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Trump-Putin Summitry: Contexts and Prospects

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With another summit on the horizon for President Trump and Vladimir Putin, perhaps as early as this fall, will the future of U.S.-Russian relations largely hinge on such meetings? An editorial in the new issue of The Nation — “Parsing the Surreal From the Sensible in Trump’s Helsinki Performance” — calls for protecting the security of U.S. elections while pursuing diplomatic initiatives with Russia.

“Reforming our elections to ensure that they are free and fair is an imperative,” the magazine’s editor and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel, writes in the editorial. “And engaging the Russians to reduce tensions and resolve crises is both sensible and long overdue.”

Vanden Heuvel is scheduled to appear on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” this Sunday (July 22).

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, press at thenation.com, @KatrinaNation
The Nation editorial says: “With Trump’s own director of national intelligence — conservative former Republican senator Dan Coats — concluding that Russian interference continues to this day, Trump refused to publicly denounce that interference or warn Putin against persisting in it. Foreign powers, corporations, and billionaires may well see this as a green light for increased meddling in U.S. elections.

“Worse, the administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have done virtually nothing to bolster free elections or protect them from such meddling. Our digital-age voting systems are vulnerable to hackers based anywhere. The solutions will require a much higher level of security for everything from voter-registration records to the tabulation of ballots with verifiable paper trails. But the greatest threat to our elections comes from hyper-partisan politics: gerrymandering electoral districts, erecting obstacles to registration and voting, purging voter rolls, gutting the Voting Rights Act, and, of course, facilitating the flow of big money — much of it undisclosed — into political campaigns. Under the Republicans, Congress has blocked sensible election-law reform. And right-wing donors and activists continue to push voter-suppression schemes at the state level — schemes that would be given even freer rein if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice. Citizens must demand reforms, and hold politicians accountable if they stand in the way.

“Trump’s serial lying is infamous — yet just because Trump says something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s false. He began the press conference by making the sensible case that it’s better to negotiate than to isolate. ‘The disagreements between our two countries are well-known, and President Putin and I discussed them at length today,’ he said. ‘But if we’re going to solve many of the problems facing our world, then we are going to have to find ways to cooperate in pursuit of shared interests…. Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia affords the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world.’

“Trump should not be scorned for simply convening a summit. The United States and Russia have a common stake in reducing tensions. Moreover, if the two powers continue to talk and, as Putin summarized the goals, if they manage to restart the arms-reduction talks, revive a working group on international terrorism, work together to forge peace and bring humanitarian relief to Syria, and enforce the Minsk agreements in Ukraine, then important progress will have been made. In any case, Trump is not wrong to say that attempting to reduce the tensions that have been building for years is a ‘good thing.’

“Although he was widely reviled for it, Trump is also not wrong to say that both powers have contributed to the deteriorating relations. Leaders of the U.S. national-security establishment protest our country’s innocence regarding the tensions in Georgia and Ukraine. But it was perhaps the wisest of them, the eminent diplomat George Kennan, who warned in 1998 that the decision to extend NATO to Russia’s borders was a ‘tragic mistake’ that would eventually provoke a hostile response. ‘I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,’ Kennan said presciently. ‘I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies.’

“Earlier in July, The Nation released an open letter signed by a score of leading public scholars, activists, and former U.S. officials calling for a ‘common ground to safeguard common interests,’ including both protecting U.S. elections and easing the current state of enmity between the two nuclear superpowers. The independent investigation into Russian interference should continue to its conclusion. Reforming our elections to ensure that they are free and fair is an imperative. And engaging the Russians to reduce tensions and resolve crises is both sensible and long overdue.”

petition in support of the open letter, “Common Ground: For Secure Elections and True National Security,” has been signed by more than 40,000 people since last week. Initial signers include Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; writer and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem; activist leader Rev. Dr. William Barber II; Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Alice Walker and Viet Thanh Nguyen; Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams; former senator Adlai Stevenson III; Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen; former longtime House Armed Services Committee member Patricia Schroeder; political analyst Noam Chomsky; former UN ambassador Gov. Bill Richardson; TV public-affairs pioneer Phil Donahue; former Nixon White House counsel John Dean; and former covert CIA operations officer Valerie Plame.

