On both sides of the Atlantic, in the US and Britain, Cold War mania has taken hold again – despite the Cold War supposedly having ended nearly three decades ago.
What this anachronistic mania really indicates is a fatal internal political crisis in the US and Britain, and the desperate need to find a scapegoat for concealing that crisis. It is totally unacceptable that Russia is being embroiled in this scapegoating over what are inherent US and British political problems.
Russophobia – whether the old Soviet Union or modern Russia – is central to the ploy of scapegoating an external enemy and smearing political opponents in a squalid attempt of self-preservation.
In the US, President Donald Trump is this week being branded anew – preposterously – as a Russian patsy. Because, it is claimed, he is not doing enough to confront Moscow over allegations that Russian state agents meddled in the presidential election of 2016. There are even renewed calls for his impeachment.
Conjuring up an illusory threat from Russia, the American president is being assailed for not confronting that illusory threat. This is unabashed manic logic.
Trump has, however, partly bought into the illusion, himself referring to “Russian meddling”, which only gives his domestic opponents more ammunition to attack him with.
Meanwhile in Britain, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced accusations this week carried in rightwing media outlets that he served once as a “Soviet spy” back in the late 1980s.
Those claims came from a purported former spy in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia who was reported in British media as claiming that Corbyn was “a paid asset” during the Cold War, handing over British state intelligence.
The Labour leader dismissed the claims this week as “ridiculous smears”. British intelligence experts and academics who studied the supposed Czech spy documents also reportedly disregarded the claims as unreliable.
Nevertheless, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May tried to make political capital from the anemic accusations by hamming it up, calling on Corbyn to “come clean” about the Soviet spy allegations.
Britain’s Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson also donned his knightly shining armor, and claimed that the media reports showed that “Corbyn cannot be trusted on national security”.
Williamson has previously engaged in irresponsible sensationalism, when he claimed last month that “Russian cyber attacks could cause thousands and thousands of British deaths from sabotaging Britain’s civilian infrastructure.” Moscow condemned Williamson’s remarks as having lost all sense of reason.
On Trump, the Republican president has long been dogged with the absurd innuendo that he is somehow a pro-Kremlin stooge. Trump is a chauvinistic, blood-sucking capitalist. Of all the things he can be disparaged for, being a pro-Russian stooge could never be one of them.
Ever since he won the US election at the end of 2016, his political opponents in the Democratic party, the so-called liberal media and the Deep State intelligence agencies, have been trying to smear Trump as beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin. They probably don’t even believe their own claims. The claims are just a rhetorical weapon to beat Trump with.
The so-called Russiagate collusion narrative alleging a secret pact between Trump and Russian hackers working against Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton has simply not stood up to credible analysis – despite a year of constant media saturation.
When the Russian probe headed by former FBI chief Robert Mueller couldn’t deliver anything substantive last week beyond flimsy indictments against 13 alleged Russian “bots”, Trump’s political opponents have since changed tack.
The focus is no longer on alleged collusion – because there is none – but rather now it has shifted to “proven” Russian meddling and Trump’s “failure” to confront Russia.
The alleged Russian meddling is far from “proven”, as any critical assessment of Mueller’s indictments would demonstrate. It is only “proven” in as much as sheer rhetorical bombast and hysteria expressed by Trump’s opponents and their media allies in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and others.
With unhinged reasoning, US politicians and media are claiming the unproven meddling by Russia is tantamount to “an act of war” by Moscow. They want Trump to take action against Russia and if he doesn’t do that then he is an un-American traitor.
What this circus replay of the Cold War illustrates is that internal political problems are being “resolved” by creating an external enemy – Russia – and tarring domestic opponents with Russophobic smear.
During the old Cold War (1945-90), political problems in the US and Britain were conveniently projected outwards to demonize the Soviet Union.
In the US during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, civil rights movements for racial equality and opponents of the Vietnam War were denigrated as being “tools” and “useful idiots” of the Soviet Union.
In Britain, former Labour leaders Harold Wilson and Michael Foot were smeared as Soviet proxies and national security threats.
Today, Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn have nothing in common politically with each other or with the Kremlin. All they have in common is the absurd smear of being “comrades” of an illusory foreign enemy.
In the US, the political crisis is due to both establishment parties having lost respect and legitimacy among a vast swath of citizens. Both Republican and Democrat parties have no solution to the crisis of exploding economic inequality in American society.
In Britain, there is also the same crisis from capitalist economic and political failure. The Conservative government certainly seems incapable of dealing with the burgeoning poverty in British society. Its debacle over the Brexit departure from the European Union will only exacerbate the economic demise of Britain and its deepening social fractures.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party is at least reinventing itself and proffering alternative socialist policies. And it is the fear among Britain’s capitalist establishment of Corbyn’s emerging socialist politics that lie behind the latest smear campaign against him, dredging up Soviet-era caricatures.
It is deplorable and irresponsible that Russophobia is being whipped up again as in the days of the old Cold War. Trying to depict Donald Trump or Jeremy Corbyn as “comrades” is an absurdity that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Such stereotypes were never really credible even back in the Cold War years – although they were effective then as propaganda devices to destroy opponents and international relations.
Today, such Russophobia and caricatures are completely untenable. Yet they are being recklessly peddled with the attendant risk of inciting war with Russia.
But what this really shows is just how desperate the power structures in the US and Britain have become to try to conceal their own internal crisis and potential collapse.
The US and Britain are using and abusing Russia to solve their own inherent problems.