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The Fictitious ‘Russian Attack’ vs. the Real Imperative to ‘Cooperate With Russia’

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The John Batchelor Show, April 3

Today’s perilous reality is unprecedented and twofold. On the one hand, never have Washington-Moscow relations been so multiply fraught with the possibilities of war. American and Russian forces are in close and increasingly hostile military proximity from Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Georgia to Syria, and now possibly Venezuela. On the other hand, the “cooperation” and “contacts” known as détente that kept the United States and Soviet Union safe from war in the twentieth century, conceivably nuclear war, have been anathematized, even criminalized, by nearly three years of false Russiagate allegations. So much so that a 2018 Trump summit meeting with the Kremlin leader, a traditional presidential practice since President Eisenhower, was called “treason,” and more recently his diplomacy with Russia generally branded “appeasement.”

None of these allegations is more recklessly dangerous or fictitious than that “Russia attacked America during the 2016 presidential election”—an act repeatedly equated with Pearl Harbor and 9/11. If true, America, like any great power, must eventually strike back, which would mean we are now living in a state of impending war with Russia, again conceivably nuclear war.

But it isn’t true. No Russian missiles, planes, bombs, paratroopers, submarines, or warships descended on the United States in 2016. None even threatened the nation from afar. Did Russia “meddle” in the US election? Yes, but not significantly unlike the ways in which both sides have “interfered” in each other’s internal politics during the past one hundred years. And certainly not as amply as Washington intervened to help rig Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s re-election in 1996. With the single exception  of US military intervention in the Russian civil war in 1918, no one thought to call those acts of habitual, often ritualistic, meddling “war.” 

Nonetheless, even—or perhaps especially—after the Attorney General’s March 24 summary of the Mueller “Russian investigation” exonerated President Trump of “collusion,” the legion of diehard Russiagate fanatics have doubled down on the pernicious myth of a “Russian attack” in 2016. Leave aside today’s neo-McCarthyites with regular national platforms like Representative Adam Schiff, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, and too many others. Take instead a progressive magazine journalist who replayed at length his own longstanding  fiction of “Putin’s war on America.” Or the foreign editor of The Daily Beast, who warned that “Mueller’s report has Moscow in ecstasy, opening the way for more Putin plots.” These and dozens of other media accounts were doing little more than echoing a US senator who had recently issued a virtual declaration of war against “Putin’s Russia,” which, he insisted, “is an outlaw regime hell-bent on … destroying the US-led liberal global order.”

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