Hillary Clinton’s Exploits in McCarthyism
The New Cold Warriors who surround Hillary Clinton have made Russia-bashing and McCarthyism the go-to tactics to silence the few voices warning of the grave and unnecessary risks of a new Cold War, notes James W Carden.
By James W Carden
Now that the 2016 election campaign is at long last over, an examination of the reckless, fact-free, innuendo-laden McCarthyite rhetoric which Hillary Clinton’s campaign surrogates deployed over the past several months is in order.
The first and most obvious point to be made is that the anti-Russia hysteria that characterized the election, particularly in its final weeks, did not come out of nowhere; in fact, it should be seen as part of a natural progression of the elite media’s Russophobia which took root in and around the Ukraine crisis of late 2013-early 2014 and led, almost ineffably, not only to charges of Russian election-rigging in the United States but in the identification, in the pages of Newsweek and the Washington Post, of Russian fifth-columns within the United States.
How the Ukraine crisis poisoned America political discourse is by now well known. As I reported in The Nation almost 18 months ago, the cottage industry of unscrupulous neo-McCarthyites which has grown up around Washington, London and Manhattan in recent years has sought to stifle debate by bandying charges of unpatriotic disloyalty against anyone questioning the wisdom of U.S. policy toward Russia. (It bears noting that something similar regarding Syria policy is happening as I write, driven, for the most part, by the usual suspects.)
As one long time political scientist told me at the time, “The atmosphere here in the U.S. created by the Ukraine crisis is poisonous – and I say this having been an academic for 37 years.”
The millennial careerists who help staff the ranks of the New Cold Warriors instinctually reach for ad hominem attacks over reasoned argument – and in so doing helped make way for the tactics the Clinton campaign unleashed in 2016.
By the time the nominating conventions rolled around this summer, the Clinton campaign was engaged in a Twenty-first Century witch hunt against any Trump adviser who had so much as visited Russia. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and foreign policy adviser Carter Page were both hounded out of the campaign by Clinton-inspired media smears.
Clinton’s campaign, which was run by Robby Mook, a 36-year-old hot shot who clearly relished his role as a kind of millennial Roy Cohn, repeatedly attacked former Ambassador to Germany and arms control negotiator under Ronald Reagan, Richard Burt.
Burt was singled out, not only by the Clinton camp, but by Salon and Newsweek, because he had served as an adviser to Alfa Bank, the Russian bank which played a starring role in former New Republic editor’s Franklin Foer’s thoroughly debunked article on the Trump Organization’s (non-existent) “secret” email server.
Yet what is most interesting isn’t so much the smears – phrases like “useful idiot” and “Kremlin stooge” which are mostly warmed-over fare from the first Cold War – but the mindset of the New Cold Warriors. How is it that these self-anointed crusaders for “humanitarian intervention” and “democratization,” these self-appointed enemies of tyranny, end up on the side of neo-Nazis in Ukraine, Al Qaeda and al-Nusra affiliate in Syria, all the while stirring up sectarian and nationalist pathologies across the Middle East and Eastern Europe?