The Right to Resist Foreign Intervention and Domestic Collaborators

by on July 19, 2017 · 7 comments

in Civil Rights

By Frank Gormlie

A good friend and I were discussing the whole Trump debacle the other night with all its Russian connections. At some point, he admitted he was exasperated about a certain and perhaps common progressive ambiguity with Russia and blurted out:

“I know we’re supposed to be against Russian of course and all of its meddling in our election, but – in some sense, Trump is right, the US has intervened in other countries and manipulated their elections, too.”

He rattled off a litany of countries and nations where the US has interfered – Iraq, Chile, Guatemala, Ghana, Iran, … it was a long list.

I offered a few: Vietnam, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Mexico. And even Russia itself during its civil war in the early 1920s.

He continued: “I don’t want to be hypocritical – but isn’t it hypocritical for the left to be so anti-Russia?”

Of course, as a leftist for progressive change, I had to agree about the list, for I knew most of the stories where US diplomats, military attaches, CIA agents, generals, corporate businessmen had intervened with money and military might over the decades in those countries my friend had ticked off – American interventions that often changed the out-come of elections and who’s on top and who isn’t.

Maybe it was the beer or the hour, but I didn’t  have a quick response for my friend who had opened up a possible blind spot in the progressive narrative. But I did the following morning once I had coffee in hand.

Well, I reasoned, it is all about the right to resist foreign intervention. The right of peoples and nations to resist foreign meddling, sabotage, hacking, manipulation into their elections, their economies and their civil societies.

The now iconic Time magazine cover.

Yes, our country has intervened in all those places my friend and I ticked off on that long list the other night. And those peoples and nations had and have the right to resist our intervention.

And many did.

And American leftists and progressives supported many of those in other countries who resisted American intervention. During our war and military intervention in Vietnam, American progressives developed the largest anti-war and anti-imperialist movement in history against that intervention.

During both the Iraq wars this century – Americans created anti-war movements that marched and rallied in every city in the country. Americans supported liberation movements against US interventions in El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s, and in Africa in the 1970s. Nearly 2,000 Americans went to Spain during its civil war in the 1930s against the fascist General Franco and his foreign allies and their interventions.

For us Americans, the right to resist foreign intervention goes back a long way, of course, to the dawn of our nation-state – to the rebellion and revolution of 1776 against the British and their mercenaries (remember Washington’s troops crossing the Delaware River and defeating those Hessians at Trenton?)

Yes, it’s true not too soon after we kicked the Brits out, we ourselves started intervening in other countries  – including a bunch of Native American nations and then Canada, our neighbor to the north, during the War of 1812 – where we got our ass whooped.

Now, we as a nation are facing foreign intervention again. The whole Russian thing.

It’s almost like the Russian government employed a coordinated 3-prong attack on our system; First, the attempts at gaining access to the different electronic voting systems of more than twenty states; second, the fake news efforts and other uses of social media to manipulate the American public; and third, all the hacking and use of hacked Clinton campaign material to aid Trump and disrupt the Clinton campaign.

So we modern Americans still have this right to resist foreign intervention. And we have the right to resist their domestic collaborators – those Americans who have colluded with a foreign government to manipulate and sabotage our electoral system.

Which means Russia, the Russian government, Putin, the dictator. And his friends here.

Yes, my friend is right, there is a certain ambiguity among progressives about Russia – even to this day. The Russian revolution of 1917 inspired people around the world, including in America. So, even despite the growing militarized and authoritarian state that did develop in Russia over the decades, there was always a soft spot in the hearts of lefties for that country.  Many Americans – not all – also appreciated the role that the Russian people played during World War II (D-Day would have been a lot bloodier if it hadn’t been for the Russians killing off a few million Nazi soldiers on the Eastern Front).

Many lefties didn’t buy into the whole red scare and anti-Russian hysteria of the Cold War and the period of McCarthyism. So, there’s been this lingering empathy for Russia among leftists over the decades. Many of us were inspired by the events that toppled the old Soviet regime and that led to democratic elections in the new Russia. However, we started to lose track after Yeltsin – the first democratically-elected Russian president – appointed Putin as prime minister or something like that after he dived into the vodka bottle. Putin has been at the top ever since.

Now, along comes Trump with all the Russian government connections, collusion, monies and conspiracies. And like most Americans, leftists and progressives are repulsed by what has happened with the new, totally unprecedented level of foreign intervention that we have witnessed unfolding before our very own TV screens. (Not all leftists have given up on Putin, as some still see something positive in the Putin-Trump “Bromance.)

So, given our right to resist Russian government interference, both past, present and future, just who is watching the store? Who is watching out for the country to challenge future Russian government interventions and future hacking and who knows what else? Who’s going to lead this resistance?

It certainly isn’t the White House. Trump still calls it all a hoax and witch hunt and fake news. Trump denied Russian involvement while in Europe on the very eve of his first, big meeting with Putin – the same 2 hour meeting where he allegedly pressed the Russian dictatorship twice on whether the ruskies did it.

We cannot rely on this administration to protect our cyber and electoral security if that very administration even denies the threats – past and future.

So, it turns out, we have to rely on ourselves to lead this resistance. And that’s exactly what we have been forced to do ever since Trump’s election. It’s been the grassroots mobilizations that have sprung up coast to coast, holding town  halls, staging sit-ins in Congressional offices, and changing the narrative.

And of course, we need to rely bigtime on the mainstream media and press to uncover these shenanigans, even as some in the mainstream press are beginning to acknowledge their own role in the early days of the rise of Trump with all that free airtime.

