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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/3/17

Turbulence Theory: Part Five of Reactive Mismeasures -- The New Yorker and the "New" Cold-War Propaganda

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Message Thomas Riggins

This is the fifth part (of 5) of a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on a recent article posing as journalism in the March 6, 2017, issue of The New Yorker. I hope to demonstrate that this article is basically a totally mendacious concoction of cold-war US propaganda constructed out of unsubstantiated opinions expressed by US government officials and various journalists and others who are hostile to the current Russian government. There are a few paragraphs exempt from this characterization and they are duly noted. I have put a link to the article itself so that my commentary can be compared, paragraph by paragraph, to the original. However, the commentary can be read on its own. I contend it expresses the real meaning of the original paragraph and my evaluation of that meaning. The original is there for anyone to check to see if I have distorted rather than clarified what the paragraph's actual meaning is. It is my position that this article is junk journalism that misrepresents the objective reality it purports to describe and that my commentary points out the misrepresentations and attempts to correct them. I hold that no self-respecting journalist would write an article such as this New Yorker piece and palm it off on the public. My commentary is also an object lesson on how to distinguish between reportage that at least attempts to be unbiased and obvious nonobjective propaganda. You will know more about Trump, Putin and the New Cold War from the commentary than you will ever know from the original article.

Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War - The New Yorker

Active measures were used by both sides throughout the Cold War. In the nineteen-sixties, ... Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, ...

Section Five "Turbulence Theory" This last section contains 16 paragraphs.

1. The Russians were "gleeful" over Clinton's loss as they saw the Trump victory as upsetting the established political consensus in Washington. [Putin may have felt his ambitions to have normal relations with Washington and the EU and lower the hostile actions of NATO would be possible to achieve. If so, it appears he was mistaken.]

2. The "News of the Week" anchor Dmitry Kiselyov revealed how benighted the social consciousness of many in the Russian elite has become since the demise of the Soviet state. Their ambassador to the US has either failed to enlighten them about Trump's base or he has been ignored, as Kiselyov informed his audience that Trump's views revealed neither any racism nor sexism, only "a real man" who believed in the family (with three wives to show it), as proved by the fact he doesn't approve "of protecting the rights of gays and lesbians." I'm surprised this reactionary commentator even thinks gays and lesbians have rights to protect.

3. The article now does an about face. Having spent four sections insinuating that Putin and the Russians were a major cause of Trump's victory they declare it's not so after all. They were factors (even this is unproved) but not "the dominant force."

The most important factor is ''resentment." This sentiment has resulted from "the effects of globalization and deindustrialization." Resentment has caused the rise of the right in Europe and the US. So, let's forget about the DNC and the election. The real problem is a paranoid fear that Putin is out to take over the world and Trump lacks the cojones to stop him. We shall see this is not a real fear but is totally concocted as an excuse to try and hold together militarily a teetering world order constructed by the 'West' after WWII in order to ensure American and European control of the world economy: an order that is unraveling because capitalism cannot regulate itself and is resulting in war, famine, pestilence, and environmental destruction on an apocalyptic scale. The authors assert, "many fear that Trump cannot be counted on" to defend the West: he says (or said) nice things about Putin, also about Brexit, and has "doubts" about NATO -- oh my, what is the world coming to? If Trump backs away from the usual US stance re NATO and the Russian "Threat" [Russia has been a threat, it seems, since Peter the Great, what ever system it has: feudal, communist, or capitalist] then, we are told by a British ex-deputy commander of NATO "it gives Putin all kinds of opportunities." For example, he might not have to invade the Baltic states to dominate them. [No evidence is presented that Putin has any plans, or even desires, "to invade" the Baltic states but that's the excuse for NATO's build-up. Would it signal the imminent fall of the West if Trump and Putin agreed to de-escalate the tensions along the Russia border?] The general also says there may be a "re-nationalization" of Europe if Trump doesn't stand up for keeping the EU together.

4. An "advisor" to Reagan and Clinton is quoted. The authors have a habit of selectively quoting journalists, "advisors," generals, etc., with whom they happen to agree. They evidently believe it makes their article more credible. They simply ignore equally or more qualified sources, whose opinions would under cut their viewpoint. They share this methodology on "fair and balanced" reporting with Fox News. Anyway, the advisor ponders how long Angela Merkel can "hold out against" Trump. She is alone in Europe and Putin will soon be seen as "the preeminent power in Europe." Germany versus Russia; we've been here before.

A conservative German news weekly ("Der Spiegel") is quoted to the effect that Germany must stand up to Trump, who is turning into "a danger to the world." Well that lets Putin on off the hook (Russia is a "regional power", remember.)

