Evolution of the Russian-Collusion Narrative – 3
Evolution of the Russian-Collusion Narrative – 3 by Richard Levine – DisObedient Media
Portraying the great sculptor, Auguste Rodin, Gerard Depardieu, in the 1988 movie, Camille Claudel, said to his paramour, a remarkable artist in her own right, ”Never think of surfaces, only of depths.” This insight merits broad application. In considering the genesis of the Russian-collusion narrative, we must not be so entranced with the day-to-day revelations concerning this scandal that we give short shrift to what lies beneath.
The explication of the evolution of Russian-collusion narrative is marred by an emphasis on pretextual explanations of the scandal. Such explanations have been superimposed upon the scandal’s true foundations. This miasma was not induced initially by matters involving Russia, but as a riposte to Donald Trump’s expressed views on Muslims and the connection between the Islamic faith and terrorism. It was these views that raised the ire of intelligence, foreign-affairs, and law-enforcement entities in the United States, in the United Kingdom, and in Australia, amongst other countries.
The Commonwealth: During her reign of 66 years, a crowning achievement of Queen Elizabeth II is her role in the enlargement and in the substantiation of the Commonwealth of Nations through her stature as this intergovernmental organization’s head. The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of 53 member states, comprised of former British colonies, as well as countries that were former colonies or parts of other states. (For example, Commonwealth member Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal, Rwanda from Belgium.)
Taken together, the Commonwealth of Nations occupies twenty percent of the world’s landmass and numbers one-third of the planet’s population. Commonwealth nations India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia are home to hundreds of millions of Muslims ─ millions more live in other Commonwealth countries, such as the United Kingdom.
Sixteen countries of the Commonwealth of Nations are Commonwealth realms. Queen Elizabeth is sovereign to each of these lands, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
The transition of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations and the Commonwealth realm is unmatched in its scope in world history with the possible exception of the transmutation of the Western Roman Empire into the Roman Catholic Church. Saint Augustine wrote The City of God in response to the Roman public’s outcry over the Visigoths’ sacking of Rome in 410 AD; this book is recognized as foundational to Western religious thought. To Augustine, the ruination of Rome as an ephemeral City of Man was surmounted completely by Christianity’s triumph in the form of the establishment of the eternal City of God. The concept of dioceses as administrative domains within the Roman Empire preceded the term’s ecclesiastical use, for after the establishment of Christianity as the official state religion of the empire in the fourth century AD, bishops and priests were emplaced alongside the provincial governors and the bureaucrats of the empire; as the Western empire withered and collapsed, all that was left were the offices of the Church, which were formed as a reduplicate of the Roman administrative state. The expansion and the solidification of the Commonwealth of Nations as a proxy for the British Empire, albeit vastly weakened in terms of British influence, thus had a model.
Administration and intergovernmental duties of the Commonwealth of Nations are the responsibility of the organization’s secretariat, which is directed by a Secretary-General; it is of interest that the former Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, whose meeting with junior Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos putatively began the FBI’s counterintelligence probe, was unsuccessfully put forward for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General in 2015 by both British and Australian officials. (Downer’s title at that time was equivalent in rank to that of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. In Commonwealth nations sharing the same monarch, diplomatic relations, between such states, occur at the cabinet level.)
The Prince of Wales: Though Queen Elizabeth’s successor to the crown is assured to be the constitutional monarch of the Commonwealth realm, such assurance with regard to the Queen’s successor’s status as the head of the Commonwealth of Nations was not certain in 2016 and was to be the subject of a vote. It was only on April 20, 2018 that the leaders of the 53 Commonwealth nations voted that Prince Charles should succeed his mother as head of this organization. Such an outcome was far from certain: Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour leader, expressed his support for rotational leadership; Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a staunch republican, had voiced his opposition to Prince Charles’s ascension to the position (Turnbull’s stance subsequently changed); and the Commonwealth, itself, had formed a consultative group of seven senior officials from various countries and institutions to consider the future governance of the organization.
The pillars of Prince Charles’s support to succeed his mother were two: Queen Elizabeth’s desire that he do so, and Prince Charles’s support from Muslim communities and governments throughout the Commonwealth. In their Middle East Quarterly article of June 1, 1997, Ronni L. Gordon and David M. Stillman noted the following concerning Prince Charles, “His public advocacy of Islam appears to go back to 1989, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an edict (fatwa) against Salman Rushdie, a British citizen, for blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad in his novel The Satanic Verses. Rather than defend Rushdie’s freedom of speech, Charles reacted to the death decree by reflecting on the positive features that Islam has to offer the spiritually empty lives of his countrymen.” An American Islamic cleric might be labeled a radical for saying as much.
In his remarks of October 27, 1993, Prince Charles, in his first public address concerning Islam, noted that, “Islam can teach us today a way of understanding and living in the world which Christianity itself is poorer for having lost. At the heart of Islam is its preservation of an integral view of the Universe. . . . But the West gradually lost this integrated vision of the world with Copernicus and Descartes and the coming of the scientific revolution. A comprehensive philosophy of nature is no longer part of our everyday beliefs.” Prince Charles’s speech was covered extensively throughout the Islamic world and was very well received.
