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When the U.S. public was told that Spain had blown up the Maine, or Vietnam had returned fire, or Iraq had stockpiled weapons, or Libya was planning a massacre, the claims were straightforward and disprovable. Before people began referring to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, somebody had to lie that it had happened, and there had to be an understanding of what had supposedly happened. No investigation into whether anything had happened could have taken as its starting point the certainty that a Vietnamese attack or attacks had happened. And no investigation into whether a Vietnamese attack had happened could have focused its efforts on unrelated matters, such as whether anyone in Vietnam had ever done business with any relatives or colleagues of Robert McNamara.
All of this is otherwise with the idea that the Russian government determined the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.S. corporate media reports often claim that Russia did decide the election or tried to do that or wanted to try to do that. But they also often admit to not knowing whether any such thing is the case. There is no established account, with or without evidence to support it, of exactly what Russia supposedly did. And yet there are countless articles casually referring, as if to established fact to the . . .
“Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election” (Yahoo).
“Russian attempts to disrupt the election” (New York Times).
“Russian … interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election” (ABC).
“Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election” (The Intercept).
“a multi-pronged investigation to uncover the full extent of Russia’s election-meddling” (Time).
“Russian interference in the US election” (CNN).
“Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election” (American Constitution Society).
“Russian hacking in US Election” (Business Standard).”
“Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking” we’re told by the New York Times, but what is “election hacking”? Its definition seems to vary widely. And what evidence is there of Russia having done it?
The “Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections” even exists as a factual event in Wikipedia, not as an allegation or a theory. But the factual nature of it is not so much asserted as brushed aside.
Former CIA director John Brennan, in the same Congressional testimony in which he took the principled stand “I don’t do evidence,” testified that “the fact that the Russians tried to influence resources and authority and power, and the fact that the Russians tried to influence that election so that the will of the American people was not going to be realized by that election, I find outrageous and something that we need to, with every last ounce of devotion to this country, resist and try to act to prevent further instances of that.” He provided no evidence.
Activists have even planned “demonstrations to call for urgent investigations into Russian interference in the US election.” They declare that “every day we learn more about the role Russian state-led hacking and information warfare played in the 2016 election.” (March for Truth.)
Belief that Russia helped put Trump in the White House is steadily rising in the U.S. public. Anything commonly referred to as fact will gain credibility. People will assume that at some point someone actually established that it was a fact.
Keeping the story in the news without evidence are articles about polling, about the opinions of celebrities, and about all kinds of tangentially related scandals, their investigations, and obstruction thereof. Most of the substance of most of the articles that lead off with reference to the “Russian influence on the election” is about White House officials having some sort of connections to the Russian government, or Russian businesses, or just Russians. It’s as if an investigation of Iraqi WMD claims focused on Blackwater murders or whether Scooter Libby had taken lessons in Arabic, or whether the photo of Saddam Hussein and Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands was taken by an Iraqi.
A general trend away from empirical evidence has been extensively noted and discussed. There is no more public evidence that Seth Rich leaked Democratic emails than there is that the Russian government stole them. Yet both claims have passionate believers. Still, the claims about Russia are unique in their wide proliferation, broad acceptance, and status as something to be constantly referred to as though already established, constantly augmented by other Russia-related stories that add nothing to the central claim. This phenomenon, in my view, is as dangerous as any lies and fabrications coming out of the racist right.
By Ann Garrison at Black Agenda Report
Anti-war activist and author David Swanson told the author that party partisanship fuels the anti-Russian obsession among rank and file Democrats. “If the Democratic Party had made a grand cause of friendship with Russia and disarmament and ending nuclear weapons madness, then liberal supporters of the Democratic Party would be out there saying, ‘Let’s be friends with Russia.’”
Never Mind the Real Russia, It’s All about Trump: An Interview with David Swanson
by Ann Garrison
“Russians have absolutely no idea that hatred of Russia can be driven by hatred of Trump.”
In American politics, Donald Trump has been so effectively identified with Russia that hostility or friendship toward Russia is now driven by feelings about Trump. David Swanson, founder of World Beyond War and author of “War is a Lie” and “War Is Never Just,” was on a friendship tour in Russia when a Tiki torch-bearing crowd protested the removal of a Confederate monument in his hometown and chanted “Russia is our friend.” I spoke to David Swanson upon his return.
