"The Kookery Underlying Impeachment”"
1/25/20 Daniel Lazare on the Democrats’ Paranoid Ukraine Fantasy
The Scott Horton Show (January 28, 2020)
Daniel Lazare discusses the ongoing impeachment proceedings against President Trump, which he calls nothing more than a continuation of the Russiagate delusion. He and Scott rehash some of the history that has led America to the point where it even feels like Russia is a serious threat to the U.S., namely the policies of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. If your version of history began yesterday, it’s easy to think something must be done in response “Russian aggression,” but if you understand what came before, none of this really looks like Russia’s fault after all. Sadly Trump is carrying on many of the same deleterious policies as cover against the kinds of accusations being leveled at him by the democrats.
Discussed on the show:
"I'm Scott Horton and this is anti-war radio. ... On the line I've got Daniel Lazare. He's been wrting for us at antiwar.com and thank goodness for that. I really like this stuff. 'Democrats Invoke Cold War Narrative to Push Impeachment and Adam Schiff's Very Scary Warmongering Speech'. Welcome back to the show. How are you doing, Dan?" ... [an exchange of pleasantries] ..."
Scott Horton "What in the hell is going on with these Democrats? I mean, they are impeaching Donald Trump and I kind of like that, but it seems like they're swinging and missing on the topic of his crimes here."
[1:21] Daniel Lazare: "This whole thing here, this whole episode, just gets weirder and weirder. First of all, the Democrats have been trying to throw out Trump from literally the moment he took office. In fact, on Janurary 20, 2017, at 12:19 pm, i.e., nineteen minutes after the Oath of Office was adminstered, the Washington Post ran a story entitled: 'The Effort to Impeach Trump has begun.' And they have been trying this non-stop. And the thing went on through Russiagate. It hardly missed a beat when Mueller found that there was no evidence of 'collusion.' And then, of course, when Eric Chiaramella, the CIA agent whose name we are not supposed to mention, sent his seven-page memo to the House Judiciary Committee, then the ancient machinery went into action and impeachment took off. But impeachment is simply an occasion to resurrect and update this old and discredited Russia-gate narrative. So, when we see Adam Schiff on the House [Senate?] floor talking for two-and-a-half hours, what he is doing, he is engaging in a marathon scaremongering rant in which the whole point is that Russia is going to invade, it's gonna invade, the only thing holding them off is little Ukraine. If it wasn't for Ukraine, they's be rampaging through the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and therefore Trump is clearly a Russian agent of some sort beause he tried to cut-off military aid to brave little Ukraine because essentially he absorbed Russian propaganda. It is a deleriously paranoid fantasy that is now being pushed on the country by the Democrats. And it is dangerous. They're out-hawking -- Trump is the guy who has brought the middle east to the verge of a 1914-style military blowout. And yet the Democrats are actually out-hawking this guy. It's amazing."
[3:54] Scott Horton: "And here's the thing of it, too, man, is the level of belief in the narrative here.You mention after the Mueller Report came out and the whole thing was a big flop. The media is so divided that the partisans of the Russiagate narrative, they never really had to deal with that. Because there were enough of them twisting little scraps out of the to makie it seem like they were right all along. And they just keep going, anyway." ...
[4: 23] "There are a few dissenting voices on the left like yourself saying, 'Regardless of how much you don't like Trump, this is crazy. But in terms of the Left, half of American political culture, they seem by and large to have gone for it: hook, line, and sinker."
[4:40] Scott Horton. “I saw where Tulsi Gabbard, there was a tweet that someone sent me a link, she did a push-up contest with some guy at some event and the first response of the tweet was, ‘Yes. But she’s a Russian agent.’ And there is no sense of irony there, whatsoever. It's just: ‘I heard that somewhere that, yeah, the Russians are running a Democrat in the primaries this year. And I don’t know why the F.B.I. isn’t keeping her off the Armed Services Committee.' But, hey, there must be something to it, Dan, because I heard it on a tweet somewhere. And they all re-tweet it and they all believe in it. They will believe in it. Like your Uncle Bob who still thinks that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction. They’re never going to let this go.”
[5:18] Daniel Lazarre: Yes. You're absolutely correct. And the way the logic works, and the way the Adam Schiff logic works, is that if you deviate from orthodoxy, and your arguments in any way parallel those with Russia, then that itself is strong evidence, if not outright proof that you are somehow working at the behest of the Kremlin. And whose arguments don't overlap at times with those of the Kremlin? I mean, parallels like that can be drawn among anyone. But essentially it means that if you deviate from the Adam Schiff Democratic party orthodoxy then you are a Russian agent. And this has been applied to Tulsi Gabbard. It's been applied to Jill Stein. It's been applied to Bernie Sanders. And it will keep on going. "
[6:15] Scott Horton: "You know, it's interesting to me about the different incentives for this. This is clearly just the Military Industrial Complex / National Security State party line, but what is it about a liberal Democrat that makes them so susceptible to this. Now that the Russians aren't The Reds, because Vladimir Putin is essentially a white christian Republican and that's why they hate and fear him so much? Is that it?"
[6:41] Daniel Lazarre: “The Democrats are exploding at the moment. You have the Hillary wing and the Sanders wing pulling apart. Sanders is pulling ahead in the polls, and the Hillary center is going nuts. And Adam Schiff is a die-hard neocon. I mean, a man who is every bit as bad as Hillary Clintion, if not even worse. The guy who backed The Authorization to Use Military Force in 2001. The invasion of Afghanistan. The invastion of Iraq. Obama's air war against Libya. He called for a no-fly zone in Syria. And he also backed the Saudi air war on Yemen. So he is as bad as they come. And he represents this incredibly bellicose, imperialistic, blindly pro-Israel Democratic 'Center.' And this clique, this group has been really more war-like than any other segment of the Washington political establishment. Even more than the GOP. And certainly more than the isolationist, libertarian wing of the GOP, or, on the other hand the Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez left wing of the Democrats. But this is the wing which has now come back into power by virtue of impeachment. Because Schiff is the guy who is leading the charge. And he's leading the charge in order to get this group's, this Democratic centrist mesage on course, and make it into the reigning orthodoxy. And as the reigning orthodoxy it's a very far reaching orthodoxy. Because it means that you've got to be part of this anti-Russian military build-up. And that implies you've got to be pro-Israel and anti-Iran, in an attempt to re-impose this whole Cold War, aggressive mind-set. And give it a new burst of life. And that's what he's doing, and that's what impeachment is doing."
[9:00] Scott Horton: "Yeah. I't really something to see. They say it's about obstruction and alleged attempted extortion of the Ukrainian president. But then, they keep bringing up, as Schiff put it kind of shocking but not surprising sort of thing, he actually said these words: "We're fighting them over there so that we don't have to fight them over here. Which is the party line that Dubya Bush Republicans said about Al Qaeda. We have to fight them over there even if were are no terorists in Iraq and we just created 50,000 of them. Well, at least we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here. That was the dumbest thing that anybody ever said, back then. And now, it's [names two] State Department experts in their testimony and now Adam Schiff, all three said that exact same thing, invoked that exact same reasoning. .. Could anybody really believe that the Russian navy is bringing troops to our East Coast. What could they possibly mean by that?"
[10:10 ] Daniel Lazare: "How could they possibly have believed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and posed a direct threat? There was no evidence. And that lie led to an invasion which tore up the Middle East, whose effects are still being felt today. So they are trying to lay the basis for some kind of new conflict. We cannot even be sure what it is, but we can be sure that it's coming down, because once this new mentality is in place, the basis for some kind of confrontation will be laid. So, when people wonder how wars get started, it's because these sorts of world views that Schiff is advancing are accepted. They're not combated. They're not challenged. They're not refuted. They're just simply accepted. You know. Blindly, blandly, impassively, etc. It's absolutely astonishing.And the fact that Demcorats are the avenue for this.
