America’s twenty-four hour news cycle has been dominated by news of the Trump Administration and its Russia connection. First of all, Trump does not care that much about democracy. He approaches governing from an authoritarian business perspective. His heart gravitates toward “strong” dictatorial type leaders. I placed “strong” in quotation marks because this administration’s definition of strong leans toward cruel, insensitive, unapologetic, bravado, bluster, and thoughtless action. Since when did thinking about the consequences of ones actions and making moves based on reflective thinking become signs of weakness? Since when did insults and arrogance become signs of strength? Nevertheless, the domination of America’s twenty-four hour news cycle has been nothing more than the tail of two revolutions. One occurred in 1776. The other occurred in 1917. Once dismantled in 1991. The other just celebrated its 241st birthday. Both are veterans of the Cold War.
President Dwight Eisenhower, upon exiting office, gave one of the more famous presidential Farewell Addresses. We remember it mostly because of the warning about the “military industrial complex.” The same day that Eisenhower delivered his address, Patrice Lumumba was assassinated in the Congo. Lumumba essential crime was that he had insulted the Belgians, by demanding equality. Moreover, he irritated American sensibilities by looking to the Soviet Union for assistance during attempts to destabilize the Congo after independence. Lumumba was one of the early casualties of the Cold War.
Africa was one of the Cold War’s most intense and strategic battlefields. Both the Soviet Union and the United States were seeking allies among the newly independent countries of Africa. There was also the issue of apartheid with which to deal. The United States tended to support regimes that were friendly toward former colonizers while the Soviet Union assisted those who rose up in armed opposition to former colonizers. The Soviet Union also provided material support for leaders who simply disagreed with American foreign policy on the continent. One of the weaknesses in the Soviet plank for assisting African nations was the lack of development funds. The Soviet argument was that the Soviets had nothing to do with negative economic aspects of those formerly colonized nations. Therefore, Soviets were absolved of any developmental responsibilities.
Communism became synonymous with the Soviet Union. Many American politicians based careers on the “Red Scare.” Richard Nixon was known as a staunch anti-Communist. Ronald Reagan was a staunch anti-Communist. Both were Republicans. Both became President of the United States. Both opened channels to the Communist world. Nixon visited China. Reagan entertained Gorbachev. The Republican Party, in particular, became notorious for its hawkish anti-Communist stance. Reagan was able to counter anti-Apartheid movements by simply alluding to the narrative that such movements were inspired by Communists. At one point, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was referred to as a Communist. The Republican Party’s anti-Communist/Soviet sentiment carried over to perspectives of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ironically, President Obama encountered stiff resistance from Republicans based on the idea of a “reset” with the Russians. President Obama even admonished a Republican lawmaker saying that “the Cold War is over.”
John le Carre has written some of the most riveting spy novels. His narratives have followed the international Cold War narrative from the height of the Cold War to the collapse of the Soviet Union. None of his novels matches the intrigue of the Russian government intervening in the 2016 American presidential election on behalf of the Republican candidate Donald Trump. We have collusion. We have mysterious deaths. We have money. We have massive amounts of money. There is nothing less on the line than the American system of government. The actions of the Russian government are so brazen that many are left in disbelief. These attacks by the Russian government are nothing less than the political equivalent of 9/11. Yes, Russia is another nation. However, it is not just another nation.
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Dr. Neal is an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, he has had his work published in the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Issues in Higher Education. In 2014 Dr. Neal received the university’s Faculty Appreciation Award, was named Instructor of the Year by the university’s United Student Government, and Professor of the Year by the Student Political Society in the Department of Political Science. In 2015, he published The American Political Narrative which is a succinct yet poignant narrative about the development of the American political system and what is needed to maintain it. In 2016, he will publish a book of poetry entitled “Love Agnostic | from 9/11 to Charleston”