Unipolarism Versus Multipolarism - DIANA JOHNSTONE
Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was ostensibly a
conflict between two ideologies, two socio-economic systems.
All that seems to be over. The day of a new socialism may dawn
unexpectedly, but today capitalism rules the world. Now the United States and
Russia are engaged in a no-holds-barred fight between capitalists. At first
glance, it may seem to be a classic clash between rival capitalists. And yet,
once again an ideological conflict is emerging, one which divides capitalists
themselves, even in Russia and in the United States itself. It is the conflict
between globalists and sovereignists, between a unipolar and a multipolar
world. The conflict will not be confined to the two main nuclear powers.
The defeat of communism was brutally announced in a certain
“capitalist manifesto” dating from the early 1990s that proclaimed: “Our
guiding light is Profit, acquired in a strictly legal way. Our Lord is His
Majesty, Money, for it is only He who can lead us to wealth as the norm in
The authors of this bold tract were Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who went
on to become the richest man in Russia, before spending ten years in a Russian
jail, and his business partner at the time, Leonid Nevzlin, who has since
retired comfortably to Israel.
Loans For Shares
Those were the good old days in the 1990s when the Clinton
administration was propping up Yeltsin as he let Russia be ripped off by the
joint efforts of such ambitious well-placed Russians and their Western
sponsors, notably using the “loans for shares” trick.
“The new oligarchs—a dozen men who had begun to exercise the power
that money brought—concocted a scheme. They would lend the government money,
which it badly needed, and in return the government would put up as collateral
blocks of stock amounting to a controlling interest in the major state-owned
companies. When the government defaulted, as both the oligarchs and the
government knew it would, the oligarchs would take them over. By this maneuver
the Yeltsin administration privatized oil, gas, minerals, and other enterprises
without parliamentary approval.”
This worked so well that from his position in the Communist youth
organization, Khodorkovsky used his connections to get control of Russia’s
petroleum company Yukos and become the richest oligarch in Russia, worth some
$15 billion, of which he still controls a chunk despite his years in jail
(2003-2013). His arrest made him a hero of democracy in the United States,
where he had many friends, especially those business partners who were helping
him sell pieces of Yukos to Chevron and Exxon. Khodorkovsky, a charming and
generous young man, easily convinced his American partners that he was Russia’s
number one champion of democracy and the rule of law, especially of those laws
which allow domestic capital to flee to foreign banks and foreign capital to
take control of Russian resources.
Vladimir Putin didn’t see it that way. Without restoring
socialism, he dispossessed Khodorkovsky of Yukos and essentially transformed
the oil and gas industry from the “open society” model tolerated by Yeltsin to
a national capitalist industry. Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev
were accused of having stolen all the oil that Yukos had produced in the years
1998 to 2003, tried, convicted and sentenced to 14 years of prison each. This
shift ruined U.S. plans, already underway, to “balkanize” Russia between its
many provinces, thereby allowing Western capital to pursue its capture of the
The dispossession of Khodorkovsky was certainly a major milestone
in the conflict between President Putin and Washington. On November 18, 2005,
the Senate unanimously adopted Resolution 322 introduced
by Joe Biden denouncing the treatment of the Khodorkovsky and Lebedev as
Who Influences Whom?
Now let’s take a look at the history of Russian influence in the
United States. It is obvious that a Russian who can get the Senate to adopt a
resolution in his favor has a certain influence. But when the “deep state”
growls about Russian influence, it isn’t talking about Khodorkovsky. It’s
talking about a joking response Trump made to a reporter’s snide question
during the presidential campaign. In a variation of the classic “when did you
stop beating your wife?” the reporter asked if he would call on Russian
President Vladimir Putin to “stay out” of the election.
Since a stupid question does not deserve a serious answer, Trump
said he had “nothing to do with Putin” before adding, “Russia, if you’re
listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I
think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Aha! Went the Trump haters. This proves it! Irony is almost as
unwelcome in American politics as honesty.
Someone supposed to be smart enough to head an intelligence agency
actually took Trump’s joking invitation as a genuine request. “By issuing such
a statement,” Brennan wrote, “Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign
nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly
authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his
The Russians, Brennan declared, “troll political, business and
cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become
pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters.”
Which Russians do that? And who are those “individuals”?
“The Fixer in Chief”
To understand the way Washington works, nothing is more
instructive than to examine the career of lawyer Jonathan M. Winer, who proudly
repeats that in early 2017, the head of the Carnegie Endowment Bill Burns
introduced him as “the Fixer in Chief”. Winer has long been unknown to the
general public, but this may soon change.
Let’s see what the fixer has fixed.
Under the presidency of fellow YalieBill Clinton, Winer served as
the State Department’s first Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Law
Enforcement, from 1994-1999. One may question the selectivity of Bill Clinton’s
concern for international law enforcement, which certainly did not cover
violating international law by bombing defenseless countries. In any case, in
1999, Winer was awarded for “virtually unprecedented achievements”. Later we
shall examine one of those important achievements.
