The new Joe Biden presidency is being celebrated across the political and media culture as an epic change from Trump dictatorial madness to Biden democratic normalcy – a time when honesty, decency, stability, and, yes, science finally return to American politics. But just what “normalcy”? In reality Biden will rule over the most concentrated matrix of power in history – a sprawling global system rooted in transnational corporate interests, Wall Street colossus, Big Tech oligarchy, massive intelligence-surveillance apparatus, media monopoly, a medical/pharmaceutical empire without parallel. That would be the “new normalcy”, more unfettered than ever, fueling the boundless dictatorial pursuits of Democratic elites.
There is more: yet another vital component of this soothing Democratic normalcy is a bloated warfare state with its many authoritarian, imperial trappings: foreign military interventions, regime-change operations, NATO deployments near Russian borders, threat of nuclear catastrophe, exorbitant waste of material resources, worsening ecological footprint. The inauguration brought a triumphant return of the War Party that Biden and his neocon war-lovers cannot wait to set in motion. These are the same politicians, after all, responsible for the prolonged (and illegal) bombing of Serbia, the endlessly destructive Iraq war, the Libya debacle with its ongoing chaotic violence, and neofascist Ukraine coup Biden helped orchestrate in 2014. More recently, in the days following Trump’s denunciation of the military-industrial complex, a reprise of President Eisenhower’s seminal 1961 speech, Biden and his restive warriors were just beginning to ramp up energy for new global adventures.
The Trump years, brief as they were, have been noteworthy for being relatively peaceful – that is, no new significant military ventures launched by Washington. Nor were there manifest threats to Russia, Venezuela, Iran, or anyone else aside from a few spectacular exchanges with North Korea. Democrats since Clinton have recklessly flaunted their military alliance at Russian borders, effectively placing the country of nearly 200 million in their sights, while angling for the ultimate “color revolution” overthrowing the supposedly fearsome Putin, second coming of either Ivan the Terrible or Stalin. That Trump was somehow able to evade this suicidal logic brought establishment charges worthy of impeachment..
Flush with electoral victory and the gift of January Sixth, the Democrats have a template for aggressive foreign behavior – a flexing of military resources, stepped-up intel/surveillance capabilities, sharpening identity politics, reliance (where needed) on local paramilitary squads, a general tightening of authoritarian controls. Going back many years and even decades, this formula has worked best when Russia and its leaders were being amply vilified as monstrous threats to a righteous American democracy. The War Party, from Woodrow Wilson to the present, has required a menacing enemy to instill military readiness in an otherwise skeptical public.
For present-day Democrats, Russiagate – based on patently ridiculous claims that Moscow schemed to put Trump into the White House – has been hugely beneficial. It not only served to “explain” Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat but now justifies growth of the war machine, provides rationale for NATO encirclement of Russia, and defects attention from all the miserable domestic failures of the Beltway. While Democrats and their fraudulent Mueller Report could never demonstrate any “collusion” between Trump and the Russians, nothing more than random trolling and use of bots here and there, the narrative is being kept alive by Washington interests and their media conduits designed to curb Republican opposition. The inept, corrupt Biden has managed to continuously benefit from this successful hoax, his election almost unthinkable without it.
Five years after this new cycle of anti-Russia hysteria might seem to have run its course, we see the political/media establishment parroting the same tired cliches and platitudes. Vladimir Putin remains demonized as the worst of all tyrants, though his popular support (including strong electoral victories) hardly seems weaker than that of leaders in China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Mexico, and a few dozen other countries. A deeper problem is that the Democratic elite is fixated on the goal of “color revolutions” in the Middle East and Eastern Europe – notably Syria, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus – and of course the hated Russkies stand in the way. By now it should be obvious that Trump’s greatest sin in the judgment of warfare/security state gatekeepers was to promise closer partnership with Russia. Now that the Orange Monster is out of the way, the War Party can presumably return to neocon business-as-usual, never mind the unconscionable costs and risks.
The warmonger Anthony Blinken, just installed as Biden’s Secretary of State, won great praise from every Democratic senator, including “progressives” Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Corey Booker. Former WestExec operative Blinken, driven like so many others by a mindless hate of Russia, has indicated a readiness to incorporate former Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia into NATO even if (as Sen. Rand Paul warned) such a move would likely provoke military conflict with a nuclear-armed state. Blinken’s appointment was cheered not only by CNN, the New York Times, and other mainstream outlets, but leading neocon figures such as William Kristol, Max Boot, Robert Kagan, David Frum, and Victoria Nuland. It’s all back to normal for the War Party.
For Russia-bashing warriors the great hoax continues to thrive, its utility in the service of military intervention still reliable, also worthwhile for targeting Trump, conservatives, and others (Tulsi Gabbard, et. al) looking toward a more rational foreign policy. Such crudely mendacious Democrats as Reps Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, Nancy Pelosi, Gerald Nadler, and Steve Cohen never tire of repeating the old Russiagate motifs, scarcely worried about being “fact-checked” by Facebook, Google, or Twitter, much less CNN. Rep. Maxine Waters, seemingly unaware that Communists no longer govern Russia, believes even today that Trump is some kind of Putin agent. In the wake of new reports about Hunter Biden’s alleged corrupt business dealings in Ukraine and elsewhere – subject of a federal investigation – dozens of former “intell community” figures joined Schiff and Waters in blaming the accounts on “Russian disinformation”, and even that news was quickly squashed. As of early 2021, the ideological guardians of Democratic politics have never gotten around to “fact checking” the ceaseless myths and lies of Russiagate.
