Last week saw the Senate Intelligence Committee going after Russia’s influence in the “free market places of ideas”: Twitter, Facebook, etc. Senators fulminated over Twitter’s failure to appreciate the magnitude of the danger of Russia’s interference in free elections. Cartoonists lampooned Russia with caricatures of the famous Russian military parades showing the Facebook and Twitter logos as displays in the parade along with tanks and missiles.
Suddenly the Senate was all atwitter over, well, Twitter. Who’s feeding this sudden awareness?
The recently created Alliance for Securing Democracy, housed (at least for now) at the German Marshall Fund–USA is one of the core anti-Putin, anti-Russia operations that merits keeping an eye on, especially as it impacts Congressional hearings, resolutions, and media. It’s an alliance of hard core neo-cons who were in the thick of promoting the 2003 Iraq war and the "axis of evil" attacks on Iran-Iraq-North Korea during Bush 43 administration, with the hillary-cons.
They’re determined to turn up the heat against Moscow, not just in the United States, but to spread the Cold War mania to Europe through its GMF network.
For now, the Alliance’s money seems to be limited, but it is a clear move to migrate the "Never Trump" Republicans into alliance with the Democratic Party, even further polluting and destroying that party on the foreign policy front.
With a network of some 2 dozen operatives in the USA and Europe (including former Assistant Secretary of Defense under Obama, Derek Chollet) the Alliance for Securing Democray blog is churning out steady stream of articles about Russian interference in elections (including big focus on the latest German elections) and demanding that Congress take action to further investigate/stop Russian interference in said elections. They claim to be monitoring 600 Russian twitter accounts that they think are threatening democracy.
A significant part of the apparatus comes from the group, Foreign Policy Initiative which went belly up in August, 2017, when it ceased operations. According to The Nation, FPI's demise was largely due to the dropping off of funds in 2017 after the Trump election. The FPI was led by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. These "never Trump'ers" were apparently an albatross after the 2016 elections for some Republican and conservative deep pockets who always want to keep a path open to the White House, no matter who they preferred.
Now Kristol has a new home on the Advisory Board of the Alliance for Securing Democracy along with Michael Chertoff, and the anti-Putin ex-Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. Also on the Board is Jake Sullivan, a top Hillary operative at the State Dept. Chertoff recently landed a Wall Street Journal article on September 6th, headlined, Congress Can Help Prevent Election Hacking. I expect there will be a lot of Congressional action on this front if the “Alliance for Securing Democracy” has its way.
Securing democracy? The crowd that brought us Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011?
Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald did an impressive first expose of this outfit in July of this year, identifying the alliance between the war party neo-cons and the Democratic Party, but there’s a lot more to watch in its continuing operations to promote its Cold War agenda, especially in Congress.
How can ordinary people, like me, be informed and make sound decisions? Common sense with a strong bu****t meter helps. But there’s so much going on and cross currents.
And now Possibly Iran in 2017
This is a great read from the left wing Nation magazine. https://www.thenation.com/article/russiagate-is-more-fiction-than-fact/
It is just beyond belief that the majority of these clowns continue to be treated as if they have a shred of credibility left or that their ideas carry ANY weight when it comes to their outrageously incompetent foreign policy decisions/actions. That their ideological ideas have any value at all, particularly when there has been no admission of a mistake or a reorientation of their ideas, is just astounding. To be wrong so repeatedly and so publicly should have engendered a least some, however small, sense of shame or humility.
On the other hand, it says something about our polity, too, that we continue to tolerate this bullshit.
Every time I read about William Kristol’s latest career move I am reminded of those old Hammer Horror movies with Christopher Lee.
The dude comes to a grisly end in every movie, yet there he is in the next one, back from the grave and – inevitably – none the wiser for the experience.
Ol’ Dracula never once stops to think: Ya’ know what, these always end badly. Maybe I should sit this one out?
Neither does Kristol, apparently.
Good article by Glenn, he is one of the best.
‘On the other hand, it says something about our polity, too, that we continue to tolerate this bullshit.’
absolutely. that these clowns, along with the various members of the pundit class (friedman, krugman) who, after being repeatedly wrong about any number of things, continue to be provided their bully pulpits tells you all you really need to know…
I just finished Simon Montefiore’s two books on Stalin (Young Stalin and The Court of the Red Czar).
With every passing day, the Neo-Cons and their fellow travelers are introducing the Soviet method into American politics: Denunciations, Conspiracies, and the Never-Ending Search for Wreckers.
