Vladimir Putin is blamed for everything that goes awry in Europe and the United States. In the United Kingdom his country was even blamed for bad weather as tabloid headlines screamed about icy Russian winds. The Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory are said to be the result of Putin’s interference, even though the machinations of American oligarch Robert Mercer are most responsible for both outcomes.
When high level vitriol is shared by the corporate media and the American political duopoly and then repeated ad nauseum it is clear that the target will be subjected to more than mere slander. Such an attack carried out against a foreign leader is proof that the United States is ready for war by other means if not outright military conflict.
Russia has been a target ever since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. In its weakened state it was a victim of its own rapacious oligarch class and aside from having a nuclear arsenal was no match for its former rival. Bill Clinton openly dispatched operatives to meddle in the 1996 election and ensured that Boris Yeltsin kept the country ripe for plunder.
But in a supreme irony of history Yeltsin chose Vladimir Putin to succeed him. He took on the worst of the thieves and in so doing made himself an enemy of forces who hoped to pull his country apart. But he was not antagonistic to the United States. Libya might have been saved if Russia had used its United Nations Security Council veto against the no fly zone resolution in 2011. Only when the United States installed a fascist, anti-Russian government in Ukraine did Putin get the message that America should not be accommodated.
Putin stopped going along to get along but the American appetite for conquest is unstoppable. Syria is the place where Russia drew a line in the sand—and successfully, too. But the United States and NATO won’t admit defeat and continue the suffering of the Syrian people.
Now the drama surrounding the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergie Skripal in the U.K. has ensnared the Russian government. It is far-fetched to think that in the midst of an election campaign and the upcoming world soccer cup in Russia that Putin would decide to attack a former double agent he had allowed to go free eight years ago.
Prime Minister Theresa May is like her American counterparts: a liar and a violator of international law. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has a process for nations to request information from one another and they are given 10 days to do so. Instead, May demanded that Russia prove the unprovable, that it wasn’t responsible, and that it do so in 24 hours. She declared that Russia was “likely” responsible and expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the country.
Labour party opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn was little better. He did say that the government should actually wait for proof of Russian involvement in Skripal’s poisoning but he also indulged in an anti-Russian screed as he vented against authoritarianism, oligarchs and human rights abuses. Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had just received a warm welcome in London from May, the royal family and the press. No one said a word about his genocide against the people of Yemen. But facts won’t get in the way of blatant war propaganda.
Putin has created a kind of madness on both sides of the ocean as politicians look for ever more bizarre ways to engage in Russophobia which is intended to damage his nation. Donald Trump’s appointment of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state was said to be influenced by Putin. Of course, everyone conveniently forgot that trope and now Tillerson’s dismissal is said to have been carried out on Putin’s orders.
Putin is even accused of being a racist. The Christopher Steele dossier, a creation of the Democratic Party and the ill-fated Hillary Clinton campaign, alleges that some on Putin’s staff used the “N-word ” in reference to Barack Obama. Any assertions in this dubious document are impossible to prove and it is unlikely that Steele’s second hand Russian sources reached into the Kremlin inner circle. This particular assertion comes from Michael Isikoff, a Steele partner in crime who dutifully leaked information which led to the granting of a FISA warrant and the Mueller investigation of Trump.
The creation of an all purpose villain is meant to cover up Democratic Party electoral failures, end the Trump presidency, and of course make the case for the American exceptionalism and interventions. Regime change, proxy wars, and imperial conquest are all very much a part of the anti-Putin hysteria.
But the Russophobes are playing a very dangerous game. The story of the poisoned man does not take place in a vacuum. While the public are distracted by a tall tale of Putin killing any Russian whoever died outside of that country, the very dangerous Syrian war continues. Lies about the Russian government should be taken very seriously. They are war propaganda and they are meant to get public support for military action against Russia and its allies.
The Skripal story is so murky that it will be difficult to ever determine culpability. But years of lies have had the desired effect. The public will believe anything about Putin and the Russian government no matter how ridiculous the charge. The American media are finally forced to report on the story of Robert Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica and the role it played in getting Trump an Electoral College victory. But the implications of a right-wing oligarch tipping the scales in our so-called democracy are ignored. Instead the New York Times reported on the Russian ancestry of a Cambridge Analytica staffer in a desperate effort to continue the dangerous charade.
Fifteen years ago this same government proclaimed that Iraq was the great danger and used the charge to make the case for war. Little has changed since. America excels at warfare and that is always preceded by propaganda.
In announcing new weapon developments Putin declared that mutually assured destruction (MAD) is not a thing of the past. If the U.S. and its allies were sane this would be a positive development. But they are not sane and every move and every charge brings the world closer to the precipice. The United States, not Russia, poses the greatest threat to peace and life on the planet. That must never be forgotten.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.