Shock at Trump’s Putin Treatment, But Netanyahu Gets a Pass

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JUAN COLE, jrcole at umich.edu, @jricole
Available for a limited number of interviews, Cole is an author, a blogger and a professor at the University of Michigan. He just published the piece “D.C. Elites Shocked at Trump’s Bromance with Putin but Give Israel’s Netanyahu a Pass.

He writes: “The inside-the-beltway crowd was absolutely outraged and appalled by Trump’s performance at Helsinki. There, Trump violated all the principles of American hawkishness. …

“While Putin’s behavior has been objectionable, there is something profoundly hypocritical about the U.S. elite pretending that the U.S. doesn’t embrace people like Putin all the time.

“Take Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He is guilty of most of the same infractions held against Putin. Netanyahu openly campaigned for the Republican candidates in 2012 and 2016. He openly interfered in U.S. politics by insisting on addressing Congress to derail the Iran nuclear deal (a quest in which he ultimately succeeded, putting the U.S. closer to war footing with Iran).

“In fact, Netanyahu was one of those foreign influencers pushing Trump to do a ‘grand bargain’ with … Vladimir Putin. The Israeli leader allegedly pushed for lifting of U.S. sanctions on Putin and his circle in return for Putin pushing Iran out of Syria. …

“Netanyahu runs spy rings against the United States far more aggressive and extensive than those of European countries, the seriousness of which Congressional staffers have found ‘sobering.’

“Netanyahu is in the process of annexing the Palestinian West Bank, to which he has much less claim in international law than Putin does to the Crimea. (The Soviet Union assigned Crimea to Ukraine only in the 1950s, when the latter was a Soviet socialist republic, but Russian possession of it went back to the eighteenth century.) Netanyahu is presiding over an Apartheid state in which 4.5 million of the 12.5 million people controlled by the Israeli government are stateless and besieged or patrolled by the Israeli military.

“Netanyahu has even had people poisoned.

“So in Trump’s fanboy performance with Putin in Helsinki, Trump waxed lyrical about how close the U.S. is to Israel, and did opine that Iran needed to leave Syria. Nobody in D.C. is complaining about that piece of sycophancy.

“In Washington, it is all right to slam Trump for treason (it isn’t really treason since the U.S. isn’t at war with the Russian Federation) or for making nice with Putin despite the latter’s various misdeeds. But it is political death to criticize Netanyahu’s interference in American foreign policy or aggressive Israeli land theft or Israel setting the U.S. up for conflict with Iran.

“But there is no domestic Russia lobby, so it is all right to slam Putin.”

Four Words That Shook Helsinki: “Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty”

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In an article published this afternoon by The Nation magazine — “I Came as a Journalist to Ask Important Questions” — Sam Husseini sheds new light on what occurred at the Helsinki summit yesterday when he was forcibly ejected from the Trump-Putin news conference.

Husseini, a senior analyst with the Institute for Public Accuracy, writes: “I came to Helsinki to ask Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin questions about the threat of nuclear weapons and to distribute an open letter about the need for secure elections and true national security. Instead, I was dragged out of their press conference before it even began and into a Finnish jail.”

Husseini’s piece explains the significance of the small sign he was holding — “Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty” — when accosted and ejected by police. And he lists some key questions that were left unasked at the news conference.

SAM HUSSEINI, samhusseini at gmail.com, @samhusseini

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He said today: “Journalists should be assertive, ask tough questions and show real grit instead of running with the herd. In Helsinki, four words on a standard piece of paper — ‘Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty’ — raised profound issues in ways that neither Trump and Putin nor the assembled reporters managed to do.”

* NATO * Trump-Putin — Reagan: “Why Wait to Eliminate all Nuclear Weapons?”

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Presidents Trump and Putin are scheduled to meet in Helsinki on Monday.

MICHAEL KLARE, mklare at hampshire.edu @mklare1
Klare is senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources. He just wrote the piece “What Trump’s Critics Are Missing About the NATO Summit” for The Nation. The editor and publisher of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, was just on “Democracy Now” on NATO and avoiding a ruinous policy toward Russia.

Reuters reports in “Trump says ‘ultimate deal’ with Putin would be world without nuclear weapons” that: “Asked what would be the best possible result from his meeting with Putin, Trump said: ‘What would be the ultimate? Let’s see. No more nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, no more wars, no more problems, no more conflicts. … That would be my ultimate.'”

