“Russia is a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma.”—Winston Churchill.
This just in to the newsroom: Russia is not our friend.
Some truths do indeed turn out to be self-evident, and one of them by now at least should be that just because the rest of the world concluded that the Cold War ended with the collapse of the old Soviet Union, doesn’t mean that all of its warriors stopped fighting.
I, like virtually every other Baby Boomer I know, have spent virtually all my life being suspicious of Russians and what they might be up to, being old enough as I am to remember one of their leaders banging his shoe on a table at the United Nations and telling this country, “We will bury you.”
And considering what all is going on today—what we continue to find out is going on today—I remain what I judge to be justifiably suspicious of Russians and their current leader.
After all, we now know beyond any reasonable doubt that Russians, at the direction of their leader, a former KGB agent-turned political operative named Vladimir Putin, very cleverly attempted to manipulate public opinion, hack into computers and otherwise interfere with and attempt to influence the outcome of this country’s 2016 presidential election.
Just over a month ago, the respective heads of America’s top four intelligence services all testified as to that fact to Congress, effectively serving as an affirmation of what virtually everybody else in the country, with the notable exceptions of President Trump and his most ardent supporters, had pretty well accepted as known fact for the better part of a year.
So, what action has this country taken in reaction to that Russian meddling in our affairs? What has this nation done in reaction to that Putin-orchestrated (nothing takes place in Russia without being either orchestrated or tacitly sanctioned by Putin) assault upon American sovereignty?
Nothing. We have done nothing. And that nothing begs just about the most pregnant of all questions that I can imagine.
In the wake of the discovery of the meddling, Congress almost unanimously voted to authorize a new set of sanctions against Russia to serve as both punishment and deterrent, legislation which empowers the president to impose the economic and diplomatic measures in a manner at his discretion.
The president has not imposed a single one of the new sanctions.
What the Russians did is certainly a criminal act. It could quite possibly even be considered an act of war (though unconventional warfare, to be sure). And yet, we have not retaliated in any way.
Only last week, Admiral Mike Rogers, the Trump-appointed head of the National Security Agency (NSA), told a Senate committee that he was completely confident that since we had done nothing to dissuade them, that the Russians were virtually certain to continue to interfere in the U.S. electoral process, including in the congressional mid-term elections scheduled for later this year.
And so, when the admiral was asked what steps his agency had been directed to take in order to prevent, to head-off such anticipated Russian election interference, he rather awkwardly and sheepishly did what is becoming more and more an anomaly in Washington these days. He told the truth. He said that the commander-in-chief had given him the authority to do absolutely nothing new—nothing beyond what he was doing on his own to combat the new threat from Moscow.
And now Putin has begun to saber rattle, announcing to the world (that’s really an audience of one) in “Dr. Strangelove” fashion that Russia has developed a new balance-of-power-changing class of nuclear missiles that can defeat American defenses and that we in the West should be afraid. Very afraid.
And even in reaction to this provocation, almost unbelievably, the U.S. commander-in-chief has said or done not the first, single thing.
At least as it relates to what’s going on today, Churchill’s mysterious riddle within the enigma will be solved when and if we ever get the answer to that one question so consistently being begged:
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.