"From questioning the marriage of one of the key donors to the Leave campaign, to usingBritain’s public broadcaster to float conspiracy theories about Russian influence, the Cold War-esque scare tactics of ‘Reds Under the Bed’ not only reveals the lack of originality in the Clinton camp, it reveals hypocrisy, foreign policy flippancy, and perhaps even a serious misestimation of where the public stands on the issue."
The Clinton campaign alongside the establishment media have begun blowing the Vladimir Putin dog-whistle, just as their European counterparts did during the United Kingdom’s referendum on its membership of the European Union (EU).
Almost as if on cue, news outlets have begun parroting the same old lines used by Britain’s political establishment before June of this year, when they accused anti-establishment ‘Leave’ campaigners of doing the bidding for, if not being directly linked to, the Russian president and the Kremlin.
From questioning the marriage of one of the key donors to the Leave campaign, to usingBritain’s public broadcaster to float conspiracy theories about Russian influence, the Cold War-esque scare tactics of ‘Reds Under the Bed’ not only reveals the lack of originality in the Clinton camp, it reveals hypocrisy, foreign policy flippancy, and perhaps even a serious misestimation of where the public stands on the issue.
In the run up to the Brexit referendum, U.S. outlets even went as far as to call Mr. Putin’s (lack of) interventions “meddling“. The same charge was never levelled by the media at U.S. President Barack Obama when he flew to the United Kingdom and lectured Britons on how they should vote. In fact, he threatened the country’s economy and trade position in the world if they refused to follow his advice. But this was deemed appropriate.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin and Mr. Putin were broadly absent from the debate, possibly because they knew full well the ‘Remain’ camp would use any public pronouncements against the Leave camp, but also because they are unlikely to have had a clear-cut position on the issue. Mr Putin is a grand strategist and could have dealt with either outcome. The U.S. establishment, however, has all of its eggs in the globalism basket.
In March a Kremlin spokesman said: “Russia is being dragged into the domestic debate on Brexit. Why is the wicked Russia thesis used to explain a Government policy?”
“We’d like the British people to know that those pronouncements have nothing to do with Russia’s policy,” the embassy said. “As a matter of fact, our Government doesn’t have an opinion on Britain’s place in the EU.”
Despite this far less “meddling” tactic, links to Russia were one of the most consistent messages of the ‘Remain’ campaign’s ‘Project Fear’ strategy to keep Britain in the European Union. Even the Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, invoked the threat of Russia to try and convince Britons to stay in.
The Clinton campaign’s briefings on how Donald Trump is “Helping Putin Consolidate Control of Ukraine“, and how Russia is “meddling in U.S. election” (there’s that word again) are Project Fear 101. The journalists willfully writing up these stories are ignoring critical points; such as how Secretary of State Clinton’s connections with the Kremlin and Russian oligarchs helped Russia buy up U.S. uranium interests. The New York Timesreported in April 2015:
“At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.”
“In May 2010, the State Department facilitated a Moscow visit by 22 of the biggest names in U.S. venture capital—and weeks later the first memorandums of understanding were signed by Skolkovo and American companies.
“By 2012 the vice president of the Skolkovo Foundation, Conor Lenihan—who hadpreviously partnered with the Clinton Foundation—recorded that Skolkovo had assembled 28 Russian, American and European “Key Partners.” Of the 28 “partners,” 17, or 60%, have made financial commitments to the Clinton Foundation, totaling tens of millions of dollars, or sponsored speeches by Bill Clinton.”
Nevertheless, you will likely find more references to Putin and Trump in the past week alone than you will to these dubious affairs in their totality.
Indeed arch-establishment mouthpiece, Legatum Institute leader, and all-round George Soros activist Anne Applebaum went so far as to declare Donald Trump “a Russian oligarch” in the Washington Post this week.
Ms. Applebaum is married to the U.S.-hating former Polish foreign minister whose party was turfed out by a populist, nationalist revolt last year. They are now being assisted by Mr. Soros and his third party groups in their bid to destabilise the new Polish government,using the European Union and indeed the Clintons too. This, however, has not proved popular with U.S.-based Polish expats.
And perhaps far worse than her connections to the Kremlin – a relationship which has evidently soured in recent months – are her connections to the fascist, authoritarian, pseudo-monarchical, Islamist dictatorship in Saudi Arabia. In 2015 the WSJ reported:
“…the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has given between $10 million and $25 million since the foundation was created in 1999. Part of that came in 2014, although the database doesn’t specify how much.”
But few column inches or broadcast air minutes are used to discuss these matters.
FOREIGN POLICY FLIPPANCY
In drafting in Russia as a talking point, Mrs. Clinton makes it very difficult for her to deal with President Putin and the Kremlin should she find herself in the Oval Office in 2017.
