Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Jackson Lears — What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking

Good summary of the narrative manufactured to distract from Democratic failures and to discredit the 2017 US general election. This is the sort of behavior previously seen almost exclusively in banana republics.
What are the consequences of the spectacle the media call (with characteristic originality) ‘Russiagate’?
The most immediate consequence is that, by finding foreign demons who can be blamed for Trump’s ascendancy, the Democratic leadership have shifted the blame for their defeat away from their own policies without questioning any of their core assumptions. Amid the general recoil from Trump, they can even style themselves dissenters – ‘#the resistance’ was the label Clintonites appropriated within a few days of the election. Mainstream Democrats have begun to use the word ‘progressive’ to apply to a platform that amounts to little more than preserving Obamacare, gesturing towards greater income equality and protecting minorities. This agenda is timid. It has nothing to say about challenging the influence of concentrated capital on policy, reducing the inflated defence budget or withdrawing from overextended foreign commitments; yet without those initiatives, even the mildest egalitarian policies face insuperable obstacles. More genuine insurgencies are in the making, which confront corporate power and connect domestic with foreign policy, but they face an uphill battle against the entrenched money and power of the Democratic leadership – the likes of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, the Clintons and the DNC. Russiagate offers Democratic elites a way to promote party unity against Trump-Putin, while the DNC purges Sanders’s supporters.
For the DNC, the great value of the Russian hack story is that it focuses attention away from what was actually in their emails. The documents revealed a deeply corrupt organisation, whose pose of impartiality was a sham.… 
The Democratic Party is still rushing headlong over a cliff as it descends deeper into McCarthyism and attempts to isolate its progressive wing. This is a trajectory toward irrelevance.
The Democratic Party has now developed a new outlook on the world, a more ambitious partnership between liberal humanitarian interventionists and neoconservative militarists than existed under the cautious Obama. This may be the most disastrous consequence for the Democratic Party of the new anti-Russian orthodoxy: the loss of the opportunity to formulate a more humane and coherent foreign policy. The obsession with Putin has erased any possibility of complexity from the Democratic world picture, creating a void quickly filled by the monochrome fantasies of Hillary Clinton and her exceptionalist allies....
I would contest that this is a new outlook on the world. It began with Jimmy Carter and the policy cohort of the Democratic Party embraced Zbigniew Brzezinski as the Democratic Henry Kissinger. While both were cold warriors, Zbig was a foreign policy idealist who embraced liberal internationalism rather than being a foreign policy realist like Kissinger, whose strategy was based on national interest and balance of power. Carter was followed by Regan, under whom the neocons came to power. Since then, US foreign and military policy has been dominated by neoconservatism on the GOP side and liberal interventionism on the Democratic side. Both frames are unipolar and based on permanent US global hegemony through economic and military dominance.

Donald Trump contested that view with a resurgent realism and sought the advise of Kissinger. This was arguably a key factor it has victory over Clinton, since many progressive Democrats were tried off by the wars and war-mongering. The deep state, comprised of the foreign policy and military policy cohorts that predominantly embraced either neoconservatism or liberal internationalism, along with the politicized intelligence services, allied against Trump and has been attempting a soft coup since the election.
Having come of age during the Vietnam War, a calamitous consequence of that inflated definition of national interest, I have always been attracted to the realist critique of globalism. Realism is a label forever besmirched by association with Henry Kissinger, who used it as a rationale for intervening covertly and overtly in other nations’ affairs. Yet there is a more humane realist tradition, the tradition of George Kennan and William Fulbright, which emphasises the limits of military might, counselling that great power requires great restraint. This tradition challenges the doctrine of regime change under the guise of democracy promotion, which – despite its abysmal failures in Iraq and Libya – retains a baffling legitimacy in official Washington. Russiagate has extended its shelf life....
The London Review of Books
What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking
Jackson Lears | Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University

See also
The promotion of the alleged Russian election hacking in certain media may have grown from the successful attempts of U.S. intelligence services to limit the publication of the NSA files obtained by Edward Snowden.
Moon of Alabama
From Snowden To Russia-gate - The CIA And The Media


Noah Way said...

Well presented and thought out piece that unfortunately cites NYT "reporting" of NSA claims as if it were factual (tracing Chinese hackers to a specific building). Especially after excoriating the Times as a neoliberal mouthpiece.

Kaivey said...

Crikey! What a good article by
Jackson Lears.