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Late-Night Thoughts On Republicans And Russia

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Simple J. Malarkey, Walt Kelly’s caricature of Joseph McCarthy

One of the demands of the Obstructionist Bloc of the Republican Party is to end aid to Ukraine. I’ve been thinking all too much lately about the development of American foreign and military policies after World War II, even talked a bit about them in our latest podcast. In the podcast, I said it’s not so much the Republican Party that has changed as has Russia. So a quick comparison.

Senator Joseph McCarthy was the famous red-baiter of the 1950s who was eventually defeated. He never had the Republican Party fully behind him, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower allowed him more rein than was perhaps wise, but never fully backed him.

McCarthy was not entirely wrong. Alger Hiss was indeed working with the Soviets, and there were a number of spies in the Manhattan Project. That number being much less than ten. Hiss was in the State Department and perhaps influenced policy toward the Soviet Union and a more “socialistic” domestic policy, although I don’t recall any major swings.

Klaus Fuchs was a member of the British delegation to the Manhattan Project. David Greenglass was a home-grown Soviet sympathizer, in a family of Soviet sympathizers. Theodore Hall also shared nuclear secrets with the Soviets. All three, mostly Fuchs, gave information on nuclear weapons to the Soviets. Two or three others who played minor roles.

Russia has attacked Ukraine in an imperialist frenzy whose enmity includes NATO and the EU, with Ukraine being the easiest target. From Russian rhetoric, it’s not clear where they would stop if they are successful (whatever that means to them) in Ukraine. Between five and twenty Republican House members believe that Ukraine should lose this fight. The coming days will show how willing the rest of the Republican caucus in the House are to back them.

Republicans have switched their view of Russia from that of the Soviet Union because of social factors. Those factors mean different things to the different parties – for example, Christian unity means the Russian Orthodox Church versus the charismatic and authoritarian Evangelical movement. But there is a fit in the desire to return to a fictional past of white male authority and stability that brings Republicans and Russia together.

Those arguing to end aid to Ukraine also voted against certifying the election of 2020 and back the January 6 insurrection. Seems more dangerous than anything Alger Hiss was doing.

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