DAVID CORTRIGHT, David.B.Cortright.1 at nd.edu
Cortright is director of policy studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He said today: “If Trump is serious about an ‘ultimate deal’ with Putin to get rid of nuclear weapons, he should come to Helsinki with an offer to cut U.S. nuclear weapons in half immediately and call Putin’s bluff. He could dust off the formula for the elimination of all nuclear weapons that Reagan and Gorbachev almost concluded at Reykjavik in October 1986. To show he’s serious Trump should suspend the current so-called ‘modernization’ of U.S. nuclear systems, following the model of the suspension of military exercises he ordered for U.S. troops in South Korea in his summit with Kim Jong-un.”

ALICE SLATER, alicejslater at gmail.com
Slater is the New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War. She recently wrote “Watch Out World: Peace May be Breaking Out,” which states that the “new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons celebrated its first birthday on July 7 when 122 nations voted a year ago in the UN General Assembly to ban the bomb, just as we have banned biological and chemical weapons. The new ban treaty shattered the establishment consensus that the proper way to avoid nuclear catastrophe was to follow the endless step by step path of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, now 50 years old this month, which has only led to nuclear weapons forever.” Last year, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize, but the effort has been opposed by both the U.S. and Russian governments. Also see: “McNamara: U.S. a Violator of Proliferation Treaty.”

SVETLANA SAVRANSKAYA, THOMAS BLANTON, via Lauren Harper, leharper at gmail.com, @NSArchive
Savranskaya and Blanton are with the National Security Archive and have worked on declassified documents on a wide variety of security issues. See their “Gorbachev’s Nuclear Initiative of January 1986 and the Road to Reykjavik,” which notes: “Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s radical proposal in January 1986 to abolish nuclear weapons by the year 2000 met with derision on the part of many U.S. officials, who treated it as pure propaganda, but was welcomed by President Reagan. ….
“According to senior advisor Paul Nitze, Reagan’s first reaction to the Gorbachev letter after Nitze and [Secretary of State George] Shultz briefed him was, ‘Why wait until the year 2000 to eliminate all nuclear weapons?’ At the same time, Reagan remarked again and again on the fact that Gorbachev had set an actual date, which made the proposal sound more realistic. …

“There was a considerable difference of opinion within the administration: from Shultz arguing for engaging Gorbachev and his program, to [Secretary of Defense Caspar] Weinberger claiming that it was just an effort to ‘divert energy’ and to kill SDI. Shultz devotes several pages of his memoir to the internal debates. His account describes Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle as the most hard-line opponent: ‘Perle declared to the Senior Arms Control Group in mid-January that the president’s dream of a world without nuclear weapons — which Gorbachev had picked up — was a disaster, a total delusion.’ According to Shultz, Perle opposed even holding an NSC discussion of how to respond to Gorbachev ‘because then the president would direct his arms controllers to come up with a program to achieve that result.'”

Helsinki Summit: Looking Beyond “Partisan Fixations”

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With the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki just days away, The Nation has published “Common Ground: For Secure Elections and True National Security,” which the magazine describes as “a rare open letter cosigned by over 20 prominent cultural and political figures — Democratic Party loyalists and former Republican politicos alike — imploring public officials to implement a pronounced shift in the U.S.’s approach to Russia.”

The letter warns that “the U.S. and Russian governments show numerous signs of being on a collision course.” Serious tensions “are festering between two nations with large quantities of nuclear weapons on virtual hair-trigger alert; yet the current partisan fixations in Washington are ignoring the dangers to global stability and, ultimately, human survival.”

Among the signers of the open letter are Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, writer and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem, former UN ambassador Gov. Bill Richardson, political analyst Noam Chomsky, former covert CIA operations officer Valerie Plame, activist leader Rev. Dr. William Barber II, filmmaker Michael Moore, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, former U.S. ambassador to the USSR Jack F. Matlock Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Alice Walker and Viet Thanh Nguyen, former longtime House Armed Services Committee member Patricia Schroeder and former senator Adlai Stevenson III.

Signers of the open letter are available for interviews, including:

PHYLLIS BENNIS, pbennis at ips-dc.org
Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. Her most recent book is Understanding ISIS & the New Global War on Terror.

She said today: “Whatever role Russia may have played in the past, the most important threat to our elections right now comes from the increasing campaigns of voter suppression underway across this country. The Helsinki summit won’t help that — but it does provide an opportunity to significantly de-escalate the rising threat of U.S.-Russian tensions turning into an even more dangerous — potentially even military — confrontation. Reducing the threat of new wars abroad will allow us to focus on rebuilding our democracy at home.”

