Tales of Donald Trump collusion with Vladimir Putin absolved the democrats of electoral blame, and supported the war party in its attacks on Russia. Yet it was the democratic administration of Barack Obama which first made common cause with the Ukrainian right wing and set the stage for military conflict.
Well, it only took six years. Six years for the Democratic Party to weaponize Russiagate into not just a way to blame and shame Black voters for the spectacular loss that Hillary Clinton suffered against The-Candidate-Who-Couldn’t-Have-Ever-Won-If-Hillary-Had- Actually-Campaigned-Like-She-Wanted-to-Earn-People’s-Votes-Instead-Of-Thinking- She-Was- Entitled-To-Them: Donald Trump. Six years of US corporate media mouthpieces telling Americans that Hillary lost because Black voters were duped by Rainbow Bernie Bikini posts, shoe ads, and “Like if You Love Jesus” posts that convinced them to either not vote, or to vote for Trump.
Four years of “Look What You Blacks Did In Not Helping Elect Hillary” - having Black women on these corporate news outlets trash Black men for a slight uptick in Black men who voted Republican for Trump, as if the massive support Trump received from white women voters wasn’t what really drove him into office in the states that mattered most.
All the trashing of Black men who voted for Trump and the endless analyzing what was wrong with them that they would do such a thing, how this was yet another way that Black men didn't protect Black women - while no one talked about the equally small uptick in Black women who voted for Trump. The small increase among both voter demographics probably would have never been enough to feed an entire news cycle and launch a new branch of “Why Black Men Ain't Shit-ism.” But this time it did.
Then we got four years of Look-At-What-You-Radicals-Who-Didn't-Vote-Let-Putin-Put- In-The-White-House, Look-At-What-You-Too-Good-To-Vote-Radicals-Did-Now-Trump-Is-Colluding-With Putin, Look-At-Putin’s-Puppet-Making-Trump-Do-All-Of-Those-Things-That-Hillary- Would-Have-Done-If-You-Radicals-Had-Bothered-To-Vote. All this was in addition to the constant reminders that it was the “traitorous” Black Voters and Silly-Radicals-Who- Made-Hillary-Lose-In-The-First-Place.
It was an endless, incessant, ceaseless drumbeat from white and Black corporate media pundits and Democratic politicians alike, and it was nauseating. But I often wondered what the point was because surely the Democrats weren’t THAT upset at losing an election they didn’t even try to win. I wondered what was the purpose for their dogged commitment to framing Black people and radicals tired of the Democratic Party - as well as the Republicans - as the willing dupes of Putin for six whole years? And why, I’m sure you’re wondering, am I bringing it up now?
Well, do you notice that, suddenly, everyone who was once critical of the US regarding issues like the invasion of Iraq on the Weapons of Mass Destruction lie, the US lies about Syria, the blackout in US media of the horrific war in Yemen, the continued support by the US government of the apartheid regime in Israel, the 20-year senseless and destructive and expensive quagmire of the US war in Afghanistan - are somehow not critical of the US role in the conflict in Ukraine?
So many of those people on the so-called left who were critical of the US and its propaganda outlets for the lies told about those things and more - like the silence on Biden’s continued hateful immigration policies; his COVID policies that are no better than Trump’s; his reneging on the COVID relief checks that were promised - now suddenly believe every word from the US government, the Biden Administration, and corporate media, the very same government and media they were criticizing just a few weeks ago. And why? Or, shall I ask, how? The six years of the “Putinization” of the American psyche, that’s how.
Here we are watching Ghanaian, Nigerian, Brazilian, Indian nationals denied exit from Ukraine to safety as Ukrainians are waved through. Yet, liberals and imperialism ignoring leftists have not only dismissed the brutality against those people, but they also try to bash anti-imperialists for being Putins’ new puppets because we refuse to tow the US/EU/NATO line that Putin alone is responsible for this war.
Many of the foreigners in Ukraine, who are among those seeking refuge in other countries, are students from at least ten countries who went to study in Ukraine rather than in more expensive Western European countries or in the US. Many have received very little support from their governments’ embassies to leave Ukraine. They are on their own to figure out how to get to, and ultimately cross, the border into Poland or Hungary where they can board flights home. But leaving Ukraine has proven impossible for thousands who have been turned away at train stations and the border to those neighboring countries by Ukrainian soldiers who, media reports say, are “prioritizing Ukrainians.”
That is really a very sanitized way of saying that non-Europeans are shoved to the back of the line. The African Union issued a statement that pointedly raises the issue of racism toward African refugees from Ukraine at border crossings, but they seemed to be the only entity making such a statement at the time of this writing. None of this should be a surprise, however. We have established that Ukraine is quite literally rife with neo-Nazis.
But masses of anti-war activists and so-called leftists in the US have now decided that war isn’t so bad, that the US is without any complicity in Ukraine, that US media is truthful about it, and that there are no neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian army because the country’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is of Jewish heritage. Even though independent and implicitly anti-imperialist media outlets have been raising the alarm about the coup in Ukraine directed by Barack Obama and Joseph Biden in 2014 and facilitated by John McCain and Victoria Nuland, posing for pictures on stage with, passing out cookies to, and negotiating with the very fascists who co-opted and turned the Maidan Square protests into a massacre to be the “tip of the spear” to overthrow elected president Viktor Yanukovych.
