Which president pushed a bailout for Russia? Which president presided over the US paying Russia for arms for Afghanistan? Which president got half a million dollars for a speech in Russia? Which president pushed for Russia to join the WTO? Not Trump.
President Donald Trump has it coming at him from all sides, with neocons like Bill Kristol continuing their ongoing assault. In the US House, Elijah Cummings (MD) and Nancy Pelosi (CA) have been so worked up they fell for a fake Twitter account and made impassioned statements to media based on fake claims in that fake Twitter account.
The same thing happened with The New York Times. Fake news is covered as though it is legitimate. The public retains information from the fake news even though corrections may be noted at the bottom of a clickbait article.
Russia-phobia blankets the US at present. What’s a president to do?
Transparency is Trump’s best option. I’ve long thought our government over-classifies material for political purposes. I’ve long known intel agencies, some harboring very bad actors, have impacted both domestic and foreign policy. When it comes to Russia, there’s no greater bogeyman.
Therefore, I believe Congress and the president should conduct an in-depth investigation of our relations with Russia dating to the presidency of Bill Clinton. After all, Clinton pushed billions to Russia via the International Monetary Fund.
In 2010 Renaissance Capitol, described by PolitiFact as a “Russian Finance Corporation” paid Mr. Clinton $500,000 to give a speech in Russia.
By the time George W. Bush took office, Russia again posed a challenge to the US. Bush appeared to soften previous criticisms, at least publicly, and he advocated for Russia to enter the World Trade Organization.
Russia’s official entry, however, would happen under Barack Obama shortly before he was reelected to the presidency the second time.
Perhaps because media devoted so much positive coverage to him, Obama’s tenure drew a great deal of attention regarding Russia. There were red flags, but few heeded them.
There was the hot mic slip when Obama told soon-to-depart-office Russia president Dmitry Medvedev he’d “have more flexibility” after the presidential election in the US. Missile defense was presumably the topic of concern for Russia.
Obama ramped up the pace of relations with Russia, and if anyone should be grateful to President Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton, that anyone would be Vladimir Putin.
Media took little note of matters that should have been above the fold for months.
During Obama’s presidency, a Russian spy caught up in an FBI sting turned out to be a financial planner for Mrs. Clinton’s finance co-chair in her 2008 campaign. Operation Ghost Stories drew few media questions.
In 2011 a government official testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
“[T]he Obama administration – working with the U.S. Congress – has continued to secure funds to support Russian efforts to advance human rights, civil society, rule of law, independent media, and good governance. Let me emphasize: we are helping Russian groups, like Golos, already working in these areas. Since 2009, the U.S. Government has provided approximately $160 million in assistance to advance democracy and promote civil society in Russia. We have prioritized small, direct grants to Russian civil society organizations. And we help them take advantage of new technologies to make their work more effective.”
As that testimony took place, we learned the Obama administration wanted another $50 million to go to Moscow. Again, media were largely silent.
Seems like we are great at creating jobs—in other countries—despite the fact we most definitely have interfered in other countries’ politics.
During the same time frame, Russia increased claims on the Arctic.
During Obama’s first year in the presidency, Russia gained a strategic naval base in the Arctic, Olavsvern. The base had received generous amounts of US taxpayer dollars because it was built by NATO. It was sold at a steep loss. Media didn’t blink.
By the time Obama prepared to run for his second term, one of Russia’s top newspapers, Pravda, had endorsed him. One day before the Russia newspaper’s endorsement, major news was breaking in Canada where a naval officer allegedly leaked sensitive data involving U.S. and other allies’ security to Russia.
No Democrats, by the way, called for investigations into Russia’s acquisition of a major US uranium mine when Mrs. Clinton still held the reins at the Dept. of State.
Media, Democrats, and some key Republicans like senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said very little at all after Russia military assets actually trained with US military assets on US soil. I doubt most Americans even knew this occurred, presumably with Obama’s approval.
In June, 2012, some Republicans did complain about an arms purchase announcement:
“The United States plans to buy 21 Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan military from Russia’s Rosoboronexport by 2016. The contract totals $375 million by 2016, with an option to buy additional aircraft worth $550 million.”
Obama said little because again, he was not asked very much about it. Agence France Presse reported the story abroad. The archived link is included here in full in brackets because the original link is dead. [https://web.archive.org/web/20120615204850/http://ca.news.yahoo.com/us-defends-russian-arms-deal-despite-syria-214916956.html]
As I explained in an earlier column, President Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton had a checkered past with both Russia and the CIA.
Now media, Democrats, and GOP neocons are hammering Trump because his former national security adviser Mike Flynn talked to Russia’s ambassador to the US before Trump was inaugurated. I haven’t been able to turn up the date of the alleged call. Nor have I been able to turn up a single word that was said. Why? Government insiders in the intel community who leaked just enough information to politically derail Flynn remain anonymous. The substance of the leaked material has not been shared with the public.
Papers like The New York Times and their allies in leftist messaging have run sensational headlines supported by anonymous sources and no actual information. This, despite the fact the NYT has no proof of any “collusion” with Putin.
Meanwhile Kristol has praised the police state (“deep state”), drawing predictable outrage for his authoritarian rants.
The general consensus, based on FBI statements, is that Flynn won’t be prosecuted criminally for whatever he talked about with the ambassador.
Transparency and disclosure can be President Trump’s best friends. Release every single piece of information about relations with Russia, excluding info that genuinely needs to be classified.
Meanwhile, rein in intel agencies so they do their jobs. Americans have lost lives and treasure because of epic intel failures dating to the bombing of the World Trade Center shortly after Bill Clinton took office. Permitting intelligence assets to manipulate politics within a free society is, despite neocon Kristol’s daydream, the greatest danger this republic could face.
The deep state actors came for Flynn. Ask yourself, considering what we know about the invasiveness of the government’s spying operations, when they will come for you.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Feb. 15, 2017)