There are still more than four months until the U.S. presidential elections, almost an eternity in these uneasy, constantly shifting and unpredictable times. That notwithstanding, many are already looking to what happens at the polling stations on November 3 as perhaps the main intrigue of this year. People across the world are captivated by the vicissitudes of the election campaign, the endless opinion polls and periodic scandals surrounding President Donald Trump and his rival Joseph Biden. The stakes in this fascinating political game are incredibly high, not only for citizens of the United States, but also for the rest of the world. Germany, Canada, China and Mexico clearly favour the Democratic Party nominee, while many in Israel, Poland, Brazil and India support the current resident of the White House.
The results of the November elections will have serious consequences for all of these countries, positive for some, not so much for others. As for Russia, the historical significance of the U.S. elections is up for debate. One gets the impression that Russia is the exception that proves the rule here, as is often the case. The results of the U.S. presidential election are unlikely to have any significant effect on relations between Washington and Moscow.
It is commonly believed that the Kremlin is rooting for Trump. The incumbent President of the United States is seen by many as Vladimir Putin’s main, if not his only, friend in Washington – and indeed, the entire Western world. And not only a friend, but a consistent lobbyist for Russian interests.
It is true that Trump has not hidden his admiration for the Russian leader in the past (he has done the same for the leaders of China and even North Korea). It is also true that he has not held back in his pointed criticisms of practically every ally of the United States, the European Union and even NATO (while at the same time continuing to increase U.S. funding of the latter, including its eastern flank). And it is true that Trump has caused significant harm to the unity of the West, although blaming it all on transatlantic problems would be rather unfair, to say the least.
But what has Trump’s friendship ever given Moscow? The list is plentiful! A litany of economic sanctions on all kinds of grounds – from the Ukrainian issue to Syria, from chemical weapons to Russia’s energy cooperation with Germany. An unprecedented diplomatic war that has turned the Russian embassy in Washington into a besieged fortress of sorts. The ousting of Moscow from its traditional arms markets. Increased pressure on Moscow’s strategic partners and allies, from Iran and Syria to Cuba and Venezuela.
Some will say that Trump wanted to establish dialogue with Russia, but was never allowed to do so. The senators and members of Congress on Capitol Hill would not allow it. Nor would Trump’s political opponents in the Democratic Party. Nor would those in his own administration, sabotaging any and every, even the most modest attempts to somehow try to come to an agreement with the Kremlin. In other words, Trump wanted the best, but things turned out as usual.
This logic, used by Trump fans in Russia and the United States, is rather unconvincing. If only for the fact that Donald Trump has rarely “wanted the best” during his term in office. Far too often, he has “run before the hounds,” as it were, and been not so much the reluctant executor of other people’s destructive decisions as the active initiator. For example, it was in the White House, and not on Capitol Hill, that the ridiculous idea to completely destroy the entire system of strategic arms control between the United States and Russia was dreamt up and took shape. It was the Commander-in-Chief who made the decision, not once but twice, to launch missile attacks on Syria’s infrastructure. It was the President who authorized the liquidation of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. The list of such “initiatives” of the White House goes on… and on.
Second, in politics, the desires or attitudes of leaders matter little. Politics, as the saying goes, is the art of the possible. What is of value is the ability of leaders to achieve the goals they have set themselves. It does not really make any difference what Trump thinks of Putin. What is important is that relations between the United States and Russia have not improved in any area during his time as president. Quite the contrary, they have continued to deteriorate on all fronts. And, unfortunately, the low point is still not in sight.
The experience of the Trump administration confirms an old truth that anyone who has spent at least some time studying the history of relations between Washington and Moscow will know well. Only a strong U.S. president, with unwavering broad support at home, is capable of developing constructive relations with Russia. Only a strong president can hold a successful summit, win over Congress, shut down his opponents at home and take full responsibility for the commitments made. Donald Trump turned out to be a weak president. The American elite has remained divided these three and a half years, and it is precisely this divide that has had a devastating effect on U.S.–Russia relations.
Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe that Joe Biden, should he emerge victorious on November 3, will be another weak president. After all, the political, and indeed social, chasm that has split the United States in two will not be overcome by November. Additionally, the incumbent president’s supporters are unlikely to go down without a fight. In other words, we should not be expecting any fundamental shifts in bilateral relations any time soon. Unlike Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan before him, President Biden simply does not have the political capital to make such changes a reality.
