Bashing Trump Over His Russia Related Comments – Analysis

Leave it to The Washington Post (WaPo) to run Joe Scarborough’s February 7 screed “Trump’s Dangerous Lie About Russia“, which gives credence to the chatter on Joe and his MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski being an item.

Contrary to “Morning Joe“, Donald Trump didn’t equate the US with Russia. Rather, he (upon further review) touches on something that many US establishment types and others don’t grasp. Some other countries aren’t as bad as portrayed, with the US having noticeable faults, that at times are downplayed. As highlighted in Daniel McCarthy’s February 8 National Interest article “The Media’s Selective Outrage Over Trump and Russia“: “A comparison isn’t the same things as an equivalence.

Trump has previously suggested the belief that the US is the best country in the world. His now well known comments to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly don’t contradict that view. The more earnest of patriots can be critical of their nation, while showing respect to other countries. It continues to be quite ironic how many US establishment folks talk about some other countries (notably Russia) in need of a reality check.

On MSNBC, retired US Army General Barry McCaffrey, has repeatedly expressed indignation over Trump’s answer to O’Reilly. McCaffrey characterized it as anti-American. At the same time, McCaffrey is fine with insulting Russia and its head of state. Trump’s critics portray him as being immature in his manner. On Russia, these very same detractors typically appear just like that. Trump and his opponents stand to learn a good deal from each other. As former Australian diplomat Gregory Clark suggests, Trump’s attitude towards Russia is one of his better stances.

The longtime American patriotic commentator Patrick Buchanan, wasn’t at all offended by what Trump said to O’Reilly. In recent years, Buchanan’s appearance time on US mass media TV has noticeably declined.

In his WaPo rant, Scarborough rehashes several fallacies. It has become habitual to cherry pick what Putin says. Contrary to Scarborough’s spin, Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t seek a return to the USSR or Russian Empire. Putin said that it’s foolish to recreate either of the two.

Relative to that thought, his comments on the Soviet demise have been misrepresented. As is true with many, if not most, or all of us, Putin can at times be not so well polished when expressing himself. A responsible media source should take that into consideration. The way the Soviet Union broke up caused much suffering – the very essence of what Putin and many other former Soviets (Russian and non-Russian) note. Their recollection doesn’t necessarily lead to the desire to go back to the Soviet period. Russians aren’t monolithic when assessing their country’s past.

Scarborough and The WaPo (which approved his piece) show ignorance, regarding deaths as a result of Stalin’s policies. Following the Soviet breakup, academics have had greater access to the Soviet archives. Since this development, Western academics such as Timothy Snyder and (if I’m not mistaken) the late Robert Conquest, have concluded that the fatalities from Stalin’s rule weren’t as great as some stated – inclusive of Scarborough’s quoted low end figure.

Regardless, that period was brutal – something which many patriotically proud Russians acknowledge. The Russians weren’t alone in having harsh elements as the USSR was multiethnic. Putin himself has backed commemorative efforts to honor those who suffered during that era, in addition to his having openly denounced Lenin (more than once) and honor some of the anti-Communist Russian Civil War era leaders.

Scarborough’s comparative depiction of the US (good) and Soviet (bad) roles in Afghanistan omit another comparison, having to do with the (put mildly) problematical US Cold War role in Southeast Asia. In any event, post-Soviet Russia is definitely not on the same negative par of the Soviet Union. Pardon to feel a need to repeat that, along with some other missives from my prior commentary. Keep in mind the regurgitated comments running counter. Scarborough is on record for saying that a Putin-Stalin comparison is “apt.

Relative to what the now present US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested to Florida Senator Marco Rubio (during the former’s confirmation hearing): Scarborough would be hard pressed to prove a clandestine Russian government sanctioned murder of journalists and political opponents. That grouping remains quite evident in Russia. As is unfortunately true in other countries. Russia has some intolerant individuals outside of government, who violently take matters into their own hands.

