"It’s “gas meets flame,” as one Democratic party leader put it."
Julian Assange has done it again: exposed the inner workings – and crimes – of our political class, that is.
As revelations tumble out of the enormous data dump – e.g. DNC staffers conspired to target Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, as an “atheist” – the collusion of the party leadership with the Clinton campaign to marginalize Sanders threatens the Democrats with a potential explosion on the eve of their convention.
It’s “gas meets flame,” as one Democratic party leader put it.
The Clinton campaign has responded by pushing a bizarre conspiracy theory that recalls the darkest days of the cold war: the DNC leak, they claim, is part of a plot by the Kremlin to elect Donald J. Trump President of these United States.
Here is Clintonista-in-chief Robby Mook telling Jake Tapper that “Experts are telling us Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, and other experts are now saying the Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.” Echoing neoconservative complaints that efforts to insert a call for giving Ukraine offensive weapons were scotched by the Trump campaign, Mook pointed to this as “evidence” that the Russians have infiltrated and taken over the Republican party. That’s their answer to the flood of scandal pouring out of the DNC emails – a reiteration of the plot of “The Manchurian Candidate,” with a little bit of “Red Dawn” thrown in for good measure.
Who are these vaunted “experts”? On the technical side, Mook is referring to a company being paid by the DNC to “investigate” the hacking of their server. If you think there’s a bit of a conflict of interest that throws CrowdStrike’s objectivity into question, you may be quite right. Other experts, with no financial stake in this,disagree with the widely-touted contention that the hackers were Russians or Russian agents:
“What top U.S. technologists know for sure is that at least two groups of hackers were willing to take a major risk – and make a substantial investment – to access the DNC’s network. Who is behind the attacks remains unclear – and, unfortunately, a satisfying answer isn’t likely to come any time soon.
“’Attribution is incredibly difficult – I wouldn’t say impossible, but it’s very difficult,’ Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of cybersecurity strategy at Illumio, told Time. ‘Investigations like this do not wrap up quickly and often do not wrap up at allbecause it’s very hard to tell where they came from.’
“Amit Yoran, the president of the cybersecurity firm RSA was also noncommittal on whether there’d ever be a smoking gun.
“’I think attribution is one of those topics that people like to rush to because it makes for sexier reporting – you want to make a meaningful story for non-technologists,’ he told Time. ‘Saying you know who was responsible makes for a very compelling story. But it’s also very hard to do well in the cyber domain, especially over a short period of time with a sophisticated actor.’ ”
Gleicher was the National Security Council’s White House cybersecurity director – but hey, compared to Robby Mook, what does he know?
The other category of “experts” Mook cites are specialists in the fine art of smearing, like fired New Republic editor Franklin Foer, who proclaimed Putin the “real winner” of the Republican national convention, Jeff Stein at Newsweek – “Does Donald Trump have a subversive partnership with Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine?” – and Israel’s unofficial ambassador to the American media, Jeffrey Goldberg, who takes the lead in the hunt for red Trump-tober:
“The Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, has chosen this week to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a KGB-trained dictator who seeks to rebuild the Soviet empire by undermining the free nations of Europe, marginalizing NATO, and ending America’s reign as the world’s sole superpower.”
This election is rapidly turning into one of those unintentionally campy anti-Communist movies from the 1950s. A recent “story” in the increasingly ridiculousDaily Beast is headlined: “Trump Invites Putin to Invade Melania’s Home Town,” which brings to mind the classic 1949 film “I Married a Communist!” Only in the case of that epic, the studio were too embarrassed to release it under its original title, and changed it after the previews to “The Woman on Pier 13.” The Clinton campaign and their neocon fellow-travelers, lacking the capacity for embarrassment, have no problem with plainly enunciating their McCarthyite theme.
This tidal wave of hysterical cold war era propaganda depicts Russia – a ramshackle nation in decline, with a plummeting birth rate, a crippled economy, and a military budget that palls in comparison to that of the US and its NATO allies – as practically all-powerful. Just look at the list of recent developments and political personalities the Kremlin is said to be manipulating: not only the victory of Donald Trump, but the triumph of Brexit, the success of Jeremy Corbyn, the DNC leaks, the rise of Hungary’s Victor Orban, the rise of the European far right, the rise of the European far left, the rise of the National Front, the views of the President of the Czech Republic, and theactions of the Republican platform committee.
