Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin: When the White House fixed a Russian election — WSWS

Joe Shumate, Richard Dresner, and George Gorton were three of the main U.S. political operatives in this scheme. Dick Morris was also involved and was the liaison with President Bill Clinton. Details below.

From World Socialist Web Site:

June 14, 2017

By Alan Gilman
14 June 2017

For the past nine months, the Democratic Party and what passes for the liberal media have been spearheading a neo-McCarhtyite campaign backed by powerful sections of the US intelligence apparatus and based on unsubstantiated allegations that the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin interfered in the US presidential election.

Trump is being presented by these forces as a political stooge of Putin, with Moscow routinely labeled a “hostile foreign power.” This contrived scandal has been bolstered by FBI and congressional inquiries organized to investigate claims that the Trump election campaign colluded with the Russian government to damage the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and tip the election to Trump.

Behind this political witch hunt is a ferocious struggle over US imperialist foreign policy, centering on opposition to Trump’s inclination to seek improved relations with Russia and shift, at least for the present, from the virulently hostile and aggressive policy toward Moscow carried out by the Obama administration.

To fuel this campaign, the public has been inundated with sanctimonious expressions of horror and shock that a country would seek to manipulate elections taking place in another country. Republican Senator John McCain described Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election an “act of war.” Last week, in his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, fired FBI Director James Comey said of Russia, “they will be back… they are coming for America.”

The presentation of the US electoral system as a model of democracy is a transparent fraud. It is system that legally sanctions the buying of candidates, parties and elections by a super-rich financial oligarchy. Moreover, the Democratic Party emails allegedly hacked and leaked by the Russian government documented real, and illegal, manipulation of the electoral process, in the form of efforts by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to sabotage the campaign of Bernie Sanders for the party’s presidential nomination.

When it comes to manipulating foreign elections, the American ruling elite and its media and political stooges know whereof they speak. The United States is the world leader in interfering in other countries’ elections. Professor Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University has assembled a database documenting as many as 81 occasions between 1946 and 2000 when Washington interfered in elections in other countries. This number does not include military coups or regime-change efforts following the election of candidates the US opposed, as in Iran, Congo, Guatemala, Chile and many other nations.

In fact, the number of countries whose elections have been affected by US meddling is much higher. There is scarcely a country, large or small, where the CIA, the State Department, the Pentagon or their various nongovernmental agencies, including the AFL-CIO, have not intervened in an attempt to obtain the election result desired by Washington. This includes nominal “allies” such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Britain, Australia and Japan.

One fairly recent election stands out for the brazen and open manner in which the United States government, directed from the White House, intervened to put its candidate in office in a foreign land. The targeted country was none other than Russia.

In 1996, the White House and President Bill Clinton personally mounted a massive campaign to secure the reelection of Boris Yeltsin, whose comprador regime had been installed in the first place to oversee the dissolution of the Soviet Union and restoration of capitalism. One of the ironies of the current contrived scandal over alleged Russian intervention in the 2016 election is the fact that the supposed victim, Hillary Clinton, is the wife of the president who oversaw the very real interference by Washington in the Russian election 20 years earlier.

By the time Yeltsin announced in early 1996 that he would be running for a second term in the presidential election scheduled for that summer, he had become one of the most despised figures in Russia, having presided over the catastrophic consequences of the privatization of the Russian economy. The impact included a GDP decline of 50 percent, hyperinflation, rampant corruption, skyrocketing violent crime, the collapse of medical services, food and fuel shortages, nonpayment of wages and pensions, and a plunge in life expectancy. Added to this toxic mix was Yeltsin’s highly unpopular war with Chechnya.

By late 1993, these policies had provoked such massive opposition that Yeltsin, by means of a dictatorial decree, dissolved the parliament. In response, opponents in Moscow took over government buildings. To put down the rebellion, Yeltsin, using critical intelligence provided by Washington, called out the military, shelled the parliament building and in the ensuing bombing and shooting killed an estimated 2,000 people. This was the supposed hero of democracy whom the United States backed in the 1996 election.

The oligarchs and generals who supported Yeltsin urged him to cancel or postpone the election, fearing that Gennady Zyuganov, the right-wing nationalist leader of the Stalinist Communist Party, would win. Instead, US political operatives were sent to Russia to rescue Yeltsin from likely political defeat.

Far from concealing this intervention, the American ruling elite boasted of its success after Yeltsin’s victory. Time magazine made it the cover story of its July 15, 1996 edition.

