RAY McGOVERN: US-Russia Ties, from Heyday to MayDay

Whatever hopes Russia’s leader may have had for a more workable relationship with the U.S. have been “trumpled,” so to speak. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump during G20 Summit in Osaka, June 28, 2019. (White House/ Shealah Craighead)

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

Russian hopes dashed: Whatever hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin may have had for a more workable relationship with the Trump administration have been “trumpled,” so to speak.  This came through loudly and clearly in acerbic remarks by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov in an interview Friday with The National Interest.

Ryabkov lamented the sad state of Russia-U.S. relations, while pointing, not very subtly, to China as Russia’s ace in the hole. He was simply acknowledging that what the Soviets used to call “the correlation of forces” has changed markedly, and strongly implied that the U.S. should draw the appropriate conclusions.

No amateur diplomat, Ryabkov used unusually sharp, almost certainly pre-authorized, words to drive home his message:

“We don’t believe the U.S. in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever.  So our own calculations and conclusions are less related to what America is doing … we cherish our close and friendly relations with China. We do regard this as a comprehensive strategic partnership in different areas, and we intend to develop it further.”

In other words: We Russians and Chinese will stand together as the U.S. tries to paint both of us as arch-villains, all the while isolating itself and painting itself into a corner.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, facing camera, with from left, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2015 at Rodina Hotel in Sochi, Russia. (State Department)

Sic Transit Trust

Putin has come to accept that potent forces favoring high tension with Russia — the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Adademia-Think-Tank complex (MICIMATT,  if you will) — are far stronger than any president; and that, in that context, trying to cultivate a relationship of personal trust with a president, may be largely a waste of time.

The system in which Putin spent his early life put a premium on what the Soviets called yedinonachaliya, meaning leadership by a person at the top who is fully empowered to make decisions and have them carried out by subordinates — or else. Putin’s personal experience working successfully with President Barack Obama in early September 2013 to head off wider war on Syria [more on that later] may have deceived him into assuming that presidents of the United States can exercise that kind of power, at will. And, if that were the case, personal dealings at the very top were the preferred way to untie Gordian knots — and even cooperate for mutual advantage.

In the years since, the notion was fully dispelled that a U.S. president is completely “his own man” and is rather hemmed in by the MICIMATT — and particularly by its Security State component with entrenched, exceedingly powerful intelligence and law enforcement agencies.  President Donald Trump calls this reality the “Deep State.”

Trump with Big [Oral] Stick

There must be a Siberian equivalent to the expression “All hat, no cattle.”  If there is, I can almost hear it coming from the Kremlin in reaction to some of  Trump’s rhetoric, like his remarks on May 23 in an interview with journalist Sharyl Attkisson:

“What am I doing? I’m fighting the deep state; I’m fighting the swamp…If it keeps going the way it’s going, I have a chance to break the deep state. It’s a vicious group of people. It’s very bad for our country.” 

Trump has not hesitated to name the Deep State actors that he keeps in his sights — ex-FBI Director James Comey; ex-CIA Director John Brennan, and ex-National Intelligence Director James Clapper, for example — but, so far, he has shied away from actually taking them on.  He has even thrown a few of his closest supporters under the bus — like House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes when Nunes tried to send criminal referrals to the Justice Department.

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Thus, it remains an open question whether Trump will allow the various investigations now under way to bring indictments.  This is no parlor game; these would be very serious moves, with consequences hard to predict.  If it turns out that the president does have some cattle and decides to put them into play, those he labeled “a vicious group of people” will be fighting back tooth and nail.

RIP: The Russian ‘Hack’ of DNC

Trump may act this time because he was personally the target of the Russiagate affair. Recently revealed evidence is in his favor. Although the latest proof was released three and a half weeks ago, most Americans are unaware that the cornerstone of Russiagate, the charge that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee computers, has crumbled. Always evidence-impoverished, the accusation has now been shown to be evidence-bereft by the sworn testimony of  the technical expert, Shawn Henry, the head of CrowdStrike.  This is the cyber-security firm chosen and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC (with Comey’s blessing) to investigate the so-called Russian hack. 

Asked on Dec. 5, 2017, behind closed doors by then-ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff to provide “the date on which the Russians exfiltrated [hacked] the data from the DNC,” Henry replied, “… there are times when we can see data exfiltrated, and we can say conclusively.  But in this case … we just don’t have the evidence that says it actually left.”

It was only under extreme pressure from the acting director of National Intelligence that Schiff, now chair of the House Intelligence Committee, released the transcript of Henry’s Dec. 5, 2017, testimony on May 7.  The Democrats knew for more than two years that the Russian hack was a lie but continued telling it.

But now we know. Better late than never? Not really.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest …

If bombshell testimony like that of Henry is not reported by The New York Times or other Establishment media, as has been the case since May 7, who can hear the tree fall — or the bombshell explode?  How many Americans know that the White House has been right about at least one thing — that the charge that Russia “hacked the DNC” is not supported by any evidence that can bear close scrutiny?

