It’s common, and correct, for conservatives to call the non-stop attacks on Donald Trump for allegedly colluding with Russia a hoax. To me, though, it was worse — a double hoax.
The first part of the hoax was the knowingly false allegation of collusion — the claim that, in exchange for Russian help in winning the election, Trump agreed, at a minimum, to eschew the tough-on-Russia policies required by American interests. The second part of the hoax was the pretense that Democrats want a tough-on-Russia policy.
We know the second part was a hoax because now that Joe Biden is in office, there’s no tough-on-Russia policy coming from the White House and no objection by Democrats or their media allies to its absence.
Jim Geraghty writes:
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden pledged to get tough with Russia, boasting that he had “served as a founding member of a Trans-Atlantic Commission on Election Integrity to fight back against Russia’s attacks on Western democracies.” Shortly after taking office, Biden called Vladimir Putin and, in the White House’s characterization, “made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies.” And in March, Biden promised Putin “will pay a price” for Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
But as president, Biden’s actions towards Putin and Russia haven’t always been so tough or uncompromising. The Biden administration did enact additional sanctions in April and offered statements of support and more funding for Ukraine. But even when announcing sanctions, Biden was quick to emphasize that he wants to avoid any larger conflict with Putin. “I was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further, but I chose not to do so, to be — I chose to be proportionate. The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable, predictable relationship… Throughout our long history of competition, our two countries have been able to find ways to manage tensions and to keep them from escalating out of control.”
That’s what Donald Trump wanted — no large conflict with Putin and sound management of tensions with Russia.
And on other fronts, the administration has demonstrated an eagerness to soothe tensions with Putin. Biden almost immediately accepted Putin’s offer to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for five years, dropped U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline making Europe more dependent upon Russian energy exports, declined to pursue Putin’s personal wealth through sanctions, increased U.S. imports of Russian oil, and canceled the Keystone Pipeline. Despite Biden’s promise to restore U.S. alliances, leaders in Europe are fuming about a variety of policy snubs from Biden and accuse the president of being disloyal to the Transatlantic alliance.
And the president did not mention Russia at all in his recent address to the United Nations.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is crucial in any comparison of Trump and Biden when it comes to Russia policy. Trump opposed the pipeline, which is vital to Russian interests. Biden dropped that opposition, thereby assisting Russia to the detriment of Europe.
[N]ow we learn that the Biden administration wanted to use Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as part of the “over-the-horizon” approach to terrorism threats in Afghanistan – making U.S. counterterrorism operations dependent upon Russian cooperation.
This can be viewed as a form of collusion with Russia, and a very dangerous one. As Geraghty says, Vladimir Putin or his successor could pull the plug at any time, giving him enormous leverage over America’s ability to respond to terrorist threats in Afghanistan and the surrounding region. The move would also ensure that Russian intelligence knows everything the U.S. is doing on those bases.
It would be interesting to hear Democrats and media types reconcile their rants against Putin during the Trump years with Biden’s willingness to make him a trusted partner in Asia.
If Trump had given Russia control over our anti-terrorism fight in Asia and okayed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Democrats would still be screaming and citing this as evidence of collusion. But Trump never did these things. It’s Joe Biden who has.
None of which bothers the hoaxers who railed against Trump for supposedly being too cozy with Putin and falsely attributed the non-existent coziness to Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Nor does it seem to bother the many gullible people they duped.