Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspiracy

Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:31 pm

There’s No Need for a New Cold War: The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald is skeptical Russia is really a new, serious threat.
by Isaac Chotiner
August 11, 2017



Isaac Chotiner: On this week’s episode of my podcast, I Have to Ask, I spoke with Glenn Greenwald, a co-founder of—and writer for—the Intercept. Greenwald is probably best known for his role in reporting on Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency disclosures, which won his reporting team a Pulitzer Prize. He now lives in Brazil and has been writing about the Trump administration and the opposition to it.

Below is a transcript of the show that has been edited and condensed for clarity. In it, we discuss the media’s hypocrisy over covering President Donald Trump and whether we’re really risking a new Cold War with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

You can find links to every episode here, and the entire interview with Greenwald is also below. Please subscribe to I Have to Ask wherever you get your podcasts.

Isaac Chotiner: A lot of journalists in 2017 have approached the Trump administration in opposition and have said, “This is an unprecedented threat to democracy or to America or to the world,” and this is an incredible time for journalists to be in opposition to power. You seem to me to have approached it a little bit differently.

Glenn Greenwald: I think it’s sort of ironic because when I began writing about politics, I did so very much as a byproduct of dissatisfaction with the media’s refusal to do exactly the things you just said they’re doing now, under the Bush years: that they were refusing to call torture torture, that they were refusing to point out when Bush and Dick Cheney were lying, that they were being insufficiently adversarial.

And the view of journalism I adopted and have been an advocate of now for almost a decade is one that says that journalists should be much more aggressive in their rhetoric and in their journalism; in being adversarial to people who wield political power and calling out lies when they say things that aren’t true; and questioning aggressively the things they say rather than just accepting them on faith; and to not be afraid to have this perception that they’re being too on one side or the other by actually doing journalism.

It’s ironic in one sense that that is what the media has now done with Donald Trump, and I’m glad to see it. My concern, though, is that this change in behavior is very much unique to Trump and that once Trump is gone, it’s going to return to the way things were. My more general concern is that while there are some things that are unique in terms of the threats the Trump presidency poses, there are a lot of things that are just continuations of what has been taking place for a long time that maybe he makes a little bit more manifest. I worry about the whitewashing of history and the rehabilitating of lots of terrible people based on this myth that Trump, and Trump alone, is this malignant force in American politics.

Isaac Chotiner: I guess obviously there are other malignant forces in American politics, but do you not feel that we’re dealing with something unique here that should be approached uniquely? Even if the things you say about hypocrisy among people in the media is well-taken and obviously correct at some level.

Glenn Greenwald: I think there are some things that are unique. I think the extent to which they are willing to pathologically lie is unique, but I think it’s unique by a matter of degree rather than kind. The journalist who probably has influenced me the most since I’ve been writing about politics is I.F. Stone, and the motto of his journalism was, “Governments lie.” The government lied its way not just into the Iraq war but into the Vietnam War with the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

I think the Trump White House lies more often. I think it lies more readily. I think it lies more blatantly. Is that unique? It’s unique by a matter of degree and not by kind, and I would say that that’s true for a lot of things. One of the things I object to is when I see things that have been done for many years, or even decades, being treated as though they’re things that Trump pioneered. That’s generally when I start being more overtly concerned about the narrative being misleading.

Isaac Chotiner: Anyone who’s read about everything from Henry Kissinger to the way the Iraq war was sold cannot say that America doesn’t do things that are horrific, and the things Trump has promised to do—such as bomb people and take their oil, that America has historically done—are things that are indeed that bad. But it does seem that because Trump does present a threat in certain unique ways that at least I feel that people should be welcomed for coming to the right side of something. Even if they should at the same time have to answer for the things that they’ve done or said that were wrong.

Glenn Greenwald: I’ll give you an example where I think it’s more than just about hypocrisy, where I think it becomes harmful deceit. When Trump met with Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt in the White House, and also when he went to Saudi Arabia and praised the regime, there was all of this sanctimony about how can an American president possibly embrace tyrants this way? When the entire history of post–World War II America is not just embracing tyrants and heaping them with praise, but propping them up with money and with arms.

Hillary Clinton said that Hosni Mubarak, one of the worst despots of the last four decades, was a close friend of her family’s who she looked forward to seeing when he came to the United States. Pretending that Trump is kind of this pioneer of embracing despots, something that the American presidency previously was so anathema to, it’s not just hypocrisy: Democrats didn’t care when Obama hugged Saudi despots, and now they pretend to care when Trump embraces Saudi despots or Egyptian ones. It’s deceitful. It’s creating a false narrative about what the bipartisan class in Washington actually has done, and actually what they still believe in doing, as a way of stigmatizing Trump for something that they themselves all do.

Hacking emails and supporting parties? This is stuff the U.S. has done to Russia for decades and still continues to do. I think as a journalist it’s my obligation to say that this narrative is actually false.
I think the times that I get bothered the most is not just simple hypocrisy but when it extends into rewriting history. I got my start writing about primarily civil liberties in the Bush era, and the people who built up my platform and who enabled me to find a readership were Democrats, the liberal blogosphere, and liberals who were saying, “Oh, Glenn Greenwald’s so great. Look at this critique he’s making of the Bush administration, their executive power theories, their law-breaking.”

And then when Bush left office and Obama came in and continued many of those same policies, a lot of those people not only stopped caring, they started defending those policies and attacking those of us who were consistent. I don’t actually think that there’s limited value even in people who pretend to care about issues only for partisan opportunism and gain. I actually think those people are really harmful because the minute those policies are embraced by members of their own party, they’re going to become cheerleaders for them, and I’m not interested in vesting them with credibility in order to do that.

Isaac Chotiner: That’s a fair critique, but I also think that you can say that everyone is hypocritical to some degree, obviously different levels, and that when people do take the right position on something, they should be applauded for that …

My psychological reading of what’s going on is you brought up the post–Cold War world and you said, “Look, America has supported one despot after another in many cases. They’ve done all these horrible things,” and you also have Ronald Reagan or Jeane Kirkpatrick, I think, what was it? That Jonas Savimbi was a philosopher or something like that. I can’t remember the exact quote.

Glenn Greenwald: Yeah, yeah.

Isaac Chotiner: But quotes that are basically as ridiculous as you could find Trump saying about Sisi. I agree that that’s all true, and much of it is completely shameful. I think the difference among people is that there was a sense that a lot of this stuff was realpolitik. It was done to uphold the Western world order, and that world order was being upheld because fundamentally it offered certain freedoms, et cetera, that in the long run were good.

Glenn Greenwald: Are you talking about the Cold War? You’re talking about the Cold War mentality?

Isaac Chotiner: Yes, and then the post–Cold War, I think what scares people about Trump is there’s a sense that not only is he speaking up for dictators, but he has no respect for the good aspects of this world order—whether it’s peace in Europe, peace in Western Europe, or a commitment to certain civil rights and civil liberties that our country’s obviously practiced very insufficiently at times, but also in some ways has a commitment to. I think the fact that people think that he has no commitment to any of these principles is what scares people and why you see this reaction. I don’t think that’s totally insane.

