Letter From Britain: An Establishment Blinded By Russophobia

A British elite challenged by large parts of the British population is rallying around trumped-up fear of Russia as a means of protecting its interests, as Alexander Mercouris explains.

By Alexander Mercouris  Special to Consortium News
in London 

Hostility to Russia is one of the most enduring, as well as one of the most destructive, realities of British life. Its persistence is illustrated by one of the most interesting but least reported facts about the Skripal affair.

This is that Sergey Skripal, the Russian former GRU operative who was the main target of the recent Salisbury poisoning attack, was recruited by British intelligence and became a British spy in 1995, four years after the USSR collapsed, at a time when the Cold War was formally over.

In 1995 Boris Yeltsin was President of Russia, Communism was supposedly defeated, the once mighty Soviet military was no more, and a succession of pro-Western governments in Russia were attempting unsuccessfully to carry out IMF proposed ‘reforms’. In a sign of the new found friendship which supposedly existed between Britain and Russia the British Queen toured Moscow and St. Petersburg the year before.

Yet notwithstanding all the appearances of friendship, and despite the fact that Russia in 1995 posed no conceivable threat to Britain, it turns out that British intelligence was still up to its old game of recruiting Russian spies to spy on Russia.

Britain’s Long History of Russophobia

This has in fact been the constant pattern of Anglo-Russian relations ever since the Napoleonic Wars.

Brief periods of seeming friendship – often brought about by a challenge posed by a common enemy – alternating with much longer periods of often intense hostility.

This hostility – at least from the British side – is not easy to understand.

Russia has never invaded or directly threatened Britain. On the only two occasions when Britain and Russia have fought each other – during the Crimean War of 1854 to 1856, and during the Russian Civil War of 1918 to 1921 – the fighting has all taken place on Russian territory, and has been initiated by Britain.

Nonetheless, despite its lack of any obvious cause, British hostility to Russia is a constant and enduring fact of British political and cultural life. The best that can be said about it is that it appears to be a predominantly elite phenomenon.

British Russophobia Peaks

If British hostility to Russia is a constant, it is nonetheless true that save possibly for the period immediately preceding the Crimean War, it has never been as intense as it is today.

Moreover, not only has it reached levels of intensity scarcely seen before, but it is becoming central to Britain’s politics in ways which are now doing serious harm.

This harm is both domestic, in that it is corrupting British politics, and international, in that it is not only marginalising Britain internationally but is also poisoning the international atmosphere.

Why is this so?

Elite British Consensus

For Britain’s elite, riven apart by Brexit and increasingly unsure of the hold it has over the loyalty of the British population, hostility to Russia has become the one issue it can unite around. As a result hostility to Russia is now serving an essential integrating role within Britain’s elite, binding it together at a time when tensions over Brexit risk tearing it apart.

To get a sense of this consider two articles that have both appeared recently in the British media, one in the staunchly anti-Brexit Guardian, the other in the equally staunchly pro-Brexit Daily Telegraph.

The article in the Guardian, by Will Hutton and Andrew Adonis, is intended to refute a narrative of British distinctiveness supposedly invented by the pro-Brexit camp. As such the article claims (rightly) that Britain has historically always been closely integrated with Europe.

However when developing this argument the article engages in some remarkable historical misrepresentation of its own. Not surprisingly, Russia is the subject. Just consider for example this paragraph:

“…..note for devotees of Darkest Hour and Dunkirk: Britain was never “alone” and could not have triumphed [in the Second World War against Hitler] had it been so. Even in its darkest hour Britain could call on its then vast empire and, within 18 months, on the Americans, too.”

Russia’s indispensable contribution to the defeat of Hitler is deleted from the whole narrative. The U.S., which became involved in the war against Hitler in December 1941, is mentioned. Russia, which became involved in the war against Hitler in June 1941, i.e. before the U.S., and whose contribution to the defeat of Hitler was much greater, is not.

Whilst claiming to refute pro-Brexit myths about the Second World War the article creates myths of its own, turning the fact that Russia was an ally of Britain in that war into a non-fact.

The article does however have quite a lot to say about Russia:

“Putins Russia is behaving like the fascist regimes of the 1930s, backed by sophisticated raids from online troll factories. Citizens – and ominously younger voters in some European countries – are more and more willing to tolerate the subversion of democratic norms and express support for authoritarian alternatives.

Oleg Kalugin, former major general of the Committee for State Security (the KGB), has described sowing dissent as “the heart and soul” of the Putin state: not intelligence collection, but subversion – active measures to weaken the west, to drive wedges in the western community alliances of all sorts, particularly Nato, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people of Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare ground in case the war really occurs. To make America more vulnerable to the anger and distrust of other peoples.”

Churchill and Stalin in Moscow in 1942.

History is turned on its head. Not only is the fact that Russia was Britain’s ally in the war against Nazi Germany now a non-fact, but Russia it turns out is Nazi Germany’s heir, a fascist regime like Nazi Germany once was, posing a threat to Britain and the West like Nazi Germany once did.

Moreover who does not agree, and who does not see facing up to Russia as the priority, is at best a fool:

“In Brexit-voting Weymouth, Captain Malcolm Shakesby of Ukip is unruffled by Putin or European populism. He inhabits the cartoon world of British exceptionalism, and his main concern today is Mrs Mays “sellout” of the referendum result.”

Compare these comments about Russia in the staunchly anti-Brexit Guardian with these comments about Russia by Janet Daley in the staunchly pro-Brexit Daily Telegraph.

Janet Daley does not quite say like Hutton and Adonis that Russia is a “fascist regime”. However in her depiction of it she comes pretty close:

“The modern Russian economy is a form of gangster capitalism largely unencumbered by legal or political restraint. No one in the Kremlin pretends any longer that Russias role on the international stage is to spread an idealistic doctrine of liberation and shared wealth.

When it intervenes in places such as Syria, there is no pretence of leading that country toward a great socialist enlightenment. Even the pretext of fighting Isil has grown impossibly thin. All illusions are stripped away and the fight is reduced to one brutal imperative: Assad is Putins man and his regime will be defended to the end in order to secure the Russian interest. But what is that interest? Simply to assert Russias power in the world – which is to say, the question is its own answer.”

Though Moscow has made clear in both word and action that intervention in Syria at Syria’s invitation was to prevent it becoming a failed state and a terrorist haven, Russia it turns out is focused on only one thing: gaining as much power as possible. This is true both of its domestic politics (“gangster capitalism largely unencumbered by legal or political restraint”) and in its foreign policy (“what is that [Russian] interest? Simply to assert Russia’s power in the world – which is to say, the question is its own answer”)

As a result it must be construed as behaving in much the same way as Nazi Germany once did:

“…..we now seem to have the original threat from a rogue rampaging Russia back on the scene, too. A Russia determined to reinstate its claim to be a superpower, but this time without even the moral scruples of an ideological mission: the country that had once joined the respectable association of modern industrialised nations to make it the G8, rather than the G7, prefers to be an outlaw.”

On the question of the threat from Russia both the pro and anti-Brexit wings of the British establishment agree. Standing up to it is the one policy they can both agree on. Not surprisingly at every opportunity that is what they do.

Intolerance of Dissent Construed as a “Threat from Russia”

In this heavy atmosphere anyone in Britain who disagrees risks being branded either a traitor or a fool.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, who is known to favour dialogue with Russia, recently had to endure an ugly media campaign which insinuated that he had been recruited as in effect a Communist agent in the 1980s by Czech intelligence.

That claim eventually collapsed when a British MP went too far and said openly what up to then had only been insinuated. As a result he was forced to retract his claims and pay compensation under threat of a law suit. However the question mark over Corbyn’s loyalty is never allowed to go away.

During last year’s general election Corbyn also had to endure an article in the Telegraph by none other than Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of Britain’s external intelligence agency MI6 (the British equivalent of the CIA). Dearlove also insinuated that Corbyn had been at least a Communist sympathiser or fellow traveller during the Cold War whose sympathies were with the Eastern Bloc and therefore with the various anti-Western and supposedly Communist backed terrorist groups which the Eastern Bloc had supposedly supported:

“Today, Britain goes to the polls. And frankly, Im shocked that no one has stood up and said, unambiguously, how profoundly dangerous it would be for the nation if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister. So let me be clear, the leader of the Labour Party is an old-fashioned international socialist who has forged links with those quite ready to use terror when they havent got their way: the IRA, Hizbollah, Hamas. As a result he is completely unfit to govern and Britain would be less safe with him in No 10.

I can give an indication of just how serious this is: if Jeremy Corbyn was applying to join any of this countrys security services – MI5, GCHQ or the service I used to run, MI6 – he would not be cleared to do so. He would be rejected by the vetting process. Far from being able to get into MI5, in the past MI5 would actively have investigated him. And yet this is the man who seeks the very highest office, who hopes in just 24 hours time to run our security services.

Young people in Britain have been terribly affected by recent terror attacks. It is only natural that they should be desperately worried about security problems, and to me it is just such a great shame that they dont understand the political antecedents of the Labour leader. It is these young people, in particular, I am keen to address. I want to explain just what Corbyns whole movement has meant.

During the Cold War the groups he associated with hung out in Algeria, and moved between East Germany and North Korea. It is hard, today, to understand the significance of that. When I talk to students about the Cold War, they assume I am just talking about history. But it has a direct bearing on our security today. Only a walk along the armistice line between North and South Korea, with its astonishing military build up, might give some idea of what was at stake.

……Jeremy Corbyn represents a clear and present danger to the country.”

In light of this the crescendo of criticism Corbyn came under during the peak of the uproar in March following the

Dearlove: Corbyn is a “clear and present danger” (to the establishment.)

Salisbury poisoning attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal is entirely unsurprising.

Corbyn’s call – alone amongst senior politicians – for the investigation to be allowed to take its course and for due process to be followed, simply confirmed the doubts about his loyalty and his sympathy for Russia already held by the British establishment and previously expressed by people like Dearlove. His call was not seen as an entirely reasonable one for proper procedure to be followed. Rather it was seen as further proof that Corbyn’s sympathies are with Russia, which is Britain’s enemy.

Corbyn is not the only person to be targeted in this way. As I write this Britain is in the grip of a minor scandal because the right-wing businessman Arron Banks, who partly funded the Leave campaign during the 2016 Brexit referendum, is now revealed to have had several meetings with the Russian ambassador and to have discussed a business deal with a Russian businessman.

Though Banks claims to have reported these contacts to the CIA, and though there is not the slightest evidence of impropriety in any of these contacts (the proposed business deal never materialised) the mere fact that they took place is enough for doubts to be expressed about Banks’s reasons for supporting the Leave campaign. Perhaps even more worrying for Banks is that scarcely anyone is coming forward to speak up for him.

Even a politically inconsequential figure like the pop singer Robbie Williams is now in the frame. Just over a year ago Williams gained wide applause for a song “Party like a Russian” which some people interpreted (wrongly in my opinion) as a critique of contemporary Russia. Today he is being roundly criticised for performing in Russia during the celebrations for the World Cup.

Russophobia Undermining British Democracy

The result of this intolerance is a sharp contraction in the freedom of Britain’s public space, with those who disagree on British policy towards Russia increasingly afraid to speak out.

