The latest Democratic Party shill to demonize Russia is, I am ashamed to say, my state of Virginia’s Senator Mark Warner, who, on Thursday said “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a deliberate campaign carefully constructed to undermine our election.” Last Thursday, Warner was the top Democrat on a Senate Intelligence Committee panel investigating Moscow’s alleged interference in last year’s presidential election. The panel inevitably included carefully selected expert witnesses who would agree with the proposition that Russia is and was guilty as charged. There was no one who provided an alternative view even though a little Googling would have surfaced some genuine experts who dispute the prevailing narrative.
Warner joined many of his esteemed colleagues in Congress who have completely accepted the allegations that Russia meddled in the election in spite of the failure of the Obama Administration to provide any indisputable evidence to that effect. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland has called Moscow’s claimed interference an “attack” and labeled it a “political Pearl Harbor.” A number of other congressmen, to include Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey and Eric Swalwell of California have called it an act of war. And then there are echo chambers Senators John McCain and Mark Rubio on the Republican side of the aisle while former Vice President Dick Cheney was speaking at a business conference in New Delhi saying the same thing. Yes, that Dick Cheney. Why anyone in India would pay to hear him speak on any subject escapes me.
Democrat Adam Schiff of California is leading the charge for his party as he is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. He outlined his case against Russia two weeks ago, providing a heap of minimally factual “information”, relying heavily instead on supposition and featuring mostly innuendo. And again, it was largely evidence-free. One assertion is almost comical: “In July 2016, Carter Page, one of Trump’s former national security advisers, traveled to Moscow after being approved to do so by the Trump campaign. While there, Page gave a speech in which he was critical of the U.S. and its efforts to fight corruption and promote democracy.”
Almost everyone I know who follows such matters is also critical of U.S. (hypocritical) efforts to promote democracy, a formulation wildly popular among Hillary Clinton style Democrats to enable attacking Muslim countries that have somehow offended either Israel or the Washington Establishment. But what is particularly disturbing about the constant denigration of Russia and Vladimir Putin in the media and among the political class is the regular invocation of war doctrine, that hacking a server by a foreign power, if it took place, is in the same category as the attack on Pearl Harbor. That World War 3 would be a nuclear holocaust does not seem to have occurred to politicians seeking a punchy line so they can get cited in The Washington Post. It leads one to the inevitable conclusion that war is far too serious a business to be left to politicians.
But what particularly offends me personally about those eager to go toe to toe with the Russians is their complete venality and fundamental cowardice. As a Vietnam era vet, I understand full well how it feels to have your life disrupted to go off and possibly die to fight a war that was totally meaningless. Our crowd of politicians is fond of talking about war as if it were some kind of diversion being featured on a monopoly board and that is precisely because they have no skin in the game. They somehow fancy that a shooting war will somehow not happen, that Russia will back down in a confrontation with force majeur, and they deep down feel completely immune to the consequences that might result from their ill-advised actions. And they are unfortunately in large part correct to feel so, as no one was ever held accountable for Iraq. Consequences that apply to the “little people” in the U.S. do not apply to them.
Under the rule of our bipartisan war-loving elites the United States has evolved from a bumbling giant into something far more threatening. The completely useless wars since 9/11 have killed nearly 10,000 American soldiers and contractors as well as hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of the inhabitants of the countries that we have attacked. I would hold Congress, the White House and the mainstream media as directly responsible for those deaths. As former Ambassador Chas Freeman puts it, “America has now chosen publicly to redefine itself internationally as the foreign relations equivalent of a sociopath – a country indifferent to the rules, the consequences for others of its ignoring them, and the reliability of its word. No nation can now comfortably entrust its prosperity or security to Washington, no matter how militarily powerful it perceives America to be.”
Which inevitably leads to the subject of Dick Cheney. When it comes to hypocrisy over war as a constant state for the American Republic with absolutely no consequences for those who lead, no one takes a back seat to good old Dick. Dick had five deferments during Vietnam and he has explained that he had had “other priorities.” He and his consigliere Scooter Libby, together with Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon, might have had more to do with America’s march to war in Iraq than any other individuals in the Bush Administration. And none of them paid any price except Libby who was convicted of having committed perjury connected to his apparent outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame as revenge for her husband’s refutation of claims about Iraq buying uranium from Niger. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison but had his jail time commuted by President George W. Bush.
One might even suggest that the architects of devastating policies were actually rewarded, most particularly Wolfowitz, who was named president of the World Bank before having to resign over a sex scandal that he initiated. Today Wolfowitz is a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Libby is a Senior Vice President at the neocon Hudson Institute. Cheney is retired comfortably on the somewhere between $19 and $86 million he made, mostly while working for five years at defense contractor Halliburton. His truly frightening daughter Liz is in congress representing Wyoming, continuing the family legacy of bone headed knee jerk reactionaryism combined with egregious self-aggrandizement that Dick is best known for.
Note that neither Cheney, nor Wolfowitz nor Libby ever served in the U.S. military, exhibiting thereby their willingness to let other American die for the dreadful policies that they initiated. That pattern also holds true for the Democrats who seem to have found Russia as a useful scapegoat for their failure to elect Hillary Clinton president. If the Kremlin did it then the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign are off the hook, aren’t they? And even better if one can simultaneously discredit Donald Trump by implying that he or his associates might be subjected to blackmail by Moscow, making them little more than agents of Vladimir Putin and therefore traitors to the United States.
Senator Mark Warner, a lawyer by training, founded a venture capital firm called Columbia Capital before being elected Governor of Virginia and then Senator in 2008. He is reported to be the wealthiest U.S. Senator, worth $200 million. He has a 15 acre farm in Rappahannock County Virginia where he produces wine as a hobby.
Warner has three daughters who will never serve in the U.S. military, which is precisely the problem. The more our “ruling class” in Washington has little or nothing to do with the average American or, to be more precise, the class of Americans called upon to fight and die in the wars that are constantly being promoted, the more we will engage in senseless wars and sabre rattling. As Warner appears willing to use the threat of war to pillory Trump, he perhaps should step back, take a deep breath, and try to think of the consequences of the politically loaded claims that he is promoting.
Ben Cardin and Adam Schiff are a lot like Warner in that they are reliable partisan Democrats who are seeking to milk as much benefit out of beating on Russia as they can. Both are unimpeachable liberals who wrap their arguments in the good old American flag by claiming that Moscow is seeking to threaten our democracy while completely ignoring the fact that the U.S. intelligence agencies have been regularly overthrowing governments and corrupting elections since the Second World War. They both have children who will never serve in uniform or see the inside of a barracks. War for them is an abstraction which serves as a useful tool, in this case, for bringing down Donald Trump. And they are bringing down with Trump any hope of rapprochement with Russia, a readjustment in policy that is desperately needed.
I am reminded frequently of the ancient Greek way of war. Armor was expensive and only the wealthy and powerful could afford it. And those with the armor stood in the front line as they were most able to engage in the cutting and thrusting and still survive. Armor was also heavy and they could not run away, so wars were only fought when vital interests were at stake and they were fought to the death for most of those on the battlefield. I fancy a phalanx of hoplites with Warner, Cardin, Schiff, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Libby arrayed on the front line in their fine armor manufactured by Halliburton. That way they could have all the war they want and experience it first-hand. I doubt they would last very long as they are both moral and physical cowards, but given that reality, they just might think a bit harder about promoting the type of fearmongering that will only end by sending the children of other Americans off to war.