It has been another week full of news about Russia. Americans might be surprised to learn that nearly every aspect of their lives has been somehow impacted by the insidious covert activity of a former global enemy that now has an economy the size of Spain or Italy. One of the latest claims is that Moscow has been covertly funding some environmental groups, most particularly those opposed to the use of fracking technologies. The allegations, which have recently surfaced in Congress, conceded that the Russians allegedly moved forward with their strategy to damage America’s energy independence without leaving behind “a paper trail,” thus there appears to actually be little or no supporting evidence for what is little more than a series of claims, which have been denied by the groups in question, including the highly respectable Sierra Club. Moscow has not commented.
To be sure, there is a certain logic inherent in assertions that Russia might be behind such a development as Moscow’s economy runs on energy exports and high prices are good for it. Consequently, it ought not surprise anyone that Russia would seek to discredit competitive technologies that work to increase the supply of energy and thereby cause prices to fall. It’s simple math, but is it true given the fact that environmental groups are widely popular due to the appeal of the product they are promoting and have their own reliable sources of income?
Now the irony in all this is that a major producer of relatively dirty oil is being accused of targeting an even dirtier and environmentally destructive energy resource, which is fracking, in collusion with organizations that are seeking to encourage the production of much cleaner power. And, of course, cleaner energy is a global interest whether one believes in climate change or not, which underlines the essential hypocrisy of the U.S. media in denouncing something that just might be good for the planet purely because Russia is allegedly involved.
And, of course, the congressmen involved in the revelation come from fracking states. If Moscow is for something then surely Washington must be against it, ignoring the fact that many genuinely patriotic Americans who care about such matters support more strict environmental regulations, no matter what the Wall Street Journal, the White House and the loony tunes in congress are saying.
There was a lot more anti-Russian agitprop in the U.S. media during the week, part of an endless stream of titillation provided free of charge to the American public in an effort to remind everyone that Russia is the enemy and will always be the enemy. Even Donald Trump’s milquetoast initiative to mend fences with Vladimir Putin cobbled together during their meeting in Hamburg has been assailed from all sides, most particularly by the usual parties who seem to be locked into an anti-Trump non-détente mindset come what may.
I was particularly bemused by the comment by former CIA Chief John Brennan who denounced Trump’s performance during the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg over the lack of a hard line against Putin and his failure to support the “word of the U.S. intelligence community” about Russian interference in the recent election. In an interview Brennan complained “He said it’s an honor to meet President Putin. An honor to meet the individual who carried out the assault against our election? To me, it was a dishonorable thing to say.”
Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter has demonstrated how the “word” of U.S. intel is not exactly what it might seem to be. And Brennan is not exactly a tabula rasa. As he observed in his comment, his ire derives from the claims over Russian alleged interference in the U.S. election, a narrative that Brennan himself has helped to create, to include his shady and possibly illegal contacting of foreign intelligence services to dig up dirt on the GOP presidential candidate and his associates. The dirt was dutifully provided by several European intelligence services which produced a report claiming, inter alia, that Donald Trump had urinated on a Russian prostitute in a bed previously slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama.
And along the way I have been assiduously trying to figure out the meaning of last week’s reports regarding the contacts of Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with two alleged Russian agents while reportedly seeking the dirt on Hillary. As it turns out, there may not have been any discussion of Hillary, though possibly something having to do with irregularities in DNC fundraising surfaced, and there may have been a bit more about the Magnitsky Act and adopting Russian babies.
Barring any new revelations backed up by actual facts revealing that something substantive like a quid pro quo actually took place, the whole affair appears to be yet another example of a politically inspired fishing expedition. This observation is not necessarily naivete on my part nor a denial that it all might have been an intelligence operation, but it is an acceptance of the fact that probing and maneuvering is all part and parcel of what intelligence agencies do when they are dealing with adversaries and very often even with friends. It does not necessarily imply that Moscow was seeking to overthrow American democracy even if it was trying to advance its own interests.
Assuming even the worst case scenario that the media has been promoting, the Trump Tower meeting appears to have involved three political aspirants who were a bit on the novice side and a Russian lawyer and lobbyist who might have been intelligence cut-outs. What did happen anyway? Apart from not reporting the encounter by the three apparent victims of the planned corruption of America’s democratic process, nothing apparently happened except that the event itself has now given the esteemed Senator Charles Schumer and the Honorable Adam Schiff something new to mouth off about. Oh, and it keeps Rachel Maddow and Stephen Colbert, who is celebrating Russia Week on his program, employed.
Politics is a dirty business, based on power and money in these United States. Presumably back in mid-June there was enough salacious information floating around emanating from both parties to provide employment for plenty of individuals who were prepared to do whatever it would take to dig up something damaging up from any source available, including foreigners. That game was played by both sides and anyone who does not think that is so is avoiding the hard edge of the pervasive political corruption that greases the wheels in the United States.
So maybe Russia is funding some environmental groups or maybe not. And if it is, so what? I would welcome anyone who challenges fracking. And so what if a cluster of political tyros met with a couple of Russians who may or may not have been sent by Putin. Clearly, nothing came of it and meeting with a Russian and talking is not yet ipso facto a crime in this country.
Sure, let’s punish Russia if it has actually done something wrong, but first let’s see the evidence. All of which leads one to question why the U.S. media insist on holding the Russian government and its intelligence services to a higher standard than they do other countries like Israel, which persistently spy on the U.S. and regularly interfere in our political process? And what about our own government and its multitude of spy agencies? Are we always the guys in the white hats? Let’s look at the actual record. CIA has done far worse far more consistently in collecting information through misdirection, influencing overseas elections and even changing regimes than have the Russians. And let’s not forget the U.S. military’s record on Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and currently Syria. We are very good at that “regime change” sort of thing even though the results frequently turn out badly because no one in Washington seems to know what to do on day 2 after the invasion has ended with yet another “victory” and another foreign government has been consigned to the garbage heap.