Since establishment opinion in Britain conceives of itself as defending liberal democracy from attack by Russia, and since establishment opinion increasingly conflates liberal democracy with its own opinions, it follows that in its conception any challenge to its opinions is an attack on liberal democracy, and must therefore be the work of Russia.

This paranoid view has now become pervasive. No part of the traditional media is free of it. It has gained a strong hold on the BBC and it is fair to say that all the big newspapers subscribe to it. Anyone who does not has no future in British journalism.

This is disturbing in itself, but as with all forms of institutional paranoia, it is also having a damaging effect on the functioning of Britain’s institutions.

Amid Growing Influence of Intelligence 

One obvious way in which this manifests itself is in the extraordinary growth in both the visibility and influence of Britain’s intelligence services.

Historically the intelligence services in Britain have operated behind the scenes to the point of being almost invisible. Until the 1980s the very fact of their existence was in theory a state secret.

Today, as Dearlove’s article about Corbyn in the Daily Telegraph shows, their leaders and former leaders are not only public personalities, but the intelligence services have come increasingly to fill the role of gatekeepers, deciding who can be trusted to hold public office and who cannot.

Corbyn is far from being the only British politician to find himself under this sort of scrutiny.

Boris Johnson, some time before he became Britain’s Foreign Secretary, made what I am sure he now considers the mistake of writing an article in the Telegraph praising Russia’s role in the liberation of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria from ISIS.

The result was that on his appointment as foreign secretary, Johnson had a meeting with British intelligence chiefs who ‘persuaded’ him of the need to follow a tough line with Russia. He has in fact followed a tough line with Russia ever since.

Russophobia Infects the Legal System

Steele: Paid for political research, not intelligence.

Establishment hostility to Russia is also enabling interference by the intelligence services in the British legal process.

There is a widespread and probably true belief that the British intelligence services actively lobbied for the grant of asylum to the fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who they seem to have considered some sort of ‘agent of influence’ in Russia. This despite the fact that it is now widely acknowledged that Berezovsky’s background and activities in Russia should have denied him asylum in Britain.

However what is still largely rumour in Berezovsky’s case is indisputable fact in the Alexander Litvinenko case and in the Skripal cases.

I have previously explained how in the Litvinenko case the claim of Russian state involvement in Litvinenko’s murder made by the British public inquiry is not supported by the publicly available evidence.

What has now become clear is that the main evidence of Russian state involvement in Litvinenko’s murder was not the publicly available evidence, but evidence provided to the public inquiry in private by the British intelligence services. This evidence was seen only by the Judge who headed the inquiry, but seems to have had a decisive effect in forming his view of the case and shaping his report.

American readers may be interested to learn that this evidence was put together by none other than Christopher Steele, the person who gave us the “golden showers” dossier, which has played such an outsized role in the Russiagate affair.

How strong or reliable this evidence is it is impossible to say since, as it is secret, it cannot be independently scrutinised. All I would say is that on two other occasions when Steele is known to have produced similar reports about Russian state activities subsequent enquiries have failed to support them. One is Steele’s “golden showers” dossier, which the FBI has admitted it cannot verify, and which scarcely anyone any longer believes to be true. The other is a report produced by Steele which alleged that Russia had bought the 2018 World Cup by bribing FIFA officials, which subsequent investigation has found was untrue.

It turns out that the evidence used to support the British claim of Russian guilt in the Skripal case is the same: evidence provided in private by British intelligencewhich is not subject to independent scrutiny. As in the Litvinenko case, the British authorities have nonetheless not hesitated to use this evidence to declare publicly that Russia is guilty. This whilst a police investigation is still underway and before any suspect has been identified.

Indeed in the Skripal case the violation of due process has been so gross that it is not even denied. Instead articles have appeared in the British media which say that due process does not apply in cases involving Russia.

That there can be no rule of law without due process, and that excluding cases involving Russia from the need to follow due process is racist and discriminatory appears to concern no one.

Discrimination in Britain Against Russians

Where the intelligence services have led the way, others have been keen to follow.

Recently a House of Commons committee published a report which openly puts pressure on British law firms to refuse business from Russian clients. The best account of this has been provided by the Canadian academic Paul Robinson:

“……that leads me onto the thing which really struck me about this document [The House of Commons committee report – AM]. This was a statement about the British law firm Linklaters, which managed the flotation of EN+. Shortly before this, the report says ‘Both the EN+ IPO [Initial Public Offering] and the sale of Russian debt in London appear to have been carried out in accordance with the relevant rules and regulatory systems, and there is no obvious evidence of impropriety in a legal sense.Yet, it then goes on to say the following:

We asked Linklaters to appear before the committee to explain their involvement in the flotation of EN+ … They refused. We regret their unwillingness to engage with our inquiry and must leave others to judge whether their work at ‘the forefront of financial, corporate and commercial developments in Russiahas left them so entwined in the corruption of the Kremlin and its supporters that they are no longer able to meet the standards expected of a UK-regulated law firm.”

This is quite outrageous, and also cowardly. The committee in effect accuses Linklaters of corruption, while avoiding complaints of libel by use of the weasel words ‘we leave to others to judge’ – a way of making an accusation while claiming that one hasnt. Whats so outrageous about the statement is that comes straight after a confession that the EN+ flotation was completely above board. Linklaters didnt do anything wrong, and the House of Commons committee knows it. Nevertheless, it sees fit to suggest that the company is ‘no longer able to meet the standards expected of a UK-regulated law firm.

The implication here is that any company which has extensive dealings with Russian enterprises is ‘entwined in the corruption of the Kremlinand so unfit to do business. I cannot interpret this as anything other than an attempt by the committee to threaten British companies and intimidate them into dropping their lawful activities. I consider this disgraceful.

The committees attitude can be seen again towards the end of the report, when it writes that ‘instead of participating in the rules-based system, President Putins regime uses asymmetric methods to achieve its goals, and others – so-called useful idiots – magnify that effect by supporting its propaganda. So, there you have it. People who do with business with Russia are to be publicly shamed as unworthy of the standards expected of the British people, while those who would dare to point this sort of thing out are to be denounced as ‘useful idiots. Having any dealings with Russia makes one a Kremlin stooge.”

Taking their cue from the House of Commons committee, identical pressure on British law firms to refuse to act for

Russian clients is now coming from the media, as explained in this article by the Guardian’s Nick Cohen, which talks of potential Russian clients in these terms:

“In this conflict, it’s no help to think of oligarchs as businessmen. They are closer to the privileged servants of a warlord or mafia boss. Their wealth is held at Putin’s discretion. If they are told to buy influence in the Balkans or fund an alt-news website, they obey. Companies that raise funds on the London markets or oligarchs who move into Kensington mansions may look like autonomous organisations and individuals but, as Garry Kasparov told the committee: “They are agents of a rogue Russian regime, not businessmen. They are complicit in Putin’s countless crimes. Their companies are not international corporations, but the means to launder money and spread corruption and influence.”

To which I would add that in law-governed states even criminals have the right of legal representation and advice. In Britain, if the House of Commons committee and Nick Cohen gets their way, Russians – whether criminals or not – will be the exception.

What is so bizarre about this is that the spectre of massive Russian economic penetration of Britain conjured up by the House of Commons committee is so far removed from reality. The Economist (no friend of Russia) provides the actual figures:

“….the high profile of London’s high-rolling Russians belies the relatively small role that their money plays in the wider economy. Foreigners hold roughly £10 trillion of British assets. Russia’s share of that is just 0.25%, a smaller proportion than that of Finland and South Korea.

Parts of west London have acquired many new Russian residents, and shops to serve them (including an outfitter of armoured luxury cars). Yet even in “prime” London – that is, the top 5-10% of the market – buyers from eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union account for only 5% of sales, according to data from Savills, a property firm. Outside the capital’s swankiest districts, Russians’ influence is minuscule. The departure of oligarchs might affect prices on some streets in Kensington, but not beyond.

The same is true of Britain’s private schools. Some have done well out of Russian parents. But of the 53,678 foreign pupils who attend schools that belong to the Independent Schools Council, only 2,806 are Russian. China, by contrast, sends 9,008 pupils from its mainland, and a further 5,188 from Hong Kong.

Looking at these figures it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that it is the mere presence of Russians, not their number or their wealth or the illicit way in which some of them supposedly came by their money, which for the British establishment is the problem.”

Quite simply, Russians are not welcome, not because they are wealthy or because they are corrupt, but because they are Russians.

Against Russian Media

The same discriminatory approach appears to inform the persistent attacks launched by the British authorities against the Russian television broadcaster RT.

Over the last two years RT has had to repel an attempt by the British authorities to close down its British bank account, has been forced to respond to a succession of complaints from the British media regulator Ofcom, has faced threats of having its British broadcasting licence withdrawn, and has had to endure a campaign of vilification aimed in part at dissuading British public figures from appearing as guests on its programmes.

As to what exactly RT has done – other than vague and unspecific claims that it is a ‘propaganda’ channel – which justifies this treatment, has never been fully explained. 

Again it is difficult to avoid the impression that the British establishment’s fundamental problem with RT is that it is simply a Russian channel broadcasting in Britain that scrutinizes establishment policies and actions – a fundamental responsibility of journalism, which is largely missing in British media. 

Free speech is a human right in Britain except apparently for Russians.

This discriminatory approach towards Russia and Russians replicates the increasingly ugly and frankly racist way in which Russians are regularly depicted in Britain today.

As to the general effect of that on British society, I repeat here what I wrote back in 2016:

“Racial stereotyping is always something to complain about. It is dehumanising, intolerant and ugly. It is racist and profoundly offensive of its target. This is so whenever it is used to mock or label any ethnicity or national or cultural group. Russians are not an exception.

A society that indulges in it, and which tolerates those who do, forfeits its claim to anti-racism and interracial tolerance. The fact that it is treating just one ethnic group – Russians – in this way, denying them the moral and legal protection which it accords others, in no way diminishes its racism and intolerance. It emphasises it.”

British society is not just the poorer for it. It is deeply corrupted by it, and this corruption now touches every aspect of British life.

Britain Becoming Marginalised

If the result of the British establishment’s paranoia about Russia is deeply corrosive within Britain itself, its effect on British foreign policy has been entirely negative. 

At its most basic level it has meant a total breakdown in relations between Britain and Russia.

British and Russian leaders no longer talk to each other, and summit meetings between British and Russian leaders have come to a complete stop. Boris Johnson’s last visit to Russia is universally acknowledged to have been a complete failure, and following the Skripal affair British officials and members of Britain’s Royal Family are now even boycotting the World Cup in Russia.

Indeed British public statements about the World Cup have been all of a piece with the British establishment hostility to Russia, with Johnson recently comparing it to Hitler’s 1936 Olympics and with another House of Commons committee warning British fans of the supposed dangers of going to to Russia to watch them.

This complete absence of dialogue with Russia is a serious problem for Britain as some British officials quietly acknowledge.

Russia is after all a powerful nation and any state which still wishes to exercise influence on world affairs must engage with Russia in order to achieve it. The British establishment’s hostility to Russia however makes that impossible.

The result is that major international questions such as the Ukrainian crisis, the Syrian conflict and the gathering crisis in the Middle East caused by the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal – in all of which Russia is centrally involved – are being handled without British involvement.

May: Becoming a bit player.

