Is Trump-Russia collusion Drumbeat Pushing US into Another Cold War?

Incessant carping from the media, the left and NeverTrump Republicans about still unproven Trump Russia collusion fills the pages of national newspapers and the endless hours of cable news panel discussions. We now have a special counsel with his team of Democrat loyalists scouring President Donald Trump’s life. Every Russian who ever bought a condo or a membership in a Trump property, even decades ago, may be the smoking gun evidence of collusion of some sort. At least that’s the plan.

Trump and Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg

It’s becoming a McCarthyism redux, the 1950s all over again with a Soviet communist under every rock and behind every tree. This time it is being led by Democrats and the media, not by a Republican Senator. Not only were lives and careers destroyed, but a sense of paranoia developed against the Soviets. Much of it was justified as the Soviets were America’s geopolitical foe.

But the paranoia and communist obsession may have also driven US foreign policy including the Bay of Pigs and the Vietnam War. Our leaders make decisions based in part on national sentiment, including toward foreign adversaries.

Flash forward from the 1950s to now. They are not the Soviets anymore but instead the Russians. Still a geopolitical adversary, but with new players on the scene including China and North Korea. Could the Russian collusion fervor being whipped up by the media be driving foreign policy? Perhaps in negative ways and with unintended consequences?

This past week, the House and Senate reached an agreement to slap Russia with new sanctions. Not a close vote in the Senate like the recent Obamacare “skinny repeal” but instead a 98-2 landslide. Now the bill is headed to President Trump’s desk where he will almost certainly sign it into law.

What choice does he have? The merits of sanctions can be debated and I’m not making an argument one way or the other on whether this is the right move at the right time. Instead the point is that the sudden anti-Russia fervor over unsubstantiated claims of Trump’s campaign colluding with the Russians to change the election outcome may be driving foreign policy. Potentially in the wrong direction.

Predictably Russia is responding by expelling 755 US diplomats. Did we really need that many diplomats in Russia? A question Rick Moran just posed in American Thinker. What is apparent is that this new anti-Russia fervor beginning the day after Trump’s election, a fantasy cooked up to explain Hillary Clinton’s unexpected electoral defeat, may be driving US foreign policy.

To be sure, Russia is a bad player, but America has to contend with many other players on the global field. Some good, some bad, some neutral. Foreign policy decisions should be driven by what is in America’s interests, not as a reaction to partisan witch hunts. Otherwise the result is a resurrection of the cold war, the last thing we need.

How likely is it now for Russia to work with us in areas where we do have common ground, such as the fight against Isis and Islamic terrorism? Or in Syria? After all, President Roosevelt worked with Joseph Stalin against a common enemy, Hitler. Despite America and the Soviets being geopolitical foes, FDR and Stalin forged a “surprisingly warm relationship” that “helped to shape history.”

Historians may argue how positively the FDR-Stalin bromance affected the future, but at the time Hitler needed to be stopped, just as radical Islamic terrorism needs to be stopped today.

Could Trump and Putin do the same? Who knows? But with the immense weight of a special counsel and nonstop media coverage of supposed Russian collusion, Trump has no choice but to treat Putin and the Russians harshly, deserved or not, strategic or not.

How ironic that it’s the Democrats recreating another cold war after cozying up the Russians during the last one. From Bernie Sanders spending his honeymoon in the Soviet Union to Ted Kennedy secretly enlisting the Soviets to intervene in the 1984 presidential election to defeat Ronald Reagan. The latter representing true Russian collusion as opposed to the fantasy collusion of this past election.

My fear is that left created a paranoia about the Russians that will lead President Trump to always take the hard line against them, whether warranted or not. Regardless of the best interests of American foreign policy. All to avoid playing into the meme that Trump is a Putin stooge, a puppet of the Russian government. He will go out of his way avoid any appearance of doing anything remotely beneficial to the Russians for fear of fueling the collusion story.

If a married man is accused of flirting with a female coworker, he will go out of his way to keep his distance from or not working with his coworker to avoid playing into the accusation. Often to the detriment of the workplace.

Which is why it’s time for Mueller and the left to put up or shut up. Either Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians to alter the election outcome or they did not. Holding American foreign policy hostage to a partisan witch hunt, influencing the President to react and make ill-advised decisions due to the ongoing investigations, is bad for the country. Resurrecting the cold war is a dangerous path given potential consequences and the myriad other problems America faces that won’t get their deserved attention.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.

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