Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Barack Obama is Using His Presidency to Cash In, But Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter Refused to Do So

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Defenders of Barack Obama’s decision to do things like accept a 400,000 USD (22.8 million Roubles. 2.76 million Renminbi. 25.68 million INR. 548,000 CAD. 532,000 AUD. 368,000 Euros. 312,000 UK Pounds) check for a speech to a Wall Street brokerage house argue that the former president might as well cash in… everyone else does. That was Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s defence of Obama:

People are like, “Why doesn’t he not accept the money?” No, fuck that. So the first black president must also be the first one to not take money afterwards? No, no, no, my friend. He can’t be the first of everything! Fuck that, and fuck you. Make that money, Obama!

This argument, while common, comes from historical ignorance. It assumes that presidents have always found a way to leverage their political connections post-presidency to make money from interest groups and wealthy political actors. However, that isn’t the case. It used to be the norm for presidents to retire to ordinary life after their stint in the White House… just ask Harry Truman. When the Democratic president was getting ready to leave the White House in 1953, many employers approached him. The Los Angeles Times noted:

If he’s unemployed after he leaves the White House it won’t be for lack of job offers … but [he’s] accepted none of them.

One of those job offers was from a Florida real estate developer, asking him to become a “chairman, officer, or stockholder, at a figure of not less than 100,000 USD”… the sort of position that’s commonplace today for ex-politicians. Presumably, had Truman taken the position, it would’ve been a good deal for both parties… the president’s prestige and connections would also enrich the company. Truman declined. He wrote of his refusal to influence-peddle:

I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialise on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.

Although he had a small pension from his military service, Truman had little financial support after leaving office. He moved back into his family home in Independence MO. He insisted on being treated like anyone else. He’d tell people not to call him, “Mr President”, and settled into an ordinary routine once he was back in Independence. He’d take a morning walk through the town square. He kept an office nearby where he would answer mail from Americans. He chose to engage with just about anyone who walked into his office… not only people who wrote him big checks or invited him onto their private yachts and private islands. He once said:

Many people feel that a president or an ex-president is partly theirs… they’re right to some extent… and that they have a right to call upon him.

Indeed, his office number was in a nearby telephone directory. He eventually agreed to write a memoir for Life magazine, but it was a lengthy project, which paid a far-from-luxurious stipend. Truman’s modest life post-presidency moved Congress in 1958 to establish a pension that provides an annual cash payout as well as expenses for an office and staff.

Nevertheless, Gerald Ford shattered precedent when he joined the boards of corporations such as 20th Century Fox, hit the paid speech circuit, and became an honorary director of Citigroup. However, his successor, Jimmy Carter, who grew up in a modest home in Plains GA, didn’t follow Ford’s example. He refused to become a professional paid speaker or join corporate boards. He moved back to Plains and a crowd of neighbours and supporters welcomed him home. He quickly made himself busy as a nonprofit founder and a volunteer diplomat. He did make money post-presidency…but by serving ordinary people, not the élite. He wrote dozens of best-selling books bought by millions of people across the world… the post-presidency equivalent of small donors. Carter explained his thinking to the Guardian in 2011, telling them:

My favourite president and the one I admired most was Harry Truman. When Truman left office, he took the same position. He didn’t serve on corporate boards. He didn’t make speeches around the world for a lot of money.

The presidents who came after did not choose the same path. At a time when Japan was a major trade rival with the United States, Ronald Reagan flew to Japan for a series of paid speeches after he left office. He accepted 2 million USD (114 million Roubles. 13.8 million Renminbi. 128.4 million INR. 2.74 million CAD. 2.66 million AUD. 1.84 million Euros. 1.56 million UK Pounds) for a pair of 20-minute speeches to the Fujisankei Communications Group. An additional 5 million USD (285 million Roubles. 34.5 million Renminbi. 321 million INR. 6.85 million CAD. 6.65 million AUD. 4.6 million Euros. 3.9 million UK Pounds) went for expenses related to the visit. Both Bushes also joined the paid speech circuit, and the Clintons made over 100 million USD (5.7 billion Roubles. 690 million Renminbi. 6.42 billion INR. 137 million CAD. 133 million AUD. 92 million Euros. 78 million UK Pounds) from banks and other corporations, shortly after the Clinton presidency deregulated Wall Street. Bill Clinton lamented to a student group in 2009:

I never made any money until I left the White House. I had the lowest net worth, adjusted for inflation, of any president elected in the last 100 years, including President Obama. I was one poor rascal when I took office; but after I got out, I made a lot of money.