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
Solomon is national coordinator of the online activist group RootsAction.org, which has joined with five other organizations to cosponsor a nationwide petition campaign in support of the open letter. The petition gathered 10,000 signers during the first 24 hours after its launch on Wednesday and passed the 15,000 mark this afternoon.

He said today: “The petition campaign behind the open letter aims to build grassroots support for rejection of the false choice between protecting the digital security of U.S. elections and reducing tensions with Russia that boost the chances of nuclear apocalypse. We need a major shift in the U.S. approach toward Russia. Clearly the needed shift won’t be initiated by the Republican or Democratic leaders in Congress — it must come from Americans who make their voices heard in favor of a more rational approach to U.S.-Russian relations. The lives — and even existence — of future generations are at stake in the relationship between Washington and Moscow.”

Along with RootsAction, the other sponsors of the petition are The Nation, Just Foreign Policy, World Beyond War, Progressive Democrats of America, and Peace Action.

Solomon is IPA’s executive director.

New Turn in “Russiagate” Debate

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Controversies over “Russiagate” and U.S.-Russian relations took a new and possibly historic turn today as The Nation magazine published a rare open letter from an array of prominent Americans calling for “concrete steps … to ease tensions between the nuclear superpowers.”

Titled “Common Ground: For Secure Elections and True National Security,” the open letter was signed by writer and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem; Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Alice Walker and Viet Thanh Nguyen; Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams; political analyst Noam Chomsky; former New Mexico governor and ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson; TV public-affairs pioneer Phil Donahue; former White House counsel John DeanThe Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel; and more than a dozen others.

We must reach common ground,” the letter says, “to safeguard common interests — taking steps to protect the nation’s elections and to prevent war between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.”

The open letter declares: “No political advantage, real or imagined, could possibly compensate for the consequences if even a fraction of U.S. and Russian arsenals were to be utilized in a thermonuclear exchange.”

The full text of the open letter and the list of signers are below. The letter is posted on The Nation‘s website.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, press at thenation.com, @KatrinaNation
Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor and publisher of The Nation magazine.

ANDREW BACEVICH, bacevich at bu.edu
Bacevich is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. His books include America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.

THOMAS DRAKE, tadrake at earthlink.net, @Thomas_Drake1
Drake is a former NSA senior executive and whistle-blower.

Common Ground: For Secure Elections and True National Security

An open letter by Gloria Steinem, Noam Chomsky, John Dean, Governor Bill Richardson, Walter Mosley, Valerie Plame, and others.

Many Americans remain deeply concerned about reports of Russian interference with the 2016 election. Meanwhile, relations between the United States and Russia are at their lowest and most dangerous point in several decades. For the sake of democracy at home and true national security, we must reach common ground to safeguard common interests—taking steps to protect the nation’s elections and to prevent war between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

Whatever the truth of varied charges that Russia interfered with the election, there should be no doubt that America’s digital-age infrastructure for the electoral process is in urgent need of protection. The overarching fact remains that the system is vulnerable to would-be hackers based anywhere. Solutions will require a much higher level of security for everything from voter-registration records to tabulation of ballots with verifiable paper trails. As a nation, we must fortify our election system against unlawful intrusions as well as official policies of voter suppression.

At the same time, the U.S. and Russian governments show numerous signs of being on a collision course. Diplomacy has given way to hostility and reciprocal consular expulsions, along with dozens of near-miss military encounters in Syria and in skies above Europe. Both sides are plunging ahead with major new weapons development programs. In contrast to prior eras, there is now an alarming lack of standard procedures to keep the armed forces of both countries in sufficient communication to prevent an escalation that could lead to conventional or even nuclear attack. These tensions are festering between two nations with large quantities of nuclear weapons on virtual hair-trigger alert; yet the current partisan fixations in Washington are ignoring the dangers to global stability and, ultimately, human survival.

The United States should implement a pronounced shift in approach toward Russia. No political advantage, real or imagined, could possibly compensate for the consequences if even a fraction of U.S. and Russian arsenals were to be utilized in a thermonuclear exchange. The tacit pretense that the worsening of U.S.-Russian relations does not worsen the odds of survival for the next generations is profoundly false. Concrete steps can and must be taken to ease tensions between the nuclear superpowers.

