by Casey Michel
January 12, 2017
NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT
YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.
In the aftermath of the U.S. intelligence community’s recent report on the Russian-directed hacking of the Democratic National Committee, it’s easy but misleading to conclude that the Russian government’s propaganda strategy lies solely in advancing the careers of conservative Republicans in the United States. Backing Donald Trump’s candidacy, via steady leaks of stolen communiques to organizations like WikiLeaks, was but one prong of the Kremlin’s assault on American liberal democracy.
Part of its campaign to vilify Hillary Clinton involved catering to her rivals on the far-left and pushing any number of crankish conspiracy theories that appeal as much to “anti-imperialists” as to neo-Nazis.
There’s nothing new in that, really.
Moscow’s attempts to cultivate America’s far-left long predate the presidency of Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin, according to available evidence, donated more funds per capita to the U.S. Communist Party than any other communist claque during the Soviet period, when Moscow’s intelligence operations against the “main adversary” involved recruiting agents of influence and spies of a progressive background who were sympathetic to the Soviet cause. But the past 18 months have seen a noted spike in information warfare aimed at gulling the Bernie Bros and Occupy-besotted alternative-media set, which saw Clinton as more of a political danger than it did Trump.
Perhaps the starkest case in point is Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her constituency. In December 2015, the Kremlin feted Stein by inviting her to the gala celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Kremlin-funded propaganda network RT. Over a year later, it remains unclear who paid for Stein’s trip to Moscow and her accommodations there. Her campaign ignored multiple questions on this score. We do know, however, that Stein sat at the same table as both Putin and Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump’s soon-to-be national security adviser. She further spoke at an RT-sponsored panel, using her presence to criticize the U.S.’s “disastrous militarism.” Afterward, straddling Moscow’s Red Square, Stein described the panel as “inspiring,” going on to claim that Putin, whom she painted as a political novice, told her he “agree[d]” with her “on many issues.”
[I]n her video message from Red Square, Stein started off by thanking Green Party supporters “for making this wonderful and inspiring trip possible.” This is an indication from Stein that her grassroots campaign donors paid for the trip.
-- Democrats’ McCarthyism Hits Greens’ Stein, by Nat Parry
Stein presents herself as a champion of the underclass and the environment, and an opponent of the surveillance state and corporate media, and yet she seemed to take pleasure in her marriage of true minds with a kleptocratic intelligence officer who levels forests and arrests or kills critical journalists and invades foreign countries. Their true commonality, of course, is that both Putin and Stein are dogged opponents of U.S. foreign policy.
Indeed, her pro-Kremlin stance wasn’t limited to merely praising Putin’s amicability. Stein joined the Russian president and Kazakhstani dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev in describing Ukraine’s 2014 EuroMaidan revolution as a “coup,” and claimed, bizarrely, that NATO is currently “fighting… enemies we invent to give the weapons industry a reason to sell more stuff.”
Japan interested in joining NATO missile consortium
By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo
Jul 10, 2015
Japan is interested in joining a NATO missile building consortium that would give Tokyo its first taste of a multinational defense project, a move the U.S. Navy is encouraging because it could pave the way for Japan to lead similar partnerships in Asia, sources said.
The 12-country NATO consortium oversees development and shares the costs of the SeaSparrow missile, an advanced ship-borne weapon designed to destroy anti-ship sea-skimming missiles and attack aircraft. The missile is made by U.S. weapons firms Raytheon (RTN.N) and General Dynamics (GD.N).
In May, Japanese naval officers traveled to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting in The Hague to learn more about the consortium, Japan's navy and a U.S. source familiar with the trip told Reuters.
Two Japanese sources familiar with the initiative said discussions in Tokyo were at an early stage, although joining the consortium would dovetail with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's more muscular security agenda, which included the lifting last year of a decades-old ban on arms exports.
The sources declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The consortium, established in 1968 by four countries including the United States, is set to develop an upgraded version of the SeaSparrow in the coming years.
Having Japan on board would spread the project's costs, but Washington also sees a role for Japan in leading multinational military industrial partnerships in Asia at a time when China's military modernization and assertiveness is alarming many countries in the region, said the U.S. source.
Such partnerships, which are rare in Asia, would create a network of security ties beyond formal military alliances that mostly involve Washington and its various regional allies.
