Should progressives support the efforts of Trump and Putin to bring about rapprochement between Russia and the U.S.? Or to use Trump’s terminology, should progressives support the effort to "get along with Russia"?
This might seem like a no-brainer. After all Russia and the US are the world’s major nuclear powers. A war or a mistake resulting in a nuclear exchange would reduce much of the planet to radioactive rubble, ending civilization as we know it, and perhaps even putting the continued existence of the human race at risk. And yet there are virtually no voices in the progressive community calling for support of Trump’s call to "get along with Russia." Almost no voices speaking in favor of his contacts with Putin, for example after their meeting in Hamburg last July with its considerable achievements. What is going on? Have the progressives gone mad?
Let us be very clear. Support for the Trumpian rapprochement with Russia does not mean support for all Trump’s policies or even one other policy of his. The election of 2016 is long behind us now. In that election as in all elections, it was necessary to weigh the policies of the opposing candidates and then to make a choice. One cannot vote for only one policy of a given candidate and against other policies. It is an all or nothing matter.
But the situation post-election is another story. Trump is now President, and it is possible and quite normal to oppose some policies and support others. In the case of Obama, many progressives opposed his continuation and expansion of Bush’s wars but supported ObamaCare. (As a Single Payer advocate and antiwar campaigner, this author supported neither.) Similarly, in the case of Trump, one may oppose his tax legislation and his health care policies – I certainly do – and yet support the policy of rapprochement with Russia. Is this not the grown-up thing to do? Should one not seize on an opportunity to get something worthwhile out of a situation that did not go one’s way – if that is the way one views the election of 2016? In point of fact, given the danger of nuclear holocaust, it is not only infantile but potentially suicidal to do otherwise.
The crumbling narrative of "collusion" between Putin and Trump in the 2016 election is the major obstacle to the US-Russia rapprochement. Indeed some progressives have done yeoman’s work in exposing the lies of the media, the Intel agencies and the Democratic Establishment in concocting the Collusion Myth. Two standouts are Robert Parry and his colleagues at Consortium News and Stephen F. Cohen of The Nation and his colleagues at American Committee for East West Accord. Parry, for example, meticulously examines and exposes the web of lies, deceit, unsourced stories and downright gossip coming out of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN on a daily basis. Cohen, Professor emeritus of Russian history at Princeton, in his weekly 45 minute discussions with John Batchelor on WABC radio out of NYC has given an insightful look at developments, especially in the light of Russo-American relations and Russian history.
And there are many other progressive bloggers and writers who do the same. That is very much to their credit. But debunking the Collusion Myth, sometimes called Russiagate, is as far as it seems to go. If the Collusion Narrative is in reality a Big Lie, then one purpose of exposing it should be to correct the path it has put us on. That path is confrontation with Russia. The next logical step would be to back Trump’s attempts at rapprochement with Russia in the face of daily vicious assaults from the imperial press. But none of that is done.
When one queries progressives about this strange behavior, the first response is to change the subject to tax policy or immigration policy or health care policy. But except in some pretty woolly "theories of everything," such policies are readily separable in non-electoral circumstances as discussed above.
The next response is to deny the danger of war that such tensions create. But everyone familiar the history of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis knows that the risk of miscalculation is greatest when tensions are highest. The story of Stanislav Petrov and his role in preventing an accidental nuclear exchange should be known by every school child in the US.
One must conclude either that most progressives are blinded by their hatred of Trump or that they are sympathetic to treatment of Russia as an enemy. The latter is an abandonment of the progressive commitment to non-interventionism and peace, but neither is a very good sign. And the deeply devious part of the Elite’s Russiagate strategy is that it presents a giant roadblock to rapprochement since any moves to decrease tensions with Russia will be used as "proof" of Trump’s "collusion" with Russia.
If one presses the question further with progressives who know that Russiagate is a fraud, the response is that to support Trump’s policy is to risk one’s credibility. Some progressives are quite frank about this and will express fear of being shunned by friends. Some will even tell you that they have lost friends for so much as hinting that they might support rapprochement – simply because Trump has advocated it. (If you have your doubts about that, read Win Bigly, a book by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. Learn what happened to Adams, not for supporting Trump, but merely for predicting a Trump win in 2016!)
It seems that it is time for progressives, even while disagreeing with some things Trumpian or even all other things Trumpian, to stand up and back his moves toward rapprochement with Russia. Many are already inching in that direction much to their credit. But the Democratic Party Elite, their neocon partners, the GOP Elite and the servile media will do everything they can to prevent it. It is time to defy them.
We are rolling the nuclear dice daily. And time may be running out.
John V. Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.