by William Skink
Two recent pieces caught my attention. The first is a revisionist hit-piece on Zinke in another attempt by Democrats to use Zinke’s support for Trump as a political bludgeon, with a little Putin thrown in to make the dish really pop. After Monday’s debate, and before the polls show whether or not the angry Trump Train will lose some steam over Trump’s implosion, the hope is a Trump trickle down effect will rain on statewide races.
The author of the piece is COMBAT VETERAN Josh Manning. I put COMBAT VETERAN in big letters, so you don’t miss that Josh Manning is a COMBAT VETERAN, and thus worthy of taking on Zinke. If you go to Moogirl, you will see that at the beginning of the post is this italicized introduction of the author:
Josh Manning is a combat veteran and serves on the leadership team of Common Defense, a group of progressive veterans joining together to affect political change. You can follow him on Twitter @joshuamanning23
So with that out of the way, let’s see how Manning opens his hit piece, titled The Nexus of Ego: Putin, Trump, and Zinke:
Counterterrorism analysts shorthand a grouping of terrorists from different groups or skillsets as a “nexus.” There is no better term for what has become a solidifying linkage between Russian President Vladimir Putin, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, and our lone Congressman, Ryan Zinke. Together this trinity of hate spreads policies based on authoritarian rule, dominance politics, and crony capitalism.
Last week, intelligence officials broadcast their concerns regarding a Trump foreign policy advisor meeting with the same members of the Russian security services who are attempting influence the 2016 presidential election. If you have not heard, the Russian security services are attempting to sway the election toward Trump. It was already concerning enough that this advisor, Carter Page, has connections to Russian companies and oligarchs close to Putin’s inner circle, to include monolithic energy power Gazprom. People who run afoul of Gazprom end up dead or in prison. You do not get close to that group unless your aim is empower Russia at any means necessary.
It’s not difficult to discern this is a political hit piece not to be taken seriously. While I’m sure Manning was spreading nothing but love as he participated in the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq, calling Trump a terrorist for his campaign’s link to Russian business interests is a dangerous and cynical attack when one can so easily use the magic of Google to discover that–GASP!–cash flowed to the Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal.
So when Hillary gets with Bill and other beneficiaries of their shady dealings, is that also a nexus of terrorists? If yes, then maybe I would take this argument seriously. But Josh is a progressive organization warrior taking on a conservative candidate, so I’m not expecting parity here. Also, it gets worse:
If praising Putin’s “leadership” was not disqualifying enough on its own, unpacking Zinke’s comments regarding Russia’s moves against its near abroad demonstrates how little he understands national security and foreign policy. In characterizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea as brilliant, Zinke has put himself at the opposite end of policy adopted by NATO, our most important ally in the region. He cannot talk about how he supports NATO one year then praise Putin to gain an electoral edge. Further, these approvals give Putin room to amplify military actions against the Baltic and Central Asian states that are trying to develop democracies outside of Russian interference and break away from the Soviet model. If Zinke wants a new Cold War—with he and the GOP oddly on the side of Russians—then this is the way to start it.
Um, where to start with this exceptionally disgusting but altogether predictable mischaracterization of world events? First, I’m less concerned about Zinke’s political calculation for the statements he’s made than I am about the calculation of Manning to refer to the western-backed coup in Ukraine as a Russian invasion. What is brilliant is not the annexation of Crimea, but an American propaganda system that continues to distort and omit direct U.S. actions abroad, which includes funding and organizing anti-democratic regime change operations in non-aligned nations, like Ukraine.
I have little patience for this kind of revisionist bullshit. When Manning laments that praising Putin gives him “room to amplify military actions against the Baltic and Central Asian states that are trying to develop democracies outside of Russian interference and break away from the Soviet model” I wonder if these political hacks that call themselves progressives will ever be capable of acknowledging the damage of American interference and NATO encroachment–or incitement, considering NATO’s decision to install advanced missile systems on Russia’s doorstep.
I would also like to note that it’s difficult to break away from something that broke over a decade ago. It’s not the fucking 80’s, Josh Manning, so talking about the Soviet model doesn’t really lend credibility to your implied assertion that you have any better understanding of geopolitics than Ryan Zinke does.
And then there’s the part about wanting a new Cold War. Just wow on that one. With Hillary calling Putin Hitler and questioning if he has a soul, who exactly is pining for a new Cold War?
I actually don’t think Manning lacks an understanding of world events, I think he’s one of many people playing a dangerous game. There seems to be real panic among the establishment that the Trump train is unstoppable by conventional means, and one of the more far-fetched contingencies if Trump wins is a forced removal from office by the military. Don’t think a coup could happen here in America? Well, this time last year you probably didn’t think a con-man real estate mogul turned reality tv star could get this close to being president.
While Josh Manning is calling our state congress critter a terrorist Trump supporter with some implied traitor shade for good measure, the Financial Times is also going apoplectic over the potential of Trump. My favorite quote is this:
Far from making America great, his presidency might unravel the world.
Funny, I thought that’s what the banksters have been busy doing while we waste time watching a sniffling orange-faced man make incoherent statements about how Hillary has been fighting ISIS here whole adult life.
But the implication of this person becoming president is terrifying, and not just to the many average Americans who deplore him (for good reason), but to the elites circling around their pillars of power and prestige. I think the following concern articulated by the FT embodies perfectly the elites anxieties over Trump:
What might a Trump presidency mean? Forecasting the policies of someone so unpredictable is impossible. But a few things seem at least reasonably clear.
The US and its allies remain immensely powerful. But their economic dominance is in slow decline. According to the International Monetary Fund, the share of the high-income countries (essentially, the US and its chief allies) will fall from 64 per cent of global output (measured at purchasing power) in 1990 to 39 per cent in 2020, while the US share will fall from 22 per cent to 15 per cent over this period.
While the US military might is still huge, two caveats must be made. One is that winning a conventional war is quite a different matter from achieving one’s aims on the ground, as the Vietnam and Iraq wars showed. Furthermore, China’s rapidly rising defence spending could create serious military difficulties for the US in the Asia-Pacific region.
It follows that the ability of the US to shape the world to its liking will rest increasingly on its influence over the global economic and political systems. Indeed, this is not new. It has been a feature of US hegemony since the 1940s. But this is even more important today. The alliances the US creates, the institutions it supports and the prestige it possesses are truly invaluable assets. All such strategic assets would be in grave peril if Mr Trump were to be president.
The biggest contrast between the US and China is that the former has so many powerful allies. Even Vladimir Putin is not a reliable ally for China. America’s allies support the US largely because they trust it. That trust is based on its perceived commitment to predictable, values-based behaviour. Its alliances have not been problem-free, far from it. But they have worked. Mr Trump’s cherished unpredictability and transactional approach to partnerships would damage the alliances irreparably.
A vital feature of the US-led global order has been the role of multilateral institutions, such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. In binding itself by the rules of an open economic system, the US has encouraged others to do the same. The result has been extraordinary growth in prosperity: between 1950 and 2015, average global real output per head rose sixfold. Mr Trump does not understand this system. The results of repudiation could be calamitous for all.
Whether or not Trump understands this system is irrelevant. What I think is relevant is that more and more Americans ARE beginning to understand this system, and they understand where all that increased output has accumulated, and it isn’t in their savings account, pensions or benefit plans.
If the polls over the next few days show no significant dip for Trump’s numbers after his terrible performance, who knows what contingencies may be required to keep Trump out of the White House. With fear ramped high and dangerous rhetoric flying from all sides, the Chinese curse of living in interesting times has never felt more ominous.