11 January 2017
It was an interesting choice of words from the President-elect to characterize the newest sleaze campaign against him. Given the context -- as ever, the allegation is that Donald Trump has a compromised or compromising relationship with Russia -- the right term might have been McCarthyism, but Trump is probably wise not to use that term, since many of his older constituents probably believe that McCarthy was right all along. The irony is that "Nazi tactics" is exactly what you'd expect a Russian or a Russophile to say, since they tend to see anyone who hates Russia as a Nazi. This latest round reinforces our impression of the bipartisan nature of both Trumpophobia and Russophobia, since the dirty dossier was, as I understand it, initiated for use against Trump during the Republican primaries, then was passed on, or at least offered, to the Democrats, and was more recently passed on to the FBI by Senator McCain, who reportedly made no judgment on the actual claims made but was impressed by the sources. Get ready for up to four more years of this. The hunt for smoking guns proving corrupt ties between Trump and Russia will be unrelenting, because American Russophobes believe even the desire for better, less judgmental relations with Vladimir Putin to be corrupt. The role of Republican neocons in whipping up the hunt makes clear that this is more than a matter of partisan sour grapes among Democrats. And you don't have to be some naive or, alternately, heartless character to recognize something irrational in this fear of Putin in particular, if not Russia in general, among the American political establishment. I don't doubt that Putin is a corrupt bully whom Russian liberals and East Europeans have every right to hate, but he is self-evidently not the same sort of threat to the United States that he is to those unfortunate groups, and American diplomats should not treat him as such. I wonder, presuming that McCarthyism circa 1950 reflected an American fear that communism was catching on not only around the world but at home as well, whether 21st century Russophobia, focused on Trump as a Russian stooge, reflects a current fear that "authoritarianism" is catching on at home, but has to be blamed on outside forces and treacherous Americans. It's still highly debatable whether Trump represents any sort of "authoritarian" tendency -- it really can't be proven one way or another until he actually wields authority -- but if he does we'd be better off, as the original McCarthyists would have, seeking domestic sources for the problem instead of foreign monsters to destroy.