During World War II and the early days of the Cold War, it was portions of the left that downplayed Soviet influence and suppressed evidence of Soviet crimes — even as Russian espionage breached President Franklin Roosevelt’s inner circle, the upper ranks of the State Department and the U.S. nuclear program. Success in the Cold War eventually required seriousness about Soviet aims — particularly its desire to dominate its neighbors, to sow discord and chaos in the democratic West, and to exercise global influence at U.S. expense.
While Russia has become more frankly tsarist in political orientation, these goals have remained the same — to dominate neighbors such as Ukraine, to sow chaos in American and European elections, and to contest U.S. influence in regions throughout the world. Now, however, it is portions of the right that play down Russian influence and suppress evidence of Russian crimes. And for what? To serve the endless vanity of our own bargain-basement Putin.
Of all the flips by the GOP during the Trump era, this ranks among the most extraordinary. And disappointing. And disgraceful. The accommodation of Russian aggression serves as an embossed, White House invitation for future interference. And it reveals a Republican administration and party determined to end, not with a bang, but a simper.