Greenwald: Democrats Now Demonize the Same Russia Policies that Obama Long Championed

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”).

From: Democrats Now Demonize the Same Russia Policies that Obama Long Championed

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50 thoughts on “Greenwald: Democrats Now Demonize the Same Russia Policies that Obama Long Championed

  1. 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,

    That Russia should have a significant influence on American presidential elections.

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      • Something tells me that when it comes down to “If people knew more about this candidate, less people would vote for her,” then the candidate is not such a strong one in the first place.
        It’s just a strategy that relies on keeping the wool pulled over peoples’ eyes.

        Better the known devil than the unknown devil, and we have already seen what Trump is all about.

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          • That would be extraordinary, but not unprecedented.
            The Republicans didn’t give Nixon the boot after Watergate.
            Didn’t work so well for the Whigs with Tyler, and I believe they had stronger leadership in Congress than what is there now.

            Still, that might bring matters to a head.
            I’m of a mind that anything that leads to domestic military action is a good thing.

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  2. While I agree there’s an extraordinary amount of hypocrisy coming from the Left on certain Trump actions, I do also believe that Trump is different because there is so much speculation that he is truly beholden to them. There’s good reason to believe he took a lot of Russian money after one of his bankruptcies and that started him down this path. His tax returns would have told us a lot.

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    • Personally I wouldn’t fixate on making the tax returns public… but there’s nothing wrong with FBI investigating and they can look at tax returns for leads.

      I think Noah Millman and Josh Marshall are at least reasonable jumping off points.

      It doesn’t have to be criminal for it to be revealing and or disqualifying had it been known. Unfortunately there’s a good chance it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachable (or maybe it does)… but good politics doesn’t require Nixonian moments to hand you Carter victories.

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    • In addition, I think we can weakly defend Obama here in that he did seem to learn his lesson toward the end. I was with Obama at the beginning, agreeing that Russia was probably no longer a real threat, but the events of the past several years have made it increasingly obvious that that’s completely wrong-headed.

      Trump seems not to have learned those lessons, and his weird connections and apparent conflicts of interest on the topic make that awfully suspicious. I mean, Trump seems to have set out to worsen relations with basically every country (Australia??) except Russia. People who want to paint Trump as a wise diplomat reconciling broken relations need to explain why he also seems to be pissing in the cornflakes of every other world leader. Either it’s a really weird but brilliant strategy, or he’s just a chaos monkey who happens to have some sort of unseemly connection with the Russian government.

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      • I think you’re right on the characterization of Trump as buffoon and poorly suited to being lead diplomat but the analysis of Russia I think is much more complex. You don’t have to think highly of Putin’s corrupt and authoritarian government to be critical of how the West has played it’s hand after the Cold War. From their perspective we’ve marched NATO right up to their borders and taken provocative actions in places where they have interests, like Georgia, Syria and Ukraine.

        Now I’m not going to pretend Russia’s motives are anything other than self interested but I do think we ought to consider the role of American policy in creating and escalating these situations. We wouldn’t like it if a power we perceived as threatening took the kind of actions we regularly do in our neighborhood. I mean, look at the response to alleged Russian meddling in our own politics. Why should they feel differently?

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    • I understand the line of argument, but it fails because of the underlying assumptions.

      If I borrow $30 from you for gas to get to Cleveland, you still have little say on what I actually do when I get to Cleveland.

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      • True, but if you borrow $3,000,000 for “gas to Cleveland” and potential forgiveness or generous terms in paying it off are on the table, you might take some input, especially if you didn’t want that loan to become public knowledge. Trump has a history of needing concessions from his creditors, and anybody who lends him large sums of money surely knows that. Nobody sane would loan him a big chunk of cash unless they had some strings attached to protect themselves (they had some ulterior motive for making a loan that came with a high probability of a haircut).

        At least, that was true before he became POTUS. Now loaning money to Trump and his operations is just good business.

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        • Ok.

          And there is intelligence which suggests that Russians typically borrow money from the government rather than a bank?

          If this is really the case, then I see “joint venture,” which is almost, but not quite, as skeevy as most NGO’s.

          Wait a minute . . .

          I bought some stock in a couple of Chinese companies a few years back.
          You think I should write the Chinese government and request a discount on a TV due to my service for the Peoples’ Republic?

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          • And there is intelligence which suggests that Russians typically borrow money from the government rather than a bank?

            I don’t think the wealthiest and most powerful organizations in Russia are quite as separate from the Russian government as you seem to think they are. It’s possible that all of his business partners in Russia are entirely disconnected from the Russian government and none of them are the oligarchs who have close ties with Putin and the government. Maybe we’ll never know.

            I bought some stock in a couple of Chinese companies a few years back. You think I should write the Chinese government and request a discount on a TV due to my service for the Peoples’ Republic?

            Probably not, unless they were state owned companies and your investment was pretty big. Of course, if they were state owned enterprises and you relied on investment or loans from them, the People’s Republic might be able to ask some favors from you. Hypothetically, a state owned enterprise like the Bank of China had loaned you and your interests something like $650 million, something like that might be conceivable. But I picked that entity and those numbers out of the air. Nothing like that would happen in real life, so we don’t have to worry about it.

