Navalny: A Slim Reed to Lean On to “Punish” Putin

By Ray McGovern

Today proved to be unfortunate timing for NY Times op-ed writer Professor Chris Miller of Tuft’s Fletcher School, who paints an academic veneer onto L’Affaire Navalny, just as Amnesty International downgrades his status.

Miller begins: “After the imprisonment this month of the opposition leader Aleksey Navalny, punishing Russia is back on the agenda.” [Emphasis added.] (See: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/25/opinion/nord-stream-2-navalny.html .) Had the professor done his homework, rather than simply regurgitate mainstream media memes on the misfortune that has befallen the dissident/cum great-white-hope Navalny, Miller could have readily known that Navalny is a weak reed to lean on to “punish Russia”. No matter: On the hallowed pages of the NY Times Navalny has been able to outlive his checkered past — so far, at least.

Amnesty: Delete “Prisoner of Conscience”

Just as Miller’s op-ed was being published, Amnesty International, which had finally done its own homework (better late than never), stripped Navalny of his “prisoner of conscience” status. AI had been bombarded with complaints about his xenophobia — in one video he compares immigrants to cockroaches, and pretends to shoot one (immigrant, not cockroach). Amnesty has now labeled that “hate speech” and found that incompatible with the label “prisoner of conscience”.

Pipe Dream About a Pipeline

Professor Miller suggests that the imprisonment of Navalny “has thrown open the question” of the Nord Stream 2 project, the almost-completed pipeline under the Baltic Sea that is almost complete and will bring more natural gas from Russia to Germany. Miller concedes that “canceling the project as punishment for Mr. Navalny’s treatment (sic) is unlikely to achieve much…”, and concludes with “a simple truth: When it comes to dealing with Russia, there are very few good options”.

There are some good options, but you will not find them discussed very much in the NY Times or, sadly, in academia. These, and related issues were discussed in a less conventional way earlier today when I was interviewed by The Critical Hour.

14 minutes.

Will Biden Fall For Few Further Feckless Sanctions?

By Ray McGovern

The Washington Post and other media, owned and operated by the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex), yesterday beat the drums for more sanctions on Russia. (See, for example, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/biden-readies-his-first-major-penalties-on-russia/ar-BB1dVg18 and  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/europe-sanctions-russian-officials-for-navalny-imprisonment/2021/02/22/3cf3418e-7507-11eb-9489-8f7dacd51e75_story.html )

Cuticles Beware!

The owners and operators of major- and minor-league media are biting their nails down to the cuticle.  Could Biden’s immediate extension of the New START Treaty, plus his agreement with Putin on the telephone “to explore strategic stability discussions on a range of arms control and emerging security issues” threaten a thaw in U.S.-Russian relations?  (See:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/26/readout-of-president-joseph-r-biden-jr-call-with-president-vladimir-putin-of-russia/ )

Perish the thought! No thaw; no detente; no rapprochement.  Oh, the Things That Go Bump in the Night! — things that could complicate the MICIMATT campaign to exaggerate the national security “threat”, in order to justify obscenely high levels of funding for “defense” against an “aggressive” Russia?

Alexey Novichokovich Navalny

So, as we saw yesterday, we can expect the media to exploit to the fullest the imprisonment of Russian dissident Alexey Navalny; and play up the poisoning — my God, poisoning with the dreaded Novichok — of Navalny, and of Skripal before him.

I asked a highly educated, perceptive Russian friend of mine what he thought of L’Affaire Navalny. Here’s his email reply:

When it comes to Skripal and Navalny poisoning, what makes me suspicious is that, while the FSB folks are not angels, why would they use the substance [Novichok] that directly implicates them? It is like leaving your business card at the crime scene.  Besides, how come in both cases the victims miraculously survive from the deadliest weapon?

