“Putin…has already gotten a full return”: Buzzenberg’s Russophobia

On July 12, the month after the Singapore summit, Bill Buzzenberg, formerly in public radio management and head of the Center for Public Integrity, a group funded by the varied individuals and foundations like the CIA-linked Ford Foundation, wrote a piece that made the Russophobia high of the week: “No One Loves Donald Trump More Than Vladimir Putin.” Sadly, it was published in Mother Jones, a bona fide progressive publication which has become a neo-con rag. Many others who claim to be progressive (i.e. Kevin Drum, Amy Goodman, and Glenn Greenwald) have jumped on the Russophobia train since 2016 as well. His article wildly declared that the current U.S. administration has done more to “advance Russia’s foreign policy goals and worldview than anything he [Putin] could have imagined in his wildest dreams,” grumbling that the magical Russians had sowed discord in the West, and continued “nefarious cyber and propaganda activities around the globe.” Sounds like the imperial U$, not those “pesky” Russians!

After supporting his claims with a number of questionable “experts” like a former chess champion (Garry Kasparov) and a senior fellow of the elitist Council on Foreign Relations (Charles Kupchan), he goes through 10 U.S. actions which he claims align with “long-held Kremlin goals.” He first highlights the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accords and “other steps to weaken fuel standards and clean air regulations,” siding with the U.S. fossil fuel industry. He declares that this is “a Putin-pleasing position since oil and gas are the most important pillars of the Russian economy.” This reasoning is illogical. The U.S. is the only country in the world that pulled out of the accord. There have been claims that anti-fracking activists are funded by Russia but this is total bunk spread by the fracking industry. Russia has an interest in open international relations, not unilateralism, as such relations allow trading of Russian products more openly.

The other actions come with even more absurd reasoning by Buzzenberg: that ending the Iran deal, showing that “the United States is not a reliable negotiating partner,” puts more money in Putin’s coffers. This literally makes no sense. Without the deal, U.S. sanctions can go back in place, making business in Iran even harder for Russia. So how would Russia benefit from the U.S. withdraw from the pact? This doesn’t even make sense. Next he says that the U.S. pulling out of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), and supposedly threatening to leave NAFTA and the WTO, along with implementing tariffs on China, Europe, Canada, and Mexico, alienates “key allies, weakening the US economy and upending the rule-based international trading system.” He never says how this would benefit Russia. This means he thinks that people won’t critically read his horribly-written thinkpiece, realizing his error at this juncture. Maybe the editors at Mother Jones shouldn’t have published this piece of trash!


His article goes on. He claims that the declarations that the US media is pumping out “fake news” and efforts to undermine “the free press as an important component of democracy” echoes supposed “Stalinesque” efforts and “Russian propaganda techniques that leave citizens less able to discern truth from lies.” This doesn’t even make sense. The U.S. is not led by a Stalin-like figure who is populist and organizes the people on behalf of a socialist project as was done during Josef Stalin’s time as the USSR’s General Secretary. Neither is Russia. Putin is not, and has never been Stalin, as he came to an agreement with Russia’s elite, which some call oligarchs (without equally applying the label to the U.S.), in order to maintain political stability. Stalin never made such an agreement.

Buzzenberg goes even further down the deep end to absurdity. He claims that “by praising dictators and tyrants (Putin, Kim Jong Un, Rodrigo Duterte, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and others), and by degrading top US allies (Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel, Theresa May),” the U.S. is undercutting “long-standing American leadership built on shared democratic values and the rule of law.” I’m not sure how sending arms to Israel which murder Palestinians in cold blood every day is an example of shared democratic values. You could say the same of U.S. terroristic bombings of Pakistanis, Yemenis, Somalis, and Libyans by drones supposedly to “fight terrorism” or the special ops forces who fight in varied small conflicts across the world. Additionally, neither Kim not Putin are “tyrants” or “dictators.” You can criticize them, for sure, but they do not fit either one of these propagandistic labels. At the same time, Justin Trudeau wants to doom the country’s indigenous people, Angela Merkel is a right-wing ideologue, and Theresa May is the next Margaret Thatcher of Britain, who is leading Britain in a disgusting neoliberal direction.

Then we get to his final claims: that weakening NATO (countered by recent strengthening), welcoming Russia to the G-7 (necessary balance) which is coupled with supposed “acceptance” of so-called Russian “aggression” (untrue), making concessions to the DPRK (part of diplomacy), having no “coherent policy in Syria” (if true, great for the Syrian people) and “discarding human rights concerns in…meetings with autocratic foreign leaders” (common U.S. practice) have “benefited” Russia. To Buzzenberg’s horror, he thinks that the U.S. is “creating a world of bilateral power politics—one in which Russia, China, and other authoritarian states can excel” and Putin’s “investment” in the U.S.’s leader has paid off. His article distorts the reality: As I wrote last year, the current U.S. administration is not “pro-Russia,” with little changing from the previous administration. Considering Russia’s key role in Syria, global role as a trading partner with varied nations which are clearly U.S. imperial targets (DPRK, Venezuela, and Cuba to give a few examples), and holding one of the biggest nuclear arms arsenals in the world, apart from the U.S., much can be talked about at the upcoming Helsinki summit on July 16. Perhaps some progress can be made from their candid talk, regardless of never-ending venom spewed out by spooks and their varied allies, time and time again.

Leftist Critic is an independent radical, writer, and angry citizen and can be reached at leftistcritic@linuxmail.org or on twitter, @leftistcritic, where they tweet frequently about issues of importance relating to American empire, the environment, people of color, and criticism of the “left,” whether radical or non-radical.

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