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  3. My perception is that Democrats are opposed to Trump colluding with Russia and therefore failing to sufficiently resist Russia, and not that the US should put boots on the ground in Crimea and Ukraine. Eg, Trump’s signaled he wants to eliminate the sanctions.

    Adding: And personally, I have no problem with a “Russia reset”. Hell, every President for however long think they’re gonna inaugurate the one, true do-over.

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    • The counter-point to that would be the criticism that arose of Trump’s camp (allegedly) being the source of the decision to keep providing lethal aid to Kiev out of the Republican platform. It isnt boots on the ground but it would escalate the conflict, probably in much the same manner Obama’s policy of arming extremists in Syria threw more fuel on that fire.

      It isnt necessarily a call for war coming from the Democrats but there’s definitely a change in stance of some kind in progress. Remember when Mitt Romney was a fool for identifying Russia as America’s greatest adversary?

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  4. I’m gonna start tuning out if everything I read in the MSM keeps up with “democracy in crisis” because of Trump. It’s the meme I can be rid of. I do enjoy the hypocrisy though.

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  5. Greenwald hates Dem’s and is a tool. He is just glossing over some big things. It was and is perfectly fine to try to work with Russia where our interests coincide. That is standard diplomacy and international politics. But Russia hadn’t sporked our elections 4 years ago so that does change the calculus quite a bit. Trump is seems to be easing up on Russia where O had put sanctions on them. That is an actual difference.

    Any charge of hypocrisy needs to deal with how we should think about what Russia is to us from before the election and now after it. Events change perceptions. Russia is still not a military threat to us but is to the countries right around it. They have always had interests we need to consider in Syria, nothing changes that. And Russia is plenty happy with having more influence in the WH and weakening our ties in Europe. O hadn’t exactly been saying the things Trump has about NATO has he. Putin would be more than happy for us to leave a power vacuum in central and eastern europe he could move into.

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    • Putin would be more than happy for us to leave a power vacuum in central and eastern europe he could move into.

      One thing Obama and Trump both agree on (even tho Trump plays both sides of the fence when it suits his purpose): the US can no longer unilaterally determine political outcomes in the ME and beyond. Obama’s solution was to require our partners to pick up the blood-and-treasure ball and actually run with it while the US blocked for them, whereas Trump’s solution is to require our partners to pay us to pick the ball and run with it on their behalf. In either case, tho, the end result is the same: unilateral action in the ME (and beyond) costs the US too much to justify persisting in the policy as it’s currently constructed.

      The effect of both approaches is the creation of a power vacuum. And that may be Greenwald’s convoluted point.

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      • Urm….Trump has put some more troops in Syria recently while Obama kept us a bit more out of it. Trump is going to be far more aggressive and take more military action. Power vacuums are also about diplomacy. We can keep our boots out but be involved with soft power/diplomacy. Trump has already hollowed out the state dept and we can guess what he thinks about the idea of soft power. (Did you see that piece in the Atlantic from last week about how things are going at State?) Trump’s policies are going to look a lot like classic aggressive, pro kinetic action US policies of old.

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        • gregiank: Did you see that piece in the Atlantic from last week about how things are going at State?

          The one where people complained that they were no longer working from 6 in the morning to the wee hours at night, but instead more like a 9-5 schedule, that would normally be described as ‘improving work-life balance’? (Or are 8 hours workdays something only a Bolshevik wants?)

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          • I remember the part about nobody having anything to do nor even knowing if they had any actual jobs to perform. They weren’t coming in since there was no mission. Tillerson had Trump minders surrounding him. Positions weren’t being filled. They sounded rudderless and missionless. Not exactly positive.

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        • while Obama kept us a bit more out of it

          This is just plain false. The only reason Obama didn’t intervene more was because Congress wouldn’t authorize it on the terms he wanted in 2013. And even that didn’t stop his administration from airstrikes and arming radical militants, a policy I’m certain the Trump administration will continue and possibly escalate .

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          • Trump has already escalated. He put a few hundred marines and some rangers on the ground already. Obama did not escalate anywhere near what the R’s were calling for. That is the basic fact. R’s wanted more raids, more bombing, more troops in combat which he didn’t’ do. He didn’t keep us completely out but nothing like what the R’s wanted. The R’s are getting what they want now: us more directly involved in combat.

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            • That’s not what happened in 2013… sure, John McCain and Lindsey Graham have never met a war they wouldn’t approve… but Congressional Republicans were not going to authorize Obama’s use of force in Syria.

              This is one of the things where Republican leadership is/was out of step with the “base.” Opposition to AUMF Syria was deep and strong among the republican electorate – and this surfaced to congress.

              Now, I’ll admit two things that make this murky:
              1. Opposition in 2013 was partly due to Republican obstreperousness
              2. Trump could make winning in Syria cool again.