Where Angela Merkel of Germany and Emmanuel Macron of France talk to Russia and have thereby managed to carve out for themselves important roles in world affairs, Britain’s Theresa May is a bit player.

However, instead of drawing the obvious conclusion from this, which is that refusing to talk to the Russians is the high road to nowhere, the British have doubled down, seeking to regain relevance by leading an international crusade against Moscow. 

The strategy – which bears the unmistakeable imprint of Johnson – was set out in grandiose terms in a recent article in The Guardian:

“The UK will use a series of international summits this year to call for a comprehensive strategy to combat Russian disinformation and urge a rethink over traditional diplomatic dialogue with Moscow, following the Kremlin’s aggressive campaign of denials over the use of chemical weapons in the UK and Syria.

British diplomats plan to use four major summits this year – the G7, the G20, Nato and the European Union – to try to deepen the alliance against Russia hastily built by the Foreign Office after the poisoning of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March.

The foreign secretary regards Russia’s response to Douma and Salisbury as a turning point and thinks there is international support to do more,” a Whitehall official said. “The areas the UK are most likely to pursue are countering Russian disinformation and finding a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons.”

Former Foreign Office officials admit that an institutional reluctance to call out Russia once permeated British diplomatic thinking, but say that after the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, that attitude is evaporating…..

Ministers want to pursue a broad Russian containment strategy at the coming summits covering cybersecurity, Nato’s military posture, sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs and a more comprehensive approach to Russian disinformation.”

It has taken no more than a few weeks since that article appeared on 3 May 2018 for this whole grandiose strategy to fall apart.

Not only have Merkel and Macron each visited Russia since the article was published, but Italy now has a new Russia-friendly government, and Spain may soon do so also. Adding insult to injury, Germany is now casting doubt on Britain’s actions following the Salisbury poisoning attack,

All of this however is eclipsed by Donald Trump’s comments at the G7 saying that Russia should be readmitted to the G7 and having his officials inform the British media that he is becoming increasingly irritated by the British prime minister’s lectures.

In the event not only did Trump fail to meet May one-to-one at the G7 summit, but he refused to agree the summit’s final communique, which criticised Russia.

Needless to say, amidst the collapse of the summit, the plan May had apparently intended to unveil at the summit for a new international rapid response unit to respond to Russian-backed assassinations and cyber attacks fell by the wayside.

Far from gaining relevance by leading an international crusade against Russia, the British are increasingly finding that no one else is interested and that May’s and the British establishment’s obsession with Russia instead of enhancing Britain’s importance is making Britain increasingly irrelevant.

Poisoning the International Atmosphere

The British establishment is in fact making the fundamental mistake of thinking that other countries not only share their obsession with Russia, but that they necessarily value their relations with Britain more than  with Russia.

This is a strange view given that Russia is arguably a more powerful nation than Britain.

It is nonetheless true that the British establishment’s anti-Russian fixation is having an internationally damaging effect.

Many Western governments have their own issues with Russia, and in such a situation it is not surprising that British paranoia about Russia finds a ready echo.

The most recent example of this is of course the orchestrated expulsion by various Western governments of Russian diplomats in the immediate aftermath of the Salisbury poisoning attack.

However the most damage has been done in the U.S.

Britain and Russia-gate

The full extent of the British role in the Russiagate scandal is not yet clear, but there is no doubt that it was both extensive and crucial.

The individual who arguably has played the single biggest role in generating the scandal is Christopher Steele, the compiler of the “golden showers” dossier, who is not only British but who is a former British intelligence officer.

It is now becoming increasingly clear – as Joe Lauria wrote last year in Consortium News– that the dossier has played a key role in the whole scandal, being accepted for many months by U.S. investigators – including it turns out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators – as providing the ‘frame-narrative’ for the case of alleged collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

The Steele dossier is in fact very much of a piece with the paranoid conception of Russia which has taken hold in Britain, though (as I have pointed out previously) the dossier’s description of how government decisions are made in Russia is absurd.

Critics of the dossier in the United States rightly draw attention to the fact that it is ‘research’ paid for by Donald Trump’s political opponents in the Hillary Clinton campaign, whilst there is also a view popular amongst some Republicans (wrongly in my opinion) that it is a provocation concocted by Russian intelligence in order to disrupt the U.S. election process and embarrass Trump.

By contrast, insufficient attention is paid, in my opinion, to the fact that it is a British compilation put together in Britain by a former British spy at a time when Britain is in the grip of a particularly bad bout of Russia paranoia.

Steele himself is someone who by all accounts has fully bought into this paranoia. Indeed his previous role in preparing reports about Russia’s supposed role in Litvinenko’s murder and the World Cup bid, and also apparently in the Ukrainian crisis, suggests that he has played no small role in creating it.

Steele is not however the only British official or former official to have played an active role in Russia-gate.

Steele himself is known for example to have a close connection to Dearlove, the former MI6 Director who called Corbyn “a clear and present danger.” It seems that Dearlove and Steele discussed the “golden showers” dossier at a meeting in London’s Garrick Club at roughly the same time that Steele was in contact about it with the FBI.

Another far more more important British official to have taken an active role in the Russiagate affair was Robert Hannigan, the head of GCHQ – Britain’s equivalent to the NSA – who visited the U.S. in the summer of 2016 to brief the CIA about British concerns over alleged contacts between the Russians and Trump’s campaign.

Hannigan: Brought Steele dossier to the CIA.

Though Hannigan’s trip to Washington in the summer of 2016 was first spoken of in April 2017, it has never been confirmed that the Steele dossier, which he brought with him to show to the CIA, was part of the evidence of supposed contacts between the Russians and Trump’s campaign.  That it was, however, is strongly suggested by an article in The Washington Post on June 23, 2017, which amongst other things said the following:

“Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump…..

The CIA breakthrough came at a stage of the presidential campaign when Trump had secured the GOP nomination but was still regarded as a distant long shot. Clinton held comfortable leads in major polls, and Obama expected that he would be transferring power to someone who had served in his Cabinet.

The intelligence on Putin was extraordinary on multiple levels, including as a feat of espionage.

For spy agencies, gaining insights into the intentions of foreign leaders is among the highest priorities. But Putin is a remarkably elusive target. A former KGB officer, he takes extreme precautions to guard against surveillance, rarely communicating by phone or computer, always running sensitive state business from deep within the confines of the Kremlin.”

This almost certainly refers to the early entries of Steele’s dossier, which is the only report known to exist which claims to have been “sourc[ed from] deep inside the Russian government [and to have detailed] Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the US Presidential race”.

The Washington Post says that the CIA’s report to Obama drew on “critical technical intelligence on Russia provided by another country”.

That points to Hannigan being the source, with Hannigan being known to have visited the U.S. and to have briefed the CIA at about the time the CIA sent its report to Obama.

Hannigan likely provided the CIA with a mix of wiretap evidence and the first entries of the dossier.

The wiretap evidence probably detailed the confused but ultimately innocuous contacts the young London- based Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos was having at this time with the Russians. It is highly likely the British were keeping an eye on him at the request of the U.S., which the British would have been able to do for the U.S. without a FISA warrant since Papadopoulos was based in Britain.

Taken together with the first entries of the dossier, the details of Papadopoulos’s activities could easily have been misconstrued to conjure up a compelling case of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Given the paranoid atmosphere about Russia in Britain it would not be surprising if this alarmed Hannigan.

Needless to say if extracts from the dossier really were provided to the CIA by the head of one of Britain’s most important intelligence agencies, then it becomes much easier to understand why the CIA and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community took it so seriously.

Halper: Infiltrated Carter and Trump campaigns.

Then there is the case of Stefan Halper, an American academic lecturing at Cambridge University, who is friends and a business partner with Dearlove.  Halper was inserted by the FBI into the Trump campaign in early July 2016 to befriend Papadopoulos in London.  In 1980, the CIA inserted Halper into Jimmy Carter’s reelection campaign to help the Reagan camp by stealing information, including a Carter briefing book before a presidential debate.

Suffice to say that just as the British origin of the dossier has in my opinion been overlooked, so has the extent to which it circulated and was given credence in top circles within Britain before it made its full impact in the United States.

Overall, though the extent of the British role in the Russiagate affair is still not fully known, what information exists points to it being very substantial and important. In fact it is unlikely that the Russiagate scandal as we know it would have happened without it.

As such the Russiagate scandal serves as a good example of how British paranoia about Russia can infect the political process in another Western country, in this case the U.S.

Campaigning against Russia

Russia-gate is in fact only the most extreme example of the way that Britain’s anti-Russian obsession has damaged the international environment, though because of the effect it has had on the development of domestic politics in the United States it is the most important.

There have been countless others. The British have for example been the most implacable supporters amongst the leading Western powers of the ongoing sanctions drive against Russia. Britain for instance is known to have actively – though so far unsuccessfully – lobbied for Russian banks to be cut off from the SWIFT interbank payments system, which were it ever to happen would be by far the most severe sanction imposed by the West on Russia to date.

Beyond the effect on the international climate of the constant anti-Russian lobbying of the British government, there is the further effect of the ceaseless drumbeat of anti-Russian agitation which pours out of the British media and various British-based organisations and NGO.

These extend from well-established organisations like Amnesty International – which misrepresented the case against the Pussy Riot performers by claiming that they had been jailed for “holding a gig in a church” – to other less established organisations such Bellingcat and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, both of which are based in Britain. As it happens, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is known to have received funding from the British government, as apparently have the White Helmets.

In addition Bill Browder, the businessman who successfully lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, and who has since then pursued a relentless campaign against Russia, is now also based in Britain and has British citizenship.

The great international reach of the British media – the result of the worldwide use of the English language and the international respect some parts of British media such as the BBC still command – means that this constant stream of anti-Russian publicity pouring out of Britain has a worldwide impact and is having an effect that has to be taken into account in any study of current international relations.

Rami Abdul Rahman: The one-man Observatory

The Price of an Obsession

The British establishment’s obsession with Russia is something of a puzzle.

Britain today is not a geopolitical rival of Russia’s as it was in the nineteenth century and as the U.S. is today. British antagonism to Russia cannot therefore be explained as the product of a geopolitical conflict.

Russia is not a military or political threat to Britain. There is no history of Russia threatening or invading Britain. Russia is not an economic rival, and Russian penetration of the British economy is minimal and vastly exaggerated.

It is sometimes said that there are things about modern Russia that the British find culturally, ideologically or politically distasteful, and that this is the reason for Britain’s intense hostility to Russia. However Britain has no difficulty being best of friends with all sorts of countries such as the Gulf Monarchies or China which are culturally, ideologically and politically far more different from Britain than Russia is. Logically that should make them more distasteful to Britain than Russia is, but it doesn’t seem to do so. In these cases economic interests clearly take precedence over any concerns for human rights.

Ultimately however the precise cause of the British establishment’s obsession with Russia does not actually matter. What does matter is that it is an obsession, which should be recognised as such, and that like all other obsessions is ultimately destructive.

In Britain’s case the obsession is not only corrupting Britain’s domestic politics and the working of its institutions.

It is also marginalising Britain, limiting its options, and causing growing exasperation amongst some of its friends.

In addition it blinds the British to their opportunities. If the British were able to put their obsession with Russia behind them they might notice that at a time when they are quitting the European Union Russia potentially has a great deal to offer them.

