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Thread: USA under presidency of a know-nothing neo-fascist, racist, sexist mobbed-up narcissist!!

  1. #691

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    “Emolument” is a word few people used, or even knew, until Donald Trump assumed the presidency. Now, it’s being bandied about the Beltway on a daily basis, and is at the heart of several lawsuits accusing President Trump of corruption. At issue is a rarely referenced item in the U.S. Constitution, the foreign emoluments clause. There is a parallel domestic emoluments clause as well, which plaintiffs say Trump also is violating. Trump told The New York Times last November, after winning the Electoral College but losing the popular vote, “The law’s totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.” This slew of lawsuits is taking aim at his claim, as evidence mounts of his personal enrichment off the presidency.The eighth clause in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” No one is accusing Trump of taking a title of nobility, although who would be surprised if he did accept one? But emoluments aplenty seem to be coming Trump’s way since he took office, some from foreign governments with important business with the United States. Three prominent lawsuits to date seek to remedy this. One was filed days after Trump took office by the nonprofit watchdog group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington). Another was filed Monday by the Washington, D.C., and Maryland attorneys general. And despite the tumult in Washington caused by the terrible shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice where five were injured, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a third lawsuit was filed Wednesday by close to 200 Democratic members of Congress.
    Never in U.S. history has the prospect of a president’s real and potential business dealings created such a marked array of conflicts. Donald Trump has real estate and other businesses around the globe. The Atlantic has been compiling a rolling “crib sheet” of his potential conflicts, listing no less than 44 separate, serious items in which his personal profit could hinge on U.S. government actions or policies over which he presides.
    The CREW lawsuit addresses a direct conduit of foreign-government money to the Trump family via the new Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, just blocks from the White House. CREW’s complaint alleges that “since the November 8, 2016 election, foreign diplomats have been flocking to Defendant’s D.C. hotel, eager to curry favor with Defendant and afraid of what Defendant may think or do if they send their business elsewhere in Washington. ... The hotel also hired a ‘director of diplomatic sales’ to facilitate business with foreign states and their diplomats and agents.” The lawsuit continues, “One ‘Middle Eastern diplomat’ told The Washington Post about the hotel: ‘Believe me, all the delegations will go there.’”
    The D.C./Maryland lawsuit explains: “Following the defendant’s inauguration, he continues to own and control hundreds of businesses throughout the world, including hotels and other properties. His business empire comprises a multitude of different corporations, limited-liability companies, limited partnerships, and other entities that he owns or controls—in whole or in part—operating in the United States and at least 20 foreign countries.” They are suing, they write, so that, among other issues, “Americans do not have to guess whether a President who orders their sons and daughters to die in foreign lands acts out of concern for his private business interests.”The congressional lawsuit, led by Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Detroit Congressman John Conyers, reiterates many of Trump’s alleged constitutional violations of the emoluments clause, but focuses on a key phrase: “without the Consent of the Congress.” They want the courts to force Trump to seek congressional approval before he receives any profits, or “emoluments,” from business dealings with foreign states. A key condition congressional Democrats would demand: release of Trump’s tax returns.
    “We have seen over and over again that this president believes he is above the law in so many ways,” Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “In a democracy, no one is above the law, not the president or anyone else.”
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #692

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    All I can say is everything I and others feared would happen if Trump became President have been proven correct. Nothing yet has come as a surprise. The Emolument Clause violation was talked about well before he won, and during the period between 'winning' and inauguration. He has proven to be exactly the same person and hold the same beliefs he had when campaigning - full of hate, prejudice, disregard for the law, focused more on himself than on the Country, uninformed, hot-headed, misogynist, and Oligarch, supporting the Rich to be richer at the expense of the Poor and Middle-class, anti-Muslim and most all other ethnic groups, a racist, an opportunist, a circus tout selling snake oil of all kinds.....

    IMO, the ONLY positive plank of his platform was improved relations with Russia....although I think he wanted this not for geopolitical and ethical reasons, but for 'business' reasons related to his own [and his friends] business ventures and financing. If the Russians thought to or tried to tamper with US elections [I have not yet seen such proof, but am open to it], they should be condemned - as should the USA, which has been known to have tampered with many nations elections from WW2 to present! What would be nice, but I don't expect it, would be everyone held fully accountable for what actually was or is being done wrong/illegally/immorally - without all the hype, propaganda and political overtones/nationalistic overtones.

    US Citizens had best realize they were faced with a horrible 'set' of choices this past election...and should never let it happen again - this would mean the wholesale abandonment of the two 'main' parties and forming/backing/voting for lots of new or smaller parties [and making them viable]. If not, the Nation is lost forever and history will record this much the way the last Emperors of Rome were...as these are our last Presidencies as the Empire crumbles!
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  3. #693

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    By the way....the last election was stolen...but NOT by the Russians...here is how...watch this!
    http://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/video/656307/the-empire-files-656307/

    And they will use this 'technique' in 2018 and 2020...and beyond to make sure the real vote is not the 'end vote', UNLESS this criminal activity Trump was witting of and involved in! [as were others who invented this way to rig the elections - all elections!]!!!!!
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 06-16-2017 at 03:27 PM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  4. #694

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    Catch this video on Bannon and why he and Trump hit it off!
    http://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/video/649880/the-empire-files-649880/
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 06-16-2017 at 03:26 PM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    By the way....the last election was stolen...but NOT by the Russians...here is how...watch this!
    http://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/video/656307/the-empire-files-656307/

    And they will use this 'technique' in 2018 and 2020...and beyond to make sure the real vote is not the 'end vote', UNLESS this criminal activity Trump was witting of and involved in! [as were others who invented this way to rig the elections - all elections!]!!!!!
    We have to remember that the Democrats have never complained about election fixing since the 2000 election.

    I think we are seeing a managed dialectic in play.
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 06-16-2017 at 03:26 PM.
    "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

    "We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl

  6. #696

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren Johnson View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    By the way....the last election was stolen...but NOT by the Russians...here is how...watch this!
    http://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/video/656307/the-empire-files-656307/

    And they will use this 'technique' in 2018 and 2020...and beyond to make sure the real vote is not the 'end vote', UNLESS this criminal activity Trump was witting of and involved in! [as were others who invented this way to rig the elections - all elections!]!!!!!
    We have to remember that the Democrats have never complained about election fixing since the 2000 election.

    I think we are seeing a managed dialectic in play.
    He points out that the Democrats have used vote fixing sometimes in the past - even did to get rid of Bernie; but it is not as much used as by the Republicans - they now are the masters of this. They invented the Crosscheck, they own the electronic voting machines [literally!], etc. Both are complicit, one is MUCH more complicit on this..... According to his research, the Republicans have already set up the 2018 and 2020 elections so they can win them unless there is an absolute avalanche against them...and even that they may be able to throw. It is very sad - this is the opposite of democracy and most are fooled and some who know ain't tellin' that they know by informing the public
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 06-17-2017 at 03:01 AM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren Johnson View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    By the way....the last election was stolen...but NOT by the Russians...here is how...watch this!
    http://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/video/656307/the-empire-files-656307/

    And they will use this 'technique' in 2018 and 2020...and beyond to make sure the real vote is not the 'end vote', UNLESS this criminal activity Trump was witting of and involved in! [as were others who invented this way to rig the elections - all elections!]!!!!!
    We have to remember that the Democrats have never complained about election fixing since the 2000 election.

    I think we are seeing a managed dialectic in play.
    He points out that the Democrats have used vote fixing sometimes in the past - even did to get rid of Bernie; but it is not as much used as by the Republicans - they now are the masters of this. They invented the Crosscheck, they own the electronic voting machines [literally!], etc. Both are complicit, one is MUCH more complicit on this..... According to his research, the Republics have already set up the 2018 and 2020 elections so they can win them unless there is an absolute avalanche against them...and even that they may be able to throw. It is very sad - this is the opposite of democracy and most are fooled and some who know ain't tellin' that they know by informing the public
    I agree. But the problem is that the DNC never accuses the Republicans of stealing elections. From the 2004 election on, ... silence. For example, Michael Connell, the election IT wizard for the RNC, died in a mysterious plane crash.

    Michael Connell, the Bush family and Karl Rove’s IT guru, was heading home from Washington D.C. to attend his company’s Christmas party on Friday, December 19th in 2008. An accomplished pilot, he was flying from the College Park, Maryland airport to the Akron-Canton airport in Ohio under unremarkable weather conditions. Yet his Piper Saratoga plane suddenly dove to the ground between two houses in an upscale neighborhood, when he was just 2.5 miles from the airport. The site was roped off, cleaned up within two hours at night against protocol, and the next day his wife found his omniscient Blackberry missing from his still intact knapsack.

    The Free Press has uncovered crucial documents that shed light on Connell’s mysterious death as the fifth anniversary of his tragic accident approaches. The document reveals that then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell had signed a legal Statement of Work (SOW) contract with Connell for IT work on the infamous Election Night 2004, when Kerry unexpectedly lost when exit polls showed him winning. Connell and Blackwell agreed fourteen months prior to the 2004 election that that Connell would have “remote monitoring capabilities” to the computer counting Ohio’s presidential vote. That means Blackwell planned more than a year in advance for Connell’s private partisan external third party company and a subcontractor to have unfettered secret access to Ohio’s 2004 vote tally.
    Republican election fixing is never pursued by Democrats. It is not investigated by the FBI nor the DOJ. This lack lack of attention to the obvious is a tell -- an important one. When the DOJ pays no attention to obvious criminal activity, it is involved with that activity.

