OpEds | Deena Stryker
(Together with Russia, Germany is another favorite refuge for anti-US activists, such as the film-maker who chronicled Snowden’s hegira, Laura Poitras, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Berlin’s expat community rivaled that of 20th century Paris… It’s also interesting to consider that at the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement, draftees could only escape serving the imperium by fleeing to Canada, where in fact, many rebuilt their lives. Today, Americans are again considering moving there following the Trump victory, and recently Paul Craig Roberts —in satirical flourish aimed at the US establishment—half-seriously wrote an open letter to President Putin requesting Russian citizenship.)
While the US never misses a chance to claim that Russia is ‘isolated’, by the time Snowden found himself stuck in Moscow’s Sheremetevo Airport, his passport having been remotely voided, Russia was well into a transformation started in 2000. And while the US was bombing the Middle East, Russia was holding political conference after cultural event after business confab, to which high-powered business-leaders and thinkers from across the world came on their own dime. Here’s just a partial list of 2015 gatherings, obtained from the office of the President:
July 9, 2015 Meeting with BRICS trade union representatives
June 19, Meeting with heads of major foreign companies and business associations
BRICS Summit July 9-10, in Ufa, Russia
Preparing Global Leaders Summit July 25-31, 2015
In 2016, the following major events took place:
Valdai International discussion Club – Oct
Russia Calling Investment Forum – Oct
Russia-Kazakstan Interregional Cooperation Forum – Oct
International Forum on Energy Efficiency and Development, Nov
Russian-Asean Summit – May
St. Petersburg International Economic Forum – June
Eurasia Economic Council – May
During the Soviet era, delegates to international events in Moscow were members of a single party, imbued with its rules and beliefs. Very differently, the beliefs of the Westerners who trek to Moscow today result from individual analyses of events on the world stage. Social media has been a boon for self-directed thinking and acting by those who increasingly reject ‘party lines’, the main-stream media and propaganda, whether commercial or governmental. In the US, this trend is illustrated on the right by popular militias preparing to ‘take back’ their country, while on the left it gave rise to grass roots movements such as ‘Black Lives Matter’, opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and the immigrant Dream Campaign.
Although never mentioned, mounting US condemnations of Russian ‘propaganda’ by American politicians and their obedient mouthpieces is motivated by the fact that Russia’s state sponsored television network (similar to the BBC, or Deutsche Welle) plays host to increasing numbers of American and other foreign personalities. “Putin’s Bullhorn”, alias Russia Today. RT is where progressive Americans who are not welcome on US television go to debate on Peter Lavelle’s Cross Talk, while Oksana Boyko and Sophie Schevarnadze interview high ranking foreigners who speak their own minds. (Larry King, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Chris Hedges, Jessie Ventura, Tyrel Ventura, Mike Papantonio all have shows or do news on RT. Ed Schultz, in fact is now—since early 2016—RT’s lead anchor, a rather amazing transformation for a typical MSNBC Democrat/Clintonite to make.
Media beat reporter Paul Farhi of the Washington Post files a thinly-veiled poisoned account of Ed Schultz’s gyrations. Despite the inevitable innuendoes and bald hypocritical accusations of “state propaganda” leveled at RT, the piece does contain some valuable tidbits on Schultz, and the network itself. So check it out. Just be sure to put on your gas mask before doing so. (Click on the bar below)
When RT celebrated its tenth year on air and its 700-million-person audience in December, 2015, among the guests were Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London and now Great Britain’s Foreign Secretary; a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Cyril Svoboda, who led the negotiations for Czech accession to the E.U.; U.S. Green Party candidate for President of the United States, Jill Stein (who was vilified for accepting President Putin’s invitation); German statesman and former VP of the OSCE, Willy Wimmer; the president of Telesur, Patricia Villegas, and Carter Page, a Trump advisor. (An anchor recently asked Page if he didn’t think it was treasonous of him to accept that invitation, mimicking McCarthy’s ‘are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party.) Former CIA operative turned activist Ray McGovern is a frequent guest on RT, as are Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. (RT carries John Kerry’s press conferences live but he has not accepted to be interviewed as far as I know.) In December, 2015, Sophie interviewed Sy Hersh, who had just published revelations about the US Chiefs of Staff secretly helping Assad, and Lt Gen Michael Flynn, who headed the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014 and is now President-elect Trump’s National Security Advisor.
Flynn was the first significant US personality I heard make any sense of the struggle against ISIS. Evoking lack of jobs for Muslim youth, he called forcefully for the US and Russia to stop behaving like two bullies in a play-ground, commenting: “It’s a marriage, whether we like it or not Very rocky. We don’t need this marriage to break up again. I know ISIS as do Russians, it’s very very deadly.”
Sophie Schevarnadze, asked him: “What is Obama’s strategy in Syria?
Flynn: “It’s one-dimensional. He’s giving it to our military to solve, with more special forces, more air, those kinds of things, very one dimensional. We talk a bigger game of financial and diplomacy in meetings around the world, (sic) but there have to be a different set of pressures, equally on Iran and Saudi Arabia.”
Sophie: What do you expect the US do in terms of pressuring Saudi Arabia?
Flynn: Arab leaders have said to me “We want the US and Russia to work together…. Negotiations are not going to eliminate the enemy. Egypt’s president al-Sisi called for some kind of reformation of Islam, both Sunni and Shia. But we have to go back to the writings of individuals such as Qut’b.” Notwithstanding his intemperate diatribes on US television, a much more sober Flynn is also the only American political or military figure I have heard refer to Syed Qut’b, the Egyptian educator who wrote radical Islam’s founding text back in the sixties, after visiting the United States.
With respect to the war in Syria, the few American politicians who acknowledge that the Assad regime is a secular one say he has to go because his minority Alawite clan runs the country to its economic advantage, purporting not to know that countries with half a dozen minorities are best ruled by the smallest one. (Several months ago, RT hosted US Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard who, with Republican Austin Scott, R-Ga., introduced legislation to end what they called an “illegal war” to overthrow Assad. On December 8, Gabbard introduced legislation demanding that the US government stop arming terrorists.)
As the information and propaganda war goes into overdrive, with the US and Great Britain accusing their citizens of being Russian stooges (in the name of freedom of speech and of the press), here are some Americans I saw on RT in 2016: Laurence Lessig, Mickey Kantor, Michael McFaul (former US ambassador to Moscow), Stephen Cohen, E.L. Doctorow, Jim Jatras, former diplomat, Nassim Taleb, futurist (black swans), David Shuster, Allen West form US Congressman Michael Maloof, former Pentagon analyst Alice Driver, author of More or Less Dead, Prof. John Mearsheimer, James Bradley, Republican Congressman Richard Black, Margaret Flowers, a US Senate candidate from Maryland, Jim Rogers (investor), and lawyers Allan Lichtman, Gary Thompson, Adkak Pradhan and James Connell. I have not kept track of the Europeans who appear on RT, but suffice it to say they are numerous.
The incoming president’s electors are largely ignorant of foreign affairs, but maybe he will encourage them to get an education by watching RT.
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