Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Democrats, Russia, Trump and nuclear disarmament

California Sen. Kamala Harris attracted a good bit of attention in 2016 as a possible corporate Democratic candidate for President in 2020. Here position in the liberal/progressive continuum is not entirely clear, even after serving as California's Attorney General for six years before entering the Senate in 2017.

She appear in this Morning Joe segment talking about the Nunes Memo, potential Constitutional crisis, and the Dreamers Senate Intel Committee Member Kamala Harris Criticizes Nunes Memo 02/05/2018:

Harris' comments about the Trump-Russia affair and about the upcoming budget deadline were sensible. And nothing that would gives Democratic progressives any particular cause for concern.

But I'm also concerned about what the Democrats are not saying about Russia. They need to bee making this a major issue: Ben Doherty, US's new nuclear policy 'a blueprint for war', Nobel peace laureate says Guardian 02/05/2018. Tilman Ruff, the chair of the Australia-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), warns that the Trump Administration's new nuclear policy increases the risk of nuclear war. And that policy doesn't look sound like one that Russia should especially like:
Last Friday the release of Donald Trump’s nuclear posture review revealed a significantly more aggressive stance towards Russia, saying Vladimir Putin’s regime must be convinced it would face “unacceptably dire costs” if it were to threaten even a limited nuclear attack in Europe. ...

The Pentagon-led review of the US nuclear arsenal and the policies that govern it was ordered by Trump a year ago. Such reviews are customarily done at the outset of a new US administration. ...

[Ruff says,] “The goal of a world free of nuclear weapons has disappeared from that document. It’s been described as a blueprint for nuclear war, and I don’t think that’s too extreme a characterisation.”

Ruff said on myriad indicators the risk of global nuclear war was increasing. “The continued reliance on nuclear weapons; the continued massive investments on keeping them indefinitely; making them more usable and more deadly; the lack of talks about disarmament, the increasingly belligerent postures and extraordinarily specific threats to use nuclear weapons by multiple leaders in multiple parts of the world,” he said.

The US position has also been criticised – predictably – by China, Iran and Russia.

Russia’s foreign ministry said the Trump administration’s policy statement was both “confrontational” and “unscrupulous” while Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said it risked “bringing humankind closer to annihilation”. [my emphasis]
Not having a nuclear war is a good thing. Peace is a good thing. Peace is also popular. And Democrats need to be advocating it.

Listen carefully to see if you hear any hint of such a thing in the comments Democrats make about Russia these days, including Kamala Harris' appearance above.

The antiwar critics who accuse the Democrats of using the "Russiagate" issue to promote hawkish foreign policies and bigger military budgets are right, so far as that goes. We need a pragmatic Russia policies with reducing the nuclear threat at the heart of it.

Of course, Russian interference in the 2016 election has to be seriously addressed. So do Russia-NATO tensions, trade relations, climate change, and a variety of other issues. The Democrats should be building a political program for a practical approach to Russia and nuclear disarmament, not simply an anti-Russia policy, which they are pretty doing presently.

And this is another reminder that the Dems need to be careful about accusing the Trump Administration of being a "puppet" of Russia or the like. Because when we look at policies like the critically important nuclear posture, we don't see anything close to an across-the-board "pro-Russia" policy.

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elbayt comp said...
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