This means that relations will continue to be built on the basis of the “lowest common denominator,” which effectively means the continuation of the current course of confrontation. All the more so because one thing that does unite the political and financial elites in the United States is their unwavering dislike for Russia. Even the sharp exacerbation of relations with China are unlikely to alter these feelings.
This is not to say that Trump and Biden are exactly the same. In some ways, Biden may be more convenient for the Kremlin, in others, less so. No doubt, he will try to increase support inside the United States for Ukraine and raise the issue of human rights in Russia more forcefully than ever. On the other hand, he will likely take a more constructive position on arms control and may very well ease the pressure on Iran. Biden, of course, will not lavish praise on Putin, but his approach to relations with Moscow may be more consistent and predictable.
Whatever happens, the possible changing of the guard in the White House is no reason for Kremlin strategists to lose sleep on the night of November 3–4 staring at their computer screens as the results of the election start rolling in. Such a result will be of crucial importance for many countries around the world, but not for Russia. Bilateral relations really cannot get much worse than they are now, and there are no indications that the situation will improve anytime soon.
From our partner RIAC
Global Warming And COP26: Issues And Politics
The president’s massive social services and infrastructure package is under consideration by Congress. The problem is Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.
Not only is West Virginia a coal-producing state but Mr. Manchin owns two coal companies. Although in a blind trust operated by his son, it is clear that coal companies make money when they sell coal.
But coal is a serious polluter, possibly the worst among fossil fuels. Any serious attempt to reduce the impact of climate change will replace coal with at least natural gas — available in abundance and emitting almost 50 percent less CO2 according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Republicans — many of whom deny global warming following Trump’s lead — adamantly oppose the plan en bloc, so Senator Manchin’s vote is crucial. For the moment then, the fate of the planet lies in the hands of one man because, quite simply, if the US backs off, China will be relieved of pressure — also Russia which has an abundance of fossil fuels.
Hence the importance of the COP26 climate summit scheduled for October 31 – November 2 in Glasgow. Originally planned for 2020, the meeting was postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic. The town is preparing for an influx of 25,000 people as lobbyists, conference attendees and demonstrators arrive.
It is an interesting meeting, liked by some to a teacher requiring a class to prepare and bring term papers. The 200 countries represented will be bringing their plans to meet the goals of the Paris accords. These require the signatories to commit to enhance ambitions every five years — thus 2020 postponed to 2021 — under the so-called ‘ratchet mechanism’. The Paris Accords aimed to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius and to aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius.
As often, people leak documents to help their agenda. This time a huge leak shows how important fossil fuel using and producing countries are attempting to modify a crucial scientific report. Oil producer Saudi Arabia, coal producer Australia and heavy user Japan are among those questioning a rapid change from fossil fuels. Saudi Arabia for one also lobbied previously in 2015 with some success.
This time the lobbying effort consists of more than 32,000 submissions (by governments, corporations and other interested parties) to the team of scientists preparing scientific reports designed to coalesce the best science on tackling global warming. One can imagine the headache for the scientists, who for the most part have a regular job, often as professors. Produced as “assessment reports” by IPCC (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) these represent a consensus of the views of different governments, and are used by them to decide what action will be needed.
The many bodies involved, the complicated murky politics and the enormous pressure from different parties all point to the crucial fact that billions of dollars are involved now in today’s dollars versus promises of a better and distant future. We can only hope we have decision makers with foresight, and leaders without Trumpian climate change ignorance and excess.
America’s Two-Tiered Justice System
The Constitution states only one command twice. The Fifth Amendment says to the federal government that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” The Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, uses the same eleven words, called the Due Process Clause, to describe a legal obligation of all states. These words have as their central promise an assurance that all levels of government must operate within the law and provide fair procedures to all its citizens.
In this politically divisive climate, the central promise has been broken with little to no assurance that one can trust the American democratic system where some courts have disavowed their responsibility to uphold the Constitution’s meaning of the laws passed by Congress. For instance, the Bill of Rights was passed because of concepts such as freedom of religion, speech, equal treatment, and due process of law were all deemed so fundamental to protect every legal resident in the nation; yet we are now witnessing politically charged judicial appointments eradicating these principles under which all persons and entities are accountable to equally enforce and independently adjudicate, as well as being consistent with international human rights.