              But this is one of those areas where Trump was all over the map (so to speak) on the use of Military force. I have no idea his intentions and based on who he has appointed, I expect standard Neo-con rationale and more bombing and boots… but the R’s (as you say) are no longer united on perpetual war without reference to good old fashioned national interest.

              Trump’s boots on the ground policy, for the moment, is in line and in scale with the boots Obama already has/had on the ground in Syria. It’s a proportional escalation, but not a new intervention.

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              • And furthermore, President Obama was all set to do a significant escalation in the use of military force in Syria just on his own inherent executive branch authority*, until the UK Prime Minister asked his parliament for similar authority, and the vote there failed.

                *something Senator Obama said the President didn’t have.

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      • Our presence has provided some security to the Baltic’s and Central Euro countries like Poland, etc. Putin would love us out so he can increase his power over those areas.

        How much we can do or should do is a big question and likely changes depending on the country involved. We sure couldn’t do much in the Crimea. Certainly the old consensus was that prosperity and security in west and central europe was to our benefit so we got NATO. I doubt very much we don’t benefit from prosperity and security in europe now although NATO may not be the best vehicle for enhancing that. I also doubt very much if we benefit from a europe with Putin being a larger and more powerful figure. It would truly suck for eastern europe for Russia to have a great sphere of influence.

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        • Certainly the old consensus was that prosperity and security in west and central europe was to our benefit so we got NATO

          But was that consensus actually true? We spent a lot of money for a global straddling military empire in all but name, in return so those folks could spend money on domestic welfare – and then blamed every crime real and imagined on the United States. (and this was when they weren’t actively colluding with the Soviet Union).

          In any case, it’s not 1946 anymore. The countries of Europe are not rubble. If they are worried about a resurgent Russia, they can deal with it themselves.

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          • But was that consensus actually true?

            Just a guess here:

            I think there was a time when it very clearly benefitted the US on a positive calculus: money spent on military and political power projection was repayed many times over. That gets us up to the 70s maybe. Now, tho, not so much except perhaps in terms of a negative calculus: how much do we lose by abandoning our commitments and role in geopolitics compared to the cost of continuing to play it?

            BTW: I think the answer to that last question was the main driving force behind the neocon obsession with invading Iraq. Controlling eurasian fossil fuels was essential if the US wanted to maintain its position as the sole superpower, able to determine trade agreements and so on beneficial to the US.

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          • We didn’t just spend the money so euro countries could spend on themselves. We wanted and benefited from them being strong economies and trade partners but also so they didn’t fall under the Soviet sphere. It sure as hell worked well since we won the cold war and “our half” of europe is prosperous.

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      • Because being the driving force behind a continent-wide international security arrangement has avoided the deaths of tens if not hundreds of millions and laid the groundwork for the unprecedented prosperity that humanity is currently experiencing?

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        • Continent-wide? It wasn’t even Holy Roman Empire wide. The Iberian peninsula stayed fascist for another generation (remember when we were supposed to punch fascists instead of letting die natural deaths?). Key alliance members Great Britain and France thought they could still play 19th century empire reindeer games all over the world – leading the US eventually to send nearly 60,000 Americans to pointless deaths. France wasn’t even in the alliance half the time. Italy only stayed in the western orbit due to some lite electoral shenanigans (and anti-shenanigan shenanigans), Greece stayed in due to some heavier ones from both sides.

          Meanwhile, we avoided the deaths of 10’s and hundreds of millions by dangling an apocalyptic atomic sword of Damocles over everyone, threatening the death of multiple hundreds of millions.

          And for all this, American backpackers thought it better to sew Canadian flags on their gear for most of the past 70 years.

          The left and centre left in Europe and the left in America bitched about NATO, the US military and the USA the entire fucking time we were laying the groundwork for peace and prosperity that humanity is currently experiencing. Including, but not limited to, the Clintons. And now they’re all rah rah NATO? Fuck ’em.

          Or if you prefer, congrats, you won. Deal with it.

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    • Greenwald’s entire shtick is a lot like Freddie de Boer’s — each of them represents the One True Way to engage on a political issue from the Left and everyone who disagrees with them is an idiot or a sell-out. To wit, from Greenwald:

      They’re not “resisting” Trump from the left or with populist appeals – by, for instance, devoting themselves to protection of Wall Street and environmental regulations under attack, or supporting the revocation of jobs-killing free trade agreements, or demanding that Yemini civilians not be massacred.

      That anyone who purports to be a serious political analyst could write this sentence just last Monday establishes only that they should not be taken seriously.

      And further, from Glenn:

      Instead, they’re attacking him on the grounds of insufficient nationalism, militarism, and aggression

      That’s just not true. not at all.

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          • The constitution of Russia is a mess of contradictions, but here appears to be the meat of it:


            Article 2

            Man, his rights and freedoms are the supreme value. The recognition, observance and protection of the rights and freedoms of man and citizen shall be the obligation of the State.

            Article 7

            1. The Russian Federation is a social State whose policy is aimed at creating conditions for a worthy life and a free development of man.

            This lands much closer to a socialist state than a individualistic republic. Basically what I am saying is that the system doesn’t mesh with much of the population.

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