What is going on here?
by Paul Craig Roberts
( December 31, 20167, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) Obama has announced new sanctions on Russia based on unsubstantiated charges by the CIA that the Russian government influenced the outcome of the US presidential election with “malicious cyber-enabled activities.”
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a report “related to the declaration of 35 Russian officials persona non grata for malicious cyber activity and harassment.”
The report is a description of “tools and infrastructure used by Russian intelligence services to compromise and exploit networks and infrastructure associated with the recent U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. government, political and private sector entities.”
The report does not provide any evidence that the tools and infrastructure were used to influence the outcome of the US presidential election. The report is simply a description of what is said to be Russian capabilities.
Moreover, the report begins with this disclaimer: “DISCLAIMER: This report is provided ‘as is’ for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”
In other words, the report not only provides no evidence of the use of the Russian tools and infrastructure in order to influence the US presidential election, the report will not even warrant the correctness of its description of Russian capabilities.
Thus the DHS report makes it completely clear that the Obama regime has no evidential basis for its allegations on the basis of which it has imposed more sanctions on Russia.
What is going on here?
First there is the question of the legality of the sanctions even if there were evidence. I am not certain, but I think that sanctions require the action of a body, such as the UN Security Council, and cannot legally be imposed unilaterally by one country. Additionally, it is unclear why Obama is calling the expulsion of Russian diplomats “sanctions.” No other country has to do likewise. During the Cold War when diplomats were expelled for spying, it was not called “sanctions.” Sanctions imply more than unilateral or bilateral expulsions of diplomats.
Second, it is clear that Obama, the CIA, and the New York Times are fully aware that the allegation is false. It is also clear that if the CIA actually believes the allegation, the intelligence agency is totally incompetent and cannot be believed on any subject.
Third, President Trump can rescind the sanctions in 21 days, a third reason that the sanctions are ridiculous.
One obvious answer is that the neoconized Obama regime is desperate to ruin US-Russian relations past the point that Trump can repair them. As the New York Times puts it, “Mr. Obama’s actions clearly create a problem for Mr. Trump.” The question the New York Times says, is whether Trump “stands with his democratic allies on Capitol Hill or his authoritarian friend in the Kremlin.”
Can Trump’s foreign policy be controlled by false allegations? According to the New York Times, Trump has relented and agreed to being briefed by the CIA about the Russian hacking now that Republicans such as Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham have lined up with Obama and the CIA in accepting charges for which no evidence has been presented. However, a briefing without evidence would seem simply to further discredit the CIA in Trump’s eyes.
As I have emphasized in my columns, facts no longer have a role in the United States and its empire. Allegations alone suffice, whether in court cases, interrogation centers, foreign and domestic policies, or classrooms. The US even bases its military invasions on false allegations—“weapons of mass destruction.” Indeed, the entirely of US foreign policy since the Clinton regime has been based on nothing but false allegations.
The Russian government should have learned by now, but perhaps Moscow still thinks that facts matter in Washington’s decisions.
Possibly we should consider that more is going on than meets the eye. Perhaps the propaganda about the Russian cyber threat to democracy is being used to prepare American and/or European populations for an incident. The CIA has morphed into a “deep state” that uses disinformation and propaganda to align decisions of Congress, the executive branch, and foreign governments with secret behind-the-scenes agendas. Many books, such as Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers and Douglas Valentine’s CIA As Organized Crime have described some of these secret agendas.
In order to deter Trump from restoring normal relations with Russia, an incident would have to be severe and irreversible. Rather than accept defeat for their agenda of US world hegemony, the neoconservatives are prepared to take high risks. The willingness to take risks is demonstrated by the public effort of the CIA Director to discredit the president-elect.
As expected, Putin’s response to the latest provocation is low key as the “sanctions” appear to be meaningless on the surface . However, in the event that something dangerous is below the surface, the Russian government might want to consider putting its military forces on alert.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.