February 17, 2017

Russophobes?

What in the heck is going on with Evan McMullin? Tweeting that the President of the United States is a "domestic enemy" isn't that strange these days - we saw that frequently and from many sources over the last two Administrations. I'm talking about his overt Russophobia.

Is Russia still the heart of a lingering "evil empire?" When the USSR subjected everyone within it's very big but not very beautiful walls, that was an easy sell to a peace-loving western population. But today, they carry our astronauts to the International Space Station for goodness sake! The wall came down in nineteen-hundred and eighty nine. Remember?

And yet, today, Evan McMullin appeared on CNN's New Day this morning to tell Alisyn Camerota that Donald Trump wants to "weaken" the U.S. intelligence community because "he knows as long as he has the issues he has with Russia the intelligence community and he are not going to get along."

What are President Trump's "issues with Russia?" Well, there's the unsubstantiated claim of stealing the election. Each of us must discern whether or not to believe the various claims and counterclaims on that one. But one unambiguous conflict with the "intelligence community" is Trump's willingness for rapprochement with modern Russia.

Camerota asked Steve Hall, the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations about Trumpís press conference yesterday. Hall answered that,

"I don't think there is very much good news especially after we saw the press conference Donald Trump conducted yesterday ... he said things like it wouldn't be so bad if we had a good relationship with Russia."

The horror! The next we know, he'll be sending Rex Tillerson on a mission to "reset" U.S. relations with Russia. Who sets U.S. foreign policy, really... the C.I.A.? The Council on Foreign Relations? Senator John McCain? How about the elected Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the armed forces? Seems I read that in some old dusty document once.

There's clearly something really big going on here, behind the scenes of geopolitics. Past presidents have apparently been willing to let the puppetmasters have their way, in complete secrecy. President Trump on the other hand has a penchant for, shall we say, speaking his mind? And for doing so it is boasted that Trump will "die in jail" as the Intelligence Community prepares to "go nuclear" on him.

What was that old Dwight D. Eisenhower quote? "Beware the military-industrial complex" or something like that? Well, the Sting lyric, "I hope the Russians love their children too" can perhaps be updated to "I hope American Spooks love their children too."

You know it's a red-letter day when this humble blogger links to The Nation, but I find a lot of anti-Leviathan love here. I've never heard of Patrick Lawrence but he self-identifies as a progressive and writes about 'The Perils of Russophobia.'

 "Russian aggression" has to go down as one of the great, pernicious phrases of our time - requiring no further scrutiny whenever deployed. The Russians invaded Ukraine and then stole Crimea without prior provocation. Now they threaten to invade the Baltic states. They cultivate extreme-right nationalists in Europe so as to debilitate the European Union. The Russians are guilty of war crimes in Syria. They have just invaded us, too, corrupting our democratic process and throwing the 2016 election to Donald Trump and his houseful of "Kremlin lackeys."

This is the stuff of our reigning Russophobia. Let us try to identify what it is actually made of.

Every sentence in the above list has four attributes: (1) It is broadly accepted as fact just as written; (2) there is little confirmed, published evidence from impartial sources, if any, supporting it; (3) it is either one or another form of disinformation or misleads by way of omission - or both; and (4) it is a source of delusion. And in the matter of the last it is very weird. Our policy cliques do well enough deluding Americans to the effect that Russia now presents America with "an existential threat" - a thought Pentagon and NATO brass are making common currency, believe it or not - but they appear to think a nation deluded by their incessant repetitions is somehow a fine and sturdy thing.

I can be convinced that Iranian and North Korean nuclear ICBM's pose an "existential threat" but Russia has had them pointed at us for so long, and us at them, that nobody truly fears "mutual assured destruction" anymore. And what is a contemporary term for unsubstantiated delusional disinformation? "Fake news."

Government Iran North Korea Trump Agonistes Trump Revolution Trump Revolution Posted by JohnGalt at February 17, 2017 11:42 AM

Firstly, tovarich, I will accept your assessment of Evan McMullin. His post-election persona has not filled me with pride for having voted for him. Well, they were desperate times, and I'm not one for regrets.

I'll rather recall the other Mormon I voted for. Gov. Mitt Romney suggested Russia as a strategic threat in the 2012 debate. President Obama channeled The Nation in his derisive "The 1980's called -- they want their foreign policy back."

By all means, call McMullin overwrought, but I'd suggest more caution in disregarding Russian aggression. I'll also accept your bifurcating existential threats versus strategic. But I see Russia ready to work behind the scenes to discredit the US, and quite willing to work with Iran and possibly NKorea to achieve this. Their grisly involvement in Syria is enough to keep them at arms' length.

The only fundamental shift from the bad-old-days to now is the asymmetric difference in strength.
We have to fear them less because they have been weakened. But they still have hegemonic ambitions, and in the diplomatic realm, play chess to our checkers and -- at the risk of mixing metaphors -- hardball to our softball.

I don't stay awake at night fearing Russians under the bed, but I'm wary: a cornered, weakened bear is still dangerous.

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2017 12:21 PM

Okay, all of that is very fair. But are these legitimate concerns behind the IC "going nuclear" or is that more of a territorial behavior by an entrenched bureaucracy? One that happens to have some of the world's most powerful tools and influence at its disposal?

"Going nuclear" doesn't seem a proportional response to policy differences. Nor, even to concerns that POTUS has secretive "ties" to Russia. Just leak the details and let's have it out publicly. Unless, such public airing might do the self-described "Spooks" more harm than good.

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2017 12:34 PM | What do you think? [2]