Glenn Greenwald: So, here’s what I will agree has validity, which is that Trump often seems to heap praise on dictators—just as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and whoever your favorite Democrat did—not because they’re strategic partners of the U.S. and advanced U.S. interests, which by the way, doing it for that reason is a horrible, evil thing, but he goes beyond that and expresses almost an envy that he wishes and aspires to their level of totalitarian power. The more totalitarian power they exercise, the more fearful their domestic opponents are, the more he respects them because that’s what he sees himself as aspiring to as a leader. That I do think is alarming and scary and different. I agree with that part of it.

I have a lot of trouble with this idea that when politicians do something really destructive and immoral, we’re supposed to look into their hearts and feel, “Well, they’re just doing it begrudgingly. They wish they didn’t have to do that, but they’re doing it because they think they should,” as opposed to because they really like it or because in the ideal world they would be doing it. There’s just no way to know that. Hillary Clinton sounded really genuine when she talked about Hosni Mubarak. I think the reason is because they deal so much with these dictators, and these dictators do become their partners, they start excusing and mitigating all of their crimes. I think both the Cold War order and the post–Cold War order has been very much a story of the U.S. not just tolerating dictators, but seeking them out and trying to strengthen them on the grounds that doing so will advance U.S. interests.

One of the things I found most disturbing about the 2016 election was when Trump raised questions about NATO, and whether NATO was obsolete, in light of the fact that there’s no more communism and no more Soviet Union that it was originally created to fight. Whether the vast expenditures that we lay out for NATO military and NATO forces is something that we ought to continue to do, whether the military adventures of NATO in Libya and elsewhere have actually been something that has served the national interest.

To me, these are totally legitimate questions. I don’t think NATO has kept the peace. If you live in Paris and you live in London, then it has, but if you live in Somalia, or you live in Yemen, or you live in Libya, or you live in Iraq, then it hasn’t. I think we ought to be able to have a good-faith debate about things—are these international institutions that continue to exert military force in the name of the Western alliance doing more harm than good? Is it really worth the outlay?—without being accused of being treasonous, or Vladimir Putin’s puppet, or anything like that. I think that’s a debate that’s valid and worth having.

Isaac Chotiner: I haven’t given a lot of thought to NATO [:)], collective security, and the future of the alliance, but to me it almost seems more important now than it did three years ago, not because Trump is speaking out—I won’t say “against it” exactly, but speaking out while mincing words about it. But also because we now have a president who speaks approvingly of Vladimir Putin trying to hack Western elections.

Glenn Greenwald: When you say that kind of stuff, it sounds to me like you almost are describing a new Cold War. The original justification of NATO was that it needed to band together in order to defend the West against this pernicious ideology emanating from Moscow. What I hear you saying, and lots of other people saying, is that the reason we still need NATO, notwithstanding the collapse of communism, is because there’s this pernicious ideological movement emanating from Moscow that we need to unite in defense against.

One of the reasons why I find that so alarming, aside from all the obvious destruction the Cold War wreaked the first time around, is because if you look at what President Obama was saying for eight years—it’s one of the things that I agreed with him so much on and often expressed praise for him for doing—he was extremely reluctant to adopt this worldview that held that Russia was this new, serious geopolitical threat. He constantly mocked the idea, most famously in the 2012 debate with Mitt Romney, but in other instances as well.

He often pointed out that Russia’s economy is smaller than Italy’s. He refused to arm anti-Russian factions in Ukraine; he didn’t want to confront the Russians in Syria notwithstanding a bipartisan demand that he do so. The reason for that was he understood that if we escalate tensions with Russia by exaggerating the threat that it poses to our country, then we could find ourselves in the midst of a new Cold War, which was so destructive the first time around. I think he was right for eight years, and I still think he’s right, notwithstanding the fact that—let’s assume it’s true—some Russians successfully sent phishing links to John Podesta and then leaked his emails. I don’t think that changes the geopolitical reality in such a fundamental way as I think your question suggests.

Isaac Chotiner: It does seem like things have changed in the last couple years. It’s continuing Russian action in Eastern Ukraine post–annexation of Crimea. It’s phishing links to John Podesta, but it does seem like, according to some of our intelligence agencies and reporting, there is at least a larger effort on the part of the Russians to interfere in several Western elections, which I assume will be ongoing. This all seems like it changes the picture at least somewhat. Do you not feel like what we’ve learned, or what we’ve seemed to have learned, in the last year about Russian interference and Russian behavior vis-à-vis the election has changed at all the way you think about it?

Glenn Greenwald: First of all, and I know this is blasphemous to say, I still think it is worth underscoring that the United States government has to this very moment still not presented actual evidence, as opposed to claims and assertions, that Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta’s emails in order to sway the election in favor of Donald Trump. I know we’re all duty-bound to accept that this is true—I know that if we question it, it means that we’re being irrational—but I do just want to point out that the evidence for this, presented by the U.S. government, is essentially nonexistent.

Remember, there were a lot of claims made during the French election about the hacking of Emmanuel Macron’s emails that were said to be done by the Russians, that forensic investigations once the election was over concluded probably weren’t true, that it wasn’t really the Russians who did at least those kind of hacks.

The Latest: France says no trace of Russian hacking Macron
by Associated Press
June 1, 2017

5:30 p.m.

The head of the French government’s cyber security agency, which investigated leaks from President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign, says they found no trace of a notorious Russian hacking group behind the attack.

In an interview in his office Thursday with The Associated Press, Guillaume Poupard said the Macron campaign hack “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

He said they found no trace that the Russian hacking group known as APT28, blamed for other attacks including on the U.S. presidential campaign, was responsible.

Poupard is director general of the government cyber-defense agency known in France by its acronym, ANSSI. Its experts were immediately dispatched when documents stolen from the Macron campaign leaked online on May 5 in the closing hours of the presidential race.

Poupard says the attack’s simplicity “means that we can imagine that it was a person who did this alone. They could be in any country.”

Now, I don’t doubt at all that the Kremlin interferes in Western domestic politics by trying to sew divisions, by trying to support factions that it believes are better for its interests as opposed to worse for its interests. I don’t even doubt that the Kremlin wanted Trump to win over Clinton, given that she was saying she essentially wanted regime change in Syria and we should confront the Russians more aggressively in Ukraine, and Trump was taking the opposite view.

All I’m saying is that even if all of that is true, they’re interfering in this way, this is banal. This is garden-variety interference. This is the stuff that the U.S. does constantly all the time. Now, I’m not saying that that justifies what the Russians are doing, but I think we have to put these threats in perspective. There is a huge difference between having a country be a military threat to the United States—that they’re going to send terrorists or fighters into our borders to harm our citizens, or blow things up, or that there’s missiles pointed at our cities … that’s the kind of real threat to our security that I think we need to sound the alarms in order to defend against. But hacking emails and supporting parties? This is stuff we do to them, and have done to them for decades, and still continue to do. I think it’s very easy to focus only on those isolated threats, but I think it’s so important to try to keep in perspective how grave of an aberration that that really is from the international order and how nation-states deal with one another.

Isaac Chotiner: BuzzFeed has had a lot of reports on what seemed to possibly be assassinations in the U.K. There have been cases here—

Glenn Greenwald: Of Russians, of Russians.