It is sometimes said that Britain produces very little that Russia needs, and it is indeed the case that trade between Russia and Britain is very small, and that most of Russia’s import needs are met by countries like Germany and China.

However Britain is able to provide Russia with the single thing that Russia arguably needs most at this stage in its development. This is not machinery or technology, all of which it is perfectly capable of producing itself, but the one thing it is truly short of: investment capital.

In the nineteenth century British capital played a key role in the industrialisation of America and in the opening up of the American West. There is no logical reason why it could not do something similar today in Russia. Indeed the marriage between Europe’s biggest financial centre (Britain) and Europe’s potentially most productive economy (Russia) is an obvious one.

In the twentieth century Britain’s long history of economic involvement in the U.S. paid handsome political dividends. Perhaps the same might one day be the case between Britain and Russia. Regardless of that, economic engagement with Russia would at least provide Britain with a plan for an economic future outside the EU, something which because of Brexit it urgently needs but which currently it completely lacks.

For anything like that to happen the British will first have to address the reality of their obsession, and the damage it is doing to them. At that point they might even start to do something about it. Britain’s relative success since the 1960s in overcoming other forms of racism and prejudice which had long existed in Britain shows that such a thing is possible if the problem is recognised and addressed. However I have to say that there is no sign of it happening at the moment.

In the meantime the rest of the world needs to understand that when it comes to Russia, the British are suffering from a serious affliction. Failing to do that risks the infection spreading, with the disastrous consequences we have seen with the Russia-gate scandal in the US.

There is even a chance that refusing to listen to the British about Russia might have a good effect on Britain. If the British realise that the world is no longer listening to them then they might start to understand the extent of their own problem.

If so than the world would be doing Britiain a favour, even if at the moment the British cannot see it.

Alexander Mercouris is a political commentator and editor of The Duran.

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100 comments for “Letter From Britain: An Establishment Blinded By Russophobia

  1. Andre
    June 22, 2018 at 04:41

    Thank sonce again, Alexander, for a clear, well researched and judiciously grounding article.
    Such a pity these kind of articles are far and few between and completely absent in MSM.

  2. June 21, 2018 at 23:48

    an excellent piece. thanks.

    ray mcgovern

  3. Karl Sanchez
    June 21, 2018 at 16:11

    Given the paranoia’s existed since the mid 1800s, it would be difficult to pin on the Outlaw US Empire’s Deep State? I think it’s rooted in the British elite’s need to control its populace at a time when their control’s ebbing away–Brexit and efforts to annul the Union through Scottish and Welsh independence. Such need for control would be understood by the Deep State and thus the provided help.

  4. Anne Streeter
    June 21, 2018 at 16:10

    Canada, under Prime Minister Trudeau and Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. is also anti Russia. For Minister Freeland, it too seems to be an obsession. Her intense hatred of the country has sadly dragged Canada into supporting the illegal government of Ukraine while not talking to Russia. Freeland is of Ukrainian decent (her grandfather was a well known Nazi collaborator). She is barred from Russia. I find this more than strange behaviour from a person who is essentially Canada’s top diplomat!

  5. Litchfield
    June 19, 2018 at 18:24

    “There is no logical reason why it could not do something similar today in Russia. Indeed the marriage between Europe’s biggest financial centre (Britain) and Europe’s potentially most productive economy (Russia) is an obvious one.”

    Logically, Russia should beware of Britain and steer clear of financial entanglements if possible. Albion is just as perfidious as ever—as Mercouris makes patently clear—and it is a mystery to me why Mercouris would advise Britain to invest its money in Russia. That is, such a scenario is NOT in Russia’s interest and hence not in the interest of international peace. So, it is just s well that the Brits are so consumed by their obsession that they are unable to focus on sending their financial tentacles into Russia.

    Comment box at the bottom of the comment thread and the backward chronological sequence of commehnts continues to be annoying and quite confusing. Totally counter-intuitive.

  6. Anonymot
    June 19, 2018 at 15:37

    An intelligent, reasoned, backed up article.

    Fox and the NT Times are like heads and tails of a coin with the CIA in the middle pulling the strings of both. The poor, old Guardian has become the puppet to the NYT ventriloquist. Worse, There’s a possibility that the CIA that is merely the enforcer for the Deep State Mindset controls not only the U.S. intelligence, but also the British. It was once common to call the British “American lap dogs”, because they so rarely said anything but Yes to U.S. wishes.

    One of the things for which the CIA is famous is its consistent ability to Fail with a capital F. From the 1930s and its violent anti-Communist Soviet Union stance of many American capitalist super-rich, the lineage can be traced through the Bush family, starting with neo-fascist Prescott who had to be ordered by Washington to stop financing the Nazi war machine in1942 – after the war had started! Bush, filthy rich, decided to infect politics and became a Senator.

    When his son GHW became President after being the Director of the CIA, he moved the CIA into the White House and upgraded them from counselors of Presidents on foreign policy to being the actual policy makers. That continued and hardened constantly under Republicans and Democrats. Trump, President Putz, rails against them, but has not been able to dampen Deep States’ influence.

    I would, therefore, have no problem believing Mr. Mercouris’ point of view and that it was all set up as another see-how bad- the Russians-are by the CIA. One more Fail.With a UK assist.

    • DH Fabian
      June 20, 2018 at 00:52

      Now, just add in the Reagan/Thatcher alliance… Americans prefer to keep things simple. The popular “battle cry” is “Russia stole the election/Israel controls Congress.” Scapegoating has always been common during periods of economic deterioration and distress. Early Nazi Germany is a classic example of this.

  7. victor antitrobe
    June 19, 2018 at 14:53

    russians and brits fought in western asia during the 19th century russian expansion. brits could contain neither military nor commercial development by russia. the perceived threat posed by russia re: british india still resonates today. eternal international antipathy requires both a historical and ‘ongoing’ cause. like any garden-variety feud since the beginning of civilization [yes, i’m a yank]. without ongoing cause only intercultural dissonance remains, i.e., native americans, slovaks, and the glorious welsh. without historical antecedents, the conflict dissolves of its own accord. and then of course there is the fact that england has been selected as the belligerent mouthpiece of nato [i.e., the american/brit corporate military complex]. in short, the antipathy of brits to russia in general is just one of many causes of brit societal ineptitude. neo-colonialism is well underway albeit british colonial mistakes preclude active involvement, i.e., economic morass and another scapegoat. it was the jews in 1280 and now it’s the ruskies. don’t feel too bad: we locked up all of our japanese citizens and burned quite a few of the chinese sojourners. things happen.

    • Rick Lujan
      June 19, 2018 at 19:50

      the good gentleman whom summarized the intricacies of OUR western democracies obsessions … I’m with Victor

  8. Antiwar7
    June 18, 2018 at 15:42

    The European “Great Powers” have feared, and hence hated and denigrated, Russia since at least the 1800’s (for examples, see the Crimean War of 1853–1856, as noted by the author, and the Congress of Berlin, 1878, which gave the newly independent Bosnia-Herzegovina to Austria). Russia is huge, and they fear it.

    Well-written, substantive article.

  9. Andrew Nichols
    June 17, 2018 at 20:42

    The current outbreak of traditional Brit Russophobia is a symptom of an inferiority complex as a post Brexit Britain that even the US sees as relatively irrelevant as a global player. 70 yrs after Indian Independence which was also the end of the Empire it’s finally coming home to roost that GB is now rapidly fading in importance and will eventually become like Greece is today – just another medium sized nation with significance proportionate to its smaller status.

    • Litchfield
      June 19, 2018 at 18:28

      I don’t substantially disagree, but as Mercouris also points out, the Brits can continue to puinch above their weight because of the language and the sophistication of the PR/press machine internationally.

      • Litchfield
        June 19, 2018 at 18:33

        And just to note: The “replies” are now above the original item.This seems to ahve been the case since the death of RP.
        This annoying need for mental convolutions really should be fixed at Consortium News. In fact, since I am about to get a different credit card number and will have to re-enter my info for my regular monthly donation to CN, I hereby state that I shall not renew my monthly contribution until this silly nonsense of reverse chronology on comment threads is fixed. It is, simply, ludicrous. An easy fix would be to provide an option for commenters to choose whether they want to read comments “most recent first” or “most recent last (and replies also in the proper place, under the item replied to).”

        • Skip Scott
          June 23, 2018 at 07:26

          Actually the replies are below the comment they are replying to. The comments are now posted from the bottom up. However, I agree I liked the original chronological ordering better.

  10. Eddie
    June 17, 2018 at 16:23

    Great to read some ‘deep background’ from a more objective perspective on this subject! It certainly presents a lot more plausible sounding version than the Russian government doing a ‘hit’ on someone by using radioactive material or chemical agents —- why wouldn’t they use the tried-and-true gun/knife/strangulation/etc or household poisons that would be less traceable?

    The article also offers a good (albeit partial) explanation for the US’ Russia-phobia.

  11. Communist
    June 17, 2018 at 11:47

    ‘Not only is the fact Russia was Britain´s ally in the war against nazi germany […]’.

    It was Soviet Union who was Britain´s ally in the war against nazi Germany – Not Russia!

    Capitalist Russia is not Soviet Union.

    Anti-communism (against Soviet) from all parts of West was worse than todays russiphobia, but then you didn´t complaind.
    In todays Russia workers living in almost like slavery condtion.

    • Miguel
      June 20, 2018 at 10:38

      Workers in Russia must have it tough, Communist, probably just as bad in the USA, and the UK.

      • Communist
        June 21, 2018 at 10:32

        Exactly! But some communist and socialist are supporting the conservative Russian government and President Putin, and ignore that fact that the working class in Russia very poore!
        You can read more about this on this page:

        The page belongs to Russian Communist Workers Party.

        Marx: Workers of the World, Unite!
        (Wikipedia: The slogan [Workers of the Wold, Unite!] was the Soviet Union´s state motto, and it eppeared in the State Emblem of the Soviet Union […])

        • Constantine
          June 21, 2018 at 14:26

          Communists are fairly conservative themselves on certain social issues. Plus, it is an undeniable fact that the situation has become better for the Russian workers during Putin’s rule, even if there is admittedly a continuing social inequality, an important factor for the support towards the KPRF.

          But it is absolutely wrong to completely differentiate the RF from the USSR. The Russian nation proudly honors and celebrates its victory over the Nazis, just as the Soviet Union itself honored the victory of Imperial Russia over Napoleon.

          • Communist
            June 22, 2018 at 05:29

            I don´t agree with you. The conservative is from neoliberalism ideologi. Remember Reagan and Thatcher? It was Reagan and Thatcher who introduce neolibalism, and they belonged to the conservative movement. They was very much anticommunists! And they was very much guilty of the Soviet Union collapse.
            One of the famous in the conservative moment is Pinochet – who killed more than 30,000 kommunist and other people in South America.

            The communists is working Power – not bourgeoisi power (like conservvative movemnet), we subbort abortition, we support no Church, and so on, Just read Marx.
            It was not only Russians. There was many people from all over the Soviet republics – like the Ukraine, the Armenia, ans so on – who proudly fought over the Nazi.

            No, the Russians wokring class are nott better during Putin´s rule. Many Russian oligarch are not paying out the wages to the workers, workes has no rights on workingpalce, poore people lives on the street, and so on.

