Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Make Russia Great Again Through Negligence

After a year and a half of silence, accompanied by much media noise, from the Mueller investigation into Trump the Terrible’s collusion with the Russians (and their lord and master the Dread Pirate Putin) in order to steal the election from innocent young Hillary “twinkle-toes” Clinton, Mueller finally laid an egg. He indicted 13 Russians for identity theft and wire fraud. He alleges that they bought some stolen personal info (Social Security numbers, names, birth dates, etc.) on the internet, used these to set up PayPal and Facebook accounts, and then used these to buy Facebook ads in an effort to undermine the American people’s faith in the wholesome goodness of their democracy.

There is no evidence that anyone in the Trump campaign or administration knew that this was happening. There is no evidence that any of the 13 Russians had anything to do with Putin or the Russian government. There is no evidence that anything they did had any measurable effect on the outcome of the election.

There is, however, ample evidence that this indictment will go nowhere.

There is a difference between being indicted and being convicted: a convicted person is proven guilty; an indicted person is protected by the presumption of innocence until convicted. To be convicted in a criminal trial, a person has to be physically present before the court because one has the right to face one’s accusers. A trial held in absentia is automatically a kangaroo court. The 13 Russians are Russian nationals residing in Russia. According to the Russian constitution, Russian citizens cannot be extradited to stand trial in a foreign court, and it seems exceedingly unlikely that they will face criminal charges in Russia based on Mueller’s indictment. Therefore, these 13 Russians have to be presumed innocent under US law—forever—even if they get to spend time in a Russian jail, convicted under Russian law.

It’s still possible that one of these Russians will at some point travel abroad, get snatched and shipped off to the US to stand trial, and be convicted of money laundering, identity theft and wire fraud. But the charge of working to undermine the American people’s faith in the wholesome goodness of their democracy would be rather hard to prove, mostly because there isn’t much of it to be found these days. The accusation is a lot like accusing somebody of despoiling an outhouse by crapping in it, along with everyone else, but the outhouse in question had a sign on its door that read “No Russians!” and the 13 Russians just ignored it and crapped in it anyway.

The reason the Outhouse of American Democracy is posted “No Russians!” is because Russia is the enemy. There aren’t any compelling reasons why it should be the enemy, and treating it as such is incredibly foolish and dangerous, but that’s beside the point. Painting Russia as the enemy serves a psychological need rather than a rational one: Americans desperately need some entity onto which they can project their own faults. The US is progressing toward a fascist police state; therefore, Russia is said to be a horrible dictatorship run by Putin. The US traditionally meddles in elections around the world, including Russia; therefore, the Russians are said to meddle in US elections. The US is the most aggressive country on the planet, occupying and bombing dozens of countries; therefore, the Russians are accused of “aggression.” And so on…

If (for whatever stupid reason) Russia is indeed America’s enemy, it stands to reason that the Americans would want to make it weaker rather than stronger. Working to strengthen one’s enemy seems like a poor strategy. And yet that is what has been happening: the last two US administrations—Obama’s and Trump’s—both have been steadfastly aiding and abetting Russia’s rise to greatness. Aiding and abetting the enemy is bad enough by itself, but it would also appear that they have been doing so unwittingly. Thus, if Mueller really had the health and beauty of American democracy in his heart, he would have indicted both the Obama and the Trump administrations for aiding and abetting the enemy through gross negligence. Here is how the indictment would read:

1. The Obama administration falsely accused the government of Syria of carrying out an attack using chemical weapons near Damascus on August 21, 2013 in order to find an excuse to attack and invade Syria. Chemical weapons were in fact used in that incident, but not by the forces controlled by the Syrian government. Since the Syrian government had no interest in either using chemical weapons or in maintaining its chemical weapons stockpile, this gave Russia an opening to negotiate an international deal under which Syria surrendered its entire stockpile of chemical weapons, which were destroyed, and international inspectors subsequently certified Syria as being free of them. This incident showed Russia to be a trustworthy partner, able to peacefully resolve crises through negotiation, raising its stature in the world, and the US to be a rogue state willing to use any means, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, in order to justify its illegal use of force. Following in Obama’s footsteps, the Trump administration, soon after assuming office, used similar unverified accusations of a Syrian chemical weapons attack to ineffectually bomb a Syrian airbase using Tomahawk missiles.