Isaac Chotiner: Right, but assassinating—this is the type of thing Chile’s Augusto Pinochet did I think in the United States. I don’t know anyone else or any other foreign government who’s done that in the United States, but assassinating people on foreign territory is generally considered not a good thing, an extreme act …

And again, the Trump stuff, just to try to understand psychologically why you called it a “new Cold War,” why people are so scared about this—it just does seem Trump’s behavior around Putin and Russia is so bizarre. It’s one of the very few things he’s been legalistically consistent about, time and time again. It’s weird, and I think people don’t understand it, and they’re worried about it, and I think it fits into this larger thing about the one difference between Trump’s praise of dictators is that he in some ways seems to envy them. I think that that creeps people out, that he legitimately seems to almost envy the type of power Putin has and his connections or rumored connections, which are now being investigated with the Russians. I think it makes sense why people are feeling like this is a threat and this is something to be nervous about.

Glenn Greenwald: I think it’s important not to conflate those things. There are other world leaders that Trump has uniformly praised. He has uniformly praised the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. He has uniformly praised Benjamin Netanyahu. He has never uttered a syllable of criticism about Netanyahu. People love to say, “Putin’s the only one that he hasn’t criticized who’s a world leader.” It’s just not true. He loves Israel, he loves the Saudis, he loves the Emirates, he loves the Gulf states. Also, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines who he’s never uttered a single bad word about.

Isaac Chotiner: But there’s no countervailing pressure on any of those things, unfortunately.

Glenn Greenwald: I think we’re in agreement that Trump has serious authoritarian tendencies that I think are dangerous and need to be guarded against. I actually think that one of the really positive things about the Trump presidency has been the way it has revitalized a lot of dormant checks. You were just saying how vibrant and aggressive and pugnacious the U.S. media has been since Trump’s election, which I agree with. That’s great to see, that the idea of adversarial journalism lives and breathes again outside of fringes.

I think the way that courts have stood up to Trump and said that a lot of his policies are in violation of the Constitution and struck them down—something I wish they had done during the war on terror, under the Bush and the Obama administrations—is incredibly good to see as well. Then most of all, I think that citizen activism has really been revitalized. I agree with you that Trump has authoritarian tendencies, that he would love to exert a form of despotic power, at least when his wall is thwarted. I think it’s very much worth watching, and I think it is actually scary as well, but I also think that the institutions that are designed to check those tendencies have been stimulated in a really encouraging way by the fear that people have of him.

Isaac Chotiner: One of the institutions that I think a lot of people think has checked Trump in some way is what’s half-ironically or sometimes not ironically called the “deep state,” which is people who are leaking information from the government, or assumed people leaking from the government, about various goings-on with Trump. You’ve written a lot about this, and it seems like one of the fears that you have is that the deep state, or figures in the national security establishment who are opposed to the democratically elected president to the United States, would in the long run undermine democracy in some way. What specifically are you scared of about this unprecedented opposition we’re seeing from within the government to Trump?

Glenn Greenwald: This theory that there’s this kind of unelected permanent power faction in Washington composed of, at least in part, the intelligence and military community gets treated so often like it’s some deep, dark, exotic, bizarre fringe conspiracy theory, when in reality it’s totally basic to how very sophisticated people have talked about Washington for decades. The person who originated the theory was Dwight Eisenhower, in his farewell speech, after serving for eight years as president. The one thing he wanted to warn Americans about was that these unelected factions were threatening democratic accountability because they were becoming more powerful than even elected officials like him, because he had butted heads so often.

He was a five-star general, and he was worried about them 50 years ago before they boomed in power and size with the Vietnam War, followed by Reagan and the Cold War, followed by the war on terror. This idea that there’s a really powerful, dangerous element in Washington that operates in the dark with very little transparency and accountability, or democratic checks, is something you can mock all you want. It’s very elemental to understanding how Washington works once you get passed a sixth-grade civics class.

I guess the thing that I do really worry about: It’s sort of like in Syria. What’s so tragic about Syria is that the choice that people ended up being given was picking between Bashar al-Assad or al-Qaida or ISIS once the ordinary people of the Syrian revolution got defeated. You just had to choose between awful choices, and I’m really worried about having this choice in the U.S.—between Trump and whatever you want to call it. Call it the deep state, call it the national security blob, call it the CIA and the Pentagon, because I think that as dangerous as Trump is, those factions have proven extremely dangerous as well, particularly when they start interfering in domestic politics even if you’re happy about the results that they’re, at the moment, bringing about.

Isaac Chotiner: But when people are leaking stuff to the media about what they think is going on that’s newsworthy I assume, generally speaking, that’s a trend that you’re happy about?

Glenn Greenwald: I’m totally in favor of leaks, but at the same time, let’s think of some hypotheticals, and then I’d love to know whether as a journalist it would bother you.

Isaac Chotiner: I’m not a journalist, Glenn. Come on. Come on.

Glenn Greenwald: Yeah, just a podcast host. But you’re a striving journalist. Let’s say that like the NSA, some people inside the NSA start getting emails of people they dislike because those people are advocating policies that they regard as wrong, and they start leaking their emails and their telephone calls to the Washington Post and the New York Times, and then attempt to harm their reputation and discredit them. In one sense, as a journalist or somebody who favors transparency, you can say, “Well, that’s a good thing. They really did say those things. It’s newsworthy, and I’m happy that this has become public.”

But on the other hand, it’s also an abuse of power for the NSA or the CIA to take the intelligence that they’re gathering about people and then use it to harm domestic enemies. I think that there are two sides to that coin, and both are serious ones.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:17 pm

What’s Worse: Trump’s Campaign Agenda or Empowering Generals and CIA Operatives to Subvert It?
by Glenn Greenwald
August 5, 2017



DURING HIS SUCCESSFUL 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump, for better and for worse, advocated a slew of policies that attacked the most sacred prongs of long-standing bipartisan Washington consensus. As a result, he was (and continues to be) viewed as uniquely repellent by the neoliberal and neoconservative guardians of that consensus, along with their sprawling network of agencies, think tanks, financial policy organs, and media outlets used to implement their agenda (CIA, NSA, the Brookings/AEI think tank axis, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, etc.).

Whatever else there is to say about Trump, it is simply a fact that the 2016 election saw elite circles in the U.S., with very few exceptions, lining up with remarkable fervor behind his Democratic opponent. Top CIA officials openly declared war on Trump in the nation’s op-ed pages and one of their operatives (now an MSNBC favorite) was tasked with stopping him in Utah, while Time magazine reported, just a week before the election, that “the banking industry has supported Clinton with buckets of cash. … What bankers most like about Clinton is that she is not Donald Trump.”

Hank Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO and George W. Bush’s treasury secretary, went to the pages of the Washington Post in mid-2016 to shower Clinton with praise and Trump with unbridled scorn, saying what he hated most about Trump was his refusal to consider cuts in entitlement spending (in contrast, presumably, to the Democrat he was endorsing). “It doesn’t surprise me when a socialist such as Bernie Sanders sees no need to fix our entitlement programs,” the former Goldman CEO wrote. “But I find it particularly appalling that Trump, a businessman, tells us he won’t touch Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”

Some of Trump’s advocated assaults on D.C. orthodoxy aligned with long-standing views of at least some left-wing factions (e.g., his professed opposition to regime change war in Syria, Iraq/Libya-style interventions, global free trade deals, entitlement cuts, greater conflict with Russia, and self-destructive pro-Israel fanaticism), while other Trump positions were horrifying to anyone with a plausible claim to leftism, or basic decency (reaffirming torture, expanding GITMO, killing terrorists’ families, launching Islamophobic crusades, fixation on increasing hostility with Tehran, further unleashing federal and local police forces). Ironically, Trump’s principal policy deviation around which elites have now coalesced in opposition — a desire for better relations with Moscow — was the same one that Obama, to their great bipartisan dismay, also adopted (as evidenced by Obama’s refusal to more aggressively confront the Kremlin-backed Syrian government or arm anti-Russian factions in Ukraine).