Her campaign’s claims that Mr. Trump is somehow untrustworthy because he wants to work with Mr. Putin, not against him, is difficult to take seriously given her lauding of Russia as “an ally” in 2012:
She said, in an attempt to mock then-GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who called the country America’s greatest geopolitical foe:
“Russia has been an ally. They’re in the P-5+1 talks with us, they have worked with us in Afghanistan and have been very helpful in the Northern Distribution Network and in other ways. So I think it’s somewhat dated to be looking backwards instead of being realistic about where we agree, where we don’t agree, but looking for ways to bridge the disagreements and then to maximize the cooperation”.
In March 2010 she said:
“One of the fears that I hear from Russia is that somehow the United States wants Russia to be weak. That could not be farther from the truth. Our goal is to help strengthen Russia.”
Her once-celebrated “reset” with Russia was an inglorious failure. But it is no different to her foreign policy accomplishments across the board. On Iran, Iraq, Europe, TTIP, Israel, Libya, and elsewhere, she has been an unprecedented flop.
Her willingness to risk fresh discord with Putin’s Russia for the sake of some negative Trump headlines speak volumes about her intentions in the Oval Office: endanger the United States and revive old wounds unless there’s money to be made. And not for America either. For herself.
WHERE THE PUBLIC STANDS
The Russia question is a hard one to pin down. Certainly most Western citizens still remember or know of the Cold War. They see Russia, especially Putin’s Russia, as untrustworthy and indeed – as Mitt Romney identified – the U.S.’s greatest geopolitical foe.
But whether it is New York Magazine or the Washington Post (again) – journalists often portray pictures of Europe and Europeans living in the United States that had more relevance in the 1980s than they do today.
The idea of people lining up for government gruel anti-Russian sentiment is outdated. Many Europeans see the country today as a stalwart of conservatism. Authoritarian, state-driven, religious conservatism. But conservatism nonetheless. There is a wafer-thin line between the political philosophies of Marine Le Pen’s Front National and Mr. Putin’s Russia.
And while the WaPo‘s and Daily Beasts of the world may think that abhorrent: the public does not.
This stems from having seen first hand what the centrist political establishments – heralded in by the likes of Bill Clinton and John McCain – have done in their countries. But it also derives its legitimacy from the cultural debates raging across Western nations. In London, Warsaw, Paris, and Kiev there may be much backslapping over liberalism, but the great cultural arguments, those of civilisational import are indeed still being played out across the smaller towns and cities of European countries. The same as in the United States.
Populists, nationalists, and eurosceptics are winning in the UK, in the Netherlands, in Poland, in France, in Hungary, and before the U.S./EU political coup: in Ukraine.
So when James Hohmann quotes John McCain alongside failed John Kasich and Jon Huntsman campaign chief John Weaver, it is clear they all see the world from national capitals with their metropolitan, liberal, younger voters. Maybe its a “John” thing.
“In and around Cleveland, Akron, Toledo, Detroit and all throughout Wisconsin, you’re talking about voters with family in Poland, the Baltics, Ukraine and the Czech Republic,” Weaver told the Washington Post, adding: “These voters are key to any narrow path that Trump has left.”
Whether or not that is true from a psephological perspective is already sketchy. That it is true from an ideological and cultural one is risible.
While no one can doubt the Communist-era overhang suffered by places like Poland, the trend is going the other way, not against Mr. Putin. Pew Research from 2015 revealed a much more complex picture than Mr. Weaver et. al would have you believe, and while Russia’s standing in the world declined around the Crimea annexation, it has begun to recover in all but the United Kingdom and Canada.
“As recently as 2010, 45% of Poles had a favorable view of Russia – three times the current share. Just as striking, in 2010 only 11% had a very unfavorable opinion of Russia”.
Even in Ukraine the picture is less clear than U.S. journalists would have you think. Pew (2015) showed:
“Western Ukrainians are much more likely to say Russia is the sole culprit (56%), while those in the east see the problem as more complicated. A third of Ukrainians in the east think Russia is primarily to blame, but 36% fault more than one of the groups.
“Roughly half of Ukrainians (47%) believe Russia is a major military threat to other neighboring countries. Another 34% say the former Cold War power is a minor threat. Western Ukrainians are much more concerned about Russia’s territorial ambitions (61% major threat) than those in the east (30%).”
This is a drastically different scenario from the one portrayed in the U.S. media, which usually comes down to “Russia bad. Everywhere else good”. But even the American people are growing weary of this slant.
Pew (2016) demonstrated that while U.S. public opinion towards Russia slumped in 2014 around the time of the Crimea annexation, those numbers have now halved. People don’t view Russia as an outright adversary, though they are perhaps rightly wary of its status as a geopolitical competitor.
“There is no sign of growing public concern about either China or Russia. Roughly a quarter of the public (23%) views each as an adversary, while 44% say each is a serious problem but not an adversary. About three-in-ten say neither China nor Russia pose much of a problem for the U.S.”
Perhaps Mrs. Clinton’s greatest folly will be believing that her campaign should be spending time hammering Donald Trump for ostensibly advocating the same “reset” policy she did in 2009.
Much like during the Brexit campaign, it is hard to see many if any of the wider public placing much weight behind her simultaneously shaky and hypocritical claims.