Saturday, July 14, 2018
Donald Trump & Russia
Here are facts according to the mainstream narrative: Twelve Russian spies have been charged with running a hacking campaign to damage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Special counsel Robert Mueller is accusing the agents of installing spyware on the computers of Democratic Party staffers to monitor their work during the campaign; stealing embarrassing e-mails and other documents; and making off with voter information on 500,000 Americans from a state election agency.
Now that sounds bad...
But spyware is nothing new and the US government uses it all the time to spy on its enemies both foreign and domestic. They even collect data from their own citizens.
All forms of computer hacking are done by state agents around the world. Are you telling me US foreign policy doesn't include influencing elections?
What the Russians did may be unethical, but it is not a "whataboutism" to bring up facts of the American empire.
Putting things into a larger context is helpful.
If their government is interfering in other nation-state elections, then it shouldn't come as a surprise when it happens to themselves. It's like a much less extreme version of 9/11. It's retaliation.
Or in Putin's case, it's the preemptive war doctrine the neocons are fond of using.
According to Hillary Clinton and establishment Democrats and Republicans, Putin was (and still is) an intolerable enemy.
So what if Putin was the mastermind behind it all? Can you blame him? The dude is former KGB. Ultra-nationalist and wary of American influence.
This is Russia we're talking about. An Eastern Europe power. Allies in World War 2.
You can't invade Russia.
And what if they do start to take back former Eastern Soviet satellite states?
Well, then it gets complicated. But must the free world find enforcement with the American military-industrial complex? Couldn't we contract these negotiations and use of force out to a mediator? It doesn't have to be big and grand (like that useless United Nations bureaucracy), just agree on a third-nation to do the adjudicating.
Nah, nukes are a better bargaining chip. More primal.
So what's the issue with Putin? His lack of respect for the rule of law?
Okay, now we're getting somewhere.
The rule of law is a myth. It's an idea true only because a lot of people believe it to be true. There may be a socio-biological basis for social norms like don't steal and don't murder. But taxation and war have always been the exception to that rule.
English Common Law underpins the West. Russia hasn't been so lucky. But considering they used to be communist, things aren't so bad.
This doesn't justify Putin's behaviour, but it does put things in perspective. A global arbitrator resolving conflicts and preventing large groups of people from warring and annexing and hacking each other's elections is the idea of the century.
This time, we need to understand that that arbitration begins at home. Between parents and children. Between friends and extended family. Neighbourhoods and communities. And domestically, as a nation, using English common law and an independent judiciary.
Only then will our international relations get resolved.
The American government may be more ethical than the Russian government, but both have questionable pasts and concerning presents.
Here's an idea. Think back before Obama, to a time when George W. Bush was president. When people were calling him a war criminal for invading Iraq and leaving over a million Iraqis dead.
If I told you, in 2004, just after Bush was reelected: "okay, you'll get your full two-terms years of a Democrat president in 2008, but then the next Republican will be a businessman from New York City.
"That doesn't sound so bad."
"Yeah, in 2016, the Republican contender is a businessman from NYC, world-renowned, a true American cultural icon. He has no attachments to the Bible Belt, and he supports gay marriage."
"Oh wow! Who's the Democratic contender?"
"Of course. Well, tell me Mr. Man from 2016, who is this Republican? Do I know him?"
"He's Donald Trump."
"Does he win?"
"The electoral college, not the popular vote."
"So he wins?"
I imagine the reaction would be a subtle confusion, followed by a "well I guess that's not so bad."
"No, wait," I remind him, "in 2016 there's a thing called social media. And people have smartphones. This pair has made everyone go crazy, including him."
"Yeah, he's been a disaster mostly, a real phony."
"Has he done anything well?"
"One good thing, I guess. He's meeting with third-world dictators and questionable world leaders. It's like a let's-make-a-deal sort of thing. I guess that's what he's good at. Making deals. Suppose it's better than invading the countries. He still does that, of course, but he's talking to North Korea and Russia. The deep state pretty much runs itself. Presidents just have to play cool and be the voice of the nation."
"But he's gone crazy?"
"Everyone has. He really is the embodiment of the people."