It is true that Trump, being Trump, was wildly inconsistent in virtually all of these pronouncements, often contradicting or abandoning them weeks after he made them. And, as many of us pointed out at the time, it was foolish to assume that the campaign vows of any politician, let alone an adept con man like Trump, would be a reliable barometer for what he would do once in office. And, as expected, he has betrayed many of these promises within months of being inaugurated, while the very Wall Street interests he railed against have found a very welcoming embrace in the Oval Office.

Nonetheless, Trump, as a matter of rhetoric, repeatedly affirmed policy positions that were directly contrary to long-standing bipartisan orthodoxy, and his policy and personal instability only compounded elites’ fears that he could not be relied upon to safeguard their lucrative, power-vesting agenda. In so many ways — due to his campaign positions, his outsider status, his unstable personality, his witting and unwitting unmasking of the truth of U.S. hegemony, the embarrassment he causes in Western capitals, his reckless unpredictability — Trump posed a threat to their power centers.

It is often claimed that this trans-partisan, elite coalition assembled against Trump because they are simply American patriots horrified by the threat he poses to America’s noble traditions and institutions. I guess if you want to believe that the CIA, the GOP consulting class, and assorted D.C. imperialists, along with Bush-era neocons like Bill Kristol and David Frum, woke up one day and developed some sort of earnest, patriotic conscience about democracy, ethics, constitutional limits, and basic decency, you’re free to believe that. It makes for a nice, moving story: a film from the “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” genre. But at the very least, Trump’s campaign assaults on their most sacred pieties was, and remains, a major factor in their seething contempt for him.

FROM THE START of Trump’s presidency, it was clear that the permanent national security power structure in Washington was deeply hostile to his presidency and would do what it could to undermine it. Shortly before Trump was inaugurated, I wrote an article noting that many of the most damaging anti-Trump leaks were emanating from anonymous CIA and other Deep State operatives who despised Trump because the policies he vowed to enact — the ones American voters ratified — were so contrary to their agenda and belief system. Indeed, they were even anonymously boasting that they were withholding secrets from Trump’s briefings because they decided the elected president should not have access to them.

After Trump openly questioned the reliability of the CIA in light of its Iraq War failures, Chuck Schumer went on Rachel Maddow’s show to warn Trump — explicitly — that he would be destroyed if he continued to oppose the intelligence community:

Kyle Griffin ✔ @kylegriffin1
Chuck Schumer on Trump's tweet hitting intel community: "He's being really dumb to do this."
9:24 PM - Jan 3, 2017

Although it is now common to assert — as a form of in-the-know mockery — that the notion of a “Deep State” in the U.S. was invented by Trump supporters only in the last year, the reality is that the U.S. Deep State has been reported on and openly discussed in numerous circles long before Trump. In 2010, the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Dana Priest, along with Bill Arkin, published a three-part series that the paper titled “Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control.”

The Post series documented that the military-intelligence community “has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.” The Post concluded that it “amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight.”

In 2014, mainstream national security journalists Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady published a book titled “Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry,” which documented — in its own words — that “there is a hidden country within the United States,” one “formed from the astonishing number of secrets held by the government and the growing ranks of secret-keepers given charge over them.”

Other journalists such as Peter Dale Scott and Mike Lofgren have long written about the U.S. Deep State completely independent of Trump. The belief that the “Deep State” was invented by Trump supporters as some recent conspiratorial concoction is based in pure ignorance about national security discourse, or a jingoistic desire to believe that the U.S. (unlike primitive, inferior countries) is immune from such malevolent forces, or both.

Indeed, mainstream liberals in good standing, such as the New Republic’s Jeet Heer, have repeatedly and explicitly speculated about (and, in Heer’s case, warned of) the possibility of Deep State subversion of the White House:

Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
The terrifying thing here is the only people able to stand up to Trump so far are the denizens of the Deep State. Also the Chinese gov't.
9:20 PM - Feb 13, 2017

Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
The American Deep State is in open conflict with an incoming president who is twitchy, thin-skinned & paranoid. What could go wrong?
6:46 PM - Jan 10, 2017

Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
For me, the most terrifying thing about this political moment is the intervention of the Deep State (against both Clinton & Trump) ... 2396560385
5:35 PM - Jan 11, 2017

16 Apr
Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
Replying to @HeerJeet
It's very hard to change American foreign policy (absent a Pearl Harbor or 9/11) because NatSec elite very mulish & committed to status quo

Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
Call it what you will -- the National Security Elite, the Deep State, the Blob. It's very pig-headed & knows how to sabotage change.
7:20 PM - Apr 16, 2017

Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
To qualify earlier tweet, there's a lot Deep State can do short of a coup: leaking and investigation. That's all to the good.
9:46 AM - May 12, 2017

That the U.S. has a shadowy, secretive world of intelligence and military operatives who exercise great power outside of elections and democratic accountability is not some exotic, alt-right conspiracy theory; it’s utterly elemental to understanding anything about how Washington works. It’s hard to believe that anyone on this side of a sixth grade civics class would seek to deny that.

THE LAST SEVERAL weeks have ushered in more open acknowledgment of — and cheerleading for — a subversion of Trump’s agenda by unelected military and intelligence officials. Media accounts have been almost unanimous in heralding the arrival of retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as White House chief of staff (pictured, top photo), widely depicted as a sign that normalcy is returning to the executive branch. “John Kelly Quickly Moves to Impose Military Discipline on White House,” the New York Times headline announced.

The current storyline is that Kelly has aligned with Trump’s national security adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, to bring seriousness and order to the White House. In particular, these two military men are systematically weakening and eliminating many of the White House officials who are true adherents to the domestic and foreign policy worldview on which Trump’s campaign was based. These two military officials (along with yet another retired general, Defense Secretary James Mattis) have long been hailed by anti-Trump factions as the Serious, Responsible Adults in the Trump administration, primarily because they support militaristic policies — such as the war in Afghanistan and intervention in Syria — that are far more in line with official Washington’s bipartisan posture.

As the Atlantic’s Rosie Gray reports, McMaster has successfully fired several national security officials aligned with Steve Bannon and the nationalistic, purportedly non-interventionist foreign policy and anti-Muslim worldview Trump advocated throughout the election. As Gray notes, this has provoked anger among Trump supporters who view the assertion of power by these generals as an undemocratic attack against the policies for which the electorate voted. Gray writes: “McMaster’s show of force has set off alarm bells among Bannon allies in the pro-Trump media sphere, who favored Flynn and regard the national security adviser as a globalist interloper.”