Jacob Heilbrunn, via, I know, I know, the NYT. But, Heilbrunn, JULY 5, 2014
WASHINGTON — AFTER nearly a decade in the political wilderness, the neoconservative movement is back, using the turmoil in Iraq and Ukraine to claim that it is President Obama, not the movement’s interventionist foreign policy that dominated early George W. Bush-era Washington, that bears responsibility for the current round of global crises.
Does anyone remember the curious renaissance of the neocons? Quite a time before the election officially started or heated up?
Iraq, looked at in hindsight with the appropriate and needed distance in time, may not have been that wrong after all? At least once there was someone else to blame? The appropriate public period of repentance seemed to be over. New servants available, that might escape the probling public eye?
Now the Americans may not have chosen the right “cherry blossom king” (Tyler) in their opinion, or backed the right horse in the race. But does that matter? Strictly, hadn’t the winner delivered the new meme variant quite dutifully?
One has to keep open to twists of fate, seize the day, I would assume Trump knows that too. Let’s see. …
Yes, now I remember a tale in Boccaccio’s The Decameron, Sixth Day, Tenth Tale, Friar Cipolla and a Feather of the Angel Gabriel. Which might fit. One of my favorites really.
>>>The Ukraine … I could go on ….
Nah. You couldn’t’ve, because you were running on empty why you started your screed.
>>>The Phillipines … the southern half of the Island chain is predominantly Muslim & since Duterte began making friendly overtures to regional players i.e. China they now have a full blown ‘insurgency’ in the south …
A) Mindanao is the locus of the insurgency, and it has been that way ever since Spain annexed it into its “The Philippines” administrative region.
B) The Muslim population of Mindanao is hardly the “southern half” of the Philippines; at best, they are the “Southern sixteenth.”
C) The Muslim portion of the “Southern Half of the Island Chain” makes up a total of about 6% of the total population of the Philippines. How you jump from there to “the southern half of the Island chain is predominantly Muslim” is beyond me. That’s simply factually false.
D) Duterte’s overtures towards China have been overwhelmingly supported by the local population, a vast number of whom have relatives who are overseas laborers working in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canton/Guangdong, etc. In fact, the local Muslims in Mindanao were trained by the US, and those currently financed by the Saudis (and, in the 70s, trained by the U.S.) are staunchly opposed to Duterte’s campaign to open up the Philippines to Chinese investment.
Long-story-short: you’re wrong on pretty much everything I am in a position to criticize you on, and I suspect the rest of your screed can be similarly debunked.
I just finished Simon Montefiore’s two books on Stalin (Young Stalin and The Court of the Red Czar).
Judging by the “level” of Western historic narrative (granted with some notable exceptions) on Russian/Soviet history of the 20th Century, I would be very cautious when reading anything from Great Britain, especially from people with Montefiore’s background. Not to mention people who praise him–from WSJ, NYT etc. Western awareness of actual, real Russian history is extremely low.
This is the first I’ve heard of the German Marshall Fund other than on The Ministry of Information, I mean NPR, they are occasionally mentioned as providing money for some of the propaganda uh, programming. I thought it was a fund to thank us for lending Les Boches a helping hand after we were done bombing them to smithereens.
Here is a link to Der Spiegel that is a tribute to the founder, but is also a history of the GMF. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/founder-of-german-marshall-fund-guido-goldman-retires-a-834696.html
It appears to be Neocon safe space. Can there be too many.
I agree with 1664RM, he’s a little off with his Philippine geography but he’s spot on with his political thrust. Duterte is half-way there to being the next and newest Hitler and the formerly angelic Aung San Suu Ky is 1/3 of the way there. We’re rapidly losing influence in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Burma due to Chinese investment and construction projects. The Chinese are doing what we could and should be doing. Jihad ain’t gonna work there, sorry.
Yep, the usual economic determinism mumbo jumbo from this guy, an epidemic in amateur and professional poli sci circles conducting analysis on US geopolitical actions since 2003. Cast aside the wide scope of history into the dustbin and focus on the US as some omnipotent robot machine that runs on plundered oil. If the Colonel is reading this, what got me hooked on SST was a comment of his back in 2014 in which he shot down that economic determinism crap as it related to Iraq
Our friend – the Sergeant Major – may not be an expert on the Phillipines, but he has valid points on said darkies.
#1 export from saudi arabia to all corners of the Terran, esp. south-east asia.
