For years, Democrats have shamed conservatives for considering Russia one of the biggest enemies of the United States. However, after the 2016 election that put President Trump in the White House, they seem to have changed their tune.
During a 2012 election debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who was also Governor of Massachusetts at the time, President Obama laughed at the idea Russia posed any threat to the United States.
“Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize Al Qaeda as a threat because a few months ago, when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia,” Obama said to his opponent, referring to a previous statement Romney had made about the former Soviet country. He continued, “Not Al Qaeda, you said Russia. The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years.”
In a previous interview, Romney had voiced his concern about Russia being a big threat to the United States.
“This is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe. They fight for every cause for the world’s worst actors. The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed,” said the presidential nominee.
When asked if he thought Russia was a bigger threat than China, Iran, or North Korea, he replied, “I’m saying in terms of a geopolitical opponent, the nation that lines up with the world’s worst actors,” Romney said. “Of course the greatest threat that the world faces is a nuclear Iran, and a nuclear North Korea is already troubling enough. But when these terrible actors pursue their course in the world and we go to the United Nations looking for ways to stop them … who is it that always stands up with the world’s worst actors? It’s always Russia, typically with China alongside. And so in terms of a geopolitical foe, a nation that’s on the Security Council that has the heft of the Security Council, and is of course is a massive nuclear power, Russia is the geopolitical foe.”
While at the time of the interview, the American people only saw one side of the story, Obama’s, there was more to it. Romney was truly concerned that if US officials began trusting Russia too much, it could be seriously damaging to the country. His comments also came after Obama was caught in an incident in which he forgot his mic was still on as he spoke to Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev about his plans to negotiate with the Russians regarding missile defenses after the election was over.
“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama was heard telling Medvedev, apparently referring to incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“Yeah, I understand,” Medvedev replied.
Obama interjected, saying, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”
The exchange drew criticism from Republicans, who accused Obama of caving on an important security issue. Romney’s statement was a way of speaking out as publicly as he could in opposition of the incumbent president.
Democrats, who obviously supported Obama’s comments to Romney in that 2012 debate, are now crossing lines to the other side of the argument. It’s to such a high degree, though, that instead of warning others of the possibility of Russia becoming a larger threat, liberals are seemingly poking the bear. With the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia, Democrats are taking every opportunity to connect Russia’s meddling with terrorism.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) most recently accused Russia of engaging in warfare.
“I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles,” Coleman said during a hearing this week at the House Homeland Security Committee.
She also criticized Trump for his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and asked a panel of experts and former officials what message Trump’s “borderline dismissive attitude” toward the cyberattack sends to the Kremlin and other nations. Seriously.
Rep. Coleman isn’t alone, either. After all, Democrats travel in packs.
Democratic California Representatives Jackie Speier and Eric Swalwell each put their two cents in as well.
“I actually think that their engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare, and I think that’s why the American people should be concerned about it,” said Speier.
“This past election, our country was attacked. We were attacked by Russia,” added Swalwell. “I see this as an opportunity for everyone on this committee, Republicans and Democrats, to not look in the rearview window but to look forward and do everything we can to make sure that our country never again allows a foreign adversary to attack us.”
Conservative lawmakers and government officials have given liberals countless warnings about the language they choose to use when talking about Russia. Michael Schmitt, who led the team of legal experts that formulated the Tallinn Manual 2.0, a comprehensive analysis of how international law applies to cyberspace, says he finds “that sort of talk dangerous.”
Schmitt assesses that the hacking campaign was not an act of war. “Without a scintilla of a doubt, it is not an act of war,” he says.
Army General Mark Milley also cautioned individuals about using the term “war” to refer to the cyberattacks, saying at a conference last week, “If it’s an act of war, then you’ve got to start thinking of your response to that sort of thing.”
It’s obvious that once they were no longer in control of manipulating foreign relations, Democrats finally focused on Russia as an issue. It should also be noted that Democrats are great at using terrorism as the key tactic of any argument. Obama’s statement from 2012, while it asserted Russia was not a geopolitical threat (which it was), also brought Al Qaeda into the conversation to connect it all back to terrorism. Obama was blurring the distinction between “geopolitical” and other sorts of threats. Voters do not fear Russia, or particularly care about what Russia does it its cold sphere of influence. They do care a lot about terrorism, though, and Obama used every chance he had to remind voters that he was president when Osama Bin Laden was killed.
Unfortunately, Obama was able to spin everything Romney said to get in several cheap shots, which ultimately led to his win. Now that he is out of office, and the Trump administration is working to keep an eye on Putin and his intentions worldwide, hopefully something can be done before liberals say or do something that can’t be cleaned up by the GOP.