Time magazine 15 July 1996

The ten-page article detailed the behind-the-scenes operations of three American political operatives who helped Yeltsin achieve a victory “that will keep reform in Russia alive.” The three Americans were Joe Shumate, George Gorton and Richard Dresner.

Joe Shumate was the former deputy chief of staff under California Republican Governor Pete Wilson. He later went on to serve as a political consultant for various California Republican politicians.

George Gorton was a Republican political consultant who served on the national campaigns of presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. Besides his work on Yeltsin’s campaign, he helped lead national political campaigns in Panama, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Canada. As the national college director for the Committee to Reelect President Nixon, he was implicated during the Watergate scandal for paying students to infiltrate antiwar groups.

Richard Dresner was a New York-based political consultant who had earlier joined with Dick Morris, Bill Clinton’s principal political aide, to help Clinton get elected governor of Arkansas.

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Norman Solomon: How the Russia spin got so much torque

From Information Clearing House

By Norman Solomon
May 02, 2017

A new book about Hillary Clinton’s last campaign for president — “Shattered,” by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes — has gotten a lot of publicity since it appeared two weeks ago. But major media have ignored a revealing passage near the end of the book.

Soon after Clinton’s defeat, top strategists decided where to place the blame. “Within 24 hours of her concession speech,” the authors report, campaign manager Robby Mook and campaign chair John Podesta “assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.

Six months later, that centerpiece of the argument is rampant — with claims often lurching from unsubstantiated overreach to outright demagoguery.

A lavishly-funded example is the “Moscow Project,” a mega-spin effort that surfaced in midwinter as a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s led by Neera Tanden, a self-described “loyal solider” for Clinton who also runs the Center for American Progress (where she succeeded Podesta as president). The Center’s board includes several billionaires.

The “Moscow Project” is expressly inclined to go over the top, aiming to help normalize ultra-partisan conjectures as supposedly factual. And so, the homepage of the “Moscow Project” prominently declares: “Given Trump’s obedience to Vladimir Putin and the deep ties between his advisers and the Kremlin, Russia’s actions are a significant and ongoing cause for concern.”

Let’s freeze-frame how that sentence begins: “Given Trump’s obedience to Vladimir Putin.” It’s a jaw-dropping claim; a preposterous smear.

Echoes of such tactics can be heard from many Democrats in Congress and from allied media. Along the way, no outlet has been more in sync than MSNBC, and no one on the network has been more promotional of the Russia-runs-Trump meme than Rachel Maddow, tirelessly promoting the line and sometimes connecting dots in Glenn Beck fashion to the point of journalistic malpractice.

Yet last year, notably without success, the Clinton campaign devoted plenty of its messaging to the Trump-Russia theme. As the “Shattered” book notes, “Hillary would raise the issue herself repeatedly in debates” with Trump. For example, in one of those debates she said: “We have 17 — 17 — intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election.”

After Trump’s election triumph, the top tier of Clinton strategists quickly moved to seize as much of the narrative as they could, surely mindful of what George Orwell observed: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” After all, they hardly wanted the public discourse to dwell on Clinton’s lack of voter appeal because of her deep ties to Wall Street. Political recriminations would be much better focused on the Russian government.

In early spring, the former communications director of the 2016 Clinton presidential campaign, Jennifer Palmieri, summed up the post-election approach neatly in a Washington Post opinion article: “If we make plain that what Russia has done is nothing less than an attack on our republic, the public will be with us. And the more we talk about it, the more they’ll be with us.”

The inability of top Clinton operatives to identify with the non-wealthy is so tenacious that they still want to assume “the public will be with us” the more they talk about Russia Russia Russia. Imagine sitting at a kitchen table with average-income voters who are worried sick about their financial futures — and explaining to them that the biggest threat they face is from the Kremlin rather than from U.S. government policies that benefit the rich and corporate America at their expense.

Tone deaf hardly describes the severe political impairment of those who insist that denouncing Russia will be key to the Democratic Party’s political fortunes in 2018 and 2020. But the top-down pressure for conformity among elected Democrats is enormous and effective.

One of the most promising progressives to arrive in Congress this year, Rep. Jamie Raskin from the Maryland suburbs of D.C., promptly drank what might be called the “Klinton Kremlin Kool-Aid.” His official website features an article about a town-hall meeting that quotes him describing Trump as a “hoax perpetrated by the Russians on the United States of America.”

