“Nobody scarce doth any good, yet they all agree in praising those who do. Indeed, it is strange that all men should consent in commending goodness, and no man endeavour to deserve that commendation; whilst, on the contrary, all rail at wickedness, and all are as eager to be what they abuse.”
Henry Fielding, The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams
Since the onset of the Glorious Maidan in Kiev, it has become fashionable in English-speaking media to indulge in the most hyperbolic rhetoric about how Russia is destroying western civilization. Since the first stirrings of uncompromising resistance from Russia toward western global gerrymandering, with the public release of the uncovered cellphone call between (then) Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State Victoria Nuland and (then) Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt – in which the two were heard laying plans for the incoming Ukrainian government before it was ever formed – the western government and media collaboration against Russia has gone into hyperdrive. No lowbrow motivation, no dirty trick and no nefarious or terrifying plot has been too underhanded to be attributed – typically immediately and without any evidence – to Russia. The media condemnation quickly passed hysteria on its way to whatever lies beyond.
The ridiculous British tempest in a teapot, in which the inimitable investigative team of Theresa May and Boris Johnson instantly knew that the Russians had poisoned the Skripals with the deadliest nerve agent known to man – although it somehow failed to kill either of them – and that it had to have been ordered by the Russian government. That proved such an embarrassment that the Skripals remain isolated in the hospital and are not allowed to speak with anyone, while Her Majesty’s Government tries to massage the giant shitball into a narrative which will explain everything. The continued preposterous insistence by American politicians and media that the Russians ‘hacked’ the American elections and made Trump president. Nobody has offered any explanation whatsoever how the Russians managed to hack the election so that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, while Trump won in the electoral college, which is un-hackable since it is not decided by the casting of a public vote and the delegates are not obligated to vote the way their state did, although they most always do. Amazingly, nobody in America thought that elections might be ‘hacked’ when the Bush administration made the vote in America electronic via voting machines, provided by the company whose CEO vowed to ‘help Ohio deliver its electoral votes’ for Bush. Not even after Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel (assisted by graduate student Alex Halderman) hacked into an electronic voting machine which was still in use in four states in less than 8 minutes, demonstrating how it could be altered to skew the vote count as desired and then delete the software at the end of the day so the deception could not be detected. Nobody remembers that, now that Russia is the looming threat to democracy and freedom. Especially now that nobody needs to prove anything.
And, yes, the absurd campaign against Russian international sport, in which the same super-sleuth Canadian sports lawyer who investigated cheating during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and found nothing – until the BALCO scandal exploded two years later and threw the spotlight on epidemic cheating, including 5-time medalist Marion Jones – was tapped to head an investigation into what fellow Canadian Dick Pound had already decided was a Russian state-sponsored doping program. ‘Whistle-blower’ defector Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov told the special investigative commission everything they wanted to hear. Just as an aside, it’s amazing how often people believe liars who tell them what they want to hear, even though every instinct should shout warning; if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is. Anyway, Olympic-standard liar (if lying were an Olympic sport, which the west probably hopes it will be, since they would go in with an advantage) Rodchenkov imploded during testimony at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearings, and had to confess under cross-examination that he (1) had never personally distributed to any athlete the performance-enhancing “Duchess Cocktail” he claimed to have invented, (2) had never seen any athlete take it, (3) never witnessed any instructions being given to any coach or athlete to use the Duchess Cocktail, (4) never saw an athlete tamper with a urine sample, (5) could not describe the composition of the supposed Duchess Cocktail, and (6) never personally saw any sample bottles being opened or decapped. Rodchenkov crashed and burned like the Hindenburg, and no western network said a word about it. He was the linchpin of the entire dog-and-pony show, and now that there’s nothing left of it but a scattering of horseshit, the western networks can’t quite take it in. Or don’t want to talk about it.
So, it would be hard to disagree that unsubstantiated foam-spattered hatred against Russia and all things Russian is at an all-time high, leagues beyond what we saw during the cold war. But this…this is a step into the heretofore unknown.
Eli Lake exhorts all who are pure of heart to “Shun Russia to Save the World”.
Before we get started, who is Eli Lake? According to the spot bio which accompanies the article, he’s the former “senior national security correspondent” for the Daily Beast. Those who have had the experience of reading material from that newsmagazine know that such an impressive title is a little like being the Dean of the University of Gormless Dickheads, or the lead guitarist for The Partridge Family. The Daily Beast regularly features commentary by Raving Rainbow Loony Jamie Kirchik, the suspender-snapping spearhead of the vocal American gay community, who also – surprise!! – hates everything about Russia, mostly because he perceives it is opposed to ‘gay rights’. Lake has also offered his unique take on national security and intelligence at the Washington Times – nutty broadsheet owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, daily circulation about 700,000, endorsed by the likes of Newt Gingrich (who wanted to colonize the moon during his presidential campaign) and Ronald Reagan (the sacred icon of conservatism, who was suspected to be suffering from dementia well before he became America’s oldest president).
As contributor Moscow Exile suggested, he has the standard ‘loathsome pedigree’. I take that to refer to his neocon think-tanky worldview and association with its media platforms rather than his ethnicity. But it is curious, the loathing American Jews have for Russia; and in Lake’s case, his hatred is directed at pretty much everyone who does not agree with his America-über-alles vision – including other Jews. All that is required to attract his ire is to suggest Israel should be held accountable for its behavior, is making a foreign-policy decision it may later be sorry for, or that – as in Greenwald’s case – America is prioritizing Israel’s interests above those of the United States or using America’s muscle to get Israel what it wants, over the objections of weaker states.
Anyway, enough about Eli Lake. I personally think he is a neoconservative wretch, but you are of course free to think what you wish. Let’s get into what he says.
What he says, in summary, is that economic sanctions against Russia are not enough. Congratulations, Eli, on being one of the first Americans to publicly acknowledge that they are not working, in the sense that they have failed (a) to bring Russia to her knees, and (b) to turn the Russian people against their president. So Washington needs a bigger commitment from its vassals. Oops; I meant ‘allies’. Everyone must turn their backs on Russia, and isolate it outside of the Circle of Love and Trust.
The Lake article is also a not-very-thinly-veiled suggestion that Russia should be expelled from all international institutions; chiefly the UN, where Russian and Chinese vetoes have frequently gotten in the way of Washington’s war plans of late. And that’s a serious problem in NATO Neocon Narnia, because the west has rapidly shed all of its soft power, apparently having decided that persuasion is for sissies. It has only naked force left as a lubricant for having its way. Anything that prevents Washington from getting out the whup-ass now leaves it helpless and spluttering, unable to git ‘er done.
Just those two concepts – that Russia and all its people must be voted off the island, so that ‘the world’ will happily consist of just the United States, the United Kingdom, and their BFF’s and those who are too afraid of them to declare themselves otherwise, and that Russia should be shunted out of all international organizations so that the two aforementioned lovebirds can have their way unobstructed – are enough for weeks of conversation and argument. But let’s not back away from the story just yet – there’s a lot more here. And when you take it apart a little, it certainly does not spell “America The Righteous”.
The vehicle Mr. Lake has chosen to pluck at your heartstrings is the Bitkovs – Igor and Irina, and their children, fled from Russia in 2008, hounded and harrassed by the Kremlin all the way, and sought refuge in Guatemala. Surely the long arm of the Russian state could not reach them there. But it did; through the UN’s International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which had the Bitkovs thrown in jail. Any jail in which a Western Prisoner Of Conscience is confined is by definition ‘squalid’, so we’ll take that as a given. According to Lake and supporters of the Bitkovs, here’s what happened:
Starting in 2007, the bank VTB and other Russian lenders pressured the Bitkovs to sell their timber business at a much lower price than it was worth. First they demanded full repayment of an earlier loan, most of which was paid off. Then the banks forced a fire sale of the company. In this period the Bitkov family was terrorized. In 2007, their daughter was kidnapped and raped. The family paid $200,000 for her ransom. By 2009 the family was in Turkey and spent $150,000 for new identities and a new life in Guatemala.
