“The ‘Soft Coup’ of Russia-gate

Comment from BJ Marsh related to The defences of Trump:


I think the following deserves a place in this discussion purely on the basis of the author’s history of revealing the details of the Iran Contra affair. It seems both relevant and balanced and adds something to ponder. Sorry about the length, but the subject deserves it.

“The ‘Soft Coup’ of Russia-gate

Special Report: The Russia-gate hysteria has grown stronger after President Trump’s firing of FBI Director Comey, but the bigger question is whether an American “soft coup” is in the works, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Where is Stanley Kubrick when we need him? If he hadn’t died in 1999, he would
be the perfect director to transform today’s hysteria over Russia into a
theater-of-the-absurd movie reprising his Cold War classic, “Dr. Strangelove,”
which savagely satirized the madness of nuclear brinksmanship and the crazed
ideology behind it.

To prove my point, The Washington Post on Thursday published a lengthy story
entitled in the print editions “Alarm at Russian in White House” about a Russian
photographer who was allowed into the Oval Office to photograph President
Trump’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The Post cited complaints from former U.S. intelligence officials who criticized
the presence of the Russian photographer as “a potential security breach”
because of “the danger that a listening device or other surveillance equipment
could have been brought into the Oval Office while hidden in cameras or other
electronics.”

To bolster this alarm, the Post cited a Twitter comment from President Obama’s
last deputy CIA director, David S. Cohen, stating “No, it was not” a sound
decision to admit the Russian photographer who also works for the Russian news
agency, Tass, which published the photo.
One could picture Boris and Natasha, the evil spies in the Bullwinkle cartoons,
disguised as photographers slipping listening devices between the cushions of
the sofas.

Or we could hear how Russians are again threatening to “impurify all of our
precious bodily fluids,” as “Dr. Strangelove” character, Gen. Jack D. Ripper,
warned us in the 1964 movie.
Watching that brilliant dark comedy again might actually be a good idea to
remind us how crazy Americans can get when they’re pumped up with anti-Russian
propaganda, as is happening again now.

Taking Down Trump

I realize that many Democrats, liberals and progressives hate Donald Trump so
much that they believe that any pretext is justified in taking him down, even if
that plays into the hands of the neoconservatives and other warmongers. Many
people who detest Trump view Russia-gate as the most likely path to achieve

Trump’s impeachment, so this desirable end justifies whatever means.
Some people have told me that they even believe that it is the responsibility of
the major news media, the law enforcement and intelligence communities, and
members of Congress to engage in a “soft coup” against Trump – also known as a
“constitutional coup” or “deep state coup” – for the “good of the country.”
The argument is that it sometimes falls to these Establishment institutions to
“correct” a mistake made by the American voters, in this case, the election of a
largely unqualified individual as U.S. president. It is even viewed by some
anti-Trump activists as a responsibility of “responsible” journalists,
government officials and others to play this “guardian” role, to not simply
“resist” Trump but to remove him.

There are obvious counter-arguments to this view, particularly that it makes
something of a sham of American democracy. It also imposes on journalists a need
to violate the ethical responsibility to provide objective reporting, not taking
sides in political disputes.

But The New York Times and The Washington Post, in particular, have made it
clear that they view Trump as a clear and present danger to the American system
and thus have cast aside any pretense of neutrality.

The Times justifies its open hostility to the President as part of its duty to
protect “the truth”; the Post has adopted a slogan aimed at Trump, “Democracy
Dies in Darkness.” In other words, America’s two most influential political
newspapers are effectively pushing for a “soft coup” under the guise of
defending “democracy” and “truth.”

But the obvious problem with a “soft coup” is that America’s democratic process,
as imperfect as it has been and still is, has held this diverse country together
since 1788 with the notable exception of the Civil War.
If Americans believe that the Washington elites are removing an elected
president – even one as buffoonish as Donald Trump – it could tear apart the
fabric of national unity, which is already under extraordinary stress from
intense partisanship.

That means that the “soft coup” would have to be carried out under the guise of
a serious investigation into something grave enough to justify the President’s
removal, a removal that could be accomplished by congressional impeachment, his
forced resignation, or the application of Twenty-fifth Amendment, which allows
the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to judge a President incapable
of continuing in office (although that could require two-thirds votes by both
houses of Congress if the President fights the maneuver).

A Big Enough ‘Scandal’

That is where Russia-gate comes in. The gauzy allegation that Trump and/or his
advisers somehow colluded with Russian intelligence officials to rig the 2016
election would probably clear the threshold for an extreme action like removing
a President.

