The feature image to this article, posted by President Trump on Twitter, was captioned: “We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!”
Senator Chuck Schumer, of course, is the Senate minority leader (the leader, therefore, of the Democrats in the Senate) and is a central figure in the Democrat Party. The reason that President Trump has taken this shot across the bow against the Democrats, naturally, is their consistent hyperbole and attempts to gain the resignation of new Attorney General Jeff Sessions Jeff Sessions was personally selected by President Trump himself, and has been lambasted in recent days by the left for having had contact with “Russian agents.”
The Russians, being one of the four or five major powers active in geopolitics at the moment, are pivotal figures in nearly any type of political action. Let’s take a brief look at what’s really going on, here.
The first argument we have to try to counter is the worry that any contact with the Russians is somehow a type of treachery. To do that, we have to prove that the Russians are not particularly engaged in ill-will which exceeds the boundaries of their conservative political state.
Putin, for reference, is not a globalist or a liberal, and runs his state to maximize its power and economic might. To do this, he has attempted to corner the market on resources while flaunting military might. He is amoral in his dealings, and subtle in his politicking while being somewhat heavy-handed militarily, secure in the knowledge that there is currently no force which has the will or decision-making optimisation to really do anything to stop him.
The problem is that that’s exactly, from his standpoint, what anyone else would be doing in his place. President Putin knows that Russia is domestically and internationally actually very, very weak.
The Russians, as Hitler once remarked just before invading them in 1942, are a paper tiger. The German dictator theorised that if enough forced was employed against the Russians quickly enough, the “whole rotting structure would collapse.”
Well, in fact, the sudden German onslaught managed to unify and stiffen Russian resolve, and eventually led to the sacking of Berlin.
Today’s geopolitical situation is not dissimilar. Russia has annexed the Crimea (which went willingly) is currently dealing with the separatists in the Ukraine (also willingly) and has engaged in a short military venture against Georgia as recently as 2008.
The problem is that this is all illusion. It’s meant to divide and polarise the world into another Cold War, which would ironically let both theoretical sides increase taxes and hunker down to survive their current economic difficulties. Interestingly, this might be of most benefit to Washington in particular, which may be why you see a lot of leftists screaming for war with the Russians—it is, after all, mostly their fiscal policy which has landed the United States so deep in debts international and domestic.
The truth about the Russians is that they suffer from negative population growth (inside a century or so, the Russian state will dissolve) surging political illegitimacy (a measure political scientists used to ascertain people’s faith in government) a military in a startling state of unreadiness for combat, uncertainty about the status of their nuclear arms, and widespread corruption throughout the military chain of command.
Let’s talk military for a second, because it’s important to know. It’s also important to know that Washington already knows all this.
I usually like to rely on internal logic to prove my arguments, but today I’m going to be lazy and just cite where I learned all this stuff: a Latvian ex-Sovietologist. A sovietologist was someone who professionally studied the Soviet Union and its structures for political and military elites.
So I’m a bit dated. That class was in 2013. If all this information was current to that moment, it’s still going to mostly be correct, though. States tend not to change equilibrium that quickly.
The other problem is that the Russians have no real regional allies. The Chinese are a trading partner, but their political interests will pit them on and off against one another far into the future, just as it has done in times past—such as during the Communist era, when the two sides feuded over how Communism should be realised.
There are a bunch of half-evolved central Asian communities, and a series of former Soviet satellite states in the region; everything from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The problem is that the Russians, obviously, were in direct control of the USSR when all those states were incorporated within it.
As such, a lot of historical friction and distaste from those countries for the Russian Federation exists, and will continue to exist until history forgets the sins of the dead Communist empire.
Some people still remember what Rome did to Carthage, which happened in 146 BC. Forgiveness for the Russians looks very unlikely. Putin knows this, and so he has to advance the Russian agenda despite it.
To return to our original point, that’s why the Russians do things so strangely, to us. They’re mostly the villains of the last century, where the West has been your traditional hero. As generations succeed generations, all these moral definitions are receding to neutral and all we’re left with are the ghosts of those definitions.
The Democrats, perfectly happy to work with Russia during the Cold War, now claim Russia as the most serious enemy of the entire world.
The Republicans, convinced that Russia was the worst enemy of the world during the Cold War, now claim them as an important Eurasian regional ally. They are interested in deepening diplomacy and relationships.
Who is right?
That’s really up to you to decide.
The biggest thing I think we need to make sure we’re doing is not engaging in hypocrisy. Dealing with the Russians is politics. Both sides are required to do it, and Russians are present in the capital because that’s where the American governmental structures are.
Russians are present in your lives because quite aside from being a permanent UN Security Council member, they are also, indeed, a current power in the world—today, status that mostly comes with being nuclear-enabled.
What’s President Trump doing when he trolls Democrats about this? He’s basically saying everything I just said in a 160-character caption. I’m just making a lot of inferences and doing my usual bit where I add context.
And implore you to keep an open mind. And not be scared to talk about this to someone. Talk! Talk about everything. The Russians aren’t scary. The Russians aren’t a problem, an alien, or an other.
If contact, trade, diplomacy, and discourse ever totally broke down between the Kremlin and Washington, what we’d have wouldn’t be comfort.
It’d be a war.