Monday, April 03, 2017

Russia Scare basics

There are real issues confronting the United States and the European countries in how to deal with the authoritarian, rightwing, Christianist regime of Vladimir Putin in Russia.

Then there are those who want to use the Russia Scare for ideological or business purposes: neocons, "humanitarian" hawks (it becoming harder by the day to distinguish between those two groups), the armaments industries and the rest of the military-industrial-intelligence complex.

And there is now a well-established narrative on the Russia-Trump issue that basically lets the speaker accuse anyone taking a position that somehow resembles one that the Russian government might be taking of being a Russian dupe, or worse.

A former FBI agent named Clint Watts put this on display last week. Former FBI Agent: Possible Russia, Trump Campaign Collusion Worries Me Morning Joe/MSNBC 03/31/2017:

He showed up to talk to Chuck Todd, too, Full Clint Watts: Trump Campaign 'Picked Up On' Kremlin Lines Meet the Press 04/02/2017.

Watts is a fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) at Georgetown University. Right Web says of the FPRI (internal links omitted):

Although FPRI’s scholars skew to the right, their work often leans more towards realism than neoconservatism, eschewing the Manichaeism of many more strident foreign policy hawks. Thus, for instance, in its 2012 annual report, FPRI warns that “It would be an error to predict the behavior of Islamist insurgents and terrorists on the basis of Islamic theology or even Islamist ideology alone,” just as it “it would be an error to predict Chinese behavior from communist ideology or even from abstract notions of the Chinese national interest alone.
There are some famous names that have been associated with FPRI:

Nevertheless, a number of prominent hawks have found a home at FPRI over the years, and FPRI publications often feature works by hardliners, including Sohrab Ahmari, Max Boot, Eliot Cohen, Donald Kagan, Frederick Kagan, Keith Payne, Richard Perle, Henry Sokolski, Arthur Waldron, George Weigel, and James Woolsey. Daniel Pipes, a former FPRI scholar who founded the neoconservative Middle East Forum, proclaimed at a 1991 address to the Heritage Foundation that FPRI has “always advocated an activist U.S. foreign policy; we have shared an abiding suspicion of the Soviet Union and other Communist states; and we have always maintained a strong interest in the promotion of democracy, free enterprise, and the rule of law. Perhaps most controversially, the professional staff is not shy about the use of force; were we members of Congress in January 1991, all of us would not only have voted with President Bush and Operation Desert Storm, we would have led the charge.”
The Young Turks' Michael Tracey looks at how the Russia scare is being used against left critics of hawkish foreign policy, or even ones that are to the left of Hillary Clinton, in Were "Bernie Bros" Really Russian Agents All Along? TYT Politics 04/01/2017:

I'm sticking with the position that people of whatever political persuasion need to be realistic about the real, legitimate concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 American election and the need for a sound, independent investigation. And they also need to evaluate foreign policy options based as far as possible on solid information. For those of us not part of the "intelligence community," that means information soundly sourced in the public record.

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