[11:28] Scott Horton: "Really. You know you've got the word "Narrative" right in the title of this thing: "The Democrats are invoking this Cold War narrative. Which raises the question: How can we defeat this?" I have a very bad, kind of half-measure sort of idea: Just bring up Dubya Bush and blame it on him. If the whole narrative is that everything going on here is Russian aggression then we're all defending ourselves. And we have to disrupt that. Then, if there is somebody who can be blamed, because you're talking about the Democrats, and there's no point in bringing up Bill Clinton to them, or Barack Obama to them. Their idols. But what about Dubya Bush. He got us out of the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He expanded NATO by 8 or 10 more countries. Put our troops all the way into the Baltic states. Picked a fight and did a coup-d'etat in Ukraine in 2004. I mean these things are all true, and just as true about Clinton and Obama, of course, but, something, anything, what do we do, Dan, to get people to open their mind up to a little bit of a more accurate history of the post-Cold War world leading up to this current situation? Because on the other side, they really make it sound like Putin's going to be in Portugal before the end of the week.
[12:53] Daniel Lazare: "Exactly right. It's just ludicrous, but, yes, this nonsense is going unchallenged. In fact, everybody's applauding it and Schiff. Some think that Schiff is doing a great job. Sciff is flooded with campaign contributions. He'll probably run for the Senate. He's a rising star. And the more his star rises, the more the Democratic party in general adopts his outlook. It's astonishing. And we have Sanders who is trying to straddle both worlds. I mean, Sanders, believe it or not, has also embraced this Russia-gate narrative. In 2018, he introduced a resolution into the Senate calling on Senators to go on record as endorsing the intelligence community's finding about Russian interference. Now the resolution thankfully went nowhere because the Republicans wouldn't support it. But here's a guy who calls himself a socialist who essentially is forming an alliance, putting himself forward as the defender, and even champion of the intelligence agency. It's just bonkers."
[14:18] ... [ads] ...
[15:33] Scott Horton: "Now, we're in the middle of the Senate trial here, although, I wouldn't know it. I tell you, when I read in your piece, the first sentence is that Sciff gave a two-and-a-half hour speech. I about died laughing, stuck reading my history book of about 30 years ago, but I'm glad I missed that. But it's all pre-ordained this is going nowhere anyway. Is it very important? It does leave some kind of mark, right?"
[16:05] Daniel Lazare: "I think it's tremendously important. First thing is I think it's important for a number of reasons. One of which is that it is going to wind up playing into Trump's hand. It'll strengthen Trump. I think that Trunp will benefit from this, and as you may be aware there are talks going on, it's not certain how they are advancing, but there's talk about Democrats and Republicans doing a deal in which the Democrats get to subpoena John Bolton and in return the Republicans get to subpeona the Bidens. Now that probably won't go anywhere. But if it does go anywhere, I guarantee that Bolton will not have anything very important to say. But I guarantee that putting the Bidens on the stand will be first-claas entertainment and the Republicans will have a ball cross examining them. So if the Democrats do fall for that, then Trump will be overjoyed. And this whole, ridiculous impeachment fiasco will wind up working in his favor even more thoroughly than it already has."
[17:32] "As for the longer-range things, we'll see what happens. But with the nomination, it looks like Sanders is going to get it. If Sanders gets it and it's a sanders versus Trump contest, that will be the most fascinating U.S. presidential contest since at least 1912 if not 1860. And Sanders will have to figure out what to do about this whole Russia-gate question because if he does embrace it, he get himself tangled up in a mess which Trump will be able to exploit."
[18:12] Scott Horton: "Well, I think they'll agree that nobody testifies instead of a compromise where Bolton and the Bidens have to come. But I guess we'll just have to see where that goes.But you're right. That would be hilarious just to see the Bidens explaining themselves. Because there's a lot there."
[18:32] Daniel Lazare: Did you see, by the way, Schumer's resolution? For witnesses he wanted to call and evidence he wanted to vacuum up? Schumer essentially put forth this resolution calling on the Trump White House to turn over everything. Every god damn thing. Every conversation. Everything having to do with a whole, long list of activities. Trump's relations with Ukraine. This. That. This. That. It was a vacuum cleaner approach in which the Democrats sought Senate authorization to vacuum up thousands and thousands of White House documents that essentially would have had the administration doing nothing else for the next four months but emptying their file cabinets and turning them over to the Senate Democrats. Needless to say, the Republicans crushed it immediately. But if Schumer had gotten his way, what that would have meant was that the impeachment proceeding would have dragged on for months and months, well into the Spring and Summer, i.e., well into the height of the Presidential campaign."
[19:53] Scott Horton: "I don't know. At the end of the day, I'm for this. I want all Presidents impeached. I hope that every president has to face this kind of garbage."