Ann Garrison: On May 13, in your hometown—Charlottesville, Virginia—a Tiki torch-bearing crowd protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The protesters chanted “Blood and Soil,” a well-known Nazi slogan invoking the bloodline of a people and its territory, and “Russia is our friend.” You were in Russia at that time on a friendship tour, so could you tell us how Russians perceived this? Continue reading “Never Mind the Real Russia, It’s All about Trump: An Interview with David Swanson”
The International Committee of the Red Cross and InterAction (a coalition of U.S. human rights groups) have published a report on how to protect civilians when waging war on cities. They seek to catalog the “humanitarian challenges specific to urban warfare.”
While I would not (one wishes it were needless to say) prefer that they strive to maximize the human destruction possible in urban warfare, I want to note that any report seeking to address the humanitarian challenges specific to slavery or rape or child abuse or the slaughter of kittens (rather than humans) would be dismissed with outrage. Nowhere do these human rights advocates hint at the possibility of ceasing to bomb cities. Nowhere do they recognize the illegality of all recent U.S. bombings of cities under the U.N. Charter or, for that matter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Instead, the authors treat the practice of bombing cities as inevitable and natural, and attribute the growth of urban warfare to the migration of people from rural to urban areas.
What should be done? While the authors discuss various types of massive slaughter and destruction as “intended or not,” they also suggest that the key reform to be sought is better intentions and more careful planning. The “development” types should work better with the “humanitarians,” provide more “flexible” funding for the human rights groups, and do “proportionality analysis,” we’re told.
The word “proportionality” appears in every Just War theory and in thousands of mainstream news reports, yet nobody, including these authors, has ever devised a test whereby one can determine whether a war or a particular bombing was “proportional” or not. If I say killing 14 children in order to kill a particular man was disproportional, what’s to stop someone else arguing that this particular man needed to be killed to an extent that would have justified killing anywhere up to 16.37 children? Of course, I can point out that most wars kill mostly civilians, so that launching them is an act that guarantees great injustice, but I can’t stop someone else claiming that “proportionally” killing 500,000 children is “worth it” in the context of some just cause (as then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once claimed).
The most serious recommendation that these authors make is that no more large bombs, only small bombs, be dropped on cities, with the large bombs saved for rural areas. It’s worth noting that the U.S. government is developing “more usable” nuclear bombs and tends to ignore such restrictions, that small bombs like large bombs still commit mass-murder while endangering us and costing a fortune and poisoning the environment, that a number of small bombs adds up to a large bomb, and that large bombs in rural areas do all of the same destructive things even if hitting fewer people and less centralized infrastructure.
The most disturbing recommendations in this report include creating safe exit routes (even while claiming people should have the right not to leave), moving schools and hospitals underground, avoiding ground floor windows, and taking up arms and developing local militias.
This report is the product of a human rights industry feeding off its total acceptance of war and violence. When you can bring yourself to the point of making these recommendations to the people your government is bombing, but you cannot ever bring yourself to the point of even hinting at the possibility that your government should stop bombing people all over the world, you’ve become an Orwellian ministry of human rights, not an actual movement to expand the well-being of humans.
Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Professor Boyle has served as counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Provisional Government of the Palestinian Authority. He has represented the Blackfoot Nation, the Nation of Hawaii, and the Lakota Nation. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989. And he has been a strong advocate over the years for the proper use of the power of impeachment.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
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In 1982 a 10-year-old girl from Maine named Samantha Smith wrote a letter to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov:
“Dear Mr. Andropov,
“My name is Samantha Smith. I am ten years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren’t please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.
The letter made it into the Soviet media, but its author received no response until she wrote again, asking for a reply. Then Andropov wrote back to her at some length, and invited her to visit the Soviet Union.
In the Soviet Union, Samantha became a media star (video).
In the U.S., she appeared on ABC News, the Tonight Show, the Today Show, and the Phil Donahue Show. While CBS News found a way to put a negative and frightening spin on it, nobody as far as I know ever denounced Samantha for “illegal diplomacy” or for “having ties to Russia.”
Yet, Samantha Smith did more to oppose official U.S. policy and to make public secret information than Donald Trump has ever done. Smith revealed to the people of each of the two empires that the people of the other desperately wanted peace. She promoted nuclear disarmament, and the policy of no-first-use, which to this day remains Russian but not U.S. policy.
And Samantha visited the Soviet Union, where she connected with other human beings more deeply than Donald Trump may ever have connected with anyone anywhere. Her “Russian ties” were far more significant than those denounced as evil each day now in the U.S. media.
Are 10-year-olds in the United States writing to President Vladimir Putin to question him on the myths with which U.S. television has filled them? Would their parents tolerate their doing so?
And if Putin replied with an invitation, would the U.S. media respond with even the level of openness to peace that it had in the 1980s? There is no question whatsoever that it would not.
But the effort ought to be made.