Robert Berschinski’s February 7 Foreign Policy article “Trump Should Praise Vladimir Kara-Murza – Not Vladimir Putin“, omits what the US president should be doing in line with his take, as opposed to Berschinski. Trump would benefit from utilizing a knowledgeably savvy (on Russian issues) adviser, who shares his Russia related views. Such a person can authoritatively tell someone like Berschinski to get off the hypocritical high horse and be more objective. For example, where’s the US establishment outrage over the murder of Ukrainian journalist Oles Brizha?

In Kiev regime controlled Ukraine, numerous individuals have been either jailed, beaten and killed, for reasons that appear to be politically motivated. When visiting that entity: Samantha Power, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Joe Biden, haven’t said anything against these violently intolerant acts.

The focus of Berschinski’s article, Vladimir Kara-Murza, doesn’t pose any threat to the Russian government. There’re numerous others in that country, criticizing the Russian government and Russia en masse, without any noticeable health problems. (Among other things, my January 20, 2017 Strategic Culture Foundation article, addresses the deaths of some other Russians who’ve opposed the Kremlin.) To date, there’s no detailed proof of a government sponsored plan to poison Kara-Murza. There’s reasonable room to wonder about the origin of his most unfortunate affliction.

It’s of course reprehensible to poison/murder people for their views. In the US, another kind of media related killing is evident. Granted, that it’s more preferable to being physically slain. I’m referring to those people shafted for having a valid and different perspective from the establishment preferred neocon to neolib slant. Instead of respectfully acknowledging this reality and seeking a constructive diversity, the Democratic Party connected Lawrence O’Donnell finds another cause.

O’Donnell claims that Trump got neocon WaPo columnist George Will fired from Fox News. Perhaps that network decided it’s well represented enough with neocon pundits that include Charles Krauthammer and Stephen Hayes. At last notice, Will still has his WaPo column. Fox News didn’t seem to replace Will with a pro-Russian alternative point of view. Forget about seeing such a regular contributor at The WaPo, NYT, CNN, MSNBC and numrous other leading Anglo-American media venues.

US mass media segments like the February 2 Charlie Rose moderated exchange with Julia Ioffe and Amy Davidson reveal a considerable lack of diversity. Not all is bleak. As an example, the February 8 aired John Batchelor Show, featured an informative roughly forty minute segment on Ukraine, in sharp contrast to California Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ outburst against Russia’s invasion of Korea (sic). For her edification, Waters and countless others would benefit from listening to Batchelor’s frequent (pretty much weekly) exchanges with Stephen Cohen – expressing views that are very much censored in US mass media. Batchelor also features US foreign policy establishment pundits on Russian matters.

As is, Anglo-American mass media has an unwritten rule about which kind of Russia related commentary will get greater play and payola.

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. This article initially appeared at the Strategic Culture Foundation’s website on February 17.

Michael Averko

Michael Averko

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. He has appeared as a guest commentator on the BBC and WABC talk radio, in addition to having been a panelist at the World Russia Forum, Russia Forum New York and US-Russia.org Experts' Panel. Besides Averko's Eurasia Review column - Counterpunch, Foreign Policy Journal, Global Research, History News Network, InoSMI.Ru, Johnson's Russia List, Journal of Turkish Weekly, Kyiv Post, Oriental Review, Penza News, Pravda.Ru, Pravoslavie.Ru, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Russia Insider, Sputnik News, Strategic Culture Foundation, The Huffington Post, Valdai Discussion Club and WikiLeaks, are among the numerous venues where his commentary have either appeared or been referenced. The American Institute in Ukraine and the Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, have referenced some of his commentary, along with academic white papers prepared for NATO Watch, Ohio State University, Problems of Post-Communism and the Royal College of Defence Studies. He is source referenced in Richard Sakwa's book "Frontline Ukraine". Averko's Eurasia Review article on Pavlo Skoropadsky, provides the first full online transcript of Skoropadsky's edict calling for an "All-Russian Federation", inclusive of Russia and Ukraine. Among other issues, that article explains the relationships among the major combatants in the Russian Civil War. He can be reached via [email protected]

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