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09.09.2016 Author: Caleb Maupin

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

324234324234234US 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.”

According to Naomi Klein’s 2007 book “The Shock Doctrine” between 1991 and 1998 “more than 80 percent of Russian farms had gone bankrupt and roughly seventy thousand state factories had closed creating an epidemic of unemployment.” As a result, 74 million Russians were living below the poverty line. Klein goes on to say that “25 percent of Russians – almost 37 million people – lived in poverty described as ‘desperate.’”

During the 1990s, when Yeltsin was dramatically changing the country under the direction of the Clinton administration, the rate of drug addiction in Russia increased by 900 percent. The suicide rate almost doubled. HIV, which had previously only infected no more than fifty thousand Russians, became a nationwide epidemic with millions contracting AIDs.

An entire population of people who had lived with guaranteed employment, guaranteed healthcare, old age pensions, and a planned economy saw the social safety net swept from underneath them, as widely unpopular policies, backed by Washington, were imposed on the country. US Senator Bill Bradley describes the tone of US diplomats in their interactions with Russia, saying Clinton administration officials spoke of “stuffing shit down Boris throat,” gleefully taking pleasure in ordering him to wreck his country’s economy.

Anti-Communist scholars frequently accuse Stalin and other Soviet leaders of creating “man-made famines.” Sometimes the anti-communist scholars will say these “man made famines” amounted to “genocide.” The words used by many people to describe what US President Bill Clinton and economist Jeffrey Sachs presided over in Russia during the 1990s sound a lot like descriptions of a “man-made famine.”

Naomi Klein quotes a Russian Academic named Vladimir Gusev as saying “The years of criminal capitalism have killed off 10 percent of our population.” Russia’s population decreased by 6.6 million between 1992 and 2006. Klein quotes US Economist Andre Gunder Frank calling what took place in Russia as “economic genocide.” Russian Vice President Alexander V. Rutskoi used the same words as the policies were beginning in 1992, saying it would have catastrophic results for children and the elderly.

Clinton Represents Neo-Liberalism

When people speculate that Russia is intervening in US elections, why is Clinton’s record in Russia not discussed? The last time Hillary Clinton was residing in the White House, though only as the first lady, millions of Russians lives were ruined in what some have called an “economic genocide.” Is this fact not relevant in discussing Russia and 2016 US Presidential elections?

It has only been since  the ascension of Vladimir Putin that the situation in Russia has improved. During the first eight years of Putin’s presidency, wages doubled and the poverty rate was reduced by 14%. During this same period Russia experienced overall industrial expansion of more than 70%. The country’s Gross Domestic Product increased from $764 billion to $2096.8 billion between 2007 and 2014. John Browne, the CEO of BP has praised Putin’s policies saying “No country has come so far, in such a short space of time.”

What was the secret to fixing Russia’s economy? Putin dropped many of the extreme free market policies that had been championed by Clinton and Yeltsin. Russia’s economy re-emerged primarily due to public control of oil and natural gas. The Russian economy is now centered around state controlled natural resources with a very high rate of public ownership. Putin’s “National Priorities Project” focused on building a social safety net for the population. The Russian government has also created “Nashi” summer camps, hoping to cultivate and train the best and brightest young Russians to work for the good of their nation.

Despite being described as “left,” both Hillary Clinton and her husband are closely identified with neoliberalism and privatizations. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s political careers are closely associated with the Democratic Leadership Council, a non-profit organization that maneuvered within the Democratic Party to push for free market policies and undermine the remaining Social-Democratic and Rooseveltian factions that existed in the late 1980s. Bill Clinton signed the widely unpopular North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
In the aftermath of de-industrialization, which escalated under Bill Clinton’s presidency, some regions of the United States are experiencing things similar to what took place in Russia during the 1990s. Factories have closed their doors, with the stable employment and high wages they symbolized being eliminated. Heroin addiction and suicide rates across the United States are the highest they have been in decades.

Donald Trump’s campaign has made a point of reaching out to those who have been highly affected by de-industrialization in places like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. According to left-wing Film-maker Michael Moore: “Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton, as the first lady of President Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State during the first years of the Obama administration, is associated with the swift imposition of globalist capitalism and the deregulation of markets.

As Secretary of State, Clinton directed NATO’s destruction of Libya. Libya once had an Islamic Socialist government that was centered around publicly owned oil resources. Libya had the highest life expectancy on the African continent. Like her husband’s efforts to dismantle the Soviet system in Russia, Clinton’s toppling of “Islamic Socialism” and imposition of “Free Markets” have been disastrous for Libya. The conditions in Libya have gotten so bad since the 2011 intervention that thousands of people have drowned, fleeing the country on rafts, hoping to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe.

In the minds of many people across the planet, Hillary Clinton stands for free market policies, imposed by globalist banking institutions based in western countries. These policies have arguably resulted in an extreme amount of societal decay, and won Clinton many enemies.

When discussing the prospects of Hillary Clinton re-entering the White House, and how this is perceived across the planet, including Russia, this factor cannot be ignored.

Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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