    My argument are that elections are managed events. Therefore, Trump was placed in the Presidency as was Clinton, GWB, and Obama. If this is true, we have witnessed the the end of democracy.
    "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

    "We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl

  8. #698

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren Johnson View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren Johnson View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    By the way....the last election was stolen...but NOT by the Russians...here is how...watch this!
    http://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/video/656307/the-empire-files-656307/

    And they will use this 'technique' in 2018 and 2020...and beyond to make sure the real vote is not the 'end vote', UNLESS this criminal activity Trump was witting of and involved in! [as were others who invented this way to rig the elections - all elections!]!!!!!
    We have to remember that the Democrats have never complained about election fixing since the 2000 election.

    I think we are seeing a managed dialectic in play.
    He points out that the Democrats have used vote fixing sometimes in the past - even did to get rid of Bernie; but it is not as much used as by the Republicans - they now are the masters of this. They invented the Crosscheck, they own the electronic voting machines [literally!], etc. Both are complicit, one is MUCH more complicit on this..... According to his research, the Republics have already set up the 2018 and 2020 elections so they can win them unless there is an absolute avalanche against them...and even that they may be able to throw. It is very sad - this is the opposite of democracy and most are fooled and some who know ain't tellin' that they know by informing the public
    I agree. But the problem is that the DNC never accuses the Republicans of stealing elections. From the 2004 election on, ... silence. For example, Michael Connell, the election IT wizard for the RNC, died in a mysterious plane crash.

    Michael Connell, the Bush family and Karl Rove’s IT guru, was heading home from Washington D.C. to attend his company’s Christmas party on Friday, December 19th in 2008. An accomplished pilot, he was flying from the College Park, Maryland airport to the Akron-Canton airport in Ohio under unremarkable weather conditions. Yet his Piper Saratoga plane suddenly dove to the ground between two houses in an upscale neighborhood, when he was just 2.5 miles from the airport. The site was roped off, cleaned up within two hours at night against protocol, and the next day his wife found his omniscient Blackberry missing from his still intact knapsack.

    The Free Press has uncovered crucial documents that shed light on Connell’s mysterious death as the fifth anniversary of his tragic accident approaches. The document reveals that then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell had signed a legal Statement of Work (SOW) contract with Connell for IT work on the infamous Election Night 2004, when Kerry unexpectedly lost when exit polls showed him winning. Connell and Blackwell agreed fourteen months prior to the 2004 election that that Connell would have “remote monitoring capabilities” to the computer counting Ohio’s presidential vote. That means Blackwell planned more than a year in advance for Connell’s private partisan external third party company and a subcontractor to have unfettered secret access to Ohio’s 2004 vote tally.
    Republican election fixing is never pursued by Democrats. It is not investigated by the FBI nor the DOJ. This lack lack of attention to the obvious is a tell -- an important one. When the DOJ pays no attention to obvious criminal activity, it is involved with that activity.

    My argument are that elections are managed events. Therefore, Trump was placed in the Presidency as was Clinton, GWB, and Obama. If this is true, we have witnessed the the end of democracy.
    It is still too early to know for sure, but my take is that some of those who think they pull the strings on the USA were surprised by Trump's win - however, I'll not contest your assertion that we are witnessing on multiple levels the end of what little democracy we had left! The tiny bit remaining IMO will be gone if not forceably exercised in the next FEW years!
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  9. #699

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    LEIA EM PORTUGUÊS

    DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL campaign, some imagined that the more overtly racist elements of Donald Trump’s platform were just talk designed to rile up the base, not anything he seriously intended to act on. But in his first week in office, when he imposed a travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries, that comforting illusion disappeared fast. Fortunately, the response was immediate: the marches and rallies at airports, the impromptu taxi strikes, the lawyers and local politicians intervening, the judges ruling the bans illegal.
    The whole episode showed the power of resistance, and of judicial courage, and there was much to celebrate. Some have even concluded that this early slap down chastened Trump, and that he is now committed to a more reasonable, conventional course.
    That is a dangerous illusion.
    It is true that many of the more radical items on this administration’s wish list have yet to be realized. But make no mistake, the full agenda is still there, lying in wait. And there is one thing that could unleash it all: a large-scale crisis.
    Large-scale shocks are frequently harnessed to ram through despised pro-corporate and anti-democratic policies that would never have been feasible in normal times. It’s a phenomenon I have previously called the “Shock Doctrine,” and we have seen it happen again and again over the decades, from Chile in the aftermath of Augusto Pinochet’s coup to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
    And we have seen it happen recently, well before Trump, in U.S. cities including Detroit and Flint, where looming municipal bankruptcy became the pretext for dissolving local democracy and appointing “emergency managers” who waged war on public services and public education. It is unfolding right now in Puerto Rico, where the ongoing debt crisis has been used to install the unaccountable “Financial Oversight and Management Board,” an enforcement mechanism for harsh austerity measures, including cuts to pensions and waves of school closures. This tactic is being deployed in Brazil, where the highly questionable impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 was followed by the installation of an unelected, zealously pro-business regime that has frozen public spending for the next 20 years, imposed punishing austerity, and begun selling off airports, power stations, and other public assets in a frenzy of privatization.
    As Milton Friedman wrote long ago, “Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” Survivalists stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters; these guys stockpile spectacularly anti-democratic ideas.
    Now, as many have observed, the pattern is repeating under Trump. On the campaign trail, he did not tell his adoring crowds that he would cut funds for meals-on-wheels, or admit that he was going to try to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, or that he planned to grant every item on Goldman Sachs’ wish list. He said the very opposite.
    Since taking office, however, Donald Trump has never allowed the atmosphere of chaos and crisis to let up. Some of the chaos, like the Russia investigations, has been foisted upon him or is simply the result of incompetence, but much appears to be deliberately created. Either way, while we are distracted by (and addicted to) the Trump Show, clicking on and gasping at marital hand-slaps and mysterious orbs, the quiet, methodical work of redistributing wealth upward proceeds apace.
    This is also aided by the sheer velocity of change. Witnessing the tsunami of executive orders during Trump’s first 100 days, it rapidly became clear his advisers were following Machiavelli’s advice in “The Prince”: “Injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less.” The logic is straightforward enough. People can develop responses to sequential or gradual change. But if dozens of changes come from all directions at once, the hope is that populations will rapidly become exhausted and overwhelmed, and will ultimately swallow their bitter medicine.
    But here’s the thing. All of this is shock doctrine lite; it’s the most that Trump can pull off under cover of the shocks he is generating himself. And as much as this needs to be exposed and resisted, we also need to focus on what this administration will do when they have a real external shock to exploit. Maybe it will be an economic crash like the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. Maybe a natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy. Or maybe it will be a horrific terrorist attack like the Manchester bombing. Any one such crisis could trigger a very rapid shift in political conditions, making what currently seems unlikely suddenly appear inevitable.
    So let’s consider a few categories of possible shocks, and how they might be harnessed to start ticking off items on Trump’s toxic to-do list.
    Police officers join members of the public to view the flowers and messages of support in St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, on May 31, 2017, placed in tribute to the victims of the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena.
    Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

    A Terror Shock

    Recent terror attacks in London, Manchester, and Paris provide some broad hints about how the administration would try to exploit a large-scale attack that took place on U.S. soil or against U.S. infrastructure abroad. After the horrific Manchester bombing last month, the governing Conservatives launched a fierce campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party for suggesting that the failed “war on terror” is part of what is fueling such acts, calling any such suggestion “monstrous” (a clear echo of the “with us or with the terrorists” rhetoric that descended after September 11, 2001). For his part, Trump rushed to link the attack to the “thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various countries” — never mind that the bomber, Salman Abedi, was born in the U.K.
    Similarly, in the immediate aftermath of the Westminster terror attacks in London in March 2017, when a driver plowed into a crowd of pedestrians, deliberately killing four people and injuring dozens more, the Conservative government wasted no time declaring that any expectation of privacy in digital communications was now a threat to national security. Home Secretary Amber Rudd went on the BBC and declared the end-to-end encryption provided by programs like WhatsApp to be “completely unacceptable.” And she said that they were meeting with the large tech firms “to ask them to work with us” on providing backdoor access to these platforms. She made an even stronger call to crack down on internet privacy after the London Bridge attack.
    More worrying, in 2015, after the coordinated attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, the government of François Hollande declared a “state of emergency” that banned political protests. I was in France a week after those horrific events and it was striking that, although the attackers had targeted a concert, a football stadium, restaurants, and other emblems of daily Parisian life, it was only outdoor political activity that was not permitted. Large concerts, Christmas markets, and sporting events — the sorts of places that were likely targets for further attacks — were all free to carry on as usual. In the months that followed, the state-of-emergency decree was extended again and again until it had been in place for well over a year. It is currently set to remain in effect until at least July 2017. In France, state-of-emergency is the new normal.
    This took place under a center-left government in a country with a long tradition of disruptive strikes and protests. One would have to be naive to imagine that Donald Trump and Mike Pence wouldn’t immediately seize on any attack in the United States to go much further down that same road. In all likelihood they would do it swiftly, by declaring protests and strikes that block roads and airports (the kind that responded to the Muslim travel ban) a threat to “national security.” Protest organizers would be targeted with surveillance, arrests, and imprisonment.
    Indeed we should be prepared for security shocks to be exploited as excuses to increase the rounding up and incarceration of large numbers of people from the communities this administration is already targeting: Latino immigrants, Muslims, Black Lives Matter organizers, climate activists, investigative journalists. It’s all possible. And in the name of freeing the hands of law enforcement to fight terrorism, Attorney General Jeff Sessions would have the excuse he’d been looking for to do away with federal oversight of state and local police, especially those that have been accused of systemic racial abuses.
    And there is no doubt that the president would seize on any domestic terrorist attack to blame the courts. He made this perfectly clear when he tweeted, after his first travel ban was struck down: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system.” And on the night of the London Bridge attack, he went even further, tweeting: “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” In a context of public hysteria and recrimination that would surely follow an attack in the U.S., the kind of courage we witnessed from the courts in response to Trump’s travel bans might well be in shorter supply.
    This April 7, 2017, photo shows the USS Porter launching a tomahawk missile at a Syrian air base.
    Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP

    The Shock of War

    The most lethal way that governments overreact to terrorist attacks is by exploiting the atmosphere of fear to embark on a full-blown foreign war (or two). It doesn’t necessarily matter if the target has no connection to the original terror attacks. Iraq wasn’t responsible for 9/11, and it was invaded anyway.
    Trump’s likeliest targets are mostly in the Middle East, and they include (but are by no means limited to) Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and, most perilously, Iran. And then, of course, there’s North Korea, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declared that “all options are on the table,” pointedly refusing to rule out a pre-emptive military strike.
    There are many reasons why people around Trump, particularly those who came straight from the defense sector, might decide that further military escalation is in order. Trump’s April 2017 missile strike on Syria — ordered without congressional approval and therefore illegal according to some experts — won him the most positive news coverage of his presidency. His inner circle, meanwhile, immediately pointed to the attacks as proof that there was nothing untoward going on between the White House and Russia.
    But there’s another, less discussed reason why this administration might rush to exploit a security crisis to start a new war or escalate an ongoing conflict: There is no faster or more effective way to drive up the price of oil, especially if the violence interferes with the supply of oil to the world market This would be great news for oil giants like Exxon Mobil, which have seen their profits drop dramatically as a result of the depressed price of oil — and Exxon, of course, is fortunate enough to have its former CEO, Tillerson, currently serving as secretary of state. (Not only was Tillerson at Exxon for 41 years, his entire working life, but Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay him a retirement package worth a staggering $180 million.)
    Other than Exxon, perhaps the only entity that would have more to gain from an oil price hike fueled by global instability is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a vast petro-state that has been in economic crisis since the price of oil collapsed. Russia is the world’s leading exporter of natural gas, and the second-largest exporter of oil (after Saudi Arabia). When the price was high, this was great news for Putin: Prior to 2014, fully 50 percent of Russia’s budget revenues came from oil and gas.
    But when prices plummeted, the government was suddenly short hundreds of billions of dollars, an economic catastrophe with tremendous human costs. According to the World Bank, in 2015 real wages fell in Russia by nearly 10 percent; the Russian ruble depreciated by close to 40 percent; and the population of people classified as poor increased from 3 million to over 19 million. Putin plays the strongman, but this economic crisis makes him vulnerable at home.
    We’ve also heard a lot about that massive deal between Exxon Mobil and the Russian state oil company Rosneft to drill for oil in the Arctic (Putin bragged that it was worth half a trillion dollars). That deal was derailed by U.S. sanctions against Russia and despite the posturing on both sides over Syria, it is still entirely possible that Trump will decide to lift the sanctions and clear the way for that deal to go ahead, which would quickly boost Exxon Mobil’s flagging fortunes.
    But even if the sanctions are lifted, there is another factor standing in the way of the project moving forward: the depressed price of oil. Tillerson made the deal with Rosneft in 2011, when the price of oil was soaring at around $110 a barrel. Their first commitment was to explore for oil in the sea north of Siberia, under tough-to-extract, icy conditions. The break-even price for Arctic drilling is estimated to be around $100 a barrel, if not more. So even if sanctions are lifted under Trump, it won’t make sense for Exxon and Rosneft to move ahead with their project unless oil prices are high enough. Which is yet another reason why parties might embrace the kind of instability that would send oil prices shooting back up.
    If the price of oil rises to $80 or more a barrel, then the scramble to dig up and burn the dirtiest fossil fuels, including those under melting ice, will be back on. A price rebound would unleash a global frenzy in new high-risk, high-carbon fossil fuel extraction, from the Arctic to the tar sands. And if that is allowed to happen, it really would rob us of our last chance of averting catastrophic climate change.
    So, in a very real sense, preventing war and averting climate chaos are one and the same fight.
    A screen displays financial data on Jan. 22, 2008.
    Photo: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

    Economic Shocks

    A centerpiece of Trump’s economic project so far has been a flurry of financial deregulation that makes economic shocks and disasters distinctly more likely. Trump has announced plans to dismantle Dodd-Frank, the most substantive piece of legislation introduced after the 2008 banking collapse. Dodd-Frank wasn’t tough enough, but its absence will liberate Wall Street to go wild blowing new bubbles, which will inevitably burst, creating new economic shocks.
    Trump and his team are not unaware of this, they are simply unconcerned — the profits from those market bubbles are too tantalizing. Besides, they know that since the banks were never broken up, they are still too big to fail, which means that if it all comes crashing down, they will be bailed out again, just like in 2008. (In fact, Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of the specific part of Dodd-Frank designed to prevent taxpayers from being stuck with the bill for another such bailout — an ominous sign, especially with so many former Goldman executives making White House policy.)
    Some members of the administration surely also see a few coveted policy options opening up in the wake of a good market shock or two. During the campaign, Trump courted voters by promising not to touch Social Security or Medicare. But that may well be untenable, given the deep tax cuts on the way (and the fictional math beneath the claims that they will pay for themselves). His proposed budget already begins the attack on Social Security and an economic crisis would give Trump a handy excuse to abandon those promises altogether. In the midst of a moment being sold to the public as economic Armageddon, Betsy DeVos might even have a shot at realizing her dream of replacing public schools with a system based on vouchers and charters.
    Trump’s gang has a long wish list of policies that do not lend themselves to normal times. In the early days of the new administration, for instance, Mike Pence met with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to hear how the governor had managed to strip public sector unions of their right to collective bargaining in 2011. (Hint: He used the cover of the state’s fiscal crisis, prompting New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to declare that in Wisconsin “the shock doctrine is on full display.”)
    Taken together, the picture is clear. We will very likely not see this administration’s full economic barbarism in the first year. That will only reveal itself later, after the inevitable budget crises and market shocks kick in. Then, in the name of rescuing the government and perhaps the entire economy, the White House will start checking off the more challenging items on the corporate wish list.
    Cattle menaced by a wildfire near Protection, Kansas, on March, 7, 2017.
    Photo: Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/TNS/Getty Images