I suppose it is true that most Americans would prefer not to know that, but you do not need a PhD to understand the inevitable consequences of letting this all go with a “So what?”

If The New York Times is successful in suppressing bombshells like Henry’s testimony, it can suppress anything it deems “not fit to print.”  Let’s conduct an experiment: Please FaceTime a couple of friends — preferably those who still read the Times — and ask if they know that there is zero concrete evidence that the Russians, or anyone else, hacked the DNC; then closely watch their expression.  If they send the men in the white coats to knock on your door, you’ll know why.

Shawn Henry presenting at the International Security Forum in Vancouver, 2009.
(Hubert K, Flickr)

The Times, of course, just won a Pulitzer Prize for its array of Russia-bashing articles.  Not to be outdone, Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Fox News on Sunday that she “would not be surprised to learn that the Russians are fomenting” and “funding extremists on both sides” of the current protest demonstrations in the U.S.  Typically, Rice cited no evidence, merely saying, “based on my experience this is right out of the Russian playbook.” 

Rice told Fox, “I’m not reading the intelligence these days.” But who, I ask, needs intelligence when you have The New York Times?  Perhaps she found guidance in its March 10 story, “Russia Trying to Stoke U.S. Racial Tensions Before Election, Officials Say.” Or maybe she was one of the Times’ sources for that story, which would amount to the kind of WMD-style, circular/false-confirmation-to-a-fare-thee-well approach, not uncommon to spreading “news”  in Washington.

You cannot say we have not been warned.  After all, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Trump last October “All roads lead to Putin.”  Not to overlook the insight of another amateur specialist on Russia, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), who claims, “Vladimir Putin wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.”  And didn’t those lawyers testify preposterously to Schiff’s impeachment committee that, “We had better fight the Russians over there in Ukraine, so we don’t have to fight them here”? when even during the height of the first Cold War no one seriously contemplated Soviet troops invading U.S. soil.

‘Bad Guys’ Forever

I imagine that Kremlin officials read the Times as closely as I used to read Pravda back in the day — to discern what is missing, as well as the significance of what does make it into print. Russia’s leaders must be aware that the Times and most other Establishment media are so deeply invested in Russian “hacking,” that the faux-story is simply too big to fail.  Besides, it has proven all too easy to lead Americans to believe that, in effect, the U.S.S.R. still exists and is ruled by “bad guys” bent on aggression.

By now, Putin must realize it is an uphill, Sisyphus-like challenge to disassociate today’s Russia from the Soviet Union.  Five years ago, he gave it the college try.  On April 16, 2015, he alluded to that dark period, addressing “the ugly nature of the Stalin regime” and the reaction that persists to this day. He conceded:

“[It] “may not be very pleasant for us to admit. But in truth, we, or rather our predecessors, gave cause for this. Why? Because after World War II, we tried to impose our own development model on many Eastern European countries, and we did so by force.  This has to be admitted. There is nothing good about this and we are feeling the consequences now.”

It is likely to be a mix of sang  froid and skepticism on Putin’s part, as he watches political developments in the U.S. in the coming months, against the background of what he has experienced with U.S. counterparts in recent years.

Obama-Putin Tete-a-Tete Brings Results

President Vladimir Putin of Russia welcomed President Barack Obama to the G20 Summit at Konstantinovsky Palace in Saint Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013. (White House, Pete Souza)

On Sept. 4, 2013, the day before Obama arrived in St. Petersburg for a G-20 summit, Putin on live TV accused then Secretary of State John Kerry of lying the day before in congressional testimony on Syria.  Kerry had continued to blame Syria for the sarin attack, played down the role of al-Qaeda among the rebels, and exaggerated the strength of the “moderate” rebels.  With unusual bluntness, Putin said that Kerry “is lying; he knows he is lying; this is sad.”

Obama, too, was being informed at the time that Kerry was stretching the truth well beyond the breaking point.  The president knew this from briefings by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs; by National Intelligence Director Clapper; and by us, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  This may help explain why the president did not ask Kerry to accompany him to St. Petersburg; why he chose to work out the deal personally with Putin; and why he chose to keep Kerry completely in the dark for five days.

At a London press conference early on Aug. 9, 2013, Kerry had been asked whether there was anything Assad could do to prevent a U.S. attack.  Kerry answered dismissively that Assad could give up his chemical weapons, but “he isn’t about to do that; it can’t be done.”  Later that day Kerry got word from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that, oops, the deal could be done — and was about to be announced.

By happy coincidence, that same evening I had an unusual opportunity atop the CNN building in Washington to watch neocons like Paul Wolfowitz and Joe Lieberman vent their frustration over Obama “chickening out” and squandering the golden chance to get the U.S. into direct war in Syria.  [ See the sub-section Morose at CNN in “How War in Syria Lost Its Way.”]