On the heels of the Chinese coronavirus, there is an escalating epidemic of unequal justice and character assault where much of the news media is politically aligned with the rulers in turning a blind eye or complicit in the coverup; and in some cases, ravenously endorses the demise of what has essentially now become political dissidents falsely accused, intimidated, and jailed. While many Americans are attempting to scrape by in difficult times, they remain astute to the moral failure of the elites in power as well as the tacit elected opposition’s assiduous silence in whitewashing the legal duplicity. Historical trends over centuries of betraying the peasants eventually succumbs to a reckoning where the privileged corrupt politician and their corporate fascists will be exposed and held accountable in some fashion.
Americans are confounded by the coronavirus decrees requiring masks to be worn for thee and not for me double standards. The politicians hammer away at enforcing mask mandates on the common folk, yet they do not adhere to their own edicts while attending fine dining with their elite backers. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Californian Governor Gavin Newsome, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot all violated their own mask mandates in public venues while the masked servants waited on them.
President Biden was caught on video walking maskless through a swanky Washington restaurant in violation of the District’s laws on facial coverings, yet regular citizens are subject to civil penalties which result in fines of $1000.00 or revocation of licenses during the COVID-19 emergency. In defending the emperor, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said we should ‘not overly focus on moments in time that don’t reflect overarching policy.’ These double standard by the progressives are a far cry from Americans being punished and ostracized all over the country for not wearing a mask.
Identity politics has resulted in two systems of justice – one where BLM rioting and looting is described by the media as peaceful demonstrations and where assaulting police has no criminal consequences; yet the January 6th actions at the Capital has resulted in the largest round up of protesters ever seen in America. It is estimated that the Federal Government has upwards to 70 rioters/trespassers in solitary confinement and they are only let out in a larger area for one hour at 2 am due to COVID. Some of those being held in detention have been charged with trespassing on restricted grounds, others with assault and obstruction, and some haven’t been charged with anything. There are no bail hearings for these political activists yet BLM and Antifa rioters typically spend one night in the brig and let out the next day to rejoin the frontlines of carnage.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vocally pushed for the January 6th ‘insurrectionists’ to be added to the TSA no-fly list. Civil liberties are being trampled by exploiting insurrection fears with people in attendance no longer permitted to take a flight in their own country and they have not been convicted of a crime. This action by the government had previously only happened to suspect foreign terrorists, and now it is happening to Americans under suspicion. We see no similar actions taken against the militant Antifa anarchists who attacked and torched federal buildings in Portland.
Washington DC has essentially been abusing these inmates in captivity. There have been complaints on the nourishment of their fellow Americans where they are served white bread and a packet of tartar sauce. This is ultimately a violation of the 8th Amendment that prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, nor cruel and unusual punishments, and from inflicting unduly harsh penalties. Some judges are expressing concern at the length of these pretrial incarcerations, however they’ve largely deferred to the Justice Department. Meanwhile anarchists who burn down buildings and shoot projectiles at police officers and federal buildings have charges dismissed. Justice is not equal.
One female trespasser was shot dead by police during the Capital unrest and there was no outcry or charges against the officer. She was white and a Trump supporter. Federal prosecutors are not seeking criminal charges against the police lieutenant whose single shot killed Ashli Babbit, the 14-year veteran who served four tours with the US Airforce. If the unarmed Babbit committed any crime, it would have been for trespassing, a misdemeanor that should have seen her arrested and not slain. The lieutenant’s life was not at risk nor was he saving the lives of others as he stood with numerous police officers in riot gear and strapped with submachine guns. If a member of BLM was shot dead by police during an unlawful riot, there would have been an immediate racial outcry from political elites and from across the news media for justice followed by looting local retailers and ransacking a police precinct. The action by BLM is considered righteous violence whereas the slain Babbit had it coming to her.
On a very disturbing and new level of injustice is the threatening actions being taken against parents of schoolchildren by the Department of Justice. Most Americans are familiar with the Patriot Act following 9-11 where the National Security Division conducts counterterrorism operations against foreign adversaries planning suicide bombings and stealing nuclear secrets. Now the Biden Administration, under Attorney General Merrick Garland, has turned the NSD’s crosshairs against everyday Americans conducting their civil duties and free speech as school board meetings.
Garland’s actions followed the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) claim that American public schools and its education leaders are under immediate threats and intimidation as parents grow frustrated over the divisive neo-Marxist Critical Race Theory being injected into their children’s curricula. This is clearly an injustice to weaponize the DOJ and FBI investigators to intimidate and arrest parents under the same counterespionage to that of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Parents may be angry, but they are certainly not domestic terrorists in taking on the powerfully partisan school unions who somehow believe they are justified to influence civilization by indoctrinating their children.
Garland’s poster boy for his hideous partisan support of the NSBA is a Virginia father who was arrested at a school board meeting when he attempted to raise the alarm over his young daughter being raped in the school washroom. The father became the symbol of angry parents confronting school officials when he was taken down by several police officers and apprehended for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He became vocally upset when school officials denied the attack on his daughter, but he was not physically confrontational.
The father said it is scary that our government will weaponize themselves against parents and they’re using my video across the nation to spread fear; while the school officials did not seem to want to listen to him regarding his daughter being assaulted by a boy wearing a skirt who took advantage of transgender rules to access the girl’s washroom. The boy has now been charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of anal sodomy, and one count of forcible fellatio related to the incident at that school. At a later date, the same boy was charged for a similar attack at neighboring school where he allegedly forced a victim into an empty classroom where he held her against her will and inappropriately touched her. Regardless of the raped daughter, Garland and the NSBA still have their video of the father being wrestled down to support the use of the FBI against parents and send a chilling effect on harmless dissent.
The Russian collusion narrative against then President Donald Trump may seem dated, however it can never be swept aside or forgotten in what may well have been the biggest political scandal and injustice to a man in American history. The country endured four years investigating Russian collusion into the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 presidential win with senate and congressional impeachment hearings over a Clinton-paid-for fake dossier, the biased Obama hatchet men overseeing the FBI and CIA shirking the law, a frenzied media that never let up on Trump’s guilt, and a special counsel comprised of Clinton partisans that turned over every leaf that eventually found the nearly crucified Trump to be innocent of the false charges. The former president had to withstand an incessant blitzkrieg of injustice through his entire presidency while leading the most powerful country in the world.
On the hand, there is compelling evidence that President Joe Biden spent years while in government enriching himself through family ties, specifically his son Hunter, to the tune of millions of dollars in foreign money from China, Russia, and Ukraine. The foreign players simply used the unqualified son to leverage access to Biden while satisfying Hunter’s greed and questionable lifestyle. Biden has little to no ability to stand up to China or Russia knowing they are holding damaging transactions over his head. There have been no investigations into Biden’s quid-pro-quo against Ukraine or the transfer of tens of millions of dollars to Biden family members, no impeachments, and the news media buried these stories; including damaging information found on Hunter’s laptop during the 2020 presidential election. Had Trump and his sons engaged in these activities, there would have been a very different level of justice.
What of this injustice that is making its mark on history? If we take a moment to think through the confusion of the moment and see the morale issue involved, then one may refuse to have this sense of justice distorted to grip power rather than for the good of the country. Those who have sown this unjust wind may eventually reap a whirlwind that provokes reform by convulsion of the people instead of a natural order of business. We must all remember that democracy lies with the people of this land and whether the nation will be stirred to stand for justice and freedom in this hour of distress and go on to finish in a way worthy of its beginning.
Biden’s Department of Justice: parents as domestic terrorists
In recent developments in the United States, US Attorney General, Merrick Garland, and the FBI have put under the FBI radar parents as potential domestic terrorists. You heard it right. This is now a new formal legal policy contained in memos of the Department of Justice trying to reign in parents discussions on Biden’s new school curricula. They are not going after potential outbursts but outright terrorism.
This is an attack on freedom of speech in the sense that parents have the right to discuss and disagree with the new Biden school curricula. This is where the issue originated: parts of Biden’s new school curricula are not accepted by many parents and if they disagree, the FBI treats them now as potential domestic terrorists as a matter of policy. Apart from a First Amendment case, this is also a case for international human rights law and I reported the development to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech this week hoping to get a statement.
The Department of Justice is referring to some constitutional provision on “intimidation of views” to override and take down one of the most firmly established rights, the right to freedom of speech, in quite frankly a ridiculous interpretation. Those parents that dare to speak up against controversial parts in the new text books could be investigated for domestic terrorism. This is the most incompetent interpretation on limitations of freedom of speech I have seen in awhile.
Garland and the FBI have totally lost their marbles. The woke discussion is not funny to me anymore. It increasingly looks like a woke tyranny that has nothing to do with rights and equality anymore but simply serves as a vehicle to empower the FBI to run wild against regular people. This lunacy needs to be stopped.
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