I’m disappointed in you Caitlin:

“The conventional wisdom,” Maher droned in his intolerable it’s-true-because-I-say-so voice, “is that in the 1980s Saint Ronald Reagan defeated the Soviet Union, you know, and then the Berlin Wall came down and everybody was friends. But what really happened was we stopped fighting the Cold War, but the Russians never did,” rewriting history so as to exclude minor details like the well-established fact that America was openly rigging Russia’s elections well into the mid-nineties.

I actually read the article you linked, and it no way supports your statement. There was an American team, recruited by Russian-American Felix Braynin who was “a close friend of some of Yeltsin’s top aides”. There was also a personal request of Bill Clinton, via Dick Morris, who was a friend of “Richard Dresner, a New York-based consultant” who was on the team:

The TV ad the Americans most wanted was the one the campaign made last, which had Yeltsin himself speaking. “We actually wanted him in every spot,” says Gorton. “After all those great ads with average folks talking about their lives and then about Yeltsin, we wanted the President to come on and say that he understood what they were talking about, that he heard their complaints, that he felt their pain.” But Yeltsin resisted — and that caused the team to reach out to Bill Clinton’s all-purpose political aide, Dick Morris.

Communicating in code — Clinton was called the Governor of California, Yeltsin the Governor of Texas — the Americans sought Morris’ help. They had earlier worked together to script Clinton’s summit meeting with Yeltsin in mid-April. The main goal then was to have Clinton swallow hard and say nothing as Yeltsin lectured him about Russia’s great-power prerogatives. “The idea was to have Yeltsin stand up to the West, just like the Communists insisted they would do if Zyuganov won,” says a Clinton Administration official. “By having Yeltsin posture during that summit without Clinton’s getting bent out of shape, Yeltsin portrayed himself as a leader to be reckoned with. That helped Yeltsin in Russia, and we were for Yeltsin.”

The American team wanted Clinton to call Yeltsin to urge that he appear in his ads. The request reached Clinton — that much is known — but no one will say whether the call was made. Yet it was not long before Yeltsin finally appeared on the tube. […]

There is no sign here that this was “America […] openly rigging Russia’s elections” in the sense of an actual US Intelligence project. (Granted, if there had been a project, it probably wouldn’t have been admitted in the article.)

There’s also no evidence of a project by Goldman-Sachs, who IIRC had been the main broker in selling off Russian assets to foreign investors. But I wouldn’t rule it out, and if there was one it wouldn’t have been admitted in the article either.

Of course, Maher’s not right either, either mis-informed or lying.

Best I’ve been able to dig up (so far), a bunch of Russian “oligarchs” became entangled with a group of Western “oligarchs” while moving huge amounts of money out of Russia, probably from selling off newly “privatized” state assets to Western investors, as well as profits from those assets.

After the 1998 devaluation, things got confused for a while, then when Mr. Putin had achieved full control he started arresting those “oligarchs” (unless they fled), and retrieving the assets they’d acquired during “privatization”. Those who had gotten assets out of the country joined forces with some Western “oligarchs” and began an ongoing campaign against Putin.

It’s suspicious that the “elected” government of Ukraine was overthrown by force only a few months after the release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who had formerly managed Yukos Oil Company, and challenged Mr. Putin for the 2004 election until he was arrested.

Even more suspicious, in my view, is the fact that the EU refused to recognize Russia’s centuries-old claim to Crimea, rather claiming it to be a part of Ukraine based on a technical transfer within the Soviet Union, under a “ legal system in the Soviet Union [that] was mostly a fiction, but the transfer did occur in accordance with the rules in effect at the time.

Never mind the fact that the legal system wasn’t a complete fiction (quite), it covered internal affairs of the Soviet Union, and was a very weak reed to set against Russia’s centuries-long inclusion of Crimea.

Anyone familiar with the local geopolitics should, IMO, have expected Russia to be prepared to go to any, even nuclear, lengths to retain control of Crimea, as it guards access between the Black Sea and the Don river drainage, as well as the Volga drainage via the Volga-Don Canal.

What I see here is a group of exiled Russian klepto-oligarchs making common cause here with one (or several) block(s) of Western “Oligarchs” to steer the West into a confrontation with Russia that might allow them to seize power. Clinton and her election loss fantasies are only the latest pretext.

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