2. In February 2014 the Obama administration organized and carried out a bloody coup in Kiev, staging a massacre using foreign mercenaries, falsely accusing the Ukraine’s constitutional government of carrying it out, overthrowing it, and installing a puppet regime managed by the CIA and the US State Department. The nature of this regime, which is comprised of oligarchs and criminals allied with neo-Nazi groups, and which has elevated to the status of national heroes certain perpetrators of genocide against Jews, Poles and others during World War II, has been kept hidden from the public in the US. But because Russia and the Ukraine are not ethnically, linguistically, culturally or religiously distinct, and have existed as a single entity through most of their history, most Russians understood what had happened. The chaos and mayhem that followed the putsch gave the Russian government an opening to hold a referendum in Crimea, which was briefly joined to the Ukraine, but which had been part of Russia since 1783, and to re-annex the territory. It also led to armed rebellion in eastern Ukraine and the formation of two de facto independent republics there, making the Ukraine into a semi-defunct state that does not control its own territory. All of these developments led to a tremendous surge of patriotic feeling among Russians, who felt proud of being able to reclaim what they saw as rightfully theirs and felt threatened by seeing the Ukraine once again fall to the fascists. True to form, the Trump administration has continued Obama’s policy of Making Russia Great Again by providing the Ukrainian military with lethal weapons and advice.

3. Although the Russian annexation of Crimea, based on an overwhelming victory in a popular referendum and a great showing of public support, was impeccably legal in upholding the Crimea’s right to self-determination (unlike NATO previous annexation of Kosovo), the Obama administration saw it fit to impose economic sanctions on Russia in retribution. These sanctions, together with Russia’s counter-sanctions on food exports from the EU, have finally provided the impetus for Russia to break with the past pattern of exporting gas and oil and importing just about everything else, and to embrace the strategy of import replacement. This has allowed Russia to become self-sufficient in many areas, such as oil and gas exploration and production technology, agriculture and many other areas. Although Russia experienced a period of considerable economic difficulty which saw the purchasing power of the population dwindle substantially, Russia’s economy has survived. The popularity of the national leadership did not suffer because most Russians now understand what they are fighting for and, given the barrage of negative news from the Ukraine, who their enemy is, and what would happen to them if they were to show weakness.

4. Although the Trump administration has mostly followed in Obama’s footsteps in Making Russia Great Again, the most recent round of anti-Russian sanctions, which the Trump administration did not impose but only announced, as required by an act of Congress, was inadvertently an act of pure genius. What Trump’s flunkies did was take the Kremlin directory and the Forbes list of Russia’s wealthiest individuals, and put them together into a single list of people. If these sanctions were actually imposed rather than merely threatened, those having any dealings with the individuals on this list would suffer legal repercussions. The brilliance of this plan is in two parts. First, there have been some differences of orientation among the members of the Kremlin administration: some were more US-oriented than others. What this list did was make them look foolish in their hopes of ever appeasing the US. Before, the US had a few lukewarm champions inside the Kremlin; now it has zero. Second, Russia has had a problem with wealthy individuals moving their capital abroad, to Switzerland, to various offshore tax havens, and most notably to the United States, which is the money laundering capital of the world. But now Trump has threatened them with wealth confiscation. At the same time, the Russian government has extended a tax amnesty for those wishing to repatriate their capital. As a result, a flood of money is now reentering the Russian economy, giving it a major boost.

Once you put it all together, the charge against the last two US administrations for Making Russia Great Again by aiding and abetting it, unwittingly and through gross negligence, becomes compelling. There is, of course, no chance at all that anybody will be put on trial for it, but that may not be necessary. As shown by the #MeToo movement, it is no longer necessary in contemporary America to prove a crime; a mere allegation is now sufficient to end careers and to ruin reputations. You can play this game too: of each US policy or initiative announced against Russia, ask yourself: How is it going to help Make Russia Great Again? Because it probably will.


Cindy Shirar-Conaway said...

Is there any Russian Homestead Act land left up in Siberia up for grabs?

