Monday, November 27, 2017

Russiagate Explained

By Caitlin Johnstone - November 27, 2017 at 02:34PM

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Michael Flynn is in the news again. Russiagaters are gushing with excitement at the revelation that Flynn’s lawyers are no longer sharing information with the president’s legal team now that Robert Mueller’s investigation is looking more closely at the former National Security Advisor’s involvement in the production of a film about an exiled cleric from Turkey. The story goes that this separation means that Flynn has struck a deal with Mueller, which Mueller wouldn’t permit him to do if he didn’t have damning information on Trump.

Of course this excitement is dependent on the false belief that Mueller’s job is to get the president impeached, and that he would only cut deals toward that ultimate end. It is also dependent on the false belief that there is any evidence to be found that Trump illegally colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election. And, like the rest of the Russiagate enthusiasm around Flynn, it is also somewhat dependent on compartmentalizing away from the fact the Turkey and Russia are two completely different countries.

This is all par for course in the interminable dance of soaring excitement followed by thinly veiled disappointment that Russiagaters have been engaged in for over a year. I’ve been receiving some complaints that I don’t recap enough on the specific details of why I reject the establishment Russia narrative so aggressively, so if you’re just tuning in, what follows is a quick synopsis of how this weird thing has been going so far.

At the beginning of 2015 Hillary Clinton was already scaring people with her intensely hawkish positions on Russia, long before she went all-in on her horrifying support for a no-fly zone in a region where Russian military planes were conducting operations. Coincidentally this same nation Clinton wanted to fight happens to be the nation everyone in her political party is supporting new cold war escalations with today.

When WikiLeaks began releasing Democratic party emails, those ever-trustworthy truth angels collectively known as the US intelligence community began asserting that the leaks were provided by Russian hackers, a claim WikiLeaks denies. Clinton, still widely expected to win the presidency, used that opportunity to call for “military responses” to cyber intrusions, saying as president she would “make it clear that the United States will treat cyber attacks just like any other attack.”

In a debate with Trump in October of 2016, Clinton asserted that “17 intelligence agencies” had all concluded that Russia was behind the WikiLeaks releases, which this year we learned was actually four agencies, which was actually three agencies plus Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, which was actually two dozen agents from the CIA, FBI and NSA that Clapper hand-picked himself. James Clapper is a known Russophobic racist who has said that Russians “are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever,” and that “It is in their genes to be opposed, diametrically opposed to the United States and to Western democracies.”

Clinton has continued to repeat the “17 intelligence agencies” lie long after it was conclusively debunked, and Democratic party loyalists continue to repeat it to this day. They do this to manufacture the illusion that this is something agreed upon by the entire US intelligence community and not two dozen analysts picked by a man with a seething eugenicist hatred of Russians.

Russia, incidentally, functions with regard to the United States as the right arm of China, the chief rival of the US power establishment Clinton has spent her career immersed in.

In January Clapper’s ODNI released its much anticipated intelligence report on the Russian hacking allegations to the public, which spent much of its space bizarrely talking about the fact that RT America covers third party presidential candidates and Occupy Wall Street. It ties Guccifer 2.0 to the WikiLeaks releases on very shaky grounds, despite an abundance of evidence that “Guccifer 2.0” is in fact a US establishment psyop and not a hacker at all.

To this day we’ve seen no hard evidence of Russian hacking the Democratic party emails despiteassurances from NSA veterans that if such evidence exists it can surely be found on NSA records andsafely shared with the public without exposing any sources or compromising any methods that aren’t public knowledge already. And yet the anti-Russia sentiment that assertion sparked has been used to manufacture support for sanctions, troops along Russia’s border, NATO expansionism and proxy conflicts. This is simply unacceptable in a post-Iraq invasion world. When it comes to assertions which lead to war, including cold war, the US intelligence community must be considered guilty until proven innocent. They have lost the trust of every sensible person forever.