Like hundreds of other Democrats on Capitol Hill, Raskin is on message with talking points from the party leadership. That came across in an email that he recently sent to supporters for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser. It said:

“We pull the curtain back further each day on the Russian Connection, forcing National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to resign, Attorney General Sessions to recuse, and America to reflect on who’s calling the shots in Washington.”

You might think that Wall Street, big banks, hugely funded lobbyists, fat-check campaign contributors, the fossil fuel industry, insurance companies, military contractors and the like are calling the shots in Washington. Maybe you didn’t get the memo.

Norman Solomon is the coordinator of the online activist group RootsAction.org and the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of a dozen books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46974.htm

Ukraine denouement: From the military battlefield to the arena of international finance

From Counterpunch, February 16, 2015
By Michael Hudson

The fate of Ukraine is now shifting from the military battlefield back to the arena that counts most: that of international finance. Kiev is broke, having depleted its foreign reserves on waging war that has destroyed its industrial export and coal mining capacity in the Donbass (especially vis-à-vis Russia, which normally has bought 38 percent of Ukraine’s exports). Deeply in debt (with €3 billion falling due on December 20 to Russia), Ukraine faces insolvency if the IMF and Europe do not release new loans next month to pay for new imports as well as Russian and foreign bondholders.

Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko announced on Friday that she hopes to see the money begin to flow in by early March.[1] But Ukraine must meet conditions that seem almost impossible: It must implement an honest budget and start reforming its corrupt oligarchs (who dominate in the Rada and control the bureaucracy), implement more austerity, abolish its environmental protection, and make its industry “attractive” to foreign investors to buy Ukraine’s land, natural resources, monopolies and other assets, presumably at distress prices in view of the country’s recent devastation.

Looming over the IMF loan is the military situation. On January 28, Christine Lagarde said that the IMF would not release more money as long as Ukraine remains at war. Cessation of fighting was to begin Sunday morning. But Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh announced that his private army and that of the Azov Battalion will ignore the Minsk agreement and fight against Russian-speakers. He remains a major force within the Rada.

How much of Ukraine’s budget will be spent on arms? Germany and France made it clear that they oppose further U.S. military adventurism in Ukraine, and also oppose NATO membership. But will Germany follow through on its threat to impose sanctions on Kiev in order to stop a renewal of the fighting? For the United States bringing Ukraine into NATO would be the coup de grace blocking creation of a Eurasian powerhouse integrating the Russian, German and other continental European economies.

The Obama administration is upping the ante and going for broke, hoping that Europe has no alternative but to keep acquiescing. But the strategy is threatening to backfire. Instead of making Russia “lose Europe,” the United States may have overplayed its hand so badly that one can now think about the opposite prospect. The Ukraine adventure turn out to be the first step in the United States losing Europe. It may end up splitting European economic interests away from NATO, if Russia can convince the world that the epoch of armed occupation of industrial nations is a thing of the past and hence no real military threat exists – except for Europe being caught in the middle of Cold War 2.0.

For the U.S. geopolitical strategy to succeed, it would be necessary for Europe, Ukraine and Russia to act against their own potential economic self-interest. How long can they be expected to acquiesce in this sacrifice? At what point will economic interests lead to a reconsideration of old geo-military alliances and personal political loyalties?

The is becoming urgent because this is the first time that continental Europe has been faced with such war on its own borders (if we except Yugoslavia). Where is the advantage for Europe supporting one of the world’s most corrupt oligarchies north of the Equator?

America’s Ukrainian adventure by Hillary’s appointee Victoria Nuland (kept on and applauded by John Kerry), as well as by NATO, is forcing Europe to commit itself to the United States or pursue an independent line. George Soros (whose aggressive voice is emerging as the Democratic Party’s version of Sheldon Adelson) recently urged (in the newly neocon New York Review of Books) that the West give Ukraine $50 billion to re-arm, and to think of this as a down payment on military containment of Russia. The aim is old Brzezinski strategy: to foreclose Russian economic integration with Europe. The assumption is that economic alliances are at least potentially military, so that any power center raises the threat of economic and hence political independence.

The Financial Times quickly jumped on board for Soros’s $50 billion subsidy.[2] When President Obama promised that U.S. military aid would be only for “defensive arms,” Kiev clarified that it intended to defend Ukraine all the way to Siberia to create a “sanitary cordon.” Continue reading