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America still unwisely regards Russia as a 1990s pushover

US perceptions of Russia are stuck in a time-warp, combining aspects of the McCarthyite paranoia of the 1950s with the contempt of the 1990s. The result is the spread of false stories of Russian meddling in the US election that are unsupported by evidence.

When the Soviet Union broke up in the early 1990’s, Washington’s neocons decided Russia was a vanquished country like Japan and Germany and should kowtow to America as those two countries were forced to do. 

An often inebriated President Boris Yeltsin—once found outside the White House at night in his underwear seeking a taxi to get a pizza—was just the type of obedient and malleable Russian of whom Washington’s neocons approved.

Then in 1999 a sober leader named Vladimir Putin came to power and decided to restore Russia to its traditional greatness.  Now Moscow gleams, Russia’s military stands with a straight spine and Russian pride has returned.  Things have changed in Russia, but not in the American mind, which insists on conceiving Russia as that humbled country from decades gone by.

Yesterday Bill Clinton’s chief political strategist from the 1990’s—James Carville—went ballistic on MSNBC about Hillary Clinton’s latest private email server scandal.  Carville fumed,

“The House Republicans and the KGB are trying to influence our democracy.  This is in effect an attempt to hijack an election.  It’s unprecedented … the House Republicans and the KGB are trying to influence our democracy.”

Carville, his MSNBC host and apparently American viewers didn’t notice the fact that there is no KGB—it was disbanded in 1991.  But with Americans in a decades-long time warp regarding Russia, what do facts matter? 

Also unremarked upon by the host was that no one has come forth with proof that Russia has anything to do with the WikiLeaks revelations.  Apparently the Democrats have decided that repeating false assertions will be enough to make Americans believe this new McCarthy-ite lie.  And repeat it, Carville did, stating,

“Comey was acting in concert and coordination with the House Republicans.  We also have the extraordinary case of the KGB being involved in this race and selectively leaking things from the Clinton campaign that they hacked.”

Former NSA technician Bill Binney and former CIA briefer Ray McGovern both insist that the NSA could easily trace a hack, but so far the agency has offered no evidence of one.  And WikiLeaks is not named WikiHacks, as they rely upon leaks, which Binney and McGovern speculate have come from within the American intelligence community in their frustration with Hillary Clinton’s above-the-law treatment over the handling of sensitive material.

Senator Joe McCarthy’s insinuations were eventually proven to be a bunch of lies, but he repeated them so often that they were believed. And Carville went back to the well a third time:  “It would seem to me that the FBI shouldn’t be getting rolled by the House Republicans, that’s what happened here — there’s nothing else that’s going on — and in the meantime … democracy is under assault by the KGB.  To me that’s something we ought to be talking about.”

The host never corrected Carville about the KGB’s non-existence and, working for a network in the tank for Clinton, didn’t dare challenge the false contention that the Russians have hacked Hillary’s emails, but he did point out that Democrats who are attacking Comey now praised him when he closed the investigation in the summer. 

In reply Carville sputtered in fury:  

“Why are you defending this, why are you sitting here as American democracy is under assault?  This is an unprecedented event that was done on behalf of the House Republicans.  And as we know the KGB is all over this election and this is what we are talking about? We ought to be talking about [how] our democracy is under assault right now and what we are going to do about it, not [what somebody said in July] about James Comey.”

James Carville channeling Hillary’s “vast right-wing conspiracy” argument from the 1990’s will only embarrass him and the Democratic party.  What is more worrisome is that it is indicative of Washington’s views still stuck in the 1990’s about a great country they wish to be submissive, not recognizing the new Russia that has proudly arisen.

James Bradley is a New York Times #1 bestselling author of four books.  His opinion pieces have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other newspapers.  James has spoken to audiences and appeared on TV and radio across the US and China, Russia, Japan, France, Germany the UK and other countries.  More at JamesBradley.com

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James Bradley
James Bradley is a New York Times #1 bestselling author of four books. His opinion pieces have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other newspapers. James has spoken to audiences and appeared on TV and radio across the US and China, Russia, Japan, France, Germany the UK and other countries. More at JamesBradley.com