Iran's mullahs – and America's other adversaries – make hay over Charlottesville
Iran's mullahs whooping it up over the woes of Charlottesville, using its tragic events as a stick to poke at the U.S., and making political hay at home, too. Pretty much all of America's adversaries, mild and major, are taking the same advantage in a bid to undermine President Trump. It shows the essential disloyalty of the extremist groups toward Making America Great Again to give these gamy players such glee.
Tehran (AFP) – Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei joined the international criticism of race-related violence in the United States on Wednesday with a mocking tweet.
The context here is that Iran is trying to pull out of its nuclear deal with the U.S., having used up all of its benefits and now seeking a free hand to develop its illegal nuclear weapons, having it both ways. What better way for them to signal their intent than to throw fat on the fire with Charlottesville, making their contempt clear? It's got to be glee-making for them. But it also serves a domestic purpose, keeping Iranians' minds off the corruption and mismanagement of the mullah regime as revolution in the streets there beckons.
China, by contrast, has taken an old whiny party line of attempting to debunk America and its promise as a sham to all of China's citizens, many of whom eagerly long for American shores as a means of getting out of China. Even more pointedly, the communist state keys off a State Department report criticizing China's crackdown on Muslims to focus on perceptions of an anti-Muslim bias in President Trump's visa crackdown on terrorist-supporting countries. That clearly is an effort to draw attention away from China's bad record on the matter. In all, it's a domestically focused series of statements with lots of its habitually wounded ego showing. The People's Daily sums it up well in its whiny headline: "US is not a human rights paradise, nor the world's moral leader."
Here's its Charlottesville response:
But it is not just hate toward Muslims that is on the rise. As the recent deadly racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, have shown, hate and terror are on the rise in America, and such problems are expected to increase. In its eagerness to claim the moral high ground, the U.S. government has ignored the facts of its own situation, showing its bias against China. Rather than place America on top of all other nations as the world's moral authority and undermine other countries' efforts and hard-won achievements, the U.S. government should focus more on making America "great again," and less on making other countries more like America.
Cuba makes the Charlottesville events personal, taking the attack directly to President Trump. Cubaencuentro's headline: "Trump se identifica con la extrema derecha" (Trump identifies with the extreme right).
Obviously, they are not concerned with a domestic audience and whatever it might think, given their control over it. They want the good opinion of the cocktail party set in the radical chic norte and are writing as Antifa in style as they can.
Germany is also making an understated amount of hay on the Charlottesville affair. The New York Times reports:
BERLIN – Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany denounced the deadly violence that erupted around a demonstration by white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend as "racist," "horrifying" and "evil," and called for far-right violence to be condemned worldwide.
"It is racist, far-right violence and clear, forceful action must be taken against it, regardless of where in the world it happens," Ms. Merkel said in an interview with the German public broadcasters Deutschlandfunk and Phoenix. She expressed her condolences for the family and friends of Heather D. Heyer, who was killed in the violence.
The chancellor declined to criticize the United States, noting that her own country still struggles with anti-Semitism and far-right extremists.
"Before we point our fingers at others, we need to take care of that which is happening at home," Ms. Merkel said. "Of course that country is torn," she said of the United States, "but what needs to be condemned is any form of violence, especially any forms of extreme or aggressive violence."
While German chancellor Angela Merkel doesn't get nasty on us, she does use the Charlottesville incident to promote the rightness of her own domestic agenda of allowing any and all migrants to flow in. Self-righteous but inoffensive is probably the best summary.
The U.K. under Tory wet squish Theresa May has a similar tack, but her focus is on dissociating herself from the far right, of which the U.K. has some element. Apparently, she sees it as her problem, too, and wants to make a better pre-emptive case against it than Trump has been able to do, given the media distortions against him. The Times reports:
In London, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the British government condemned "racism, hatred and violence" and singled out the far right for specific criticism. Her spokesman, James Slack, in a briefing to reporters, avoided any direct critique of President Trump, and said that the president's comments were "a matter for" Mr. Trump alone.
Italy made a similar Merkelian statement, albeit largely generic and context-free. The Times reports:
Italy's prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, also denounced the violence in Virginia, writing on Twitter that such condemnation "unites all the world. Racist hate will not prevail."
The Russia response is probably the most interesting. It appears to confirm the CIA assessment that Russia intends to stir the pot. On the one hand, it did constructively support President Trump's case that there are despicable characters on both sides, as the Times reported.
In a segment on the Charlottesville episode, Rossiya-24, a state television channel, reported that while Mr. Trump was being blamed for the unrest, "the aggravation of the situation with rough justice by police against the black population" began under President Barack Obama.
But Newsweek had an important report showing that white nationalist groups seem to have ties with elements of the Putin apparatus. Putin has long considered Russia an exceptional nation with a mission to keep the West honest and has been influenced by thinkers such as Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. But there are others, such the one Newsweek cited, who have links apparently to the white nationalists.
The alleged ties between the administration of President Donald Trump and Russia are currently the subject of intensive media scrutiny. But perhaps less well known are the connections between a Kremlin ideologue described as "Putin's brain" and key members of the U.S. alt-right and white supremacist movement, including those behind the Charlottesville protest.
Alexander Dugin is a Russian ultranationalist and former adviser to Sergei Naryshkin, a key member of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party who was appointed Russian foreign intelligence chief in 2016. Dugin supports Orthodox Russia's role as a bulwark against what he has portrayed as the decadent forces of the liberal West.
Newsweek cited a joint march with Russian flags and Confederate flags being held together. What leaps out at me is that the eastern Ukrainian rebel forces that invaded Ukraine with Russian complicity also sport Confederate-like flags and dress like Confederates as well. Make of it what you will.
"I really believe that Russia is the leader of the free world right now," he recently told Business Insider. "Putin is supporting nationalists around the world and building an anti-globalist alliance, while promoting traditional values and self-determination."
In 2015, he led a rally at which Russian and Confederate flags were flown alongside each other.
The problem with the Newsweek report is that it overstates the influence of Dugin on Putin, who has been very cautious with nationalist rhetoric due to concern about stirring up Russia's sizeable Muslim minority. He listens to Dugin but does not follow his every move. He also has ties to communist and Marxist elements inside the Russian political scene – and the American left, as the cash to halt fracking operations has gone down.
In all, the intention is probably best summed up as stirring the pot.
Ironically, the Russians also wish to remain scarce as they meddle. The Times reported that the Russian Embassy in Washington urged Russians to stay out of Charlottesville due to "the disturbances." Sounds as if they don't want to raise any suspicions of meddling with the presence of any Russian nationals on the scene with this sort of thing potentially going on.
What can be concluded here is that as Charlottesville plays out, our allies and enemies are watching. Most leaders use the incident to discredit America and make their own countries look better by comparison. Iran leaps out for its effort to reveal its true intentions about the Iran deal as well as quell domestic discontent. Russia may be using a direct hand of action as it seeks to take advantage of all the discontented souls out there. Knowledge of it is the only power of it.