"We think this project will allow Japan to lay the groundwork for further defense export programs in the future," the U.S. source said. "We would welcome this kind of security cooperation activity by Japan in the region."
Asked to comment, a spokesman for the Japanese navy said in an email: "The U.S. Navy is keeping us informed about the SeaSparrow project. With the aim of improving the procurement efficiency of our ship-based surface to air missiles we are gathering information to make the necessary choice."
The U.S. Navy said it was not immediately able to comment. NATO declined to comment.
TOKYO ALREADY BEEFING UP ASIA TIES
Japan has one of the most advanced military industrial bases in the world, but companies such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) have long made weapons only for the Self Defense Forces because of the arms export ban.
Since lifting those curbs, Abe has begun boosting security cooperation across Southeast Asia, where several countries with tight budgets are worried by China's creation of man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea.
In June, Abe agreed with Philippine President Benigno Aquino on an exchange of military technology and hardware. Abe in May also agreed to start talks on transfers of defense equipment and technology with Malaysia.
And Australia is considering Japan as the possible builder of its next generation submarines, something U.S. naval commanders have publicly encouraged because doing so would deepen ties between two of Washington's closest allies in Asia.
None of these initiatives, however, are multinational.
SOME CONCERNS IN TOKYO
Japan's navy already uses the SeaSparrow missile, which is assembled locally by Mitsubishi Electric (6503.T) under a co-production agreement with NATO and the U.S. manufacturers.
That would make the transition to a full consortium partner easier, said the U.S. source.
One of the Japanese sources said some concerns had been raised in Tokyo over diminished control over production by being a member, even though sharing of costs would be welcomed.
"The concern is what it would mean to security by having to rely on other nations," the Japanese source said, referring to the possibility supplies of munitions and equipment from other countries could be disrupted more easily than those made at home, especially during any conflict.
It could also become a political issue since Japanese firms that supply parts for the SeaSparrow missiles made in Japan could miss out if Tokyo joined a consortium where work was spread among participating nations.
The U.S. Navy's desire to see Japan in the consortium comes after a proposal for Mitsubishi Heavy to join Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N) F-35 stealth fighter program fizzled out last year.
Japanese defense bureaucrats had hoped working on the F-35 as a subcontractor to rear fuselage maker BAE Systems of Britain (BAES.L) would have given Mitsubishi Heavy exposure to global arms markets.
But it proved impossible for Mitsubishi Heavy to compete on pricing of components given the advantage enjoyed by contractors in the initial nine countries due to their governments' funding of specialized tooling for the program.
"Japan recognizes that it should join these international groups to help amortize purchases and make their industry more competitive," said a U.S. executive who works closely with the Japanese government and industry.
"You're going to see them engaged in more and more bilateral, trilateral and multilateral groups in coming years."
(Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in WASHINGTON and Adrian Croft in BRUSSELS; Editing by Dean Yates)
For good measure, she also asserted in September that “Russia used to own Ukraine,” by way of defending its colonization. She even selected a vice-presidential candidate who, when asked whether the downing of Flight MH17—a massacre almost certainly caused by Russian-supplied separatists in eastern Ukraine—was a false flag, responded, “[T]hat’s exactly what has happened.”
Green Party officials across Europe slammed a “delusional” Stein for her views, with leading Russian environmental activists saying they were “deeply shocked” by her comments during her Moscow trip.
No matter. For her efforts in burnishing Kremlin conspiracy theories for American audiences, Stein was awarded not simply with an invitation to the 2015 RT gala, but RT even hosted her party’s 2016 presidential debate—a move Stein hailed as a “step towards real democracy.” RT also covered “live updates” from Stein’s reactions to the debates between Clinton and Trump, a decision Stein further praised. This mutual affection is, naturally, of a piece with RT’s broader modus operandi in the U.S.
As I helped catalog at the Columbia Journalism School, RT, rather than focus solely on puffing up GOP candidates, expends more effort in targeting America’s far-left fellow-travelers. There’s a reason, after all, that Kremlin-funded Sputnik hosts podcasts by Americans who claim “progressive” viewpoints—at least when it comes to altering the exclusively domestic landscape in America. Nor are these fake news outlets tilling fallow soil.
