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Russiagate conspiracy theory is dead, but will US-Russia relations ever recover?

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013.
Russiagate conspiracy theory is dead, but will US-Russia relations ever recover?
With the final leg of the Russian collusion story removed, many Americans will still find it hard to accept Russia’s innocence. Although the media is largely to blame, anti-Russia prejudices play a large role in this perception.

The shot that should have been heard around the world on July 1 was quickly silenced lest the ‘awful truth’ about Russia ever see the light of day. Indeed, the fact that the US media failed to report on what should have been the Russian story of the month tells us everything we need to know about their intentions.

The muffled shot not heard around the world was nothing less than a US court ruling that laid to rest the story of a “Kremlin-connected troll farm” that was allegedly engaged in conducting information warfare against US voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election. As many people have been guessing for a long time, the entire story turned out to be a complete fabrication, a wild conspiracy theory. There was never a shred of evidence – despite countless stories in the liberal media proclaiming otherwise – that the Russian government sought to disrupt the US political system.

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The court ruling is disastrous for the anti-Russia conspiracy theorists – many of whom are card-carrying members of the Democratic Party – who for three years desperately believed that Vladimir Putin was responsible for getting Donald Trump into the White House. After all, how else could such an adorable candidate like Hillary Rodham Clinton fail to win over the hearts and minds of voters (yes that was sarcasm)? 

But that doesn’t mean the Republicans and the Russians should start popping the champagne. Just because a federal judge has ruled against Mueller’s central claim of Russian interference doesn’t mean the Russophobes will pack up their traveling circus and go home. Nothing of the sort. If anything they will dig in their heels as they shriek, ‘the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!’

It’s not just the Russians, however, who will continue to get a pounding. The grand inquisitor himself, Robert S. Mueller, the media’s erstwhile superhero, is scheduled to testify before Congress on July 17 after Democrats slapped him with a subpoena. What they will want to know, of course, is how his 22-month investigation, which entailed thousands of subpoenas and hundreds of warrants and witnesses, failed to turn up the dirt on Moscow? In other words, once again the Democrats are being sore losers.

This brings us to the big question: ‘why Russia?’ How is it possible that this faraway country has once again been accused of the most loathsome crime, and without so much as a shred of evidence? On the one hand, it is tempting to blame the situation on simple political expediency. After all, the Democrats needed to explain a lot of things in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, and not just how it was possible that Clinton lost the biggest fight of her life to a Manhattan real estate developer. Russia, the one-size-fits-all bogeyman lurking under every bed, was supposed to have saved the day for the Democrats. It’s not hard to explain why.

From Hollywood movies to the mainstream media, Russia has been typecast for many decades as the evil villain behind practically every evil act on the global stage of late. Whether it is the downing of a commercial airliner, or protests against racism on an American college campus, Western leaders and their media immediately scream in one voice ‘Russia!’ Although many intelligent people are starting to see through the charade, there are others who cannot, and that could become very problematic.

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At this point, there is a temptation to go one step further and say that Russia is the victim of what can best be described as pure, unadulterated racism. In other words, hate. In this day and age of ubiquitous political correctness, it might be expected that more people would curb their anti-Russian enthusiasm and wait for the impartial facts to emerge. Instead, Russophobia seems to have taken on a brand new life, as more and more people – many of them journalists who should know better – are happy to shoot first and ask questions later. The Russiagate conspiracy theory certainly did not help matters.

While there is always a certain risk involved in citing opinion polls (after all, the majority of television polls predicted that Hillary Clinton would win by an avalanche over Trump in 2016), it does seem that the fallout over Russiagate – complete with sanctions and scandals flaring in the background – has had a negative effect on the way Americans and Russians perceive each other.

In a February opinion poll put out by Gallup, Americans are now more likely to name Russia, followed by China and North Korea, as the nation they believe is their greatest enemy. Mentions of Russia jumped from 19 percent in 2018 to 32 percent today.

However, the Gallup poll came out months before the news ‘broke’ that Russia had been vindicated of tampering with America’s democratic system. In other words, there is every reason to be optimistic about the future of US-Russia relations, which at this historically low point can only get better.

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As the dust of the Russiagate scandal eventually settles, it is hoped that the American people will have learned a lesson from this unfortunate event. After all, people from all nations deserve a fair and impartial hearing without prejudice or bias.To deny Russia such treatment not only reeks of double standards and hypocrisy, it risks bringing bilateral relations to the precipice of disaster.

@Robert_Bridge

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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