Obama was hardly facing poverty. He already has a 65 million USD book deal (3.705 billion Roubles. 448.5 million Renminbi. 4.173 billion INR. 89.05 million CAD. 86.45 million AUD. 59.8 million Euros. 50.7 million UK Pounds) and that 200,000 USD annual pension (11.4 million Roubles. 1.38 million Renminbi. 12.84 million INR. 274,000 CAD. 266,000 AUD. 184,000 Euros. 156,000 UK Pounds). By joining the paid speech circuit… his spokesman Eric Schultz told the press that paid speechmaking will be a fixture for the former president… Obama was making a conscious choice. Obama could have been like Truman or Carter, but instead chose to be like Bush and Clinton.

1 May 2017

Zaid Jilani

The Intercept

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/01/barack-obama-is-using-his-presidency-to-cash-in-but-harry-truman-and-jimmy-carter-refused/

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

1 May 2016. Victory Day is On Its Way… Some of the Victors are Still with Us!

00 veteran couple russia. 090416

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Some of the VOV vets are still here with us, albeit elderly. Here’s VOV Vet Pavel Filatovich Abryutin (he’s wearing a railwayman’s uniform) with his wife Feofaniya Spiridonovna Abryutina (retired worker/rear-area toiler during the VOV)… their marriage lasted for 67 years, so far.

Thank you, Grandpa for the Victory!

Thank all the vets of the Anti-Hitler Coalition… some are still left in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and France. They all put down the fascist beast. It’s not their fault that Truman betrayed the Victory at the behest of Churchill… they put the fascist beast down. The vets beat the fascists… Truman allied the West with them. Nasty piece of work, wasn’t he?

Give honour to the victors… they won’t be with us much longer. We owe so much to them…

They all faces… they all had names

No one is forgotten… nothing is forgotten

BMD

Monday, 7 March 2016

Churchill’s Fulton Speech 70 Years On: What’s Changed? What Hasn’t?

00 Victory

This was the reality at the end of World War II… note well that Truman and Churchill HATED it. The USSR didn’t have the ability to start a war at that time, devastated as it was (after all, most of the major battles in Europe occurred on its territory). The “conservative” narrative was a conscious lie from the start… what does that tell us about William F Buckley and his drooling acolytes such as Rod Dreher? I’ll leave that to you…

American “conservatism” was evil from the top… it defended slavery, it defended the Gilded Age rape of the country by the trusts, it defended and defends the post-World War II warmongering of the USA, it defends the successful “war” against the working people of this country waged by the One Percent. No Christian can have anything to do with such a diabolical ideology… if it means that “conservatives” attack me savagely for saying such, so be it. Hier stehe ich… ich kann NICHT anders!

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5 March is the 70th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s speech at Westminster College in Fulton MO, considered by many historians to signify the beginning of the Cold War. In a reflective article, Russian historian Dmitri Kosyrev contemplated on the world born by the speech, and its enduring relevance today. In a piece published by RIA Novosti, Kosyrev gave his view of the speech and its ramifications.

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The Cold War generals of today have something in common with Churchill, a theoretician, practitioner, strategist, and ideologist of this war, [although naturally they can’t match his historical magnitude]. Certainly, we can see that the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s speech at Fulton (5 March 1946 at Westminster College in Missouri in the USA) was the “birthday” of the Cold War… that is, of the confrontation between the West and the USSR/Russia. However, there’s something much more interesting in this speech; namely, it was the proclamation of an ideology and strategy of a new global era, on which the sun is only just now beginning to set.