Daniel Lazare: But shouldn't the American people have the opportunity to actually vote?
Scott Horton: "well, that, too. But the thing is, I don't want a strong ANY branch, but especially I don't want a strong executive branch. I want them all hemmed in as many ways as possible. However, and it's so important to know, and I learned this as a kid. So, Nixon launched a war against Cambodia that nobody gave him the say-so that he had the permission to do, and that was all right. But hush money for this burglary thing, this is where we color outside the lines and get caught. That's where the trouble is. But a secret war and an illegal war is never outside the lines. That's the same kind of thing here as you mentioned where this guy Schiff is almost uniquely bad as a Democrat. Nancy Pelosi and a majority of the Democrats, to their credit, voted against Iraq War II, but he wasn't one of them. As you said here and I think you had a link in your article, did the research to show, he's been supoortive of the war in Yemen, which is about on the order of the war in Cambodia in terms of completely illegal, undeclared, and actually genocidal in its strategy in targeting the civilian population. And this is the thing that Donald Trump should be impeached and removed and prosecuted for.
Above all the wars, Congress sort of authorized the war in Afghanistan. There's some kind of memo to hide behind when it comes to what'a going on in Western Iraq right now. But not for Yemen. Not one bit. They have no legal cover for what they're doing there. In fact, the House and the Senate invoked the War Powers Act resolution to try to make him [Trump] stop and he's ignored it. And yet the leader of his Witch Hunt trial is a guy who is probably as bad or worse on Yemen as he is. And wouldn't dream -- the idea that they would go after him for crimes of state like that. For using the American people's military in such an infamous way. Never cross his mind in a million years. He's in trouble for holding up an arms deal, as Andrew Cockburn put it. That's what he's in trouble for. So they just make a mockery of the whole thing. Like, 'Yeah. I want to see this guy crucified, but What are the charges again?. What? Aw, come on. That's not right."
[22:30] Daniel Lazare: "Schiff should be on trial, for one thing. He should be in the dock. He should be made to answer for his crime. But also bear in mind what a disaster U.S./Ukrainian policy has been. I mean, it has been a disaster from Day 1. The U.S. injected five billion dollars into the Ukraine in order to get Ukraine firmly into the American orbit. But all that money did was contribute to and exacerbate this incredibly corrupt culture that we see taking shape in Ukraine. And it also has driven Trump to distraction, which is why he's so skeptical of the Ukrainians in the first place. And when the 2013/2014 Euro/Maidan uprising took place, the U.S. ignored and tried to distract attention from the leading role that was played by outright neo-Nazi elements in that coup d'etat. And remember, Trump got in huge trouble in regard to the Charlotsville demonstration by saying there were good people on both sides. But the media and the "liberal" Obama administration essentially did the same thing by tryng to cover up the neo-Nazi role in the Euro-Maidan uprising."
Scott Horton: "And in fact, in that Trump quote, he actually says before and after the good people on both sides thing he says 'Not the Nazis. Not the Nazis.' Besides them, there were good people on both sides. Then he says 'Not the Nazis. Not the Nazis' again. But here we're talking about actual Nazis and actually overthrowing a government and actually launching a war and killing a bunch of people."
[24:45] Daniel Lazare: "And we're talking about the fact that the militias in the Eastern Ukraine are https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/02/03/whoever-wins-iowa-wont-be-back-110439dominated by neo-Nazi elements. And the Russian-speaking population in the Eastern Ukraine was understandably spooked and frightened by these people rushing to do battle against them.And in the Crimea, for example, which historically was never part of the Ukraine, but people were appalled. In fact, when Crimeans went to Kiev to demonstrate against the Euro-Maidan uprising, their buses were intercepted on the way back and they were beaten by fascist elements. This is not a fantasy. This is not paranoia. This is the hard, cold truth. But yet the press, the U.S. press out of loyalty to the Obama administration tried to cover that up. That is the huge mess ...
Scott Horton: "And by the way, Obama supported these guys' coup but then he chickened out of arming them but Trump has gone ahead and sent them all the Lockheed products hat they were pushing for all this time. Under the cover of all this criticism that he's not in on this policy. That he's somehow Putin's puppet and all of this kind of stuff.