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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How the U.S. became a Russian colony

Some people in Russia long for the old Soviet ways.  In some ways it was a better time for them.  Russia is now governed by "all-encompassing corruption" that one expert on the country calls “kleptocratic authoritarianism."   A kleptocrat is one who steals a country's resources through the use of political power.  The head kleptocrat in Russia is Vladimir Putin.  Donald Trump has expressed admiration for him.

Most Americans are dimly aware, if aware at all, of what has happened to Russia since the fall of communism and disbanding of the Soviet Union. When the old Kremlin lost control of the Russian economy,  the government looked for ways to privatize some badly run business enterprises.  It came up with a scheme to obtain loans from banks in exchange for giving the banks stakes in the companies.  The government defaulted on the loans and the bankers ended up owning companies which controlled things like oil and minerals.  The government auctioned off some of its assets which were obtained by the bankers at truly bargain prices.   Those people who then held the companies became astoundingly rich over night.  They were called the oligarchs,  a few extremely wealthy men who had the Russian economy in their possession.

Then  came Putin, a former KGB agent who knew well the tactics of Kremlin politics from the Soviet days.  A New York Times  story explains what happened next:

When Mr. Putin became acting president 15 years ago this month, Russia was an oligarchy — indeed the oligarchs, a small group of men who had grown very rich in the preceding decade, were instrumental in picking Putin out of obscurity and installing him at the helm. But within months, he made the oligarchs an offer they could not refuse: give up all of their political power and some of their wealth in exchange for safety, security and continued prosperity, or else be stripped of all power and assets.
Those oligarchs who did not cooperate with Putin's political extortion found themselves the targets of false charges and imprisonment,  sometimes death,  and sometimes exile from Russia.  The tactics of Stalin were applied again.  To keep their wealth and privilege,  most of the oligarchs were complicit with Putin.  The story explains:

The media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky, who rejected the new rules, was forced into exile in the summer of 2000, and uber-oligarch Boris Berezovsky followed him a few months later. When the richest man in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, refused any such bargain, he was jailed and his company was taken away. The process of destroying the Russian oligarchy was completed.

Meanwhile,  America developed its own version of oligarchs.  As wealth became concentrated in the hands of the upper one percent,  CEOs drew enormous salaries, bonuses, and benefits.  Bernie Sanders drew support because he openly identified the American oligarchy and the degree to which it controlled and directed economic and social policy in America.  That one percent comprises an oligarchy.

When America elected Donald Trump president,  it elected an oligarch to run the country.  And Trump has frequently declared his admiration for Putin.

  • "Look at Putin -- what he's doing with Russia -- I mean, you know, what's going on over there. I mean this guy has done -- whether you like him or don't like him -- he's doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period,”
  • "Putin has big plans for Russia. He wants to edge out its neighbors so that Russia can dominate oil supplies to all of Europe. I respect Putin and Russians but cannot believe our leader (Obama) allows them to get away with so much...Hats off to the Russians.”
  • "I think he's [Putin] done really a great job of outsmarting our country.” 
  • "I think I'd get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so."
  • "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond. I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect."
  • Trump defends against allegations Putin has ordered the killings of journalists: "He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country," Trump said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "I think our country does plenty of killing also.”
  • "Why do I have to get tough on Putin? I don't know anything other than that he doesn't respect our country.”
Trump is the quintessence of the one percent, the American oligarchy.  He knows the strategies of predatory capitalism,  a consummate businessman.  He uses tactics that the Kremlin uses to intimidate and control in their American form:  He

  • threatens or brings suit against people who disagree with him and his actions.
  • slanders people with false accusations of criminal activity and incompetence.
  • lies more than he tells the truth,  with 70 percent of his statements proven false.
  • refuses to pay people who have completed work for him.
  • has a history of philandering.
  • has accusations of sexual assault by several women.
  • has filed for four business bankruptcies that made money for him.
  • uses Twitter and rallies to make false, juvenile, and vindictive statements against people who criticize or disagree with him.
  • paid $25 million to settle a fraud law suit over the fake Trump University,  which included a $1 million  penalty for violating the New York state statute for fraud.

 In forming his  cabinet, he is stoking it with fellow billionaire CEO-oligarchs and retired generals who are willing to follow orders from the American Kremlin.  In the naming of Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State,  he is putting foreign relations in the hands of an oil executive who is a close friend of Putin's and the oligarchs he commands.  That nomination is made in the context of Trump's remark about Putin that "He wants to edge out its neighbors so that Russia can dominate oil supplies to all of Europe."

Tillerson has close ties with the Kremlin hierarchy and has worked out deals with its members.  The Kremlin milieu is what he works with.  And it is not a milieu devoted to peaceable and constructive international relations.  It is all about wealth, power, and control.  

Kremlin-backed hackers are known to have operated in European politics before hacking into American political parties and agencies.  They are advanced in cyber-weaponry.  The first goal of cyber-attacks and the posting of disinformation and misinformation is to disorient   people so that they lose any reference point as to what the truth may be.  Then, direct attention to people who seem to offer some sense of direction and security.  It is the world of George Orwell's 1984 plaiying out in reality.  And through conditioning by the media and the purging of educational institutions of courses that develop critical and creative thinking,  America has a large constituency which sees the one percent as its savior.  

The American oligarchy and its commander are in place.  The rules of the transition of power their traditions authorize their take over of America.  The big question is if the 99 percent will allow that to happen.

When people say God Bless America,  it is beginning to sound like a benediction as the America  that once aspired to freedom, equality, and justice is put to rest.  But then,  there is Standing Rock and the kind of resistance that indigenous occupiers of this  land mounted against an oil pipeline that threatens the land, the water, and the sovereignty of the people.  

Red Cloud saw the pattern being carried by Trump and his cabinet nominees years ago:  "The white man made me a lot of promises, and they kept one.  They promised to take my land, and they took it."

Trump's declared and demonstrated intentions are clear for all to see.  The conventional advice is to give him a chance, as he is the elected president.  But over an 18-month campaign he demonstrated what kind of person he is,  how he operates, and what he intends to do.  He is a despicable person who possesses none of what Americans once held as virtues.  .  And his intentions are affirmed by his choices for cabinet offices.  One must ask just what is it that he is being given a chance to do?  Many cannot accept him as president.  They cannot see how a person of his untrustworthy and degenerate character and intellect can represent them or what America once aspired to be.  

Americans can once again declare their independence.  Or they can submit to being a Russian colony--in fact, if not in name.  


larry kurtz said...

Remember this?

And this just now:

Thune leaned on FB and we're living the results.

Silas said...

Some people think you are the most dangerous man in South Dakota.

larry kurtz said...

David, are you in South Dakota?

Jerry27 said...

"Some people in Russia long for the old Soviet ways."

I recently watched the history channel and saw no mention of Jacob Schiff. The old Soviet ways meant getting orders from the New York bankers.


David Newquist said...

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States