    Weather Shocks

    Just as Trump’s national security and economic policies are sure to generate and deepen crises, the administration’s moves to ramp up fossil fuel production, dismantle large parts of the country’s environmental laws, and trash the Paris climate accord all pave the way for more large-scale industrial accidents — not to mention future climate disasters. There is a lag time of about a decade between the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the full resulting warming, so the very worst climatic effects of the administration’s policies won’t likely be felt until they’re out of office.
    That said, we’ve already locked in so much warming that no president can complete a term without facing major weather-related disasters. In fact, Trump wasn’t even two months on the job before he was confronted with overwhelming wildfires on the Great Plains, which led to so many cattle deaths that one rancher described the event as “our Hurricane Katrina.”
    Trump showed no great interest in the fires, not even sparing them a tweet. But when the first superstorm hits a coast, we should expect a very different reaction from a president who knows the value of oceanfront property, has open contempt for the poor, and has only ever been interested in building for the 1 percent. The worry, of course, is a repeat of Katrina’s attacks on public housing and public schools, as well as the contractor free for all that followed the disaster, especially given the central role played by Mike Pence in shaping post-Katrina policy.
    The biggest Trump-era escalation, however, will most likely be in disaster response services marketed specifically toward the wealthy. When I was writing “The Shock Doctrine,” this industry was still in its infancy, and several early companies didn’t make it. I wrote, for instance, about a short-lived airline called Help Jet, based in Trump’s beloved West Palm Beach. While it lasted, Help Jet offered an array of gold-plated rescue services in exchange for a membership fee.
    When a hurricane was on its way, Help Jet dispatched limousines to pick up members, booked them into five-star golf resorts and spas somewhere safe, then whisked them away on private jets. “No standing in lines, no hassle with crowds, just a first-class experience that turns a problem into a vacation,” read the company’s marketing materials. “Enjoy the feeling of avoiding the usual hurricane evacuation nightmare.” With the benefit of hindsight, it seems Help Jet, far from misjudging the market for these services, was simply ahead of its time. These days, in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, the more serious high-end survivalists are hedging against climate disruption and social collapse by buying space in custom-built underground bunkers in Kansas (protected by heavily armed mercenaries) and building escape homes on high ground in New Zealand. It goes without saying that you need your own private jet to get there.
    What is worrying about the entire top-of-the-line survivalist phenomenon (apart from its general weirdness) is that, as the wealthy create their own luxury escape hatches, there is diminishing incentive to maintain any kind of disaster response infrastructure that exists to help everyone, regardless of income — precisely the dynamic that led to enormous and unnecessary suffering in New Orleans during Katrina.
    And this two-tiered disaster infrastructure is galloping ahead at alarming speed. In fire-prone states such as California and Colorado, insurance companies provide a “concierge” service to their exclusive clients: When wildfires threaten their mansions, the companies dispatch teams of private firefighters to coat them in re-retardant. The public sphere, meanwhile, is left to further decay.
    California provides a glimpse of where this is all headed. For its firefighting, the state relies on upwards of 4,500 prison inmates, who are paid a dollar an hour when they’re on the fire line, putting their lives at risk battling wildfires, and about two bucks a day when they’re back at camp. By some estimates, California saves a billion dollars a year through this program — a snapshot of what happens when you mix austerity politics with mass incarceration and climate change.
    Some 13,000 refugees are crammed in unhygienic conditions on Greece's border with Macedonia, officials said on March 5, 2016, with all eyes on a key EU-Turkey summit on March 7 that is seen as the only viable solution to the crisis. / AFP / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)" style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; max-width: none; height: auto; display: block; margin: 0px auto 10px -608px; min-width: 100%; min-height: 0px !important; width: 1911px;">Migrants and refugees gather close to a border crossing near the Greek village of Idomeni, on March 5, 2016, where thousands of people wait to enter Macedonia.
    Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

    A World of Green Zones and Red Zones

    The uptick in high-end disaster prep also means there is less reason for the big winners in our economy to embrace the demanding policy changes required to prevent an even warmer and more disaster-prone future. Which might help explain the Trump administration’s determination to do everything possible to accelerate the climate crisis.
    So far, much of the discussion around Trump’s environmental rollbacks has focused on supposed schisms between the members of his inner circle who actively deny climate science, including EPA head Scott Pruitt and Trump himself, and those who concede that humans are indeed contributing to planetary warming, such as Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump. But this misses the point: What everyone who surrounds Trump shares is a confidence that they, their children, and indeed their class will be just fine, that their wealth and connections will protect them from the worst of the shocks to come. They will lose some beachfront property, sure, but nothing that can’t be replaced with a new mansion on higher ground.
    This insouciance is representative of an extremely disturbing trend. In an age of ever-widening income inequality, a significant cohort of our elites are walling themselves off not just physically but also psychologically, mentally detaching themselves from the collective fate of the rest of humanity. This secessionism from the human species (if only in their own minds) liberates the rich not only to shrug off the urgent need for climate action but also to devise ever more predatory ways to profit from current and future disasters and instability. What we are hurtling toward is a world demarcated into fortified Green Zones for the super-rich, Red Zones for everyone else — and black sites for whoever doesn’t cooperate. Europe, Australia, and North America are erecting increasingly elaborate (and privatized) border fortresses to seal themselves off from people fleeing for their lives. Fleeing, quite often, as a direct result of forces unleashed primarily by those fortressed continents, whether predatory trade deals, wars, or ecological disasters intensified by climate change.
    In fact, if we chart the locations of the most intense conflict spots in the world right now — from the bloodiest battlefields in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq — what becomes clear is that these also happen to be some of the hottest and driest places on earth. It takes very little to push these regions into drought and famine, which frequently acts as an accelerant to conflict, which of course drives migration.
    And the same capacity to discount the humanity of the “other,” which justifies civilian deaths and casualties from bombs and drones in places like Yemen and Somalia, is now being trained on the people in the boats — casting their need for security as a threat, their desperate flight as some sort of invading army. This is the context in which well over 13,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores since 2014, many of them children, toddlers, and babies. It is the context in which the Australian government has sought to normalize the incarceration of refugees in island detention camps on Nauru and Manus, under conditions that numerous humanitarian organizations have described as tantamount to torture. This is also the context in which the massive, recently demolished migrant camp in Calais, France, was nicknamed “the jungle” — an echo of the way Katrina’s abandoned people were categorized in right-wing media as “animals.”
    The dramatic rise in right-wing nationalism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy over the past decade cannot be pried apart from these larger geopolitical and ecological trends. The only way to justify such barbaric forms of exclusion is to double down on theories of racial hierarchy that tell a story about how the people being locked out of the global Green Zone deserve their fate, whether it’s Trump casting Mexicans as rapists and “bad hombres,” and Syrian refugees as closet terrorists, or prominent Conservative Canadian politician Kellie Leitch proposing that immigrants be screened for “Canadian values,” or successive Australian prime ministers justifying those sinister island detention camps as a “humanitarian” alternative to death at sea.
    This is what global destabilization looks like in societies that have never redressed their foundational crimes — countries that have insisted slavery and indigenous land theft were just glitches in otherwise proud histories. After all, there is little more Green Zone/Red Zone than the economy of the slave plantation — of cotillions in the master’s house steps away from torture in the fields, all of it taking place on the violently stolen indigenous land on which North America’s wealth was built. And now the same theories of racial hierarchy that justified those violent thefts in the name of building the industrial age are surging to the surface as the system of wealth and comfort they constructed starts to unravel on multiple fronts simultaneously.
    Trump is just one early and vicious manifestation of that unraveling. He is not alone. He won’t be the last.
    Residents of the Mangueira ‘favela’ community, foreground, watch fireworks explode over Maracana stadium during opening ceremonies for the 2016 Olympic Games on Aug. 5, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro.
    Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

    A Crisis of Imagination

    It seems relevant that the walled city where the wealthy few live in relative luxury while the masses outside war with one another for survival is pretty much the default premise of every dystopian sci-fi movie that gets made these days, from “The Hunger Games,” with the decadent Capitol versus the desperate colonies, to “Elysium,” with its spa-like elite space station hovering above a sprawling and lethal favela. It’s a vision deeply enmeshed with the dominant Western religions, with their grand narratives of great floods washing the world clean and a chosen few selected to begin again. It’s the story of the great fires that sweep in, burning up the unbelievers and taking the righteous to a gated city in the sky. We have collectively imagined this extreme winners-and-losers ending for our species so many times that one of our most pressing tasks is learning to imagine other possible ends to the human story in which we come together in crisis rather than split apart, take down borders rather than erect more of them.
    Because the point of all that dystopian art was never to act as a temporal GPS, showing us where we are inevitably headed. The point was to warn us, to wake us — so that, seeing where this perilous road leads, we can decide to swerve.
    “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” So said Thomas Paine many years ago, neatly summarizing the dream of escaping the past that is at the heart of both the colonial project and the American Dream. The truth, however, is that we do not have this godlike power of reinvention, nor did we ever. We must live with the messes and mistakes we have made, as well as within the limits of what our planet can sustain.
    But we do have it in our power to change ourselves, to attempt to right past wrongs, and to repair our relationships with one another and with the planet we share. It’s this work that is the bedrock of shock resistance.
    Adapted from the new book by Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, to be published by Haymarket Books on June 13. www.noisnotenough.org





