Putinology, for those not up on the latest buzz words, is the use of Putin’s reputation as an international Svengali to tar the Trump administration.  Glenn Greenwald has this to say about this still raging virus in the Democratic Party:

The game that establishment Democrats and their allies are playing is not just tawdry but dangerous. The U.S. political, media, military, and intelligence classes are still full of people seeking confrontation with Russia; included among them are military officials whom Trump has appointed to key positions.

As Stone observed in the 1950s, aggression toward and fearmongering over the Kremlin on the one hand, and smearing domestic critics of that approach as disloyal on the other, are inextricably linked. When one takes root, it’s very difficult to stop the other. And you can only propagate demonization rhetoric about a foreign adversary for so long before triggering, wittingly or otherwise, very dangerous confrontations between the two.

McCarthyism, you must remember, really is what triggered the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  We were fortunate to have an enemy who was not on autopilot (unlike later) and secure enough in his confidence as a leader not to have to posture as aggressive when the need for change appeared.  We dodge that nuclear launch.

Now Trump wants some more toys to play with.  The US and Russia are at nuclear parity by treaty and arms control design (as best as can be figured out).  The next step with the Obama administration after signing New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) in 2010 would have been preparation for another round of arms reductions to be signed before 2021.  Since the split of the Soviet Union, it is the Russians who have been most eager to reduce nuclear arsenals.  That might have led to US leadership in bringing down nuclear arsenals altogether had Republicans not been out chest-beating President Obama and putting him politically on the defensive.  In four years, the entire US-Russia arms control framework might unwind and put us back in the dangerous times of the Cold War when arsenals and technologies were in a very rapid arms race.

President Trump is hinting in that direction with his unfounded assertion that the US is losing the nuclear arms race.  If the US sponsors a breakout, the Democrats will be “me too” because of their investment in demonizing Putin.

And then, we will once again be concerned about both the US and Russian command-and-control communications systems (and likely those of China, India, Pakistan, UK, France, North Korea and Israel as well).  And about other breakout nations restarting their own programs.

There was a lot of thought put into arms control technical aspects over the past 70 years, but most was confined to the days of analog communication, not the digital switching of the internet and not with the cyberwarfare and analog communications warfare capabilities now available beyond the arsenals of the superpowers (now the more co-equal great powers).

The US is still the most expensive military in the world, is still formidable, but Americans and US politicians should be more aware of its limits and the many boondoggles that all that national debt has paid for.

Banging the patriotic drum for domestic political advantage can lead us in the direction of not a second Cold War but a nuclear-armed World War I.

War has become normal in the last 15 years in a way that Vietnam never did.  There is now the illusion that we can go on with $600 billion, $800 billion in military expenditures a year without raising taxes and without ever paying the piper.  And as austerity continues to sap our economy, continue poor wage performance, and make people ever more testy, the impetus and hatred to strike out and end it quickly will increase as it did during the recession at the end of the 1950s.  And Trump’s America will go spoiling for a fight.  Given the box the demonization of Putin is painting Democrats into, they might cheer aggression of taunt Trump as not being tough enough on the Russkies.  Without a diplomatic channel that can winnow out noise and chance events and stuff that is not actually policy or respond to disruptions like the assassination of the Archduke, events can richochet off each other into a crisis.  Will cooler heads prevail?

If the raps on Putin and Trump are correct, this will be highly unlikely.

Resistance must look carefully at how relations outside the US proceed.  So must some unified front of Democrats and any sane Republicans left.

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