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The GOP's Appeasement of Putin Is Helping Destabilize the World, And Weaken America
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A somber post today, as we mourn the loss of life in Israel.
Before I get to the Russian-backed Hamas attack on Israel, a few things:
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The Republican Party’s Ongoing Appeasement of Putin Is Helping Destabilizing The World, And It Needs To End - This post is a bit hurried and rushed so please forgive errors or mistakes. It has also been updated a bit since the original posting.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing about how Republican leaders seemed to be doing Putin’s bidding on Ukraine and denigrating Zelenskyy; in undermining the American military; in blaming Biden for inflation and high gas prices Putin’s attack on Ukraine and his oil policies have caused; in launching yet another inquiry into Hunter Biden and the Biden family; in making the US look dysfunctional and broken as the world arrived here for the UN General Assembly. I’ve come to believe that there is a part of the Republican Party that is now operating like a Russian fifth column here in the United States, seeking to undermine America from within in coordination with Russia. This partnership with Russia remains to me the most extraordinary and dangerous part of this terrible age of MAGA, as Russia has as its primary foreign policy goal the weakening of the American-led global liberal order and America itself. This ongoing partnership, and this overt support for Russia is akin to treason, and we need to do everything we can to end it.
Russia is a financial and political backer of Hamas, and it’s ally, Iran. Hamas’ leadership visited Moscow in March, following a similar trip in September of 2022. One account of the fall 2022 trip reads:
A delegation from the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, led by Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, made a multi-day visit to Moscow this month for meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as well as other Russian officials.
Asharq Al-Awsat cited a source in the Russian capital, presumably from Hamas’ Moscow office, as saying that Haniyeh wanted to solicit Russia’s views on his “new ideas” for confronting Israel. For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
This morning Russia called for a cease fire in Israel, essentially calling on Israel to stand down and not defend itself, a clear sign of support for Hamas. While Russia has called for Israel to stand down while under attack here’s what Ukrainian President Zelenskyy tweeted this morning:
Horrible news from Israel. My condolences go out to everyone who lost relatives or close ones in the terrorist attack. We have faith that order will be restored and terrorists will be defeated.
Terror should have no place in the world, because it is always a crime, not just against a specific country or this terror’s victims, but against humanity in general and our entire world.
Anyone who resorts to terror commits a crime against the world. Whoever finances terror is committing a crime against the world. The world must stand united and in solidarity so that terror does not attempt to break or subjugate life anywhere and at any moment.
Israel's right to self-defense is unquestionable.
All details surrounding this terrorist assault must be revealed so that the world knows and holds accountable everyone who supported and helped carry out the attack.
All Ukrainian citizens who remain in the risk zone must carefully obey all orders issued by local security services and remain vigilant. Please be cautious. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our embassy in Israel are ready to assist in any situation.
To support Ukrainians in Israel, we established an operational headquarters. If you require assistance, please contact any of our diplomatic or consular offices in any convenient and accessible manner.
Every life is valuable! We condemn all forms of terrorism.
Russian backed Hamas attacked Israel today. But of course if it becomes widely known here in the US that Russia helped support an attack on Israel support for funding the Ukraine war will rise, and those same Russian-loving Rs will be forced to back the Administration’s request for Ukraine funding. So predictably, and pathetically, using talking points which could have been written in Moscow, these Russian-loving Republicans are deflecting blame from Russia and somehow blaming Joe Biden and the United States for Hamas’ actions today.
Hamas’ attack on Israel needs to become a rallying point for pro-democracy forces here to build greater domestic support for our military aid of Ukraine. Russia is an extraordinary threat to the modern world, and defeating it in Ukraine is among our most urgent tasks now.
In the coming days we also need to better understand the role Moscow is playing in the current spike in Venezuelan refugees arriving at our border, a spike which has overloaded our immigration system across the US. Russia is the main sponsor of the disastrous Maduro regime in Caracas, something Donald Trump helped cement as President. Here’s the Washington Post from 2019, Trump echos Putin on Venezuela:
“There has been a long-emerging pattern in Donald Trump’s presidency: He talks to an authoritarian leader, and then he says or does something they like. Sometimes, this has had far-reaching consequences for U.S. foreign policy, as it did when Trump announced a (later-aborted) quick withdrawal from Syria. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned over that one.
On Friday, Trump did it again, this time with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
After he spoke to Putin on the phone for an hour, Trump held a news conference with the prime minister of the Slovak Republic. The first thing he emphasized was that Putin wasn’t going to get involved in the deteriorating situation in Venezuela.
