[Russia] is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
There is not "a" Russia issue. There are several separate "Russia Issues."In other words, "it's complicated."
The American public does not like complications. It wants simplicity. Unfortunately, the mainstream media (MSM) is much too willing to accommodate the public.
In the following, I will discuss four of these issues, which can not be appropriately addressed unless they are dealt with separately
Full disclosure: In the nineties, my profession (philosophy professor) took me to Russia seven times, where I presented scholarly papers at the Soviet Academy of Sciences and several Russian universities. Today I frequently correspond by email and Skype with several Russian friends. I find much to criticize about Vladimir Putin and his government and, were I a Russian, I would not vote for him. This essay should not, therefore, be construed as a defense of Putin. The targets of my criticism are the Trump Administration and the mainstream American media.
These are the four issues:
Issue One: Did Donald Trump and his surrogates "collude" with the Russians? Which Russians? And what is the nature of this "collusion"?
Issue Two: Did Russia significantly "meddle" in the 2016 Presidential election?
Issue Three: Is Russia an dictatorship, oppressing its people, suppressing free expression, enriching its rulers, etc.?
Issue Four: Is Russia our "enemy"? Are Russian strategic objectives a threat to American interests and to world peace?
Issue One: Did Donald Trump and his surrogates "collude" with the Russians?
The answer to the first question is clearly "yes." Trump and his team have been "colluding" (i.e., secretly working together for mutual advantage) with Russians. But that admission alone does not appreciably advance our understanding.
It is doubtful that Trump is deliberately "colluding" to serve the economic or strategic interests of the Russian Federation -- or of the United States for that matter. It should be abundantly clear to all who are more than casually familiar with Trump's behavior and motivations, that the only "interests" that he cares about are Trump interests. And those interests are seriously threatened by Special Prosecutor Mueller's "Russiagate" investigations.
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