    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    I watched the four hours of Putin Interviews [they can be found on your cable channel or on the internet], and suggest this highly to all. Very pertinent to Trump and more generally to the endless invention of external 'enemies' to divert attention from crimes and deficiencies at home. Do take the time!! Putin is no fool and I think tells it like it is from his viewpoint.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, at this pivotal moment in U.S.-Russia relations, we’re joined now by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, one of Hollywood’s best-known directors. His films have included Platoon, JFK, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July. Over the past two years, Stone conducted more than 20 hours of interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin, covering issues from NATO to the nuclear arms race, the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the 2016 U.S. election. Showtime is airing a four-part special this week called The Putin Interviews. This is an excerpt.
    OLIVER STONE: But you do realize how powerful your answer could be. If you said subtly that you prefer X candidate, he would go like that tomorrow. And if you say you didn’t like Trump or something—right?—what would happen? He’d be—he’d win, right? You have that amount of power in the U.S.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Unlike many partners of ours, we never interfere with the domestic affairs of other countries. This is one of the principles we stick to in our work.
    OLIVER STONE: Thank you, sir.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: My pleasure.
    OLIVER STONE: We’ll see you tomorrow, talk about some heavier stuff.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you, sir. [translated] Thank you.
    UNIDENTIFIED: Thank you.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you, sir. All the best. See you tomorrow.
    AMY GOODMAN: That’s an excerpt from Oliver Stone’s new Showtime series The Putin Interviews. Oliver Stone is also releasing a companion book compiling the transcripts of his 20 hours of interviews with Vladimir Putin. Oliver Stone joins us here in studio for the rest of the hour.
    Welcome back to Democracy Now!
    OLIVER STONE: Thank you. Thank you, Amy.
    AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us.
    OLIVER STONE: Good to see you, Juan.
    AMY GOODMAN: There is a lot to talk about here and a number of clips we want to play.
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah. And—
    AMY GOODMAN: But—
    OLIVER STONE: Can I just say? That clip, by the way, is from before the election. It was shot on 2015. That was his attitude about the—and he said things before the election also, very polite and never anything bad-mouthing any of the candidates. He’s always been—and he made it very clear back then. I just want to—because we come back to see him after the election, in the fourth chapter.
    AMY GOODMAN: And that’s very interesting. This series, the first two ran this week. They’ll continue to run.
    OLIVER STONE: Right.
    AMY GOODMAN: And then tonight the third, and tomorrow the fourth.
    OLIVER STONE: Right.
    AMY GOODMAN: And it’s in that fourth hour where you really get into, because you’ve returned February 2017, just a few months ago.
    OLIVER STONE: That’s correct.
    AMY GOODMAN: It’s after the election. It’s after Donald Trump becomes president.
    OLIVER STONE: Right.
    AMY GOODMAN: And you really move in on asking him about whether the Russian government hacked the 2016 election. Talk about his response.
    OLIVER STONE: Oh, you want to cut right to that part of it, because it has to do with Washington today. Believe me, we didn’t see this coming, and we never expected we’d have to go back for a fourth trip, because we all thought Ms. Clinton was going to win. So, I’m sure he did, too. I’m sure he did, too. I think he was as surprised as anybody, any one of us. But as he says in the fourth version, he says, "We’ll work with anybody. We will work with anybody. It’s not our policy to intervene, certainly not a country as big as America."
    And, you know, it’s not influenceable in that sense. I think money influences elections. You could say Mr. Koch, the Koch brothers, perhaps—you could say Sheldon Adelson, people like this, do add up. You could say all these lobbies add up. AIPAC adds up. But, you know, Russia’s influence—I was wrong. You see, when I looked at that clip, I was thinking—you know, I’m saying—I don’t think he has that kind of influence. I think I was putting him on a bit and saying—I’m encouraging him to take a position. That’s sort of—that’s what an interviewer does sometimes. You exaggerate. But I don’t think he could make a difference if he said he hated Trump.
    AMY GOODMAN: But you get into that issue of the elections and the hacking of the election.
    OLIVER STONE: Yes.
    AMY GOODMAN: Sure, all of the different forces—
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: —that you just described affect elections, but you drill down on this issue of did Putin, the Russian government, hack the elections.
    OLIVER STONE: As I said, he denies it completely, I mean, without even—he thinks it’s a silly thing. It’s an internal American political struggle. And he has a point.
    I also went into, extensively, if you remember, right after that, into cyberwarfare, because cyberwarfare is a new form of it. We talked about this when I was here for Snowden, in depth actually. Snowden revealed cyberwarfare to us. So much is happening on that front. And one thing he did express very strongly is, we have—the Russians have proposed a treaty, a cyber treaty, to the United States. It’s been in—on the desk for about a year now, and he has no response from the U.S. He would like one. I think we need one. And we can talk about that, too, if you want. It’s very dangerous, cyberwarfare, because of all the rumors and the easy—easy-to-mislead misinformation, fingerprints, thin—the thin evidence that’s presented. It’s very possible now, with the CIA and the—you know, Julian Assange, when he—the Vault 7 leaks a few weeks ago—you covered them, I believe—it was clear that a company like the CIA could in fact forge the footprints of any country onto any hack and make it look like they planted the malware.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you if you’ve been surprised by the level of animosity toward this project of yours by some of the media? And I saw the Colbert segment that was really an attempt to really go after you in an uncharacteristic way, even for Colbert. But because there’s a long history in the United States of journalists going—trying to get interviews. I think of Barbara Walters with Fidel Castro. I think of, going back, even Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China—
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah, yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —going behind the lines of Mao Zedong and providing positive assessments of what was going on in China. And Wilfred Burchett—Wilfred Burchett did many stories—
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —behind the lines in the liberated areas of South Vietnam, interviewing the South Vietnamese leaders, because these journalists felt it was necessary for the American people to see the other side. So I’m wondering how—why this one is—this time around, they’ve been really blasting you.
    OLIVER STONE: Well, this is—listen, you go back in American history—we did Untold History with you, too, and we talked about this bias against Russia since 1917. And we didn’t even recognize Red Russia until 1933 with Roosevelt. He was the first one to build any kind of—and he was the best—he believed in an alliance, a grand alliance, after the war, with Russia, the U.S., England and China. That was—and if he had lived a few more months, I think it would have been a completely different framework for the world. I think Harry Truman had a more limited view. We talked about this, too.
    But Russia, the bias against Russia, they did it. It goes to Ian Fleming novels, to James Bond, the feeling that SMERSH is behind it, or—Mr. Putin has been characterized in a cartoonish way as a Dr. No figure. You don’t go there. And I’m surprised, because Americans should really, if they—they think of him as this threat to America. Our generals say they’re the number one existential threat to the United States. If you believe that, then you should know more about them and what—who their leader is and what they’re actually saying, because they don’t print that. I don’t see him speaking to American people in our language. I mean, he’s always interrupted with a dub, a bad dub, generally speaking, with a harsh voice, a football voice, or, sorry, a football coach’s voice. This is a chance to hear him in his own language. I think the interpreter is very good. He speaks softly, firmly, softly.
    AMY GOODMAN: Well, you don’t put a translator over him. You have—
    OLIVER STONE: No, no.
    AMY GOODMAN: You have subtitles, so that makes an enormous difference.
    OLIVER STONE: I think there’s a harmony there. And I think, after—you know, I’m a filmmaker. I’m approaching it not a newsman. So I see it as a 4-hour project. And in those four hours, you will cover from 2000 all the way up to 2016—’17.
    AMY GOODMAN: How did you—how did you end up doing this?
    OLIVER STONE: By accident, kind of. I was doing the Snowden movie in Germany, and we were communicating a lot with Ed. He lived in Moscow at the time, and we were going there—still is, I’m sorry, not "at the time." And we were going there, talking to him. And at one of those nine times I went over there, I met Mr. Putin for the first time. I knew Mr. Gorbachev and, you know, another world. I knew the old Russia, but I didn’t know Mr. Putin. And he clarified—I asked him about Snowden. And he was—as in the film, he clarified the Russian position on him.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, let’s turn to another—a clip from The Putin Interviews, where you ask him about Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, who was given asylum nearly two [sic] years ago in Russia.
    OLIVER STONE: Let me ask you, I’m sure you must have—as an ex-KGB agent, you must have hated what Snowden did with every fiber of your being.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] No, not at all. Snowden is not a traitor. He didn’t betray the interests of his country, nor did he transfer any information to any other country which would have been pernicious to his own country or to his own people. The only thing Snowden does, he does publicly.
    OLIVER STONE: Did you agree with what he did?
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] No.
    OLIVER STONE: Did you think the National Security Agency had gone too far in its eavesdropping?
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Yes, certainly. In that matter, Snowden was right. But you asked me, and I gave you a direct answer. I think he shouldn’t have done it. If he didn’t like anything at his work, he should have simply resigned. But he went further. That’s his right. But since you are asking me whether it’s right or wrong, I think it’s wrong.
    OLIVER STONE: So, he’s saying that he should not have whistleblown, and he should have resigned in principle, on the principle, like Mr. Putin did when he resigned from the KGB.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Yes, I think so. I had not given it thought, but I think yes. I resigned because I didn’t agree with the actions undertaken by the government.
    OLIVER STONE: OK, so you do agree that the NSA went too far?
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Yes.
    OLIVER STONE: And how do you feel about Russian intelligence activities in their surveillance?
