Russian influence in the 2016 presidential campaign is a legitimate subject of public inquiry and Democrats are right to demand answers. But many Democrats are allowing their anger over leaked emails to back them into a much more hawkish position on Russia than they took during the Obama administration — certainly more hawkish than the position they would take today in a different political context.
“President Trump’s kowtowing to Vladimir Putin is endangering our national security and emboldening a dangerous tyrant,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “What do the Russians have on President Trump that he would flirt with lifting sanctions and weakening NATO?”
Weakening the sanctions imposed in response to Russian hacking is certainly a debatable move (though one that has not yet actually been proposed). But do Democrats really think it is a bad idea to get NATO allies to pay their fair share of defense costs? Should we really take on new treaty commitments to defend Moscow’s neighbors that we did not assume even at the height of the Cold War?
Did not the Democrats ridicule this kind of thinking about Russia five years ago, when they told Mitt Romney the 1980s called and wanted its foreign policy back? While those jokes look much lamer in hindsight, it is still true that Russia is less of a threat than the old Soviet Union.