Thomas, the Democratic opposition to Trump continues its mass effort to create a Watergate out of nothing. Some of them think they are right and that what they are saying is true. Some of them think that no matter what the truth is, their charges are helping their case and weakening Trump. Paul Begala’s comments, even allowing for context, are among the most extreme I’ve heard:
“We were and are under attack by a hostile foreign power, and they seem to be abetting that hostile foreign power,” Begala said, according to the Daily Beast. “We should be debating how many sanctions we should place on Russia, or whether we should blow up the KGB or GSU, GRU [Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency.] We should be retaliating massively. By the way, if I were a Trump supporter, I would want to retaliate massively because it has tainted his victory.”
The Russians and others have no choice but to take this torrent of offensive remarks seriously as indicative of future possibilities in the unfolding of U.S. policies. They have no choice but to incorporate such sentiments into their understanding of the nature and character of the American leadership and the American political situation. And where it must lead, in my opinion, is that it is no laughing matter to them, even if they know that the idea of their attacking the American election cannot be taken seriously. They have to consider their own national defense, and they have to assess a higher chance of being attacked down the line, if enough Americans are expressing extreme views like those of Paul Begala, and such views are being expressed every day. They have to consider not only Trump’s presidency but what happens after that and during that from forces antagonistic to his presidency.
To be absolutely clear about it, my thought is that the chorus of Begala-like condemnations of Russia as a “hostile power” raises the likelihood of actual nuclear war. It creates the atmosphere in which such war is thought about as a real possibility. It encourages Russia to ramp up its armed forces and to be more wary of engaging and trusting the U.S. government, because our politics are seen as more hostile, volatile and unmoored in reality. Begala et al are doing more to isolate America than they realize.
Newspapers are printing editorials like this, with the title “Why Russia is a hostile power”. Others speak of attacks on “our democracy” and retaliation.
These charges, even if concocted and false, have real effects on the risk of WW 3. One last point is that remarks like Begala’s strengthen the hand of right-wing militarists in Russia, making the peaceful overtures of moderate Russian politicians more difficult.