And, given the determination of many key figures in the Establishment to get rid
of Trump, it should come as no surprise that no one seems to care that no actual
government-verified evidence has been revealed publicly to support any of the
Russia-gate allegations.

There’s not even any public evidence from U.S. government agencies that Russia
did “meddle” in the 2016 election or – even if Russia did slip Democratic emails
to WikiLeaks (which WikiLeaks denies) – there has been zero evidence that the
scheme resulted from collusion with Trump’s campaign.

The FBI has been investigating these suspicions for at least nine months, even
reportedly securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against
Carter Page, an American whom Trump briefly claimed as a foreign policy adviser
when Trump was under fire for not having any foreign policy advisers.

One of Page’s alleged offenses was that he gave a speech to an academic
conference in Moscow in July 2016 that was mildly critical of how the U.S.
treated countries from the former Soviet Union. He also once lived in Russia and
apparently met with a Russian diplomat who – apparently unbeknownst to Page –
had been identified by the U.S. government as a Russian intelligence officer.
It appears that is enough, in these days of our New McCarthyism, to get an
American put under a powerful counter-intelligence investigation.

The FBI and the Department of Justice also reportedly are including as part of
the Russia-gate investigation Trump’s stupid campaign joke calling on the
Russians to help find the tens of thousands of emails that Clinton erased from
the home server that she used while Secretary of State.

On July 27, 2016, Trump said, apparently in jest, “I will tell you this, Russia:
if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are
missing.”

The comment fit with Trump’s puckish, provocative and often tasteless sense of
humor, but was seized on by Democrats as if it were a serious suggestion – as if
anyone would use a press conference to seriously urge something like that. But
it now appears that the FBI is grabbing at any straw that might support its
investigation.

The (U.K.) Guardian reported this week that “Senior DoJ officials have declined
to release the documents [about Trump’s comment] on grounds that such disclosure
could ‘interfere with enforcement proceedings’. In a filing to a federal court
in Washington DC, the DoJ states that ‘because of the existence of an active,
ongoing investigation, the FBI anticipates that it will … withhold all records’.
“The statement suggests that Trump’s provocative comment last July is being seen
by the FBI as relevant to its own ongoing investigation.”

The NYT’s Accusations

On Friday, in the wake of Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and the
President’s characterization of Russia-gate as “a total hoax,” The New York
Times reprised what it called “The Trump-Russia Nexus” in a lead editorial
trying to make the case of some fire behind the smoke.

Though the Times acknowledges that there are “many unknowns” in Russia-gate and
the Times can’t seem to find any evidence of collusion, such as slipping a
Russian data stick to WikiLeaks, the Times nevertheless treats a host of Trump
advisers and family members as traitors because they’ve had some association
with Russian officials, Russian businesses or Russian allies.

Regarding Carter Page, the Times wrote: “American officials believe that Mr.
Page, a foreign policy adviser, had contacts with Russian intelligence officials
during the campaign. He also gave a pro-Russia speech in Moscow in July 2016.
Mr. Page was once employed by Merrill Lynch’s Moscow office, where he worked
with Gazprom, a government-owned giant.”

You might want to let some of those words sink in, especially the part about
Page giving “a pro-Russia speech in Moscow,” which has been cited as one of the
principal reasons for Page and his communications being targeted under a FISA
warrant.

I’ve actually read Page’s speech and to call it “pro-Russia” is a wild
exaggeration. It was a largely academic treatise that faulted the West’s post-
Cold War treatment of the nations formed from the old Soviet Union, saying the
rush to a free-market system led to some negative consequences, such as the
spread of corruption.

But even if the speech were “pro-Russia,” doesn’t The New York Times respect the
quaint American notion of free speech? Apparently not. If your carefully crafted
words can be twisted into something called “pro-Russia,” the Times seems to
think it’s okay to have the National Security Agency bug your phones and read
your emails.

The Ukraine Case

Another Times’ target was veteran political adviser Paul Manafort, who is
accused of working as “a consultant for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine
and for Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by the
Kremlin.”

Left out of that Times formulation is the fact that the Ukrainian political
party, which had strong backing from ethnic Russian Ukrainians — not just
Russia– competed in a democratic process and that Yanukovych won an election
that was recognized by international observers as free and fair.