The many, many gaping plot holes in the Russian hacking narrative are likely why as 2017 has worn on establishment loyalists have been opting to focus more on allegations that Russia used a pervasive propaganda campaign to get Trump elected. This includes RT America, which has the temerity to air the anti-establishment opinions of Americans whom mainstream media outlets refuse to platformPikachu-gate, and a narrative about $100,000 in Facebook ads somehow influencing a $6.8 billion election despite the fact that the ads in question rarely mentioned the election and most of them not being seen until after it was over.

Most disturbingly, the “Russian propaganda” angle has led to a large percentage of the US population supporting and promulgating the narrative that Americans need to be protected from ideas or information, which has led to enormous increases in corporate censorship across all major social media platforms. Which of course works out nicely for the unelected power establishment which has a vested interest in manipulating the ideas and information that Americans consume.

So that’s the narrative about Russia’s half of Russiagate. The story about Trump’s half is even more absurd.

The notion that Democrats may be able to get Trump impeached for colluding with Russia really took hold in January with the release of the now-infamous Christopher Steele dossier, which alleges that Russians have been blackmailing Trump into compliance with their agendas using a video they took years prior of Trump paying a bunch of prostitutes to urinate on a bed the Obamas once slept in. Apart from the obvious fact that nothing about this is even remotely believable, the dossier itself is riddled with significant errors and mostly unverified, and Steele himself has been distancing himself from parts of it. Some of the more high-octane Russiagaters have claimed that since some small parts of the Dossier have been confirmed to contain accurate basic information it must therefore all be true, which is the same as claiming that since Alex Jones was right about Iraq WMDs he’s definitely right abouteverything else he says as well.

Oh, and the position on Ukraine that the dossier alleges Trump was blackmailed into espousing? It’s virtually identical to Obama’s, and arguably more anti-Russia.

You’ll also hear a lot of talk about how Trump has “financial ties to Russia,” meaning he is necessarily therefore financially beholden to the Kremlin. This story of course requires that you ignore the many, many other foreign countries with which Trump has financial ties in order to view this as significant. Why would Trump exclude Russia from his map of business deals when the arm-waving hysteria about that country didn’t start until last year? In order to make Russian business ties look significant amid a sea of other foreign business ties you need to make the case that Russia is uniquely nefarious among nations, and few Americans saw it that way until the anti-Russia propaganda campaign began last year.

There’s talk about how some campaign officials met with Russians, which is only suspicious if you ignore all the other foreign nationals they met with and doublethink your way into believing that Russia has always been viewed as uniquely malicious among nations. Manafort and Gates were indicted for stuff that had nothing to do with Trump or Russia, and back in August the Washington Post ran a story explicitly stating that Papadopoulos was a very low-level aide whose attempts to arrange meetings between campaign officials and Russians were consistently rejected by the Trump campaign.

Taken individually, parts of Russiagate look like they could maybe possibly somehow lead somewhere plausible. Taken together, it’s obvious that the American people are being manipulated toward an anti-detente agenda by the Democrats who just want Trump impeached and the US power establishment which wants to secure geopolitical power by aggressively undermining its potential rivals.

The term Gish gallop refers to a fallacious debate tactic in which one barrages one’s opposition with a deluge of individually weak arguments which take far too long to debunk individually in a way that sustains the audience’s interest. This is all Russiagate amounts to. When Russiagaters tell you that there’s “too much smoke for there not to be fire,” they are unwittingly telling you “I’ve been won over by a Gish gallop fallacy.” Every single aspect of their argument can be easily debunked without exception, but since there’s so much of it and since pundits are assuring them of its reality so confidently, they believe.

Every few weeks there’s some major new “bombshell” revelation which Russiagaters get all excited about, only to have people read the actual information in the “bombshell” and find out it’s not actually anything incriminating or particularly remarkable. Take all those “bombshells” together, though, and you create the illusion of something real. That’s all this nonsense is.

Reprinted with permission from The Last American Vagabond.

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