Reprinted from The Guardian
Those itching for conflict like to portray Putin as a grandmaster. In reality, his country is weak and his strategy is one of desperation
Obama and Putin stare-down at the G20 summit in China
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These days it is en vogue in Washington DC to be itching for conflict with Russia. Politicians and pundits alike are outdoing each other for how they can describe the supposed threat Putin now poses to the west. To his credit, Barack Obama seems to be the only politician not playing into the cold war 2.0 hysteria.
In little noticed comments last week, Hillary Clinton suggested that the US should start preparing "military" responses to cyber-attacks allegedly perpetrated by Russia on the DNC and voter registration files. And her campaign has also spent the last few weeks ratcheting up the fear-mongering that the Trump campaign is secretly a Russian plant of some sort.
Increasing military tensions with Russia is now a bipartisan issue. Republicans not named Donald Trump spent much of the primary earlier this year calling for a no-fly zone -- a certain path to war -- in Syria and were perfectly willing to shoot down Russian planes over the region, despite the real possibility of starting world war three.
Meanwhile, House Democrats recently called on the FBI to "investigate" unknown links between the Trump campaign and Russia, seemingly unaware of the historical analogies (and the irony) of calling for a government investigation into their political enemies. Trump is a menace and a buffoon in countless ways, but the idea that he is secretly doing Putin's bidding is beyond absurd.
The media, in turn, largely seems to be eager to portray Putin as an 11th dimensional chess grandmaster, who is behind every major world event. (Conspiracy theories are almost universally mocked in the US, unless they involve Putin and Russia -- then they are encouraged.)
Even some inside the Obama administration, like defense secretary Ash Carter, seem open to ratcheting up the tension with Russia, which, by the way, the sprawling defense industry is also openly rooting for. The Intercept reported weapons manufacturers have been telling investors that the "new" Russian threat is great for business. (Increased cyber tensions, needless to say, lead to better bottom lines for all the cybersecurity companies that have popped up in recent years as well.)