Russia is back in the news, and so is Mike Flynn – this time due to reports of conflicts of interest among members of the Mueller FBI investigation team, reports that some Republicans have wasted no time seizing upon. Few, if any, of these Republicans have actually questioned the underlying concept of investigating a President’s team for holding meetings with foreign powers – rather, they are disputing the methods by which such a ridiculous investigation has been conducted.
We have been inundated with news stories, blown far out of proportion, describing Russia’s alleged election hacking or its secret meetings with the President’s closest advisors. Obviously, the scandal has been largely fomented by political enemies hoping to find a constitutional way to eliminate an already highly unpopular and embattled President. Robert Mueller’s investigation into election meddling, led by many Democrat donors, has arrested Paul Manafort for money laundering (an absurd charge, to which we will return) and has cornered Mike Flynn into pleading guilty and cooperating with the investigation. President Trump and his team are no strangers to controversy — the only difference being that this smear effort, aside from being almost entirely fabricated, is actually being perpetrated by Republicans and Democrats alike. Unsurprisingly, the only bipartisan effort in Congress in decades is making our country, and the rest of the planet, less prosperous and safe.
Did the Russians attempt to influence the U.S. election? Probably – by helping WikiLeaks release actual incriminating emails from the Clinton campaign days before the election, similar to how NBC released a lude video of Trump that they had been sitting on for years. While Democrats were furious over Clinton’s leaked emails, they seem all too ecstatic to capitalize on every single leak coming out of the White House, even those which undermine the presidency and the U.S.’s trustworthiness worldwide.
In fact, if my memory serves me well, only a few years ago the Democrats were bashing Mitt Romney mercilessly for harboring a backward Cold War philosophy. Today, Democrat leaders are nearly quoting Romney, verbatim, if not being more antagonistic toward the nuclear power. But that kind of partisan hypocrisy is to be expected from a party without a leader, a message, or a comprehensive plan to take back power.
On the other side of the aisle, the “maverick” John McCain and his neoconservative cronies have set US foreign policy back decades by voting, 97-0, to leash his own party’s President of the ability to use sanctions on Russia as leverage in negotiations. Others are calling for regulation of social media, a clear violation of the first amendment, to prevent Russian “agents” from exposing the legitimate problems in our democracy.
This unprecedented blow has been fueled by the ever-growing list of Trump cabinet members, associates, and even his own son, who have reportedly held private meetings with Russian government “affiliates.”
Certainly, the likes of Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn have profited handsomely from their ties to Russia, but how their communication with the Trump campaign has hurt the US is beyond me. Manafort had previously provided political consulting for Viktor Yanukovich, the pro-Russian, Ukrainian President whom he helped elect in 2010, and who was then ousted in 2014 in a series of pro-Western revolts. Manafort was paid handsomely from Putin’s coffers, money he then hid on Cyprus, as all Russians do, most likely to avoid paying U.S. income taxes and attracting attention to himself. Unless the U.S. officially labels Russia as a criminal organization, this is not money laundering—its tax evasion, at worst. Frankly, as a libertarian, I would give this man a medal, not a court sentence. Mr. Manafort’s associate, Mr. Gates, is innocent by much of the same token.
Michael Flynn, an opportunistic former Lieutenant General, cashed in after retiring from the military and began providing consulting for foreign governments, such as Russia and Turkey. He likely also cheated on his taxes by failing to fully disclose such activities—but the lie that brought him down was far more innocent than that. As Trump’s National Security Advisor, Flynn had communicated with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak (which was, arguably, his job), and then, in a bout of poor judgment, lied about it to Vice President Mike Pence, and then the FBI. Flynn had forgotten that we live in an Orwellian police state and that his phone had been tapped and his communications recorded. Fearing charges of treason and the wrath of the FBI against the equally dubious business dealings of his son, Flynn caved, pleaded guilty, and agreed to cooperate. Lo and behold, another example of political abuse of the surveillance state in the 21st century—reminiscent of the FBI’s savage defamation of the late Reverend Martin Luther King.
The indictments of these two carpetbaggers highlights nothing more than the overextension of U.S. foreign policy. The United States is so involved in foreign affairs that a blossoming market for political agents and foreign government sponsored lobbyists has flowered, creating a net of ulterior motives and conflicts of interest impossible to disentangle. Erdogan, Turkey’s strongman Prime Minister, felt threatened by Obama’s foreign policy, who harbored a Turkish revolutionary in the Poconos (of all places) and continued to arm the Kurds (a historic “enemy” of the Turks) in the fight against ISIS. Despite all the allegations of collusion, Trump has since upped the ante in training and arming Kurdish troops. He has, likewise, promised heightened support for Ukraine’s defense of its territory against Russian incursion. It seems the Russian gamble with Trump, if it was as deliberate as claimed, failed miserably. The Mueller investigation and its Democrat backers must distinguish between the intents of Russian agents and the outcome. Failing to recognize the outright lack of Russian influence on Trump only confirms the investigation as a delusional witch hunt.
The lack of short term results will not, however, discourage continued foreign lobbying and attempts at influence – not because Trump, Republicans, or any other political entity is especially susceptible, but because the U.S. has bipartisanly persisted in expanding its interference in the affairs of foreign countries, thus making the whole government a target. The likes of Flynn and Manafort (until they get caught), along with Erdogan and Putin, are ultimately the winners; the American taxpayer, the loser.
Don’t get me wrong, Erdogan and Putin are illegitimate leaders who are looking to consolidate power and rewrite their respective nation’s history. I have already written plenty on Putin. In the case of Erdogan, this means regressing from founder Ataturk’s dreams of a democratic, secular state to another Islamic, Middle Eastern dictatorship. The historically rich Byzantine capital of Constantinople is set to complete its transition from a once lively, Western Istanbul to a theocratic Tehran or despotic Moscow. However, it should come as no surprise that our previous attempts to influence Middle-eastern dictators have cost countless lives, billions of dollars, and resulted in terrorism-prone power vacuums or a promulgation of despotism. In many instances, the U.S. is Dr. Frankenstein, and Putin and Erdogan our own monstrous creations who have come back to haunt us. Perhaps, when the next John McCain questions “why did Constantinople get the works?” or when Mueller questions why Mike Flynn received payments from Turkey, our answer should be, in keeping with the They Would Be Giants’ classic Istanbul not Constantinople: “that’s nobody’s business but the Turks.”
Latest posts by Adam Barsouk (see all)
- Senator Harris, Medicare for All Would Mean Quality Healthcare for None - February 9, 2019
- ANNOUNCEMENT: Igniting Liberty Is Officially Available! - February 7, 2019
- Ford Argues Trauma Improves Memory. The Science Disagrees. - September 28, 2018