Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Russian Dressing Undressed

Democrats are playing the Russia narrative for all that it’s worth. They may simply want to console themselves for being unable to beat Donald Trump.. or any other Republican. They may be trying to undermine the legitimacy of an elected president… in the interest of respect for the rule of law. One thing is certain, the level of hypocrisy is so high that it climbs into the clouds. After all, the party’s leader once claimed that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified candidate for the presidency in American history. It used to be called "the big lie."

How could the most qualified candidate lose to Donald Trump? It had to have been a massive right wing conspiracy. The Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House. It doesn't make real sense, Victor Davis Hanson explains, because the Obama administration was and the potential Hillary administration would have been far easier to deal with and far better for Russian interests than Trump.

In his words:

If Putin were really a conniving realist, he would have much preferred Hillary in the 2016 election — given his success in manipulating the Obama-era reset.

Unlike Trump, Clinton would probably have kept the radical Obama defense cuts and perpetuated the restrictions on domestic energy development that were helping Russia. She probably would have likewise continued Obama’s therapeutic approach to foreign policy.

From Russia’s point of view, considering their strategic and economic interests, a pliable Obama 2.0 would have been far better than Trump, with his pro-oil-and-gas domestic agenda, his promised defense buildup, and his unpredictable Jacksonian promises to help friends and hurt enemies. 

It makes no rational sense. Yet, those who are peddling the narrative for their own political advantages… or perhaps as a psychological balm to soothe their own narcissistic injuries.. do not care.  Then again they might really believe it all... which would be very frightening.

Hanson’s analysis of the plays and the players in this burgeoning conspiracy narrative is exemplary for its detail and it depth. I heartily recommend that you read the whole thing.

Hanson begins by reminding us that American liberals used to be great fans of Russia. They were even fans of the Soviet Union. They preferred Boris Spassky to Bobby Fisher and Mikhail Gorbachev to Ronald Reagan.

Hanson explains:

In sum, the American Left always felt that Russia was unduly demonized by the American Right and was a natural friend, if not potential ally, of the United States. That tradition no doubt influenced the decision of the incoming Obama administration to immediately reach out to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, despite its recent aggressions in Georgia and steady crackdown on internal dissent, and despite Russia’s estrangement from the prior Bush administration. 

Who can forget the Russian reset? Call it diplomacy by plastic toy. Who can forget the Obama administration’s efforts to reach out to the Russians, to correct the manifold errors that the Bush administration had made. By now, it has all been forgotten. The Messiah was right in all matters and the Antichrist is wrong.

And then of course, in a famous hot mic moment, President Obama told Dmitri Medvedev that after his 2012 election victory he would be more than happy to make deals with Vladimir Putin.

Hanson describes it:

Barack Obama naturally wanted to continue a fourth year of his reset and outreach to Vladimir Putin, the same way that he was reaching out to other former American enemies such as the Iranians and the Cubans. … In other words, he couldn’t publicly assure Putin that he would be “flexible” about implementing missile defense in Eastern Europe (“all these issues”) until after he was reelected.

An apprehensive Obama, in his hot-mic moment, was signaling that after his anticipated victory, he would revert to his earlier reset with Putin. And most significantly, Obama wished Putin to appreciate in advance the motives for Obama’s campaign-year behavior. Or he at least hoped that Putin would not embarrass him by making international moves that would reflect poorly on Obama’s reset policy.

Furthermore, Obama did not want his implicit quid pro quo proposal to become part of the public record. Had it been public, it might have been interpreted as a message to Putin that he should empathize with Obama’s plight — and that he should interfere with the American election by behaving in a way that would empower Obama’s candidacy rather than detract from it.

In the present hysterical climate, substitute the name Trump for Obama, and we would be hearing Democratic demands for impeachment on grounds that Trump was caught secretly whispering to the Russians about compromising vital national-security issues in a quid pro quo meant to affect the outcome of the 2012 election. 

And, what was the Obama record on Russia. Did Jeremiah Wright’s protégé stand up against the big, bad Russian bear? Did he show resolute toughness when faced with such an implacable enemy? Or did he do with Russia what he did with most of America’s enemies: appease, appease and placate?

Hanson reports:

Over the next few years, the reset policy consisted of, among other things, backtracking on previously agreed-on missile-defense plans in Eastern Europe….

The Obama administration invited Russia into the Middle East for the first time in nearly a half-century to help Obama back off from his own redline threats to attack Syria if evidence of WMD usage appeared. Moreover, after the Crimea and eastern Ukraine aggressions, the perception in most of the Western world was that the U.S. was not sufficiently tough with Putin, largely because of its commitment to a prior (though failed) outreach.


Leo G said...

Stuart, surely you have perused this?

Wonder if the NY times will pick this up?



Ares Olympus said...

Partisan nonsense is so much fun. Just don't mention that Trump wants to end the sanctions against Russia.