, and that he has had a long-standing relationship with the Russian president. This includes his having received a decoration, though not one on a par with the old Soviet honor of “Hero of the Soviet Union.”

Mr. Tillerson’s activities in industry are thus sufficient to raise questions about whether he would be an effective steward of American interests rather than being compromised, in fact as opposed to perception – the Caesar’s Wife of political combat, even when invoked by people whose own “skirts are not clean.” Perhaps he would be so inclined as Secretary of State, but given his experience and reputation, it is hard for an outsider like me (who has never met him) to conclude that he would sell out U.S. interests because of a supposed “friendship” with Putin or a mess of pottage for ExxonMobil.

Mr. Tillerson has certainly displayed none of the traits of deep ideological bias that mark another of Mr. Trump’s senior national security selections, LTG Michael Flynn, who, while reportedly inclined to support a new approach in U.S. dealings with Russia, has repeatedly made statements and written a book about Iran and Islam that raise profound doubts about his fitness to be National Security Advisor.

Further, Mr. Tillerson’s nomination elides into the other question that is most pertinent, now: the allegations of Russian meddling in our election campaign, whether accurately portrayed or inflated in their impact (which can never be truly assessed). At one level, Mr. Tillerson is a stand-in for Mr. Trump, who has spoken so often of wanting to create a more positive relationship with Russia and Mr. Putin.

What that would in fact mean is anyone’s guess – most likely Trump himself does not yet know. There is some risk that, in seeking both to “reach a deal” and to be different (and more effective) that President Obama, President Trump might compromise objectively-important interests – both America’s and others’. But it is easier for opponents of any change in U.S. policy toward Russia to challenge a nominee for a cabinet post than to take on the president, while sending the same “message.”

This debate comes at a difficult time in relations between the United States, along with several European states, and the Russian Federation, where “difficult” is defined not just in terms of some profound differences of interest and the facts of Russian aggression in Ukraine and intimidation of other European countries.

Exxon-Mobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be Secretary of State.

“Difficult” also means that in both Russia and the United States there has been a steady rise of attitudes that are redolent of the Cold War. People in both countries who should know better have been invoking the existence and even potential role of nuclear weapons; Russia has characterized NATO as its enemy; and some top U.S. military leaders have argued that Russia is an “existential threat” to the United States – a view, given that “existential” means “ready and perhaps willing to destroy us,” that is both absurd and as dangerous as some rhetoric by Russia.

The wheel thus comes full circle: allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election campaign become a tool to limit, if not cripple, President Trump’s attempts to change the downward course of U.S. and Western relations with Russia.

Of course, what calculations Putin is making are unknowable, but we do know one thing: he is playing a weak hand. Russia is not the Soviet Union. Its economy was struggling even before imposition of sanctions. Its principal source of wealth and export earnings, hydrocarbons, is not worth what it was even a couple of years ago, and oil is unlikely, at least anytime soon, again to reach $100 or more a barrel. The Russian population is aging and, while its decline in numbers may have been arrested, the population is certainly not growing significantly.

The Russian Federation is also socially fractured. Notably, Russia has one of the world’s largest Muslim populations, a major part of which is disaffected from ethnic Russian domination. Thus, it is no wonder that Moscow has cooperated with the United States in Afghanistan and regarding the nuclear deal with Iran.

Unfortunately for Rex Tillerson, these factors will come together in his Senate confirmation hearings and will distract from due consideration whether he is qualified to do the job in terms that are truly relevant. His task before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will not be easy, given that so much extraneous material – he surely had nothing to do with Russian hacking – will be introduced. His background will work against him, both as portrayed by much of the mainstream media, which already have him in their sights, and among any senators who choose to grandstand.

But if because of Russian matters he is defeated for confirmation or must ask that his nomination be withdrawn, the implications will go far beyond the issues being debated. The new U.S. president could find himself crippled in trying to work out the kind of relationship with Russia that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry would have liked to achieve but could not – in major part because of Russian behavior, but also because of hardening attitudes here, including old Cold War overtones, that exist far more in the foreign policy establishment than in the country at large.

If that is what happens, we in the United States stand to be big-time losers.