Obama, it turns out, was proud at having gone against the advice of virtually all of his advisers to stop the juggernaut rolling downhill to war. Two years later, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Obama bragged at having been able to defy what he called “the Washington playbook” in calling off the attack on Syria. 

Trust is the Exception, Not the Rule

Putin had to learn the hard way that the circumstances in September 2013 were sui generis. Putin was able to offer Obama a deal he could not refuse, in order for Obama to extract himself from a very difficult position. Without Kerry or other advisers looking over his shoulder, Obama was able to take advantage of the offer despite the prevailing war lust — not only among the neocons, but among Obama’s own advisers.

Just six days after his successful meeting with Obama, Putin put a hopeful gloss on prospects for improved relations with Washington: “My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust,” Putin wrote in a New York Times op-ed on Sept. 11, 2013.  

The Russian president was basking in the glow of having (1) gotten Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to agree to surrender Syrian army chemical weapons for UN-supervised destruction, (2) personally persuaded Obama to agree, and (3) helped prevent military escalation in Syria — which neither Putin nor Obama wanted. The deal was very much in Obama’a interest, taking the wind out of the sails of most of Obama’s advisers, including Kerry, who did nothing to disguise their lust for an open U.S. attack on Syria.

U.S. forces were in place. The planned attack would be “justified” as retaliation for a sarin gas attack near Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.  Kerry led the charge against Syria’s al-Assad, repeatedly blaming him despite abundant evidence that the sarin attack was a false-flag ploy — whether Kerry knew it or not — designed to mousetrap Obama into ordering a Baghdad-style “shock and awe” on Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, middle, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, at right, arriving at UN headquarters in Geneva for a meeting on Syria, Sept. 13, 2013. (State Department)

The immediate reaction of U.S. officials to this op-ed should have helped keep everyone’s hopes down.  Indeed, the reaction proved to be a harbinger of things to come — taking the form of a Western-sponsored coup in Ukraine, sanctions, and, of course, Russiagate.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), then chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee spoke for many Washington insiders by saying, “I was at dinner, and I almost wanted to vomit.”  [For more on this topic, see Consortium News‘s “Rewarding Group Think on Syria,”]

Nor did the hardliners’ chagrin over the lost opportunity for war on Syria dissipate much in subsequent years. Sen. Bob Corker, (R-TN), who followed Menendez as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, was one of the most outspoken critics of Obama’s decision to cancel the planned attack on Syria in 2013.  On Dec. 3, 2014, Corker complained bitterly that, while the U.S. military was poised to launch a “very targeted, very brief” operation against the Syrian government for using chemical weapons, Obama called off the attack at the last minute.

Corker’s criticism was scathing:

“I think the worst moment in U.S. foreign policy since I’ve been here, as far as signaling to the world where we were as a nation, was August a year ago when we had a 10-hour operation that was getting ready to take place in Syria but it didn’t happen. … In essence and – I’m sorry to be slightly rhetorical — we jumped in Putin’s lap.”

Sound familiar?

The events of autumn 2013 are a case study in itself.  Putin garnered a great deal from the unique experience of dealing personally with an Obama-in-need.  Putin then found, as a result of his subsequent dealings with Obama and Trump, that he had to re-arrange his thinking about how much power a U.S. president actually has when it comes to confronting the entrenched Security State — even if a president’s desire to improve relations is authentic.

Social Media as ‘Proof’

The Russian president understood, as the years went by, that ordinarily Obama would defer to the “Washington playbook” and the MICIMATT.  And so would, most times, Trump.

But the neocons got even with Putin for his key role in cheating them out of doing shock and awe on Syria. To an appreciable degree, that accounted for the neocon boldness in carrying out the coup in Kiev a half-year later, and in their contrived exploitation of the terrible loss of 298 lives on MH17, blaming the Russians sans any convincing proof.

As with the 2013 sarin attack near Damascus, so too in the case of MH17, Kerry emphasized that “social media” are an “extraordinary tool.” Right. But equally useful for deception as for truth. The lame attempts of various imaginative (but not imaginative enough) folks, many of whom seem to be employed by Western intelligence services to use their imaginations in applying “social media” to the MH17 affair, are transparent to any discerning observer.

While he kept blaming the Russians, Kerry never produced the evidence he told NBC’s David Gregory he had three days after the plane went down.  Here’s Kerry to Gregory on July 20, 2014:

“We picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing. And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar.”

Remember: In the wake of the shoot down of MH17, the U.S. successfully pressured many other countries to impose economic sanctions on Russia.

Agreements at the Top Thwarted

On Syria, Putin witnessed the lack of yedinonachaliya in the U.S. political and military system.  At the behest of Putin and Obama, Kerry and Lavrov worked very hard for 11 months to arrange a ceasefire.  One was signed Sept 9, 2016.  On Sept. 17 U.S. aircraft bombed fixed Syrian Army positions killing between 64 and 84 Syrian army troops; about 100 others wounded — evidence enough to convince the Russians that the Pentagon was intent on scuttling meaningful cooperation with Russia.

