As the political temperature in Washington rapidly rises to unprecedented boiling levels, when accusations of attempted coup and state treason are exchanged between the president and the speaker of the House, what’s the danger of spillover into the foreign policy arena?
Nowadays Russia is the perfect scapegoat when practically any domestic or world problem can be blamed on President Vladimir Putin. The latest example is provided by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who detected his long hand in what she claims is an impeachable crime, meaning a telephone exchange between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Not to be outdone, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long” — blew up the cover of Iraq war veteran Rep. Tulsi Gabbard whom Mr. Putin has “successfully implanted” in Congress.
Some “Deep Staters” are obviously not very happy that the Russiagate plot is slowly sinking into oblivion and freeing space for Ukrainegate or Bidengate. This is not good and must be corrected ASAP to reverse the process, return Russia to the crime scene spotlight, and uncover new evidence of the Trump-Putin “comrades in arms” alliance.
There’s a wide choice of angles, from recycling the old sins to the anticipated meddling in 2020 elections, the California power grid failure, the Turkish invasion in Syria or fresh Barcelona riots in Spain.
A renewed and reinvigorated anti-Russia campaign might especially benefit Democrats by redirecting the public and media attention from the upcoming and potentially devastating for them results of the Attorney General William Barr, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, and U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham “investigation into the investigators.”
All this makes some people in the know worry that we are getting closer and closer to an extremely dangerous point.
In his recent book “The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe,” George Beebe, the former head of Russia analysis at the CIA, states that the actual threat of nuclear war is much greater than we realize: “Diplomacy and a desire for global peace have given way to complacency and a false sense of security that nuclear escalation is outside the realm of possibility.”
The list of well-known and respectable experts who share this opinion is constantly growing, but there is no sign that Washington is getting ready to resume any dialogue with Moscow.
One unexpected but pleasant surprise was a Wall Street Journal article by recently retired U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, who said that “we need more, not less, dialogue with Russia.” Mr. Huntsman now may be in danger of getting onto the swamp’s list of Putin bootlickers for noting that “In the U.S. sanctions have become our go-to foreign policy tool” and “while it is easy to initiate sanctions it has become politically perilous to discuss removing them. … blithely implementing sanctions without making sure they fit into a larger strategy of engagement costs us the ability to shape outcomes.”
It was refreshing to hear this from Mr. Huntsman after his previous statement on the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln traveling through the Mediterranean. At that time, the ambassador declared the carrier to “represent 100,000 tons of international diplomacy,” saying it demonstrates to Russia that they have to change their activities around the world to come into line with U.S. expectations.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov immediately responded saying that he hopes the U.S. will realize that they’ve failed to find normal, constructive dialogue options with partners instead of relying on “megaphone diplomacy.”
On another occasion Mr. Huntsman declared that “The real secret of diplomats is that we are trained to say something when we have nothing to say and say nothing when we have something to say.”
Well, so much for dialogue but hopefully after reading Mr. Huntsman’s newest op-ed Moscow will forget his previous escapades and welcomes his newly open-minded position.
President Trump keeps repeating the same line over and over again about importance for U.S. national security to get along with Russia. But the only thing that his detractors on both sides of the isle agree is that this is out of question.
At the same time, the latest Gallup congressional approval rating is 18% with 78% disapproval. What does it say about American democracy when the body that has lost its trust with the people prevents the president to make decisions about war and peace?
Of course this sad state of affairs can be also blamed on Mr. Putin since according to Congress and the media it is he who hijacked our democracy in 2016. One wonders how much democracy there really was left at this point to hijack.
⦁ Edward Lozansky is president of the American University of Moscow.