As Russiagate comes to totally dominate the US political landscape, the question of America’s long history of foreign meddling has surfaced, warts and all. But that’s a totally different matter, respond the US Russia-baiters.
In yet another variation on the theme of ‘Russia hacking America’s brain,’ a gaggle of American pundits appeared on Tuesday on the MSNBC news program ‘Deadline White House’ to elucidate upon a tweet by Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia.
“Caught @seanhannity at the gym tonight. Didn’t know he was taking about American alleged interference in other countries’ elections as an excuse for Russia violating our sovereignty. That’s exactly the whataboutism argument Putin’s TV channels make. Exactly.”
Caught @seanhannity at the gym tonight. Didn’t know he was taking about American alleged interference in other countries’ elections as an excuse for Russia violating our sovereignty. That’s exactly the whataboutism argument Putin’s tv channels make. Exactly.
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) February 20, 2018
Judging by McFaul’s comments, it is obvious that he has been out of Russia for quite some time. This is betrayed by the remark that there has been a discussion on “Putin’s TV channels” for finding an “excuse” to meddle in America’s democratic process. That is patently ludicrous. The real debate raging across Russia centers on the question: ‘How it is possible for such serious accusations to be tossed around by a world superpower against another without a shred of evidence to validate the claim?’
The discussion gets out of the gates with a jaw-dropping assertion by Deadline host Nicolle Wallace. She opens with a nostalgic look back at the Obama era, a period that radiates in the rear-view mirror of the Democratic bandwagon like some sort of golden age, by stating that Barack Obama “didn’t have a network distorting the truth for it. Donald Trump does.” The comment is not entirely bogus, however, since Obama didn’t have “a network” lending gratuitous assistance to his liberal cause, but rather a multitude of liberal US mainstream outlets. But I digress.
Jim Rutenberg, a former columnist with the New York Times, provided a breakdown on McFaul’s comments that was very instructive in terms of understanding how deeply embedded the notion of ‘American exceptionalism’ has become among establishment figures.
“There is some truth to the fact that the United States has engaged in election meddling over its history, the CIA has,” Rutenberg admits, before going wildly off the rails. “But what Ambassador McFaul was on to is that it’s not always the same thing, right? Here you can help a democratic movement deal with a despot.”
At this point, Wallace cut off Rutenberg by providing a glaring non-example of US meddling in foreign states that was so outrageous it had to be scripted.
“Right, sometimes it’s standing up for Iranian dissidents who are being hung from cranes for being gay; America’s role in supporting democracies is stated US policy. I’m not sure of any sort of embrace or national interest in permitting Russia to intervene in our democratic process.”
At this point, I must defer to journalist Glenn Greenwald and his critique of this media madness in action.
“Oh my god. This is an actual, full discussion on MSNBC about how it’s totally different when the US interferes in elections and other countries’ politics because we only do it to help bolster democracy & fight despots. Did these people ever move beyond 4th grade US history? Nope.”
Oh my god. This is an actual, full discussion on MSNBC about how it's totally different when the US interferes in elections and other countries' politics because we only do it to help bolster democracy & fight despots. Did these people ever move beyond 4th grade US history? Nope. https://t.co/30nDPu6l2s
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 21, 2018
Indeed, one must wonder where Wallace got the fanciful information that the US involved itself in Iran in defense of homosexuals. Perhaps she secretly watches CNN to brush up on current events, I really don’t know. But without delving too deep into early American 21st century history, Wallace could have pointed with more authority to other egregious (and factual) displays of US meddling in places as diverse and distant as Iraq, Libya and presently in Syria, where regime change on behalf of rogue elements was and is the endgame. And just for the record, none of these examples of militaristic meddling was remotely connected to democracy.
The discussion then turned to the concept of ‘whataboutism,’ which amounts to doublespeak for ‘you do not possess the moral authority to act as the United States does on the global stage.’
“Sean Hannity is very much part of that. It’s look over there, look over there, look over there,” Rotenberg continued. “And guess what’s happening in the meantime? The Russian behavior that we’re talking about now is ongoing, it’s probably itinerating.”
In the particular case of ‘Russia hacking US democracy’ compared to America’s overt efforts to sway elections in foreign countries, oftentimes by brute force (Chile in 1973 and Iran in 1953) the US pundits see a false equivalence. In other words, whatever America does on the global stage – from meddling in foreign elections, to outright military intervention – does not justify Russia meddling in US elections.
Correct. The US invaded Iraq, bombed Libya, intervened militarily & gave military assistance to Syrians. "Meddling" is not the right word. Ukraine a very different story of US assistance to NGOs. https://t.co/SmltrobAiM
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) February 20, 2018
But, of course, the claim that Russia is clinging desperately to ‘whataboutism’ to explain its actions is bogus in the first place since it has never been proven that Russia meddled in the US elections. In fact, for all intent and purposes Russiagate appears to be a media-endorsed psy-op against the American people to make them believe Donald Trump was not the legitimate winner of the 2016 presidential elections.
In any case, if you listen long enough to these mainstream media talking heads, which admittedly is no easy thing, you will occasionally come across tiny specks of truth like gold chips in muddy water. Brace yourself for the money quote from Rotenberg.
“We’re coming into the midterms and we’re still trying to figure out what happened during 2016,” he said. “This is an information war that is happening now and we are nowhere in the game.”
Finally somebody said it: “We’re still trying to figure out what happened during 2016.” And that would certainly include Russia, which remains just as perplexed as anybody.
By Robert Bridge