Sunday, June 11, 2017

America’s Real Red Scare: The Slow-Motion Collapse of the American Empire. By William J. Astore

It’s May 2001 and the Atlantic Monthly has just arrived in the mail.  I’m tantalized by the cover article.  “Russia is finished,” the magazine announces.  The subtitle minces no words: “The unstoppable descent into social catastrophe and strategic irrelevance.”  Could it be that the country I had worried most about as a military officer during all those grim years of the Cold War, the famed “Evil Empire” that had threatened us with annihilation, was truly kaput, even in its Russian rather than Soviet guise? Sixteen years later, the article’s message seems just a tad premature.  Today’s Russia surely has its problems - from poverty to pollution to prostitution to a rickety petro-economy - but on the geo-political world stage it is “finished” no longer. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has recently been enjoying heightened influence, largely at the expense of a divided and disputatious superpower that now itself seems to be on an “unstoppable descent.”

Sixteen years after Russia was declared irrelevant, a catastrophe, finito, it is once again a colossus -- at least on the American political scene, if nowhere else.  And that should disturb you far less than this: more than a generation after defeating the Soviet Union in the Cold War, the United States of 2017 seems to be doing its level best to emulate some of the worst aspects of its former foe and once rival superpower. Yes, the U.S. has a Soviet problem, and I’m not referring to the allegations of the moment in Washington: that the Trump campaign and Russian officials colluded, that money may have flowed into that campaign via Russian oligarchs tied to Putin, that the Russians hacked the U.S. election to aid Donald Trump, that those close to the president-elect dreamed of setting up a secret back channel to Moscow and suggested to the Russian ambassador that it be done through the Russian embassy, or even that Putin has a genuine hold of some sort on Donald Trump.  All of this is, of course, generating attention galore, as well as outrage, in the mainstream media and among the chattering classes, leading some to talk of a new “red scare” in America.  All of it is also being investigated, whether by congressional intelligence committees or by former FBI director -- now special counsel -- Robert Mueller

When it comes to what I’m talking about, though, you don’t need a committee or a counsel or a back channel or a leaker from some intelligence agency to ferret it out.  Whatever Trump campaign officials, Russian oligarchs, or Vladimir Putin himself did or didn’t do, America’s Soviet problem is all around us: a creeping (and creepy) version of authoritarianism that anyone who lived through the Cold War years should recognize.  It involves an erosion of democratic values; the ever-expanding powers exercised by a national security state operating as a shadow government and defined by militarismsurveillancesecrecyprisons, and other structures of dominance and control; ever-widening gaps between the richest few and the impoverished many; and, of course, ever more weapons, along with ever more wars. That’s a real red scare, America, and it’s right here in the homeland.. read more:
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176292/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_back_in_the_ussr/#more

And the same issue from an opposite perspective
Forget Comey. The Real Story Is Russia’s War on America