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25 comments for “Behind the Russia-Hack Allegations

  1. jfmxl
    December 20, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Trump’s a problem. Clinton would have been a bigger problem. But neither is as much a problem as that rogue, vile institution, the CIA. This whole exercise has been absurd. There is not a shred of evidence that Russia somehow ‘hacked’ the US elections. And this nonsense was concocted by that enemy of everything American, the CIA. After the collapse of their absurd coup attempt the next step will the tried and true ‘lone shooter’ that worked so well for them in Dallas Texas on 23 November, 1963.

    It’s either the elected president of the United States or the CIA. If the elected president wants to serve out his term alive he needs to kill the CIA on 20 January. That den of assassins – and this columnist, himself the godfather of al CIAduh – have worked against the interests of the American people for 59 years, and that finally needs to come to an end. They were brought into existence at the stroke of a president’s pen and they can be put out of existence by the stroke of a president’s pen. The CIA needs to meet its end, before they kill another president.

    • Zachary Smith
      December 20, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      If the elected president wants to serve out his term alive he needs to kill the CIA on 20 January

      Unfortunately that’s not a practical proposition. The real world is full of predators, and we as a nation must protect ourselves from them. Well-meaning folks have destroyed – or attempted to destroy – American intelligence operations in the past, and the outcomes were not good ones.

      Henry Stimson served as Secretary of State under President Herbert Hoover from 1929 to 1933. In 1929 he shut down the State Department’s cryptanalytic office saying, “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail.” This started a series of events ending in the Japanese learning that the US had been “reading their mail”, and was partly responsible for the disaster at Pearl harbor. Stimson wasn’t usually an idiot, but this particular brain fart cost us dearly.

      Another good-intentioned fellow was Associate Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts. As leader of the Roberts Commission into the Pearl Harbor debacle, he made it clear to W. J. Holmes that he had the same viewpoint as Stimson. A loss at Midway or the invasion of Hawaii would have meant a vastly bloodier World War 2, and without either MAGIC or ULTRA we could have lost that war! That Communications Act really did limit Intelligence access to known Axis spies. Link is to Double Edged Secrets at google books.

      http://tinyurl.com/jap5vgt

      We need the CIA and NSA, but we also need to bring them under control. I don’t know how to do that, but I’d surely start putting people in prison for blatantly breaking US and international laws. The CIA big brass who authorized torture would face the most severe sentences available under the law. Jail time for our very own home-grown criminals would be how I’d begin to try to bring them under control.

      I don’t expect incoming President Trump to do any of this.

  2. Anna
    December 20, 2016 at 11:18 am

    “…in major part because of Russian behavior…”
    This is the same Nuland-Breedlove line that leads directly to the major war-profiteeriers. It is NATO/US that are on a border of Russian Federation, not the other way around.
    Russian Federation has been fighting islamic terrorism, unlike the US/EU/Saudi/Israel alliance. Remember 9/11? The torture chambers and other extrajudicial killings for the alleged connections with Al Qaeda? Well. The Clinton Foundation has received large sums of money from Saudi, the principal sponsor of Al Qaeda. – This certainly looks like an attempt at influencing the State Dept. There were also $6 trillions “lost” during the war on terror and there are also the scores of young American citizens left limbless and brain dead in the course of this highly profitable war.
    The author also plays naiveté in relation to Crimea. The documents on the history of Crimea and on its special importance for Russian sovereignty are in abundance. Any serious analyst could see that there was nothing strange in “Russian behavior” when the government of Russia made effective arrangement for protecting Russian borders at a time when the US government had conducted a coup d’etat in the neighboring state (the director of CIA was present in Kiev, whereas the inspiration for the coup d’etat came from prominent ziocons). Moreover, there were three (3) plebiscites in Crimea, which results were in favor of unification with Russian Federation. This and similar “unfortunate” factors made it difficult for the arsonists at the State Dept. to ignite a “good civil war” in Ukraine. The main hope was to deliver another regime change by proceeding deeper to the East.
    It was the flagrant incompetence (tied with professional amorality) of “deciders” at all levels of the US government, which has produced the “unexpected” results in Crimea. What else could be expected from such “specialists” in Russia history as Condi Rice and from such vicious Russophobes as the Lobby.
    And who cares about Mr. Tillerson when the US fate has been decided by Mr. Cheney and his (ziocon) pupils?