At the end of the Clinton administration, from 2008 to 2013, the
Fixer in Chief worked as high up consultant at one of the world’s most powerful
PR and lobbying firms, APCO Worldwide. This is how the Washington revolving
door functions: after a few years in government finding out how things work,
one then goes into highly paid “consultancy” to sell this insider information
and influential contacts to private clients.
In 2002, APCO launched something called the “Friends of Science”
to promote skepticism concerning the harmful effects of smoking. In 1993, the
campaign described its goals and objectives “encouraging the public to question
– from the grassroots up – the validity of scientific studies.”
While Winer was at APCO, one of its major activities was hyping
the Clinton Global Initiative, an international networking platform promoting
the Clinton Foundation. APCO president and CEO Margery Kraus explained that the
consultancy was there to “help other CGI members garner interest for the causes
they are addressing, demonstrate their success and highlight the wide-ranging
achievements of CGI as a whole.” Considering that only 5% of Clinton Foundation
turnover went to donations, they needed all the PR they could get.
Significantly, donations to the Clinton Global Initiative have
dried up since Hillary lost the presidential election. According to the Observer: “Foreign governments began
pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was
predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic
This helps explain Hillary Clinton’s panic when she lost in 2016.
How in the world can she ever reward her multi-million-dollar donors with the
favors they expected?
As well as the tobacco industry and the Clinton Foundation, APCO
also works for Khodorkovsky. To be precise, according to public listings, the
fourth biggest of APCO’s many clients is the Corbiere Trust, owned by
Khodorkovsky and registered in Guernsey. The trust tends and distributes some
of the billions that the oligarch got out of Russia before he was jailed.
Corbiere money was spent to lobby both for Resolution 322 (supporting
Khodorkovky after his arrest in Russia) and for the Magnitsky Act (more later).
Margery Kraus, APCO’s president and CEO, is a member of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s
son Pavel’s Institute of Modern Russia, devoted to “promoting democratic
values” – in other words, to building political opposition to Vladimir Putin.
In 2009 Jonathan Winer went back to the State Department where he
was given a distinguished service award for having somehow rescued thousands of
stranded members of the Muhahedin-e Khalq from their bases in Iraq they were
trying to overthrow the Iranian government. The MeK, once officially recognized
as a terrorist organization by the State Department, has become a pet
instrument in U.S. and Israeli regime change operations directed at Iran.
However, it was Winer’s extracurricular activities at State that
finally brought him into the public spotlight early this year – or rather, the
spotlight of the House Intelligence Committee, whose chairman Devin Nunes
(R-Cal) named him as one of a network promoting
the notorious “Steele Dossier” which accused Trump of
illicit financial dealing and compromising sexual activities in Russia. By
Winer’s own account, h
he had been friends with former British intelligence agent
Christopher Steele since his days at APCO. Back at State, he regularly
channeled Steele reports, ostensibly drawn from contacts with friendly Russian
intelligence agents, to Victoria Nuland, in charge of Russian affairs, and top
Russian experts. These included the infamous “Steele dossier”. In September
2016, Winer’s old friend Sidney Blumenthal – a particularly close advisor to
Hillary Clinton – gave him notes written by a more mysterious Clinton insider
named Cody Shearer, repeating the salacious attacks.
All this dirt was spread through government agencies and
mainstream media before being revealed publicly just before Trump’s
inauguration, used to stimulate the “Russiagate” investigation by Robert
Mueller. The dossier has been discredited but the investigation goes on and on.
So, it is all right to take seriously information allegedly
obtained from “Russian agents” and spread it around, so long as it can damage
Trump. As with so much else in Washington, double standards are the rule.
Jonathan Winer and the Magnitsky Act
Jonathan Winer played a major role in Congressional adoption of
the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012” (the Magnitsky
Act), a measure that effectively ended post-Cold War hopes for normal relations
between Washington and Moscow. This act was based on a highly contentious
version of the November 16, 2009 death in prison of accountant Sergei
Leonidovich Magnitsky, as told to Congress by hedge fund manager Bill Browder
(grandson of Earl Browder, head of the Communist Party USA 1934-1945).
According to Browder, Magnitsky was a lawyer beaten to death in prison as a
result of his crusade for human rights.
However, as convincingly established by dissident Russian film-maker
Andrei Nekrasov’s (banned) investigative documentary, the unfortunate Magnitsky
was neither a human rights crusader, nor a lawyer, nor beaten to death. He was
an accountant jailed for his role in Browder’s business dealings, who died of
natural causes as a result of inadequate medical treatment. The case was hyped
up as a major human rights drama by Browder in order to discredit Russian
charges against himself.
