The Skeptics

Why Democrats Are Obsessed with Russia

Targets of such McCarthyism extend far beyond Trump and his inner circle. Figures receiving similar treatment include Jeffrey Taylor, columnist for the Atlantic, University of Chicago Professor (and dean of the realist school among U.S. international relations scholars) John Mearsheimer, conservative writer and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and an assortment of journalists with a wide range of ideological orientations, such as the American Conservative’s Daniel Larison, the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, and the Boston Globe’s Stephen Kinzer. Epithets such as “apologists,” “stooges,” “Russian trolls,” and “useful idiots” appear frequently in attacks on these maverick foreign-policy critics. Many of those attacks occurred before the 2016 election, indicating that the anti-Russia hysteria and vitriol has much deeper roots than concerns about Moscow’s interference in that election.

Even if one concedes the allegations that Russia engaged in election meddling, the response of progressives is wildly excessive. It is preposterous to compare cyber espionage with the bloody Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks. Indeed, such a comparison trivializes the tragedy and horror of those episodes. Moreover, even if Moscow’s interference did take place, it is hardly an act of war. Indeed, it is not materially different from what the United States has done in dozens of countries, including democratic countries, for decades.

Progressives need to adopt a course correction. Those who sincerely believe their shrill rhetoric need to get a grip and not succumb to Russia Derangement Syndrome. Those who are cynically using the anti-Russia hysteria as a club with which to beat the Trump administration need to pause and consider how their actions are triggering a second “cold war” with the one power that has the military wherewithal to destroy America. In either case, their current behavior is doing their country a grave disservice.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, the contributing editor of ten books, and the author of more than seven hundred articles on international affairs.

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