Tuesday, June 25, 2019

What The Russia Hoax Reveals About America's Elites

I've finished Stephen Cohen's War With Russia? It's impressive, in that Cohen repeatedly beat other observers to very pointed conclusions. Two examples:

As early as August, 2016, Cohen was dismissing any notion of Paul Manafort "colluding" with Russia and very pointedly questioning the reliability of the Ukrainianian "anti-corruption" sources who provided the information about Manafort. We're seeing Cohen's questions coming to the fore, nearly three years later.

On May 10, 2017, a week before Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, Cohen wrote:

... on May 8 and 9 in Washington, today's Russia was being portrayed at Senate hearings as an existential threat, as having committed an "act of war against America" by "hijacking" the 2016 presidential election on behalf of President Trump." ... 
After nearly a year, no actual facts have yet been presented to support the allegation. On the other hand, evidence has appeared that for more than a year elements of the US Intelligence Community--almost certainly the CIA and FBI--have been engaged in shadowy operations designed to link Trump to Putin's Kremlin. I've called this "Intelgate" and urged it be investigated first and foremost. Intel leaks and "reports," in evident "collusion" with the failed Clinton campaign, have driven the Russiagate narrative from the outset, amplified almost daily by a mainstream media that shows no interest at all in Intelgate.

That's about as clearsighted as anyone at the time could have claimed to be--far more so than most.

Since Bill Barr's DoJ is short on leaks, I decided that it might be worthwhile to present Cohen's essay from February 21, 2018. My title modifies his slightly. Cohen's perspective is always that of the all pervasive "Russia hysteria" the Dems and their media allies have plunged us into, so he prefers "Russiagate". Be that as it may, in his essay Cohen identifies "six ... barely concealed truths", "profoundly disturbing characteristics of people who play a very large role in governing our country." Admittedly, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone, but Cohen's six point indictment of America's elite is persuasively presented.

The First Truth is that those who have promoted the Russia Hoax "have little regard for the future of the American presidency." He points to the constant claims--based on no evidence whatsoever--that our President is "Putin's puppet" and that Trump is therefore engaged in "treason." He concludes with a typically forthright observation:

They have already deformed Trump's presidency, but no consideration is given to how they may affect the institution in the future.

The Second Truth is that the Russia Hoaxers "clearly ... have no regard for America's national security." Here, Cohen points to the over the top rhetoric employed by the hoaxers--claims of an "act of war," "treason," comparisons to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. These irresponsible and evidence free claims have threatened two serious consequences:

They threaten, to a disturbing extent, to tie Trump's hands in dealing with the other truly major nuclear power, and a significant player in some of the most troubled areas of the world. (Cohen, elsewhere in the book, does full credit to Trump for, nonetheless, seeking to advance his foreign policy agenda as promised. Nor does Cohen draw back from calling Trump "courageous" in this regard.)

They also threaten to provoke Trump to ill considered actions to demonstrate that he's not Putin's puppet." (Cohen doesn't consider whether Trump's status as a "stable genius" may, in effect, innoculate him from such pressures.)

The Third Truth is the contempt of the elites for the American people. Among other ways in which this contempt is revealed, says Cohen, is the absurd claim that Russia's supposed social media "attack on our democracy" somehow duped American voters. Cohen goes on to illustrate this contempt of the elite with examples from the MSM, reminding how truly over the top--and cynical--it all was (and remains):

Kathleen Parker in the WaPo: Russia's social-media intrusions "manipulated American thought ... The minds of social media users are likely becoming more, not less, malleable." Charles Blow adds to this that this was true of "black folks." 
Scott Shane in the NYT: "Americans duped by the Russian trolls." Evan Osnos at the New Yorker: "large numbers of Americans are ill-equipped to assess the credibility of the things they read." 
Dana MIlbank in the WaPo: "Putin has played Americans across the political spectrum for suckers," turning Trump voters into "the useful idiots of the 21st century."

The Fourth Truth concerns the extent to which the Russia Hoax has been enabled and promoted by a media in collusion with the Deep State:

Russiagate was initiated by political actors, but elite media gave it traction, inflated it, and promoted it to what it is today.

Cohen offers a striking example--one of many, of course, but striking nonetheless--of the way in which the "elite media" has sought to destroy anyone who has stood against the Russia Hoax:

... a brand name of liberal-progressive MSNBC, John Heilemann, suggested on air, referring to questions about Russiagate posed by Congressman Devin Nunes, "that we actually have a Russian agent running the House Intel Committee on the Republican side." The Democratic senator being interviewed, Chris Murphy, was less than categorical in brushing aside the "question."

Cohen finishes this point by noting the failure of the elite media to protest the creeping censorship in both public and private institutions.

The Fifth Truth calls out the Democrat party. Cohen notes that in the run up to the 2018 midterm elections the Dems appear less a vehicle for positive alternatives than a vehicle for promoting hysterical anti-Russian "conspiracy theories."

The Sixth Truth is directed at America's elites and the almost uniform lack of courage that they have displayed in the face of evidence free conspiracy and fear mongering:

American's elites are composed overwhelmingly not of "rugged individualists" but of conformists--whether due to ambition, fear, or ignorance hardly matters.


  1. Whether one chooses to believe Tom Fife or not, his is the only story from an apolitical, non-anonymous source to suggest that POTUS was a Russian agent. Ironically, however, the POTUS was Barack Obama, and the allegation was never investigated.

