Will Russia's Role in U.S. Election Provoke or Avert New Cold War?

Posted Nov. 9, 2016

MP3 Interview with Robert Parry, author and editor of ConsortiumNews.com, conducted by Scott Harris


[Editor's note: This interview was recorded and produced prior to Election Day.] As the U.S. presidential campaign counted down the final week before Election Day, accusations that Russia was engaged in an effort to manipulate the election results in favor of Donald Trump competed for attention with an 11th hour vaguely worded letter issued by FBI Director James Comey. The letter addressed to Congress stated that investigators would be searching newly found emails linked with Hillary Clinton's aide Huma Abedin found on the laptop computer of her estranged husband, former Congressman Anthony Wiener. A subsequent letter from Comey stated the emails reviewed did not impugn Clinton in any wrongdoing.

Just four days before the election, Newsweek magazine published an investigative piece titled, “Why Vladimir Putin’s Russia Is Backing Donald Trump.” The article, written by Kurt Eichenwald, went beyond the long running charges that Moscow hacked DNC and Clinton campaign emails funneling them to WikiLeaks, laying out a broader plot involving thousands of Russian hackers targeting the U.S. government, NGOs and think tanks, as well as contacts between Trump staffers and Russian officials – and the Trump campaign circulating Kremlin “disinformation.” The article concluded that the Kremlin campaign was motivated not so much to support Trump as it was to hurt Hillary Clinton.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with investigative journalist, author and editor of ConsortiumNews.com Robert Parry, who examines the role Russia has played in the 2016 U.S. election campaign – and the concern by many that Hillary Clinton, if elected president, would ratchet up tensions with Vladimir Putin and Russia, triggering a dangerous, new Cold War.

ROBERT PARRY: Once a foreign leader has been turned into some kind of monster by the mainstream American press and by the U.S. government and in different, various entities, that person is no longer someone who you can discuss in a rational way. We saw this of course in 2003, regarding Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The demonization of Saddam Hussein was so over the top that those of us who were questioning the merits of the U.S. government's assertions about his hiding WMDs and his plans to use it against the American public, we were basically called Saddam apologists. We were discredited.

So we've seen the problems you get from demonizing foreign leaders. We're now in the midst of not just demonizing someone like Saddam Hussein and think of all the horrible consequences that have come from the Iraq War, but now we're seeing the demonization of the president of Russia. And Russia still has the largest nuclear arsenal. And we could be talking about the end of life of the planet as we sort of goofily along and make fun of Putin for not wearing a shirt while riding a horse, or the different things that we've done to sort of make him into a laughing stock and some kind of evil force. There's needs to be some restraint here. There needs to be some rationality. It doesn't mean that Saddam Hussein or Vladimir Putin are nice guys; they're not.

But we have to keep it within the realm of reality. And if we end up with these efforts to create these monsters that we can then no longer talk about in ways that are within the bounds of reality, we not only are unfair to those countries involved, but we are unfair to ourselves – to the American public – we can get ourselves into wars because we get so excited and angry and just almost delusional about some of these people and the dangers they supposedly represent.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Robert, what kind of concerns do you have that the ratcheting up of tensions with Russia that we've over this past campaign election year that includes U.S. and Russian pilots "playing chicken" with fighter aircraft. We've seen the deployment of new weapons to Russia's western frontier, a new round of war games by NATO on Russia's border. We've also seen a plan go forward in the United States where a trillion dollars is going to be dedicated to modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons systems. All this adds up to a possible arms race and a brand new Cold War.

ROBERT PARRY: Well, that's what the American people should be focused on, I think. Whatever happens in the election on Nov. 8, if you're going to be spending all this money on the military industrial complex, if you're going to be spending this money wars overseas, that money's not going to be available for domestic infrastructure or for healthcare or for education or for dealing with environmental concerns. I'm not even sure if anyone's actually explained why we should be so concerned about Russia at this point, even if they say, well, you know that situation in Ukraine, although the U.S. has a certain share of that responsibility, by the way, for provoking that crisis in 2014. But still, why should the United States start going into a nuclear war footing over which group of corrupt politicians gets to rule Ukraine? And we're getting ourselves into a very dangerous situation, where at minimal, we end up in conflicts that cost a huge amount of money and cause even more death and destruction as we saw with Iraq.

But we are also playing games with the possibility of getting into a nuclear confrontation with Russia.

BETWEEN THE LINES:Robert, if indeed, after the election tensions continue to escalate between the United States and Russia, there are millions of citizens in the United States that don't want to see a reignited Cold War with Russia. And I think for many of the Cold War years, many citizens felt helpless to stop that Cold War. But now, if it's going to begin again, what's the most effective thing people can do in this country to avert a new Cold War?

ROBERT PARRY: Well, I'm not exactly optimistic about that situation because official Washington is really controlled by people who want this Cold War to go on and become bigger. Lots of money is at stake. Trillions of dollars are at stake. So it's always an uphill battle in that case.

There's going to have to be someone, maybe someone like Tulsi Gabbard, a very brave Congresswoman, former veteran of the Iraq War, from Hawaii. Someone like that will have to step forward and put their career on the line to challenge this war madness that we're starting to get into again. That seems to be the only reasonable route to put some brakes on this.

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