Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Anti-Russia Inquisition Intensifies by Ted Galen Carpenter

For a brief period in April, it appeared that the campaign that Democrats and neo-conservative Republicans were waging for a comprehensive investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election had peaked and was beginning to ebb. The Trump administration’s decision to launch missile strikes against a Syrian air base despite Russian President Vladimir Putin vehement objections to the assault on his ally, quieted accusations that Trump was Putin’s puppet. Indeed, hawks in both parties praised Trump for taking action in Syria, and the president’s supporters at Fox News and elsewhere contended that the U.S. attack discredited the notion that he was guilty of appeasing Russia.
But the hiatus in the allegations of collusion was only temporary. Worse, the resurgent anti-Russia hysteria has broader, ominous implications for U.S. foreign policy and the health of political discourse in the United States. 
Congressional Democrats and their media allies have renewed their offensive in the past two weeks. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) even argues that the evidence already amassed seems to be enough to warrant President Trump’s impeachment. It was especially notable that no prominent Democrat denounced such an inflammatory accusation. Indeed, Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee appear to be escalating their concept of what constitutes a thorough investigation, now insisting that any contact by advisers to the Trump campaign with any Russian official be subject to scrutiny.
They and their neoconservative allies also insist on a laser-like focus on the alleged misdeeds of the Trump people and nothing else. The current scandal erupted full force when leaked reports from the U.S. intelligence community that newly installed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and discussed sensitive issues, including the ongoing U.S. economic sanctions against Russia, thus apparently undermining the Obama administration’s policies.  Flynn’s action showed poor judgment, and his attempt to conceal the contact from Vice President Mike Pence, was even worse. A recent Washington Post articlecontends that Flynn went ahead with his meeting even though senior Trump campaign officials cautioned against it and warned him that it was almost certain that U.S. intelligence agencies were electronically monitoring Kislyak and all of his contacts. 

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