Thanks Mitchel. Some guests on my show are discussing Russiagate in a way I had a since was missing something...and now I know what- 

On Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 11:27 AM Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I thought folks might like to see this interchange on the United for Peace and Justice listserve: UFPJ Peace Talk <[log in to unmask]>

Mitchel's response (original letter by Andrew Scott below mine):

Yea, I'm skeptical about my own skepticism, too.

One thing I do know for sure is that the images we're presented with of Russia and other places help to shape the way we think about those places. For example (and how does this jibe with what picture we have in mind?), from my book on Monsanto and its herbicide Roundup:

Cultivation of genetically engineered crops and imports are banned in only Algeria, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Peru, Venezuela, and Russia -- the most populous country to ban both the cultivation and importation of GM crops.

Russia. In June 2016, Russia’s State Duma adopted the third and final reading of a government bill to introduce a total ban on the cultivation and breeding of genetically modified plants and animals, except for scientific research purposes.25 Far from the ban hurting their economies, as Monsanto and other pesticide-producing corporations would have us believe, the United States, which had been the world’s leading wheat exporter, is now losing its position to Russia and Canada. Russia claims that this is in part due to several economic factors and also to the preference of much of the world for non-GMO food.26

.....  In the face of Monsanto’s plans to open its first plant in Russia,34 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed Federal Law No 358 on July 3, 2016 prohibiting cultivation of genetically engineered plants and breeding of genetically engineered animals on the territory of the Russian Federation.35 President Putin had earlier said that “measures should be taken to protect the Russian market and consumers from GMO products, as their use could have unforeseen consequences,” news agency RIA Novosti reported.36
Leticia Goncalves, who heads Monsanto’s operations in Europe and the Middle East, was not perturbed. “We still believe that Ukraine and Russia both are long-term opportunities for our business and we want to make sure we are in a position to accelerate our business growth despite the short-term geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges.”37
But, contra Monsanto, President Putin envisioned a future in which Russia would become “the world’s largest supplier of ecologically clean and high-quality organic food.” He’s called on the country to become completely self-sufficient in food production by 2020: “We are not only able to feed ourselves taking into account our lands, water resourcesRussia is able to become the largest world supplier of healthy, ecologically clean and high-quality food which the Western producers have long lost, especially given the fact that demand for such products in the world market is steadily growing.”38
Before he died in November 2016, Fidel Castro entered the increasingly global debate by strongly opposing genetic engineering. At a conference in Havana cosponsored by the Mexico-based Center for Global Justice,39 I introduced a public appeal against the genetic engineering of agriculture at the end of my talk, and a number of participants signed on to it, including several Cuban professors.40


25 Sustainable Pulse, Jun. 25, 2016.

26 The International Reporter, April 24, 2016 “Russian Organic Wheat Takes World by Storm, US GMO Glyphosate Losing Out!”

35 US Department of Agriculture GAIN report, % 20Federation_7-12-2016.pdf. For more information see FAS/Moscow GAIN report GMO Registration for Cultivation Postponed 6/27/2014.pdf; Russian “Producers Consider It Reasonable to Ban GMO products,” 05/07/2016,

36 “Russia to Ban Genetically Modified Organisms in Food Production,” Moscow Times, Sept. 20, 2015.

37 Moscow Times, January 23, 2015, op cit. “Ukraine is the world’s sixth largest grain grower this season, and Goncalves said the region remained a priority for Monsanto.”

38 Eduard Korniyenko, “Putin Wants Russia to Become World’s Biggest Exporter of Non-GMO Food,” Reuters, December 3, 2015.Endnotes 299

39 Seminar on Socialist Renewal and the Capitalist CrisisA Cuban-North American Exchange,” Havana, Cuba, June 1630, 2013, in association with the Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and the Radical Philosophy Association.

40 “An Open Letter to the Cuban People against Genetic Engineering of Agriculture,” Mitchel Cohen, in A Talk in Havana, Red Balloon Collective, 2013.

At 10:27 AM 3/13/2019, Andrew Scott via ufpj-peacetalk wrote:

A solid rebuttal to what Consortium News, Roy McGovern, The Nation, Glenn Greenwald, The Real News (and RT!) have been saying about Russian interference and the role Vladimir Putin plays in support of the global rightwing movement.

