Five reasons why Democrats should stop obsessing over Russia

1. It is rehabilitating neoconservatism
Some of the biggest proponents of the effort to tie Trump to the Kremlin are the same neocons who sold us the 2003 war of aggression against Iraq and are still campaigning to sabotage the Iran deal, one of the few foreign policy successes of the Obama administration. One only need to look at recent editorials by self-proclaimed imperialism apologist Max Boot and efforts by the ghoul none other than Dick Cheney to “reach out” to liberals and take on the Russian menace. I’ve seen many prominent liberals these days promote the anti-Russian rantings of this guy:

Not a good look, to say the least.

2. It feeds into national chauvinism and jingoism
According to liberals, their own tradition on foreign affairs is one that favors diplomacy over militarism and reconciliation over needless belligerance. Yet much of the rhetoric targeting Trump sounds like the right-wing arguments against Obama’s foreign policy: that he isn’t “tough enough” on America’s Enemies. As an example, Trump is being accused of acting as an agent of the Kremlin simply for proposing a relaxation of economic sanctions against Russia. This sounds perilously similar to what we heard from the right, and indeed Trump himself, when Obama administration relaxed sanctions on Iran and Cuba.

It also feeds into the myth of American exceptionalism, which once again I thought liberals claimed to oppose. There are many “takes” among liberal “thinkfluencers” these days about how America is a naturally progressive and benevolent force for good and this is contrasted with Russia, which is demonized as backwards and cruel even beyond Putin’s leadership. Many of these same personalities have, in other contexts, acknowledged various truths about America being founded on slavery and genocide and it being sustained by imperialist plunder to this very day. One need not be a Maoist Third Worldist to recognize as ridiculously self-acquitting the idea that the US needed Putin’s nefarious influence to elect an overt white supremacist like Trump.

3. It is a diversion from more pressing matters
Just recently the GOP proposed gutting Medicaid in order to finance a patchwork of tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit the incredibly wealthy. Thankfully, extremist elements within the GOP helped shoot the proposal down, presumably for not being cruel enough. Medicaid is a very popular program that Trump promised not to cut. Its beneficiaries include many elderly and disabled individuals and the GOP would’ve had a challenging time portraying them as freeloaders to the American people. Instead of spending more time celebrating this defeat and exploiting the opportunity to present a genuinely progressive vision for health care, the Democrats largely allowed the news cycle to drop this story in order to focus on Trump’s ties to Russia.

This is inconceivable to me. When polls are showing increased willingness for a single-payer system, the Democrats are willing to switch the script and make common cause with neocons in pursuit of a more antagonistic foreign policy. Additional Trumpian monstrosities such as the proposed cuts to the EPA and an end to local police reform efforts are also taking a back seat in media coverage. One has to ask: what is the end goal here? One likely consequence of this hysteria is that the Trump administration will be pressured into adopting an even more hostile policy towards Russia and its allies. It will under no circumstances lead to a more progressive vision at home or abroad.

4. It will bite liberals and Democrats in the ass in the end
The moment Democrats are back in the saddle and decide to promote detente with Russia or any other foreign power viewed as a rival, they will be attacked as hypocrites for so long leading a crusade based on the idea that hostility towards Russia should be the norm. If you go to some of the archives of liberal writers and bloggers currently beating this story to death, you will find that many of them in the past recognized the dangerous warmongering delusions of the anti-Russia neocons. During the 2008 Georgia-Russia War, it was acknowledged by liberals that neocons were promoting a reckless policy of confrontation with Russia. How on Earth can American liberalism credibly switch tack after this current round of Russia-bashing?

I’ve seen it said by conservatives that if Russia really is that dangerous that we should massively increase our defense spending. Others have accused the Democrats of being hypocrites for promoting hostility to Russia while also calling for reapproachment with Iran. If anything, if the Democrats succeed in making Russia a matter of national concern among the general population, it will benefit the neocon wing of the GOP much more than the Democratic Party.

5. It risks damaging long term prospects for peace with Russia
This is the most important reason by far. If the US political atmosphere becomes increasingly anti-Russia as the Democrats want it to be, it will be nearly impossible to come to any sort of diplomatic understanding with Russia in the near future. Use of the US military and intelligence agencies to “solve” global conflicts will be more palatable to the general public. Support for penetrating foreign interventionism will become a kind of litmus test as it was in the immediate post-9/11 hysteria of mindless patriotism that enabled the Iraq War.

Is this really what liberals want? I have to come to the conclusion that for many of them it is. Others who are on the fence about Trump/Russia scandalmongering should take note. If you want to avoid an aggressive foreign policy in the future, it is definitely not a scandal you want to promote.

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