#NotNormal. If Your Hair is on Fire, Good, you Have Grasped the Situation
November 17, 2016
I miss the old days when we thought Exxon and the Koch Brothers were all we had to contend with.
Normally I would not post something from the Daily Mail as worth a read, but the writer here is former Moscow Bureau Chief for The Economist, and his analysis, while terrifying, is sound.
The restoration of the Soviet empire is under way — and America is not going to stop it.
That is the chilling conclusion we must draw from Donald Trump’s first few days as President-elect, in which he received what he termed a ‘beautiful’ letter from Vladimir Putin, followed by an amicable phone call in which the two pledged to restore friendly relations between Washington and Moscow.
Then, yesterday, Syria’s President Assad said that Mr Trump would be a ‘natural ally’ alongside Russia in the bloodsoaked Syrian civil war if he fulfils his pledge to fight terrorism.
Assad and Putin are, of course, at the forefront of the aerial bombardment that began on Tuesday against rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo after several weeks of relative calm.
That is why I believe it’s no exaggeration to say Putin, not Trump, is the biggest winner of the American presidential election.
The irony is that at home, President Trump will be constrained by his inexperience, and by America’s solid political institutions.
The real damage will be done abroad — to us and to others who depend on strong defence and intelligence ties with America. Intelligence experts fear Putin will offer President Trump a ‘Grand Bargain’ some time in 2017.
The outline would be simple. The West drops sanctions, stops pestering the Putin regime about its appalling human rights record, accepts that the Kremlin has a sphere of military and political influence in Eastern Europe, and treats Russia as a serious global player.
In return, Putin would offer counter-terrorism co-operation against the constant threat of Islamist attacks around the world, a brokered peace in Syria (meaning an end to the floods of refugees to Europe), and an easing of military tensions around Russia’s western borders.
He would promise — no doubt oozing sincerity — a future of peace and friendship. The deal-loving tycoon, still settling into the Oval Office, would jump at this ‘Grand Bargain’, regarding it as a piece of international statesmanship.
He would boast about saving billions of dollars by being able to pull American troops out of Europe.
In truth, this deal would be as shameful as the Yalta summit of 1945 at which Stalin outmanoeuvred Britain and America, consigning Eastern Europe to misery and captivity within the Soviet Empire.
US media furiously normalizing a Neo-Nazi champion in the White House.
NPR apparently felt the need to invite on a Breitbart mouthpiece to put in a good word for Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s newly announced senior policy adviser. Bannon previously led Breitbart, a publication beloved by the so-called alt-right, a loose coalition of white nationalists, “identitarians,” neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, racists, and misogynists who were ecstatic over Bannon’s appointment. Pollak’s segment was a master class in obfuscation and a primer on how to flip the script and turn totally justified accusations of bigotry, misogyny and anti-Semitism into “reverse racism.”
“Let’s hear a defense of Steve Bannon,” NPR host Steve Inskeep began, offering a view of exactly what direction this interview would take. Pollak started by launching into a gushing assessment of Bannon, calling him “a national hero,” and talking about how it’s so great we’ll have someone “so calm under pressure in the White House.” (Maybe this is true, though it contradicts accusations against Bannon of domestic abuse, sexual harassment and being a “verbally abus[ive]” “bully” “who is prone to a lot of tirades” by former staffers.) When Inskeep interjected to ask about Bannon’s tireless work to turn Breitbart into the alt-right outlet of choice, Pollak attempted to distance the site from the movement it has nurtured on a steady diet of xenophobia, racism, sexism and anti-Semitism.
“The only alt-right content we have is a single article out of tens of thousands of articles, which is a journalistic article about the alt-right by Milo Yiannopoulos, and Allum Bokhari, which basically went into this movement, and tried to figure out what it was all about,” Pollak said. “That’s not racist; that’s journalism.”
And just like that, Bannon’s site was suddenly unaffiliated with the alt-right movement—though Bannon himself boasted in August that Breitbart is the “platform of the alt-right.” Inskeep didn’t push Pollak on this point, though Bannon’s own words suggest that he either disagreed with his spokesperson or fabricated the link in order to be seen as the voice of the alt-right. Either way, aren’t both of these things problematic—tthat Bannon is either with the racists or wants to be? Isn’t it worth questioning why Bannon would seek to tie his publication to a movement whose founders have been unequivocal in their racism and anti-Semitism? (Prominent white supremacist Jared Taylor has said that while there are “areas of disagreement” among alt-righties, “the central element of the alt-right is the position it takes on race.” Richard Spencer, who coined the term alt-right, has talked about the “Jewish question,” called for forced sterilization of racial minorities and advanced the idea of “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”