    • Kalen
      December 20, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      The quintessence of what benignly sounds as American exeptionalism is dehumanization of opponent as a low order creature liken to animal whose behavior must be observed and controlled since in itself it has no capacity of good moral judgment and hence must be protected from itself by American government as a matter of their self imposed moral duty.

      Classic Hegelian ubermensch concept of superiority or supremacy as a god given right and duty to belittle and discriminate, also related to wider phenomenon of chauvinism.

      Correcting Russian behaviour is understood the same way as correction of rat behaviour in the maze climbing the walls.

  3. Joe Tedesky
    December 20, 2016 at 11:35 am

    For starters, the people of Crimea would not have voted so overwhelmingly to join the Russian Federation, if NATO didn’t pose such a threat, as to back a Ukraine putsch and place missiles up against Russia’s borders. What is happening in Eastern Europe is like the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis on steroids.

    If there are to be investigations looking into Russian American election interference, then don’t stop there with Russia, widen the net to include ‘all outside government interference’. Hillary’s Zionist and Saudi connections should, and must be part of this or any investigation as such as have been proposed.

    While digging into why Hillary loss, would it be possible for congress to work on the many domestic problems that America has here at home? There’s always enough money for a bomb, but never enough to hold up the governments original commitment to honor Social Security or Medicare benefits, as an example.

    Hillary loss due to poor campaign strategy. Hillary at one time preferred to run against what she thought was a weak candidate, namely Donald Trump. The media during the Republican primary even helped herd the ‘deplorables’ towards Trumps camp, and that cleverness was too cute for words. No, Hillary loss because she didn’t have her eye on the ball, or the Rust States for that matter.

    So here we are, somehow in some kind of way we now have a Constitutional crisis, and all because Queen Hillary didn’t make it into the Oval Office. Someone please tell those bought and paid for chumps in DC that there are people out here in America in need of a good government, and we ain’t all that stupid…so get real!

    • John
      December 20, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      Mr. Joe…..donations are down 87%….. toward the Clinton foundation……What ???…. Their market share is DOWN…….Yes , pay for play lol…..please make that check out to (all you middle eastern high rollers) Amazon.com/Washington Post ……because when the axe falls Mr. Jeff Bozo will be selling coffee enemas to his followers to flush the phony Bull S*#T from their……….

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 20, 2016 at 7:55 pm

        John, your most positive comment is appreciated to the fullest.

        Here’s a question; what is going on that Donald Trump at the end of his speeches always plays the Rolling Stones ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’….is there a irony hidden meaning to this, or what?

        • John
          December 20, 2016 at 9:11 pm

          Well, I can tell you from experience….the Donald’s favorite two words are……”You’re Fired”…..lol. So is he going to be a diplomatic compromiser……..NO…….Adjust accordingly……appearance is a large percentage leading toward deception…..Just ask Bill and Hillary….the former gods of the slight of hand

  4. jfmxl
    December 20, 2016 at 11:53 am

    ‘Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *’

    Your comment will be deleted if you point out the criminal involvement of the CIA in this absurd, failed coup … and/or the involvement of the ‘reformed’ CIA officer in the creation of al CIA duh. I cannot understand why an otherwise right guy like Robert Parry gives this wrong guy column feet to spin his web of deceit,

  5. jfmxl
    December 20, 2016 at 11:54 am

    sorry … the comments don’t show, apparently, until you’ve surrendered your email address and made a comment of your own.

    • Zachary Smith
      December 20, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Um, have you considered creating an email address used only for sites like this one? I have some others which get used only for signing up for things. Or which are necessary to complete a nosy and prying form.

      Also, if I must put in a telephone number for some outfit which doesn’t really need it, into the little box goes 812-555-1234.