5. Next up on the New Yorker's Fantasy Island is the Clinton advisor "Strobe Talbott who really does have an almost apocalyptic vision of the what the future portends (we could have been saved this by HRC!). Talbott thinks that Trump (who had one casual encounter some years ago with Putin) is a "pal" of Putin's [they have a "perverse pal-ship"] and that Trump has an "almost unfathomable respect" for Putin. Because of this we may have a "second Cold War" [why if they are pals?] and we may lose it! Trump is also putting "the world in danger" because he doesn't respect [i.e., has called into question NATO and the world-wide net of American military bases] the world order established by the "political West "(the US) over the last 70 years. It doesn't occur to Talbott (or the authors) that it is precisely that political world order, sustained by American hegemony that is beginning to unravel of its own accord by its failure to prevent worsening climate change and to provide economic security for hundreds of millions of people because of growing inequality, which is putting "the world in danger." Trump is a symptom not a cause. Talbott doesn't see this. He sees that we may lose our position in the world and it will take years and years to regain it: "we the United States and we the champions of the liberal world order." We, the liberal order that put Pinochet in power in Chile, killed 5 million Vietnamese peasants in a colonial war, lied and invaded Iraq and virtually destroyed the Middle East in a trumpeted up war, who can't even properly feed, clothe, house and medically care for our own people properly: we are doomed because Donald Trump suggested he could sit down with Putin and make a "deal."

6. If Talbott's not enough we are treated to the totally ridiculous musings of one of the corrupt oligarchical Yelsin regime's former ministers who has resettled in Washington and who tells us the "same people" [he means kind of people] are in the Kremlin as in the White House. Trump's people and Putin's "like each other and feel that they are alike". I can just imagine Putin watching Trump and reading his tweets, rubbing his hands together in glee and thinking, "That Trump, he's just like me!'' The two groups "care less for democracy and values, and more for personal success, however that is defined." That also pretty much describes Yeltsin, Clinton and most politicians; but it's how "success" is defined that is really important and whether or not your personal success coincides with that of your country and its people or not.

7. The authors now decide, towards the end of an article that pounded away on the trope of Russian interference, that maybe it's not the "master narrative" of Trump's victory after all. While they say Russia's tampering with our election "appears convincing" [to those at any rate who are convinced by hearsay, speculation, bare assertions and the lack of any definite proof] it is nevertheless the case that Trump "is a phenomenon of America's own making." In fact, they could have junked all of the previous paragraphs and said all they had to say in these last 10 paragraphs that conclude the article.

8. A long paragraph using McCarthyite guilt-by-association techniques to suggest that maybe the "phenomenon" is not so American after all. Examples: Putin likes Tillerson types as they "don't talk about human rights." Trump didn't make any negative comments about Russian court cases; i.e., Russia's internal affairs (Putin "controls" the courts) involving charges against an opposition figure charged with fraud (he was convicted after the charge had been overturned by another court -- Putin's "control" of the courts must have slipped up the first time). "The Russians see friendly faces in the Administration.'' [Why no Gerasamov-type frowns? ] Tillerson, when he was CEO of Exxon, had a "close relationship" with the head of the state oil company who is both rich and close to Putin. Michael Flynn was paid a $40,000 fee by "the Russian propaganda station RT" to attend an anniversary celebration dinner (he sat next to Putin). [RT is partially funded by the government as is PBS; is the latter "the American propaganda network"? Is the BBC "the UK propaganda network"? It seems any news outlet subsidized by a "hostile" government is automatically a "propaganda" outlet. Radio Havana: propaganda. Radio Free Cuba: news and entertainment.]

9. Obama, near the very end of his term, expelled 35 Russian officials and closed a couple of Russian diplomatic compounds as a result of the allegations of Russian election hacking. Initially Russia said it would retaliate but later Putin reversed this. During this period Michael Flynn and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner had contact with Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. Michael Flynn lied to Vice-President Pence about his meeting and had to resign as a result. Obama had placed sanctions against Russia and Flynn is suspected to have had inappropriate conversations with Kisyak. But the reason he was fired was for lying to the Vice-President.

10. Over the years Trump has made contradictory statements regarding Russia and Putin. He has said he has and hasn't met Putin. Basically it seems this confusion has developed as a result of the 2013 Miss Universe contest, which was held in Moscow. Investigations are in progress to sort all this out.

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Thomas Riggins, PhD CUNY, is a retired university lecturer in philosophy and ancient history and the former book review editor for Political Affairs magazine.

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