Crisis in American expertise: Washington has a dangerous & destructive pattern of willful ignorance on Russia in post-Soviet era

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      Passionate Progressive
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      The list of the accused is endless and (no surprise) includes members of both political parties.  Starting with Bernie Sanders………..

      Those who aspire to, or attain, the most powerful executive position in the United States have shown a disturbingly willful ignorance of Russia. I learned from a former State Department official that, in response to a renowned Russia expert attempting to brief presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in 2016, the self-described democratic socialist “showed little interest or knowledge about US-Russia relations and the attendant dangers of a new cold war.”

      Instead, Sanders was ultimately content to mimic the juvenile and Manichean “democracies versus authoritarians” model of international relations………….

      And this about Obama

      According to investigative journalist Gareth Porter, advisers to Obama were so utterly incompetent that those serving in the administration really didn’t think Russia had the ability or inclination to counter Washington’s provocative actions in Syria, and therefore they did not plan for that possibility. This incompetence was also highlighted by Obama’s public comments to the Economist in 2014, in which he claimed that Russia didn’t make anything, immigrants didn’t go there, and male life expectancy was 60 years – three claims that anyone with actual expertise on Russia should have easily known were false.

      In fact, at that point, Russia was the second most popular migration destination in the world, after America itself, while average lifespans have been converging with those of the US over the past decade. As for manufacturing, Obama said these words at a time when the US, for instance, was totally reliant on Russian rockets for access to space, having retired its own unreliable Space Shuttle fleet. If he had access to a competent adviser on the subject, would he have made these mistakes?

      But it’s not just in politics – I find the same willful ignorance from two academic specialists – one from Georgetown (Angela Stent) and the other from Columbia (Timothy Frye) – both of whom are the supposed preeminent US Russian scholars –  who repeated the same tropes about Russian 2016 election interference (+) and made egregious sins of omission.

       

      Link to article is here. 

      The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.....Martin Luther King '63

      It takes all the technical proficiency our system can provide to make up for the woeful lack of popular support and political savvy of most of the regimes that the West has thus far sought to prop up.........Bernard Fall

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