          • Communist
            June 22, 2018 at 05:52

            Ronald Reagan belonged to the conservative movement.

          • Communist
            June 23, 2018 at 03:09
    June 17, 2018 at 11:20

    The UK, like the US and much of eastern Europe, has a Fascism problem. It is a great and ever growing threat to modern Liberalism and its key concepts of autonomy of the individual, civil and political liberty, government by law with the consent of the governed and protection from arbitrary authority.

  13. June 17, 2018 at 11:01

    interesting that trump is doing everything Putin would want to breK UP NATO…

    • Skip Scott
      June 20, 2018 at 13:11

      Rachel, is that you?

  14. anastasia
    June 17, 2018 at 08:54

    At this point, the Russiaphobia is beyond the absurd. They have been calling me a Russian for some time now because of my name, but myname is pronounced Anna-sta-CEEYA, not “Anna-stay-ZAH”

    It appears to me that the more Christian that country becomes (their Patriarch is one of the finest examples of “Christian” I have seen in a long time), the more the atheistic west hates them.

    But I noticed something else in the news just yesterday. Americans were “warned” that there may be terrorist acts in Russia during the World Cup and advised them not to go. They are not as overt as the British. Apparently, there are more Americans there in Russia for that event than any other country.

    But yesterday, there was an incident in which a taxi driver in Russia car rode up onto the sidewalk driving wildly, injuring people. The pedestrians pulled him out of the car, and were going to beat him, and he fled screaming “it wasn’t me.” The west insinuated that it may be a “terrorist” attack. The man driving responded that it was “not deliberate”. .

    For a few years now, I have been noticing in the US that cars are being driven into houses and storefronts, and there are simply too many of these incidents not to have aroused interest. I have never seen so many drivers of cars smashing into houses. How can that be? When I started to peruse reports on the interenet, I noticed that the media rarely explains how it happened.
    Yet, smashing your car into a house or storefront) demands explanation.

    I had also read that the US security agencies have the capability of taking control of your ca, whether or not you are behind the wheel. At the time, I thought that they maybe the security agencies were experimenting with their newfound ability to take control of people’s cars because the incidents were far too numerous not to notice.

    The US warned people not to go to Russia for the World Cup because of possible “terrorist” events that may occur. This latest event, the west is trying very hard to call a “terrorist” act, but the driver and the Russians say it was an accident.

    Maybe it was a “terrorist” act, but I still suspect that the driver may not be guilty of it.. https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/world-cup-2018-horror-mexican-12722910

    • Skip Scott
      June 18, 2018 at 06:02

      Vault 7 disclosed that the CIA can remotely take control of some of the newer model vehicles, including disabling the brakes. Many of us “tin foil hatters” believe they killed Michael Hastings this way, as he was working on an article exposing some of John Brennan’s dirty secrets.

    • Miguel
      June 20, 2018 at 10:44

      I would personally advise travellers wishing to travel to the US not to go there. It’s a much more dangerous country, considering the fact you can be shot by a police officer, or killed by a mugger, a crazed gunman, or even a Tesla out of control!

  15. June 17, 2018 at 00:52

    Dissertation-length article, please consider editing such pieces (or running as a series), CN doesn’t need to turn itself into Counterpunch.

    “This hostility – at least from the British side – is not easy to understand…”

    The phobia in Russophobia, for a long time at least, was British fear of Russia stealing the jewel in Britain’s crown – India.

  16. Pedro Ghirotti
    June 16, 2018 at 20:15

    No surprise here. Britain has been a dictatorship for quite awhile now. Two parties, a queen, and a hord of idiots. Let them sink into nothingness, taking all those filthy corrupt City bankers.

  17. Paolo
    June 16, 2018 at 17:18

    What might you expect from someone called Dearlove?
    It reminds me of Strangelove, the doomsday machine and How He Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

  18. June 16, 2018 at 14:24

    The Janet Daley quote criticizing Putin’s Russia seems to more accurately describe of the current Anglo-American regimes…“The modern Russian economy is a form of gangster capitalism largely unencumbered by legal or political restraint”

  19. Winston
    June 16, 2018 at 07:32

    Russia only wants to be included with every other European country. It has tried for hundreds of years since Peter the Great, however European elite, as you have pointed out, want no part of them. The Russian people have been referred to as sub-human and animals for centuries. It is blatant racism and has caused western mankind nothing but death.

    • susan sunflower
      June 16, 2018 at 14:09

      As a rustic American, i was shocked a few years ago to learn that much of “old Europe” never really embraced even Imperial Russia as “people like us” … too Asiatic, too nouveau … The British as the great colonizer considered most (possibly all of the rest) of the planet to be inhabited by barbarians unworthy of concern or voiced opinion… quelle suprise!

  20. Piotr Berman
    June 16, 2018 at 06:13

    “Whataboutery” is sometimes derided, but comparative analysis is a legitimate analytical tool if used with due diligence.

    A little example: decades ago, as a high school pupil and history buff I have read a book on Peter the Great by an English author, translated into Polish. Nothing particularly wrong about the book, but the introductory chapter on Russia had something like that “Although Russia adopted Christianity in 10-th century, it retain substantial vestiges of Paganism.” While innocent, it is actually bizarre. Some folklore may be attributed to Pagan beliefs, but it pales in comparison to rich folklore in British islands, and it is very hard to argue that pagan inspirations in traditional holidays is any weaker in England than in Russia (e.g. why they decorate with mistletoe).

    Russia is described as corrupt, repressive and with rising fascism. Interestingly, when Georgia picked a fight with Russia and asked to be treated as a champion of the free world, the West refrained active help, and British press actually noted that Georgia leaders, ostensibly “democratic”, copied from Putin all practices that were derided in the West, although with less finesse. When we read about lack of freedom of expression in Russia we can find citations from publications that appear in Moscow. Pussy Riot, a group more silly than not-so-high punk rock average was celebrated as repression victim because they were tried under a law with 7 year maximum sentence, were sentenced to 2 years — the judge probably took into account that the accused were young, pretty and very silly, and were released early. Given aggravated trespassing and profanation, I dare say that they would get at least as much in England. Yet, in spite of sheer stupidity, they were awarded the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought (2014).

    Now lets compare the Russian repression with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a very valuable, actually, lucrative, ally of USA, UK. It is easy to see that they would be severely punished after the first of their illegal pranks, and while death penalty would be applicable, probably similarly sexist judges would take female silliness into account and they would get extremely painful lashes over a year or two. But if they managed to behave obscenely in a major cultic location as they did in Moscow, I am afraid that they would be beheaded, silly or not silly.

    Can we compare “rule of law” in Saudi business to Russia? Not really, large Saudi companies seem to have made fortunes on royal patronage, kickbacks had phenomenal scale, and the current ruler took upon himself to strip a very large number of allegedly corrupt individuals of their fortunes using purely gangster methods — keeping them hostage and beating until they cough out some billions. Would a parliamentary committee grill an investment bank for doing business with Saudi clients?

    • vinnieoh
      June 17, 2018 at 12:23

      As a former trumpet player I’m partial to brassy compositions, and consequently one of my favorite composers is Mikhail Glinka. The old LP I have contains several pieces from a suite he composed based on Pushkin’s epic poem “Ruslan and Ludmilla.” The poem was a veritable tour de force of all preceding Russian mythology. But if I’m not mistaken it was meant to portray the victory of reason and modernity over superstition and antiquity. And there is hardly anything I’m aware of in Russian history that is any worse or different from any other corner of humanity.

      Regarding the thrust of this article, I’ll turn again to another of my favorite Russians, Fyodor Dostoevsky. My brother recently reminded me of a passage from Dostoevsky’s classic “The Brothers Karamotsov” where old man Karamotsov – the quintessential scum bag – was explaining to a friend: “I played a dirty trick on that man once, and I’ve hated him ever since.”

  21. john wilson
    June 16, 2018 at 04:08

    One poster here points out that even the Daily Mail posters all poured derision on the ludicrous Skripal nonsense. Anyway, even the stupid elite like that oaf, Adonis, and most of the halfwits in the British MSM are unable to convince the British people that there are reds under the bed.
    RT NOW HAS A HUGE FOLLOWING OF BRITISH VIEWERS AND IT IS GROWING BY THE DAY, SO RUSSIA PHOBIA IS IN THE MINDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THEIR STOOGES IN MSM AND ESPECIALLY SO IN THE BBC. No, the public just don’t buy this rubbish about Russia phobia if they did they wouldn’t be watching RT in their millions. Mercouris often makes an appearance on RT and is always interesting and informative, so if you haven’t seen RT’s “cross talk” show, then give it a try.

  22. vinnieoh
    June 16, 2018 at 02:02

    After coming to his point that the elites in the UK are united in their Russophobia, Mr. Mercouris comes to the underwhelming conclusion that at its core, it is just an irrational obsession. It may be pathetic, alarmist, or possibly even just telegraphed, but it isn’t irrational. The sun now rises on the British Empire in the English Channel and sets on it in the Irish Sea, and the international influence that remains to the elites resides in the stodgy halls of London finance and in the spider holes of British spooks and spies. No longer does the British Royal Navy rule the sea, and the ancient civilizations once under its exploitive thumb are free of them or under the thumb of their successors. Without the continuation of their usurious comfort and the ability to ignite the occasional Machiavellian intrigue, the elites will just have to face the fact that they are a small island group off the coast of the Eurasian continent. Or so this verdict of their own tarnished pride they would embrace as history turns the page on them. And Mercouris actually suggests the remedy. The Russkies need money – capital investment.

    The US led sanctions against Russian interests have had an impact. Lest we forget Rex Tillerson, of not so distant Exxon fame, was feted by the Russians. Not because he’s just a swell guy or puts on a great barbecue, but because his circle of wealthy allies entered into joint development agreements with the major Russian energy companies for projects not only in Russia proper all the way up into the arctic circle, but also in SE Asia and all of the ‘stans between Russia proper and Iran and Afghanistan. It’s true; when I was researching it, according to financial documents of record, US investors held the majority shares of interest in all of the gas and oil prospects being investigated in the ‘stans. Partly as a legacy of the Soviet Union, the only existing pipelines ready to serve these new fields are Russian, and many run to Russia proper. Doesn’t make sense yet, does it?

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, the US frack gas boom had already produced much more gas than the US could consume, and it’s a simple fact that that gas generates no wealth until it is marketed, and that is why we’re building LNG terminals on all coasts. In 2014 the DOE produced a study commissioned by the Obama administration that asked the question “would exporting LNG to Europe and China from the Marcellus and Utica shale basins increase overall greenhouse gas emissions?” It purported to be a “cradle to grave” analysis comparing that to the alternatives of the extant European coal industry and the natural gas piped from existing Russian northern fields. By the slimmest of margins, the LNG nosed under the Eurasian coal and gas alternatives. One flaw I noticed is that the analysis ended with the arrival of the tankers in Rotterdam and Shanghai, so it didn’t quite stumble into the grave.

    But, to me, being a tree-hugger and all, I thought the more important question should have been “will it help REDUCE ghg emissions?” Silly old tree-hugger. BUT WAIT, there’s more. Don’t touch that dial.