However, first, a couple of small details of the larger picture… the term “Cold War” wasn’t Churchill’s creation, but that of his fellow countryman, the writer George Orwell, who first used it in 1945. With these words, the author outlined the future state of relations between countries which would acquire nuclear weapons, but remain afraid to use them. Soon, he’d accuse the USSR of beginning such a war against Britain and the USA. Gradually, the term would take root. However, at Fulton, it didn’t yet exist. Instead, it’d be there that the term “Iron Curtain” would find its first use. It wasn’t Churchill offering to erect it in front of the Soviets; he believed that Moscow had already done so, thus partitioning Europe.

Taken as a starting point for the beginning of the confrontation between the former allies, one could say that the speech was an arbitrary choice… there might have been other pretexts or speeches before it. Nevertheless, the fact is that Churchill was a great strategist, speaker and writer, and although he was no longer the leader of Britain at the time, his thoughts and his words carried weight in and of themselves. Especially, given the fact that US President Harry Truman was with him at Fulton. So, 1946… why did the retired politician decide to come down on the USSR, and, more importantly, why does his speech remain unforgotten to this day? The answer is that Churchill wasn’t speaking only strictly about the USSR. He was laying out his vision of the world that he felt needed to be built following the Second World War… the world as a whole. He took to goal setting, and on a truly global scale.

Most importantly, the world heard him, and the world which he proposed began to be built. In world history, it’s a rare case when one person can formulate the direction in which so many people and countries will then follow for so many decades. Churchill’s speech sounded amidst ideological confusion, fatigue, and vacillation, the cause of which he eloquently described. The post-war devastation, ration cards (including in the UK), communists coming to power across Europe, in half of the latter under the direct influence of the USSR. Churchill answered important questions for the Western world, including “Where will we go? ‘What kind of a world do we want?” Most importantly, “Who are ‘we’?'” The essence of the speech lies in the answer to the last question. At the beginning of the speech, Churchill clearly identified what not every Briton was willing to say out loud; namely, “the USA stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power”. Before the war, the sole superpower was the British Empire, an empire which he would lead. The balance of global power had changed, and he proclaimed this at Fulton.

However, from this shift, from his own country’s disaster, Churchill concluded, “Opportunity is here and now, clear and shining for both our countries… and not only for them, but for the English-speaking peoples; that is, the former dominions of the British Crown… Canada, Australia, New Zealand. That’s what he said in Fulton… the need for not just an alliance between the USA and the UK, as in the days of the war, but for the strengthening of Anglo-Saxon unity, and not for the creation of a US-European “Atlantic” partnership… in this, Churchill’s successors were successful, although this concept wasn’t formalised by any explicit agreement. In Russian, this idea even has a contemporary nickname, born of a high-ranking diplomat, who remains nameless, “Naglo-Saxons” [the word nagliy means “brazen” or “brash” in Russian].

Several days after Fulton, Churchill received a response from [Soviet leader] I V Stalin. In an interview for Pravda, Stalin took great notice of the “Anglophone” idea of his sworn partner at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. Asked whether Churchill’s speech had caused harm to the cause of global peace and security, Stalin replied:

Certainly. The essence of the affair is that Mr Churchill now assumes the position of a warmonger. Mr Churchill isn’t alone in this; he has friends not only in England but also in the USA. One should note that Mr Churchill and his friends strikingly recall in this respect Hitler and his friends. Hitler began the task of unleashing war by proclaiming a racial theory, declaring that only people who spoke the German language constituted a full-fledged nation. Mr Churchill, too, has begun the task of unleashing war with a racial theory, stating that only nations that speak the English language are full-fledged nations that are called upon to rule the destinies of the world… in essence, Mr Churchill and his friends in England and the USA presented non-English-speaking nations with something like an ultimatum… recognise our dominance voluntarily and then all will be in order; in the contrary case, war is inevitable.

