Left-wing activist and Russia cheerleader Norman Solomon has a fascinating op-ed in The Hill.
The column dated Jan. 9 titled, “Democrats are playing with fire on Russia,” is already stale in the era of the 24-hour news cycle, but still worth reading. For conservatives, it offers a window into the mind of an intelligent, articulate left-winger who lives in real world. He’s still a radical with antisocial ideas who wants President Trump removed from office (by constitutional means), but he doesn’t appear, at least at first glance, to be insane like many others in his ideological camp broadly construed.
The “emerging incendiary rhetoric against Russia is extremely dangerous,” he writes. “It could lead to a military confrontation between two countries that each have thousands of nuclear weapons.”
He notes that at (what was then) a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on foreign cyber threats, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) condemned “Russia’s rejection of the post-Cold War international order and aggressive actions against its neighbors” and “a regime with values and interests so antithetical to our own.”
That Democrats’ extended diatribe against Russia could lead to a major military conflict is certainly an arguable point.
Of Reed’s comments, Solomon opined:
It was the kind of oratory that would have made John Foster Dulles or Barry Goldwater proud.
Like so many other senators on the committee, Reed seemed eager for a new Cold War while accusing the foe of digital aggression. “In addition to stealing information from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign,” he said, “and cherry-picking what information it leaked to the media, the Russian government also created and spread fake news and conspiracies across the vast social media landscape.’’
The Russian government may have hacked the DNC and Clinton campaign emails, and it may have given those emails to WikiLeaks. But that’s hardly a slam dunk.
Solomon makes the case that as the evidence stood at that time — I suspect his views haven’t changed much since then given his ideological bent — the Trump-is-Putin’s-BFF line is a loser because it is based on a huge nothing burger.
Over the weekend, after Friday’s release of a much-ballyhooed report from the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the report underwent a cogent critique by former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter Robert Parry. Stripping the 25-page DNI report down to its essence, Parry pointed out that it “contained no direct evidence that Russia delivered hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks.”
Parry added: “The DNI report amounted to a compendium of reasons to suspect that Russia was the source of the information — built largely on the argument that Russia had a motive for doing so because of its disdain for Democratic nominee Clinton and the potential for friendlier relations with Republican nominee Trump. But the case, as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof.”
Solomon was right about this at the beginning of January and still is.
The assaults by the Left on the then-approaching Trump presidency constituted a major strategic blunder by his side, he argues.
After getting shellacked in the election “the most cohesive message from congressional Democrats is: blame Russia. The party leaders have doubled down on an approach that got nowhere during the presidential campaign — trying to tie the Kremlin around Donald Trump’s neck.”
Democrats, in his view, are “[s]till more interested in playing to the press gallery than speaking directly to the economic distress of voters in the Rust Belt and elsewhere who handed the presidency to Trump, [and] top Democrats would much rather scapegoat Vladimir Putin than scrutinize how they’ve lost touch with working-class voters.”
Democrat lawmakers are deluding themselves, he argues. “They believe the Russian hacking issue is a political winner. Whether or not that’s true, it’s certainly a convenient way to evade the sobering lessons that should have been learned from the last election about the Democratic Party’s lack of authenticity in its claims to be fighting for the interests of working people.”
It is true that that working-class voters abandoned Democrats in November. This helps to explain Trump’s stunning victory, especially in states like Pennsylvania.
“At the same time,” he writes, “enthusiasm for banging the drum against Putin is fast becoming a big part of the Democratic Party’s public identity in 2017. And — insidiously — that’s apt to give the party a long-term political stake in further demonizing the Russian government.”
Whether the greater threat to the United States actually comes from Russia or the People’s Republic of China is something on which I personally am agnostic, but it seems unwise for a major political party to be putting all its eggs in the Russia-is-the-Great-Satan basket.
Solomon appears to have ulterior motives. He’s a more radical, respectable version of Bernie Sanders.
He visited Moscow eight times in the 1980s when U.S. tensions with the Soviet Union were running high. He also traveled with actor Sean Penn and others to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2002 to spew anti-American propaganda.
In addition to his obvious Russophilia, Discover the Networks suggests he’s a small-c communist.
Solomon’s ideological mentor was the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), whose major contribution to Marxist thinking was the idea that radicals should seek “cultural hegemony” by capturing “the institutions that produced society’s governing ideas.” In that tradition, Solomon has devoted himself to radicalizing society by shaping and controlling the media through which people acquire ideas and information.
Solomon is executive director of the far-left Institute for Public Accuracy which describes itself as “a national consortium of independent public-policy researchers, analysts and activists, … [that] widens media exposure for progressive perspectives on many issues including the environment, human rights, foreign policy, and economic justice.”
He is also co-founder of the online activist group RootsAction, which claims to have 750,000 members.
Since Inauguration Day, RootsAction has been calling for Trump to be impeached “for violating the U.S. Constitution.” It also supports Colin Kaepernick’s “brave stance for racial justice,” taxing carbon dioxide emissions, banning weaponized drones and cluster bombs, abolishing the Electoral College, freeing Bradley/Chelsea Manning and Leonard Peltier, and pardoning Edward Snowden. It urged President Obama “to formally exonerate Ethel Rosenberg” before leaving office. It wants the British to “impeach and prosecute” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for being “a key accomplice in the launching of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.”
The group describes itself as “an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.”
So at least we know where Solomon’s coming from.