Vladimir Putin’s motives

Update, March 14, 2018: I have previously expressed deep skepticism regarding accusations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election in favor of Donald Trump.[1] While proof for these claims remains yet to be had, it is much less reasonable[2] to think that Rex Tillerson’s termination[3] is unconnected to his comments on Russia’s culpability in a nerve agent attack in Britain.[4] I am now compelled to accept as probable the worst suspicions about Trump’s alleged relationship with Russia which, by the way, do not necessarily involve voluntary collusion, but may rather entail collusion under duress. And because Trump is so shameless, I’m now deeply suspicious that this involves something rather more serious than “golden showers.”[5]


This is the kind of topic I never really want to get into. I’m not a psychologist. But for me, claims that the Russian government interfered with the U.S. presidential election require a demonstration of evidence and motive.

The evidence is shaky at best. First, it’s all classified, which means we can’t examine it, the methods used to obtain it, or the reasoning used to reach its conclusions.[6] Then there’s the whole Cold War history, of which this smells too much like a continuation, of demonization of then, the Soviet Union, and now, Russia.[7] Then there’s the oddity that the claim is that the Russians “hacked” into Democratic National Committee servers, of which the National Security Agency should have hard evidence, when the evidence is reportedly circumstantial.[8] Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Blaming the Russians,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/12/12/blaming-the-russians/; David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin’s motives,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/12/15/vladimir-putins-motives/
  2. [2]John Cassidy, “Rex Tillerson Gets Fired the Day After He Criticized Russia,” New Yorker, March 13, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/rex-tillerson-gets-fired-the-day-after-he-criticized-russia; Jonathan Chait, “Trump Denies Russian Guilt in Murder. Tillerson Admits It, Is Fired. Hmm,” New York, March 13, 2018, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/trump-russia-innocent-rex-no-guilty-trump-youre-fired.html
  3. [3]Ashley Parker et al., “Trump ousts Tillerson, will replace him as secretary of state with CIA chief Pompeo,” Washington Post, March 13, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-ousts-tillerson-will-replace-him-as-secretary-of-state-with-cia-chief-pompeo/2018/03/13/30f34eea-26ba-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html
  4. [4]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Russian spy: UK to expel 23 Russian diplomats,” March 14, 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43402506
  5. [5]Greg Myre, “A Russian Word Americans Need To Know: ‘Kompromat,'” National Public Radio, January 11, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/01/11/509305088/a-russian-word-americans-need-to-know-kompromat; Jeff Stein, “Trump, Russian Spies and the Infamous ‘Golden Shower Memos,’” Newsweek, January 10, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/trump-russian-spies-infamous-golden-shower-memos-541315
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Blaming the Russians,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=9151
  7. [7]Andrew Cockburn, “The New Red Scare: Reviving the art of threat inflation,” Harper’s, December, 2016, http://harpers.org/archive/2016/12/the-new-red-scare/
  8. [8]William Binney, et al., “US Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims,” Consortium News, December 12, 2016, https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/

Blaming the Russians

See updates through March 14, 2018, at bottom of post.


Democrats have been blaming everyone but themselves for their election defeat last month, a behavior ought to be disqualifying. They are unwilling to accept that they have absolutely no one to blame but themselves for having chosen to nominate such a terrible candidate. So now they’re blaming Russia[1] and Juan Cole, who has commented on the Democrats’ defeat previously,[2] is back with a needed corrective.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House,” Washington Post, December 9, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/obama-orders-review-of-russian-hacking-during-presidential-campaign/2016/12/09/31d6b300-be2a-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html
  2. [2]Juan Cole, “Why the White Working Class Rebelled: Neoliberalism Is Killing Them (Literally),” Truthdig, November 9, 2016, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_the_white_working_class_rebelled_neoliberalism_is_killing_20161109
  3. [3]Juan Cole, “No, America, It Wasn’t Russia: You Did This to Yourself,” Truthdig, December 10, 2016, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/no_america_it_wasnt_russia_you_did_this_to_yourself_20161210

We have failed the test

A test that any species in an ecosystem must pass in order to survive is to successfully adapt to its ecosystem. Humans have, since the Neolithic, imagined we are different, that we can adapt the ecosystem to our needs instead.[1] This is very likely a deadly arrogance on our part as climate change is but one of several existential threats we now face.[2] Read more

  1. [1]John H. Bodley, Victims of Progress, 5th ed. (Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2008); William J. Burroughs, Climate Change in Prehistory: The End of the Reign of Chaos (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University, 2008); Max Oelschlaeger, The Idea of Wilderness (New Haven, CT: Yale University, 1991).
  2. [2]Nathan Curry, “Humanity Is Getting Verrrrrrry Close to Extinction,” Vice, August 21, 2015, http://www.vice.com/read/near-term-extinctionists-believe-the-world-is-going-to-end-very-soon; Dahr Jamail, “Are We Falling Off the Climate Precipice? Scientists Consider Extinction,” TomDispatch, December 17, 2013, http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175785/tomgram%3A_dahr_jamail%2C_the_climate_change_scorecard/; Cheryl Jones, “Frank Fenner sees no hope for humans,” Australian, June 16, 2010, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/frank-fenner-sees-no-hope-for-humans/story-e6frgcjx-1225880091722; Edward “Rocky” Kolb et al., “Three minutes and counting,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 19, 2015, http://thebulletin.org/three-minutes-and-counting7938; Rachel Roubein, “Doomsday Clock one minute closer to doom,” McClatchy, January 10, 2012, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/01/10/135466/doomsday-clock-one-minute-closer.html?rh=1; Ian Simpson, “Doomsday Clock stays unchanged at three minutes to midnight,” Planet Ark, January 27, 2016, http://planetark.org/wen/74074; Robert Socolow et al., “An open letter to President Obama: The time on the Doomsday Clock is five minutes to midnight,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 14, 2013, http://thebulletin.org/open-letter-president-obama-time-doomsday-clock-five-minutes-midnight; Phil Torres and Peter Boghossian, “The Looming Extinction of Humankind, Explained,” Vice, August 18, 2016, http://motherboard.vice.com/en_au/read/armageddon-comma-explained