Two decades after the Cold War, the United States and Russia now face a common enemy in radical Islam, says Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who just returned from a fact-finding visit to Russia in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.
"Russia has the same interest as we do and we should have a long time ago been working with them to build a closer relationship after the fall of Communism, that by now would have permitted our intelligence sources to be working together to thwart radical Islamic terrorist attacks like the one in Boston against our marathon," said Rohrabacher in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.
Now in his 13th term, the California Republican chairs the Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He said cooperation with Russia could help prevent further Islamic attacks.
"We can prevent another Boston by recognizing that today the major threats to our country are coming from two sources: One is in the future and is developing. The other is right at our throats right now," he said. "It's radical Islam which is committing acts of violence and terrorism to try to terrorize the western world and especially the United States into retreating as a force in the planet. And then China, which is the up-and-coming threat."
He dismissed concerns by some U.S. lawmakers who worry about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I’m not as skeptical of Putin. He’s a tough guy. And he does reflect what the Russian people want. He was elected. Nobody I know doubts that he wouldn't have been elected there. But we have to recognize that they have made tremendous progress since the Cold War," he said.
"Putin is not the old-line Communist trying to re-impose Communism, but he is flawed.
"They've got some repressive measures that need to be addressed," observed Rohrabacher. "But the churches are open. There are opposition parties. There are demonstrations against the regime and we need to be working with the Russian government, whoever is in charge as long as they are democratically elected, to thwart the radical Islamic terrorists who are attacking both of our people."
He added that the Obama administration has not done enough to address the Islamic threat, but neither did the George W. Bush administration.
In visiting the site of the 2004 school siege in Beslan in the Russian republic of North Ossetia, where 334 people, more than half of them children, were killed, Rohrabacher said he was reminded of the 8-year-old victim of the Boston Marathon attack.
"The picture of those kids reminded me of the little kid who was sitting there on the street watching the Boston Marathon and this Chechnyan nut-case radical terrorist, who ends up putting this bag, his bomb, right behind the kid, knowing it would murder him.
"That's what we're up against, people who will murder children, intentionally murder children," said Rohrabacher. "Both the Russians and the Americans should be working together on it because we're both targeted."
Rohrabacher credited action-star Steven Seagal for using his influence to make sure the American delegation had access to top Russian officials.
"Like me, he realized that Russia should be a positive player that we should be working with to defeat that evil threat," said Rohrabacher, who was criticized by The Washington Post editorial board for displaying what the paper described as "ignorance and naïveté" in seeking to work with the Russians.
Rohrabacher insisted that the United States has no business intervening in the Syrian uprising even as the United Nations reports there are "reasonable grounds" to believe chemical weapons have been deployed in the war-ravaged country.
"We should stay as far away as we possibly can. [It's] absolutely absurd to think the United States has to get involved in every one of these fights everywhere in the world," he said. “The fact is, in Syria you’ve got terrorists who are murdering Americans on one side and you've got the radical mullahs allied with Assad on the other side. Let's stay away from this one."
With respect to reports that Russia plans to ship arms to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Rohrabacher believes such involvement may be to Russia's detriment.
"Just like ... us, they're wasting their own money and their own resources," he said, comparing the Assad regime to the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"But under Assad they protect Christians and minority religions," he explained. "The other group that's trying to throw Assad out would be attacking Christians and attacking minority religious groups.
“There’s no good side here, so we should stay out. It's not worth our money. It's not worth the lives of any of our people. That’s for sure."
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