Not to Forget: Russian Cyber Attacks

At noon yesterday, in a “Breaking News Alert” The Washington Post posted a piece by erstwhile Russia-gate stenographer Ellen Nakishima, saying the “Biden administration is preparing sanctions and other measures to punish Moscow for…malign cyber activity”. She added that the administration is casting the “sprawling SolarWinds cyber espionage campaign … as indiscriminate and potentially disruptive”, justifying punishment of Russia. (See:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/biden-russia-sanctions-solarwinds-hacks/2021/02/23/b77039d6-71fa-11eb-85fa-e0ccb3660358_story.html ) Nakishima’s article is front-paged above the fold in today’s Post edition headlined: “U.S. plans to punish Russia for hostile acts”.

One must read deep into Nakashima’s article to be reminded that President Biden has ordered the intelligence community to provide an assessment of the cyber breaches, so there soon may be a more refined and definitive answer.  But no need to wait for that: the Washington Post already knows it was the Russians, because it talks to folks in the U.S. intelligence establishment “informed on these matters” — folks who never ever lie.

Nakashima notes that the Post “reported in December that [unnamed] intelligence officials think the SVR, Moscow’s foreign intelligence service, carried out the intrusions”, but the Trump White House did not want to say so.  And, darn it, Biden won’t say so either — not yet. Imagine! He wants an assessment first. Is he not wise to the ways of the Swamp? In major-and-minor-media-speak, that’s putting the cart before the horse.

Most of the above, plus how the EU and China play into all this, is discussed in an interview I gave to The Critical Hour yesterday afternoon.

14 minutes

All Things Russia

Had a chance yesterday to draw on my Russia-watching experience to share views on sanctions, Ukraine, Navalny, “bounties to kill US troops in Afghanistan”, how media can brainwash the best of friends, Assange, prospects for thaw in relations under Biden.
https://youtu.be/pYcbbvXLAsg

US-Russia, Recent History and Outlook for the Future

Forum: Worsening U.S.-Russian Relations — Reverse Them with New Paradigm, or Face Nuclear War
https://laroucheorganization.nationbuilder.com/forum_worsening_u_s_russian_relations_reverse_them_with_new_paradigm_or_face_nuclear_war
February 13, 2021 1:00 PM 
Remarks by Ray: min 51:32 to 1:06:54. (Text of remarks included below.)

RAY: Thank you, Dennis. It’s a good idea; it’s a very good idea to be discussing these things in this kind of forum. You won’t find any such discussion in what we call “major media” in our country.

Let me do just a little bit of an historical review; it won’t take long.

I’ve always been puzzled to think why Russia and China all of a sudden became our major enemies again. Here’s President George W. Bush, just about 18 years ago:

“Today, the world’s great powers are united by common values. Russia is reaching for its democratic future and a partner in the war on terror. The Chinese leaders? We welcome their peaceful pursuit of prosperity, trade, and cultural advancement.”

That sounds pretty rapprochement-ish, or détente-ish, or let’s live on this planet together-ish. So, what happened? Well, there are a lot of people who make a lot of money producing and selling arms; that’s the short answer. My acronym is no longer just the MIC, the military-industrial complex; I use an acronym that—remember this—rhymes with Mickey Mouse. That’s the way you remember it.

It’s the MICIMAT—the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-MEDIA-Academia-Think-Tank complex. Why do I shout (all-caps MEDIA)? Because media is the lynchpin. Without media, you can’t do this. Who owns the media? The MICIMAT. OK. So, that’s the basic thing that we have to contend with. That’s what sort of came to the fore as President Putin started making Russia a repaired country after the devastation of Yeltsin in the 1990s.

So, what would I say next? I would say that despite all the anti-Russian rhetoric, there was one shining moment where Mr. Putin came to Mr. Obama’s aid and pulled his chestnuts out of the fire. I don’t know what motivated Obama, but he didn’t want to have an open U.S. military war on Syria. It’s quite enough to spend billions of dollars on covert actions and funding insurgents; but he didn’t want to be attacking Syria, because he had sense enough to know what that would mean over the longer term.

