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America’s political discourse about Russia has spun out.

The spectacle was dramatic on the Senate floor a few days ago when John McCain flatly declared that fellow Republican Rand Paul “is now working for Vladimir Putin.” Why? Because the two senators disagreed on further expansion of NATO.

Such invective is poisonous. And leaders of both major parties are part of the problem. The new chair of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, tweeted about a recent weekly address by President Trump: “Translated from the original Russian and everything.”

Policies and actions should be debated on the merits, not with smears. We need fact-based assessments.

So much is at stake in U.S.-Russian relations, including the potential for nuclear annihilation.

Perhaps the most insightful article published on this subject in recent weeks was written by journalist Masha Gessen. She’s renowned as a courageous activist for LGBT rights in Russia and a longtime opponent of President Putin. Her recent article “Russia: The Conspiracy Trap”, published by the New York Review of Books, should be widely read.

Please take a minute to share this vital article with your senators and representative.

Here’s a sampling of what Gessen had to say:

* “The backbone of the rapidly yet endlessly developing Trump-­Putin story is leaks from intelligence agencies, and this is its most troublesome aspect. Virtually none of the information can be independently corroborated. The context, sequence, and timing of the leaks is determined by people unknown to the public, which is expected to accept anonymous stories on faith; nor have we yet been given any hard evidence of active collusion by Trump officials.”

* “What is indisputable is that the protracted national game of connecting the Trump-­Putin dots is an exercise in conspiracy thinking. That does not mean there was no conspiracy. And yet, a possible conspiracy is a poor excuse for conspiracy thinking.”

* “If a causal relationship between Russian interference and Trump’s 70,000-­vote, three­-county edge exists, the likelihood that such a relationship can be proved is vanishingly small. Failing that, what might an investigation find? Undoubtedly, it can find that Trump’s associates lied about their contacts with Russian officials -- as they lie, habitually, about a great many things.”

* “What makes the Russia lies worse than any other? The answer is intuitive: Republicans in the House and Senate cannot be compelled to call out the Trump administration’s other lies -- even when they break the law. And they will do everything in their power to avoid having to, since, as terrible as Trump is, his administration is the best chance in years to push through some of their most far-reaching policy goals, from dismantling health care to lowering taxes and reversing banking reforms.”

* “[S]uch is the nature of conspiracy thinking that facts can do nothing to change it. Imagine if the same kind of attention could be trained and sustained on other issues -- like it has been on the Muslim travel ban. It would not get rid of Trump, but it might mitigate the damage he is causing. Trump is doing nothing less than destroying American democratic institutions and principles by turning the presidency into a profit-­making machine for his family, by poisoning political culture with hateful, mendacious, and subliterate rhetoric, by undermining the public sphere with attacks on the press and protesters, and by beginning the real work of dismantling every part of the federal government that exists for any purpose other than waging war. Russiagate is helping him -- both by distracting from real, documentable, and documented issues, and by promoting a xenophobic conspiracy theory in the cause of removing a xenophobic conspiracy theorist from office.”

Meanwhile, the escalation of hostility toward Russia could lead to unfathomable disaster. With the dangers of military confrontation very real -- and with several thousand nuclear weapons pointed in both directions across the U.S.-Russian divide -- it's crucial to take a fresh look at what is at stake.

We ask you to do three things with Masha Gessen’s article “Russia: The Conspiracy Trap”:

---  Read it in full by clicking here.

---  Share the article with people you know via Facebook and via Twitter and other ways.

---  Click here to email your senators and representative in Congress, urging them to read the article and asking them to get back to you with their thoughts about it.

Thank you!
The RootsAction.org Team



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