 

Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus, Boston University

Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies

Noam Chomsky, Professor, Author, and Activist

Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics, NYU and Princeton University, and Board Member, American Committee for East-West Accord

John Dean, Former Nixon White House Counsel

Phil Donahue, Journalist and Talk-Show Pioneer

Thomas Drake, Former NSA Senior Executive and Whistle-blower

Daniel Ellsberg, Activist, “Pentagon Papers” Whistle-blower, and Author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Jack F. Matlock Jr., Former US Ambassador to the USSR and Board Member, American Committee for East-West Accord

Walter Mosley, Writer and Screenwriter

John Nichols, National Affairs Correspondent, The Nation

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–Winning Novelist

Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, CUNY Graduate School

Valerie Plame, Former Covert CIA Operations Officer and Author

Adolph Reed Jr., Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Bill Richardson, Former Governor of New Mexico

Patricia Schroeder, Former Congresswoman

Norman Solomon, National Coordinator, RootsAction.org

Gloria Steinem, Writer and Feminist Organizer

Adlai Stevenson III, Former US Senator and Chairman, Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy

Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher, The Nation

Alice Walker, Writer, Poet, and Activist

Jody Williams, Professor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute

 

Signers have endorsed this Open Letter as individuals and not on behalf of any organization.

Trump-Putin Summit: How the New Cold War is More Dangerous Than the Last

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Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet in Helsinki on Monday, July 16. Beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be among the participants of the NATO summit. See accuracy.org/calendar for upcoming events.

STEPHEN F. COHEN, via Caitlin Graf, press@thenation.com
Available for a very limited number of interviews, Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University. His most recent book, from Columbia University Press, is Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.

See his recent pieces and interviews in The Nation, including “Who’s Afraid of a Trump-Putin Summit?” “Russiagate’s ‘Core Narrative’ Has Always Lacked Actual Evidence” and “The Necessity of a Trump-Putin Summit,” which states: “U.S.-Russian military relations are especially tense today in the Baltic region, where a large-scale NATO buildup is under way, and in Ukraine, where a U.S.-Russian proxy war is intensifying. The ‘Soviet Bloc’ that once served as a buffer between NATO and Russia no longer exists. And many imaginable incidents on the West’s new Eastern Front, intentional or unintentional, could easily trigger actual war between the United States and Russia. What brought about this unprecedented situation on Russia’s borders — at least since the Nazi German invasion in 1941 — was, of course, the exceedingly unwise decision, in the late 1990s, to expand NATO eastward. Done in the name of ‘security,’ it has made all the states involved only more insecure. …

“Today’s U.S.-Russian proxy wars are different [than the Cold War], located in the center of geopolitics and accompanied by too many American and Russian trainers, minders, and possibly fighters. Two have already erupted: in Georgia in 2008, where Russian forces fought a Georgian army financed, trained, and minded by American funds and personnel; and in Syria, where in February scores of Russians were killed by U.S.-backed anti-Assad forces. Moscow did not retaliate, but it has pledged to do so if there is ‘a next time,’ as there very well may be. If so, this would in effect be war directly between Russia and America. Meanwhile, the risk of such a direct conflict continues to grow in Ukraine, where the country’s U.S.-backed but politically failing President Petro Poroshenko seems increasingly tempted to launch another all-out military assault on rebel-controlled Donbass, backed by Moscow.”

Kavanaugh and the Federalist Society

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh claimed Monday night: “No president has ever consulted more widely or talked to more people from more backgrounds to seek input for a Supreme Court nomination.”

FRANCIS BOYLE,  fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He is a longtime critic of the Federalist Society. See this in-depth piece on the group in Emerge magazine, “Hijacking Justice.”

He said today: “Brett Kavanaugh was chosen off a list of possibilities put to Trump by Leonard Leo, who is ‘on leave‘ as executive vice president of the Federalist Society.

“Kavanaugh drafted portions of the Starr report, a political hit job. Perhaps more importantly, he drafted parts of the Ken Starr ‘referral’ to the U.S. Congress recommending that Bill Clinton be impeached for a blowjob and lying about a blowjob.

“Kavanaugh worked for then-Republican nominee George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore, which effectively robbed the American people of the presidency.