Interesting; in western financial practices, if a loan is ‘almost’ paid off, then you don’t have to repay the outstanding amount. So far as I am aware there is no evidence to suggest the Bitkov’s daughter was kidnapped and raped by VTB executives, and that particular crime seems to be a bit of a sidetrack which has nothing to do with the Bitkov’s financial dealings; it may well have been an extortion attempt by criminals toward someone they perceived to be a very rich man. Apart from those observations, the Russian side has a much different take on it.
We should add that former owners of North-Western Timber Company Igor Bitkov and his wife Irina had also considered Latin America a good place to hide from a lender. Having taken a large amount of money in various Russian banks ($17.7m in VTB alone), the company claimed itself bankrupt. However, the Guatemala court found that Bitkov had prudently syphoned off his assets to offshore companies right before the collapse, and then moved his family overseas, too.
If there’s anything the US/UK consortium loves – and encourages – more than a Russian oligarch who takes his money out of Russia and runs with it, I can’t think what it would be. A further clue lies in the forces lining up on the side of the Bitkovs. Check out the notice of the recent hearing in Washington, conducted just two days ago. Now scroll down to the witness list. Look at witness number three. As I live and breathe, William ‘Bill’ Browder.
The theme echoes Lake’s – Russian membership in the UN weakens the UN’s ability to dispense fair and equitable justice; why, it’s getting so you can’t even steal money from a Russian bank and launder it abroad for fun and profit without some two-bit Jimmy-crack-corn UN institution in the boonies putting a stick through your spokes.
Let me just say right now that the only ‘injustices’ in which Bill Browder involves himself, concerning Russia, are those in which political advantage for the west can potentially be realized. He cares somewhere south of nothing whether the party in question is guilty or not, weighing in on cases which are part of the political war against Russia such as the Skripals, Litvinenko, Magnitsky (with whose figurative corpse he has entwined himself so the two can hardly be distinguished as individuals) and so on. If Browder has allied himself with the Bitkovs, their innocence is the least possible concern. More to the point, the United States sees nothing untoward in inserting itself into the judicial process in foreign countries so as to influence the outcome to its own satisfaction.
Which is true to type, did we only realize it. That’s why it is so deliciously comical to see an American conservative describe poor Guatemala as “this small Central American state…being picked clean by gangsters”.
See what picture comes to your mind when you read the following passage:
In 1944, a revolution there overthrew a vicious tyrant, leading to the establishment of a democratic government that basically modeled itself on Roosevelt’s social democratic New Deal. In the ten-year democratic interlude that followed, there were the beginnings of successful independent economic development.
If you thought it was Guatemala they were talking about, you’re right. But if you thought it was the sort of nascent-democracy-pushing-its-green-shoots-through-the-clinkers-of-oppression story that America loves, you could not be more wrong. The revolution which overthrew dictator Jorge Ubico was an honest-to-goodness grass-roots uprising led by university students and labor organizations, the model the revolutionaries adopted was deemed to be “adverse to US interests” because of the “Communist influence…based on militant advocacy of social reforms and nationalistic policies”, and the democratic government which had busied itself with social reforms was itself overthrown by a CIA-sponsored and directed coup. History is sometimes quirky, but it does tend to repeat itself.
Let’s just put our cards on the table, what do you say? Here’s what I’ve got. Washington and London and Eli Lake don’t give a damn about gangsterism in Guatemala. They couldn’t care less about the manufactured “plight of the Bitkovs”. Both are grist for the mill, a means to an end. Because of Russia’s stubborn reliance on international institutions and courts – and, it must be said, its slow but steady realization of justice in some of these venues – it must be denied the credibility conveyed by victory in such institutions. How? By being expelled from them, doubtless accompanied by some moral-high-ground cover story about this action being necessitated by Russian ‘misuse of well-meaning western strongholds of fairness and justice’.
Washington and London want that. Eli Lake and fellow neoconservatives support that. And if you don’t stand against them, you do, too.