Liberals are supposed to be anti-war, right? I went to college in the 1960s, when students nationwide were rising up in opposition to the Vietnam War. I was a Young Republican back then and supported the war through sheer ignorance and dislike of the sanctimoniousness of the protesters, some of whom were surely making their way to Canada to live in exile on daddy’s money while I was on a bus going to Fort Leonard Wood for basic combat training. I can’t even claim that I had some grudging respect for the antiwar crowd because I didn’t, but I did believe that at least some of them who weren’t motivated by being personally afraid of getting hurt were actually sincere in their opposition to the awful things that were happening in Southeast Asia.
As I look around now, however, I see something quite different. The lefties I knew in college are now part of the Establishment. They’re retired limousine liberals. Now, they call themselves progressives, of course, because it sounds more educated and sends a better message, implying as it does that troglodytic conservatives are anti-progress. However, they also did a flip on the issue of war and peace. In its most recent incarnation, some of this might be attributed to a desperate desire to relate to the Hillary Clinton campaign with its bellicosity towards Russia, Syria, and Iran, but I suspect that the inclination to identify enemies goes much deeper than that, back as far as the Clinton Administration with its sanctions on Iraq and the Balkan adventure, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and the creation of a terror-narco state in the heart of Europe. More recently, we saw the Obama meddling in Libya, Yemen, and Syria in so-called humanitarian interventions, which turned out to be largely fraudulent. Yes, under the Obama Dems, it was “responsibility to protect time” (R2P) and the entire world trembled as they let loose the drones.
Last Friday, I started to read an op-ed in the Washington Post by David Ignatius that blew me away. It began “President Trump confronts complicated problems as the investigation widens into Russia’s attack on our political system”. It then proceeded to lay out the case for an “aggressive Russia” in terms that the MSM have repeated ad nauseam. Of course, it was lacking in any evidence, as if we should regard the opinions of co-opted journalists and highly-politicised senior officials in the intelligence community as sacrosanct. Not coincidentally, these are the same people who reportedly recently been working together to undercut the White House by leaking and then reporting highly sensitive transcripts of phone calls with Russian officials.
Ignatius is well-plugged into the national security community and inclined to be hawkish, but he’s also a typical a WaPo politically correct progressive on most issues. Therefore, here was your typical liberal asserting something in a dangerous fashion that hasn’t been demonstrated and might be false. Russia is attacking “our political system!” The WaPo isn’t alone in accepting that Russia is trying to subvert and ultimately overthrow our republic. Reporting from the New York Times and on TV news makes the same assumption whenever they discuss Russia, leading to what some critics have described as mounting American “hysteria” relating to anything coming out of Moscow.
Rachel Maddow is another favourite of mine when it comes to talking real humanitarian feel-good stuff out one side of her mouth while beating the drum for war from the other side. In a bravura performance on 26 January, she roundly chastised Russia and its President, V V Putin. Rachel, who freaked out completely at Donald Trump’s election, is now keen to demonstrate that Russia has corrupted Trump and the Kremlin now controls him. She described Trump’s lord and master Putin as an “intense little man” who murders his opponents before going into the whole “Trump stole the election with the aid of Moscow” saga, supporting sanctions on Russia and multiple investigations to find the underlying cause of “Putin’s attacks on our democracy”. Per Maddow, Russia is the heart of darkness and, by way of Trump, has succeeded in exercising control over key elements in the new administration.
Unfortunately, people in the media like Ignatius and Maddow aren’t alone. Their willingness to sell a specific political line that carries with it a risk of nuclear war as fact, even when they know it isn’t, has been part of the fear-mongering engaged in by Democratic Party loyalists and many others on the left. Their intention is to “get Trump” whatever it takes, which opens the door to some truly dangerous manoeuvring that could have awful consequences if the drumbeat and military buildup against Russia continues, leading Putin to decide that his country is being threatened and backed into a corner. Moscow has indicated that it wouldn’t hesitate to use nuclear weapons if someone confronts it militarily and it faced defeat. The current wave of Russophobia is much more dangerous than the random depiction of foreigners in negative terms that’s long bedevilled a certain type of American Know-Nothing politics. Apart from the progressive antipathy towards Putin personally, there’s a virulent strain of anti-Russian sentiment among some self-styled conservatives in Congress, best exemplified by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Graham recently said:
2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.
It’s my belief that many in the National Security State convinced themselves that Russia is indeed a major threat against the USA and not because it’s a nuclear power that can strike the USA. That appreciation, should, if anything constitute a good reason to work hard to maintain cordial relations rather than not, but it’s seemingly ignored by everyone but Donald Trump. No, the new brand of Russophobia derives from the belief that Moscow is “interfering” in places like Syria and the Ukraine. In addition, it’s a friend of Iran. That perception derives from the consensus view among liberals and conservatives alike that the US sphere of influence encompasses the entire globe as well as the particularly progressive conceit that Washington should serve to “protect” anyone threatened at any time by anyone else, which provides a convenient pretext for military interventions that they euphemistically describe as “peace missions”.
There might be a certain cynicism in many who hate Russia, as having a powerful enemy also keeps the cash flowing from the Treasury into the pockets of the beneficiaries of the military-industrial-congressional complex, but my real fear is that having been brainwashed for the past ten years, many government officials are actually sincere in their loathing of Moscow and all its works. Recent opinion polls suggest that that kind of thinking is popular among Americans, but it actually makes no sense. Though involvement by Moscow in the Middle East and Eastern Europe is undeniable, calling it a threat to US vital interests is more than a bit of a stretch as Russia’s actual ability to make trouble is limited. It has exactly one overseas military facility, in Syria, while the USA has more than 800, and its economy and military budget are tiny compared to that of the USA. In fact, Washington is most guilty of intervening globally and destabilising entire regions, not Moscow. When Donald Trump said in an interview that when it came to killing the USA wasn’t so innocent it was a gross understatement.
Ironically, pursuing a reset with Russia is one of the things that Trump actually gets right, but the new left won’t give him a break because they reflexively hate him for not embracing the usual progressive bromides that they believe are supposed to go with being antiwar. Other Moscow trashing comes from the McCain camp, which demonises Russia because warmongers always need an enemy and McCain never found a war he couldn’t support. It’d be a tragedy for the USA if both the left and enough of the right were to join forces to limit Trump’s options on dealing with Moscow, thereby enabling an escalating conflict that could have tragic consequences for all parties.
17 February 2017