When I recently met with Mikhail Gorbachev he described the breakthrough in his talks with Ronald Reagan coming when Reagan asked how the USSR would respond to the U.S. being threatened by a meteor. It was a childish topic, Gorbachev said, but children are frank and honest and trustworthy. We should learn from children, the former Soviet leader said.
Indeed we should.
In Moscow earlier this week I mentioned to a Russian friend that racists in my town in Virginia were chanting fascist and confederate slogans plus “Russia is our friend!” He replied: “But we never had slavery; we had serfdom.” He didn’t grasp why Russia was being grouped together with slavery.
Also in Moscow I met an elementary school student who said to me, “I saw a movie, and I want to ask you, in the United States are there black people and do they always kill the white people?” When I assured him that they did not, he breathed a deep sigh of relief.
A high school student asked me, “Is it hard to live in the United States with the CIA and FBI after you all the time?” I assured her it was not.
Back in the United States people asked me if it was dangerous in Moscow. Are you permitted to just talk and say anything you want? Can you walk around without state controllers? Is it safe for women? Don’t they hate Americans? These delusions, matching any from the Russian side, might be funny if they weren’t so tragic.
Let me make a few obvious points in the case for leaving Russia the hell alone.
- The Russian people are not the Russian government.
- Any flaws in the Russian government are very poorly understood in the U.S., can be only worsened by lies, hostility, sanctions, and threats, and are quite well matched by flaws in the U.S. government.
- We have seen zero evidence that Russia informed us of how the Democratic Party was corrupting its primaries, and it almost certainly did not do so, but would have been doing us a favor had it done so.
- Most Russians understand the hostility toward Trump as driven by hostility toward Russia and have no idea that hostility toward Russia can be driven by hostility toward Trump or that there are any legitimate reasons for hostility toward Trump.
- There are tons of legitimate reasons for hostility toward Trump.
- Russia tried to disarm and make peace and join the EU and join NATO and become friends, and was repeatedly told to go to hell, its economy corrupted, its people looted.
- Russians are only mildly better than Americans at handling such disrespect well.
- Russia and the United States are loaded with nuclear missiles ready to destroy the earth at a moment’s notice.
Trump’s financial corruption is U.S.-wide and world-wide. Why focus on any bits of it that involve Russians? Why are those bits worse (or better) than any others?
Trump owns stock in the weapons companies he is enriching with illegal and immoral wars. What better way could be found to improve U.S. relations to the world than to impeach Trump for that? Want to halt Russian weapons sales? Lead by example.
Trump has unconstitutionally discriminated against refugees, been stopped by the judiciary, and immediately done it again. Want Russia to take more refugees? Lead by example. Apart from that theoretical connection, there’s no Russian involvement in this scandal.
Trump has pushed policies that will aggravate climate change, a crime against humanity that can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court even against a non-member. While it’s true that Russia is located on earth and has fossil fuels to exploit, there are no other Russian ties to Trump’s assault on the EPA.
Trump openly sought to intimidate voters prior to his election, and fought the counting of ballots where they existed, was elected with a minority of votes, was elected with numerous votes uncounted and numerous voters blocked from voting by the partisan stripping of the rolls and by ID laws, following a nomination principally decided by dramatically biased media coverage. If you believe Vladimir Putin had a role in any of that, you need therapy, and your therapy should be private, not a public spectacle inflicted on the rest of us.
Trump told the Russian ambassador how to go after ISIS? Isn’t that what both he and they publicly say they’re doing together? I’m against their approach as counterproductive, but I’m virtually alone in that. Didn’t Bush Sr. tell Gorbachev a coup was coming and the source of the information? Didn’t Roosevelt blurt out secrets to Stalin? Don’t governments form alliances and talk to each other all the time?
You want to go after Trump for obstruction of justice? Great. Please do. But don’t imagine there’s some underlying basis that involves the Russian government in deciding the U.S. election until someone offers proof of it.
My god! The United States openly claims credit for inflicting Boris Yeltsin on Russia. Where are the apologies that should be replacing the accusations?
By Donald Trump
Translated into English by David Swanson
I am very honored to have been invited here to tell you about Islam. King Salman invited me, and I said you know I really need to go to Israel first because I have a connection to any chosen people. I was chosen by the majority of Americans last November, of electoral Americans. They love me. But King Salman — great guy, really great guy, and such beautiful houses — King Salman told me what he wanted me to talk about, and then I had to say yes. I had to. There was no question.