Prince Charles has supported the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies for decades: in 2013, its director, Farhan Nizami, stated, “I don’t think there is another major figure in the western world who has as high a standing as he has in the Muslim world. I would describe him as a friend of Muslims.” Recently, Prince Charles addressed the World Islamic Economic Forum, and after the deadly attack of June 19, 2017 against Muslim worshipers, near the Finsbury Park Mosque, Prince Charles personally delivered a message of solidarity from the Queen.
As perceived throughout 2016, Donald Trump and his enunciated views on Muslims constituted a threat to cohesion within the United Kingdom as well as to its external affairs, for if Trump became President, a continuance of the special relationship between Britain and America could undercut Britain’s position vis-à-vis the nation’s burgeoning Muslim population as well as its relations with Muslim-majority nations. If Britain were to suspend its special relationship with America in the wake of a Trump presidency, the island nation’s economy and security could suffer grievous harm. Further, the next British monarch might be precluded from becoming the head of the Commonwealth of Nations due to friction with Muslim-majority members incensed by Washington. Thus, both courses appeared unacceptable.
Most Americans think that the British monarch, as head of state, has no political power. This is not true. In 1867, British essayist and journalist Walter Bagehot published a book that codified the rights of the crown. He wrote, “To state the matter shortly, the sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights — the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn.”
Of these enumerated rights, the right to warn is paramount. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, the Muslim portion of the United Kingdom’s population may be expected to grow from its present level of 6.3 percent to 16.7 percent by 2050. Given declining rates of church attendance in preference to secularism, British followers of the Islamic faith may within this century outnumber the nation’s practicing Christians. In response to this demographic transformation, which is mirrored across Western Europe, Prince Charles’s statements were trenchant: in his view, the United Kingdom and Europe must never create a bar to immigration or to the acceptance or practice of the Islamic faith.
These precepts were viewed as antithetical to the positions expressed by Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. Alone, the royal family’s positions on these subjects are certainly not determinative. Their worldview on these matters, however, is shared, to varying degrees, by all major British political parties, politicians, and bureaucracies. Though members of the royal family do not direct policy nor manage the bureaucracy ─ and surely had no role in the direct instigation of the Russian-collusion phantasm ─ they are, in William Shakespeare’s words, “the makers of manners.” And in regard to manners, Britain’s political class and establishment found candidate Trump’s behavior, let alone his views, to represent the quintessence of the ugly American: loud, conceited, boorish, and unaccountably rich.
Thus, a primary foundation for what became the Russian-collusion narrative did not involve Russia, but arose due to Britain’s visions for itself. On December 8, 2015, Donald Trump, in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” At that time, Donald Trump opined on the status of sections of London, which the candidate stated were “so radicalized the police are afraid for their lives.”
Britain was united in its derision. Then Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has been photographed with Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud (a central figure in the collusion narrative) and who may contend to be Britain’s next prime minister, referred to Trump’s comments as “ill-informed . . . and complete and utter nonsense.” Both candidates who sought to succeed Johnson made sharper remarks; the Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, declared Trump to be “one of the most malignant figures in politics.” Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate, who subsequently became mayor, stated, “Trump can’t just be dismissed as a buffoon — his comments are outrageous, divisive and dangerous — I condemn them utterly and hope his campaign dies a death.” Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that Trump’s remarks constituted “an attack on democratic values.” Finally, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, called Trump’s views “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.” Later, Cameron, addressing Parliament, would state that Trump’s proposed Muslim ban is “divisive, stupid and wrong. If he came to visit our country I think he would unite us all against him.”
Clearly, these British politicians attempted to influence America’s presidential election: their views as amplified by the mainstream media within the United States may have exerted more influence on America’s political process than did all Russia’s actions. However, it was Cameron’s caustic judgments that were critical to the instigation and to the formation of the collusion narrative.
President Obama visited the United Kingdom in 2016. During a joint April 22, 2016 press conference held at 10 Downing Street with President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron was asked what American voters should “do about Donald Trump.” Cameron responded, “As for the American elections, I’ve made some comments in recent weeks and months — I don’t think now is the moment to add to them or subtract from them.”
On May 3, 2016, George Papadopoulos, a junior Trump aide, living in London, called on Prime Minister Cameron to apologize to Donald Trump, stating that such contrition would be “wise” and that the Prime Minister should invite the Republican candidate to the U.K. These remarks were reported by British newspapers and likely constituted the fuse that ignited various elements within the intelligence, policy, and law-enforcement establishments of Britain, Australia, and the United States.
Agents: Actions within the United Kingdom and Australia purposed to subvert the Trump campaign were almost certainly staged by current or former intelligence officials. Christopher Steele, author of the Trump dossier, served within Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) as the agency’s senior analyst for Russian affairs. Retiring from MI6 in 2009, Steele co-founded the private agency Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd. Orbis sought to ape the functions and actions of established private-intelligence firms, headquartered in London. Hakluyt & Company, a far larger strategic intelligence and advisory firm, most probably served as a model for Steele and his partner.