Yanukovych was then ousted in February 2014 in a violent putsch that was backed
by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador
Geoffrey Pyatt. The putsch, which was spearheaded by right-wing nationalists and
even neo-Nazis, touched off Ukraine’s civil war and the secession of Crimea, the
key events in the escalation of today’s New Cold War between NATO and Russia.

Though I’m no fan of U.S. political hired-guns selling their services in foreign
elections, there was nothing illegal or even unusual about Manafort advising a
Ukrainian political party. What arguably was much more offensive was the U.S.
support for an unconstitutional coup that removed Yanukovych even after he
agreed to a European plan for early elections so he could be voted out of office
peacefully.

But the Times, the Post and virtually the entire Western mainstream media sided
with the Ukrainian coup-makers and hailed Yanukovych’s overthrow. That attitude
has become such a groupthink that the Times has banished the thought that there
was a coup.

Still, the larger political problem confronting the United States is that the
neoconservatives and their junior partners, the liberal interventionists, now
control nearly all the levers of U.S. foreign policy. That means they can
essentially dictate how events around the world will be perceived by most
Americans.

The neocons and the liberal hawks also want to continue their open-ended wars in
the Middle East by arranging the commitment of additional U.S. military
forces to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – and perhaps a new confrontation with
Iran.

Early in Obama’s second term, it became clear to the neocons that Russia was
becoming the chief obstacles to their plans because President Barack Obama was
working closely with President Vladimir Putin on a variety of projects that
undermined neocon hopes for more war.

Particularly, Putin helped Obama secure an agreement from Syria to surrender its
chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013 and to get Iran to accept tight constraints
on its nuclear program in 2014. In both cases, the neocons and their liberal-
hawk sidekicks were lusting for war.

Immediately after the Syria chemical-weapons deal in September 2013, key U.S.
neocons began focusing on Ukraine as what National Endowment for Democracy
president Carl Gershman called “the biggest prize” and a first step toward
unseating Putin in Moscow.

Gershman’s grant-giving NED stepped up its operations inside Ukraine while
Assistant Secretary Nuland, the wife of arch-neocon Robert Kagan, began pushing
for regime change in Kiev (along with other neocons, including Sen. John
McCain).

The Ukraine coup in 2014 drove a geopolitical wedge between Obama and Putin,
since the Russian president couldn’t just stand by when a virulently anti-
Russian regime took power violently in Ukraine, which was the well-worn route
for invasions into Russia and housed Russia’s Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol in
Crimea.

Rather than defend the valuable cooperation provided by Putin, Obama went with
the political flow and joined in the Russia-bashing as key neocons raised their
sights and put Putin in the crosshairs.

An Unexpected Obstacle

For the neocons in 2016, there also was the excited expectation of a Hillary
Clinton presidency to give more momentum to the expensive New Cold War. But then
Trump, who had argued for a new détente with Russia, managed to eke out an
Electoral College win.

Perhaps Trump could have diffused some of the hostility toward him but his
narcissistic personality stopped him from extending an olive branch to the tens
of millions of Americans who opposed him. He further demonstrated his political
incompetence by wasting his first days in office making ridiculous claims about
the size of his inaugural crowds and disputing the fact that he had lost the
popular vote.

Widespread public disgust over his behavior contributed to the determination of
many Americans to “resist” his presidency at all junctures and at all costs.
Russia-gate, the hazy suggestion that Putin put Trump in the White House and
that Trump is a Putin “puppet” (as Clinton claimed), became the principal weapon
to use in destroying Trump’s presidency.

However, besides the risks to U.S. stability that would come from an
Establishment-driven “soft coup,” there is the additional danger of ratcheting
up tensions so high with nuclear-armed Russia that this extreme Russia-bashing
takes on a life – or arguably many, many deaths – of its own.
Which is why America now might need a piercing satire of today’s Russia-phobia
or at least a revival of the Cold War classic, “Dr. Strangelove,” subtitled “How
I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Wat
ergate Redux or ‘Deep
State’ Coup.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

Leave a comment

13 Comments

  1. David

     /  May 14, 2017

    OMG is this guy must be sitting in a bunker with a tin foil hat on, seriously he should seek treatment and get medication.
    One missing piece of the puzzle is of what benefit is it to Russia to have Trump instead of Hilary, one would think Hilary and the Dems would be better for the Russians so its a continuation of their unopposed adventurism of the last 8 years under Obama. Trump is apparently a dangerous loon and a bit bonkers which one would think not in the Russians favour.

    Reply
    • David

       /  May 14, 2017

      The Russians, in all likely-hood, wanted Hilary as President. If they had any impact on the election at all, it would have been with the intention of seeing her just scrap over the line by a slim margin, They had no interest in Trump being President.