Here’s Lavrov on Sept 26:

“My good friend John Kerry … is under fierce criticism from the US military machine. Despite the fact that, as always, [they] made assurances that the U.S. Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, supported him in his contacts with Russia (he confirmed that during his meeting with President Vladimir Putin), apparently the military does not really listen to the Commander in Chief. … It is difficult to work with such partners. …”

A month later Putin publicly lamented: “My personal agreements with the President of the United States have not produced results.” Putin complained about “people in Washington ready to do everything possible to prevent these agreements from being implemented in practice” and, referring to Syria, decried the lack of a “common front against terrorism after such lengthy negotiations, enormous effort, and difficult compromises.”

In sum, Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov’s remarks on Friday strongly suggest that at this juncture the Russian leadership does not put much store in commitments by Washington — including those that may come from the president.  For the next few months, at least, Moscow will be in a passive, wait and see posture.  With so much mutual work to do — particularly on arms control — this is a pity.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  During his 27-year at the CIA, he was Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and a presidential briefer.  In retirement he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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26 comments for “RAY McGOVERN: US-Russia Ties, from Heyday to MayDay

  1. Serge
    June 5, 2020 at 01:41

    “…even during the height of the first Cold War no one seriously contemplated Soviet troops invading U.S. soil.”

    Wait, WHAT?!! I’ve always thought the “Red Dawn” was based on a true story!


  2. Ron Chandler
    June 5, 2020 at 00:22

    Hope your shoulder where Haspel’s court thugs tried to dislocate it, is feeling better.
    Thanks for including your excerpt on the sarin gas attack on The Ghouta of late August 2013. I followed this atrocity at mutiple points of view, and gathered an understanding of how the Strangeloves and the Kremlinites behave at the brink. That episode remains a vital window into the utter depravity in Washington. (a DIA man was corordinating with Jaish al-Islam at The Ghouta, his emails were intercepted, so Mr Hersh’s lame limited hangout cannot hide America’s blame for the hundreds of innocent children murdered as props)
    No doubt Martin Dempsey’s sage advice to both Kerry and Obama, on the instant mass death of American gobs, if the attack proceeded, weighed heavily with Obama, and he understood he would be impeached by the McConnell gang immediately.

  3. Tony Giallo
    June 4, 2020 at 17:22

    Anglo Saxon elites consider Russians to be ‘untermensch’. And they will burn the earth to a cinder before they ever accept them as their political, moral or cultural equals.

  4. peter mcloughlin
    June 4, 2020 at 07:21

    During the Cold War the two superpowers were able to “cooperate for mutual advantage” and avoid mutual destruction. Today Russia no longer has a security buffer zone (though still has a massive nuclear arsenal) and China is quickly becoming the world’s biggest economy. The pattern of history shows the US on course for war with Beijing and Moscow. Unlike the Cold War, governments do not see it coming. All for power, they will be powerless to stop it.

  5. elmerfudzie
    June 3, 2020 at 21:02

    Ray, there seems to be one and only one gross understatement in your article. The Neo Cons were not counting on a shock and awe for Syria, they wanted nothing short of WW III with Russia.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Mexico has attained all the military firepower and political influence of present day Israel. The Mexican government has issued an open announcement that they amassed an army at the California border near Imperial Beach. Government Officials claim that a slim coastal chuck of the US actually belongs to the people of Baya California, extending northwards towards Corona Beach. What do you think would happen next? We have a critically important, deep, warm water Naval Base adjacent to San Diego. Similarly, a Russian argument and scenario could have been constructed, vis-a-vis for it’s naval facility in Tartus (Syria). It too is a deep, warm water, multi purposed Naval port that is flexible enough to accommodate various and sundry ships, military, commercial and luxury. Not to mention the fact that Tartus is the one and only strategic Mediterranean port for the Russian fleet. How would our Naval forces react to hostile ground troops to the south north and east of Point Loma Naval Submarine Base in San Diego?

  6. Drew Hunkins
    June 3, 2020 at 15:41

    “…Obama, it turns out, was proud at having gone against the advice of virtually all of his advisers to stop the juggernaut rolling downhill to war. Two years later, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Obama bragged at having been able to defy what he called “the Washington playbook” in calling off the attack on Syria. …”

    We mustn’t forget that a huge part of why the Obama administration chose not to bomb Damascus to smithereens is b/c U.S. public opinion during that week when it seemed a Washington bombing campaign was an inevitability was dead set against it; something like 85% of the U.S. population was anti any war on Syria. Tens of thousands of Americans called their Congresspersons and demanded no attack take place.

    This was a very rare instance when the U.S. public stopped the Washington-Zionist imperial machine dead in its tracks. Make no mistake, there were warmongers in Washington that week salivating at removing Assad and turning Damascus into a wasteland.

  7. Drew Hunkins
    June 3, 2020 at 15:26

    “most Americans are unaware that the cornerstone of Russiagate, the charge that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee computers, has crumbled.”