‘Myanmar – shaping up to become a new hydrocarbon overland transit route from the Gulf for China (avoiding the Malacca Straights maritime chokepoint) in exchange for an invitation into the OBOR Project’
The main game in Myanmar is the US – PRC rivalry. The Kyaukphyu OBOR Port project in Rakhine is a PRC attempt to weaken Singapore’s trade volume and economy.
The Rohingya ARSA insurgency is funded from Saudi, grown more confident after Trump’s visit. Some have suggested that the ARSA attacks serve US interests by denying the PRC the stability it needs, others believe that the port development is too far from the three northern Rohingya districts to have any effect. Nevertheless secular and material factors, not superstition [religion] drive conflict and Myanmar has economic plans for Rohingya villages in Maungdaw that seemingly don’t include Rohingyas. ‘Galaxy Infrastructure Development Group was registered on September 5’
Prior to the most recent ARSA attack China had offered to mediate. There are suspicions part of the plan included the resettlement of Rakhine Buddhist insurgents [Arakan Army] who fight alongside the ethnic Chinese Kachin, to new settlements to be built where Rohingya villages once stood. They would be ideally suited to benefit from the Galaxy’s Maungdaw development.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of daylight between the stated public ARSA, US and UN positions. All want citizenship for Rohingya and economic development.
‘In fact, the local Muslims in Mindanao were trained by the US’
The insurgency in Mindanao dates from 1968 and the Jabidah massacre. The year before Marcos had recruited Muslims from Minda to infiltrate Sabah, provoke an uprising and give the AFP a pretext to annex Sabah, long claimed by the Philippines and the Sultanate of Sulu. It went pearshaped before they set foot in Sabah and Marcos had them killed to cover up. Malaysia, in retaliation, then trained and armed the first cadre of MNLF in Sabah and sent them back to Mindanao to fight the AFP. Brit and US allies were fighting a secret war against eachother, a little mentioned part of the Cold War in SE Asia. Blowback.
Forgive me, but “Alliance for Securing Democracy” sounds like a Münzenberg-era front organization.
Right, 1664RM. Not really a “reset,” just a new brandname. Neo-cons are masters at pushing through their agenda, no matter how many acronyms, 501(C)3 organizations, or think tanks they and their money backers have to create. When one doesn’t fly, they morph into another. I will bet this “Alliance” will last only as long as the money flows to them, which might not be for long. If “Russian interference into the US elections” doesn’t fly for them, watch for the group to become lobbyists for military action against Iran. D.
In November, 2016, Der Spiegel half-heir (disputes among parents) Jakob Augstein railed that Trump’s election and the Brexit vote presaged fascism for the world. A later Spiegel piece of November, 2016, says:
“So is he a fascist? “Yes, a Trump presidency would bring fascism to America,” conservative Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan wrote in May. “Trump is a fascist,” SPIEGEL ONLINE columnist Jakob Augstein recently offered. “Trump is a media figure and a fascist of our times,” Fred Turner, a communications researcher at Stanford University recently wrote for the German weekly Die Zeit. “This is surely the way fascism can begin,” New Yorker Editor in Chief David Remnick wrote the day after Trump’s election.”
Neo-cons are wonderful Orwellians. Glib in Newspeak, Doublethink (from 1984) and of course, Doublespeak. Wonderful at branding others for what they practice.
“New Hitler” epithet is used, abused and used again. Too cliche’d and too many “new Hitlers” called out to justify neo-con-imperialism, or humanitarian interventions aka R2P. Otherwise, spot on.
>>>Duterte is half-way there to being the next and newest Hitler…
Only in the American press, which is odd because Duterte’s worst and most brutal policy–declaring open season for vigilantes on all drug users and particularly drug dealers–is basically an American Conservative wet dream. FWIW, I am disgusted by it, but since I’m not Filipino I must admit that drug abuse and the associated violence has gotten way out of hand, there (mostly thanks to western-affiliated Filipino, Triad and Yakuza criminal organizations), and that the policy is widely supported by the Filipino majority. If it were me, I would simply legalize use by declaring usage a medical problem, put a certification plan in place for dealers, and *THEN* give the go-ahead to hunt anyone down who either was not certified or was illegally importing and producing them. Unfortunately, I’m not the Filipino president. Equally unfortunately, I think the end result of this current policy will be to consolidate dealership and production into the hands of one or two big players, while the core problem will continue to exist. Only time will tell on that, but that does seem to how policies like this have played out over the last few decades.
>>>…and the formerly angelic Aung San Suu Ky is 1/3 of the way there.
