Democrats Reverse Long Love Affair with Russia

Liberals' newfound fear of the Kremlin at odds with their apologist past

by Edmund Kozak | Updated 04 Jan 2017 at 1:35 PM

For Russia, no love from the Democrats. After decades of taking every possible opportunity to make excuses for Russia and paint the country in a positive light, President-Elect Donald Trump’s victory in the election has spurred liberals to find a sudden distrust for the Kremlin. No one is buying it.

From the second half the 20th century right through the 21st and until about six months ago, the Democrats largely — except for President John F. Kennedy — have been the pro-Russian party in the United States. What they really loved was the Soviet Union.

“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because … the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Who could forget Alger Hiss, State Department official and close FDR ally, who turned out to be a Soviet spy? After performing a critical role in the Yalta Conference — the result of which was subjecting Eastern Europe to Soviet rule.

As the latter half of the 20th century progressed, progressives’ love for Russia appeared to grow only stronger. Democrats and liberals went on peace trips to the USSR — usually as members of Soviet-created front groups such as the World Federation of Democratic Youth and the International Organization of Journalists.

During the Carter years, liberals’ dedication to the nuclear nonproliferation movement grew to a fever pitch, despite the very real nuclear threat posed by the Soviet Union. In 1979, a number of musicians — including those like Bruce Springsteen, who have criticized Trump as an apocalyptic danger — participated in a series of “No Nukes” concerts, the liberal, peace-loving organizers of which apparently did not believe Russia was a threat at all.

When staunch anti-communist and defender of freedom Ronald Reagan entered the White House, the Democrats' love for Mother Russia grew only stronger. Reagan's military build-ups were described by Democrats as unnecessary and belligerent. His Strategic Defense Initiative was widely derided, with liberals across the country gleefully scoffing that "Star Wars is a lemon."

In 1991 it was reported that beloved Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy may have asked the Soviets to help Democrats beat Reagan in the 1984 election. "Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum," wrote Peter Robinson for Forbes in 2009.

Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.

'On 9-10 May of this year,' the May 14 memorandum explained, 'Sen. Edward Kennedy's close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow… The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.'

Kennedy's message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. "The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations," the memorandum stated. 'These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.'

But even after the Soviet Union fell, the Democrats maintained a friendly stance towards Russia. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton enjoyed a close relationship with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. During George W. Bush's presidency, Democrats criticized the administration for its plans to expand missile defense systems in Eastern Europe.

And of course, when President Obama entered office, he canceled those plans and promised a new age of U.S.-Russian relations, with his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heralding a "Russian reset."

In March 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a "reset button."

"What President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying and that is, 'We want to reset our relationship.' And so we will do it together," Clinton told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in March 2009. "The reset button has worked," Obama declared proudly in a speech in Beijing that November.

While running for re-election 2012, Obama ridiculed his Republican opponent Mitt Romney for the latter's warnings of Russian aggression. "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because … the Cold War's been over for 20 years," Obama said during a debate.

Democrats and liberals supported Russia when it was the center of the murderous Soviet Union. They even might have requested its aid in interfering with a U.S. election. Less than five years ago, Obama and his supporters were touting peace with Russia and mocking neoconservative Republicans for being overly hawkish and stuck in the past.

Only now — after Donald Trump won a presidential election — are the Democrats trying to tell Americans that Russia poses a threat to national security.

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