What Russiagate Skeptics Get Wrong

The Left can call for military deescalation while still holding Putin accountable for electoral meddling.

BY John Feffer  IN THESE TIMES 10/19/18

Putin's movement is founded on “traditional” values of Christianity, homophobia, and anti-feminist and anti-immigrant sentiment. OR “What Putin is really guilty of is calling for a multipolar world, not one dominated by the U.S.”

Imagine if the rightwing government of Shinzo Abe in Japan had interfered in the 2016 election in support of Donald Trump. Following which, Trump held a summit with Abe to endorse Japanese territorial claims in Asia as well as Abe’s efforts to remilitarize his country.

The American Left would never countenance a rightwing Japanese nationalist interfering in American politics. But, of course, it wasn’t Japan that hacked into U.S. computers and weaponized the information with the help of WikiLeaks. Nor did Japan make a big social media buy or direct an army of internet trolls to help make Trump’s unlikely victory happen.

It was Russia, where President Vladimir Putin, a rightwing militarist, aspires to lead a global conservative movement with Moscow at its hub. Putin’s movement is founded on “traditional” values of Christianity, homophobia, and anti-feminist and anti-immigrant sentiment. Yet some on the Left give the Kremlin a pass on its interference in U.S. elections (now commonly referred to as Russiagate), due to the mistaken belief that Putin represents a check on U.S. hegemony. “What Putin is really guilty of is calling for a multipolar world, not one dominated by the U.S.,” writes Colin Todhunter in CounterPunch.

In the pages of The Nation, the reporting of Glenn Greenwald, the analysis of Consortium News and the alternative TV broadcasts of the Real News Network -- not to mention MMoscow’s own RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik -- certain progressives sought to debunk Russiagate.

The “core narrative” of Russiagate, as Stephen Cohen has written in The Nation, is an example of “rubbish in, rubbish out,” a fabrication by the U.S. intelligence community.

The skeptics mentioned here effectively agreed with Trump that the news media and liberals everywhere had launched a “witch hunt” against Trump (and Putin). They disputed claims like the identity of the hackers who broke into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers and the connections between the Kremlin and far-right political movements. But their debunking efforts relied on misreading, misinterpretation and outright falsification. In a June commentary in Consortium News, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern was still trying to prove that Guccifer 2.0, the DNC hacker, was not Russian. One month later, the indictments from Special Counsel Robert Mueller provided copious information on the Russian hackers behind the Guccifer 2.0 avatar.

Much of the reams of nonsense published over the last 18 months has veered into the territory of conspiracy theory. Really, how could you possibly believe that DNC staffer Seth Rich gave all that material to WikiLeaks on the basis of a single, unsubstantiated Julian Assange claim to that effect? The evidence that Mueller has compiled — resulting in the recent indictments of 12 Russian military officers -- should have satisfied skepptics.

Yet Russiagate skeptics continue their crusade, albeit shifting focus in the wake of July’s Trump-Putin Helsinki summit. Even if Russia did interfere in the election, they argue, there’s no proof of collusion. More importantly -- and here the skeptics are joined by sensible advocates of foreign policy realism in a call published by The Nation -- the value of improving U.S.-Russian relations overrides all other considerations.

A continuation of the Russiagate inquiry and an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations are not mutually exclusive. It’s essential to keep investigating Trump’s links to Russia, including the money laundering that Trump may have done for Russian clients close to the Kremlin, because these links reveal how Russia strengthens the political influence of oligarchs and boosts the fortunes of farright politicians. At the same time, we must support U.S.-Russian cooperation, particularly on arms control.

At the Helsinki summit, Putin showed interest in extending the New START Treaty, concluding the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, ending the conflict in Syria and supporting the nuclear deal with Iran.

Trump, however, did not. He has ridiculed the New START Treaty, pledged to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, continued -- along with Putin -- to bomb Syria, and reneged on the Iran nuclear deal.

The United States needs to address Russia diplomatically to solve problems of mutual and global interest, despite Trump’s obvious lack of interest. But let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that Putin is anything more than a ruthless, corrupt autocrat who uses nationalism to promote his own interests.

John Feffer

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. His most recent book, Frostlands, comes out in November (Haymarket)

The Fight Against Monsanto's Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides (SkyHorse, 2019), authored by Mitchel Cohen, is now available at bookstores everywhere! Please click on link to learn more.

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