Russophobia has become America's new favorite form of bigotry. You can't jaywalk in this goddamn country without being accused of first degree Putin puppetry. This cold borscht of xenophobia has been brewing for some time but it has taken on a whole new spiciness with Robert Mueller's blockbuster witch trials and the alleged pervasive Putinist conspiracy to subvert our so-called democracy. The shocking thing, to me at least, is that even stalwart elements of the radical left have been effected by the fumes of the latest Red Scare. One of my favorite writers, CounterPunch's Jeffrey St. Clair, has taken to referring to Russiagate critics such as myself as the Sputnik Left. It's cute. I kinda like it, but then again you are talking to a non-binary person who takes tranny as a compliment. I've never been particularly hesitant to embrace the role of the villain. After all, who else is going to blow up the system? But there are still bones to be picked and I'm just the bitch to pick them.
The general stereotype of the Sputnik Left is that we're a bunch of bitter, Putin loving, conspiracy theorists who ingest RT like cheap caviar and maintain a decidedly myopic view of Russia's alleged involvement in the 2016 election among other nefarious acts of Rusky skulduggery. Jeffrey recently described us as "political activists who rigorously apply Chomsky's lens to the NYT, WashPost, and the Guardian, but regurgitate as gospel whatever they read or hear on RT or Sputnik", and like even the least of Jeff's work there is a grain of truth here. I have friends who fit that description to a tee but it's an awfully broad brush for a diverse crew. I can't speak for all of us but I figured one of us might as well attempt a rebuttal.
First off, Putin: I am not nor have I ever been a Putin puppet. As a genderqueer anarchist, I'm sure that Vlad wouldn't think twice about chucking my radical faerie ass into a gulag. Like all politicians, Putin is greedy, vain, stupid, and shallow. People in his country starve while he hobnobs with the kind of cruel oligarchs that were rightfully strung from the lamp posts during the Revolution. But the western notion that Putin is the worst thing to happen to Russia since Stalin is just fucking silly. The man may be a greedy egomaniac (and likely closet queen) but he has shown an enormous and at times downright shocking amount of restraint when confronted repeatedly by western aggression. My and others recognition of this fact doesn't make us Putin apologists anymore than the critics of the Second Gulf War were Saddam apologists.
When America's quisling state in Georgia violated international law by attacking civilian Russian nationals in South Ossetia, Putin could have easily ran over that tiny, belligerent, den of gangsters called a country like a bug. Instead he took the measured response of throwing the Georgian Army out of the contentious autonomous republic while safe-guarding another, Abkazia, from likely reprisals. We saw a very similar display of restraint in Ukraine after the NED aided a flock of skinhead hooligans in overthrowing the democratically elected government in Kiev. If Russia had aided a similar coup with the Zapatistas in Mexico (I wish), the US would have tanks in Mexico City faster than you can say Operation PBSUCCESS. Putin chose to secure the Russian population in Crimea and Novorossiya and then sat on his hands. Syria is a clear case of overkill that I won't attempt to defend but considering the proximity of their oldest Arab allie to Russia's already hostile Caucus region and that the alternative to Assad was another NATO assisted black hole clusterfuck like Libya, even Putin's cruel overreaction can be seen as an attempt, however flawed, to prevent another garbage fire from spreading in his neighborhood, rather than a Stalinist land grab.
As for conspiracies: You have yours and I have mine. The state department approved narratives on MH17, Skripal, and Syria's gas attacks all have more holes than Swiss cheese and smack of past "mainstream" fables of mobile WMD labs and VC gunboats in the Tonkin Gulf. Can I tell you for sure who downed that airline and poisoned those people in England and Syria? No. But neither can you and I can tell you who stood to benefit from these nefarious acts and it sure as fuck wasn't Putin. NATO has a long and proven history of fostering terrorism and performing false flag attacks. Just Google Operation Gladio or ask Aldo Moro's ghost, I'm pretty sure he still haunts our embassy in Rome with Pier Pasolini.
As for Russia Today, I wont pretend that they're a bastion of journalistic integrity. It's a station devoted to exposing the flaws in western society and they have an ugly tendency of providing platforms to crackpots and nut-jobs. But they also have an equally storied history of providing unprecedented platforms for some of this country and many others finest dissidents from Adam Kokesh to Christopher Hedges. Compare this to the milquetoast neoliberal dreck pushed out by Radio Liberty and you'll forgive me for not clapping like a trained seal for the over the top demonization of the prior organization. I try to look at sources like RT and Sputnik as being a bit like the Upside Down in Stranger Things. You may only be getting a demagorgons view of reality, but if you compare and contrast that view with the equally skewed vision of the western press, you may just come a little closer to fully grasping the reality that both sides obscure.
And the reality of Robert Mueller's Russiagate investigation is that we're over a year in, with every other intelligence organization and their media parrots blaming Russia for the election of one Donald J. Trump (a dick by any measure), and there remains no empirical proof beyond anonymous hearsay of anything more nefarious than a couple of B-grade Russian oligarchs attempting to play the orange bastard for a chump in hopes of getting off of America's economic shitlist. You can mock me if you want but my sources include Princeton professor Stephen Cohen and veteran CIA whistle-blower Ray McGovern, while your's are yellow schlock artists like Michael Wolff and treasonous spooks like John Brennan. Like I said before, you can believe what you want to believe, but that is precisely what you're doing when you feed into salacious tall-tails like Trump's golden shower party and mock people like me for calling bullshit. You're believing precisely what you want to believe.
I can begrudgingly respect the agnostic nature of "truth" in a post-truth era. Can you? Put up or shut up. Publish this piece and prove it. And, yeah, I know that's a cheap ploy for attention. But what do you expect? I'm a Sputnik Leftist. Das Vadanya, dearest motherfuckers. See you at HUAC 2.
Peace, Love, & Nostrovia- Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Soundtrack; Songs that influenced this post
* Back In the U.S.S.R. by the Beatles
* U-Mass by the Pixies
* Party At Ground Zero by Fishbone
* What's Up? by 4 Non Blondes
* Do You Wanna Dance? by the Ramones
* Rockstar by Hole
* Happiness is a Warm Gun by the Breeders
* You Have Killed Me by Morrissey
* Atmosphere by Joy Division