America’s ruling class has a curious attitude to democracy. It seems to be interpreted as something that’s good for the US and its allies but bad for critters who won't accept their role in the "America-led international order."
First off, let me be clear. I think all foreign electoral interference is wrong. In any country. And if it’s eventually proven that Russians meddled in America’s 2016 presidential election, I certainly won't condone it. But I’ve have always doubted that the Russian state organized some heinous plan to tilt the contest to Donald Trump, so I’ll be shocked if something of this nature is ever proven.
Instead, I’ve always imagined the greatest extent of Russian "interference" was probably some half-baked playing around by private individuals. Something akin to a “social media marketing campaign,” as the New Yorker’s Adrian Chan believes. And on a relatively minute scale, to boot. Because - given the billions of dollars swirling around American stumping - anything bar a full-scale FSB/GRU, all-hands-on-deck operation would probably amount to little more than a hill of beans.
By the same token, I was stunned back in 2011 when the Moscow Times (a pro-US title, overwhelmingly written by Westerners, despite its name) reported how ex-vice president Joe Biden had told fringe Russian opposition figures that “it would be better for Russia if Putin did not run” in the 2012 election. Indeed, when you see the opprobrium directed today towards US Green leader Jill Stein for once attending an RT banquet where Putin was present, its shows one hell of a double standard.
It’s hard to know where to begin. Last Friday’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was detailed in a 37 page document that provided a great deal of specific evidence claiming that a company based in St. Petersburg, starting in 2014, was using social media to assess American attitudes. Using that assessment, the company inter alia allegedly later ran a clandestine operation seeking to influence opinion in the United States regarding the candidates in the 2016 election in which it favored Donald Trump and denigrated Hillary Clinton. The Russians identified by name are all back in Russia and cannot be extradited to the US, so the indictment is, to a certain extent, political theater as the accused’s defense will never be heard.
In presenting the document, Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, stressed that there was no evidence to suggest that the alleged Russian activity actually changed the result of the 2016 presidential election or that any actual votes were altered or tampered with. Nor was there any direct link to either the Russian government or its officials or to the Donald Trump campaign developed as a result of the nine-month long investigation. There was also lacking any mention in the indictment of the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton and Podesta e-mails, so it is to be presumed that the activity described in the document was unrelated to the WikiLeaks disclosures.
Those of the “okay, there’s smoke but where’s the fire” school of thought immediately noted the significant elephant in the room, namely that the document did not include any suggestion that there had been collusion between Team Trump and Moscow. As that narrative has become the very raison d’etre driving the Mueller investigation, its omission is noteworthy. Meanwhile, those who see more substance in what was revealed by the evidence provided in the indictment and who, for political reasons, would like to see Trump damaged, will surely be encouraged by their belief that the noose is tightening around the president.
Ron Paul Rewind: No to Endorsing Mitt Romney, Yes to Endorsing Peace, Prosperity, Liberty, and the Constitution
At the 2012 Republican National Convention, Ron Paul told Fox News interviewer Neil Cavuto that Paul had no plans to endorse Mitt Romney or anybody else in the presidential election. Instead, Paul, who competed against Romney in the Republican presidential primary, said he endorses “the principles I have been talking about for a long time … peace and prosperity and individual liberty, the Constitution.”
Adam Dick on Alaska Radio: ‘Russiagate’ Indictments, School Shootings, and More
On Saturday, I was interviewed by hosts Joshua Bennett and Michael Anderson at KFAR radio in Fairbanks, Alaska regarding a number or issues in the news. The interview started with a discussion of the indictment of 13 Russian citizens and three companies that United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller had announced the day before.
Five Minutes Five Issues: Marijuana President, Attacking Assange, War Costs, School Shootings, Empire of Lies
A new episode of Five Minutes Five Issues is out. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
In Trump’s 2019 Budget, Lockheed Looms Almost as Large as State Dept
In great measure, the Pentagon runs on Lockheed Martin. The US armsmaker racked up $35.2 billion in sales to the US government last year, a preposterously large figure that positions them both as heavily reliant on the government for its profits, and gives them a level of influence unmatched.
Strike Two: US Again Launches 'Defense' Attack on Russian and Syrian Forces in Syria
For the second time in a week, US military forces occupying northeast Syria have attacked Syrian government forces, blowing up a Russian-made T-72 battle tank on Saturday. According to a statement made today by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, US forces saw a Russian tank in Syria that "took a shot at us" and the US side called in an airstrike in "self-defense."