With the news that the Russians have pulled off, since March, a cyber attack on the US government (said to be “the worst hacking case in the history of America”), we are reminded that although China is still our main strategic adversary, as DNI John Ratcliffe recently noted, the Russians are not exactly our friends.
It is easy among conservatives, because the false charge of collusion with the Russians was weaponized against the president, to downplay the Russian situation so as not to give Democrats or Trump critics any credit ot credibility.
But as a former US Army intel analyst in Europe during the last decade of the Cold War, I can tell you the Russians were never really defanged. After about a decade of post-communist confusion and economic rapine in the 90s they reverted to a classic Russian, almost czarist, mode. However, the head of this formerly Marxist state that now, Romanov like, wraps itself in the Orthodox Church? A former light colonel in the KGB.
This was predictable thirty years ago when many Soviet analysts in the intelligence community were riffed (Reduction in Force, fired) because it was no longer fashionable to have a negative opinion of our new warm and cuddly allies the Russians, led by the drunken friendly ursine Boris Yeltsin. Some still in uniform then and some of us veterans of that game said wait a minute, things are in flux. Let’s see how it sorts itself out. But no. Government, in its infinite wisdom, lost its best Russian analysts. To quote SFPD Inspector Harry Callahan, “That’s a high price to pay for being stylish.”
And that was a shame because in Vladimir Putin the West had its cagiest Russian player in decades. Putin was dealt, and still has, a geopolitical pair of fives. But he plays them like a royal flush. Russia today is a combination Banana Republic, not the store, and 1920s Chicago, with some Mussolini thrown in. No mass murders, no regular invasions of neighbors, no air, sea, or ground strategic threat. And yet, opposition politicians go missing or deathly ill, dissent is suppressed, and the oligarchy is alive and well and composed mostly of former Soviet apparatchiks.
Now we have them moving against American national interests. Oh gee, I forgot. That can’t happen. After all, why would Putin move against his own puppet regime, right? Uh huh. Yeah.
The Left will now be caught in a conundrum. They love any international player that damages America. But thus is the same Russia they have spent the last four years villifying as a great Trumpian evil. Hate America or continue the Russian hoax? What to do for a political party and an ideology that coincidentally really started loathing the Russians when the Russians dropped communism? Decisions, decisions…