In CNN Video, Erin Burnett Grills Rep. Dana Rohrabacher about Trump campaign contacts with Russians. Rohrabacher ridicules the concerns, while making counter allegations about Hillary Clinton. Burnett inserts a video clip of John McCain, who calls Vladimir Putin a greater threat than ISIS.
It’s natural that RussiaGate, defined in narrow terms of legal culpability, has become a political football. Did traitors walk the halls of the executive branch? Who is gonna take the fall? Who is going to the slammer? The eventual outcome promises Greek or Shakespearean tragedy. The guilty must be punished.
But if we allow ourselves to be captivated by theater, we could miss the keeper, the lesson of all this. It will come out as a history, carefully written by Robert Mueller & associates. The history and anatomy are what everyone needs going forwards to guard ourselves from the strange new hazard of modern Russia.
Though Khrushchev infamously did not say “We will bury you”, it’s a great line. Instead, we buried Cold War Russia. But it is back from the grave, tinged in the eerie phosphorescent glow of the unfamiliar. Back in the day, Russians wore badly fitting suits, ran mostly ineffective networks of “illegals”, and ran proxy wars all over the place. Occasionally, those fortunate enough for a U.S. posting were booted for trading vodka for stereos, which were in short supply in the U.S.S.R. The threat of Soviet Russia was appreciated as a monolith of ponderous mediocrity.
We were supremely conscious of of Russia-the-threat, because, in addition to their badly tailored suits, Russians were, by mutual agreement of us and them, communists. There was virtually 100% agreement that we didn’t want communism in this country. There was virtual 100% agreement in Russia, at least till the Brezhnev era, that eventually, there would be. Fear of Russia was fear of the Fifth Column, of subversion, of the takeover, of spies, of missiles, A-bombs, submarines, and poisons. It was so easy to understand.
The Russian of today is entirely different from the party automaton of Soviet Russia. The new Russian wants to give you money and presents. He wants to be your friend. He wants you to understand how certain things you might consider doing would be bad for Russia, meaning, no more money for you. But if you make decisions, legislative, composition of the board, shelf offerings, etc., that are good for Russia (and him), he will give you more money. This is the way our national interests, and moral ones also, corrode at the touch of Russia-the-state, acting through their agent, who happens to be your friend.
This has crept up on us with the same shock of discovery of the Italian Mafia as a “second government”, with the raid of Apalachin Meeting of the capos in1957. In the 1963 congressional hearings, Joe Valachi said,
Is the Russian system, the new nation-state-business-mafia conglomerate, good or bad? There are two answers for two questions:
- Is it good/bad for Russians?
- Is it good/bad for everybody else?
Western imperialism makes the need for distinction obvious. European nations pursued domestic prosperity at the expense of other areas of the globe. The Russian motive is completely different: to obtain security by fracturing and subverting perceived rivals. The methods overlap; the British conquest of India was more by adroit politics of subversion than military means.
To be continued shortly.