So, what did he do? When that faux chemical attack occurred outside Damascus on the 21st of August 2013, all hell broke loose. John Kerry said, Bashar al-Assad did this. He said it 25 times in one speech.

What did Obama do? Obama cut Kerry out of the consultations; he went to St. Petersburg for a summit, and he talked to Mr. Putin. Mr. Putin said, look, we can get you out of this mess without a war. We have persuaded the Syrians to give up these residual chemical weapons they have for destruction under UN supervision on a U.S. ship specially outfitted for destroying chemical weapons. What do you think, Mr. Obama? He said, you could do that? He said, yeah. Watch tomorrow. The Prime Minister of Syria is going on TV. Sure enough, that’s the way it worked out.

Now, why do I mention all that? That was sort of the zenith, the acme of a potential détente in U.S.-Russian relations. What happened? Well, we know what happened. We’re talking early September 2013. Five to six months later, the Victoria Nulands of our government fomented what was aptly called “the most blatant coup in history”; it having been advertised on YouTube 2.5 weeks before. And Ukraine was turned into turmoil. After that, there was the MH17, where John Kerry got up and said, we have the information. We know who shot that plane down; we know where it was shot from, and we know exactly when it was shot. We have technical information to prove that.

Well, actually, he never came through with that technical information, and all of our allies in Europe were afraid to ask him. So, what did they use that for? Sanctions, sanctions, sanctions. Our European allies, even though they couldn’t sell their apples to Russia, went right along docilely as sheep, as they usually do. So, that was the zenith; THIS was the low point in U.S.-Russian relations. What follows from that, of course, we all know.

After the Ukraine coup, and you might listen to this, because this may be new to some of you. There’s one intelligence organization in our government called the Defense Intelligence Agency. Sometimes, it acts independently; sometimes it looks at the facts, interprets them, and tells it like it is. Listen carefully to the main conclusion to the December 2015—a year after Ukraine—National Security Strategy of the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia. A conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine. Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine, and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-standing, long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts.”

How does Navalny fit into that? We can discuss that later, perhaps. This was signed by Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The date? December 2015. Wow! Somebody told it like it was—like it is. Does anybody have any confusion about why DIA was later frozen out of all these assessments having to do with how bad President Putin is, and how he supposedly orchestrated the defeat of Hillary Clinton?

Does anyone know now, or could kind of figure out why DIA, who had primary responsibility for keeping track of the GRU, which was accused of all manner of evil things, why DIA was frozen out of those deliberations, and the deliberations were limited to a handful—James Clapper’s word—of “handpicked” analysts? Well, DIA didn’t qualify, because DIA had a ridiculous record of telling the truth sometimes..

What does this all mean? This Admiral Richard, who’s blithely shooting his mouth off about the likely use of nuclear weapons, that’s really dangerous. If you read Dan Ellsberg’s book, The Doomsday Machine—well, let me put it this way—if you haven’t read Dan Ellsberg’s book, you really need to! Not only does he talk about the Navy submarine captain, Vasili Arkhipov, who is single-handedly responsible for us being able to be together today, or virtually together. But he talks about during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the former commander of the Strategic Air Command, the fellow who was in the position that Admiral Richard is now in, sent a bomber into Soviet air space. When Kennedy learned about that, he said, “Oh my God!” Right at the height of this thing, SAC wasn’t supposed to do that! Why did SAC do that?

You’ve got to read Dan Ellsberg’s book and see how crazy these guys are. How they think Putin and the Russians are the devil incarnate. That’s how you figure that out. What happened, of course, was that Kennedy tried to slough if off, saying well, you know, there’s always one guy who doesn’t get the word.