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] I think they’re working quite well. Our intelligence services always conform to the law. That’s the first thing. And secondly, trying to spy on your allies, if you really consider them allies and not vassals, is just indecent, because it undermines trust. And it means that in the end it deals damage to your own national security.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was President Putin talking with you, Oliver, about the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who’s actually been in Russia now for four years, not two, as I said earlier.
    OLIVER STONE: Right, right.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But I wanted to ask you—
    AMY GOODMAN: And we should point out that he’s driving.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes. I wanted to say that, yeah. For those who are only listening on radio, the video is with him driving a car, and you, the passenger. Now, I have to assume that the security on the outside of the car, which the camera didn’t show, must have been fantastic—
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —to be able to have the president of Russia driving a car down a street.
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah, people have noticed that, and they’ve asked me questions like "How come he doesn’t crash, if he—you know, how does he concentrate like this?" But he likes driving. He likes to be in charge this way. And what president do you see driving around the streets? It gets—he’s a judoka. He’s an athlete. He likes to get behind things, drive things, ski. He took up skating at the age of 62. He took up hockey, which is a rough sport. And we show you a hockey game. Very like—he likes competition. He likes the challenge. He was a master, apparently, at judo, still does it every morning. He’s like—he works out seven days a week.
    It’s interesting, you know, what he says about KGB activity. And, you know, he talks about allies, and that was a big point of his. You know, you don’t go after allies. He makes it again in another chapter, that they don’t listen in on allies. It’s quite normal, he says, to have the U.S. and Russia going at it, and China, but never—don’t—and I think that was a shock, if you remember, when Snowden’s news came out, that we were doing this to Japan, that we were planting malware in Japan—we put that in the movie—that we were listening in on Angela Merkel or Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. It’s pretty shocking stuff.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But what about the issue of his repression of Russian society, of protesters, of journalists?
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what was your sense of his response to those questions?
    OLIVER STONE: We go there. We go there—I mean, probably not to your satisfaction, because he feels differently. I mean, one of the arguments he points out is democracy has been only really working in Russia since 1992, when the federation started with Yeltsin. It was a very bumpy start, if you remember. The United States business crowd moved in, and a lot of privatization went the wrong way—a lot of theft, a lot of corruption. And Yeltsin had a very rocky second election in '96. His numbers were very low. It was the United States who supported Yeltsin, with an IMF loan and a lot of behind-the-scenes activity to get him in. And a lot of Russians don't—feel he did not win the ’96 election. So they had a rough start on democracy.
    It was Putin that really actually stabilized the system, the society, and gave it this form that it has now, which we don’t like, and we’ve been criticizing it. But he argues very strongly that there’s laws in Russia, and there are—there’s evidence of it. There’s a Duma. There’s people who get elected. There is a system. There are other parties. It may not meet our satisfaction. But you can be heard, unless you’re calling for the overthrow of the state, you know, which is always—
    AMY GOODMAN: Or if you’re a critical journalist, then you might be killed.
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah, well, we don’t know exactly what—as to evidences, we don’t have any on that. There was the famous case of Anna Politkovskaya. And, frankly, from what I’ve been told by people who know a lot more about it than I do, is, you know, her family knows—her family as well as her editor don’t believe that it was the administration that had anything to do with it. It was much more likely that it was Chechen terrorist leaders. She was writing very tough stuff about Chechnya.
    AMY GOODMAN: On the issue of Edward Snowden, it’s interesting he says he does not agree with him. Yes, they’ve granted political asylum. And it’s important, just because it’s repeated so often the other way, to say that Edward Snowden did not choose to live in Russia. He had his passport yanked by the U.S. when he was flying from Hong Kong, only transiting through Russia, so ended up there. And then Putin granted him political asylum. But interesting that President Putin actually does not agree with what Snowden did, as a former KGB guy.
    OLIVER STONE: He says that very clearly. He says he should have gone through channels, that he should have resigned. I don’t know that he understands fully our system and how difficult it is for a person to work inside that system and say anything. And, you know, in other words, Putin—I know that Mr. Snowden did it for conscience and for his own conscience. I think that’s one of the great stories. That’s why I made the movie.
    AMY GOODMAN: And you’re talking about the feature film you did on Snowden—
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah, the feature film, yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: —as opposed to these—these four hours of interviews that are posting—on Putin interviews.
    OLIVER STONE: Well, this is him. I’m not making judgments here, and I’m not really—I’m not arguing back. I’m not going to change his mind. What I’m going to do to—hopefully, is show his mind to people who are interested in knowing what we’re talking about, because he receives so much criticism here. You know, you have to balance it with something. You have to listen.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I thought one of the most fascinating parts in the interviews was the understanding of his perspective of how, when Russia came out—when the Soviet Union collapses, and the Gorbachev period and the Yeltsin period, that he felt that the predatory nature of the capitalism that first came into Russia was something that had to be opposed, and that, in essence, that he felt—that he basically told the capitalists, "Look, you guys are out of control. You know, the pension systems, the conditions of the people have gotten too—they cannot be sustained this way." And so he attempted, essentially, to curb the most rapacious form of capitalism.
    OLIVER STONE: Absolutely true. That’s why he’s popular, because he did it. He not only put Russian economy back on its feet, he got income back to the people. He was, in a sense, a populist dictator at that point, because—I wouldn’t even say dictator, just he was an authoritarian. But he got that economy going. And they’re thankful. Now, things change. It’s been 16 years, off and on. He’s been president three times, prime minister one time. But they really—they like his resilience. And they feel—even Mr. Gorbachev, who was very critical of him early on, says that he’s the man for now, because he—everyone in Russia understands the pressure the United States is bringing, and NATO is bringing, on the borders of Russia.
    AMY GOODMAN: You have this conversation, right at that time after World War II, where he talks about—well, he refers to the United States as "our partners."
    OLIVER STONE: Yes.
    AMY GOODMAN: And he says he thinks that the Soviets made a mistake in forming two—what does he say?—polar camps.
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah. I disagree with him. I understand, but I was surprised he said that.
    AMY GOODMAN: But he seems to be critical of communism.
    OLIVER STONE: Yes, yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: And you also ask him, are you—
    OLIVER STONE: I think he was more critical of it than I was. Yes, definitely. He wasn’t—
    AMY GOODMAN: And he—and you say to him, "Are you the richest man in the world, as some people say?"
    OLIVER STONE: Later, yeah, yeah. I think he thinks that’s a pretty silly question. I don’t—you know, let’s put it this way: He may have some money that I don’t know about. He may have been corrupt early on in some ways. Maybe he got—but I didn’t see evidence of it in the sense of his lifestyle or his thought process. He is a man who works 12 hours a day. And we had a long discussion about materialism. And he made it very clear that he lives by another standard. And I think it’s a devotion to Russia, the national interests of Russia. And I think he has a strong dose of spirituality in him, the Russian Eastern Church very important to him. He wasn’t—it wasn’t he who led it back into its popularity. It was the people who took it up again, because there was a void after communism.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, in this clip from The Putin Interviews, Vladimir Putin—
    OLIVER STONE: The church?
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —talks about NATO. You mentioned NATO before.
    OLIVER STONE: There’s a funny clip when I’m in the church, and I say, "Where do you pray?" And he says, "You don’t pray kneeling down in Russia."
    AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go to that clip.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Nowadays, NATO is a mere instrument of foreign policy of the U.S. It has no allies, it has only vassals. Once a country becomes a NATO member, it is hard to resist the pressures of the U.S. And all of the sudden any weapon system can be placed in this country—an anti-ballistic missile system, new military bases and, if need be, new offensive systems. And what are we supposed to do? In this case, we have to take countermeasures. We have to aim our missile systems at facilities that are threatening us. The situation becomes more tense.
    Why are we so acutely responding to the expansion of NATO? Well, as a matter of fact, we understand the value, or lack thereof, and the threat of this organization. But what we’re concerned about is the following. We are concerned by the practice of how decisions are made. I know how decisions are taken there. I remember one of our last meetings with President Clinton in Moscow. During the meeting, I said, "We would consider an option that Russia might join NATO." Clinton said, "Why not?" But the U.S. delegation got very nervous.
    OLIVER STONE: Have you applied?
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: NATO, and your summation of that?
    OLIVER STONE: Thirteen countries have joined NATO since Clinton made this, I think, rash decision to expand it to the east. That was not the promise made by Baker and the senior Bush to Gorbachev. Gorbachev swears to this. That was not put on paper. This is one of the reasons that Putin is upset with Gorbachev, as a practical man, as a politician. It should have been on paper, but it wasn’t. So they see Gorbachev as acting out of weakness, and, as a result, the whole Soviet Union collapsed very quickly. And 25 million people, roughly, were left outside the old borders, without—with new countries, without the protection of the Soviet Union, their pensions and so forth not met. And then, of course, the internal system collapsed. So, it was an ugly time, and a second Chechen war broke out. You know, we talked about NATO, but NATO is a huge problem for them, not for us. And a lot of the people who are in NATO now are very anti-Russian, Eastern countries, and anything can happen. An accident like in Dr. Strangelove could happen very, very easily.
    AMY GOODMAN: And we’re going to get to his response to Dr. Strangelove in a minute.