Consider one of the flagship magazines of the American left, which, for all its support of gay rights, government transparency, and voting rights as they pertain to U.S. society, has developed a notoriously soft spot for a regime that violently opposes all of the above.
The Nation’s coverage of Russian affairs is a national embarrassment. RT is a website that hosts neo-Nazis as “expert” commentators. Yet that does not stop The Nation from publishing whataboutist articles in defense of the propaganda channel; articles pushing the same argument, with the exact same headlines, as those found in white-nationalist publications.
The Nation’s crop of Russia watchers have lately busied themselves by lending credence to the “autonomy referendums” in eastern Ukraine, thus legitimizing illegal and neo-imperialist land-grabs, or notions that the entire Ukrainian crisis was “instigated by the West’s attempt… to smuggle [Ukraine] into NATO.”
That these views bizarrely mesh with those of Trump and his Breitbart-friendly advisers is perhaps another oddity of an age of ideological psychosis. Stephen Cohen, The Nation’s lead Russia analyst (and husband of the magazine’s editor in chief and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel), has even been endorsed by David Duke and the wife of white-nationalist Richard Spencer, the intellectual godfather of the pro-Trump “alt-right,” as a rare voice of sanity when it comes to U.S.-Russian relations.
At times, the substance and style of what has been dubbed the “alt-left” are indistinguishable from that of its counterpart on the other end of the political spectrum. And Moscow’s info-warriors appear to appreciate the resemblance, as the American arm of Sputnik exhorted supporters of Bernie Sanders to vote for Trump (as did Trump himself, repeatedly).
In years of researching Kremlin influence-peddling, I’ve discovered first-hand just how eerily similar far-left and far-right Putinists are to each other.
When I pointed out that one of The Nation’s contributing writers, former J.P. Morgan banker James Carden, now executive editor of the American Committee for East-West Accord—an organization partly funded by vanden Heuvel’s family—continues to contribute to Kremlin-funded Russia Direct, what I received was nothing short of a deranged ad hominem. Carden, who appeared on RT a few weeks ago to claim that The Washington Post is pursuing a “project of promoting a new Cold War with the Russian Federation,” sent me a note on LinkedIn calling me a “sniveling shit,” and vaguely (if unintentionally hilariously) threatening me with physical violence, demanding to see if I was “brave as BATMAN [sic]” in person. He later apologized.
Another Nation staple, contributing editor Doug Henwood, has maintained a professional relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, yet is apparently very tetchy about the collaboration, as I also discovered when I engaged him.
Henwood had planned to work with Assange on putting out a book about Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches—Henwood annotating, Assange writing the foreword—transcripts of which were of course originally hacked by Russian intelligence and disseminated through WikiLeaks, at least according to 17 different U.S. intelligence agencies, two of which concluded that this was done with the express purpose of helping Trump get elected. When I brought up this pending project, as detailed both on the book publisher’s website and in multiple articles, Henwood called me a “fucking idiot.” (Henwood’s publisher, when contacted for this story, noted that Henwood was no longer affiliated with the endeavor, saying that he had now grown “weary of chronicling Hillary Clinton’s boundless political shortcomings.”)
As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two.
-- The CIA’s Absence of Conviction, by Craig Murray
WikiLeaks is clearly the online epicenter of the 21st-century’s red-brown convergence. How else to account for how an Australian cyberanarchist has found common cause with a racist millionaire real-estate baron—apart, that is, from their apparent mutual regard for the opposite sex?
Prosecutors drop charges against Julian Assange
by Nick Gass
August 13, 2015
Swedish prosecutors on Thursday officially dropped their investigation into three cases surrounding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a report from Agence France-Presse.
The charges being dropped involve one count of sexual assault and one count of unlawful coercion, according to reports. Swedish law stipulates that suspects must be questioned before the statute of limitations expires, otherwise they can no longer be charged for the crimes. Prosecutors had until Thursday to bring charges against Assange.
“I am extremely disappointed. There was no need for any of this. I am an innocent man. I haven’t even been charged,” Assange said in a statement shared by WikiLeaks’ Twitter account. “From the beginning I offered simple solutions. Come to the embassy to take my statement or promise not to send me to the United States. This Swedish official refused both. She even refused a written statement. Now she has manage to avoid hearing my side of the story entirely. This is beyond incompetence. I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable. Even though I have been improperly treated, I would like to thank the many people in Sweden and the UK who have been very understanding of the wrong which has been done to me and my family.”