We wouldn't even need to own it (after the five years required by the Act). Would just be grateful to work on it. I read how tough it would be to survive the first couple winters in such a place in Shrinking the Technosphere...

But maybe I could go with a couple of my brothers... leaving the kids and husband behind until we have a tenable homestead...

Wishing/thinking/plotting "out loud."

Great post, as usual, Dmitry. Still dreaming of jumping the U.S. garbage barge Titanic...

Isabella said...

LoL. Loved it. "Hillary "twinkle-toes Clinton"!!.
Couple of responses.

1. You know, after the latest round of jaw-dropping insanity out of the US of Crazy, I started to muse whether perhaps, after all, Trump really was some sort of Russia sleeper agent. Or had maybe had secret meetings in a cave under the ice of the North Pole with Putin, to rough out a "the world needs America to collapse and then build itself again with sane people. Lets work to bring it down - I'll make it to President with a bit of help, then I'll do whatever you suggest a mad President would do to destroy it". I just couldn't think of any other explanation for the way that, whatever the administration does over there - they shoot themselves in the foot with both hands and give Russia yet another boost!!
2. This "Russia is the enemy" - sadly - they have apparently spread it to Canada. On leaving Vladivostok, I gave some family in Canada a call "what would you like as souvenirs"??. The grandson wants a "Russian Hat", so I get one, with Soviet Star plus sickle and hammer symbol in red and gold. On describing this, I was asked, somewhat apologetically, if I could not get one with a "Russian symbol" on it. When I explained "it was Soviet, which is long gone. It's Historical" I was told "I know. It's crazy - but it's shown here as Russian, and we are being told here that Russia is our enemy, and I dont want my kid in trouble". I got one with a Russian Coat of Arms [beautiful too]. I have been informed that "it fell off, but we are keeping it in his bedroom". They must think I came down in the last shower.

3. Can I just add a pet peeve. I always say, we should never, ever, use the word "annexe" in regard to Russia and Crimea. Yes, I know it was originally a noun meaning "something added on". As in "There are exta rooms in the hotel annexe". However, it has morphed [as English has a tendency to do] into a verb. The noun form is rarely used nowadays, although I remember using it; now the verb form, which means "to forcible invade and seize control of a country against residents wishes, using force and subsuming it into the invader country" is more commonly understood and used. If anyone doubts this, I suggest you play a word association game with some colleagues. Force them to give a fast response without time to think - the way we read things - to you throwing that word at them. I guarantee the majority will come back with terms of forced invasion. Thus, using it only promotes acceptance of the Wests idiot claims about Russia and Crimea.
Great article Dmitry, thanks.

Slo Mo said...

Yes, Cindy, there is plenty of land left up in Siberia. The local government even promised to build a road to it if there is enough people settling there... one day. But considering that there is no road between Moscow and Vladivostok (I mean, there is one, nominally, but... just see for yourself on Youtube) this local road will not be top priority. That free land is free for a reason.

MoonShadow said...

Isabella, there is something to be said for the intentional idiot theory. Ask yourself this question, if you were a major national leader, and you knew a terrible crisis was upon the country and that it was completely unavoidable, would you warn the public you serve?
Keep in mind, such a terrible crisis could be as mundane as an economic correction, or as devastating as Nibiru's return (don't draw too much in that comment). No matter how bad it promises to be, you can't avoid it. Would you tell everyone?

I wouldn't. The risk of social catastrophe as a direct result of the warning is too great. Even if the social catastrophe is also unavoidable, I certainly wouldn't want to hasten it's arrival, nor give historians cause to blame me for causing unnecessary suffering.

But what if the catastrophe was both unavoidable, and necessary for an eventual healing of society? Then perhaps I would not talk about the problem, but still do things that might *trigger* that catastrophe. Such a necessary catastrophe might just be the break-up of the United States and the functional bankruptcy of the American Empire. One thing is certain, Don Trump is smarter than he lets on.

AlaBikeDr said...

You are so ironic it is hard to tell if you are appreciative of being American. We are not very smart and sadly gauche but we are thankful for your attempt to improve us. I am hosting some Russians on a State Department tour next month and will ask them how things are going in Russia.