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: He even says he’d like to join NATO.
    OLIVER STONE: Well, he was kind of joking, and he was—no, what was surprising about it was Clinton’s quick response: "Why not?" You know, that’s the way Clinton used to kind of act. And when the delegation heard that, their faces dropped. They didn’t want Russia in NATO, because NATO would have—they’d have a veto. And none of—and he makes the point that none of these countries in NATO have ever said no to the United States’ positions, never, which is, he says, vassals. They’re not allies. They’re vassals. It’s interesting.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: One of the things that came across to me was also the command of detail and the thought processes that he goes through when you’re asking questions. It’s clear, as you mention at one point, that he reads the actual reports, not summaries.
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah, yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you compare him to President Obama, who did the same thing, that he never got his intelligence summaries. He actually read the actual reports to make up his own mind.
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So there’s really a hands-on approach to his governance of the country.
    OLIVER STONE: He’s a CEO who kicks the tires. He really works too hard. I was worried about his health, you know, 16 years of this. I said, "Why don’t you act more like Reagan and have some fun, eat jelly beans and smile more? People would appreciate it." He understands the value of that, but it’s not his style.
    AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to a break and then come back to more of The Putin Interviews. Our guest is the three-time Academy Award-winning director and screenwriter Oliver Stone. Stay with us.
    [break]
    AMY GOODMAN: "Stress" by Justice. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, let’s turn to another clip from The Putin Interviews, where the Russian president talks about how the Soviet Union entered the nuclear arms race.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] You remember how the nuclear project developed? When the United States created the nuclear bomb and the Soviet Union entered the race and started to actively develop the nuclear program. Russia had both Russian scientists working, foreign scientists, Germans primarily. But our intelligence also received a lot of information from the United States. Suffice it to remember the Rosenberg spouses, who were electrocuted. They didn’t acquire that information. They were just transferring that information. But who acquired it? The scientists themselves, those who developed the atomic bomb. Why did they do that? Because they understood the dangers. They let the genie out of the bottle. And now the genie cannot be put back. And this international team of scientists, I think they were more intelligent than the politicians. They provided this information to the Soviet Union of their own volition to restore the nuclear balance in the world. And what are we doing right now? We’re trying to destroy this balance. And that’s a great mistake.
    OLIVER STONE: So stop referring to them as partners, "our partners." You’ve said that too much.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] But the dialogue has to be pursued further.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Oliver Stone, his views on the nuclear arms race?
    OLIVER STONE: He’s a resilient negotiator. He comes back. He doesn’t take no. He always talks and tries to keep it open. He’s worried. I saw him more wary than ever. Listen, this thing is dangerous, because we put ABMs in Poland and Romania. You know that. It’s a stated fact. ABMs are very dangerous. They can be shifted into offensive weapons overnight. They won’t know—the Russians won’t know what’s in the air, if it’s offensive or defensive. And they’re very close. So the time—it’s not like Dr. Strangelove, where you have a little more time. In that movie, you had an hour or two hours or whatever it was. Now you’re down to 15 minutes. So there’s much more chance of an accident.
    The problem is with parity and America committing again, under Obama, to another trillion-dollar program to remodernize all our nuclear weapons. It’s a hopeless race, because you’re going to—either we’re going to—the Russian economy is not going to be able to keep up. They have—they spend one-tenth of our budget on military. And what’s going to happen if we keep spending and blowing them out? We have a—we want first-strike superiority. I believe we may have it. And when we have it, what are we going to do with it? With people like Mattis and the people in the Defense Department, you have to worry.
    AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to your most recent interview with Vladimir Putin in February, so this is when Donald Trump is president, when you asked him about Senator John McCain, a well-known fierce critic of Vladimir Putin.
    OLIVER STONE: And it seems we have Senator McCain, for example, today or yesterday, was proposing a veto, a Senate veto, of any lifting of sanctions from Trump, in advance.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] You know, unfortunately, there are many senators like that in the United States.
    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Putin is a killer. There is no moral equivalent between the United States and Putin’s Russia. I repeat, there is no moral equivalent between that butcher and thug and KGB colonel and the United States of America, the country that Ronald Reagan used to call a shining city on a hill.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Well, honestly, I like Senator McCain, to a certain extent. And I’m not joking. I like him because of his patriotism. And I can relate to his consistency in fighting for the interests of his own country. You know, in ancient Rome there was Marcus Porcius Cato the Elder, who always finished all of his speeches using the same words: "Carthage must be destroyed."
    OLIVER STONE: "Carthage must be destroyed."
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] People with such convictions, like the senator you mentioned, they still live in the old world, and they’re reluctant to look into the future. They are unwilling to recognize how fast the world is changing. They do not see the real threat, and they cannot leave behind the past, which is always dragging them back.
    On the other hand, we’ve been supporting the U.S. fight for independence. We were allies during World War I and War War II. Right now there are common threats we’re both facing, like international terrorism. We’ve got to fight poverty across the world, the environmental deterioration, which is a real threat to all humanity. After all, we’ve piled up so many nuclear weapons that it has become a threat to the whole world, as well. And it would be good for us to give it some thought. There are many issues to address.
    AMY GOODMAN: If you can respond to his response to McCain? Also, you actually are more critical of Putin when you’re questioning him than here? I mean, you drill down a lot—
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: —whether you were talking about the Russian hacking of the elections, which, by the way, just recently, Putin said, talking about Russian hackers may have—having to play a role, he suggested that that may well have been the case. And it’s not just about hacking or getting into the spaces. A lot of countries do it—
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: —and especially the United States, as well. It’s about weaponizing that and releasing that information. But you were quite critical when you were actually speaking to him.
    OLIVER STONE: I was trying. You know, it’s—I am digging. So people—there are things people say. You know, when you put a camera on somebody for four hours, there is a certain behavior, the eyes. There’s a feeling about the person you get. You can’t get that from reading the text. So, I think there’s great value in a camera and the body language. His body language is fascinating, because it’s not very overt. You don’t see the Castro mannerisms or the Chávez ones, but you see little things.
    AMY GOODMAN: Both of whom you’ve interviewed.
    OLIVER STONE: And his—yeah—and his eyes are very half-Asiatic. You know, they’re almost—they’re Russian eyes. But you see—I know the man much better after spending time watching him. I have to say, he likes patriotism. He’s certainly a nationalist in that way, in the interest of Russia, not bellicose, but a wounded nationalism. He feels that patriotism is important in Russia, the idea of Russia, not a return to the old empire, but a continuation of a new empire that’s capitalist with a market economy that would work in Europe.
    AMY GOODMAN: Let’s get to Putin discussing Fidel Castro, assassination attempts and his own personal security.
    OLIVER STONE: Sure.
    OLIVER STONE: And in 2012, you run for president, and you win by 63 percent?
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yeah, right.
    OLIVER STONE: Three times president, five assassination attempts, I’m told—not as much as Castro, who I’ve interviewed. I think he must have had 50. But there’s a legitimate five I’ve heard about.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Yes, I talked with Castro about that. And he said to me, "Do you know why I’m still alive?" And I asked him, "Why?" "Because I was always the one to deal with my security personally." I do my job, and the security officers do theirs. And they are still performing quite successfully.
    OLIVER STONE: In other words, you trust your security, and they’ve done a great job.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] I trust them.
    OLIVER STONE: Because always the first mode of assassination, you try to get inside the security of the—of the presidency.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] I know that. Do you know what they say among the Russian people? They say that those who are destined to be hanged are not going to drown.
    OLIVER STONE: What is your fate, sir? Have you—do you know?
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Only God knows our destiny—yours and mine.
    OLIVER STONE: To die in bed maybe.
    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] One day this is going to happen to each and every one of us. The question is what we will have accomplished by then in this transient world and whether we’ll have enjoyed our life.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Putin philosophizing about life and death as a leader. Your sense of how he approaches the possibility of possible assassination?
    OLIVER STONE: Yeah. Well, I think he has a very Russian philosophical view. I was kidding him about Dostoevsky. But, you know, when you’ve been the leader of a—vilified like you have, and you have Chechen terrorists trying to kill you, and, you know, Syrians now, it’s not easy to run this whole thing. Every day, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen. The United States may do something again very provocative.
    AMY GOODMAN: Well, he, like the U.S., is also killing Syrians. I think the U.S., now, -led coalition has surpassed Russia, but they have both been, to say the least, complicit.
    OLIVER STONE: Well, I don’t want to get off topic, but, basically, you know, the bombing, the Russian bombing, on the roads against the trucks really destroyed the foundation of the ISIS empire, which is money and oil, shipping through Turkey. He got to the base. Obama bombed for what? Three, four years, didn’t achieve anything. He talks about running a hundred sorties a day. The Russians were intense. It seemed to stop the flow, the momentum. As to terrorism—
    AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.
    OLIVER STONE: —you know his feelings, because he comes from a background where there’s been a lot of it in Russia.

