- Monday, January 16, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

For Donald Trump and the overwhelming majority of the American people, including those who did not vote for him, the choice between friend and foe is obvious. The whole history of U.S.-Russia relations proves that if we work together it’s a win-win scenario. However, it appears that for Trump’s enemies lurking in what he calls the Washington “swamp” Russia is more useful as a foe, and all who disagree are either directly recruited by Vladimir Putin or are deplorable zombie tools of Kremlin propaganda.

Let’s put this into a not-so-distant historical perspective. For the past 30 years, under Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin, Dmitri Medvedev, and Putin again, the Russians have been knocking on Washington’s door asking to be accepted as a friend and ally, only to be constantly rebuffed. For voluntarily dismantling the Soviet empire, throwing communist ideology out the window, liberating the captive nations, helping to defeat the Taliban, and doing their share in the war on terror they got in return the abrogation of the ABM treaty, “regime change” and “color revolutions” in the neighboring countries, bombing Serbia, vicious media demonization, an avalanche of sanctions, emplacement of “defensive” missiles in Eastern Europe, and successive rounds of NATO expansion (“RUSSIA WANTS WAR! Look how close they put their country to our military bases!”)

The swamp creatures scream that “the Russians brought it on themselves with their aggressive actions! What about Ukraine! Syria!”

Nonsense. The drive to make Russia’s security situation untenable started almost as soon as the Warsaw Pact was dissolved and the Soviet Union disbanded. What’s different is that Russia is now strong enough to push back. Ukraine – what would we do if Russia, or China, embraced the overthrow of a U.S.-friendly elected government in, say, Mexico, and sought to pull that country into an anti-American alliance? Syria – why is it in America’s interest to help terror-supporting states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar to overthrow a secular (and pro-Christian) government and replace it with some jihad terror group like ISIS or al-Qaeda?

The hysterical campaign of “the Russians did it!” aimed at de-legitimating the President-elect all boils down to one thing: the defeated Obama apparatus, a politicized intelligence community leadership, a bipartisan foreign policy establishment, and a mainstream media treated with increasing skepticism and derision by the American people are doing their level best to knock the legs out from under Trump largely because he wants to shift U.S. policy from a sterile and counterproductive antagonism toward Russia to cooperation on common concerns. At the top of those concerns – as identified in the hacking report itself! – is joint U.S.-Russian action against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

As Trump tweeted after seeing the classified evidence (or lack thereof) of Russian hacking:

“Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We have enough problems around the world without yet another one. When I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now and both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!”

Cynics warn that Trump’s stated desire to improve ties with Russia will founder on the same rocks as the efforts of George W. Bush (who claimed insight into Putin’s soul) and Barack Obama (Hillary Clinton’s ridiculous “reset”). Trump, they say, will eventually like his predecessors see that primordial Russian aggressiveness and Putin’s KGB thuggishness are irredeemable. Missing from this false “analysis” is the fact that neither Bush nor Obama were willing to consider the causes of Moscow’s disaffection or treat Russia’s legitimate security interests with respect. They simply hoped that smiles and handshakes would persuade Russia to accept Washington’s hegemony and Moscow’s subordinate status. As a businessman, Trump knows better than that.

Trump has promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC. In that swamp, there are no bigger and meaner alligators than the members of an American version of the defunct Soviet nomenklatura that has built generations of lucrative careers on East-West confrontation, not to mention arming and training Islamic radicals in successive “regime change” wars like Libya and Syria. To preserve their power and perks, even at the risk of fomenting war with Russia, they aim to neuter Trump before he nails their hides to the wall of the Oval Office. At this writing it’s unclear who will win.

Edward Lozansky is president of the American University in Moscow. He is the author of the book Operation Elbe, which describes joint US-Russia anti-terrorist efforts. Jim Jatras is a former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership. He is the author of a major study, “How American Media Serves as a Transmission Belt for Wars of Choice.”

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