This editorial appeared in the Miami Herald on Friday:
Let’s just be perfectly clear with whom we’re getting in bed.
While the CIA has concluded that hackers, acting as agents of the Russian government, meddled in the U.S. election process on Donald Trump’s behalf, this week, civilians in Aleppo, Syria, were summarily executed by pro-Assad forces. Men, women, children massacred by the government in Bashar Assad’s relentless push to recapture the only major city not in government hands.
He killed his people as they fled the enemies’ crossfire and shelling. They were executed in house-to-house searches. The attacks were so atrocious the United Nations declared them a “complete meltdown of humanity.”
These attacks, whether by computer or by bullet, are not unrelated.
It’s likely that neither would have come to pass but for the not-so-invisible hand of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, a staunch Assad ally whose popularity among Republicans in the United States, at least, is on the rise.
Talk about “normalization” of the once unimaginable. But white supremacy and religious registries all are out in the open and treated by some as simply the way the world should be. Why not Russia and its leader as our new BFF?
Why not? Because it marks the erosion of our nation’s sovereignty. It signals the willful acceptance of an enemy’s intrusion into our constitutional processes, our very way of life.
A recently released YouGov/Economist poll revealed that, among Republicans, Putin’s favorability rating has climbed 56 percentage points since July 2014, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Among those polled, 37 percent hold either a very or somewhat favorable view of the Russian leader, while 47 percent have a very or somewhat unfavorable view of him. He’s still in the negative, at minus-10 but the results represent a dramatic increase from when they stood at minus-66 two and a half years ago.
Clearly, many Republicans are following President-elect Trump’s lead. Mr. Trump, who praised the strongman to diss President Obama; who has business deals interwoven with Russia; who owes his very victory, in part, to Mr. Putin’s need for a compliant America.
Obama, too, bears responsibility for the ongoing Syrian disaster. His administration never backed up tough talk and vows of support for Syrian dissidents with strong, committed action to protect them or civilians caught in the crossfire.
Yes, he stood with the Syrian people, but from afar, in effect, giving Putin the go-ahead to, basically, do what he wanted. His response, too, to Russia’s hacking has been tepid.
So far, Putin is winning, in Crimea, Syria and, appallingly, here on the U.S. homefront. In excoriating Syria, Russia — and Iran — for the slaughter, Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, asked, in outrage, “Are you truly incapable of shame?” It’s a question many Americans should ask themselves.