    For decades before the coup in Ukraine and everything that then ensued, Ukraine and the Soviets cum RF had been feuding over the gas pipelines crossing Ukraine from Russia to Europe. Royalty fees to be paid to Ukraine for right of transport and agreements to supply gas to Ukraine in lieu of royalties were agreed upon. It wasn’t too long before accusations of improper royalty fees, shorted payments, and withholding of promised gas supplies erupted and then escalated, and had reached an impasse just before the coup. Remember the $15bn financial aid packages proffered by both Russia and a US-led European alliance to Ukraine just before the axe fell? This was part of the equation.

    But wait, there’s even more. Get your credit cards ready!

    Around the time the US conceived the plan to remove a nation-sized chunk of the Russian pipelines from RF control, Royal Dutch Shell in northwestern Ukraine and Chevron in Eastern Ukraine entered into joint development agreements with Ukrainian interests to develop – wait for it – shale gas fields there! As a matter of fact, if you take a map of the portions of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian sympathetic rebels, it overlays perfectly the boundaries of the shale gas field that Chevron was going to develop. Both Shell and Chevron have since backed out of those agreements. But, as coups go, this one was a doozy.

    Russia is now building pipelines in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea to circumvent Ukraine into Europe. Yes, they need capital infusion. They’re sitting on a wealth of hydrocarbons, with a mostly captive market willing to take, and they need cash to make it work.

    I didn’t know anything about this author or The Duran from which he hails, so I did my homework. My due diligence revealed that The Duran is a media outlet promoting Russian interests. I’m just saying. I’m agnostic on the matter. I’ve accepted that everyone has an agenda, and just about everything that is written is meant to persuade, especially here in the s**t show of 2018. But I do have a large beef with Russia, and one they cannot assuage or would be willing.

    The Paris Climate Accord is an admittedly toothless agreement, yet as an international diplomatic accomplishment I’d give it a B-minus. The Russian Federation was about the only major nation not to sign it, and the Politburo decided not to even bring it up for consideration until this year. Russia will not be a partner to any serious effort to combat Global Warming and Climate Change. They won’t because they can’t. Russia does have a diversified economy, but they will exploit their hydrocarbon wealth as long and as hard as they can.

    So what has got the Brit spooks and spies and the moneyed gentry’s panties in a bunch? Are they just running interference for Uncle Sugar? There are many competing interests and moving parts. Let’s not forget Saudi Arabia’s gambit to cripple the new US energy boom, and all their despised rivals to boot. I’m just a deplorable hick from fly-over rust belt America, stuck smack dab in the middle of the Marcellus and the Utica, with the glib promises of 100 years of energy security and jobs! jobs! jobs! ringing my ears. You want to talk about arrogance? The major pipeline they’re building from here to the East Coast they’ve named “Mariner.” Take that you crotchety old tree-hugger. I’ve gotten to the point that I wonder if it matters, ’cause we’re all gonna burn.

    • Litchfield
      June 19, 2018 at 18:47

      “It wasn’t too long before accusations of improper royalty fees, shorted payments, and withholding of promised gas supplies erupted and then escalated, ”

      You are right that gas was an ongoing source of political tensions between Ukraine and Russia and also a driver of political developments within Ukraine. But you neglect to mention that Ukraine was also a most unreliable business partner, often failing to pay for their gas, or unable to do so, or redirecting gas destined for Europe into their own storage facilities, or having technical breakdowns that prevented the gas from reaching European customers, etc. etc. Russia kept Ukraine afloat and functioning, gas-wise. The Ukrainians are an unreliable bunch, also playing games with the EU against Russia. This is why Russia long ago decided it had to find ways for its Europe-bound gas to bypass Ukraine.

      • vinnieoh
        June 20, 2018 at 12:52

        The improper royalty fees I referred to were those demanded by Ukraine, and you’re absolutely correct to clarify my imprecision. When I was reading/researching about that it was clear to me that both sides were unfaithful in their contractual obligations, hence the escalation of countermeasures and “punishments.” I didn’t intend to drop all blame in Russia’s lap for what happened, though I see how you might suspect that was my purpose.

        I stated that Russia won’t be a reliable partner in addressing global warming and climate change. Again, I don’t mean to drop all future blame in Russia’s lap, because the de facto political reality in the US is neither will we be a part of the solution rather than the problem. If anything I meant to show how intertwined the hydrocarbon economy is, and how the interests of global energy moguls overlap. Beyond that, that the British elite are jealous and resentful that while their financial and ideological influence declines, Russia and the East rises.

    • June 20, 2018 at 08:03

      The author’s habitual stance is to frame an argument within defined parameters and, thereby, ‘prove’ his point. He uses the ‘beloved of the British’ prosecutor/defence dialectic which engages the emotions (two legs good, four legs bad) and flatters the intellect (I, the educated person I am, can follow this ‘solid’ legal argument). The agenda may be out of focus, as yet, but the manipulative aroma isn’t.

      • vinnieoh
        June 20, 2018 at 13:01

        And what you said is what prompted me to due diligence. The context of association is relevant, and being claustrophobic I sensed the framing you spoke of. There was much I agreed with and appreciated from the editorial, especially the factual reporting of the fear-mongering of many British elites. Only being semi-educated I often rely on instinct and observation, which sometimes guides me off a cliff or into a wall.

  23. Hans Zandvliet
    June 15, 2018 at 23:10

    Brilliant artikle Alexander!
    Thank you very much

  24. mark
    June 15, 2018 at 22:44

    Very shrewd piece as usual from AM.
    All the current hoaxes – Russiagate/ Syria/ Skripal and the rest, will prove to be the final nails in the coffin of the MSM, shredding what little credibility remains after Iraq/ Libya/ Ukraine.
    The current frantic attempts to control and censor dissent should be seen as signs of weakness, not strength. The Establishment and Deep State realise the jig is up. Populations are rejecting their leadership every chance they get – Brexit, the elections of Trump and Corbyn, election results in one country after another in Europe, whatever you think of those things individually, all represent a revolt from below.
    Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine – all abject failures. Couple these with likely economic/ final collapses on the horizon.

  25. HLT
    June 15, 2018 at 18:55

    Greate article, thanks! If this is what the Guardian wrote, that alone makes all of their Russian-articles pure propaganda: “…following the Kremlin’s aggressive campaign of denials over the use of chemical weapons in the UK and Syria.”. How can denying something be aggressive? This is nothing more or less than just propaganda, der Voelkische Beobachter could not have done it better during the 1930s, only it would have pointed to a Jewish world conspiracy instead of a Russian one.

  26. KiwiAntz
    June 15, 2018 at 18:51

    Russiagate & Russia bashing is the “go to” excuse used when you want to divert the masses attention away from the real issues in Britain or for that matter, in America! Trumps election win; blame Russia. Hillary Clinton’s election loss; blame Russia! In England,Tory Govts delayed Brexit negotiations, blame Russia; faked chemical attacks; blame Russia; Grenfield tower fire caused by dodgy building materials; (if they haven’t already) blame Russia & the list of excuses mount up if anymore is willing to buy this boulderdash! And the English have historically always hated the Russians especially when the Bolshevik’s wiped out the Romanov Royal Family who had close links to the British Royal Family & Europe’s Royals through their inbred marriage arrangements! So if all else fails & you want to play the ultimate shell game to divert attention away, it’s got to be, blame RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA! It’s all RUSSIA’S fault STUPID!

    • June 16, 2018 at 04:21

      We in the USA aren’t all falling for the propaganda.

      • Ash
        June 16, 2018 at 17:06

        Unfortunately, enough are to make the rest of us marginal.

  27. Jeff Harrison
    June 15, 2018 at 18:32

    An excellent piece. I have just one question. Why would Mr. Banks report his contacts to the CIA and not MI6?

    Pretty much you can sum up most of this as: The accusations of Russian “misbehavior” have, upon investigation, proven to be manufactured, false, or vastly overblown, not that you’ll hear this admitted out loud. The largest destabilizing force in the world today is The United States of America and our vassal states in Europe. When you hear the US and other of our vassal states complain about Russian news media being propaganda outlets and all controlled by the Russian government, you should realize that it is their own media that takes their marching orders from their respective governments and they are pissed that the Russian media isn’t repeating their propaganda,

    • June 16, 2018 at 04:27

      The USA is making Russia look like the free press state.

      The USA hired proved liars and conspirators Brennan and Haden and Clapper as mouth pieces for state propaganda

      Even the USSR wasn’t so blatant

  28. Professor William Mallinson
    June 15, 2018 at 18:03

    A simply superb article, authoritative into the bargain.

  29. June 15, 2018 at 17:22

    Sounds like the electrodes were applied to Corbyns’s head, Brendan! How easily the human mind is manipulated, especially if a politician. Sanders struck the same Russophobic demeanor in the US.

    • June 16, 2018 at 04:29

      Hillary and the Dnc kill people

      Ask Seth Rich

    • June 17, 2018 at 11:38

      So Corbyn recanted? It’s like in the old Soviet Union during the show trials. Now we see the end of intelligence among the British elite, determined to toady to the US ever since Churchill.

  30. Brendan
    June 15, 2018 at 17:13

    Unfortunately even Jeremy Corbyn has caved in completely and joined in with the government’s anti-Russian hysteria. This appears to be a result of the intimidation that he faced after his previous mild-mannered challenge to the government’s handling of the Skripal poisoning.

    On 26 March, Corbyn delivered a lengthy rant to the House of Commons, based on fake news and unsubstantiated allegations. Here are some excerpts:

    “Based on the analysis conducted by Government scientists, there can be little doubt that the nerve agent used in this attack was military-grade Novichok of a type manufactured by Russia. Since that analysis was revealed by the Prime Minister two weeks ago, the Russian ?state has had every opportunity to offer a plausible explanation as to how a nerve agent stock of this type came to be used in this attack. It has offered nothing concrete in response except denials and diversion. Indeed, the only solid assertion that it has offered so far in its defence was that all stocks of nerve agents were destroyed many years ago—an assertion that has been contradicted by intelligence reports. That suggests that just over a decade ago Russia invested in the use of nerve agents and developed new stockpiles of Novichok to that end. There is clear evidence that the Russian state has a case to answer, and it has failed to do so. We can therefore draw no other conclusion than that Russia has a direct or indirect responsibility for this.
    I am asking for a clear commitment from the Government that the Magnitsky powers will be introduced and will be supported by Conservative Members.
    I hope the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) is not trying to divert us away from a discussion about oligarchs’ money in London and the need for a Magnitsky amendment.
    As the Prime Minister will know, it is not just the Labour party pressing for action. Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition party leader who was barred from standing for the Russian presidency and has faced down intimidation of him, his family and his supporters at the hands of the Russian state,
    We have seen Russia, among others, using social media to disseminate fake news in this country and disrupt the democratic process. We have also seen the attempt to interfere in our elections—thankfully, according to the Foreign Secretary, without any success.
    It was surprising that any democratic leader saw fit to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his election.
    President Putin’s re-election has been preceded in the past year not just by the abuses that we have already discussed, and that the Russian state has committed or abetted overseas, but by blatant abuses at home as well. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of individuals punished for violating Russia’s regulation on public gatherings was two and a half times bigger in the first half of 2017 than in the whole of the preceding year.
    However, for all the punishment beatings meted out to student activists, for all the horrendous state-approved homophobia against the LGBT community, (…) ”

    Afterwards, even Boris Johnson approved of Corbyn’s speech: “We do not seek to make windows into men’s souls and to try to establish exactly how or why the Opposition decided to change their mind, but we welcome it. (…) I welcome what the Leader of the Opposition said.”


    • Typingperson
      June 16, 2018 at 20:10

      Wow. So they got to Corbyn. Really dissapointing.

  31. June 15, 2018 at 17:06

    Very long article, good comments, and sad to see the Brit stuffed shirts can’t seem to wobble their way into the new multipolar world, hampered by their scare of Brexit. The US is bad enough, but it seems the Brits are in the last century, maybe earlier.

    But what do the British public think about the propaganda, are they swallowing it? Have the symphonies refused to play the masterworks of the great Russian composers? It is incredible, how hard-hearted the appearance of Theresa May! I’m afraid I feel she’s just boiling in her own karma, the rest of them, too. Now with this new chapter of tariffs/trade wars between USA and China, i think these old fogies are going to have to update their thinking. A pox on their stupidity.

    • susan sunflower
      June 15, 2018 at 17:20

      They do seem stuck in old-fashioned boomer mentality (after decades of selling the little people on Globalization), reminding me of GWB’s “We thought the oceans would protect us.” (I guess elementary school kids didn’t do nuclear strike drop-drills in Texas??)

      They, like Trump, strongly believe in their centrality (“indispensable state”) and the importance of their opinion (even as they have whored themselves to Russian oligarchs (and money laundering). Brexit was always going to be bumpy ride but they are bound and determined to avoid it being derailed (even if it passed based on some now-obvious whopping lies and “irregular financial support”).

      May is apparently “at war” with Brexit extremists of her own party who have refused her efforts …. do they want to see the EU demolished in turn, believing they will — phoenix like — arise from the ashes, triumphant? in whose image?

      Slate asked what was motivating Trump to destroy the long-standing, American dominated institutions of power (and alliance)– WTO is said to be next. … are these Brits regressive kindred spirits who believe that nothing has changed in 40 years (or particularly since 2001 when GWB dropped the reins,being more interested in turning 09/11 into a perpetual motion and money-making emprire creation machine?)

    • Daniel
      June 17, 2018 at 07:30

      I doubt your average person on the street cares at all, but my manager believes EVERYTHING coming from the BBC, Guardian et al about the Russians. Apparently they were behind Brexit, the US elections, the rise of the right in Europe. Oh, and Wikileaks, Assange and UKIP are in their employment too.

      Clinton wasn’t a warmonger and Trump is uniquely awful.

      I’ll have to stop trying to reason with him. Will just get into an argument with my boss :)

      I’m from Northern Ireland by the way.

      • Skip Scott
        June 17, 2018 at 08:20

        Your boss sounds just like the vast majority of latte-sipping liberals here in the good old USA. They have “Hate has no Home Here” signs on their suburban front lawns, and don’t see any hypocrisy in voting for “we came, we saw, he died” Hillary. Yikes!

        • Daniel
          June 18, 2018 at 12:31

          Yeah, it’s schizoprehnic. At least be consistent!

        • Antiwar7
          June 18, 2018 at 16:13

          They didn’t hate Gaddafi. They just had him lovingly sodomized to death.

          Those signs seem incomplete. Did Hate leave a forwarding address?

          • Skip Scott
            June 19, 2018 at 07:43

            Good one!

          • Rick Lujan
            June 19, 2018 at 20:15

            Excellent sir !! Mommar Qaddafi / all he did with his “ Green Book “ was keep the entrenched minds/Money of the western governments ….. Libya was one of the most successful countries i

  32. ranney
    June 15, 2018 at 16:44

    WOW! An absolute cavalcade of information, so well put together. The links are awesome too. I’m going to have to go back and reread this again carefully to remember it all. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    p.s. I’ve been so angry at BBC on NPR and now I know I’m right to be – thanks for that too.

  33. Brendan
    June 15, 2018 at 16:20

    Excellent description of all the Russia-bashing in Britain, but I think the author is wrong about the source of that hostility.

    The British establishment is not driven by any anti-Russian obsession of its own. It is only acting to please the establishment in Washington.

    The only alliance that really matters to Britain is its special relationship with the USA. It has hardly any other close allies, and has never felt comfortable as part of the EU. London knows that on its own it is only a minor player on the world stage, but it can at least pretend to be important as America’s partner even though it’s really just a junior partner who follows orders.

    The Brits don’t feel threatened in any way by Russia, but they feel obliged to attack it if the message from Washington is that Russia is the enemy. The reason for all the hysteria coming out of Britain is that Russia is a threat to America’s role as the world’s only superpower.

    • rosemerry
      June 15, 2018 at 16:57

      I find that “highly likely”!!!! Theresa May, Boris Johnson and the “defence minister” Gavin Williamson in recent months (before the Skripal event) showed such extreme hatred of Russia in several statements that I remember being surprised at the venom of their comments. The alleged nerve gas attack, suddenly after a day of discussion, suddenly became fact, with no possibility of any other explanation than Vladimir Putin’s well-known penchant for killing anyone in his way. The Russians were astounded that with no evidence, no motive (Skripal was 4 years in Russian prison, 8 years free in UK, of no value to Russia)just before the FIFA World Cup and the election in Russia, when Russia’s nerve gas store had been destroyed in 2017 (the UK and USA still have theirs) and the USSR “novichok”manufacturing site was in Uzbekistan and the USA had certified its destruction years ago. With all the personal hatred of Putin, nobody suggests he is stupid, but the whole affair is wracked with incredible “facts” that nobody objective could even consider true. As Putin himself said recently, if it had been a military grade nerve gas, the two victims would be dead. Magically, both have recovered, neither is permitted to be seen or heard freely explaining, and Russia was from the start punished by losing her diplomats in the UK, USA and some other nations-diplomats are the one important item desperately needed today.

      • john wilson
        June 16, 2018 at 03:44

        And don’t forget, Rosemerry, the mysterious policeman also recovered and did so after just a few days. Of course, that’s if he was ever poisoned in the first place.

    • j. D. D.
      June 15, 2018 at 17:22

      The author correctly identifies the history of British foregn policy against Russia going back to the 19th century,It should be noted that it was Alexander ll that sent the Russian Fleets to NY and San Francisco to be put at the disposal of President Lincoln should Great Britain follow through on its preparation to support the Confederacy. More important, he also fails to include the critical “Heartland Theory” of Halford MacKinder (1904) as key to the modern geopolitical strategy responsible for the past century’s two world wars.. Nor does he indicate Churchill’s organization of the post-war system by employing an all-too-eager Harry Truman to make America the gendarme of the colonial system, betraying FDR’s promise of a US-USSR condominium to de-colonize the the world. But what is most lacking is the central role of the CIty of London’s vast financial empire, with its numerous offshore financial havens through which it, not its Wall Street junior parner, controls trading and speclation in the dollar and Western currencies, However,, the author has given an excellent synopsis of the role of British Intelligence in initiating the campaign to stop the Trump campaign and undermine his presidency, as Trump’s repeated intention to establish friendly relations with Russia have made him Empire enemy #1. It is the increasing discredited and desparate Mueller “investigation” which has been the albatross hindering Trump’s abiltiy to follow through on this campaign promise, and needs to be shut down. Mr. Mercouris could do the American and the British people a great service by calling for the release of all documents relating to the role of British Intelligence in creating the entire Russiagate hoax.

      • Chris
        June 19, 2018 at 19:02

        Yes and who on the U.S. side was working with British Intelligence. Former CIA Director John Brennan seems to be quite irate with Trump recently. Seems there’s plenty of suspicion with him and others in the CIA. Lots of stories about his involvement with the Steele dossier back in 2016. Possibly perjuring himself? Do people that high up get convicted anymore? Who knows?

  34. Seamus Padraig
    June 15, 2018 at 16:02

    “Citizens – and ominously younger voters in some European countries – are more and more willing to tolerate the subversion of democratic norms and express support for authoritarian alternatives.”

    Like Jeremy Corbyn? Ha, ha!

    “No one in the Kremlin pretends any longer that Russia’s role on the international stage is to spread an idealistic doctrine of liberation and shared wealth … When it intervenes in places such as Syria, there is no pretence of leading that country toward a great socialist enlightenment.”

    And back when it did, the West still hated them. As one commenter above pointed out, this is really about geopolitics more than ideology.

    “Though Banks claims to have reported these contacts to the CIA …”

    Why would he do that? Banks is a UK subject, not a US citizen.

    “But Putin is a remarkably elusive target. A former KGB officer, he takes extreme precautions to guard against surveillance, rarely communicating by phone or computer, always running sensitive state business from deep within the confines of the Kremlin.”

    Gosh! Why can’t he just be Hillary Clinton and conduct all of his official business through a home-server that any teenager could hack?

    “Britain for instance is known to have actively – though so far unsuccessfully – lobbied for Russian banks to be cut off from the SWIFT interbank payments system, which were it ever to happen would be by far the most severe sanction imposed by the West on Russia to date.”

    That would be the nuclear option, economically speaking. But just like the real nuclear, it would be incredibly risky. The word on the street is that Russia and China have quietly developed their own alternative to SWIFT, which they could roll out immediately if either party were de-SWIFTed by the West. And once they did that, what would stop other countries from joining this new BRICS-SWIFT? The London-New York banking syndicate would soon lose control over much of the earth’s financial transactions. Doomsday …

    “However Britain has no difficulty being best of friends with all sorts of countries such as the Gulf Monarchies or China which are culturally, ideologically and politically far more different from Britain than Russia is. Logically that should make them more distasteful to Britain than Russia is, but it doesn’t seem to do so.”

    The Economist: ‘Whataboutery! Whataboutery! Whataboutery!’

    • susan sunflower
      June 15, 2018 at 16:32

      Whatabout all the Russian oligarchs and their millions hogging all the best real estate in London? Many Americans loathe the Saudis, sometimes even for 09/11 or for being obscenely rich and demanding as customers (if you’re lucky enough to get them as customers) … The fact they don’t care what you think makes them all the more enraging …

  35. June 15, 2018 at 15:54

    Excellent piece (as usual). All I can say is read the comments on Russia coverage in the Daily Mail. It’s one of the few outlets that still allows comments. You will find almost universal scorn poured on the Skripal story. I find that rather encouraging — in short: it’s not selling very well. (Not I think a coincidence that the Guardian and other anti Russian pubs don’t allow comments any more.)

  36. David G
    June 15, 2018 at 14:52

    “If the British were able to put their obsession with Russia behind them they might notice that at a time when they are quitting the European Union Russia potentially has a great deal to offer them.”

    I’ve been thinking this too. Assuming Brexit is consummated, that little country is going to need friends.

    • rosemerry
      June 15, 2018 at 17:11

      One of the interesting observations about Russia is the way Pres. Putin seems to interact with world leaders, even his “partners” like the US, with courtesy, without recriminations and with genuine efforts to find solutions, not conflict. At the last G20 meeting leaders were lining up to talk to him, and he avoids criticism of others.The recent SCO gathering has India and Pakistan now both members, he greets Netanyahu and Erdogan, worked for four years with the pro-Western Ukrainian government before the 2014 overthrow by the USA of its elected replacement, and still considers Ukraine a “brother”!
      Anyone genuinely wanting to find more can easily access interviews and the 2 hour film,”Putin”.

