Of ‘Useful Idiots’ And Russophobic Hysteria In US Elections – OpEd


It’s quite ironic that although The Atlantic is generally presumed to be a liberal publication, if one listens to the views of its editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, it unmistakably has a distinct right-wing flair to it. For example, the title of his September 14 article [1] for the publication is “Trump is Putin’s ‘Useful Idiot.'”

It’s not simply the title, the entire write-up is a lengthy screed extolling the virtues of loyalty and patriotism to “American democracy” and striving desperately hard to expose imaginary plots hatched by “vile dictators,” notably Russian President Vladimir Putin, to take undue advantage of gullible patsies, such as Donald Trump.

After sufficiently proving his loyalty to the “American democracy” and the US-led “benevolent imperialism” that has ended the Age of Darkness in the post-colonial world and ushered it into the Age of Enlightenment under Washington’s neocolonial tutelage, Goldberg goes on to draw the attention of the readers to the momentous telephonic conversation that prompted impeachment proceedings against Trump, lasting from September through February.

“On July 25 of last year, Alexander Vindman, who, as the National Security Council’s director for European affairs, organized the call, listened, with other officials, to a conversation between Trump and the newly elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

“‘I would like you to do us a favor,’ Trump told Zelensky, working his way to the subject of Joe Biden: ‘There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it …’

“Vindman was surprised by Trump’s approach, and by its implications. Like other American specialists in the successor states of the former Soviet Union, he was invested in the US-Ukraine relationship. And like most national-security professionals, he was interested in countering Russia’s malign influence—along its borders, in places like Ukraine and Belarus and the Baltic states; across Europe; and in American elections.

“Vindman’s first day at the National Security Council, July 16, 2018, was also the day that President Trump, meeting Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, told a press conference that he trusted Putin no less than he trusted US intelligence agencies. ‘I have confidence in both parties,’ Trump said, to the dismay of the intelligence chiefs who report to him.

It’s worth pointing out here that either the mainstream like Jeffrey Goldberg really can’t distinguish between exchanging casual diplomatic courtesies and substantive policy decisions or he deliberately elided over the conspicuous distinction in order to whip up anti-Russia hysteria among his credulous readers by uncovering imaginary plots and subversive collusion between purported “double agents” and “sworn enemies” of the empire.

If you thought Goldberg couldn’t possibly get any more preposterous, wait until you hear out the last few paragraphs of the sanctimonious diatribe and the intimately patriotic conversation between the self-styled champions of “American democracy” and discernibly right-wing “liberal values.”

“Vindman came to find that Trump’s desire to impress Putin, and to shape American policy in ways that please Putin, has caused many former US intelligence officials, and even some officials who have worked directly for him, to suspect that he has been compromised by Russia.

“In his new book, Rage, Bob Woodward writes that Dan Coats, the former director of national intelligence, ‘continued to harbor the secret belief, one that had grown rather than lessened, although unsupported by intelligence proof, that Putin had something on Trump.'”

Without furnishing a shred of evidence albeit tacitly acknowledging “unsupported by intelligence proof,” the “credible columnist” of a widely circulated news publication lays bare his hunch that “Putin has something on Trump.”

It could be anything, ranging from illicit financial kickbacks to extramarital affairs, or maybe something more sinister, such as the mainstream media’s favorite “QAnon conspiracy” that nobody read or heard about until the news media created the hype in the run-up to the presidential elections.

“I ask Vindman the key question: ‘Does he believe that Trump is an asset of Russian intelligence?’

“Vindman replied: ‘President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin.'”

“Useful idiot is a term commonly used to describe dupes of authoritarian regimes; fellow traveler, in Vindman’s description, is a person who shares Putin’s loathing for democratic norms.”

After reading these risible excerpts, it become abundantly clear that not only is The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief an authority on the domestic American politics but he is equally abreast of the history, culture and society of “authoritarian regimes” harboring malice against the beacon of hope and light in the Age of “Benevolent Imperialism.”

Despite the end of the Cold War almost three decades ago, this Russophobic paranoia has infiltrated the establishment-controlled media so deep into the subconscious that it would require an enormous conscious effort to revert the American society back to the normal state.

Echoing Goldberg’s American supremacist sentiments bordering on racism, another national security shill, Max Boot of the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, goes a step further [2]: “Olivia Troye, Vice President Mike Pence’s former representative to the administration’s coronavirus task force, reported that, early on, Trump said ‘maybe this covid thing is a good thing’ because it meant he wouldn’t have to shake hands with ‘these disgusting people’ — e.g. his supporters.”