In a bizarre yet illuminating reflection of rapidly shifting political alliances, Democratic Party think tanks and other groups have rallied behind McMaster as some sort of besieged, stalwart hero whose survival is critical to the Republic, notwithstanding the fact that, by all accounts, he is fighting to ensure the continuation of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and escalate it in Syria. As usually happens these days, these Democrats are in lockstep with their new neocon partners, led by Bill Kristol, who far prefer the unelected agenda of McMaster and Kelly to the one that Trump used to get elected:

Bill Kristol ✔ @BillKristol
The success or failure of the Bannon/alt-right/Russian assault on McMaster will be a key moment for the Trump Administration--& the country.
4:49 PM - Aug 4, 2017

It is certainly valid to point out that these generals didn’t use tanks or any other show of force to barge into the White House; they were invited there by Trump, who appointed them to these positions. And they only have the power that he agrees that they should exercise.

But there’s no denying that Trump is deluged by exactly the kinds of punishments that Schumer warned Trump would be imposed on him if he continued to defy the intelligence community. Many of Trump’s most devoted haters are, notably, GOP consultants; one of the most tenacious of that group, Rick Wilson, celebrated today in the Daily Beast that the threat of prosecution and the tidal waves of harmful leaks have forced Trump into submission. The combination of the “Goldman Boys” and the generals has taken over, Wilson crows, and is destroying the Bannon-led agenda on which Trump campaigned.

Whatever else is true, there is now simply no question that there is open warfare between adherents to the worldview Trump advocated in order to win, and the permanent national security power faction in Washington that — sometimes for good, and sometimes for evil — despises that agenda. The New Republic’s Brian Beutler described the situation perfectly on Friday:

Where the generals haven’t been empowered to run the show, they have asserted themselves nonetheless. “In the earliest weeks of Trump’s presidency,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday, Mattis and Kelly agreed “that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House.”

It would be sensationalizing things to call this a soft coup, but it is impossible to deny that real presidential powers have been diluted or usurped. Elected officials have decided that leaving the functioning of the government to unelected military officers is politically preferable to invoking constitutional remedies that would require them to vote.

Beutler is a full-scale, devoted enemy of Trump’s political agenda, and is clearly glad that something is impeding it. But he also recognizes the serious, enduring dangers to democracy from relying on military officials and intelligence operatives to serve as some sort of backstop, or supreme guardians, of political values and norms.

It’s particularly ironic that many of the same people who have spent the year ridiculing the notion that the U.S. has any kind of Deep State are now trumpeting the need for the U.S. military to save the Republic from the elected government, given that this, roughly speaking, is the defining attribute of all Deep States, at least as they depict themselves.

There have been some solitary Democratic Party voices expressing concern about these developments. Here, for instance, is what Barbara Lee had to say as most of her fellow Democrats were cheering the arrival of Gen. Kelly in the West Wing:

Rep. Barbara Lee ✔ @RepBarbaraLee
By putting Gen John Kelly in charge, Pres Trump is militarizing the White House & putting our executive branch in the hands of an extremist.

2:11 PM - Jul 28, 2017

But hers was clearly the minority view: The military triumvirate of Kelly, Mattis, and McMaster has been cast as the noble defender of American democracy, pitted against those who were actually elected to lead the government.

No matter how much of a threat one regards Trump as being, there really are other major threats to U.S. democracy and important political values. It’s hard, for instance, to imagine any group that has done more harm, and ushered in more evil, than the Bush-era neocons with whom Democrats are now openly aligning. And who has brought more death, and suffering, and tyranny to the world over the last six decades than the U.S. national security state?

In terms of some of the popular terms that are often thrown around these days — such as “authoritarianism” and “democratic norms” and “U.S. traditions” — it’s hard to imagine many things that would pose a greater threat to all of that than empowering the national security state (what, before Trump, has long been called the Deep State) to exert precisely the power that is supposed to be reserved exclusively for elected officials. In sum, Trump opponents should be careful of what they wish for, as it might come true.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Wed Aug 16, 2017 7:03 pm

So Remember All Those Times Democrats Said Russia Hacked The French Election? About That…
by Caitlin Johnstone
June 2, 2017



Over the course of the last month I have been told dozens of times that the Russian government attempted to manipulate the French presidential election. It comes up every single time when debating establishment loyalists about the unsubstantiated Russiagate conspiracy theory; they speak it as though it is an objective, indisputable fact, because the pundits who tell them what to think have been speaking it as though it is an objective, indisputable fact. Anyone who’s spent any time debating the official Russia narrative in the last few weeks has been on the receiving end of this argument — Putin hacked the US election, and he hacked the French election too. We know for a fact that he hacked the French election, so you’re either an idiot or a Russian shill if you think he didn’t hack the US election.
Trouble is, it’s all bullshit. There is literally nothing linking Russia to the hacking attempt France experienced, and there never was.

Michael Tracey ✔ @mtracey
Remember when it was taken as a given by self-assured pundits that "Russia" had hacked the Macron campaign servers? ... ing-Macron
1:31 PM - Jun 1, 2017 ... e/800.jpeg
The Latest: France says no trace of Russian hacking Macron
ST.PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The Latest on President Vladimir Putin's comments Thursday (all times local): 5:30 p.m. The head of the French government'

For whatever reason, be it a grudge with America or just good old-fashioned honesty, France is no longer playing along with this particular fabrication. Guillaume Poupard, the head of France’s cyber security agency, told the Associated Press that there was “no trace” of Russian meddling and that the hack of the Macron campaign “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

This is important to keep track of, because the propagandists are about to shift away from this gaping plot hole in the narrative they’ve been spinning for a month, and soon all the brainwashed Democratic neocons are going to be speaking as though it never happened in a creepy display of real-world Orwellian doublethink. So let’s all get very clear on this before the revisionism begins: these people were indeed using the story about Russia hacking France’s electoral infrastructure to bolster their case for the still completely unproven allegation that Russia hacked the Democratic party in the 2016 US election cycle.

Here is Snopes on May 10, calmly assuring its foam-brained readers that many trustworthy US sources attest that the Kremlin was responsible for the hack.

Here is Reuters on May 9 making its trusting audience aware that the US is “increasingly convinced that Russia hacked French election”.

Here is the New York Times on May 8 on how France has defied “Putin’s meddling”, and writing that “The Russian hacking attack intended to disrupt the French election was a reminder that cyberattacks can also be defeated” on May 10.

Here is the CIA-funded Washington Post reporting that “Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential election, despite yet another Russian intervention in support of a candidate (Marine Le Pen) whose views are decidedly illiberal and pro-Kremlin” on May 8, commenting on how “Putin’s Russia’s meddling in the French election” on May 12, and providing a transcript of multiple Senators promulgating the narrative that Russia hacked the French election at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Here is The Register saying “Just so we’re all clear on this: Russia hacked the French elections, US Republicans and Dems” on May 9.

Here is Vox still advancing the false narrative a couple of days ago, saying “The fingerprints on the attack implicated Russian hackers; immediately comparisons were made to efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election.”

There are many, many, many more; a Google search of “Russia French election hack” turns up 3.5 million results. This completely false story has been used for nearly a month to add fuel to the anti-Russia fire the mass media propaganda machine has been laboring day and night to keep going.

Glenn Greenwald ✔ @ggreenwald
Are there any important lessons - about journalism, skepticism and reason - to draw from this? ... 2a3b97f608
6:02 AM - Jun 2, 2017

Again, this was something establishment loyalists brought up over and over and over again over the last month to substantiate their anti-Russia arguments. The intellectually honest thing to do when one of the points you claim to base your position upon collapses is to reevaluate your position, but this will not happen. It didn’t happen when gaping plot holes in the Crowdstrike report surfaced in March, it didn’t happen when Hillary’s “seventeen agencies agree it was Russian hackers” story was ripped to shreds last month when it turned out to have been only three agencies (one of which was the NSA, who got the French election data wrong), and it’s not going to happen now. There has not been one shred of proof presented to the public that Russia actually did the thing that sparked off all this Russophobic hysteria in the first place, and key points of the establishment argument keep collapsing, but these mindless automatons keep marching to the beat of the deep state drummer.