    Very true. Corona hysteria, the police brutality protests and the Russophobic corporate media drowned out this incredibly important development.

  8. June 3, 2020 at 14:51


    In “uni-leadership”, some heads should roll in the Pentagon for this murderous attack that had catastrophic potential. If the “investigation of US military” was correct, the state of American military intelligence and “target determination” is terrifying, that alone should have repercussions.

    • Antiwar7
      June 4, 2020 at 08:19

      That’s right. Everyone from the bomber pilot on up the chain of command should have been immediately fired, with no pension, and the top 3 to 5 gone to jail. But that would never happen.

  9. Andrew Thomas
    June 3, 2020 at 14:08

    Trump is not a stout vessel. Now there is an understatement. It has been obvious to anyone who has cared to look for as long as anyone outside of NYC has heard of
    him that he is is a shameless, abusive, self promoting amoral lying sack of (family site). Trump did not expect to win. He did because the Republican Party, through its henchman Kris Kobach, fixed it for whoever came out of the convention, and because Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate. See the books, movie and reams of reporting by Greg Palast regarding reason one. Reason two has three
    parts- first, the Republican Party and the vast right- wing conspiracy, which exists every bit as much as the deep state, had 25 years to defame and punish every decent thought she ever expressed; second, in response, she repressed all of them, and became a person no one had much use for outside the DNC, which has turned the Democrats into a close second worst alleged political party in the world that isn’t overtly advertising its fascism; third, how do you not even bother to show up in Wisconsin? etc, etc. And she still got 3 million more votes. Back to the original point- Trump’s alleged love affair with Putin was always bull, and had nothing to do with all of the GOOD reasons to develop a relationship with the Russian state that was beneficial to both countries, all of their ordinary citizens, and the world. He was trying to ingratiate himself with Putin for whatever private purposes he intended to pursue after the election. I’m sure that Putin figured that out long ago.

    Regardless of how perfectly dreadful the Democrats and “their” media have been, we have got to remember that Trump made himself a national political figure by embracing the absurd lie that Obama was born in Kenya, which was designed to gather to his bosom every unreconstructed racist in the country, and announced his candidacy by accusing all Mexican men of being rapists, and wanting to end all immigration from, well, everywhere that wasn’t Northern Europe. Thus, gathering to his bosom all of the modern know-nothings who hate immigrants for taking all of the jobs that went to the lowest labor standards countries in the world because of the neo-liberal orthodoxy which both parties embody, and which has never been more than a giant con. And, if things are so great THERE, why would they need to come HERE to take jobs that were God awful before, but at least paid a living wage, and to do jobs they have ALWAYS done because no one would do them but for total desperation; fruit and vegetable picking? Ask oneself that one question, and one’s solidarity with immigrants is the answer, not hate emanating from a con artist with a Schtick. Look at Venezuela. Iran. The coup in Bolivia. The smooth transition from Obama’s pivot to Asia to the insane lying racism against China that is Trump’s entire Covid19 response. He never even understood what the deep state really is- he just knows who his enemies are, and acts out of animus toward them, psychotic self-interest, and malicious racism.

    Finally, let us consider a very specific promise Trump made- to finally make public the entire record of the Kennedy assassination. The deep state he HATES SO MUCH turns up at his office and so much for that, to the absolute silence of the MSM, which seems to me to include everything on the right,up to and including Alex Jones, and our entire political class. Russiagate was a complete fraud. True. The absurd hysteria among Democrats about “Russian interference” not only in 2016, but now, is a ludicrous lie. Why didn’t Barr push back on THAT? Because Trump’s narrative, if you can call two words a narrative, was “no collusion.” Keep it simple. When you have the house and senate hearings on impeachment, everyone ignores the elepahant in the room that Obama/ Biden/Nuland/deep state carried out a COUP in Ukraine that made Biden’s corrupt conduct possible. Heaven FORFEND that such actions be called out for what they are. And, of course, “I love WikiLeaks.” You sure do, Donnie. You could pardon Julian Assange right now, and could have at ANY TIME after Jan. 21, 2017. But did you? Of COURSE not. Joe Arpaio. Right. THIS MAN IS A MONSTER. The fact that he didn’t do what the Democrats accused him of, like the corrupt, imbecilic tools they are, does not make him less of a monster for every other reason that their focus groups evidently told them weren’t impeachable. This cannot be forgotten.

    • jimmy
      June 4, 2020 at 12:55

      Have you not become willing to admit ( beyond passing) that the DNC is why Trump was elected? Eight years of BHO and you actually believe that the “birther “
      rumor was how Trump was elected?
      C’mon man! As your candidate by default will say, over and over….
      Admission that both parties and the elite that control them have no interest in the public.

  10. June 3, 2020 at 14:00

    Russia wants to be an ally of the United States, but our empire has no allies, only vassal states, and Russia refuses to become one.

