By Ben Tanosborn
In 1898, incited by a yellow press (the Hearst gang) and aspiring American imperialists, the American public was clamoring for war after the Maine’s sinking in Havana’s harbor. The cry then was, “Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!” which allowed sacrificing an old and decrepit despot to surrender its colonial booty (Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico) to a nascent bully in the high seas itching to test its 1890’s state-of-the-art armored cruisers, using two dated Spanish flotillas for target practice.
Today, a month before Donald Trump takes the reins in Washington, America’s powerful corporate media, just a few degrees removed from Hearst’s yellow press, is agitating the public equating “assumed hacking,” and how it might have affected the presidential elections, to an act of war. Sinking of the Maine, redux!
The cry now can be said to be, “Enough Cyber-Disputin’! We Just Hate Vladimir Putin!”
Amazing how history repeats itself; or, to put it more accurately, how those holding power in a bully-nation, can clamor injustice or foul play by others regardless whether truth resides with them, or with others, or it’s minute-in-grade to the situation.
It was never proven, nor is it rational to think, that Spain would act suicidal by sinking the Maine. And it is just as irrational for us Americans to conclude that hacking, in any form, even if true, merits thoughts of darker intentions: to be considered an act of war.
Russia has been for a while America’s adversary-of-choice for not allowing NATO to weaponize at her borders; the sibling dispute with Ukraine and annexation of Crimea but a response to US’ ever tightening noose, a measured defensive action which left the US cringingly mad, while allowing Russia to preserve its pride and integrity. But that reenactment of détente took place thanks to the all but forgotten MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) of the Cold War era.
One would think that our sapient leaders, trained in ecumenical diplomacy to better run the empire, would be more tactful with their language when referring to other nations and their leaders. But power breeds bullying, and bullying carries in its DNA the need to be exercised, either directly or via surrogates. And that the US has done; mildly at first, after the breakup of the Soviet Union; then forcefully making sure Skeletal Russia stayed on a diet and didn’t gain any regional influential-weight.
Whether Hillary Clinton’s running of the State Department from 2009 to 2013 followed a prescribed path set by Obama, or was a consensual understanding between the career neocons in the State Department and her, is not clear given the results from the foreign policy which may then have existed; results which beg to be judged precarious at best and catastrophic at worst. In any event, Hillary Clinton proved herself out to be an ineffective hawkish dud. Little wonder that Putin finds Lady Clinton annoying or that, as she claims, his “beef” with her provoked the hacking of Podesta’s and DNC’s emails. Whether there is merit to such conclusion or not, we should not lose sight of the fact that the person who was royally screwed in this 2016 electoral fiasco was not Hillary Clinton, but the Democratic Party’s sacrificial lamb, Bernie Sanders.
Loudest cheerleaders in the anti-Putin yell are two frontline American Jihadists, Lindsey Graham, the simpleton senator from South Carolina, and Annapolis’ tail-ender, POW-hero-stretcher, John McCain. The latter, indisputably lacking in both tact as well as grey matter, to possibly be someday remembered for coining almost three years ago that insulting phrase defining Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country.”
Whether we approve, disapprove, or have a wait-and-see attitude to Trump’s ascent to power, we may err in our prejudging of success or failure of his presidency in the domestic arena, particularly in economic matters and the creation of living-wage jobs. But one thing we can almost count on: Trump is unlikely to fare any worse in the international arena than the previous four presidents… not when it comes to Russia or the burning Middle East. However, as we assess the cast of characters being chosen during the transition period to head Trump’s International Brigade, we can’t help but identify foreign policy contradictions ranging from a positive Rex Tillerson as candidate to head the State Department, to a calamitous David Friedman, as ambassador to Israel.
Let’s wait and see if “The Art of the Deal” metamorphoses into “The Art of Diplomacy,” and Donald Trump achieves celebrity status not just in the vulgarian, but the historical realm as well.