It is difficult to pinpoint the exact start of this phenomena, although many have attempted. Some point to moments during Obama’s second term as President, such as the passing of the Magnitsky Act, Russia’s protests to American intervention in Syria, or the unforeseen outbreak of civil war in Ukraine. Others go back even further, pointing to the failed “reset” that Obama promised prior to the start of his first term. Some even point to the trend of poor relations between the United States and the Soviet Union back during the Cold War as the original starting point of this mentality.
Regardless of where it began, it is fairly easy to see where it has ended up: With the American Left’s proclivity to use Russia as a scapegoat every time something seems to not go according to plan for them. This trend reached its peak following the election of US President Donald Trump, which saw liberals, ranging from regular everyday voters to high-level elected officials blaming Russia for the unexpected results. These accusations shortly after the 2016 election gave way to countless Congressional hearings, media headlines, and trials. The only thing that was not produced was evidence.
Once it was clear that nothing was going to come out of falsely accusing Russia of interfering in the 2016 election, one would think that the rhetoric would begin to die down. However, it soon became obvious that this was not the case. Whenever Russia could be blamed, it was. This ranges from accusations that Russia is attempting to hack the U.S electrical grid, to more recently, Russia trying to obtain secrets pertaining to the development of a Covid-19 vaccine or treatment, and even outlandishly claiming that Russia was placing bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan.
Despite the lack of evidence that usually accompanies these accusations, Liberals, without skipping a beat, continue to blame Russia every time they fall short of accomplishing their goals.
Even more disturbingly, this trend appears to not be limited to American liberals. Accusations of Russia hacking elections have also become common place in Western Europe. In Britain, it became popular to accuse Russia of influencing the 2016 Brexit referendum. In Germany, there were news reports of Russia attempting to influence the 2017 German federal election.
The hysteria is seen in Eastern Europe as well, with countries such as Poland and the Baltic States continually behaving as if a Russian invasion is just around the corner, despite claims from both Western and Russian officials to the contrary.
This fad seen among the left is a clear indicator of two facts:
The first, is that the liberal order which has more or less characterized internal and international politics for the previous few decades is coming to an end. Nowhere is this more visible than in the United States, with the election of Donald Trump and the Democratic Party’s subsequent failure to completely retake the legislative branch in 2018.
Rather than examining their own policies and coming to the conclusion that they might not have appealed to the interest of American voters, Russia was once again painted as a silent aggressor, manipulating everything behind the scenes.
The second, is that Russia has become a major international power once again. This has always been the case to some extent, due to various historical, cultural and political reasons. However, in the past decade, Russia has been able to gain much of the footing in various parts of the world that it lost following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
To many American policy makers, especially the liberals who have been dictating American foreign policy in the past decade, the appearance of a multipolar world order, spearheaded by Russia, is the ultimate nightmare. This is compounded by the fact that Russia is, politically and as a society, overwhelmingly conservative. As for American Conservatives in the era of the Cold War, a Communist-led Russia was a threat domestically and internationally, so is the current Russia for the left wing.
The upcoming presidential election in November has the potential to be a defining moment for the future of this mindset. Should President Trump once again clinch an unexpected victory, despite the decline in race relations, the Covid-19 outbreak and the resulting economic crash, it can be expected that the Democratic Party will once again pass the blame onto Russia.
Regrettably, there is very little that most people can do to remedy the situation. So long as Russia can be used as a convenient culprit by the Democratic Party, it most likely will be. After all, it is much easier to blame someone or something else rather than looking realistically at one’s own shortcomings. It is even easier when the said something else is a foreign country and culture far away.
For the sake of a more stable world and better relations between the two most powerful nations on the face of the Earth today, I hope that I’m wrong.
Written by Mark Mednikov from the Russian Public Affairs Committee