Friday, December 23, 2016

Russian hacks and related things, Friday

Various articles from the generally left Counterpunch site show its contributors grappling with the Russian hacker story and its implications in the policy field.

Diana Johnstone, author of Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton (2015), gives us what I take to be a bit of left optimism on the Trump Family Business Administration, The Bad Losers (And What They Fear Losing) 12/19/2016, based on the possibility that Trump's foreign policy will be lest interventionist than a Hillary Clinton Administration would have been:

It seems that the political machine backing Hillary Clinton can’t stand losing an election.

And why is that?

Because they are determined to impose “exceptional” America’s hegemony on the entire world, using military-backed regime changes, and Donald Trump seems poised to spoil their plans. The entire Western establishment, roughly composed of neoconservative ideologues, liberal interventionists, financial powers, NATO, mainstream media and politicians in both the United States and Western Europe, committed to remaking the Middle East to suit Israel and Saudi Arabia and to shattering impertinent Russia, have been thrown into an hysterical panic at the prospect of their joint globalization project being sabotaged by [an] ignorant intruder.
But it still seems premature to make big assumptions about Trump's foreign policy. If people like Vice President Mike Pence and his predecessor Dick Cheney have their way, there will be plenty of military and political intervention, much of it winding up with very destructive consequences even for most Americans.

The declarations of both Trump and Putin on Thursday about how great it would be to have a new nuclear arms race suggests that Trumputinism in both the US and Russia see transferring even larger sums into the profits of arms manufacturers. (Ken Kilanian, Donald Trump's Call for 'Arms Race' Boggles Nuclear Experts NBC News 12/13/2016)

The most distinctive feature of the Trump Family Business Administration even before it takes office is its spectacular plutocratic corruption. If both Democrats and Republicans have given high priority to increasing the comfort of the most comfortable, the incoming government is on track to run the US government exclusively for the perceived benefit of our American oligarchs. And more specifically for the further enrichment of the Trump family.

That overriding priority doesn't necessarily translate into more pacific policies.

And while I have serious doubts about the current nature of the NATO alliance and its policies, recklessly trashing it isn't necessarily a path that will lead to less political violence in Europe and the Middle East.

But she is explicit in expecting a more peaceful policy toward Russia from Trump:

Terrified of what Trump may do, his opponents tend to ignore what the lame ducks are actually doing. The last gasp Clintonite campaign to blame Hillary’s defeat on “fake news”, supposedly inspired by The Enemy, Russia, is a facet of the growing drive to censor the Internet – previously for child pornography, or for anti-Semitism, and next on the pretext of combating “fake news”, meaning whatever goes contrary to the official line. This threat to freedom of expression is more sinister than eleven-year-old locker-room macho boasts by Trump. ...

The hysterical anti-Trump reaction is unable to grasp the implications of the campaign to blame Hillary’s defeat on Putin. Do the kids in the street really want war with Russia? I doubt it. But they do not perceive that for all its glaring faults, the Trump presidency provides an opportunity to avoid war with Russia. This is a window of opportunity than will be slammed shut if the Clintonite establishment and the War Party get their way. Whether they realize it or not, the street protesters are helping that establishment delegitimatize Trump and sabotage the one positive element in his program: peace with Russia. [my emphasis]
And it's not so much the "eleven-year-old locker-room macho boasts by Trump," presumably referring to his grab-them-by-the-pussy moment, that we need to worry about as such. But the assumptions behind it are likely to have an effect on the new President's policies on women's rights, anti-discrimination laws and sexual harassment. And on his Attorney General's.

Johnstone's argument that follows explicitly echoes the conservative position, as does her sneering reference in the passage just quoted to the "kids" protesting Trump's ascension to the Presidency after decisively losing the popular vote:

Hillary stigmatized millions of voters as “a basket of deplorables, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.” These remarks were made to an LGBT rally, as part of her identity politics campaign to win over a clientele of minorities by stigmatizing the dwindling white majority. The identity politics premise is that ethnic and sexual minorities are oppressed and thus morally superior to the white majority, which is the implied oppressor. It is this tendency to sort people into morally distinct categories that divides Americans against each other, every bit as much – or more – than Trump’s hyperbole about Mexican or Islamic immigrants. It has served to convince many devotees of political correctness to regard white working class Americans in the “fly-over” regions as enemy invaders who threaten to send them all to concentration camps. [my emphasis]
At the time and even now in retrospect, I understand Hillary's "deplorables" comment as a sign of his willingness to directly confront the overt bigotry of the hardcore Trumputinists. And any small-d democratic movement or groups or "political forces" in the US needs to be willing to do the same. If Harry Truman as a local politician could tell a Ku Klux Klan group to their faces to got stick it, Democrats today can manage to do the same.

And this sounds like a stock rightwing libertarian, Old Right Isolationist argument:

A bit of realism helps when dealing with reality. The choice of Exxon CEO Rex W. Tillerson as Secretary of State is the best step toward ending the current race toward war with Russia. “Make money not war” is the pragmatic American slogan for peace at this stage.

But the “resistance” to Trump is not likely to show support for this pragmatic peace policy. It is already encountering opposition in the war-loving Congress. Instead, by shouting “Trump is not my President!” the disoriented leftists are inadvertently strengthening that opposition, which is worse than Trump. [my emphasis]
The theory of Britain, France, Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Czar in 1914 was focused on making money, too. But surely Johnstone has noticed that some people make money on war and the preparations for war, as well.

There's more of Johnstone's article, including a scolding of "the so-called 1968 generation of intellectuals." But you get the drift. (I've seen the expression "68ers" before; it's common in German. But I don't recall ever seeing the phrase "1968 generation" before.)

Jeffrey St. Clair looks at various perspectives on the Russia hack story in Roaming Charges: the Russian Game 12/23/2016. He confesses the limitations of his knowledge in this refreshing way, "Frankly, I have no idea whether Russia influenced the US elections, though both nations have been meddling in each other’s business since at least the Russian Revolution." True. Something likely to continue for a long time.

Margaret Kimberley reminds us of the Syrian civil war policy connection, which is a major factor in US-Russia relations right now (Syria, Russia and American Desperation 12/23/2016): "The Syrian government is determined to take back its country and the Americans and their allies are equally determined to thwart it. The recent/ successes of the Syrian army explain part of the desperation coming from Obama, the Democratic Party and corporate media."

Kirk Bennett raises some practical questions about what practical gains are there to be had in the closer relationship between the US and Russia envisioned by Diana Johnstone and others in The Myth of a U.S.-Russian Global Agenda The American Interest 12/22/2016. In an earlier piece, Bennett describes his understanding of the background considerations in how the US and Russia each approach defending their national interests, How Did It Come to This? The American Interest 11/29/2016.

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