U.S. President Barack Obama, right, talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, prior to a session of the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, 2015 (Kayhan Ozer / Anadolu Agency via AP)
The Democratic Party’s “attempt to equate Trump’s opposition to arming Ukraine with some sort of treasonous allegiance to Putin masks a rather critical fact,” writes Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept. “[N]amely, that the refusal to arm Ukraine with lethal weapons was one of Barack Obama’s most steadfastly held policies.”
The general Russia approach that Democrats now routinely depict as treasonous – avoiding confrontation with and even accommodating Russian interests, not just in Ukraine but also in Syria – was one of the defining traits of Obama’s foreign policy. This fact shouldn’t be overstated: Obama engaged in provocative acts such as moves to further expand NATO, non-lethal aid to Ukraine, and deploying “missile defense” weaponry in Romania. But he rejected most calls to confront Russia. That is one of the primary reasons the “foreign policy elite” – which, recall, Obama came into office denouncing and vowing to repudiate – was so dissatisfied with his presidency.
A new, long article by Politico foreign affairs correspondent Susan Glasser – on the war being waged against Trump by Washington’s “foreign policy elite” – makes this point very potently. Say what you will about Politico, but one thing they are very adept at doing is giving voice to cowardly Washington insiders by accommodating their cowardice and thus routinely granting them anonymity to express themselves. As journalistically dubious as it is to shield the world’s most powerful people with anonymity, this practice sometimes ends up revealing what careerist denizens of Washington power really think but are too scared to say. Glasser’s article, which largely consists of conveying the views of anonymous high-level Obama officials, contains this remarkable passage [italics by Greenwald]:
A few days in, I went to meet with an early Obama appointee who had since become disillusioned. He saw much in common between the skeptical dovishness of Obama and the grand but vague America Firstism promised by Trump. Both considered the 2003 invasion of Iraq a big mistake and the entanglements of the Middle East a waste of time and money. Both were weary of America footing the bill for the defense of the well-heeled countries of Europe and Asia; both came to office looking for better relations with Russia. “There is a lot of continuity between them,” he insisted. “Both are promoting a minimalist, anti-interventionist foreign policy. Trump says a lot of what Obama thinks—it’s just he says it in a much more crass way.”
But it was much too soon for this kind of second-guessing, and nobody wanted to make the comparison publicly. “You can’t really have an honest conversation about this,” the former Obama appointee said. After all, Trump was in the White House and he was scaring the shit out of everybody.
In other words, Democrats are now waging war on, and are depicting as treasonous, one of Barack Obama’s central and most steadfastly held foreign policy positions, one that he clung to despite attacks from leading members of both parties as well as the DC National Security Community. That’s not Noam Chomsky drawing that comparison; it’s an Obama appointee.
The destructive bipartisan Foreign Policy Community was furious with Obama for not confronting Russia more, and is now furious with Trump for the same reason (though they certainly loath and fear Trump for other reasons, including the threat they believe he poses to U.S. imperial management through a combination of ineptitude, instability, toxic PR, naked rather than prettified savagery, and ideology; Glasser writes: “‘Everything I’ve worked for for two decades is being destroyed,’ a senior Republican told me”).
ALL OF THIS demonstrates how fundamental a shift has taken place as a result of the Democrats’ election-related fixation on The Grave Russian Threat. To see how severe the shift is, just look at this new polling data from CNN this morning that shows Republicans and Democrats doing a complete reversal on Russia in the span of eight months:
The Democrats’ obsession with Russia has not just led them to want investigations into allegations of hacking and (thus far evidence-free) suspicions of Trump campaign collusion – investigations which everyone should want. It’s done far more than that: it’s turned them into increasingly maniacal and militaristic hawks – dangerous ones – when it comes to confronting the only nation with a larger nuclear stockpile than the U.S., an arsenal accompanied by a sense of fear, if not outright encirclement, from NATO expansion.
Read more here.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly