My father, an anti-communist, liked to tell this joke from the 1930s:
Why is Earl Browder (head of the American communist party) like the Brooklyn Bridge?
Because both are suspended by a cable.
For Browder, the cable came from Moscow. It told American communists what to think and what to say.
To cite the most memorable example, one cable would tell them that Germany is an enemy. Later, another would say that Germany is an ally in the fight against American and British imperialism. But then, a third cable would instruct that Germany is the enemy and must be destroyed at all cost.
Today, Democrats are suspended by a tweet. Their media wing and their rank-and-file rely on signals from leadership about what to think and say about world affairs. (I must add that some supporters of President Trump are similarly suspended.)
Putin’s Russia invaded Georgia? No big deal. It was probably President Bush’s fault. President Obama and Hillary Clinton want to end the mistreatment of Russia by Bush and put relations on a friendly basis through a “reset” (complete with button).
Mitt Romney explains why Putin’s Russia is the major geopolitical threat to the U.S.? He can’t be right. After all, Obama has dismissed this claim with a joke and promised Russia’s president, off mic, to be more “flexible” in accommodating Putin after the election.
Putin’s Russia moves into the vacuum in Syria with the intention of brutally propping up the murderous Assad regime, which has crossed Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons on civilians? No worries. Russia can be a force for good in Syria. After all, Obama has enlisted Putin to make sure Assad gets rid of his chemical weapons.
But: Putin’s Russia gets on the bad side of Hillary Clinton during the presidential election? Russia is evil. It’s the main geopolitical threat to the U.S.
Claudia Rosett is as clear-eyed as anyone I know who writes about foreign policy. In addition, she used to report from Russia for the Wall Street Journal and served for a time as its Moscow bureau chief.
In an excellent interview with Ginni Thomas for the Daily Caller, Rosett explains why Russia does, indeed, pose a serious threat to the U.S. and to world order. She also reminds us of the enthusiasm and flexibility Obama displayed toward Russia until near the end of his two terms, when Russia needed to be viewed differently to serve his Party’s interest.
Rosett cites Obama the hot mic promise of flexibility towards Putin; the shelving of missile defense for Europe in the name of that phony “reset”; the inadequate pursuit of Edward Snowden, who is still hiding in Russia; Obama’s fecklessness regarding the “red line” that opened the door to Russia’s dominance in Syria; the Iran deal that advantaged Russia and its allies; and the weak response of the U.S. when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
Compared to this, says Rosett, Trump’s occasional unfortunate comments about Russia and Putin pale. She is right. A few conciliatory comments can’t match nearly eight years of appeasement — a policy Democrats, including those in the media, would still be defending had they not gotten the “cable” sent when top Democrats decided to blame Russia for Hillary’s electoral woes.
There’s plenty more worth hearing in the interview with Rosett, which runs for about half an hour.