As I’ve been saying a lot lately, America’s unelected power establishment needs to push for regime change in both Damascus and Moscow in order to nail down a large amount of crucial geopolitical influence in some key regions, and they need to manufacture public support for the insane, world-threatening escalations necessary to do that. By constantly spinning Putin as a dangerous criminal mastermind who can dictate outcomes of elections, fill the internet with bots and shills and control the direction of public discourse despite Russia’s relatively tiny economy, the oligarchy is able to keep people sufficiently afraid to stop them from asking if maybe it’s time to start removing NATO troops from the Russian border and stay the fuck away from Syria.

David Swanson wrote a solid piece for Consortium News about how the whole anti-Russia narrative essentially boils down to the mass media repeating unsubstantiated assertions in an assertive, authoritative tone over and over again until people erroneously “assume that at some point someone actually established that it was a fact.”

Well nobody has established it as a fact. Repeating something over and over again as though it is a fact does not make it a fact. Saying it seems like something Russia would do does not make it a fact. Mocking someone who doesn’t believe it’s a fact does not make it a fact. Calling someone who disagrees with it a Russian shill does not make it a fact. For a nation with such an extensive history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture consent for military escalations, the American power establishment is coming up awfully short on facts. We need to keep pointing at this.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:33 pm

With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons
by Glenn Greenwald
July 17 2017, 7:53 a.m.




ONE OF THE most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country’s most extreme and discredited neocons. While the rise of Donald Trump, whom neocons loathe, has accelerated this realignment, it began long before the ascension of Trump and is driven by far more common beliefs than contempt for the current president.

A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as “a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative” that “will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,” and also “will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.”

It is, in fact, the ultimate union of mainstream Democratic foreign policy officials and the world’s most militant, and militaristic, neocons. The group is led by two longtime Washington foreign policy hands, one from the establishment Democratic wing and the other a key figure among leading GOP neocons.

The Democrat, Laura Rosenberger, served as a foreign policy adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and chief of staff to two Obama national security officials. The Republican is Jamie Fly, who spent the last four years as counselor for foreign and national security affairs to one of the Senate’s most hawkish members, Marco Rubio; prior to that, he served in various capacities in the Bush Pentagon and National Security Council.



Laura Rosenberger is the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Before she joined GMF, she was foreign policy advisor for Hillary for America, where she coordinated development of the campaign’s national security policies, messaging, and strategy. Prior to that, she served in a range of positions at the State Department and the White House’s National Security Council (NSC). As chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and as later, then-Deputy National Security Advisor Blinken’s senior advisor, she counseled on the full range of national security policy. In her role at the NSC, she also managed the interagency Deputies Committee, the U.S. government’s senior-level interagency decision-making forum on our country’s most pressing national security issues. Laura also has extensive background in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Northeast Asia. She served as NSC director for China and Korea, managing and coordinating U.S. policy on China and the Korean Peninsula, and in a variety of positions focused on the Asia-Pacific region at the Department of State, including managing U.S.–China relations and addressing North Korea’s nuclear programs. She also served as special assistant to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, advising him on Asia-Pacific affairs and on nonproliferation and arms control issues. Laura first joined the State Department as a presidential management fellow.



Jamie Fly is a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States. He served as counselor for Foreign and National Security Affairs to Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) from 2013–17, serving as his foreign policy advisor during his presidential campaign. Prior to joining Senator Rubio’s staff in February 2013, he served as the executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) from its founding in early 2009. Prior to joining FPI, Fly served in the Bush administration at the National Security Council (2008–09) and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (2005–08). He was director for Counterproliferation Strategy at the National Security Council, where his portfolio included the Iranian nuclear program, Syria, missile defense, chemical weapons, proliferation finance, and other counterproliferation issues. In the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he was an assistant for Transnational Threats Policy, where he helped to develop U.S. strategy related to the proliferation of missiles as well as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. For his work in the Department of Defense, he was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. Fly received a B.A. in international studies and political science from American University and an M.A. in German and European studies from Georgetown University.

-- Staff, GMF

Fly’s neocon pedigree is impressive indeed. During the Obama years, he wrote dozens of articles for the Weekly Standard — some co-authored with Bill Kristol himself — attacking Obama for insufficient belligerence toward Iran and terrorists generally, pronouncing Obama “increasingly ill suited to the world he faces as president” by virtue of his supposed refusal to use military force frequently enough (Obama bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries during his time in office, including an average of 72 bombs dropped per day in 2016 alone).

The Democrats’ new partner Jamie Fly spent 2010 working in tandem with Bill Kristol urging military action — i.e., aggressive war — against Iran. In a 2010 Weekly Standard article co-written with Kristol, Fly argued that “the key to changing [Iran’s thinking about its nuclear program] is a serious debate about the military option,” adding: “It’s time for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.”

This is a regime committed to developing nuclear weapons, despite the cost to the Iranian economy and the toll on the Iranian people. Time is running out and the consequences of inaction for the United States, Israel, and the free world will only increase in the weeks and months ahead. It’s time for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Jamie Fly & William Kristol

-- The Obama Retreat, by William Kristol and Lee Smith and Jamie Fly, The Weekly Standard

Fly then went around the D.C. think tank circuit, under the guise of advocating “debate,” espousing the need to use military force against Iran, spouting standing neocon innuendo such as “we need to be wary of the Obama administration’s intentions” toward Iran. He mocked Obama officials, and Bush officials before them, for their “obsession with diplomatic options” to resolve tensions with Iran short of war. The Kristol/Fly duo returned in 2012 to more explicitly argue: “Isn’t it time for the president to ask Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iran’s nuclear program?”

Beyond working as Rubio’s foreign policy adviser, Fly was the executive director of “the Foreign Policy Initiative,” a group founded by Kristol along with two other leading neocons, Robert Kagan and Dan Senor, who was previously the chief spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. That group is devoted to standard neocon agitprop, demanding “a renewed commitment to American leadership” on the ground that “the United States remains the world’s indispensable nation.” In sum, as Vox’s Dylan Matthews put it during the 2016 campaign, “If you want a foreign policy adviser with strong ties to the neocon world, it’s hard to do better than Fly.”

For example, one of his chief foreign policy advisers is Jamie Fly, the former executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, which was founded by neoconservative foreign policy insiders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan. If you want a foreign policy adviser with strong ties to the neocon world, it's hard to do better than Fly.

-- Scott Walker dropping out is good news for Marco Rubio, by Dylan Matthews,

When it comes to this new group, the alliance of Democrats with the most extreme neocon elements is visible beyond the group’s staff leadership. Its board of advisers is composed of both leading Democratic foreign policy experts, along with the nation’s most extremist neocons.

Thus, alongside Jake Sullivan (national security adviser to Joe Biden and the Clinton campaign), Mike Morrell (Obama’s acting CIA director) and Mike McFaul (Obama’s ambassador to Russia) sit leading neocons such as Mike Chertoff (Bush’s homeland security secretary), Mike Rogers (the far-right, supremely hawkish former congressman who now hosts a right-wing radio show); and Bill Kristol himself.




