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 using Britain’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 Times reported 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 had previously 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.”
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.