The new meaning of treason

Rebecca West wrote a once well-known book about British supporters of the Nazis during World War II that she called The Meaning of Treason (1947). Harry Kalven’s review is posted here. West famously revisited the subject to take account of the British Communists who spied for the Soviet Union in The New Meaning of Treason (1964). Sidney Hook’s review is here.

When I wrote “The new meaning of collusion” earlier this week, I had West’s 1964 book in mind. In my post I briefly commented on the June 2016 meeting of Donald Trump, Jr. et al. with the Russian attorney who had been held out as offering incriminating evidence against Hillary Clinton that would be of use to Donald Trump’s campaign. Within hours Democrats and their media adjunct were raising the charge of “treason.” Politico reported, for example (with much more at the link):

“Nothing is proven yet. But, we’re now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what’s being investigated,” Kaine told CNN, when asked if Trump Jr.’s actions were treasonous. “This is moving into perjury, false statements and even into potentially treason.”

While Kaine stressed that nothing is proven, a Kaine spokesperson said the senator “acknowledged the grave impropriety, if proven, of any effort to cooperate with a foreign nation — especially one deemed by our military leaders to be a primary state adversary — to influence an American election.”

Echoes of that sentiment have started to take shape in other corners of Congress. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) tweeted out a New York Times report on the eldest Trump son’s emails on Tuesday, noting “if this isn’t treasonous, I’m not sure what is.”

The Democrats and their media friends continue to seek new lows in the degradation of our democratic discourse. At NRO, Dan McLauglin sketches the legal (constitutional) meaning of “treason” and demonstrates its inapplicability to anything involved in this story.

How strange it is for the slavish followers of Barack Obama and loyal supporters of Hillary Clinton to be “normalizing” the slinging of such a charge in this context. For eight years, four of which included Clinton’s inane service as Secretary of State, Obama implemented policies to placate Putin and Russia. Consider the ludicrous “reset” of relations with Russia, or the betrayal of George Bush’s promise of missile defense to Poland and the Czech Republic, or the refusal to provide Ukraine arms to fight Russian-backed separatists.

Let us not forget Obama’s promise of greater “flexibility” to his friend Vlad in Obama’s second term. Vlad appreciated it in his own way. Putin also appreciated Obama’s disparagement of Mitt Romney’s characterization of Russia as our foremost geopolitical adversary. To Obama, Romney was a throwback to another era, lost on the wrong side of history. Suppressing his laughter in public, Putin could work with a guy like Obama.

Even Obama administration policies not expressly designed to placate Putin — policies such as Obama’s hampering the commercial exploration and exploitation of our energy resources, or starving the armed services of resources, or turning Syria over to Putin — served critical Russian interests.

We could expand the treatment of the subject to consider the Obama administration’s deference to, and empowerment of, the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime is of course an avowed enemy of the United States. It seeks death to America. Yet no one in the world did more to preserve it and prop it up than Obama. We will be trying to live with the consequences of Obama’s assistance to Iran for a long time to come.

President Trump has begun to turn many of Obama’s misguided policies around. His policies are already doing damage to Putins’s interests. What is the intelligent observer to make of that? Democrats should think twice before turning “treason” into just another term of abuse. Everything about it is wrong.

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