    Why Don’t the U.S. Mainstream Media Report Vladimir Putin’s Take on the Ukraine Crisis?

    Posted on Jun 14, 2017

    By Robert Parry / Consortiumnews

    Oliver Stone, right, interviews Russian President Vladimir Putin for “The Putin Interview,” a four-part series on Showtime. (Showtime)

    A prime example of how today’s mainstream media paradigm works in the U.S. is the case of Ukraine, where Americans have been shielded from evidence that the 2014 ouster of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych was a U.S.-supported coup d’etat spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi extremists.
    As The New York Times has instructed us, there was no coup in Ukraine; there was no U.S. interference; and there weren’t even that many neo-Nazis. And, the ensuing civil conflict wasn’t a resistance among Yanukovych’s supporters to his illegal ouster; no, it was “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”
    If you deviate from this groupthink – if you point out how U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talked about the U.S. spending $5 billion on Ukraine; if you mention her pre-coup intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who the new leaders would be and how “to glue” or how “to “midwife this thing”; if you note how Nuland and Sen. John McCain urged on the violent anti-Yanukovych protesters; if you recognize that snipers firing from far-right-controlled buildings killed both police and protesters to provoke the climactic ouster of Yanukovych; and if you think all that indeed looks like a coup – you obviously are the victim of “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”
    But most Americans probably haven’t heard any of that evidence revealing a coup, thanks to the mainstream U.S. media, which has essentially banned those deviant facts from the public discourse. If they are mentioned at all, they are lumped together with “fake news” amid the reassuring hope that soon there will be algorithms to purge such troublesome information from the Internet.So, if Americans tune in to Part Three of Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews” on “Showtime” and hear Russian President Vladimir Putin explain his perspective on the Ukraine crisis, they may become alarmed that Putin, leader of a nuclear-armed country, is delusional.
    A Nuanced Perspective
    In reality, Putin’s account of the Ukraine crisis is fairly nuanced. He notes that there was genuine popular anger over the corruption that came to dominate Ukraine after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 and the selling off of the nation’s assets to well-connected “oligarchs.”
    Putin recognizes that many Ukrainians felt that an association with the European Union could help solve their problems. But that created a problem for Russia because of the absence of tariffs between Russia and Ukraine and concerns about the future of bilateral trade that is especially important to Ukraine, which stood to lose some $160 billion.
    When Yanukovych decided to postpone the E.U. agreement so he could iron out that problem, protests erupted, Putin said. But — from that point on — Putin’s narrative deviates from what the U.S. government and mainstream media tell the American people.
    “Our European and American partners managed to mount this horse of discontent of the people and instead of trying to find out what was really happening, they decided to support the coup d’etat,” Putin said.
    Contrary to the U.S. claims blaming Yanukovych for the violence in the Maidan protests, Putin said, “Yanukovych didn’t give an order to use weapons against civilians. And incidentally, our Western partners, including the United States, asked us to influence him so that he did not give any orders to use weapons. They told us, ‘We ask you to prevent President Yanukovych from using the armed forces.’ And they promised … they were going to do everything for the opposition to clear the squares and the administrative buildings.
    “We said, ‘Very well, that is a good proposal. We are going to work on it.’ And, as you know, President Yanukovych didn’t resort to using the Armed Forces. And President Yanukovych said that he couldn’t imagine any other way of dealing with this situation. He couldn’t sign an order on the use of weapons.”
    Though Putin did not specifically finger blame for the sniper fire on Feb. 20, 2014, which killed more than a dozen police and scores of protesters, he said, “Well, who could have placed these snipers? Interested parties, parties who wanted to escalate the situation. … We have information available to us that armed groups were trained in the western parts of Ukraine itself, in Poland, and in a number of other places.”
    After the bloodshed of Feb. 20, Yanukovych and opposition leaders on Feb. 21 signed an accord, brokered and guaranteed by three European governments, for early elections and, in the meantime, a reduction of Yanukovych’s powers.
    Ignoring a Political Deal
    But the opposition, led by neo-Nazi and other extreme nationalist street fighters, brushed aside the agreement and escalated their seizing of government buildings, although The New York Times and other U.S. accounts would have the American people believe that Yanukovych simply abandoned his office.
    “That’s the version used to justify the support granted to the coup,” Putin said. “Once the President left for Kharkov, the second largest city in the country to attend an internal political event, armed men seized the Presidential Residence. Imagine something like that in the U.S., if the White House was seized, what would you call that? A coup d’etat? Or say that they just came to sweep the floors?
    “The Prosecutor General was shot at, one of the security officers was wounded. And the motorcade of President Yanukovych himself was shot at. So it’s nothing short of an armed seizure of power. Moreover, one day afterwards he used our support and relocated to Crimea (where he stayed for more than a week) thinking that there was still a chance that those who put their signatures on the (Feb. 21) agreement with the opposition would make an attempt to settle this conflict by civilized democratic legal means. But that never happened and it became clear that if he were taken he would be killed.
    “Everything can be perverted and distorted, millions of people can be deceived, if you use the monopoly of the media. But in the end, I believe that for an impartial spectator it is clear what has happened – a coup d’etat had taken place.”
    Putin noted how the new regime in Kiev immediately sought to limit use of the Russian language and allowed extreme nationalist elements to move against eastern provinces known as the Donbass where ethnic Russians were the vast majority of the population.
    Putin continued, “First, there were attempts at arresting them [ethnic Russians] using the police, but the police defected to their side quite quickly. Then the central authorities started to use Special Forces and in the night, people were snatched and taken to prison. Certainly, people in Donbass, after that, they took up arms.
    “But once this happened, hostilities started so instead of engaging in dialogue with people in the southeast part of Ukraine, they [Ukraine government officials] used Special Forces, and started to use weapons directly – tanks and even military aircraft. There were strikes from multiple rocket launchers against residential neighborhoods. … We repeatedly appealed to this new leadership asking them to abstain from extreme actions.”
    However, the civil conflict only grew worse with thousands of people killed in some of the worst violence that Europe has seen since World War II. In the U.S. mainstream media, however, the crisis was blamed entirely on Putin and Russia.
    The Crimea Case
    As for the so-called “annexation” of Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea that was historically part of Russia and that even after the Soviet break-up hosted a major Russian naval base at Sevastopol, Putin’s account also deviated sharply from what Americans have been told.
    When Stone asked about the “annexation,” Putin responded: “We were not the ones to annex Crimea. The citizens of Crimea decided to join Russia. The legitimate parliament of Crimea, which was elected based on the Ukrainian legislation, announced a referendum. The Parliament, by an overwhelming majority, voted to join Russia.
    “The coup d’etat in Ukraine was accompanied by a surge in violence. And there was even the threat that violence would be perpetrated by nationalists against Crimea, against those who consider themselves to be Russian and who think Russian is their mother language. And people got concerned — they were preoccupied by their own safety.
    “According to the corresponding international agreement [with Ukraine], we had a right to have 20,000 people at our military base in the Crimea. We had to facilitate the work of the Parliament of Crimea, the representative government body, in order for this Parliament to be able to assemble and affect actions in accordance with the law.
    “The people had to feel they were safe. Yes, we created conditions for people to go to polling stations, but we did not engage in any hostilities. More than 90 percent of the Crimean population turned out, they voted, and once the ballot was cast, the [Crimean] Parliament, based on the outcome of the referendum, addressed the Russian parliament, asking to incorporate it into the Russian Federation.
    “Moreover, Ukraine lost the territory, not due to Russia’s position, but due to the position assumed by those who are living in Crimea. These people didn’t want to live under the banner of nationalists.”
    Stone challenged some of Putin’s concerns that Ukraine might have turned the Russian naval base over to NATO. “Even if NATO made an agreement with Ukraine, I still don’t see a threat to Russia with the new weaponry,” Stone said.
    Putin responded: “I see a threat. The threat consists in the fact that once NATO comes to this or that country, the political leadership of that country as a whole, along with its population, cannot influence the decisions NATO takes, including the decisions related to stationing the military infrastructure. Even very sensitive weapons systems can be deployed. I’m also talking about the anti-ballistic missile systems.”
    Putin also argued that the U.S. government exploited the situation in Ukraine to spread hostile propaganda against Russia, saying:
    ”Through initiating the crisis in Ukraine, they’ve [American officials] managed to stimulate such an attitude towards Russia, viewing Russia as an enemy, a possible potential aggressor. But very soon everyone is going to understand, that there is no threat whatsoever emanating from Russia, either to the Baltic countries, or to Eastern Europe, or to Western Europe.”
    A Dangerous Standoff
    Putin shed light, too, on a little-noticed confrontation involving a U.S. destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, that steamed through the Black Sea toward Crimea in the middle of the crisis but turned back when Russian aircraft buzzed the ship and Russia activated its shoreline defense systems.
    Stone compared the situation to the Cuban Missile Crisis when a Soviet ship turned back rather than challenge the blockade that President John Kennedy had established around the island. But Putin didn’t see the confrontation with the U.S. destroyers as grave as that.
    Putin said, “Once Crimea became a full-fledged part of the Russian Federation, our attitude toward this territory changed dramatically. If we see a threat to our territory, and Crimea is now part of Russia, just as any other country, we will have to protect our territory by all means at our disposal. …
    “I wouldn’t draw an analogy with the Cuban Missile Crisis, because back then the world was on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse. Luckily, the situation didn’t go so far this time. Even though we did indeed deploy our most sophisticated, our cutting-edge systems for the coastal defense,” known as the Bastion.
    “Certainly – against such missiles as the ones we’ve deployed in Crimea – such a ship as the Destroyer Donald Cook is simply defenseless. … Our Commanders always have the authorization to use any means for the defense of the Russian Federation. … Yes , certainly it would have been very bad. What was the Donald Cook doing so close to our land? Who was trying to provoke whom? And we are determined to protect our territory. …
    “Once the destroyer was located and detected, they [the U.S. crew] saw that there was a threat, and the ship itself saw that it was the target of the missile systems. I don’t know who the Captain was, but he showed much restraint, I think he is a responsible man, and a courageous officer to boot. I think it was the right decision that he took. He decided not to escalate the situation. He decided not to proceed. It doesn’t at all mean that it would have been attacked by our missiles, but we had to show them that our coast was protected by the missile systems.
    “The Captain sees right away that his ship has become the target of missile systems – he has special equipment to detect such kinds of situations. … But indeed we were brought to the brink, so to speak. … Yes, certainly. We had to respond somehow. Yes, we were open to positive dialogue. We did everything to achieve a political settlement. But they [U.S. officials] had to give their support to this unconstitutional seizure of power. I still wonder why they had to do that?”
    It also remains a question why the U.S. mainstream media feels that it must protect the American people from alternative views even as the risks of nuclear confrontation escalate.
    Regarding other issues discussed by Putin, click here. For more on Stone’s style in interviewing Putin, click here.

    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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