Whenever the political class decides that someone has gone “beyond the pale,” they attack him as exemplifying “the paranoid style in American politics,” a trope invented by neocon precursor and fake-historian Richard Hofstadter. As is so often the case, this is merely a projection of their own paranoia, which is richly mocked by the very talented Adam Johnson in his dissection of Franklin’s Foer’s farrago of falsehoods:
“The entire premise of the piece relies on the paranoid assumption that Putin wants to "destroy the West": ‘Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West – and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump.’
“Wait, what? Putin may want to undermine the West. He may want to curb the expansion of NATO, but destroy it? Is he Magneto? This is the type of unhinged, over-the-top language that goes unchallenged when discussing the US favorite Eastern menace.”
It would be a mistake to attribute this hopped-up rhetoric to election year theatrics. It points to trends that have been building for quite a while, and will transform both the political landscape and the international scene.
As I’ve written here before, the American political spectrum periodically undergoes aswitch in polarities when it comes to US foreign policy. During the 1930s and 40s, the GOP and the “right” were “isolationist,” i.e. pro-peace, and it was the “left” and the Democrats who were clamoring for US military and diplomatic intervention abroad. With the coming of the cold war, the parties and their attendant ideological movements switched sides, with the rightists calling for a military “rollback” of the Soviet bloc and the left cautioning against foreign intervention and the danger of a nuclear conflict that could destroy all life on earth. When the communist colossus fell – and was revealed to have been an empty shell all along – yet another polarity switch was in the works until the 9/11 attacks delayed the process – which is now proceeding apace.
With the ascension of Trump, who threatens to get us out of NATO, out of the Pacific, and out of the business of defending the rest of the world from itself, the Republican party – and much of the conservative movement – is rejecting the globalist conception of America as the world’s gendarme-in-chief. Yes, there’s still the aftermath of the 9/11 Effect to deal with, and the blowback from out “war on terrorism,” but you’ll note that Trump always says he’s going to pulverize ISIS “quickly”: “We’re going to do it fast!” Whether or not we should believe him is another matter: the point being that he feels obligated to pay lip service to the now established principle of an “America First” distaste for foreign meddling.
Hillary Clinton represents the exact opposite worldview: hers is a decidedly protracted interventionist vision of America’s role in the world, and she’s apparently settled on a new global bogeyman in order to rationalize her program of serial regime change: Russia. Having likened Putin to Hitler, she is now following up with her own domestic “brown scare,” which bears an eerie resemblance to the “red scare” we Baby Boomers remember with not a trace of fondness.
If and when Mrs. Clinton makes it to the White House, she and her Myrmidons will launch a new cold war that could quickly escalate into a very hot one. Once again, the threat of war with nuclear-armed Russia will be center stage, and perhaps the day is not far when American schoolchildren will once again be going through a “duck and cover” routine in the classroom, and every family will be urged to build a backyard bomb shelter.
The new era certainly has its ominous aspect, but there are also hints of sunshine behind the storm clouds. The Trumpian takeover of the GOP means the exodus of the neoconservatives – the command center of the War Party – and their re-entry into the Democratic foreign policy Establishment. We are already beginning to see this with the defection of such neocon notables as Robert Kagan and Max Boot. The abortive third party efforts of the #NeverTrump crowd didn’t amount to much anyway, and the rest of the clan will troop – however reluctantly – back to where they (or rather, their ideological forefathers) came from in the first place. As I predicted in 2007:
“For these guys, it’s rule or ruin: they don’t care about regaining control of Congress (they gave up on that distant possibility a long time ago) or saving a conservative vote on fiscal and other matters. They care about one issue and one issue only: war and more war, as far as the eye can see. When they’ve run the GOP into the ground and reduced it to a mostly regional party, they’ll abandon the dried-up husk and emigrate back to where they came from – the Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic Party, where they can join Joe Lieberman, Joshua Muravchik, and Hillary Clinton’s neoconservative fan club in ginning up a war with Iran.”
With the tilt of the Democrats toward becoming the party of war as well as Big Government – complementary aspects of the same organizing principle – the Republicans will inevitably trend in the opposite direction. The political polarities are switching once again – and this presents the anti-interventionist movement with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Trump, for all his inconsistencies and incoherence, is defining the GOP’s line of march from this day forward, and, as he put it in his acceptance speech, it is going in one direction: “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”
Our task now is to define what that means in terms of policy – and to defeat the new incarnation of the War Party and its neoconservative brain trust.