Confusing a questionable claim (of Russian hacking, as claimed by the Democratic National Committee and its politicized cybersecurity CrowdStrike source, with no clear challenge from US Intel) as fact, The New York Times (NYT) and other US establishment outlets cheer the narrow-minded anti-Russian moves by the US Senate and Congress. The NYT’s July 27 editorial concerning Russia, is indicative of the kind of primitive provincialism that it suggests from US President Donald Trump.
Political science” is at best a soft science, unlike the hard sciences which have precise formulas. The categorized foreign policy isolationists aren’t necessarily ignorant about world affairs. Conversely, the interventionist neocons (and to a somewhat lessor extent neolibs) have sought incompletely thought out ways of dealing with a number of global issues.
While uncritically cheering the overwhelming Senate and Congressional votes for extended sanctions against Russia, the so-called “paper of record”, (in its aforementioned editorial) doesn’t take into consideration the views of numerous Europeans. Under the voted call for further sanctions, European Union (EU) based companies can be penalized by the US for doing business with Russia. Not too long ago, Trump’s lead critics were criticizing him for looking more cozy with Russian officials when compared to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. As evidenced by The NYT editorial in question, Germany can be easily ignored if it exhibits a limit to anti-Russian actions.
The lack of US-Russian business cooperation limits the effectiveness of sanctions and counter-sanctions between the two countries. In addition, one wonders just how substantive would US sanctions be against EU based companies doing business in Russia?
Some of the US mass media commentary notes that a US-EU squabble over increased sanctions on Russia benefits the Kremlin, because Moscow (as presented) desires to have greater division between Brussels and Washington. More accurately put, Russia seeks improved relations with the EU and US, in a way that doesn’t hinder Russian interests. The US Senate and Congress (as opposed to the Kremlin) created the chance for an EU-US spat over increased sanctions, Likewise, Russia wasn’t responsible for Hillary Clinton’s loss in the last US presidential election.
Of course, the Kremlin is going to favor those not looking to punish their country. There’s nothing especially sinister about that. On the other hand, there’s something disingenuous about the one-sided depictions against Russia (discussed at length in my Eurasia Review and Strategic Culture Foundation run commentary).
Regarding Russia, groupthink and peer pressure continue to dominate the US mass media and political establishments, over a more even handed approach, that serves to better cover all of the angles. This situation nurtures a coddled ignorance, as others with a differing and valid perspective are very much censored. Two recent examples of the former grouping concern MSNBC’s Joy Reid, as well as Harvard’s Lawrence Tribe and Yascha Mounk.
It’s US mass media and body politic en masse, which appear more apprehensive about engaging in a lengthy and spirited dialogue, in comparison to the pro-Russian elements out there, seeking to level the playing field. A July 29 Washington Post (WaPo) editorial underhandedly skirts this particular. Contrary to what The WaPo suggests, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is pretty active in Russia, according to the latter’s website. Those competently familiar with the Russian government funded RT, know that this station has frequently had lengthy segments with Western critics of the Russian government. Overall, RFE/RL isn’t as open towards pro-Russian advocacy.
Relative to the newly voted call for further sanctions, Trump could’ve chosen to debunk the misguided anti-Russian advocacy with a firm, well thought out counter. (As of this writing, it seems like he’ll approve the sanctions bill.) He also has the cover of not rocking the boat by referencing the prevailing Capitol Hill mindset – never mind its groupthink/peer pressure dynamic.