There is widespread denial among US mainstream media of neo-Nazis in Ukraine today, even though they were connected to the 2017 fascist murder of Heather Heyer and the serious wounding of several anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, VA. In fact, it was widely reported that social media was a forum through which the neo-Nazi Azov Batallion made connections with fascist extremists in the US. Jacobin magazine, reported that a 2018 FBI affidavit asserted that Azov “is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations,” including members of the white supremacist Rise Above Movement, prosecuted for planned assaults on counterprotesters at far-right events, including the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally. But for folks who don’t read Jacobin, TIME magazine also reported these connections, as did ProPublica, Buzzfeed news, and even The Hill. This information was so widely known and accepted that a publication from the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Combatting Terrorism Center Sentinel, even documented evidence of the presence of neo-Nazis in Ukraine and their connection to fascists in the US. All of these publications explicitly mention white supremacist groups in Ukraine, and many name the Azov Batallion specifically.
But nothing can be more public and visible than the effort by the late Rep. John Conyers to stop funding to the Azov Batallion and other fascist groups in Ukraine after the 2014 coup.
The Nation magazine reported that in mid-December 2015, Congress passed a 2,000 page omnibus bill for the fiscal year 2016 that included “64 billion for overseas contingency operations” for, among other things, assisting “European countries facing Russian aggression. The presence of neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine was widely known then, not only by the media, but also, obviously, by US lawmakers. As a result, Congressmen John Conyers of Michigan and Ted Yoho of Florida drew up an amendment to the House Defense Appropriations bill (HR 2685) that was to “limit arms, training, and other assistance to the neo-Nazi Ukrainian militia, the Azov Battalion.” The bill passed unanimously in the House and the Senate but was ultimately removed from the final appropriations bill. The official reason given was that there already existed a mechanism - the Leahy Law - that would have denied govt funding to any foreign unit or group that the State Department believes commit gross violations of human rights.
But no fascist group in Ukraine was ever documented by the US as having committed gross violations of human rights. Not even the fascists who massacred protesters and police during the Maidan Protests in 2014.
The State Department has never even acknowledged that the Maidan Square Massacre was committed by neo-Nazis. But the international military arm of US imperialism, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), went further and made the argument through its pubic relations and propaganda apparatus, the Atlantic Council, that the Azov Batallion should NOT be designated a foreign terrorist organization because its members allegedly distanced themselves from neo-Nazi ideologies. Yet, a few weeks later, the Atlantic Council published another article refuting the claim that the Azov Battalion had reformed and moved away from their fascist political ideologies.
Why the renewed attention to the US/NATO dirty little Nazi secret from 2014 in 2022? Because, according to a February 2020 op-ed written by Congressman Max Rose of New York and former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agent Ali H. Soufan, fascist violence in the US was connected to that in the Ukraine. The Atlantic Council even admitted to Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem as early as 2018 in an article titled, Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far-Right Violence (And No, (RT) Didn’t Write This Headline). Despite their futile later efforts, even NATO’s propaganda arm could not ignore the problem they helped create by legitimizing neo-Nazis in Ukraine. But today in the US, according to a whole bunch of people who suddenly have faith in the veracity of the US and its vast constellation of state-run media outlets, those neo-Nazis do not and never have existed in the country, because Zelensky is Jewish, among other ridiculous and uninformed reasons.
But John Conyers tweeted about the amendment in 2015. “House passed my amendment to prohibit assistance to Azov Battalion—a far-right white supremacist militia at front lines of Ukraine conflict.”
And that tweet just hits different in the face of everyone’s disbelief in the neo-Nazi influence in Ukraine today. You and I may forget, some may pretend that they have forgotten, but Twitter never forgets, and Twitter is forever.
So, when taken together, what do all of these issues mean as the crisis in Ukraine intensifies? It means that manufacturing the consent of this US/NATO imperialist aggression against Russia (by way of Ukraine) took six years and, who knows how much money, to pull off.
The Democratic Party targeted Black voters and Black radicals as the ill-informed and easily duped fools tricked by the slick social media machinations of Putin. The tying of the hated Donald Trump to the endless allegations of collusion with the same guy who tricked the Blacks into giving Trump the presidency (to be clear, Donald Trump is absolutely loathsome, but for reasons that are solely his own doing). Something not addressed in this article but certainly noteworthy is the complete refusal by Congress to conduct any serious investigation into the shady business arrangement between Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and the Ukrainian oil company, Burisma, where Hunter Bident “worked,” earning $50,000 a month even though he had no prior experience in that field.
Brushed off by Democrats and much of the US corporate media as the scandal that "turned out not to be" - but only because they refused to seriously pursue it - I contend that had any real investigation been conducted, the clue for the coup in 2014 would have been revealed, and the January 6 investigation committee or…whatever it is…would have had to have issued subpoenas for themselves and nearly all of their colleagues. Because as you should see by now, they all knew that the US propped up neo-Nazis in Ukraine in 2014 and have been funding and supporting them ever since, and will continue to do so - but this time, with the full-throated emotional backing of Americans who can't stand to see innocent white people caught in the crosshairs of war.
I don’t know how much all of this skullduggery cost, but I’d say those who have been protected by it got their money’s worth, the way so many in this country are now all in for imperialism having fully turned on the real anti-imperialist left.
And all they had to do was tell Americans that Putin is their problem - not US warmongering, militarism, imperialism through its weaponized international gang NATO - and do it nearly every day on every media outlet for just six years.
Without even realizing how we were being played, this could be Russiagate’s checkmate.
Jacqueline Luqman is co-host of By Any Means Necessary on Radio Sputnik. She is also a contributor to The Real News Network, Editor-In-Chief of the social media program Luqman Nation, and a contributor to Black Power Media. She has more than 20 years of activism in Washington, DC focusing on participating in and supporting community-level issues as well as regional and national issues that impact working-class, poor, and oppressed people in the US and abroad. She is a member of the Black Alliance for Peace, Pan-African Community Action, is a supporter of several other grassroots radical Black-focused and led organizations, and is an active member of the Board of Social Action in Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, a progressive church in Washington, DC.