- - Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The way things between U.S. and Russia are going, we are quickly approaching a repeat of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, which was a pivotal moment of the last century. Back then, both nations stood “eyeball to eyeball” in a way that could have resulted in a nuclear exchange, the deaths of 100 million people on each side and a doubtful future for the planet.

Faced with the discovery of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba and the hard choice of either accepting a fait accompli or starting a nuclear war, President Kennedy offered a compromise to the Soviet leader at the time, Nikita Khrushchev: If the Soviet Union withdrew its missiles from Cuba, America would not invade the island and would withdraw U.S. nuclear missiles from Turkey. Khrushchev accepted the deal, and war was averted at the last minute.

If one substitutes Venezuela for Cuba and Ukraine for Turkey, we more or less arrive at today’s crisis. In one sense, the situation isn’t as bad because there are no Russian nukes in Venezuela or American ones in Ukraine. On the other hand, it is worse because President Trump has no free hand for reaching a compromise with Vladimir Putin. From now on, any major deal with Russia has to be approved by Congress, and there is no way that this body with its miserable ratings — according to Gallup, only 1 out of 5 Americans approve of lawmakers’ job performance while 77% disapprove — would allow President Trump to follow Kennedy’s steps even at the risk of major war. Every time Mr. Trump initiates contact with Mr. Putin, the Deep State and the media go ballistic.

For many in Washington, capitalist Russia is much worse than the communist USSR, with Russiagate having become an important weapon in internal partisan squabbles in the United States. Despite the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller found no trace of Trump-Putin collusion, Republicans and Democrats continue to accuse each other of conspiring with the Kremlin. As Tucker Carlson of Fox News correctly stated: “The Russia story cannot die. CNN, The Washington Post, the Democratic Party, many others have too much invested in that story. The fact it’s been proven to be untrue is irrelevant to them.”
Faced with a Justice Department investigation of the Obama’s administration’s “worse than Watergate” scandal, the Democrats will do everything they can to keep the Russia scare intact.

Thankfully, even in these bad times there are some strategically thinking people willing to sound the alarm that we are sleepwalking into nuclear catastrophe. Even the most notorious “Russiagaters,” like Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler or Maxine Waters, would not dare to call them Kremlin stooges.

These include some of the highest-level former U.S. officials: Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary William Perry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Sen. Sam Nunn, who keep warning that “a bold policy shift is needed to support a strategic reengagement with Russia and walk back from this perilous precipice. Otherwise, our nations may soon be entrenched in a nuclear standoff more precarious, disorienting and economically costly than the Cold War.

Other experts have likewise called for re-engagement to reduce the risks of mutual misunderstanding and unintended signals. “During the Cold War, we understood each other’s signals. We talked,” says the top NATO commander in Europe, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti. “I’m concerned that we don’t know them as well today.”

However, Congress severely limited U.S. military cooperation with Russia by passing a bill that prohibits such cooperation and placed the entire blame on “Russian aggression” and “election meddling.”

There are only a few brave souls who have faulted the U.S. role in the violent regime changes in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and election meddling in dozens of other countries, including Russia.​

As expected, both were quickly added to the list of Putin agents because nowadays you are not supposed to say such things without unpleasant consequences.

⦁ Edward Lozansky is president of the American University in Moscow.

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