Stalin described the weakness of Churchill’s position very accurately, but the Fulton speech compensated for it by clearly proclaiming not just the ideological basis of the confrontation with the communist USSR, but also a moral and values-based “exceptionalism” of the English-speaking nations against everyone else. This is what we continue to hear from them to this day, although communism in our country is long gone; today, this “excpetionalism” is now called “universal values”… the current unenviable fate of Europe, including the Transatlantic Partnership, written according to American standards, all comes from there… from the Fulton speech. Through the eyes of someone living in 2016, Churchill’s idea may seem mad, but in 1946, everything was logical. The nuclear monopoly of the USA plus the joint use of British naval and air bases all across the globe… and, the USSR excepted, there were no competitors. Relations between London and Washington had their ups and downs, but in general, through the past 70 years, they really did build “the world according to Churchill”. Today, we’re living in the sunset of this era.

Of course, in 1946, Sir Winston couldn’t have known that the world would be so different; then, China was in ruins, India was still a part of the British Empire, Africa consisted almost exclusively of colonies, which is not to mention the impending end of the American nuclear monopoly. Nevertheless, in spite of the changes, Churchill and those inspired by his ideology tried very hard, and even only 15 years ago it may have seemed that the goals he had set had been successfully realised. Finally, Churchill stands at the very top of the pyramid of the historical haters of Russia… as a theorist and practitioner, as a strategist and ideologist. It’s possible and necessary to say whatever one likes about him, but he was a figure of immense historical magnitude, including thanks to the Fulton speech.

Today… who do we have today that lives by the symbols of the Cold War? Perhaps, the commander of NATO forces in Europe, General Philip Breedlove? Let’s take a listen:

Russia doesn’t want to challenge the agreed rules of the international order. It wants to rewrite them; Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the USA and to our European allies and partners. Russia and the Assad régime are deliberately weaponising migration from Syria in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve. The USA and its allies are preparing to fight and win if necessary against Russia.

Perhaps there’s something Churchillian in these words, but Breedlove is no Churchill.

5 March 2016

Sputnik International

http://sputniknews.com/politics/20160305/1035843449/churchill-fulton-speech.html

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Why America Has to Deny Its Greatest Crime

00 Hiroshima Japan 1945. 090815

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The absence of justice over Hiroshima and Nagasaki is due to America’s refusal to admit the truth about its nuclear holocaust. That denial is necessary because otherwise it’d reveal the criminal nature of US governments and their continuing criminal prerogative to persist in using the threat of nuclear weapons to maintain global hegemony. Nagasaki, the second atomic bombing of Japan by the USA on 9 August 1945, was in many ways an even bigger crime. The US government had three days to assess the devastating human horror of the first bomb dropped on Hiroshima on the morning of 6 August, which incinerated some 70,000 civilians. Hardly a building stood in the southern Japanese port city amidst people vaporised or turned into charred jelly, yet the American leaders went ahead with the second atomic bombing on the western city of Nagasaki in which they annihilated another 40,000 people. In total over the following year, the death toll would reach at least 200,000, and many more again over subsequent decades from cancers and other malignancies.

One can adjudge both attacks as premeditated mass murder… indeed, acts of genocide by any legal definition… that had little to do with compelling Imperial Japan to surrender towards the end of the Pacific War. Historians document that American and British wartime leaders were well aware that Japan was seeking to surrender in early 1945… not least because of the merciless firebombing by the Western powers of the capital, Tokyo, and other Japanese cities, whose death tolls would match those later incurred at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With the USSR about to enter the Pacific War in mid-August 1945, as agreed upon at the Potsdam conference held in July, it seems unequivocal that the Americans rushed to deploy their new nuclear weapon as a way of demarcating the postwar order in the East Asia-Pacific region.