In any case, by adopting a law punishing Magnitsky’s alleged
persecutors, the U.S. Congress acted as a supreme court judging internal
Russian legal issues.
The Magnitsky Act also condemns legal prosecution of Mikhail
Khodorkovsky. Browder, on a much smaller scale, also made a fortune ripping off
Russians during the Yeltsin years, and later got into trouble with Russian tax
collectors. Since Browder had given up his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid
paying U.S. taxes, he had reason to fear Russian efforts to extradite him for
tax evasion and other financial misdeeds.
It was Jonathan Winer who found a solution to Browder’s
As Winer tells it,
“When Browder consulted me, […] I suggested creating a new law to impose
economic and travel sanctions on human-rights violators involved in grand
corruption. Browder decided this could secure a measure of justice for
Magnitsky. He initiated a campaign that led to the enactment of the Magnitsky
Act. Soon other countries enacted their own Magnitsky Acts, including Canada,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and most recently, the United Kingdom.”
Russian authorities are still trying to pursue their case against
Browder. In his press conference following the Helsinki meeting with Trump,
Vladimir Putin suggested allowing U.S. authorities to question the Russians
named in the Mueller indictment in exchange for allowing Russian officials to
question individuals involved in the Browder case, including Winer and former
U.S. ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul. Putin observed that such an exchange
was possible under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed between the two
countries in 1999, back in the Yeltsin days when America was posing as Russia’s
But the naïve Russians did not measure the craftiness of American
As Winer wrote, “Under that treaty, Russia’s procurator general
can ask the U.S. attorney general … to arrange for Americans to be ordered to
testify to assist in a criminal case. But there is a fundamental exception: The
attorney general can provide no such assistance in a politically
motivated case.” (My emphasis.)
“I know this”, he wrote, “because I was among those who helped put
it there. Back in 1999, when we were negotiating the agreement with Russia, I
was the senior State Department official managing U.S.-Russia law-enforcement
So, the Fixer in Chief could have said to the worried Browder, “No
problem. All that we need to do is make your case a politically motivated case.
Then they can’t touch you.”
Winer’s clever treaty is a perfect Catch-22. The treaty doesn’t
apply to a case if it is politically motivated, and if it is Russian, it must
be politically motivated.
In a July 15, 2016, complaint to the Justice Department, Browder’s
Heritage Capital Management accused both American and Russian opponents of the
Magnitsky Act of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA; adopted in
19938 with Nazis in mind). Among the “lobbyists” cited was the late Ron Dellums
(falsely identified in the complaint as a “former Republican congressman”).
The Heritage Capital Management brief declared that: “While
lawyers representing foreign principals are exempt from filing under FARA, this
is only true if the attorney does not try to influence policy at the behest of
his client.” However, by disseminating anti-Magnitsky material to Congress, any
Russian lawyer was “clearly trying to influence policy” was therefore in
violation of FARA filing requirements.”
Catch-22 all over again.
Needless to say, Khodorkovsky’s Corbiere Trust lobbied heavily to
get Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, which also repeated its defense of
Khodorkovsky himself. This type of “Russian interference intended to influence
policy” is not even noticed, while U.S. authorities scour cyberspace for
evidence of trolls.
The basic ideological conflict here is between Unipolar America
and Multipolar Russia. Russia’s position, as Vladimir Putin made clear in his
historic speech at the 2007 Munich security conference, is to allow countries
to enjoy national sovereignty and develop in their own way. The current Russian
government is against interference in other countries’ politics on principle.
It would naturally prefer an American government willing to allow this.
The United States, in contrast, is in favor of interference in
other countries on principle: because it seeks a Unipolar world, with a single
“democratic” system, and considers itself the final authority as to which
regime a country should have and how it should run its affairs.
So, if Russians were trying to interfere in U.S. domestic
politics, they would not be trying to change the U.S. system but to prevent it
from trying to change their own. Russian leaders clearly are sufficiently
cultivated to realize that historic processes do not depend on some childish
trick played on somebody’s computer.
U.S. policy-makers practice interference every day. And they are
perfectly willing to allow Russians to interfere in American politics – so long
as those Russians are “unipolar” like themselves, like Khodorkovsky, who aspire
to precisely the same unipolar world sought by the State Department and George
Soros. Indeed, the American empire depends on such interference from Iraqis,
Libyans, Iranians, Russians, Cubans – all those who come to Washington to try
to get U.S. power to settle old scores or overthrow the government in the
country they came from. All those are perfectly welcome to lobby for a world
ruled by America.
Russian interference in American politics is totally welcome so
long as it helps turn public opinion against “multipolar” Putin, glorifies
American democracy, serves U.S. interests including the military-industrial
complex, helps break down national borders (except those of the United States
and Israel) and puts money in appropriate pockets in the halls of Congress.