THE STATE OF US-RUSSIAN RELATIONS
The past year has been difficult for anyone who wants friendly ties between Russia and the United States. And it appears that this year will be no different.
I have hesitated to write, because the direction of events was either unclear, or things were changing too quickly for a reasonable assessment to be made. What is now clear is that an anti-Russian sentiment has developed in the US media. Whether reporters and journalists look at Russia from the left or the right, it is always a case of the “evil eye” and a search for increasing hostility.
The year 2017 opened with a continuation of accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 Election, but with the accusers unable to offer any convincing proofs, after more than a year.
Then there was the sudden and unprovoked US missile attack against Syrian military bases in April 2017. As everyone knows, Syria is an ally of Russia and Russian forces have directly supported President Assad, in his fight against foreign Islamic fighters.
Now if all this had occurred in an atmosphere of old-style Cold War hostility, the situation would perhaps be more manageable. But quite the opposite: baseless accusations against Russia and military aggression against Russia’s ally Syria occurred, following an atmosphere of hope that the US and Russia might become strategic partners, with regard to certain regional questions, particularly foreign intervention in Syria’s civil war.
We can recall that candidate Donald Trump himself proposed such ideas and expressed enlightened opinions, which called for US-Russian cooperation and a constructive relationship with Syria’s legal government. And we may recall that he condemned Obama’s proposed military intervention in Syria. These policy proposals resonated well with the American people and in November 2016 the electorate chose Donald J. Trump for US President, giving him a mandate for improved ties between Washington and Moscow. So it was with some surprise that Americans received the news that the US Air Force had attacked Russian ally Syria, on 6 April 2017. And so all through his first year in office, Trump demonstrated a growing unfriendly posture toward Moscow, until in December he approved the sale of lethal military equipment for Ukraine – a state which has made life uncomfortable for its own Russian-speaking population.
What brought about this about-face?
There was at least one party that would not have improved US-Russia relations: the American media.
The US media is not what it used to be.
In 1791, when the US Bill of Rights was ratified by 3/4 of the State legislatures, its First Amendment guarantees for Freedom of Speech and the Press had been crafted in a world when in post-Revolutionary War America, there were about 60 printed newspapers in the entire country (up from 37 newspapers in 1775). But nearly all these newspapers were independently owned. The independence of the Press was so esteemed that Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence wrote: “[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” When Thomas Jefferson became President in 1801, there were about 200 newspapers throughout the country.
When Alexis de Tocqueville published “Democracy in America” in 1831, he could observe that “In America there is scarcely any hamlet which has not its own newspaper.” He also observed that “[T]he persons who hope to bring about revolutions by means of the press should be desirous of confining its actions to a few powerful organs.” In the case of America, he might have added the words: “and counter-revolutions.”
By 1870, there were an estimated 7,000 newspapers in America, thanks in part to the rise of the “Penny Press”, inexpensive newspapers of 4 or so pages, which cost 1 penny.
The number of newspapers in circulation began to decline with the advent of the radio in the 1920s and television in the 1950s. Both of these mediums offered alternate sources of information. Of the newspapers that survived, an increasing number lost their independence and became owned by national newspaper chains, such as Scripps and Hearst, and other corporations.
In 1970, there were 1,748 daily newspapers in the US. In 2016, the number had declined to 1,286. In that interval, in 1992, only 37 US cities had separately owned, competing newspapers (by coincidence, that is the same as the number of independent newspapers that existed in 1775). As an example, the Connecticut State capital of Hartford once had two major competing newspapers: The Hartford Times and The Hartford Courant. The Hartford Times and its patriotic, conservative voice fell silent in 1976. And it seems that many of the victims of this media culling were conservative, patriotic voices.
The trend continued until at present, 6 media giants control 90% of the American media. The owners of these media giants of course, have the option of placing those of like mind – whatever that happens to be – in charge of the junior newspapers they control. Thus, one can travel the length and width of America and find scripted uniformity in editorial opinions, on all sorts of topics, such as gun control and same-sex marriage, and so on, though such opinions do not represent the vox populi.
Television media is dominated by CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and FOX. Although FOX News is supposed to be in opposition to the other four, it is really an Establishment outlet. In general, it moves in the same direction as the others, just not as quickly. And sometimes, it has the same destination, though by a different route. An example of this is media coverage on the so-called Russian interference in US elections.
CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC have consistently blared out the story that Candidate Donald Trump was assisted by Russian agents in his path to the Presidency. After more than a year of this false narrative, it has been demonstrated that the story was a deliberate lie, created by Hillary Clinton and her allies, in an attempt to steal the election. But the ‘hate-Russia’ narrative marches on. One might think that FOX News and journalists of similar mind, who have supported Trump (and FOX has not been unanimous in its support) would at least promote Trump’s idea of a US-Russia rapprochement. But it did not happen, not even on day 1 of the Trump Presidency. Instead, Russia was treated as an object of suspicion. Whether news is reported from left-wing or right-wing outlets, one thing is clear: the anti-Russian sentiment in the media is unmistakable.
The most recent story – that 13 Russian internet trolls compromised the integrity of the 2016 US election – is laughable and absurd. Do I expect that Russia might be engaged in espionage against the US and American corporations from time to time? Certainly! I recall that in the 1980s, French spies were caught at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. They had entered under cover as recruits in the US Army and had gone through a considerable amount of training, before they were uncovered. The US sent the two men home and hushed up the incident. So if America’s allies have no objection to spying on the US, how could one expect Russia not to do so, when Washington and Moscow have yet to establish a basis for friendly relations? And it would be absurd to say that the US does not spy on Russia. It’s all part of the Great Game. But I do not believe that there was a far and wide conspiracy on the part of Putin, to play kingmaker in America’s electoral process.
So if Russian offenses are only a fabrication, what is it about Russia that so offends the US media? I would say there is more than one factor at work. First of all, the US media giants probably have interests beyond reporting the news, be that energy, raw materials, natural resources, manufacturing, insurance, and so on. Second, if US media giants have interests in those areas, they are going to be the voice of the corporations which are concerned with energy, raw materials, natural resources, etc. Third, an ideological factor may underpin US media aggression toward Russia. Communism can no longer be the problem, since Russia is now a parliamentary state. And Russia is no longer an exporter of revolution. It is rather the United States that has become the destroyer of regimes. I sometimes like to remark that the Comintern left Russia and set up shop in America, and that the US has two parties: Marxist Democrats and Soviet Republicans.
So what did the United States Incorporated and other trans-national corporate states wish to rob Russia of? Or what planned robbery of theirs did Russia thwart? Was it the Donbass? Was it oil from the Caucasus? Or some other natural resource? Or is the US media offended that Russia rediscovered its Orthodox Church, while it pushes Western governments to drown their own peoples in sodomy and debauchery? Or was it because the Russian military supported President Bashar Assad of Syria against radical Islamist mercenaries, and after the Syrian Armed Forces, made the greatest contribution in the fight against ISIS – a fight which the US was almost totally absent from.
Whatever the reason, US and Western media are united in their hostility toward Russia.
In 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville observed that: “In the United States each separate journal exercises but little authority, but the power of the periodical press is only second to that of the people.” What happens when the power of the people becomes second to that of the press? One gets the spectacle the world sees today: a US Presidential candidate who promoted constructive relations with Russia, the American people who voted for him, and the Media Establishment which aborted that policy and mandate with its relentless negative reporting – nay, slander – of the President and anything Russian. As much as President Trump has denounced “Fake News”, he still feels its sting and has periodically sought refuge from it, with actions that contradict his campaign promises: attacking Syria, for example. But there is nothing he can do that will placate the US Media; even his great wealth cannot protect him or his family from its vile hatred of him.
But if the US Media hates Trump for his American patriotism, it equally loathes Putin for his Russian patriotism. It follows that US and Western Media in general despise Western Civilization and its traditions, and actively promote its destruction. Western Civilization will only survive the great waves of chaos travelling around the world, if Russia and the United States work together. How easy it is to see then, that the US and Western Media and their allies will do anything to prevent such cooperation. In the big picture, the attacks on Syria and authorization of weapons for Ukraine may only represent pin-pricks. Trump may have done these things as the only way to sidestep his enemies in the Deep State and the Media. Perhaps he is just biding his time, until he can conclusively overthrow the Deep State-Media ‘State’. Trump and Putin may yet be able to salvage a constructive relationship. But how many pinpricks will Russia tolerate, before it sticks back? And will the United States show as much restraint as Russia has, if that happens? Cooler heads have prevailed before, let us hope they do again.
This article was first published in the Crimean Echo: http://c-eho.info/politika/mir/item/4432-na-sebya-by-oborotitsya
Mr. Cloutier is an author and translator of several books:
 In contrast, there were 53 newspapers in London alone in 1776. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_British_newspapers England had an estimated population of 8 million in 1775, the Colonies an estimated total population of 2.5 million, including 500,000 slaves.