King Salman — and you know people in the United States are thinking of giving me that same title, King, they’re thinking about it, I won’t say they’re going to do it, but they really really want to — King Salman said to me, “Donald,” he said, “do you remember when I closed that nude beach in France so that we could have a little party, just a simple private party? Do you remember,” he said, “how the French were upset and claimed I was against nude beaches?”
That was a misunderstanding, not true at all, completely fake news of the worst sort. And I remember that the King kept the beach nude for the entire party. No question. Never any question about that. And I remembered it perfectly — I’ve been told I have one of the best memories ever found in recent years — so there was no need for the King to lift up his robes to remind me. But he’s a great kidder, King Salmon.
Now, here’s the point, King Salman, not Salmon which I do love, not Salmon but Salman, the King and not the fish, he said that what he wanted me to talk about was clearing up misunderstandings about Islam. So that’s what I’m here to do.
People back in the United States like to say that Islam is violent and barbaric. And I see what they mean. I really do. There are some nasty Islamical dudes out there. That’s the problem. They’re giving Islam a bad name. Now, let me give you the facts. In Saudi Arabia, executions use swords. They’re fast and pain-free. In Arkansas, executions use chemical injections. The victim writhes in pain for a while before dying. One way is not more barbaric than another. It’s just a cultural variation, like a style of clothing. There’s not an Islamic or a Christian way of torturing a prisoner, there’s just torturing. These things connect us all as human beings, not as religions.
When Islamic Saudi airplanes — made in the USA! — bomb Yemen and blockade that place to protect the world from the extremists that are there, and people say oh that’s so Islamic to kill so many people and starve so many children to death. And I say, look at who’s providing the airplanes, and the targeting — only the United States can provide targeting like that, let me tell you — and who’s refueling the airplanes mid-air? Have you ever seen the Chinese try to do that? It’s like watching monkeys trying to mate hanging from vines. Ugly. Sad. No, really, it’s sad.
Islamic countries are violent, it’s true. But almost all of the weapons you find there are Christian weapons. And it was a Christian weapons company that paid for that little beach party, remember, King?
So, one religion is not more advanced and powerful than another. That’s a lie. As you may know, though people back in the United States like to deny it, before I was elected with such a huge majority, the United States had a Muslim president. And he invaded Iraq, which I said no, I said yes invade Iraq but I didn’t mean that, and boom — look at the hornet’s nest he created. And now that Muslim attack on Muslims created extremist Muslims.
What we need are peaceful Muslims willing to fight the extremists. We need peaceful Muslims to say, you know, enough is finally enough, and begin killing more families. That’s why every nation that the United States bombs under my command is a Muslim nation. Because I am focused on stomping out the extremist Islamicism and replacing it with a peace-loving Islam.
I’ll tell you my vision. I won’t say I’m a visionary, but there are people, many many people who say that, and I won’t say they’re wrong. In my vision there is nothing wrong with a religion in which the women walk around prepared with sheets, you know what I mean. They just need to loosen up a little about people ripping those sheets off them. That’s how you improve relations, how you improve respect between our two peoples.
So, I stand here today, and I say to you, Mr. King, tear down those sheets! Thank you. God Bless you. And God Bless the United States of America.
Just back from a week in Moscow, I feel obliged to point out a few things about it.
- Most people there still love Americans.
- Many people there speak English.
- Learning basic Russian is not that hard.
- Moscow is the biggest city in Europe (and far bigger than any in the United States).
- Moscow has the charm, culture, architecture, history, activities, events, parks, museums, and entertainment to match any other city in Europe.
- It’s warm there now with flowers everywhere.
- Moscow is safer than U.S. cities. You can walk around alone at night with no worries.
- The Metro goes everywhere. A train comes every 2 minutes. The trains have free Wi-Fi. So do the parks.
- You can rent bicycles at lots of different spots and return them to any other.
- You can fly direct from New York to Moscow, and if you fly on the Russian airline Aeroflot you’ll get a nostalgic reminder of what it’s like to have airplane seats large enough to hold a human being.
- Everybody says that St. Petersburg and various other cities are even more beautiful than Moscow.
- Right now the sun is up from 4:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Moscow, and until 9:30 p.m. in St. Petersburg. The longest day of the year in St. Petersburg is 18-and-a-half hours.
Americans seem not to know about Russia. While four-and-a-half million Americans visit Italy in a year, and two-and-a-half million go to Germany as tourists, only 86 thousand go to Russia. More tourists go to Russia from several other countries than go there from the U.S.
If you want to visit Russia and really learn about it, go, as I did, with the Center for Citizen Initiatives.
If you want the best tour guide I’ve had in Moscow or anywhere else, contact MoscowMe.
Here are some reports on my trip: