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Jul 13 2017

America’s Changing Attitude Towards Russia

How the fuck did the Republicans in the US go from “watch out for the reds” to “hey, Russia’s not that bad”, in less than one hundred years? Seriously? We spent decades in a Cold War stalemate with the Russians, which was a giant chess game where the world was our chess board. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy became infamous for hunting down suspected Russian sympathizers, because he saw them as potential threats to our national security. Yet now, our president surrounds himself with people who aren’t just sympathetic to the Russians, but who actively worked with them. What the fuck happened?

Now, I’ll admit right off the bat, that during the Cold War, Russia was run by the Communist party, and now it’s technically a democracy. That’s going to be the main counter to my position here, and it’s a fair one. But let’s look at the main fear that drove the Red Scares. Americans, particularly “patriotic Americans” were terrified that the Russians would either take over the United States, or at least, have influential control. The First Red Scare (after World War I) was based on the fear that there would be an armed revolution, similar to Russia’s October Revolution in 1917. The Second Red Scare (after World War II) was based on the fear that young Americans would WANT communism to come to the United States. The main point, was that the American people didn’t want Russian ideas and interests involved in the United States Government.

During the First Red Scare, everyone was terrified that a revolution would change our way of life. If a labor union went on strike, it was decried as an attack put forth by the Russians, or it was antiAmerican, etc. Americans were routinely monitored by the government for any possible ties to Russia. During this period, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Sedition Act, which expanded the Espionage Act to include speech. Therefore, SAYING Russia wasn’t so bad, was now legally as bad as giving state secrets to the Russians. The Sedition Act basically said that anything unAmerican was espionage. The Sedition Act was repealed shortly after the first World War ended.

During the Second Red Scare, everyone was afraid that Communism didn’t sound so bad to some people, and that those people would try to change the US government from within, rather than armed revolution. The American government was obsessed with loyalty. President Harry Truman created the Federal Employees Loyalty Program, which would establish “loyalty boards” to decide if federal employees were American enough. McCarthy went wild with his investigations into alleged and potential Russian spies.

During the Cold War, there was a sort of ebb and flow between two competing ideas. Should free speech remain or is national security more important? This is the same argument that we’ve had in the aftermath of the rise of fundamental Islamic terrorism, and I’m sure this debate will go on forever. The primary fear was that America could one day be controlled by the Kremlin. It was usually the Liberals and free thinkers who supported Russia, or at least, were tolerant of it. The Republicans were the ones who were shouting about the Russian threat.

The Cold War influenced the United States in many ways. First, Tom Clancy became crazy rich with his books on that point in history. Second, after the devastation and moral implications of the brutal Second World War, and especially the atomic weapons used for the first time in combat, both the US and Russia focused on an intellectual war. Less deaths, much, much, MUCH more plotting. Instead of attacking your enemy directly, send money and weapons to a proxy nation, or assassinate influential opponents, or control the flow of information and disinformation to your enemy. The US did not want the Soviets to expand further than they already had, and they especially didn’t want them influencing US citizens. During this period both sides focused more on spying. Collecting information on each other. Trying to outsmart the other.

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. Some former Soviet States became separate nations, while Russia itself became the Russian Federation. Boris Yeltsin became the first democratically elected president of this new Russia. In 1996, a former KGB agent joined Yeltsin’s administration, named Vladimir Putin. A few years later, in 2000, Yeltsin retired, and Putin was elected. He’s alternated between being the Russian President and the Russian Prime Minister ever since.

So who is Putin? Well, to get an idea about the man, let’s look at his former career. The KGB was basically the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the Gestapo combined. They were in charge of information. They were a spy agency that would monitor and collect information, develop assets, and orchestrate espionage. They frequently used diplomatic immunity clauses to perform espionage and spying from consulates around the world. I’ll just take this straight from Wikipedia.

“A 1983 Time magazine article reported that the KGB was the world’s most effective information-gathering organization. It operated legal and illegal espionage residencies in target countries where a legal resident gathered intelligence while based at the Soviet embassy or consulate, and, if caught, was protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. At best, the compromised spy was either returned to the Soviet Union or was declared persona non grata and expelled by the government of the target country. The illegal resident spied, unprotected by diplomatic immunity, and worked independently of Soviet diplomatic and trade missions. In its early history, the KGB valued illegal spies more than legal spies, because illegal spies infiltrated their targets with greater ease. The KGB residency executed four types of espionage: (i) political, (ii) economic, (iii) military-strategic, and (iv) disinformation, effected with “active measures” (PR Line), counter-intelligence and security (KR Line), and scientific–technological intelligence (X Line); quotidian duties included SIGINT (RP Line) and illegal support (N Line).

The KGB classified its spies as agents (intelligence providers) and controllers (intelligence relayers). The false-identity or legend assumed by a USSR-born illegal spy was elaborate, using the life of either a “live double” (participant to the fabrications) or a “dead double” (whose identity is tailored to the spy). The agent then substantiated his or her legend by living it in a foreign country, before emigrating to the target country, thus the sending of US-bound illegal residents via the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, Canada. Tradecraft included stealing and photographing documents, code-names, contacts, targets, and dead letter boxes, and working as a “friend of the cause” or agents provocateur, who would infiltrate the target group to sow dissension, influence policy, and arrange kidnappings and assassinations.”

That’s what Putin did for 16 years. The KGB’s preferred method of destabilizing a target was disinformation. After the Second Red Scare, they focused on infiltrating businesses rather than governments, because businesses were easier to influence. Starting to sound familiar?

Oh, and I’m not even going to get into the alleged accounts of Putin allegedly having his enemies killed, allegedly. Allegedly.

I understand that whatever is going on within President Trump’s administration before and after the election with regards to Russia, we may never know, or we may never know the full story. All I’m saying is that given Putin’s history, isn’t it reasonable that he used his business assets and political reach to either compromise Trump (pee tape) or flat out influence Trump? Isn’t it possible that Trump is so power hungry that he was willing to accept help no matter who offered it? Isn’t it possible that even if Trump knew nothing about anything going on behind closed doors, that those around him would be willing to do anything to advance their own agendas? Isn’t it possible that no matter how it happened, Trump is now a pawn in Putin’s hands and that now Putin could potentially use Trump to change US policy as he (Putin) sees fit? I mean, let’s leave it as potential. The idea that it’s just POTENTIALLY possible that Putin COULD POSSIBLY do this, should be horrifying to Americans. Right?

Now, I may be in the minority here. That’s “меньше” for our new Russian friends. I don’t actually think Trump personally colluded with the Russians. I think he’s not smart enough to do that. I do, however, think that Putin was very interested in our election, and when he saw that Trump was an actual serious candidate, decided to act. I think he had his assets reach out to Trump’s campaign, who gladly accepted his help, and even if they did eventually tell Trump what was going on, by then it was too late.

So I come back to my main question. How did Republicans in this country go from being so scared of Russians that they put Lucile Ball on a watch list, and had Charlie Chaplin exiled… to Republicans in this country right at this very moment, trying to say that Russia is our friend? Are you fucking kidding me? Am I the only one who sees this? Am I the only one who fears that Trump and/or those in his administration have simply become assets to the Kremlin? Is it a coincidence that Russia gets a lot out of a Trump presidency that it wouldn’t have gotten out of a Clinton presidency? We’ve seriously gone from “we don’t want Russians to influence policy” to “at least Russia is influencing our policy the way we want”.

I think a large part of it is that the average Republican voter doesn’t want to admit that Trump was a mistake. I think that in order to save face, they are willing to literally support treason by the MOTHERFUCKING PRESIDENT OR HIS STAFF, rather than acknowledge that they were wrong. Or maybe they actually do think that Russia is our ally, and they just need shock therapy.

About the author

Chris Dantes

My name is Chris. I currently live in Seattle, though I’m formerly from California. I’m a writer, comic, and superhero (allegedly).

I complain. A lot. About everything. I also tell jokes.

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