US intelligence says Abby Martin promoted "radical discontent". Gosh.
While US intelligence may of failed to provide any concrete evidence of Russian interference in the American electoral process, that shouldn't blind us to the fact that Vladimir Putin is no friend of the left - just ask the activists harassed and imprisoned within Russia itself.

WHILE THE UNITED STATES intelligence community says it is 'highly confident' that Vladimir Putin did order an orchestrated campaign - including the hacking of Democratic Party servers - in an attempt to tilt the US presidential election in Donald Trump's favour, the declassified edition of the Director of Intelligence's report provides no hard evidence that this was indeed the case. There is no smoking gun. Perhaps there is more substantive information in the classified version but, then again, perhaps there isn't.

What the report does do however, is expose the very conservative political position that the intelligence community operates from. That is highlighted in the claims that it makes about Russia Today (RT), which screens in New Zealand on Sky.

The report disturbingly appears to view all oppositional culture in the United States as an attempt to undermine the democratic process or what it refers to as the "liberal democratic order." That oppositional culture, it says, was encouraged by RT in order to undermine Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

This leads it to conclude that RT is attempting to subvert the US democratic process merely by providing coverage of third party presidential candidates - which, ironically, the American corporate media consistently fails to do.

The report states that '...RT hosts asserted that the US two party system does not represent the views of at least one third of the population and is a sham". Its worth noting that the report implicitly equates the legitimate democratic process with a system dominated by the Democratic and Republican parties.

In a similar vein, the report is critical of RT's coverage of the Occupy movement - because it depicted the US political system "as corrupt and dominated by corporations".

And, in one of its more bizarre claims, the report says that Abby Martin's Breaking The Set, which ended some two years ago, was "overwhelmingly focused on criticism of US and western governments as well as the promotion of radical discontent".

Martin's response was swift: "To call my show out specifically for promoting radical discontent is a crazy, McCarthyite smear."

But in an article on RT published in the New York Times on 8 January Abby Martin's work at RT again came under scrutiny:

"That same year, two RT America anchors quit during live broadcasts to protest the network's coverage of Russia's invasion and occupation of Crimea. "Personally, I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government which whitewashes the actions of Putin.' said Liz Wahl, one of its anchors. The other was Abby Martin, who said before quitting. "What Russia did was wrong".

While its true that Martin disagreed with the Russian annexation of Crimea and said so on air, she did not resign from RT until a year later - in order to do more 'in the field' reporting. She now produces The Empire Files for  the TeleSUR network. This blog has featured those shows throughout 2016 and will continue to do so this year.

The New York Times has since published a retraction, admitting its error - but the damage may well have already been done.

What the intelligence report is unintentionally encouraging is a drift among some on the American left in Putin's direction. That's because a network like RT continues to expose aspects of American capitalism the US corporate media simply don't want to talk about. It also dissects the imperial adventures of America in faraway lands - again, in a way not seen in the corporate media.

Ilya Budraitskis: Russia  has no alternative to capitalism.
Almost by proxy, Putin is seen as not being motivated by cynical self-interest but as a counterweight to reactionary American forces both within the United States and internationally.

But that picture is far from accurate. While RT might expose the unrepresentative nature of American representative democracy it has next to nothing to say about the state of democracy within Russia itself. A leading member of the Russian section of the Fourth International, Ilya Budraitskis, observes : "...the implication that things are any better in Moscow is no less amusing to leftists in Russia who are aware an Occupy Red Square, like Occupy Wall Street, would be crushed with all the skull-cracking efficiency a state can muster."

Similarly while the US left might decry American imperialism that should not blind it to the fact that Russia is as much an imperial power as the United States. Says Budraitskis:

"The truth is Russia is a nation-state and an imperial power that may not be any better than the United States, but also isn’t really any worse. When it comes to being terrible, the competition is actually pretty close: The only country that sells more arms to repressive regimes than Russia is the United States of America...When it comes to imprisoning the highest percentage of its own population, the USA is still number one, but Russia is again number two."

Budraitskis stresses that Putin's Russia is not a rallying point for the western left: " ‘Contemporary Russia cannot present a single idea that could be mobilised elsewhere. It presents no alternative to the model of global capitalism emerging from Brussels or Washington. Yet either from inertia or a lack of memory, the politics of Moscow is seen precisely in this mold."

There remains a world to win but exactly because there remains a world to win, we should be demanding and campaigning for different economic and political arrangements in both the United States and Russia. The old dictum still applies: neither Washington or Moscow.

Some on the left need to remember that the enemy of our enemy isn't necessarily our friend. If they can't do that they could well find itself on the same side as Donald Trump, various Fox News commentators and the so-called "alt right' - all of which have attached their wagons to that of Vladimir Putin and which also now threatens the future of an organisation like Wikileaks now embraced by Trump supporters as one of their own. 

RT  itself certainly favours Trump. It has studiously avoided talking about such thorny issues as the white supremacists in Trump's cabinet or Trump's  refusal to accept that the very planet is threatened by climate change. And while RT was consistently critical of Obama's cosy relationship with Wall Street, it has had next to nothing to say about Trump stacking his own cabinet with Wall Street flunkies.

It'll be interesting to see how RT responds to the wave of Trump demonstrations that will occur later this month, around Trump's inauguration. We can  confidently expect they will not receive anywhere near the extensive coverage that the Occupy protests received.


Post a Comment

Comments are moderated.