Mike Chertoff was U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. There, he worked to strengthen U.S. borders, provide intelligence analysis, and protect infrastructure. He increased the Department’s focus on preparedness ahead of disasters, and implemented enhanced security at airports and borders. Following Hurricane Katrina, Chertoff helped to transform the Federal Emergency Management Agency into an effective organization. He also served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals Judge from 2003 to 2005. He co-founded the Chertoff Group, a risk-management and security consulting company, and works as senior of counsel at the Washington, DC law firm Covington & Burling.



William "Bill" Kristol is the editor at large of the influential political journal, The Weekly Standard. Before starting that magazine in 1995, Kristol served in government, first as chief of staff to Secretary of Education William Bennett during the Reagan administration, and then as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle in the George H. W. Bush administration. Kristol has also served on the board of the Project for the New American Century (1997–2005) and the Foreign Policy Initiative (2009–17). Before coming to Washington in 1985, Kristol taught government at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University.



Michael Morell was acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2011 and again from 2012 to 2013, and had previously served as deputy director and director for Intelligence at the Agency. In his over thirty years at the CIA, Morell played a central role in the United States’ fight against terrorism, its initiatives to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its efforts to respond to trends that are altering the international landscape — including the Arab Spring, the rise of China, and the cyber threat. He was one of the leaders in the search for Osama bin Laden and participated in the deliberations that led to the raid that killed bin Laden in May 2011. He has been with Beacon Global Strategies as a senior counselor since November 2013.



Michael McFaul served for five years in the Obama administration, first as special assistant to the president and senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House from 2009 to 2012, and then as U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2012 to 2014. He is currently professor of political science, director, and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and the Peter and Helen Bing senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995. He is also an analyst for NBC News and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post.

Advisory Council, GMF

In sum — just as was true of the first Cold War, when neocons made their home among the Cold Warriors of the Democratic Party — on the key foreign policy controversies, there is now little to no daylight between leading Democratic Party foreign policy gurus and the Bush-era neocons who had wallowed in disgrace following the debacle of Iraq and the broader abuses of the war on terror. That’s why they are able so comfortably to unify this way in support of common foreign policy objectives and beliefs.

DEMOCRATS OFTEN JUSTIFY this union as a mere marriage of convenience: a pragmatic, temporary alliance necessitated by the narrow goal of stopping Trump. But for many reasons, that is an obvious pretext, unpersuasive in the extreme. This Democrat/neocon reunion had been developing long before anyone believed Donald Trump could ascend to power, and this alliance extends to common perspectives, goals, and policies that have little to do with the current president.

It is true that neocons were among the earliest and most vocal GOP opponents of Trump. That was because they viewed him as an ideological threat to their orthodoxies (such as when he advocated for U.S. “neutrality” on the Israel/Palestine conflict and railed against the wisdom of the wars in Iraq and Libya), but they were also worried that his uncouth, offensive personality would embarrass the U.S. and thus weaken the “soft power” needed for imperial hegemony. Even if Trump could be brought into line on neocon orthodoxy — as has largely happened — his ineptitude and instability posed a threat to their agenda.

But Democrats and neocons share far more than revulsion toward Trump; particularly once Hillary Clinton became the party’s standard-bearer, they share the same fundamental beliefs about the U.S. role in the world and how to assert U.S. power. In other words, this alliance is explained by far more than antipathy to Trump.

Indeed, the likelihood of a neocon/Democrat reunion long predates Trump. Back in the summer of 2014 — almost a year before Trump announced his intent to run for president — longtime neocon-watcher Jacob Heilbrunn, writing in the New York Times, predicted that “the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver’s seat of American foreign policy.”

The Next Act of the Neocons: Are Neocons Getting Ready to Ally With Hillary Clinton?
by Jacob Heilbrunn
July 5, 2014


Noting the Democratic Party’s decades-long embrace of the Cold War belligerence that neocons love most — from Truman and JFK to LBJ and Scoop Jackson — Heilbrunn documented the prominent neocons who, throughout Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, were heaping praise on her and moving to align with her. Heilbrunn explained the natural ideological affinity between neocons and establishment Democrats: “And the thing is, these neocons have a point,” he wrote. “Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq war; supported sending arms to Syrian rebels; likened Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to Adolf Hitler; wholeheartedly backs Israel; and stresses the importance of promoting democracy.”

One finds evidence of this alliance long before the emergence of Trump. Victoria Nuland, for instance, served as one of Dick Cheney’s top foreign policy advisers during the Bush years. Married to one of the most influential neocons, Robert Kagan, Nuland then seamlessly shifted into the Obama State Department and then became a top foreign policy adviser to the Clinton campaign.

As anti-war sentiment grew among some GOP precincts — as evidenced by the success of the Ron Paul candidacies of 2008 and 2012, and then Trump’s early posturing as an opponent of U.S. interventions — neocons started to conclude that their agenda, which never changed, would be better advanced by realignment back into the Democratic Party. Writing in The Nation in early 2016, Matt Duss detailed how the neocon mentality was losing traction within the GOP, and predicted:

Yet another possibility is that the neocons will start to migrate back to the Democratic Party, which they exited in the 1970s in response to Vietnam-inspired anti-interventionism. That’s what earned their faction the “neo” prefix in the first place. As Nation contributor James Carden recently observed, there are signs that prominent neocons have started gravitating toward Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But the question is, Now that the neocons has been revealed as having no real grassroots to deliver, and that their actual constituency consists almost entirely of a handful of donors subsidizing a few dozen think tankers, journalists, and letterheads, why would Democrats want them back?

The answer to that question — “why would Democrats want them back?” — is clear: because, as this new group demonstrates, Democrats find large amounts of common cause with neocons when it comes to foreign policy.

The neocons may be migrating back to the Democratic Party and into the open embrace of its establishment, but their homecoming will not be a seamless affair: Duss, for instance, is now the top foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders. After spending little energy on foreign affairs as a candidate, Sanders’s hiring of Duss is a sign that he sees a rejection of interventionism as ascendant with the populist element of the party.

He will have allies there from whatever is left of the faction within the Obama administration which willingly took so much heat from the foreign policy establishment for its insufficient aggression toward Russia or other perceived enemies; Sen. Chris Murphy, for instance, has been vocal in his opposition to arming the Saudis as they savage Yemen. But now that hawkish rhetoric and belligerent policies have subsumed the Democrats, it remains to be seen how much of that anti-interventionism survives.

FOR MANY YEARS — long before the 2016 election — one of the leading neocon planks was that Russia and Putin pose a major threat to the west, and Obama was far too weak and deferential to stand up to this threat. From the start of the Obama presidency, the Weekly Standard warned that Obama failed to understand, and refused to confront, the dangers posed by Moscow. From Ukraine to Syria, neocons constantly attacked Obama for letting Putin walk all over him.