  37. David G
    June 15, 2018 at 14:34

    “… and following the Skripal affair British officials and members of Britain’s Royal Family are now even boycotting the World Cup in Russia.”

    I think Russia can consider that a case of every cloud having a silver lining.

  38. susan sunflower
    June 15, 2018 at 14:05

    In the US, Putin has become a veritable Scarlet Pimpernel Soros-like figure secretly funding the European right wing nationalists and fascists … the better to destroy the EU, throw the continent into chaos and discord …. the better to dominate (or prepare a sneak attack) apparently. I’m not certain that this “scenario” originated in the USA … but Bannon has reappeared also in the American media (after his influence being loudly declared dead and buried) as a featured-speaker of the same neo-fascists … looping into “another Putin link” … pro- and anti-Brexit issues figure too in multidirectional, adding in the “refugee crisis” which has not impacted the UK (although EU 200,000 quite legal and much needed Polish heavy-machinery laborers seem to have been pivotal to the Brexit success) … The Brexit “success” … another parallelism to Trump, victory through deceptive propaganda and lies.

    Dizzying how many ways a dash-of-Putin is used to season so many (partisan) conflicts …. The case of Putin/Russian influence of Brexit still, much like Trump’s collusion, being undefined, despite much clearer UK rules and laws

  39. Skip Scott
    June 15, 2018 at 13:39

    At the end of this article the author mentioned economic opportunities for British “investment capital”. I think this is actually the crux of the demonization of Russia. Browder and his ilk were looting Russia during the Yeltsin years, and the capital flight was immense. Putin put a stop to it. It seems Putin insists on fair dealings for Russia, not the “pillage and plunder” variety. That is unacceptable to the western oligarchy. I highly recommend seeing the Nekrasov film “The Magnitsky Act, behind the scenes.” It has been virtually banned in the USA (and maybe Britain too), but it can be seen on Vimeo. It is password protected for viewing, but you can email one of the producers to request a p/w to see it:

    [email protected]

    It took about a month for him to get back to me, but it was well worth the wait. Our MSM constantly rants about the evil Putin, and the evil Russian Oligarchy. The reality is OUR Oligarchs seeking global hegemony and “full spectrum dominance” are the real problem, and they are responsible through their MSM lackeys for the entire “evil Ruskies” narrative.

    Thanks to Alex Mercouris and CN for another great article.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 15, 2018 at 16:36

      Hey Skip when growing up in the U.S. did you ever think you would need to wait a month to get a pass word to see a movie? Wow. Joe

      • Skip Scott
        June 15, 2018 at 20:52

        It’s gone way beyond 1984. Soon we’ll need a password to read the articles at CN.

        • Joe Tedesky
          June 15, 2018 at 21:50

          Watch your mouth, I’m just talking Gestapo.

    • Seer
      June 15, 2018 at 16:54


      I wanted to comment to point out the exact same reason you bring up here! (great post)

      ALL WARS ARE ABOUT RESOURCES. Russian oil is STILL on the hit list. That is why Hitler invaded. Control over Russian oil meant control of Europe. It’s been a constant battle for MANY decades to route oil NOT in the control of Russia: which is why Ukraine was disrupted (this one is complex so I’ll just leave it alone for now).

      And, of course, BANKERS are the ones who have the most to gain. That the UK has little power/push, well… two words to state otherwise: London Bankers. Yes, it’s the elites who are pushing it all (they own the politicians and others of “influence”).

    • June 15, 2018 at 18:29

      I would love to see the Nekrasov doco, but am blocked at every turn
      I tried a search of the Vimeo catalogue ,but “Behind the Scenes “didn’t show up
      Any hints as to how to access it?

      • Skip Scott
        June 15, 2018 at 20:50

        If you send an email to the address in my post above requesting a p/w to see the film, Fredrik Eriksen will reply with a link that is through Vimeo. He will want to send the p/w through a different medium. I had him send it via text to my cell phone. With the link and the p/w you’re good to go.

        • June 15, 2018 at 22:38

          Thanks Skip

  40. June 15, 2018 at 12:52

    Mr. Mercouris writes: “This hostility – at least from the British side – is not easy to understand.”

    Once one understands the geopolitical implications of British geostrategist Halford MacKinder’s “Heartland Theory”, the hostility of the ruling elites of the British Empire, and its modern heirs the Anglo-American-Zionist empire, is actually quite easy to understand.

    The oceanic Empire, and its progeny, must, at all costs, prevent cooperation between Germany and Russia in the Heartland & Pivot (Eastern Europe/Russia).

    Greater still, it must also prevent the consolidation of the Eurasian landmass by Russia and its trading partners or allies; ergo the hatred of the Eurasian Economic Union by western elites, the history of the “Great Game” wars in Afghanistan and central Asia, both in the past and present day, and the West’s continued effort to destabilize or dismember the Russian Federation.

    It also undergirds the West’s efforts to hinder, and if necessary destroy, China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The worst outcome conceivable to the AAZ Empire is Russia and China driving the economic and geopolitical integration of the World Island. To MacKinder and his progeny, like the diabolical Zbigniew Brzezinski, world war is a preferable outcome.

    Since Mr. Mercouris must be well aware of MacKinder’s theory, and how it drives the Anglo-American-Zionist empires wars of hegemony (in Ukraine, in the Rimland nations of Syria & Iraq, and soon Iran, in Afghanistan, the destabilization of Myanmar, etc. etc.), the above quoted sentence of the author is rather disappointing.

    • mike k
      June 15, 2018 at 13:37

      Exactly Jim. To Mr. Mercouris, who I greatly respect, nevertheless with respect to the “mystery” of Anglo hatred of Russia, I would say – it’s the Empire, stupid. When the media and pols all spout hate towards some country or it’s leaders, it is the oligarchs seeking world domination who are behind it. To miss this determining factor behind the happenings in our world today is to completely misunderstand history.

      • mike k
        June 15, 2018 at 13:45

        We are born into a world where a gigantic battle between Good and Evil is in progress. To realize this, and choose to devote your life to fighting for the Good, is the spiritual duty of every human being.

        The obsessive quest to dominate, exploit, and rule the world by a few men is he epitome of the evil that must be combated and overcome. Without this struggle, spirituality is an empty promise.

    • Seamus Padraig
      June 15, 2018 at 15:52


    • Joe Tedesky
      June 15, 2018 at 16:29

      Jim, while you thought of that, I caught myself thinking about the relationship of King George to his cousins Tzar Nicholas II & and his wife Alexandra, and how the English are just getting back at the Russians for when the Bolsheviks killed the Russian Royal couple. Although geopolitically the Mackinder theory works well, my brief brain spell was more personable. Good comment Jim. Joe

      • Litchfield
        June 19, 2018 at 20:27

        It should be borne in mind that the English royal family is actually German. Victoria’s mother was a German princess. She married a German prince. Her eldest daughter married a German prince, and thus Wilhelm II’s grandmother was Queen Victoria.

        The Princess of Wales (Diana) and the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) and the Duchess of is it Sussex? (Kate Middleton) thus are probably the most English members of the British royal family. A pox on all of them! Britain was always a predator nation, and now they have to come up with a better idea. They seem to think that the Russophobia thing will work for them by a kind of geopolitical misdirection. But I don’t think it will work. An interesting piece in the current London Review of Books, by Helen Thompson, suggests the strong possibility that Brexit will ultimately lead to the fracturing of both the EU and the UK.

        Having just read Wiliam Dalrymple’s “REturn of a King,” about the British invasion of Afghanistan in I think 1832, the first chapter of the Great Gam

        • Litchfield
          June 19, 2018 at 20:27

          Whoops, didn’t finish thought on Dalrymple’s book. Well, just read it! It is fabulous and very apposite.

    • John Trudgian
      June 21, 2018 at 14:58

      The real object of hatred is Putin, not Russia. Putin has blocked the Anglo Zionists from possessing the one thing they truly covet – control over the vast resources of the World Island. He out played the oligarchs just as they were about to sell-out to Western Multinationals – effectively a re-nationalisation of the ‘commanding heights’ after the scandalous robbery of the Yeltsin years. He out foxed the Western intelligence agencies in Georgia, Crimea and Syria. And now with his hyper-sonic missiles he has trumped (sic) the Pentagon war machine. Perhaps worse, he has demonstrated that resistance to the Anglo Zionist world order is possible. What sort a message does that send to national elites around the world? The British establishment realises he must be stopped or their skimming game through the City of London will atrophy, but so far they have barely landed a punch. Hence the building hysteria.

      • Skip Scott
        June 22, 2018 at 17:15

        Spot-on John. Excellent comment!

  41. Sally Snyder
    June 15, 2018 at 11:50

    After the recent G7 meetings, here is what the group had to say about Russia that received very little coverage in the Western media:


    The G7 leadership does not represent the citizens of its member nations on most key issues, Russia included.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 15, 2018 at 16:21

      Sally great article. It’s nothing new to see the G7 members trash Russia, but keep your eye on the Italian, and soon the Spanish produce growers. What’s not making the news is the sentiment of the average European, and the European business class, that is hurting big time from all of these imposed sanctions being brought down on to Russia, not to mention Iran. So while these sanctioned countries may suffer from the sanctions, the U.S. allied nations suffer right along with them, as profit volumes shrink in half.

      I see a day coming when the U.S. and maybe England as well, will be left high and dry by the rest of the world who will have had enough of their antics, as we progress through this new century. I would also like to add, that Europe is swinging in the wind, and they don’t even know it. It would not surprise if the Europeans do a pivot towards Russia, and Iran. It’s coming. Joe

      • susan sunflower
        June 15, 2018 at 18:43

        Yes, we seem to be in a very serious “let them eat cake” moment as the elites refuse to acknowledge the hardships of the “working class” … and those on fixed income and less.

      • KiwiAntz
        June 16, 2018 at 02:17

        I think the Worlds already reached that stage Joe with Trump’s trashing of all Trade agreements with its Allies & rivals unlike? It’s forcing all other Nations to forge new Trade alliances & bypass the US? China & Russia are showing the way with Trade based on mutual interests & respect? Trump is just accelerating this process & bringing us closer to the multipolar world!

        • Joe Tedesky
          June 16, 2018 at 10:18

          Here’s something to read concerning the exodus away from the U.S.


        • susan sunflower
          June 16, 2018 at 22:40

          It’s been coming (challenging and toppling the unipolar world) for years due to the excesses of the World Bank and WTO in forcing the “failure” of struggling economies (remember the Greek debt crisis? like that but much much worse with terrible “austerity” measure forced on populations of countries who who were trying desperately to satisfy creditors. Again, like Greece, but worse, more brutal with a bad ending.

          This change needed a major economy with a surplus (like China) to act as guarantor because countries around the globe needing major infrastructure investment were stuck pretty much with American dominated, politics/anticommunist driven, rule-laden lenders … My memory is that it flowered after 09/11 when many countries (particularly those “non-aligned” with the USA already, felt a chill and took protective action … because robust China had the will and the wherewithal (and clout) to withstand American punishment (because they owned so much American assets/balance of trade)…

          I’m disturbed about the independence/autonomy and lack of support for South America/Central America, India, and Brazil …. America really can play rainmaker and destabilize economies and thereby governments covertly… but point being it’s been and will be a bumpy road to multipolarity, much less autonomy.

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