  11. vinnieoh
    June 3, 2020 at 12:26


    Thank you. That isn’t at all easy for me to say, because of the loathing I have for Donald Trump. I believe that I may have even posted here, on these pages, something to the effect that “Screw it, whatever it takes to get him out of our lives, do it.” It is a very bitter pill indeed to have to side with the “rights” of this man.

    It isn’t because I’m wedded to the Democratic Party. That lifelong allegiance mostly crumbled after the ’06 midterm election, and totally evaporated early in the ’16 campaign. I detested Trump long before he announced his intentions to enter the fray the first time in ’12. But it is obvious, as you’ve pointed out, that the MICIMATT, and especially the D contingent of same are running a giant con on the US populace, not so very dissimilar to something Trump himself might cook up. Drain the swamp? More like a landscaper giving a make-over , exchanging one set of swamp-acclimated flora and fauna with another set of swamp-acclimated flora and fauna.

    You mentioned Sisyphus; that seems to be your labor trying to push this boulder of truth up the mountain. The MICIMATT, and again the D contingent of same, have too much at stake, the narrative must not be allowed to collapse, because without it that D contingent has nothing. The sad campaign of Joe Biden goes limping along, and all we can do is witness it in disbelief and despair.
    After that portion of the D primaries that actually took place was an exercise in crushing not Bernie Sanders, but the ideas and initiatives that he represented, we are supposed to believe that the most status quo, wise guy, cold-warrior throwback will somehow now be our faithful champion.

    I know you are not an admirer of Trump, so no need to remind me of that. All of this makes it so hard for me not to drink.

  12. Francis Lee
    June 3, 2020 at 11:43

    There has obviously been some sort of internal coup by the war-party in the US. In the words of one of its ideologues, Wolfowitz

    ”Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defence strategy and requires that we endeavour to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

    Apparently, and according to these leading lights in the neo-con cabal, the mere existence of the Soviet Union / Russian ‘posed a threat’ to the United States. Therefore the SovietUnion/Russia should be reduced to subaltern status and, moreover, its natural resources which were and are considerable should be opened up for the US to exploit. This almost amounts to a declaration of war; countries other than the United States should not be allowed to develop but should know their place in the US empire just as American vassal states in Europe do.

    This is full-on Strangelove

    It is difficult to put a date on this coup. Maybe it didn’t occur on a particular date but was part of a rolling process with the war party, particularly including the neo-cons, the CIA and the MIC, and Zionist lobby groups, becoming bolder in their aims as time went by. The opposition to this lunacy, such as it was, were summarily dealt with. The assassination of the more sane elements – the Kennedy Brothers, MLK, Malcom X and the stifling of other opposition – were all part of this process, as were the wars of choice and not forgetting 9/11 and the war on terror.

    At the present time the US, unmistakably lead by the loonies and pushing for conflict with both Russia and China simultaneously! And the media is in full cry with the population being prepped up for war with the incessant and ubiquitous propaganda output 24/7

    Sooner or later if America doesn’t start to realise the realty of their abjectly insane position Russia/China are going to call their bluff. The only other option they are being offered is abject surrender. Which of course is not going to happen. So what happens next? Try humiliating climb-down or nuclear war. A nuclear war fought against and adversary armed with unstoppable hypersonic weapons. Food for thought perhaps.

    • vinnieoh
      June 3, 2020 at 12:57


      “So what happens next? Try humiliating climb-down or nuclear war. A nuclear war fought against an adversary armed with unstoppable hypersonic weapons.”

      One likely progression seems to me to go like this: Eurasia WILL become integrated – I see it as inevitable for so many reasons – and the US finally realizes it is powerless to stop it, short of global annihilation. US power globally continues to wane mostly because of the rot of fraudulence and corruption eating away at the system.

      So, in order to salve our humiliation and to preserve our privileges as a bully, the wrath of the MICIMATT gets fully turned on Central and South America. If we can’t dominate the whole globe, we’ll settle for half of it. And we’ll have come full circle then, a ruling class that are the cultural and biological descendants of white Europe, exterminating and enslaving more native Americans.

    • Sam F
      June 3, 2020 at 21:08

      vinnieoh, I agree that in the absence of reforms to get money power out of elections and mass media, the US is likely to turn to exploitation of Latin America and Africa, a caricature of its reviled past interventions, which will fail and completely discredit it everywhere. Then it will turn to increased domestic exploitation, using military force against the resulting rebellions, the most likely cause of its eventual demise. Let us hope that the essential reforms are possible before then, but that seems unlikely.

  13. Francis Lee
    June 3, 2020 at 10:45

    ”Putin has come to accept that potent forces favoring high tension with Russia — the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Adademia-Think-Tank complex (MICIMATT, if you will) — are far stronger than any president; and that, in that context, trying to cultivate a relationship of personal trust with a president, may be largely a waste of time.” Agreed, but there were one or two omissions, namely: Israel and NATO.

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      June 3, 2020 at 19:15

      Yes, Israel. The entity that cannot be criticized. Israel significantly influences MICIMATT.

  14. AnneR
    June 3, 2020 at 10:40

    Thank you Mr McGovern for this insightful piece. Of course, it is depressing – all the more so in light of the continuing and continual NPR Orwellian machine that, no matter the subject under discussion, seem to find some way to revert to the Russiagate business…Not directly, but via: the Russians (always the undertow being “the Kremlin”/Putin) spread misinformation/disinformation (2016 of course) via social media to (the last I heard from some bloody pundit – not required by NPR to provide proof – yesterday) over 150 million Americans.

    To listen to these pundits/think tankers/academics (were they trained by Orwell, Bernays and Huxley?) and the politicos, you would were you naive (all too many around) enough, believe that poor little USA is so, so vulnerable, weak, incapable of mounting mis/disinformation offenses of its own. OH REALLY? What the F*** is VOA, for example, up to? The NYT, WaPo? Not to mention the television stations….And the NSA, CIA and all the other secret agencies?

    NEVER are the coups we arrange, finance push for mentioned (whataboutery I suppose); NEVER are such as STUXNET whispered at, nor our deep intrusion into Russian finance and politics in the early 1990s, nor our absolutely unprovoked, NOT defensive invasions, attacks – always leaving in their wake slaughter, plunder, devastation of livelihoods, everything that supports life. Nope.

    We pretend to “know” how other peoples think – or, we insist (Orientalism, Supremacism, Racism) that our way, and ONLY our way of seeing the world, their countries could possibly be the right way.

    Besides which, on top of which: It’s all about the $$$$$$$ for MICIMATT….

  15. June 3, 2020 at 09:35

    Micimatt and Mickey Mouse, can’t get that connect out of my head. Mickey Mouse, in the pejorative, seems apt in performance of this constellation when it comes to international relations.

    Mister McGovern, who can forget you calling another Donald a liar when he gave the location of the WMDs in Iraq. Seventeen years ago?

    Since then you and your associates have done your best to awaken Americans and that has certainly been the case with Russia and Putin. It is sad, really that so few Americans have even taken the time to try to understand how damaging and dangerous the polarization contrived by Washington is.

    • June 3, 2020 at 15:21

      I would add one of the sorriest performances of the US is not to publicly acknowledge to the world Russia’s enormous contribution in defeating Nazi Germany. We should be big enough to attend the now June celebration of the victory.

  16. MichaelWme
    June 3, 2020 at 09:06

    A couple of tiny quibbles with this basically excellent report.
    It was not Obama who decided against an attack on Syria to remove the Assad government and replace it with the peaceful, pro-democracy activists who call themselves ISIL, it was the UK Parliament who ordered that the Syrian people should be allowed to keep their elected government. Obama had no trouble ignoring the Continental Congress when it ordered him to stop bombing Libya, since he still had the full support of the UK (Cameron was not so foolish in ’11 to let Parliament vote on the overthrow of the Libyan government).
    Had the UK Parliament authorised an attack, the Russians would have been forced to return all those NATO bases in Syria to their rightful owners. Yeltsin had allowed the CIA to dismantle Russia’s defences, so Putin could do nothing but keep his head down while he engaged in rebuilding, and this lasted until 2014. In 2013, he could have done nothing to stop those peaceful, pro-democracy activists, supported by US, UK, and French air power. After 2015, Russia would not have given up its warm water ports in Syria.
    Second, CrowdStrike was never hired to investigate the hacking of the DNC server. CrowdStrike is a PR firm hired by organisations that get hacked, to put the best possible spin on the hack, to convince users and shareholders (and, in this case, the American voters) that the DNC was not to blame, and they came up with the most effective cover-up they could: that the contents were things that no patriotic American would ever read, that it was all a sinister KGB plot to prevent America from electing the best candidate for president who has ever sought the job. And the FBI was very happy with the CrowdStrike conclusions, and strongly supported them, since the Russian threat justifies limitless powers for the law enforcement and intelligence services.

  17. Bob Van Noy
    June 3, 2020 at 08:37

    Many thanks Ray, this “report” is enormously insightful as well as heartbreaking because it describes an environment that will be hard for most to decipher but I’m sure that you’re correct.
    It will be up to VIPS, Consortiumnews, a small group of insiders, and much pure luck to move forward. You’ve adequately pointed out the recent history now it will be up to the American People to take the correct path…

  18. June 3, 2020 at 08:02

    An excellent piece with some real bits of insight into American-Russian relations.

    But at least one very important thing is missing.

    The author says, “the faux-story [DNC Russian hacking] is simply too big to fail”

    Indeed, but why?

    If the official line isn’t so, and it is not, we get to the point, “Then who downloaded the data from the DNC?”

    Several analysts have made suggestions in the past, and Julian Assange himself hinted around the subject.

    I believe that the “Russian-hacking” story can’t fail because the alternative is that a Democratic Party insider downloaded the material and supplied it to Assange.

    And the absolutely best candidate for having done that was Seth Rich, a young, idealistic political worker who was likely shocked by some of the material to which he had access.