I had a very good talk with President Putin — probably over an hour,” Trump began. “And we talked about many things. Venezuela was one of the topics. And he is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela. And I feel the same way. We want to get some humanitarian aid."
Someone should tell Trump’s own secretary of state that.
In an interview Thursday, Mike Pompeo said that not only had Russia gotten involved in Venezuela, but that it had actually “invaded” it. Here’s his exchange with Ben Shapiro (key parts bolded):
SHAPIRO: Can you explain to folks how deep the intervention of the Russians and Cubans is in Venezuela right now?
POMPEO: Ben, I kind of laugh sometimes. You’ll hear people saying we need to make sure there’s not an invasion in Venezuela, and yet there’s been one. I mean, it took place. The Cubans invaded some time ago; the Russians have now followed suit. The numbers of Cubans in the security apparatus alone are in the thousands. The Russians have people working over there in the hundreds, if not more. These are the folks who are actually controlling the direction of travel for Venezuela. We’ve seen that failure even today. It’s largely Cuban security forces that are protecting Maduro in his hiding place. He talked yesterday about having nerves of steel. That’s easier to do when you’re surrounded by Cuban military people and you’re hiding in a bunker.
They are deep. They’ve controlled the economy; they have looted the nation. They’ve demanded that Venezuela provide to Cuba essentially discount oil for years and years, harming the Venezuelan people. The Cubans have been there and are deeply embedded, have been for years, and the Russians have been there as well, largely protecting their economic interests.
Here was Pompeo arguing that Russia’s involvement in Venezuela amounted to an invasion, something that had altered the course of the country. Yet Trump talked to Putin and promptly declared — not even citing Putin, but saying in his own words — that Russia was staying out except to help on a humanitarian basis.”
You see Putin has weaponized migrant crises before to advance his political interests. He did so in Europe a decade ago, a crisis which helped fueled the rise of Russian-aligned right wing parties across Europe and helped bring about Brexit. Here is an excerpt from a CNBC article from 2016, Putin ‘weaponizing’ migrant crisis to hurt Europe:
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, are “weaponizing” the region’s refugee crisis and are using it to undermine Europe’s security and unity, according to a top U.S. and NATO commander in Europe.
U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the supreme allied commander in Europe for the 28-member military alliance NATO, told a hearing of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that Russia and Syria were working together trying to undermine European security.
“Together, Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve,” he told the committee.
Syria’s alleged use of barrel bombs against its own civilians, as well as Russia’s “indiscriminate” air strikes in Syria ostensibly -- used to help the West combat Islamic State but seemingly targeting rebel groups who oppose the Assad government -- had been aimed at displacing civilians and creating a refugee crisis, Breedlove added.
“Barrel bombs are designed to terrorize, get people out of their homes, get them on the road and make them someone else’s problem. These indiscriminate weapons used by both Assad and the non-precision use of weapons by Russia, I can’t find any other reason for them other than to cause refugees to be on the move and make them someone else’s problem.”
If Russia is indeed using the migrant crisis as a way of destabilizing its neighbor Europe, then it appears to be working. The European Union (EU) is struggling with the numbers of migrants and refugees arriving on the continent, most of whom coming from the Middle East and Syria.
With over a million migrants arriving in 2015 alone, according to the UN, the new arrivals have put strains on the region’s resources and political unity with southern European countries such as recession-hit Greece hit hardest by the amount of people arriving by sea.
The migrant crisis has also caused widespread tension and division among European countries who disagree over how to manage and relocate and the migrants. A number of countries have closed their borders, effectively leaving migrants stranded in countries –such as Greece - and making the problem worse.
So is it possible right now that Russia is leading a land war in Europe, aiding terror attacks in Israel (with goal of ending the Saudi/Israeli detente, raising oil prices, distracting the West from its focus on Ukraine?) and destabilizing migrant flows in the Americas and perhaps Europe? Sure. Of course. Here’s Polish President Duda on the attack:
It certainly benefits Russia and Russian aggression against Ukraine. It distracts the world's attention... But above all, I am afraid that it will unfortunately cause further migration pressure on Europe.
And despite all this Donald Trump and his Republican allies have spent the day once again doing Putin’s bidding here in the US, deflecting attention away from Russia’s extraordinary global malevolence and predictably blaming the US.
All of this is why we are here at Hopium, and we need to keep doing our work. This Trump-era Republican Party is an historic threat to the US and the rules-based global order we lead, and we need to keep beating them in election after election until this threat abates.
Keep working hard all, and all my love and support to the people of Israel and this terrible day - Simon (and sorry if this feels hastily written - it was)