Putin Is the New Sheriff in Town
by Lee Smith
The Weekly Standard
October 6, 2015

That Obama was weak on Russia, and failing to stand up to Putin, was a major attack theme for the most hawkish GOP senators such as Rubio and John McCain. Writing in National Review in 2015, Rubio warned that Putin was acting aggressively in multiple theaters, but “as the evidence of failure grows, President Obama still can’t seem to understand Vladimir Putin’s goals.” Rubio insisted that Obama (and Clinton’s) failure to confront Putin was endangering the West:

In sum, we need to replace a policy of weakness with a policy of strength. We need to restore American leadership and make clear to our adversaries that they will pay a significant price for aggression. President Obama’s policies of retreat and retrenchment are making the world a more dangerous place. The Obama-Clinton Russia policy has already undermined European security. We can’t let Putin wreak even more havoc in the Middle East.

Putin Is Expanding His Power in the Middle East — We Must Counter Him
by Marco Rubio
September 21, 2015 4:00 AM

In 2015, Obama met with Putin at the U.N. General Assembly, and leading Republicans excoriated him for doing so. Obama “has in fact strengthened Putin’s hand,” said Rubio. McCain issued a statement denouncing Obama for meeting with the Russian tyrant, accusing him of failing to stand up to Putin across the world:

Sep 28 2015


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the meeting between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for today at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City:

“President Obama's decision to meet with Vladimir Putin is as misguided as it is unnecessary. It plays right into Putin's hands by breaking his international isolation, undermining U.S. policy, and legitimizing Putin's destabilizing behavior – from dismembering Ukraine to propping Bashar Assad in Syria.

That Putin was a grave threat, and Obama was too weak in the face of it, was also a primary theme of Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign:

Jeb Bush @JebBush
Obama allows Russia & Iran more influence in Syria & Iraq. Not good for US, Israel, or our moderate Muslim partners
3:13 PM - Sep 27, 2015
Photo published for Russia’s move into Syria upends U.S. plans
Russia’s move into Syria upends U.S. plans
Even the limited deployment of Russian troops could decisively shift the battlefield in Assad’s favor.

And even back in 2012, Mitt Romney repeatedly accused Obama of being insufficiently tough on Putin, prompting the now-infamous mockery by Obama and Democrats generally of Romney’s Russiaphobia, which they ridiculed as an ancient relic of the Cold War. Indeed, before Trump’s emergence, the hard-core pro-GOP neocons planned to run against Hillary Clinton by tying her to the Kremlin and warning that her victory would empower Moscow:

The Clinton-Kremlin Connection
Investigative journalist Peter Schweizer's new report.
by Fred Barnes
July 31, 2016


A program overseen by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as part of the "reset" with Russia wound up enhancing Russia's military technology and funneling millions of dollar to the Clinton Foundation, according to a new report by investigative journalist Peter Schweizer and the Government Accountability Institute he heads.

Even through the 2016 election, McCain and Rubio repeatedly attacked Obama for failing to take Russian hacking seriously enough and for failing to retaliate. And for years before that, Russia was a primary obsession for neocons, from the time it went to war with Georgia (at the time headed by a neocon-loved president) and even prior to that.

Thus, when it came time for Democrats to elevate Putin and Russia into a major theme of the 2016 campaign, and now that their hawkishness toward Moscow is their go-to weapon for attacking Trump, neocons have become their natural ideological allies.

The song Democrats are now singing about Russia and Putin is one the neocons wrote many years ago, and all of the accompanying rhetorical tactics — accusing those who seek better relations with Moscow of being Putin’s stooges, unpatriotic, of suspect loyalties, etc. — are the ones that have defined the neocons smear campaigns for decades.

The union of Democrats and neocons is far more than a temporary marriage of convenience designed to bring down a common enemy. As this new policy group illustrates, the union is grounded in widespread ideological agreement on a broad array of foreign policy debates: from Israel to Syria to the Gulf States to Ukraine to Russia. And the narrow differences that exist between the two groups — on the wisdom of the Iran deal, the nobility of the Iraq War, the justifiability of torture — are more relics of past debates than current, live controversies. These two groups have found common cause because, with rare and limited exception, they share common policy beliefs and foreign policy mentalities.

THE IMPLICATIONS OF this reunion are profound and long-term. Neocons have done far more damage to the U.S., and the world, than any other single group — by a good margin. They were the architects of the invasion of Iraq and the lies that accompanied it, the worldwide torture regime instituted after 9/11, and the general political climate that equated dissent with treason.

With the full-scale discrediting and collapse of the Bush presidency, these war-loving neocons found themselves marginalized, without any constituency in either party. They were radioactive, confined to speaking at extremist conferences and working with fringe organizations.

All of that has changed, thanks to the eagerness of Democrats to embrace them, form alliances with them, and thus rehabilitate their reputations and resurrect their power and influence. That leading Democratic Party foreign policy officials are willing to form new Beltway advocacy groups in collaboration with Bill Kristol, Mike Rogers, and Mike Chertoff, join arms with those who caused the invasion of Iraq and tried to launch a bombing campaign against Tehran, has repercussions that will easily survive the Trump presidency.

Perhaps the most notable fact about the current posture of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party is that one of their favorite, most beloved, and most cited pundits is the same neocon who wrote George W. Bush’s oppressive, bullying and deceitful speeches in 2002 and 2003 about Iraq and the war on terror, and who has churned out some of the most hateful, inflammatory rhetoric over the last decade about Palestinians, immigrants, and Muslims. That Bush propagandist, David Frum, is regularly feted on MSNBC’s liberal programs, has been hired by The Atlantic (where he writes warnings about authoritarianism even though he’s only qualified to write manuals for its implementation), and is treated like a wise and honored statesman by leading Democratic Party organs.

Mar 28, 2016
Neera Tanden @neeratanden
I'm a fan of the Times, but @davidfrum wrote this in December: How the G.O.P. Elite Lost Its Voters to Donald Trump

Neera Tanden @neeratanden
We actually had a great event at @CAPAction with @davidfrum @joanwalsh and Ruy Teixeira on it in Feb. ... 4552148992
4:52 AM - Mar 28, 2016

One sees this same dynamic repeated with many other of the world’s most militaristic, war-loving neocons. Particularly after his recent argument with Tucker Carlson over Russia, Democrats have practically canonized Max Boot, who has literally cheered for every possible war over the two past decades and, in 2013, wrote a column titled “No Need to Repent for Support of Iraq War.” It is now common to see Democratic pundits and office holders even favorably citing and praising Bill Kristol himself.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with discrete agreement on a particular issue with someone of a different party or ideology; that’s to be encouraged. But what’s going on here goes far, far beyond that.

What we see instead are leading Democratic foreign policy experts joining hands with the world’s worst neocons to form new, broad-based policy advocacy groups to re-shape U.S. foreign policy toward a more hostile, belligerent and hawkish posture. We see not isolated agreement with neocons in opposition to Trump or on single-issue debates, but a full-scale embrace of them that is rehabilitating their standing, empowering their worst elements, and reintegrating them back into the Democratic Party power structure.

If Bill Kristol and Mike Chertoff can now sit on boards with top Clinton and Obama policy advisers, as they’re doing, that is reflective of much more than a marriage of convenience to stop an authoritarian, reckless president. It demonstrates widespread agreement on a broast range of issues and, more significantly, the return of neocons to full-scale D.C. respectability, riding all the way on the backs of eager, grateful establishment Democrats.

Top photo: William Kristol, right, answers a question as Leon Panetta and James Carville watch during a forum titled “The Budget Blame Game” at the Panetta Institute at CSU Monterey Bay in Seaside, Calif. on Monday May 6, 2013.
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