      Reply
  2. David, your ad hominem attack does not acknowledge the proposition Robert Parry makes. He is a recognised and distinguished commentator whose balance as a journalist is unquestioned. You add absolutely nothing to the subject except to publicly state how bigoted you are! Tin Foil Hat, indeed!

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  May 14, 2017

      An excellent article that sums up the co-ordinated campaign against Trump very well.

      This shows exactly why the “defenses of Trump” post missed the point. Even if you are ambivalent to Trump or are waiting to see how his tenure evolves before passing judgement we are forced to wade through a daily torrent of innuendo and unverified speculation about whatever the latest Trump atrocity is.

      He is being consistently misreported and his actions are derided as extreme or unconstitutional even when they are less than previous presidents have done.

      Trump could turn out to be a complete ass or he could turn Washington on it’s head and make some genuine and badly needed changes. He may (and probably will) do both.

      All i want is the chance to find out which it is. Leave the sensationalism and hyperbole to the late night hosts and satirists like Colbert and Jon Oliver.

      There is some Trump positivity out there – just not in the press:

      http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/05/12/student_to_trump_we_named_model_rocket_trump_because_it_conquers_all.html

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  May 14, 2017

        Exactly, HFD. 95% of criticism of Trump is frothing ad hominems wrapped around malignant misrepresentations. It gets so tedious you can’t be bothered with it. Trump keeps it going by retaliating in kind. I think he deliberately uses it to deflect his opponents into silly irrelevancies.

        Reply
        • Brown

           /  May 14, 2017

          See how clever Trump is. He can progressive point idiots to contaminated water – and then they drink it without further prompting.

          ” … for the “good of the country.” I love that, its sounds so self sacrificing and righteous but here its self serving bullshit from people who are pissed that their team got a kicking while ignoring the fact they presented a candidate worse than Trump.

          Reply
      • HFD, precisely! This is an area being taken up by Infowars.com in the USA where you can read the main direction of Trump’s strategy before it happens. It is loud, but it is to the point and gives ideas on where to go for further evidence. His latest news today is Spicer’s replacement as spokesperson is being looked for by Trump, Priesbus is on shaky ground and is to be replaced, McMaster is to be promoted out of the White House, the acting Director of FBI will be sacked after the new Director takes up hiser role (yes women are being looked at for the FBI), and Trump is “incandescent” about the obstruction he faces to implementing his agenda, and is going onto the offensive. So watch out Hilary, Bill, Huma Abiden, and Soros!! The Globalist agenda is being resisted and is being replaced by Trump’s focus on Nationalism, America First, Defence of the US and social Justice!

        Reply
  3. artcroft

     /  May 14, 2017

    All the nutters are on the right. Look at the crazy that went down over the Vince Foster case although there was ZERO evidence regarding foul play. (no a link to a fake news conspiracy website is not evidence). Or the impeachment demands by the GOP over Monika Lewinsky. Sure he deserved to be censure but not impeached. However the Republicans tried a soft coup over that and now complain when the boot is on the other foot.

    Build that wall 100 feet high and throw Trump off it. Along with the rest of the GOP.

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  May 14, 2017

      I think current coverage of Trump would give lie to your suggestion.
      The left has it’s fair share of nutters and at the moment they are all coming out of the woodwork.

      A reminder that there are Democrats who perhaps are a couple of sandwiches short of a picnick…

      Reply
    • Ahh, Artcroft, I think you have lost it finally. The suggestion of throwing a person off a 100 foot wall is a call to send someone to death, and is beyond the pale. We do have standards on this blog old chap! Observe them.

      Reply
  4. artcroft

     /  May 14, 2017

    I totally get what Hank is saying and hope he US military get off the island before it capsizes. This is an issue Trump should be dealing with. Russia will probably never capsize, its a least twice the size of Guam. Lets forget abut Russia and focus on the Guam for a change.

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  May 14, 2017

      I was just pointing out that stupid is not biased in ideology.
      You can be forgiven for thinking that because the left excel at ridicule without actually offering alternatives.
      But there is equal stupid across the political divide.
      I’ll focus on Russia when some…evidence emerges of actual wrongdoing involving Trump and/or Russia.

      Reply
  5. PDB

     /  May 14, 2017

    Artcroft: All the nutters are on the right.

    Surely the nuttiest US politician is Maxine Waters – bat shit crazy!

    Reply

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