The very survivability of Russiagate – long after having been thoroughly debunked – reflects more than anything the deep corruption of American political life. Could Putin, a reputedly incompetent leader facing plenty of his own challenges, really manage to control the public landscape of a distant, modern, sophisticated foreign power? Do the Russians genuinely pose an existential threat – economically, politically, technologically, militarily – to the world’s leading superpower? At last check (the year 2020) Russian military expenditures were precisely one-tenth those of the U.S.
Not only liberal Democrats but many progressives have bought into the flimsy anti-Russia propaganda. Filmmaker Michael Moore, among others, has repeatedly and vehemently advanced the Russiagate hoax, blaming Clinton’s 2016 loss on dirty schemes carried out by the all-powerful Putin. On a March 5, 2020 podcast – nearly two years after the Mueller investigation found no evidence of collusion – Moore blamed the Russians for “destroying our democracy”, as if reading from CNN talking points. Moscow, according to Moore, continues to use those horrible Internet bots to throw American elections into confusion, adding that Trump was always “Putin’s asset in the White House”, though of course Trump’s policies revealed nothing of the sort. Shrewdly reaffirming that Putin was once a “KGB agent”, Moore called for Americans to “wise up to the totalitarian Russians or we will never have fair elections.” Like Waters and other Democrats, Moore seems never to have gotten word that the Soviet era ended in 1991.
The leftist Sanders, among the staunchest backers of Biden’s neocon appointments, has from the outset subscribed to all the Russiagate fairy tales, little concern that prospects of military conflict with a nuclear state might worsen. Requiring no factual base, the Vermont senator could state: “We now know that the Russian government was engaged in a massive effort to undermine one of our greatest strengths: the integrity of our elections, and faith in our democracy.” (There it is again – ritually, monotonously – the threat to “our democracy”.) Not to be outdone, liberal New York Times writer Charles Blow accused Trump of a “betrayal of American trust and interests that is almost treasonous” – this after former CIA director John Brennan did accuse the president of treason for daring to meet with Putin in Helsinki.
Yet another progressive subscriber to this political concoction was U.C., Berkeley professor Robert Reich, who dutifully reiterated that “Russia carried out an unprecedented attack on our democracy.” From 2016 onward, these empty claims were repeated throughout the political/media establishment – and by a coterie of leftists – without a modicum of self-awareness. Relying on historical perspective and actual evidence, Stephen F. Cohen in War with Russia? expertly destroyed all the political fictions: Putin the maniacal dictator, Russia the imperial aggressor, Ukraine the model democracy, Trump’s love affair with Putin, and of course Putin’s notorious “attack on our democracy”.
Anyone paying close attention knows the new Cold War is entirely an American promotion, starting in the early 1990s and continuing along multiple fronts: NATO expansion to Russian borders, sanctions meant to “cripple” the Russian economy, neo-fascist coup in Ukraine, renewed military threats combined with periodic NATO “exercises”, groundless accusations that Moscow worked to get Trump elected, president Obama’s nuclear modernization projects in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Going back to early days of the Clinton administration, this has been the prevailing agenda of War Party Democrats.
Owing in great measure to the consequences of Russiagate, the exceptional land of freedom and democracy has seen vanishing levels of both. The warfare/security state does not readily accommodate much in the way of freedom and democracy, especially with enormous growth of the surveillance apparatus. At present, in Cohen’s words, “there remained, for the first time in decades of Cold War history, no countervailing forces in Washington – no pro-détente wing of the Democratic or Republican parties, no influential anti-Cold War opposition anywhere, no real debate.” Congress, the media, academia, think tanks, Silicon Valley – all seem engulfed, to varying degrees, in the same provincial and counter-productive Russophobia. Meanwhile, the Biden administration seems ready to mobilize this xenophobic energy with new dedication.
It is finally worth asking: on what side are the extremists, aggressors, and warmongers so invested in new Cold War brinkmanship? Does Putin have troops stationed on American borders? Is he waging economic combat against the U.S.? Has he staged a coup in Mexico? Has he nullified any treaties? Is he organizing a military alliance to undermine U.S. geopolitical status? Do we find incessant anti-American hysteria across the Russian public sphere? The renewed threat of war, as shown by Blinken’s casual response to Sen. Paul, falls entirely on the American side – a fearsome thought as we face return of the War Party.
Writing in The Doomsday Machine, Daniel Ellsberg lays out in great detail the advancing likelihood that strategic nuclear systems – above all those of the U.S. and Russia – will, sooner or later, produce some kind of fatal calamity: not only from deliberate attack but from the very real possibility of false alarms, accidents, computer hacks, or even unauthorized launches. In recent years fail-safe protections have been disastrously weakened or compromised, just as conflict sharpens between the two largest nuclear powers. The result of such an “event”, Ellsberg writes, would likely be several hundred million dead, global fires raging for months, lethal worldwide radiation, and “nuclear winter that would starve to death nearly everyone living.”
It is a supreme irony that this imminent threat to planetary life is routinely dismissed or ignored by the very Democratic messengers of doom regarding what now seems a much lesser challenge – global warming. Ellsberg could in fact be pointing to the fate of humanity if a persistent Russophobia – now something of a religious dogma among War Party elites — is allowed to follow its murderous logic.