“Kavanaugh amusingly invoked the name of Elena Kagan in his remarks last night, as if her hiring him at Harvard made him some kind of moderate. But it was Kagan who said ‘I love the Federalist Society.’

“The fact that if Kavanaugh gets through, the entire Supreme Court will have gone to Harvard or Yale is terrible for the country. And I say that as having graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law.

“Trump acknowledged Edwin Meese last night, which is fitting because in addition to being Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General, he was a leading founder of the Federalist Society. The Independent Counsel in the Iran-Contra Scandal Judge Lawrence Walsh found that Meese was the architect of its cover-up by the Reagan administration.

“Almost all of the Bush administration lawyers responsible for its war and torture memos are members of the Federalist Society. Many members of the Federalist Society say that Brown v. Board of Education [which struck down ‘separate but equal’] was decided wrongly and practice to overturn it at the United States Supreme Court.”

Boyle said in a recent interview with The Real News “Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Retirement: End of Roe v. Wade?” that since the Robert Bork nomination “all these nominees have learned that lesson, and they will present their narrative, their script, and they will stick to it to the end. … And the Democrats aren’t going to call them. They didn’t really call Gorsuch on anything. So this is all about raw power politics.”

Boyle added: “I first received the ire of the Federalist Society when they had a meeting about how to stop me from helping expose them, when I passed around a quote from Lawrence Walsh about the group. He, a lifelong Republican, wrote: ‘I was concerned about the continuing political allegiance of Republican judges as manifested in the Federalist Society. Although the organization was not openly partisan, its dogma was political. It reminded me of the communist front groups of the 1940s and 1950s, whose members were committed to the communist cause and subject to communist direction but were not card-carrying members of the Communist Party. In calling for the narrow construction of constitutional grants of government power, the Federalist Society seemed to speak for right-wing Republicans. I was especially troubled that one of White House Counsel Boyden Gray’s assistants had openly declared that no one who was not a member of the Federalist Society had received a judicial appointment from President Bush.'”

“Congress Welcomes an Actual Fascist as Nazi Violence Rages in Ukraine”

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MAX BLUMENTHAL, maxjblumenthal at gmail.com, @MaxBlumenthal
Blumenthal is senior editor of the Grayzone Project. He just wrote the piece “Congress welcomes an actual fascist as Nazi violence rages in Ukraine,” which includes video of his questioning and background information.

Blumenthal writes: “While racist violence raged through Ukraine, punctuated by a wave of attacks on Roma encampments by the state-funded C14 neo-Nazi militia, Congress played host to an actual Ukrainian fascist. He was Andriy Parubiy, and besides being the proud founder of two Nazi-like parties — the Social-National Party and the Patriot of Ukraine — he was the speaker of Ukraine’s parliament.

“During a meeting hosted by the American Foreign Policy Society inside the Senate, I seized the chance to ask Parubiy’s hosts why they were welcoming a figure who was so central to the extremism overtaking Ukrainian society. I also put the question to Michael Carpenter, a former Pentagon official who helped deepen the U.S. relationship with post-coup Ukraine during the Obama administration.

“The responses I received reflected a semi-official policy of denying the very existence of Ukraine’s far-right plague in order to turn the heat up on Moscow.

“The Ukrainian lawmaker appeared on a panel alongside fellow speakers of Eastern European parliaments eager to join the U.S.-NATO crusade against Russia in exchange for handsome aid packages. At the top of the agenda was stopping the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, a project viewed in Washington as an existential threat to U.S. economic leverage over Europe.

“Earlier in the day, Parubiy held private discussions with the Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan and enjoyed what Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thomson described as an ‘excellent meeting’ with a ‘proactive’ leader.”

Is NATO Obsolete? Does it Destabilize?

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DAVID GIBBS, dgibbs at  email.arizona.edu
Gibbs is professor of history at the University of Arizona, and author of the 2009 book First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, published by Vanderbilt University Press.

He writes: “Donald Trump is raising legitimate concerns about the security value of the NATO alliance, given the very high expense of maintaining this alliance, borne in part by the U.S. public. By any reasonable standard, NATO lost its function in 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since then it has functioned as a make-work program for a series of vested interests, while it has generated global insecurity and destabilization. The NATO-directed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, for example, destabilized Libya and the whole of northern Africa, generating new sources of terrorism. While foreign policy specialists are rightly suspicious of anything Trump says, in this particular case, his statements have a measure of truth.”

 

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