But they were on tenterhooks for a while until the Russians said, “Could you tell these cowboy pilots not to do that anymore?” So, there’s precedent for getting right up to the brim. Now, with the timing for response to a perceived attack reduced because of these supersonic weapons and so forth, it’s labil [unstable/delicate/dangerous], as the Germans would say.

Last thing I’ll say is this. Oliver Stone happens to be a friend of mine, and as you know, Oliver has interviewed Mr. Putin more times than most other correspondents. He told me this: He said that after one interview, and this was not recorded, but Oliver remembers it quite distinctly, and you will see why. He said that after one of these conversations, Mr. Putin somewhat exasperated said something along the lines of, “Now Russians are thought of like Jews before World War II” (period, end quote.)

Well, those who have a modicum of knowledge about Jews and their plight before World War II, people who were blamed for just about everything. Well, you can perhaps understand Putin’s exasperation — including Hillary Clinton attributing possible blame to Russia for the Jan. 6 disturbances in the capital of our country—I mean, it’s more than exasperation; it’s a mindset that is inevitable, when you’re the scapegoat for anything that goes wrong.

So, what I mean to say here is that, with Mr. Biden, against all this history, I have a glass-half-full attitude. Why would I say that? Well, number one, he has appointed as head of the CIA, Bill Burns. Bill Burns was ambassador to Moscow; Bill Burns knows the equities, he knows his history. He knows that Moscow, in the person of Sergey Lavrov warned him, explicitly, against trying to include Ukraine in NATO, and Georgia, too. As a matter of fact, his cable, courtesy of WikiLeaks, starts out by saying [adopting Russian accent]: “Mr. Burns, do you know what Nyet means?” [laughs] Burns said, “Yes, well, I think so!” He said, “Well, Nyet means Nyet! and that’s our red line.” No Ukraine admission into NATO, and the same for Georgia.

Now, two months later, NATO approved the beginning of the acceptance of the application of Ukraine and Georgia to become a member of NATO. So, it’s not as though Burns is coming at this as a sort of sophomore. He’s a senior, and that’s a good thing. He knows about the Russians.

In that same cable, I would add, he says in a very undiplomatic way, because you don’t say this to the Secretary of State, because you know where she stands (this happened to be Condoleezza Rice). He says, “You know, the real way the Russians look at Ukraine, look how far Kiev is from Moscow. You know, they have their own strategic interests here.” And sotto voce, “They’re entitled to have their own strategic interests, OK?” So he says that in the cable from Moscow.

So, one thing that Mr. Biden can expect is knowledgeable, hopefully honest assessments from the CIA of all places.

What next? Well, Biden’s quick re-upping to the New START Treaty, five-year extension right off the bat. Now, New START—look, I was in Moscow for the first SALT [Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty] agreement, May 1972. So I know how meaningful these agreements were. This (new START) was the only one left, and instead of fooling around with it, Biden says, “We’re in,” OK?

Now, that move is worth 18,000 Navalnys, and 13,000 pretended bounties, and 6,000 alleged hacks. That’s a big move. And not only that, but as the readout of the conversation between Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin was, from the U.S. side, it said, we agreed that maybe we’d move down this road toward other arms control agreements. Wow!

Now, for the people who see merit in demonizing Russia, that’s a big problem. And Biden will have to deal with that. Whether he can deal with it successfully or not—Trump couldn’t. Obama couldn’t.

But, you know, Biden’s almost as old as I am, for God’s sake! He knows a lot about the misery he caused on Iraq and other things. There’s always a chance for growth; and besides that, he’s a one-term President, so I see that he has more leeway than most people, and that’s why I have a glass-half-full attitude. Give him some time, and we’ll see how things turn out.

Thank you very much.

Hey NSA, Want to Chime in Here?

ALERT: THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY almost certainly recorded precise timing of the telephone calls between Trump & Sen. Tuberville, Sen. Lee, Rep. McCarthy, & Secret Service re if/when they told Trump that Pence had been evacuated. DNI Haines should give those records to the Senate.