Donald J. Trump and his supporters advance a conspiracy theory holding that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in our 2016 elections.
Daniel Coats, the former director of National Intelligence, is on record stating there is no doubt Russia interfered in our elections. Moscow did so, according to Coats, comprehensively and in unprecedented ways. Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s top Russia expert until summer 2019, was equally clear when she testified before Congress in November. Said Hill:
Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.
You would think it would be difficult to dismiss Hill and Coats as partisan, “deep state” operatives. Both were appointed by President Trump. Coats, a GOP loyalist, served as United States Senator from Indiana from 1989 to 1999, and again from 2011 to 2017. Before that, he was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1989. In the Senate he sat on the Select Committee on Intelligence. After 9/11, he served as George W. Bush’s Ambassador to Germany.
In the impeachment process, partisan politics define almost everything.
Still. We simply cannot allow blatant disregard for truth. It destroys clear-sightedness. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is an American problem. Ukraine—whatever its flaws—is not. Ukraine has always represented a strategic opportunity to help to contain malign Kremlin influence. Vladimir Putin has a vision of more Russia and less America in Europe, and elsewhere. Other and even more formidable adversarial forces advance their hostile visions, too.
In our next print issue, coming in mid-December, we commend to you articles on China by Charles Edel, Nils Gilman, and TAI contributing editor Andrew Michta. Together these pieces add to the puzzle we need to assemble of the world’s most influential authoritarian power. China is a complex, multi-faceted challenge.
The rise of new authoritarianism raises important questions for us about democracy. Susan Glasser and David Kramer speak in the current issue with Carl Gershman, Richard Fontaine, and Daniel Twining about the future of democracy promotion. We are aware that this collocation has become problematic, to say the least. Iraq knocked the stuffing out of the idea of democracy promotion. We need self-criticism and introspection. But if overreach was a problem in the past, let us not dupe ourselves into thinking that turning away from allies and abandoning our principles—the best of American tradition—will be the remedy. Narrowly defined “America First” nationalism is selfish and short-sighted. It will reveal itself in time as utterly ineffective.
We have our own issues with democracy at home. On tackling the persisting roots of racism, read Stanford law professor and TAI contributing editor Richard Thompson Ford. On getting African American heroes right, have a look at Carolyn Stewart on the new Harriet Tubman film. Problems of history, identity, and cohesion are not America’s alone. TAI contributing editor Ben Judah reviews a new biography of Israel’s founder David Ben-Gurion. Thompson Ford, Stewart, and Judah remind us that democracy is a never-ending quest.
As we speak we are unable to imagine the next twists and turns in the impeachment process, yet we feel obligated to weigh in.
The constitution is given to some ambiguity, but it is clear that high crimes and misdemeanors are not limited to actual crimes. In our view, President Trump’s attempt to trade state assets for personal and political gain is the abuse and violation of public trust envisioned by the Framers as grounds for impeachment. Impeached or not, for a growing list of reasons Donald J. Trump has shown himself unfit for office.
Look to The American Interest to help articulate what new leadership in 2020 must look like. We care deeply about the roots of Trumpism. Elected leaders and elites must listen and learn, so that gaps are bridged and trust in representative democracy is restored. We must contemplate institutional reform. For this, we need expertise, fact-based work, and considered opinion. And we must never lose sight of this: Only a prizing of the common good over sectarian interests will enable us to stave off conspiracy theories and the upending pathologies that threaten to pull America apart.
Jeffrey Gedmin, Editor-in-Chief
Francis Fukuyama, Chairman
Charles Davidson, Publisher