The allegations arose from the leak of a 68-page confidential Swedish police report in late 2010 that revealed what Assange characterized as two consensual sexual relationships with two Swedish women, according to a New York Times report at the time.
The women alleged that while the sexual encounters started consensually, they became nonconsensual.
“She had wanted him to stand before the court and answer the accusations but it’s five years ago and she’s not interested in going to court now,” the lawyer of one of Assange’s accusers told the BBC. ”She wants to put it all behind her. It’s been a difficult time for her and she’s now trying to forget about it and move on with her life.”
One of Assange’s Swedish lawyers said the investigation’s end is long overdue.
“We are convinced that as soon as he has the opportunity to give his version of the circumstances, there’ll be no need to continue the investigation,” lawyer Thomas Olsson told the BBC.
Assange, who has resided in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, can still face prosecution for rape until 2020. That charge carries a 10-year statute of limitations.
As far as the rape allegation, lawyers for Assange told the BBC that he could overcome that accusation as well. Sweden is reportedly continuing to talk with Ecuador over the terms of Assange’s potential questioning over the rape allegation.
WikiLeaks, it is worth recalling, began as a seemingly noble “transparency” organization that sought to help shine a light on post-Soviet autocracies and their human-rights abuses. Yet somewhere along the way it saw fit to partner with anti-Semites who delivered leaked U.S. State Department cables to Belarus’s pro-Moscow dictatorship, which used these sensitive documents to chase down dissidents. Nor has this caused WikiLeaks or Assange any moral misgivings. As Vox’s Zack Beauchamp detailed, Assange refused to investigate WikiLeaks’s role in aiding the machinations of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Europe’s last dictator, whose secret police (still known by its Cold War acronym, the KGB) arrested activists and opposition figures.
A quick glimpse through WikiLeaks’s Twitter feed lately is enough to confirm the group’s disconcerting preference for siding with the Putinist narrative, and Kremlin interests, all in the name of anti-Americanism.
Assange has personally run a not-so-subtle rearguard defense for Trump, an overture that has been reciprocated by the president-elect, who now publicly defers to Assange’s analysis of the DNC hacks over that of the U.S. intelligence arms Trump is about to command in little over a week’s time. When not slamming last year’s Panama Papers leak as an “attack story on Putin,” WikiLeaks’s feed, long thought to be personally manned by Assange, has layered Kremlin-friendly conspiracy over everything from the Eurovision Song Contest to, like Stein’s candidacy, the destruction of MH17. (Little surprise, then, that Stein considers Assange a hero.) Or, as WikiLeaks tweeted on Ukraine, “Cable shows USA was already warned of #Russia’s concerns so it now looks like #Obama is the provocateur; not #Putin.”
Stein, The Nation, and WikiLeaks are hardly outliers on social media or insignificant in their political reach; to their respective audiences, they wield as much influence as Breitbart does with Trump loyalists.
In a few swing states, after all, Clinton lost to Trump by a margin smaller than Stein’s total statewide voter haul. The Nation has tens of thousands of subscribers and a venerable, 150-year-old pedigree for liberal advocacy. The WikiLeaked DNC and John Podesta emails, meanwhile, gradually released during and after the Democratic National Convention in August, did untold damage to Clinton’s campaign.
What remains of the internationalist wing of the Republican Party is understandably unnerved by how much of the American right has happily aligned with Putin’s spymasters and arms-length purveyors of “active measures” and provided cover for a foreign government’s interference in a U.S. election.
That Putin ordered Russian hacking of the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails in order to help Trump win is now such consecrated orthodoxy that it’s barely acceptable in Decent Company to question it. But that obscures, by design, the rather important fact that the U.S. government, while repeatedly issuing new reports making these claims, has still never offered any actual evidence for them.
-- The New Yorker’s Big Cover Story Reveals Five Uncomfortable Truths About U.S. and Russia, by Glenn Greenwald
But the American left has just as much reason to take stock. Ideologically promiscuous and unbound by the orthodoxies of a single party or historical narrative, Putin has cultivated dupes, fellow travelers, and purblind fools among plenty of American progressives who, whether by accident or design, have facilitated the rise of the most extremist and reactionary president this country has ever elected.