      :)

  6. chris moffatt
    December 20, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    regarding Crimea there was no Russian aggression. Russian troops were already in Sevastopol under a lease from Kiev for the naval base. Crimea was an autonomous region fully entitled to stage referenda and fully entitled to choose union with the RF. It may have suited Crimea and the RF very well but did NATO and the CIA coup plotters seriously think for one moment that Putin would let them not only kick him ignominiously out of his only warm-water naval base but also setup a NATO puppet regime on the border? As for “russian aggression” in Ukraine let’s be realistic here and stop the CIA/State Dept BS – after the coup against Yanukovich and the establishment of CIA assets Poroshenko and Yatseniuk, the Kiev regime moved against dissenters with armed force. Especially against those in Donbass. Of course Putin has supplied the Donbass rebels with arms – mostly be it noted small arms compared to the heavy weapons supplied by the USA to Kiev regime and the many US military “trainers”. If Russia had truly acted against Ukraine there would now be no Ukraine.

    • Ben Brearley
      December 21, 2016 at 2:48 am

      Yes, all this talk of “Russian aggression,” is a problem. Like some weird elementary school game wherein you have to repeat what the person before you said before adding to it. I think the problem is somehow rhetorical in nature. Which might be letting writers like Hunter off the hook, and is probably too generous. Anyway – the result is a type of phony compromise, one in which the writer believes diplomacy requires the admittance of a bit from both sides. Why? So those readers who fear the “Russian aggression,” won’t stop reading? I’ve been following the Robert Fisk articles Counterpunch has been posting lately, and he effectively sidesteps the issue by announcing “here I will insert the required anti-Assad paragraph,” which he does. Then he returns to real writing. He is able to communicate on a number of levels with this strategy, sarcasm certainly being one of them (and I wonder how much longer his editors will allow him to get away with this). This is most effective, however, in allowing him to get around the issue without resorting to lying or repeating lies. Could Hunter do the same? The question is, really, does Hunter himself actually think that “Russia has characterized NATO as its enemy,” is an honest statement? Its hard to believe that somebody of his stature could be so obtuse. NATO is the most profound enemy Russia has. That is NATO’s purpose. NATO exists to pressure and destroy Russia. We need to know: does Hunter lie with intent, or is he merely writing without thinking?

  7. jfmxl
    December 20, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    good to see the other comments on the utterly false ‘Russian aggression’ narrative. the guy whom the cia man has quoted has no better pedigree than his own … Robert E Hunter, Atlantic Council of the United States. he was one of those responsible for the nato push to the Russian border … one of the war-mongers who got us into this mess. everything they’ve done since the turn of the millennium – and the decade before – is wrong. roll-back, redo. our only hope. i do suppose that tee-rump and tee-rex are hoping to repeat the Harvard boys’ (and girls’) swell adventure in Russia. Good luck to them, Putin is not Yeltsin. or tee-rex.

    Ladies and Gentlemen. The issues that affect the futures of all people include the challenge of global climate change. It is in our interest to make the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in December in Paris a success. As part of our national contribution, we plan to reduce by 2030 the greenhouse emmissions to 70-75% of the 1990 level. I suggest, however, we should take a wider view on this issue.

    Yes, we might defuse the problem for awhile by setting quotas on harmful emissons or by taking other measures, which are nothing but tactical, but we will not solve it that way. We need a completely new approach.

    We have to focus on introducing fundamental and new technologies inspired by nature which will not damage the environment but will be in harmony with it. Also they will allow us to restore the balance between the biosphere and technosphere upset by human activities. It is indeed a challenge of planetary scope, but I am confident that humankind has [the] intellectual potential to address it. We need to join our efforts.

    I refer first of all to the states that have a solid research basis, and that have made significant advances in fundamental science. We propose convening a special forum under the UN auspices for a comprehensive consideration of the issues related to the depletion of natural resources, the destruction of habitat, and climate change. Russia would be ready to co-sponsor such a forum.

