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Putin-Phobia, the Only Bipartisan Game in Town

July 6, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Few issues generate a bipartisan response in Washington.
President Donald Trump’s upcoming summit with Russian
President Vladimir Putin is one.

Democrats who once pressed for détente with the Soviet Union act
as if Trump will be giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Neoconservatives and other Republican hawks are equally horrified,
having pressed for something close to war with Moscow since the
latter’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Both sides act as if
the Soviet Union has been reborn and Cold War has restarted.

Russia’s critics present a long bill of requirements to be
met before they would relax sanctions or otherwise improve
relations. Putin could save time by agreeing to be an American

Topping everyone’s list is Russian interference in the
2016 election, which was outrageous. Protecting the integrity of
our democratic system is a vital interest, even if the American
people sometimes treat candidates with contempt. Before joining the
administration National Security Adviser John Bolton even called
Russian meddling “a casus belli, a true act of

Hawks and doves in
Washington agree Vlad is bad. Can Trump act as the lone

Yet Washington has promiscuously meddled in other nations’
elections. Carnegie Mellon’s Dov H. Levin figured that
between 1946 and 2000 the U.S. government interfered with 81
foreign contests, including the 1996 Russian poll. Retired U.S.
intelligence officers freely admit that Washington has routinely
sought to influence other nations’ elections.

Yes, of course, Americans are the good guys and favor
politicians and parties that the other peoples would vote for if
only they better understood their own interests—as we
naturally do. Unfortunately, foreign governments don’t see
Uncle Sam as a Vestal Virgin acting on behalf of mankind. Indeed,
Washington typically promotes outcomes more advantageous to, well,
Washington. Perhaps Trump and Putin could make a bilateral
commitment to stay out of other nations’ elections.

Another reason to shun Russia, argued Senator Rob Portman, is
because “Russia still occupies Crimea and continues to fuel a
violent conflict in eastern Ukraine.” Moscow annexed Crimea
after a U.S.-backed street putsch ousted the elected but highly
corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The territory
historically was Russian, turned over to Ukraine most likely as
part of a political bargain in the power struggle following Joseph
Stalin’s death. A majority of Crimeans probably wanted to
return to Russia. However, the annexation was lawless.

Rather like America’s dismemberment of Serbia, detaching
Kosovo after mighty NATO entered the final civil war growing out of
the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Naturally, the U.S. again had right
on its side—it always does!—which obviously negated any
obligations created by international law. Ever-virtuous Washington
even ignored the post-victory ethnic cleansing by Albanian

Still, this makes Washington’s …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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