Yeah, this is one I have been scratching my head over. That the junta would have allowed stuff like this to happen was no surprise, but Ms. Aung San? I expected more from her. Clearly, this is a problem that has very deep cultural/ethnic roots, though, if even she can be pulled into it–which I think is your point, no?
>>>We’re rapidly losing influence in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Burma due to Chinese investment and construction projects. The Chinese are doing what we could and should be doing. Jihad ain’t gonna work there, sorry.
If that’s what you believe, then you *disagree* with 1664RM’s point, and agree with mine. 1664 was saying that these long-running ethnic conflicts were created by the U.S. so it could exert strongarm control of the local governments and force them to stop trading with the Chinese, and/or force them to sell their hydrocarbons to the U.S. He also further implied that the slaughter of the Rohingyas was either being exaggerated or had been artificially or clandestinely created by Saudi or American agents. As I have indicated, in both of these instances none of that is true.
China will retain massive influence in Burma/Myanmar, for the simple reason that Burma/Myanmar contains such a vast and varied set of ethnic groups that any government there cannot afford even the slightest bit of antagonistic meddling in its affairs by malicious neighbors without sacrificing a great deal of administrative control to potentially hostile groups within its own borders. This has always been Burma/Myanmar’s problem, both under the British and ever since its independence.
Burma/Myanmar is like Afghanistan, in that regard: less a cohesive state, and more like a geographic region shared by a lot of ethnically and ideologically competing independent groups. In fact, it is in one important way even more fractured than Afghanistan: at least Afghanistan is united by Islam. Burma nearly as many competing religions as it does ethnicities, so in that regard the current war of the Buddhists on the Muslims is just the first salvo in what could become a region-wide chaos of internecine conflicts. Aung San’s hands-off approach at the moment should be seen in that regard.
Additionally, one should keep in mind that the breakup of Burma and its transformation into the dictatorship of Myanmar was a direct result of U.S. and Taiwanese anti-communist meddling in the region. Briefly, U Nu and Aung San had initially identified as Communist, and yet though both had initially cooperated with the Japanese during WWII, they both switched sides to the British during the war–for promises of independence. Shortly after WWII had ended, the KMT (“Chinese nationalists”) parked the 26th army in the northern Shan state of Burma. There, the 26th army bivouacked, started meddling in local politics, and the end result was an entire destabilization of Burma that directly led to the military taking control of the government in a coup.
U Nu, who was one of only two elected leaders of Burma (the other being Ba Swe) personally traveled to the U.S. to petition Eisenhower to force the KMT to evacuate their troops. Nu only got as high as Nixon, who heard him out and then privately–in accordance with his Taiwanese masters’ will (Nixon was a protege that was largely financed and promoted by the China Lobby, which was very powerful during 1956)–declared U Nu a Communist and defended the KMT action as a blow against communism. The KMT attempted a couple of more reinvasions of China from the south, famously got their asses handed to them, then settled into become the opium masters of S.E. Asia–a position their now-Shanified descendants still largely hold, despite the market now being considerably more diversified. You may have heard of one of their more famous 2d generation leaders, Khun Sa. During his time, he shared power with a fellow by the name of Lo Xinghan–a clearly Chinese name that indicates he, too, was born of the KMT 26th army.
As usual, everything Wikipedia has to say about this era of S.E. Asian history is essentially meaningless.
Thanks for that, Mariner. A few weeks ago I read a long, detailed article about the role the Filipino Muslims played in US “anti-insurgency” campaigns back then, and was surprised by what it revealed. Unfortunately, few of the details stayed with me. I appreciate the lesson.
>>>The Rohingya ARSA insurgency is funded from Saudi….
It is absolutely wrong to call this conflict an “insurgency;” the entire conflict has grown from explicit Buddhist aggression against Rohingya communities. I have been reading about relatively routine attacks on and massacres of Rohingya communities for over 10 years, now. Three or four years ago I got briefly banned by Facebook, in fact, for posting some macabre pictures of dead families taken at one of the crime scenes (my interlocutor at the time refused to believe that S.E. Asian Buddhists were guilty of crimes against humanity, nor that Muslims of any sort could actually be victims of aggression).
If the Saudis have recently become involved in the Rohingya’s problems, then it is an instance of the Saudis seizing an unfortunate opportunity created by someone else–and I, for one, am grateful the Rohingya are at last getting some help. Under no circumstances, though, did the US or the Saudis create the conflict, nor are the Rohingya guilty of attempting to either overthrow or challenge the government, nor expropriate other groups’ property. This is a simple case of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya by Buddhist groups led by Myan (Mian, in Hanyu Pinyin) nationalists. This conflict started about a decade ago, when the military junta was still in charge, just after a spate of reforms allowed for greater provincial autonomy and civilian representation in the government.
