While Republicans and Democrats battle in Washington to either ham-handedly defend or desperately tear into President Trump, America’s frenemy of long-standing, Russian President Vladimir Putin, had another great week.
For more than a decade now, Putin’s efforts to expand Russian influence have gone virtually unchecked by the United States. Military incursions, clandestine efforts to infiltrate regional governments, alliance-building, and aggressive cognitive warfare have all been facets of a strategy that is seeing a Russian resurgence.
For the last three years, the Left’s campaign to delegitimize President Trump’s election have played into Putin’s effort to telegraph increased power while minimizing significant and mounting domestic problems, including a flagging Russian economy. When Democrat Party leadership, in collusion with the leftist news media, started pushing the idea that the outcome of the American Presidential election was impacted by Russian operatives, despite all evidence to the contrary, quite a few rounds of vodka were undoubtedly consumed in celebration in Moscow.
Democrats and the press of course willfully ignored the accepted fact that, since the 1950s, the KGB and its successor agencies have attempted to stir up domestic political discord in the United States, never with any material effect. J. Edgar Hoover even wrote about those efforts in a book in the 1960s. No amount of Russian attempts to meddle in an election has ever changed the course of an election.
Fast forward to last week, when a bitter and angry Hillary Clinton threw fuel on the fire of this phony Russia narrative by suggesting that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was a “Russian asset” and that Putin’s operatives were actively promoting her campaign. She also explicitly called socialist Jill Stein a Russian asset.
More rounds of Vodka at the Kremlin.
Then there was the Syria cease fire cobbled together to stop the bleeding — not of the Kurds — but of the Trump administration after a wild shift in policy in the region that paved the way for a brutal Turkish assault. Condemned by Republicans and foreign policy influencers involved with both Middle East and terrorism policy, the president dispatched both Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo to craft something that could be perceived as an acceptable public solution.
The tenuous agreement decidedly favors Turkey, a Russian ally. Line up the shot glasses again.
Putin, one of Bashar Asaad’s only friends, has now successfully played both sides of the Syria game. He’s selling Turkey Russian military hardware while propping up Asaad. The U.S. and NATO don’t have the stomach to censure Turkey in some fashion or kick them out of the alliance. The situation is showing cracks in the NATO bloc that Russia has long hoped to develop and that could continue to be exploited by Putin.
When President Obama effected a precipitous withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011, he not only helped consolidate and augment ISIS, but forced the Iraqis to grow closer to Russia. Emboldening Erdogan’s Turkey in the region will ultimately be of greater benefit to Russia than to the United States.
Warfare in this century is no longer what it has been for millennia. Territorial conquest is only a minor and seldom-used tactic in our time, with information and economic warfare playing much larger roles. Putin has been able to use all of the tactics of war at his disposal — including territorial conquest — with little response from the West. People like Putin take the longer view of history than we do in our digital news world. Incremental progress in building influence is not only acceptable, but for a former KGB operative like Putin, small, almost furtive victories are even preferable as inefficient western democracies scramble to react.
As the president’s defense against the impeachment inquiry continues to lack focus and unforced errors, like his insistence on using the Doral resort for next year’s G7, add to an already precarious political position, the biggest beneficiary are leaders like Putin and other U.S. geopolitical competitors who leverage U.S. political chaos to advance their agenda.
There was a reason why politics once stopped “at the waters’ edge.” There once was a recognition that our president needed to be viewed in as strong a light as possible in order to telegraph America’s strength. The bloodlust of Democrat leadership and the press have tossed this old rule aside.
The world watches our news. World leaders assess the strength of our presidents and the stability of our political system. When a White House appears rudderless or Democrats and the media relentlessly attack the president, or people irresponsibly drive conspiracy theories, it certainly does nothing to address our domestic challenges. It also emboldens our enemies, like Putin, the Ayatollahs, the terrorists and more.
When dictators like Putin have a good week, that means America’s standing in the world and the global cause of freedom suffers.
Tom Basile has been part of the American political landscape from Presidential campaigns to local politics. He served in the Bush Administration from 2001-2004, as Executive Director of the NYS Republican Party and has held a range of senior-level communications roles in and out of government. Basile's critically-acclaimed book, "Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq" (Foreword by Amb. John R. Bolton), chronicles his time in Baghdad fighting media bias and driving fairer coverage of the Iraq war. In 2011, he was featured in Time Magazine's Person of the Year spread about political activism around the world. Basile is an adjunct professor at Fordham University, a local elected official and runs a New York-based strategic communications firm. He is a member of the New York Bar and sits on a number of academic and philanthropic advisory boards. Learn more about him at TomBasile.com or follow him on Twitter @Tom_Basile. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.