And importantly, we need ourselves to acknowledge that our resistance to the Russian government and Putin is not a fight with the Russian people. Far from it – for many of them are staging mass marches and rallies in the streets of their own country against Putin. They know that Putin has hoisted himself up into a 17-year autocratic regime surrounded by oligarchs, who imprisons, poisons and even murders political opponents, journalists and oligarchs out of favor. Our anti-Putin resistance is indeed not a continuation of the pattern of US history of being anti-Russian, the Red Scare, the Cold War. This is way different.

Maybe our resistance actions should be coordinated with those actions by Putin’s many opponents in Russia. Wouldn’t that blow Trump and Putin’s minds.

The good thing is that now millions of Americans are mobilized and are learning this is what democracy looks like.


Here’s some nifty graphs:

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Colin Purdy July 20, 2017 at 5:47 am
According to a June 2007 public opinion survey, Putin’s approval rating was 81%, the second highest of any leader in the world that year.[325] In January 2013, Putin’s approval rating fell to 62%, the lowest figure since 2000 and a ten-point drop over two years.[326] By May 2014, following the annexation of Crimea, Putin’s approval rating had rebounded to 85.9%, a six-year high.[327]

After EU and U.S. sanctions against Russian officials as a result of the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine, Putin’s approval rating reached 87 percent, according to a Levada Center survey published on 6 August 2014.[328][329] In February 2015, based on new domestic polling, Putin was ranked the world’s most popular politician.[330] In June 2015, Putin’s approval rating climbed to 89%, an all-time high.[324][331][332] In 2016, the approval rating was 81%.


Frank Gormlie July 20, 2017 at 10:49 am

So, Putin is soooo popular that we should just give in? Can’t always believe everything on wikipedia, especially given Putin’s penchant to ensure he has a good image.


Colin Purdy July 21, 2017 at 2:51 pm

The Wikipedia entry cites the Washington Post, The Guardian, and Gallup, as sources, if the Russian ones, also present, must necessarily be false prima facie. Though if the former are at least somewhat trustworthy, perhaps, then, there’s at least cause to question the monolithic assertion that he’s domestically unpopular, a narrative that long pre-dates whatever may be the truth of Trump-Putin, indeed, existed long before even Trump’s candidacy. I know you know Putin wouldn’t be the first evil dictator branded out of the American media and government. You cite El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Vietnam, above. I agree in those cases, too. But the list is a much longer one, isn’t it. No, of course, I don’t think America ultimately will, or should, accept Trump if he’s proven to have colluded with a foreign power to help produce his election. But I think essential the corollary question why, if Putin did do this, did he?


Frank Gormlie July 21, 2017 at 3:01 pm

From wikipedia:
Reporters Without Borders, for instance, ranked Russia 148 in its 2013 list of 179 countries in terms of freedom of the press. It particularly criticized Russia for the crackdown on the political opposition and the failure of the authorities to vigorously pursue and bring to justice criminals who have murdered journalists. Freedom House ranks Russian media as “not free,” indicating that basic safeguards and guarantees for journalists and media enterprises are absent.

Hmmm. how can one have accurate polls with a media that is “not free” and government controlled?


Frank Gormlie July 21, 2017 at 3:03 pm

okay, gotch ya. Maybe Putin is popular like Trump is popular. Not to stretch the issue but Hitler and Mussolini were both very popular for a while domestically.


Frank Gormlie July 21, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Also from Galllup:

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 2,000 adults in Russia, aged 15 and older, conducted from April to June 2016. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±2.7 percentage points. …

The Chechen Republic, Republic of Ingushetia, Republic of Dagestan and the Republic of Crimea were excluded due to political instability. The Republic of Adygeya, Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessie and North Ossetia were excluded due to high crime levels. Remote small settlements in far-Eastern Siberia were also excluded. The excluded areas represent about 6% of the population.


Colin Purdy July 21, 2017 at 4:18 pm

1. As I’d already said, if not the Russian sources, then what about the Washington Post, The Guardian, and Gallup. Though it’s also always to be verified or examined the self-interest or external influence of any publication or source relative to an issue, as the Post and Guardian, for example, have historically been shown to have presented less than fully circumspect pieces, along with many examples from other well known newspapers, so should RWB and Freedom House pieces. But your point is in regard to the Russian sources I said were also cited along with the American ones, which presumably do not question, and only cite RWB and Freedom House freedom of the press analysis, which is not of course directly addressing either the specific Russian pieces, much less the American and British ones. For some juxtaposition to free up otherwise critical thought when demonizing a foreign leader for reputed violence against journalist, note that many journalists for at least the good past few years have been murdered in Mexico, with no hope of Mexican government assistance in investigation, and in fact rather much imputed culpability in the opinion of many Mexican journalists, yet the U.S. has never condemned the Mexican president as evil dictator.

2. Putin, I think, is actually much more popular at home, than Trump is in his. A cursory review of popular votes and polling, well, at least the American sources, have you, easily bear this out. Trump, of course, didn’t even win a majority of the popular vote, but rather lost it by a substantial nearly 3 million. I do not believe the same is true of Putin, even remotely.

3. Okay, from Gallup, as you say. And with only a single digit percentage population exclusion. Overall, looks like a standard design of the sort probably used, and accepted, here at home by Gallup and others.

My overall point was that because the dominant U.S. media narrative that Putin is wildly unpopular at home is probably, objectively, questionable, that other parts of the greater U.S. Putin narrative that are least indirectly dependent on the evil dictator premise, are also open to some question. To that I’d add the long history of U.S. propaganda pushes against many other international leaders similarly branded, as signpost enough to stop and question.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: