Tuesday, August 15, 2017

American Far Right Becoming ‘Putin’s Infantry’ in US, Moscow Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 15 – Americans on the rightwing portion of the political spectrum increasingly view Vladimir Putin as their ally rather than their enemy, Aleksey Naumov says; and consequently, they constitute “Putin’s infantry” in the US and by voting may force the Republican Party to follow their lead.

            In a commentary today for Lenta.ru, the Moscow commentator points to polls showing more Americans have a positive image of Putin now than three years ago and to statements by far right political and social figures supporting and to an American analysis of how the end of the Cold War transformed the right’s view of Russia (lenta.ru/articles/2017/08/15/putins_infantry/).

                During the Cold War, the Republican Party and the right side of the American political system were consistently anti-Moscow, Naumov observes, but the end of the Cold War revealed that this opposition fundamental differences among three groups of what many had assumed would be a permanent position.

                The Moscow commentator repeats with full approval the arguments of Peter Beinart, a New York academic, as presented in the latter’s recent Atlantic article “Why Trump’s Republican Party Is Embracing Russia” (theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/the-conservative-split-on-russia/510317/).

                According to the City University of New York scholar, there were three groups of Americans on the right during the Cold War united then in opposition to the Soviet Union but very much divided now on whether to oppose Putin’s Russia. Indeed, some of them have become active supporters of Putin even against their own government.

            Indeed, many of them now celebrate what the Kremlin leader is doing supposedly in defense of “the white race,” religion and traditional ways of life and oppose their own government’s opposition to him.

            According to Beinart as summarized by Naumov, there were three groups on the American right who joined together to oppose the Soviet Union. First were “the civilizational conservatives” who “saw the conflict of Moscow and Washington as a battle of an atheistic state against a Judeo-Christian one.”

            Then, there were “the ideological conservatives” who opposed the Soviets because “in their opinion, the US was a citadel of freedom” that was locked in a battle with “the totalitarian prison of the USSR.” And the third were “the realists” who “understood that he cold war was inevitable as a result of the unprecedented power and ambitions of the two states.”

            “After the destruction of the USSR and the growing role of religion in Russia,” Naumov continues, “the civilizational conservatives came to understand that Moscow and Washington were on the same side of the barricades: two Christian civilizations standing in opposition to globalization and radical Islam.”

            Up to now, the Moscow commentator continues, “the majority of Republic legislators” in the Congress “still view the world through the prism of ideology: from their point of view, Russia is encroaching on American power and its world order and that there cannot be any talk of dialogue with it.”

            But “it is not to be excluded,” Naumov says, “that sooner or later the civilizational approach will become dominant in the Republican Party and that the Putin infantry will help make this happen.”

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