O.K. I understand your point.
But as a lit major, I’m still trying to figure out the reference to the Decameron.
I got a list of books that I SHOULD know when I was a high school senior. Boccaccio’s Decameron was one of those. A few of the tales still make me blush. I believe some were rehashed in The Canterbury Tales.Please expalain.
And, I might add that I would not want to live in Russia right now, but I can’t understand all this hatred for everything Russian.
Thanks for the question. You go the heart of the matter.
From the introduction:
“… [I]t was come to this, that a dead man was then of no more account than a dead goat would be to-day.”
Most editions of Boccaccio’s Decameron leave off the Introduction — the author’s picture of the devastation of the Black Plague. It’s one of the most chilling in all literature IMO, and a mirror of the indifference and folly of today. There are no exact analogies in history, but “Wars, threats, more wars” — but in the language of the neo-cons and imperial thinkers. A dead man or dead child is of no more consequence than the death of a goat. Well said, Boccaccio. Most publishers go with the “Disney” version — tales of lust, irony and escape. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction.
“It was the common practice of most of the neighbors, moved no less by fear of contamination by the putrefying bodies than by charity towards the deceased, to drag the corpses out of the houses with their own hands, aided, perhaps, by a porter, if a porter was to be had, and to lay them in front of the doors, where any one who made the round might have seen, especially in the morning, more of them than he could count; afterwards they would have biers brought up or in default, planks, whereon they laid them. Nor was it once twice only that one and the same bier carried two or three corpses at once; but quite a considerable number of such cases occurred, one bier sufficing for husband and wife, two or three brothers, father and son, and so forth. And times without number it happened, that as two priests, bearing the cross, were on their way to perform the last office for some one, three or four biers were brought up by the porters in rear of them, so that, whereas the priests supposed that they had but one corpse to bury, they discovered that there were six or eight, or sometimes more. Nor, for all their number, were their obsequies honored by either tears or lights or crowds of mourners rather, it was come to this, that a dead man was then of no more account than a dead goat would be to-day.”
TheDecameron,. M. Rigg, trans. (London: David Campbell, 1921), Vol. 1, pp. 5-11
‘a simple case of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya by Buddhist groups led by Myan (Mian, in Hanyu Pinyin) nationalists. This conflict started about a decade ago’
PA. I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Ethnic cleansing yes, simple case no. Is it ever simple? This conflict started far longer than a decade ago. The ancestors of the people who now call themselves Rohingya have been living in the Arakan border marches for some centuries, moving as the borders moved. Their population increased exponentially when the Brits brought Bengali Muslims across to work in plantations. During WW2 the Brit military referred to them as Chittoganian Muslims and credited their loyalty with having saved India from Japanese invasion. They were also credited with having provided the majority of crews for the Brit Merchant Navy. There are other ethnic Muslim groups in Myanmar, having arrived during the Moghul period and as freed Portuguese slaves.
In the post war period Rohingya did indeed challenge the Govt, and were severely punished for it. Arguably, are still being punished for it.
I continue to suspect economic motive as a causative factor, religion being just a tool used by ambitious economic and political actors to mobilise the masses. Post war Myanmar was governed by dictatorships of the Left, more concerned with fighting both Christian and Buddhist Karen. The Tatmadaw conducted ethnic cleansing of Karen too. That was a period when US and the odd Australia SOF took themselves to the Thai Mynanmar borders to fight alongside Karen.
re Rohingya atrocity photos. Rohingya propaganda has been notoriously bad with many fake photos in circulation since 2012. After the mass exodus of refugees by boat, our PM infamously said ‘Nope nope nope’ when asked if Australia should take some of them. That undoubtedly encouraged the Tatmadaw to believe no action would be taken if even more severe measures were taken in the future. Turkey and Saudi [where there are some 400,000 Rohingya refugees, since the 1950s] stepped into the vacuum. The US offered to help those who’d reached Indonesia. The Rohingya leadership[s] capitalised on this and meetings were convened in Oslo with past Nobel winners. I thought the academic support that would result from tapping into that network would lead to more believable propaganda, as it has for previous Nobel winners. It didn’t, and it harms their cause. There’s probably a Nobel waiting for someone who mediates this conflict.