    1. I'll check it out. I'm cutting the lawn this afternoon--a long process the way I do it.

  2. I earned a Masters Degree in Slavic Languages, and I served as an Intelligence officer in the US Air Force from 1978 to 1992. During most of my USAF career, I interviewed emigrants and defectors from Warsaw Pact countries. I always have been fiercely anti-Communist.

    I know many people from the Soviet Union. My wife and step-children grew up in Communist Lithuania, and I speak mostly Russian with my wife. Most of the staff member of the business where I work are immigrants from the Soviet Union.

    As I have watched the RussiaGate hoax develop, one aspect that has struck me as remarkably absurd is the idea that the Putin Government is conducting an expensive, devious campaign to cause Americans to lose their faith in Democracy.

    Russian Intelligence has significant threats to study. There are Chechen terrorists. There are border conflicts with Georgia and Ukraine. There are former Soviet regions that now belong to NATO. There are vicious criminal mafias. And so forth and so on.

    It is not likely that Russian Intelligence spends any resources -- money, manpower, time, credibility, etc. -- to hack into the computers of the Democratic National Committee or into the e-mails of individuals like John Podesta. Russian Intelligence does not have infinite resources to waste on such office-politics shenanigans.

    I can imagine that the Russian petroleum industry might have spent some of its own resources on encouraging opposition to fracking inside the USA. Any such effort would not need any guidance or support from the Russian Government -- in particular, from Russian Intelligence.


    As a former Intelligence officer myself, I recognize also that people in the Intelligence field advance their own careers by depicting threats to US national security.

    You advance your career by saying that Russia is a threat. You do not advance your career by saying that Russia is not a threat.

    Such self-interest applies also to contractors who make their money by serving the US Intelligence Community.

    You win government contracts by selling analyses that Russia is using cyberattacks to undermine and threaten US national security. You do not win government contracts by minimizing or dismissing such threats.

    You win government contracts by, for example, proving that Russia is buying Facebook ads in order to cause Americans to lose their faith in Democracy. That is a proposed study that might win your company a huge contract that might earn a million dollars for your company.

    If you propose a study that intends disprove such a "threat" from Facebook ads, then you certainly will not win a government contract to do that.

    1. Think about it, what a disgrace--the most powerful nation in the world with a bozo like Clapper as DNI. And no one in Congress brave enough to call him out on his inanities.

    2. -->"...the Putin Government is conducting an expensive, devious campaign to cause Americans to lose their faith in Democracy."

      It's a fascinating observation because it is US media (DNC-MSM) who is promoting this evidence-free assertion/supposition as The Narrative. And I hear (as I think I've noted) educated, professional upper-middle class NYC people make the same observation as fact, as demonstrated beyond any doubt. And if challenged for some sort of proof, they look at you as if you have a third eye, e.g., "any idiot knows Russia interfered."

      The lack of self-awareness, introspection, and the psychological projection attendant is both hilarious and mortifying.

      One final thought. If Americans are losing faith in democracy, it must not have been very robust in the first place. More likely, the claim is part of the hysteria being stirred up to rally the masses to The Resistance and opposition.

      One final suggestion. A book to complement Cohen's would be Ryszard Legutko's "The Demon in Democracy," first published in Poland in 2012--well before Trump--while the US edition came out in 2016. It exposes the illiberalism of our present "liberal" order, one that matches up well with communism/socialism.

    3. One of my brothers has been recommending Legutko to me but I haven't got around to it.

  3. If James Clapper had included the State Department in his Task Force, then it's likely that those analysts would not have concurred with the Task Force's assessment. The key findings:

    ... Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US Presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order. ... Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process ...

    The State Department does not go along with such paranoid hysteria about Russia in the 21st Century.

    The State Department figures that it can deal with Russia diplomatically, because the Russian leadership is reasonable.

    For State Department analysts, the alleged claims of some spy "close to Putin" would not suffice for such a tendentious assessment of Russia's desires and goals.

    That's the major reason why Clapper excluded the State Department from his Task Force.

    1. You sound like Cohen--not a bad thing. He's basically appalled at the way since 2014 all progress has been trashed. For partisan political and intel power politics reasons.

    2. During the Communist period, there was plenty of evidence that the Kremlin "desired to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order" and to undermine public faith in the US democratic process". Such thinking was essential to the ideology and propaganda that governed the entire society and its foreign policy.

      Now, however, such evidence is gone. The leadership no longer proclaims such desires or goals. You might think that Putin and his circle still harbor such goals and desires, but you cannot provide any quotes.

      In the RussiaGate hoax, the proof seems to have been that the CIA had an "Informant" who communicated with some "Source" who was close to Putin and who allegedly heard Putin express such desires and goals.

      Such "evidence" might not convince State Department analysts assigned to Clapper's Task Force. State Department analysts view Russia's desires and goals from more of a sociological perspective.

      That's why Clapper excluded the State Department from his paranoid, hysterical assessment of the Kremlin's foreign-policy desires and goals.

  4. Clapper reportedly had dinner with Bruce and Nellie Ohr at a Tysons Corner hotel on April 1, 2017 (no April Fools joke). I have tried to figure out what they may have talked about at that time, but nothing is coming to me. Seems like a data point to keep in mind.

  5. I'd be interested to hear the tape if that conversation were picked up by electronic eavesdropping. Apparently, only the left has constitutional protections anymore against unreasonable search and seizure, so I doubt anything exists.

  6. What The Russia Hoax Reveals About America's Elites???

    That the elites know better than the common man. That they make up rules that they don't have to follow. That they must never be questioned or challenged. That we're stupid. That they have contempt for us.

    Is that enough or do you want me to expound some more?