“Troye joins a long line and growing list of former Trump aides — including former national security adviser John Bolton, former defense secretary Jim Mattis, former White House chief of staff John Kelly, former director of national intelligence Dan Coats, former Navy secretary Richard Spencer, former National Security Council staffer Alexander Vindman, former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security Miles Taylor, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen — who have spoken out in scathing terms about Trump. All but Mattis, Coats and Kelly have publicly called for Trump’s defeat in November.”

There is no denying the fact that the four years of the Trump presidency have been unusually tumultuous in the American political history, but if one takes a cursory look at the list, almost all the Trump aides who resigned or were otherwise sacked were national security officials.

What does that imply? It implies that the latent conflict between the deep state and the elected representatives of the American people has come to a head during the Trump presidency. Although far from being a vocal critic of the deep state himself, the working-class constituency that Trump represents has had enough with the global domination agenda of the national security establishment.

They want American troops returned home, and want to focus on national economy and redress wealth disparity instead of acting as global police waging “endless wars” against purported “authoritarian regimes” in the remote regions of the world.

Addressing a convention of conservatives in 2019, Trump publicly castigated his own generals, much to the dismay of mainstream chauvinists upholding American exceptionalism and militarism, by saying: “I learn more sometimes from soldiers, what’s going on, than I do from generals. I do. I hate to say it. I tell the generals all the time.”

At another occasion, he ruffled more feathers by telling the reporters: “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me. The soldiers are. The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

Psychoanalyzing Trump’s sacrilegious disdain for the top-brass of the US military, Reuters published an exclusive report [3] today in which it approached the subject from a whole new angle, suggesting Trump’s rift with “apolitical bureaucracies” of the Pentagon and the State Department is more partisan than ideological. Here are a few salient excerpts from the astutely crafted polemical tirade:

“Some current and former military officials say that Trump started out with extravagant praise for his generals but grew irritated when their advice ran against his wishes, frustrated by the wars he inherited and uncomfortable with an apolitical military leadership he sometimes sees as disloyal.

“They complain he flouts norms of behavior in his open pursuit of political support among US troops, who are meant to be loyal to the U.S. Constitution – not any party or political movement.

“Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis disagreed with Trump’s berating of US allies, his disparagement of NATO and his abrupt pullout in Syria, which went against the advice of his military.

“In the summer of 2017, Trump was in the Situation Room talking about US troop levels in Afghanistan with Mattis, then-National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster – an Army general – and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others.

“The generals had a troop increase request and ‘thought they were going to stick it up under Trump’s nose and he was going to sign it,’ a former senior administration official told Reuters.

“He just ripped them, the generals, everybody. ‘Why are we doing this, when can we get out, what does victory look like?’ It was really uncomfortable,” a former official said.

“Although Trump initially reversed troop withdrawals in Afghanistan ordered by his White House predecessor, Barack Obama, he ends his term in office with plans to slash them to 4,000 this year and withdraw them completely next year, if a peace deal succeeds.

“McMaster, who lasted just over a year as Trump’s national security adviser before being ousted, has sharply criticized Trump’s Afghanistan policy, accusing him of partnering with the Taliban against the US-backed government in Kabul.

“Pentagon leaders see alliances as essential both to US influence overseas and security at home. They voice alarm at Trump’s antagonistic approach to allies such as Germany and South Korea even as he boasts of his good relationships with the leaders of China, Russia and North Korea.”

The Orwellian doublespeak deployed in these paragraphs is telling. On the one hand, the spin-doctors are pretending to be superficially “pacifist and non-interventionist,” but at the same time, they are squeamishly bemoaning the reduction in the global footprint of the US military, and consequent lack of protection to the US client states.

In the view of national security analysts of the corporate media, the “strategic objectives” of the imperial United States aren’t supposed to be determined by elected politicians but by the “apolitical bureaucracies” of the Pentagon and the State Department.

As long as establishment Democrats and Republicans, such as George Bush and Barack Obama, fall in line with the national security policy laid down by the deep state, they should be credited for being principled and patriotic, but if an outsider like Donald Trump dares to challenge hawkish interventionism and “endless wars” of the empire’s intransigent henchmen, he should be charged with high treason and impeached for punching above one’s weight.

Nauman Sadiq

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and MENA regions, neocolonialism and Petroimperialism.

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