    Further, since I just do not believe in coincidence, especially where such high-level matters are involved, we are left asking, “Then, who killed Seth Rich, or had him killed?”

    The only serious candidates for that are at the top of the Democratic Party.

    The article speaks of the kind of lying and subterfuge and attempts to hurt that go on in foreign affairs – as with the Sarin gas in Syria – and those practices are a major part of America’s entire set of foreign policies today, not just for relations with Syria or Russia.

    I do not believe people can follow such practices abroad for years without eventually bringing them home. After all, they’ve seen how well they can work and they know there is virtually no risk for themselves, so why not use them at home where the stakes are great?

    That is just one of the ways, empire and militarism corrupt a nation and crumble any principles it may have once operated under.

    In the article, we have John Kerry openly lying about something that has vicious consequences.

    And we know from Seymour Hersh, the great investigative reporter, that among the things Hillary Clinton was secretly having shipped from smashed-up Libya to the mercenary forces trying to destroy Syria also, was a small quantity of Sarin nerve agent from the dead Qadhafi’s stocks. The intention was for it to be used to provide the “red line” Obama had talked about.

    I just don’t accept that such evil abroad can never come home to roost in America. Indeed, I think it has many times, going back to Dallas, 1963.

    • Ronald Johnson
      June 4, 2020 at 13:19

      Apparently, with America, you can kill a guy while his fiancé is waiting outside in the car, saw him up into freezer-ready chunks, openly and notoriously, with no repercussions, observing every courtesy thenceforth.

      The Mossad is not yet that brazen. Better the insoluble murder case, with faint pursuit by the Authorities.

  19. DW Bartoo
    June 3, 2020 at 07:26

    Thank you, Ray, for keeping a focus on what has happened, things that so very many would prefer to “not see”.

    One thing which concerns me, but that many, including stellar intellectual lights, refuse to include in the political calculation of getting rid of Trump is that, should Biden somehow prevail, in November, all will be forgotten and the liberal-“progressive” sect will happily forgive any and all serious transgressions against actual civilian control of government policy, at the “intelligence” levels.

    Even Chomsky, who must understand the implications and consequences still reverberating in the ongoing struggle for behind-the-scenes control of policy and “the narrative”, appears to, very dishonestly as I see it, avoid any public admission of what had gone on, even if he very gingerly does acknowledge that what has happened to Assange, for example, is very disturbing, but yet refuses to connect the dots openly and comprehensively.

    And, of course, if Biden wins, all the pushers of Russiagate will be vindicated and the McCarthy-like smearing and assault will begin all over, again.

    I am no fan of Trump, and I think it likely that he is cowardly and pusillanimous in his fabulist rhetoric, quite as much as was, and is, Obama.

    Trump, if he does not dare pursue such as Brennan and Clapper, in the next few months, may very well find himself made example of, as a successful Biden will be under immense pressure, not to “look
    forward” and excuse what HAS been revealed as “policy difference” (such as torture or lying the nation into war) which Obama could excuse, because of tit for tat political retribution if he had not.

    Trump hatred, the fear and loathing within the FBI in particular, but in other “intelligence” agencues, as well, has exposed itself far too much to simply be forgotten by what, very likely, is a sufficient number of observers to be easily and quietly buried and simply dismissed as “conspiracy theory” (the very term weaponized by the CIA to conveniently demonize or trivialize any rational concerns or genuine revelations which might cast the overzealous or clearly pathological in a “bad” light in the public conscience, such as it is).

    Trump is not the stoutest vessel to rely upon in the midst of these deliberately troubled waters, he may well sink, or just bloat and float with the tide, fetching up on some remote isle, or simply repair to some Epsteinian resort assuming, if he does not fight, that the powers that be will allow him to continue his play-act of swagger, bluster, and threat (sounds like a law firm).

    Will Trump blink?

    Many other actors are hoping, and gambling, that he will.

    Yet, the deeper drama, unremarked upon by the M$M, continues to play out, while most U$ians, because the real Constitutionak crisis has not been pointed out to them are, in fact, dealing with a pandemic which has killed more than one hundred thousand of their fellow citizens and about to find themselves in another economic Great Depression, even as their “betters” have just pulled off the latest (perhaps last?) Huge Heist of the treasury, to the obscene benefit of those who own and imagine that they manipulate everything, in a full-on class war that the many are, finally, coming to realize, in this purportedly “classless” society is, most viciously, actually going on.

    I note that your beard grows more luxurious by the day. I view it as evidence of your sagacious sensibilities, even as I know what it represents as regards Assange, for it is a reminder of steadfast moral principle in a time when such courage is increasingly rare and the public expression of conscience, as demonstrated by you, by Bill Binney, and daily, by others here, including commenters, is in the nature of a touchstone of reason, humanity, sanity, and compassion, in a nation sorely bereft of all those things.

    For which I thank, and deeply appreciate, each and every one of you.


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