- - Tuesday, October 4, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Anyone listening to Hillary Clinton these days might reasonably conclude that she’s running against Russia’s Vladimir Putin rather than Donald Trump.

The lady is, of course, a great believer in conspiracies. It used to be that all her problems were the result of some nefarious “vast right-wing conspiracy,” but now that she’s running for “leader of the Free World,” she’s facing an even more nefarious international conspiracy based in Moscow and run by Mr. Putin.

When WikiLeaks unmasked how the Democratic National Committee tilted toward her in the primaries against Bernard Sanders, she knew just who to blame: Mr. Putin. When former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s private emails skewering Bill and Hillary were hacked, the Clinton forces again pointed the finger at Mr. Putin. Now they’re even claiming that the Russian president’s minions may be preparing to hack into ballot machines on Election Day to steal votes, as if he’s somehow related to former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. The more fervid of her supporters even believe that her near-collapse on the anniversary of Sept. 11 was engineered by Mr. Putin, whose agents somehow tried to poison her.

Even Surrogate-in-Chief Barack Obama weighed in while Hillary was convalescing, claiming that Mr. Putin is Donald Trump’s role model, with a drive-by reference to Saddam Hussein.

All this could be dismissed as pathetic unprofessionalism, but at some point one wonders to what extent Hillary and her minions are engaging in what is called “projection”: attributing to others your own behavior, values and intentions.

After all, if there’s anyone in American politics whose foreign policy looks much like that of the late USSR, it’s Hillary and her neoconservative and liberal-interventionist supporters. Remember the Soviets overthrowing the governments of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan? Hillary is a veritable “Ms. Regime Change” with her own tally: Iraq, Libya and (still hoping) Syria. No effort can be spared when you embody the “iron laws of history” as the “vanguard of all progressive humanity,” backed up with force when “history” isn’t “progressing” fast enough. It’s a mindset straight from the Soviet newspaper Pravda.

It is no surprise that Hillary’s enthusiastic supporters include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who has said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” The same Mrs. Albright once opined regarding the sanctions-related deaths of a half-million Iraqi children that “the price is worth it.” Stalin might have agreed. Also Mrs. Albright: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future.” The USSR’s founder, Vladimir Lenin, couldn’t have said it better.

The irony is generally lost that Hillary’s reds-under-the-bed neo-McCarthyism is directed toward a Moscow that isn’t Communist and hasn’t been for a quarter of a century. Maybe that’s something else that annoys “progressives.” When Moscow was in the hands of Communists, she could do no wrong, but now faced with a non-Communist government, she can do nothing right. Maybe they’re upset that the Russian people, who they believed would build a socialist utopia, have opted instead for a conservative nationalism that doesn’t even have the good sense to applaud gay marriage or transgenderism.

Americans need to wake up to the fact that even as she condemns her opponent as reckless, she’s fully committed to the policies that are leading analysts to conclude that the danger of war between our countries is greater today than when the Communists were in power. A particular flash point is Syria, where Moscow and Washington should be cooperating to defeat ISIS and al Qaeda rather than bickering.

Mrs. Clinton has made it clear that if she gets into the White House, she will try to impose a no-fly zone in Syria requiring a willingness to shoot down any Russian aircraft that violate her wishes. Meanwhile, her shadow Defense Secretary Michele Flournoy suggests that a Clinton administration would bomb Syrian army targets, knowing that doing so would result in not just Syrian, but Russian, casualties while another of her supporters, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell, actually advocates assassinating Russians in Syria.

Mrs. Clinton promises a “military response” against Russia and China for unproven, suspected cyber-attacks, while favoring confrontation with a belligerent Beijing in the South China Sea. Why risk war with just one nuclear power when it might be more fun to fight two?

Hillary’s agenda could put us on the slippery slope to disaster. It reflects neither prudence nor professionalism, much less sound judgment. By contrast, Mr. Trump, for all his rhetorical excess, seems focused on America’s interests. Mr. Trump’s approach is more like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s, which is based on pragmatic mutual respect between Russian and Israeli leaders rather than blustery threats. It’s a style based on strength, dialogue, deal-making and an appreciation that the countries have real interests and differences, which deserve respect. It’s an example from which Mrs. Clinton could learn much.

Edward Lozansky is president of the American University in Moscow. Jim Jatras is a former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership.

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