Only three weeks prior, on 16 July, the Americans tested the first atomic explosion in the desert of New Mexico. The Americans and the British didn’t want their then wartime Soviet ally to make territorial gains in Asia, as it’d done in Europe when it alone had largely rolled back and defeated Nazi Germany. To prevent Stalin’s Red Army also taking Japan and other Asian territories as it was poised to do on entering the Pacific War, US President Harry Truman went ahead with the A-bombing of Japan. The Americans weren’t planning a land invasion of Japan’s mainland until November 1945. Therefore, official US claims that they dropped the atomic bombs in order to end the Pacific War promptly are partially true. However, the objective wasn’t to save up to one million American troop lives, as Truman claimed. Rather, the real objective was to forestall the geopolitical advance of the USSR and the “dread of communism”. Thus, the atomic bombing of Japan by the USA wasn’t the last act of the Pacific War, but rather was the opening act of the soon-to-be Cold War between the American-led Western world and the USSR.

Since the USSR wouldn’t obtain its own nuclear weapons until 1949, the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan certainly would have served as blood-curdling check on Moscow and any ambitions it may have had in expanding into Asia following the defeat of Japan. However, the salient point here is that the USA deployed weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations not for any supposed military or moral imperative… the defeat of Japan and saving of American lives. No, the objective was primarily political, that is, the prevention of perceived Soviet geopolitical advance in the postwar global order. That makes the twin bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nothing less than acts of state terrorism… on a scale that puts the American government in a barbarous class of its own.

The myth of military necessity to defeat Japan to save American lives has proven to be an enduring one. A recent public opinion survey by the Pew Institute found that a majority of Americans (56 percent) believe that it was right to drop the A-bombs on Japan. However, if we strip away that myth, then, that leaves us with a most chilling conclusion… that American leaders viewed it as their right to obliterate 200,000 civilians for geopolitical objectives. That genocidal ideology… to use weapons of mass destruction… still resides in Washington. At the close of World War II, American and British leaders weighed up a secret plan, Operation Unthinkable, in which they contemplated dropping atomic weapons on their then Soviet wartime ally. They eventually shelved this treacherous plan.

However, in July 1961, the head of the American CIA, Allen Dulles, and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff presented a plan to President John F Kennedy for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USSR. To his credit, Kennedy quashed the proposal in disgust, reportedly saying to one of his aides, “And we call ourselves the human race”. Just this year, in June, the Associated Press reported on a Pentagon plan under Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey for “pre-emptive nuclear strikes to take out Russian military sites”. According to AP, “The options go as far as one implied… but not stated explicitly… that’d improve the ability of US nuclear weapons to destroy military targets on Russian territory”. Seventy years ago, the world witnessed the cold-blooded destruction of entire human populations with nuclear weapons. Today, the world has some 16,000 such weapons, each many times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The USA and Russia possess 90 percent of the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.

However, the USA has doggedly prevented moves towards full-scale nuclear disarmament… despite incumbent US President Barack Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. Under Obama, the USA is planning to spend some 355 billion USD (22.72 trillion Roubles. 2.2 trillion Renminbi. 22.63 trillion INR. 467 billion CAD. 479 billion AUD. 324 billion Euros. 230 billion UK Pounds) over the next decade in upgrading its nuclear arsenal. In May 2015,, the USA blocked a global nuclear disarmament initiative signed by 107 nations, including Russia and Iran, which called for the immediate implementation of the 40-year-old Non-Proliferation Treaty. In addition, the USA also unilaterally withdrew in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty between Washington and Moscow. Ironically, in the same week that the world commemorates the horror of the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, President Obama delivered a major speech in which he hailed the recent Geneva nuclear accord with Iran because it “would prevent Iran from obtaining the bomb”… a bomb that the Iranian leadership has repeatedly said that it isn’t seeking nor desires. The monstrous American arrogance in Obama’s words is breath taking.

What the world has to contend with is this… the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons with cold-blooded criminality, still presumes the right to use those weapons for its own twisted political objectives. American “Exceptionalism” and propaganda still contaminate the USA’s mindset, so, the world remains perilously under the pall of horror that the USA visited upon on Japan 70 years ago. Until we disarm that American genocidal ideology, then, the threat to world peace will persist.

7 August 2015

Finian Cunningham

Sputnik International

http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20150807/1025499289.html

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