Sunday, October 2, 2016

Clinton & Russia: Has US Media Forgotten the 1990s?


US media is filled with unproven allegations that Russia is working to defeat Hillary Clinton at the polls in November. Despite no solid evidence being provided, Clinton continues to allege that Russia is responsible for the leaking of DNC e-mails, and mainstream media echoes her allegation.
What motive could possibly exist for this alleged crime? According to Clinton it is about ideology. As Clinton put it in her recent speech: “The grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism is Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Essentially, Clinton argues that Putin holds similar political views to Trump, and is trying to get him elected.
The unproven allegations based on a rather loose perception of ideological similarities, forces students of Americna history to recall the Cold War rhetoric of the far- right. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. was frequently called a Soviet agent by the US right-wing simply because both Soviet Communists and the Civil Rights Activists believed in racial equality. In the early 1960s, a widely circulated documentary from Edward G. Griffin purported to “prove” a link between the Civil Rights Movement and the Cuban government because “Venceremos” and “We Shall Overcome” have a similar meaning.
Regardless of unproven allegations and perceived ideological similarities, when discussing Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, and Russia, there is an obvious factor that is being left out. It’s an entire decade called the 1990s.
Clinton’s Man-Made Famine
Americans generally have no idea what life was like for Russians during the 1990s. They naively assume that because Russia swiftly adopted capitalism, the result was great economic prosperity. The reality was quite different.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin took office and dramatically re-organized Russia’s economy on free market lines. When Bill Clinton was elected as President of the United States, it was widely understood that Yeltsin was “Clinton’s man.” According to the US Bureau of Public Affairs, Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton were very close. The official US government website states: “Clinton was strongly inclined not only to like Yeltsin but also to support his policies, in particular, his commitment to Russian democracy.” US President Bill Clinton met with Boris Yeltsin 18 times while he was in office.
The US Bureau of Public Affairs goes on to explain exactly how the administration of Bill Clinton pushed Yeltsin’s free market policies : “At the time, and periodically throughout his term in office, Yeltsin faced growing opposition at home to his efforts to liberalize the economy and enact democratic reforms in Russia. At Vancouver, Clinton promised Yeltsin strong support in the form of financial assistance to promote various programs, including funds to stabilize the economy… Although not always able to deliver such assistance, Clinton also supported Yeltsin and his position on economic and political matters by other means.”
While only 6% of the Russian public approved of Yeltsin’s “reforms,” the Clinton administration directed and sponsored the Yeltsin administration’s efforts in Russia. With the approval of Washington, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, Yeltsin privatized state owned industries, lifted price controls, and in the process left millions of Russians in desperate conditions. US economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University was dispatched to Russia in order to oversee the process.
The result was not the establishment of a free market paradise, but rather a huge catastrophe. US Senator Bill Bradley explained it this way: “30% unemployment, rampant inflation, pensions gone, savings gone, 30 or 40 years… it’s all gone. No jobs. A few people doing very well, who bought all assets from the state, but the average person, no.”
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