  8. Brad Owen
    December 20, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    To me, one of the bright spots in Trump’s personnel/policy moves is Tillerson with his personal and favorable connections with Putin and the Russian Federation, that will lead to detente, cooperation on Great Infrastructure Projects and the World Land Bridge between Alaska and Siberia, connecting five Continents with Mag-lev lines, rail lines, pipelines, power lines, com-lines, generating trillions-n-trillions of dollars of wealth (no doubt with a big chunk going to Trump and his cronies) WITHOUT fighting a god-awful, bloody war (which terrifies the Financial/Military/Industrial/Nat’l Security Complex…no more war). All we are saying is give peace a chance. All the Oligarchs have been saying (since the end of WWII) is give WAR a chance (to secure Empire for them and impose subservience upon us).
    I’m now interested in seeing what Trump does: in a very “left-handed”, Coyote Trickster, kind of way, he might just become one of the sponsors of a World Renaissance (and he knows just the right bastards, sons-of-bitches, strongmen and gangsters who’ll get the job done against hysterical opposition from the blood-drenched, insanely arrogant, Establishment).

  9. Annie
    December 20, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Personally I knew the DNC was corrupt before the so called Russian hack, since I was a Bernie supporter and knew the democratic party wanted a Clinton win. The mainstream media was more then willing to help. The Podesta e-mails, well, I doubt if there is any more then a handful of people who know what they had to say about Clinton. What a good way, when you think about it, to divert the public’s attention away from the degree of poverty in this country which is what gave this election to Trump. Russia didn’t have anything to do with creating that, but both parties did with their corporate ties and allegiance to the wealthiest among us. One can understand why there is no real talk about that issue, since there is no money in it.

  10. Bill Bodden
    December 20, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Many criticisms have been leveled at the choice of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. He may prove to be a flawed secretary but nothing on the scale of what Victoria Nuland might have been. Who, we might ask, would have been her “guy” to replace Putin?

  11. Zachary Smith
    December 20, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    This debate comes at a difficult time in relations between the United States, along with several European states, and the Russian Federation, where “difficult” is defined not just in terms of some profound differences of interest and the facts of Russian aggression in Ukraine and intimidation of other European countries.

    I have a problem with this statement – were the Russians exhibiting “aggression in Ukraine”, or were they reacting to NATO aggression? Having NATO right up against a long stretch of border was not a prospect any sensible Russian planner wanted to contemplate. Also, losing the naval base at Sevastopol would have been a serious blow. I’d ask the author how he believes the US would react if Panama suddenly announced it was going to start allowing US Navy ships to pass through the Panama Canal on a case-by-case basis. Suddenly with actual rejections of passage and always long waits, would whatever the US did in return be labeled as “aggression”? I don’t think so!

    ….some top U.S. military leaders have argued that Russia is an “existential threat” to the United States–a view, given that “existential” means “ready and perhaps willing to destroy us,” that is both absurd and as dangerous as some rhetoric by Russia.

    A certain Nobel-winning US political leader has specified a freaking South American nation in a new Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.

    whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/09/fact-sheet-venezuela-executive-order

    Standing at a podium and mouthing nonsense isn’t like sprinkling Holy Water on a lie and thus turning it into truth. We ought to have learned that from Vietnam and Iraq.

    Of course, what calculations Putin is making are unknowable, but we do know one thing: he is playing a weak hand.

    Maybe, maybe not. I’m not privy to the real economic situation in Russia because 1) I’m not an economist and 2) I have only Corporate News Media to rely upon.

    Though oil and gas are large parts of Russia’s exports, they’re by no means the only ones. And last I heard, the Russians aren’t selling energy at a loss, despite lower prices. Something which can’t be said about US shale oil. The Russians are increasing their wheat exports. I believe they’ve passed the US in this regard. Selling points include no genetically modified grain as well as a cleaner product. Anybody remember years ago how the US companies were docking the hell out of farmers here for any trash in the grain delivered to the elevators? Then they’d turn around and add tons of the same filth to export shipments to bring up the levels to just below the amounts specified in the contracts with foreign buyers.

    Despite their “poverty”, the Russians are still buying gold by ton lots. For some reason they feel having a sound currency is a good idea.

    As for Rex Tillerson, I suspect he’s a Climate Criminal, but with Trump that’s going to be par for the course until the man gets some education about how bad things are getting in the world. One reason Russia’s wheat crop is going to keep getting – on average – better is that the far North is warming. As the southern US wheat regions gradually turn into dust bowls, the Russians and Canadians are constantly acquiring more usable farm land. In the very short term, this is great for those two nations.

    If Tillerson is rejected, I’d expect Trump to nominate somebody even worse from the standpoint of the neocons. Serve ’em right!

  12. Bill Bodden
    December 20, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    I have a problem with this statement – were the Russians exhibiting “aggression in Ukraine”, or were they reacting to NATO aggression? Having NATO right up against a long stretch of border was not a prospect any sensible Russian planner wanted to contemplate.

    Joe: According to some neocon wisdom I came across some time ago when NATO moved up to Russia’s border and Russia failed to retreat that was a clear sign of aggression on Russia’s part. Who the hell do these Russkies think they are ignoring the rules of empire written by the exceptional nation – subject to editing by Israel.

  13. sierra7
    December 20, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Special operations/Covert Activities of the CIA is a cancer on this nation and the world. Even President Truman in his memoirs stated that signing the creation of the CIA was one of the worst mistakes he made.
    A good read of the 1976 Church Commission regarding the part involving the CIA is very revealing.
    The CIA goes way beyond the, “….reading of others’ mail”.
    The CIA as it is structured by it’s mandate is nothing but any president’s private army.
    That is not what will bring about anything resembling “peace” in this world.

  14. Herman
    December 21, 2016 at 11:10 am

    “This debate comes at a difficult time in relations between the United States, along with several European states, and the Russian Federation, where “difficult” is defined not just in terms of some profound differences of interest and the facts of Russian aggression in Ukraine and intimidation of other European countries.”

    I picked up on the same statement as did others, telling me that Mr. Hunter is just another Cold Warrior worried about it getting out of control.

    As to comments about the CIA by others, yes it is an albatross around the worlds neck. It does need to go and replaced with an intelligence apparatus without an operational arm. Its predecessor was created In the midst of a war and such questions were irrelevant. Modelling the CIA after it was a mistake and very costly mostly to the victims.

  15. Jack
    December 21, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    AS John Kennedy said, “It is time to smash the CIA into a 1000 pieces”

    • Dongi
      December 22, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      He sure got that right.

  16. jfmxl
    December 21, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    sierra7

    ‘The CIA as it is structured by it’s mandate is nothing but any president’s private army.’

    herman

    ‘It does need to go and replaced with an intelligence apparatus without an operational arm.’

    absolutely agree. in fact the CIA doesn’t do intelligence, that’s just a front operation. they have no idea what’s really going on, they just deliver the news ‘operations’ wants the POTUS to hear.
    Mike Morrell just demonstrated that on TV with is call to asssassinate Russians and Iranians.

    And the NSA – the National inSecurity Agency – needs to be replaced by one that will make all our private communications secure, not in-secure as the vile NSA does … i nominate the Post Office …

    US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 … The Congress shall have Power … To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

    That’s end-to-end encryption for all and ipsec on the ‘information superhighway’.

    Of course we’ll have to clear the House and Senate first, they’re presently composed of grifters and grafters passing in-‘security’ laws and taking the revolving door to their payoff on the other side, like Mike Rogers and his wife, Kristi Clemens Rogerswho cashed in the chips while Mike was still on the inside..

  17. December 23, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Donald Trump a Traitor?

    Yes, Donald Trump could potentially be impeached and removed from office for being a “traitor.” But President Obama was even MORE of a “traitor” because of his highly dishonest and morally depraved TPP/TTIP/TiSA efforts to hand over control (for most practical purposes) of all three levels of our government to a cartel of greedy multinational corporations led by CEO’s who “have no god but money” and don’t really give a damn how many people they impoverish and/or kill in order to “increase their corporation’s bottom line.”

    Also, for over 100 years now, interfering with other country’s electoral processes (to further or protect “US corporate interests”) has been a MAJOR FEATURE of US foreign policy (especially Latin America and notably in Iran as well). This has included US sponsorship of coup de tat’s, insurgency movements, outright military invasions, and full-scale occupations of foreign countries. Such interference by the Obama Administration alone has already created a perpetual state of anarchy in Honduras, and VERY BLOODY CIVIL WARS in Syria, Libya, and the Ukraine.

    So it is HIGHLY HYPOCRITICAL for us to complain about other countries interfering in our electoral process.

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