Chelsea Manning’s senatorial bid offers a contrast to the Russian fear-mongering of incumbent candidate Ben Cardin, says Norman Solomon.
By Norman Solomon
The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin [Md.], has become a big star in national media by routinely denouncing Russia as a dire threat to American democracy. The senior senator from Maryland personifies the highly dangerous opportunism that has set in among leading Democrats on the subject of Russia.
Chelsea Manning confirmed on Sunday that she is challenging Senator Cardin’s re-election effort in the Democratic primary this June. Her campaign has real potential to raise key issues. One of them revolves around the kind of bellicose rhetoric that heightens the dangers of conflict between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.
In a typical foray into reckless hyperbole, Cardin told a public forum in November: “When you use cyber in an affirmative way to compromise our democratic, free election system, that’s an attack against America. It’s an act of war. It is an act of war.”
Cardin is far from the only member of Congress to use “act of war” rhetoric about alleged Russian cyber actions. Republican ultra-hawk Arizona Senator John McCain has hurled the phrase at Russia. But the most use of the phrase comes from a range of Democrats, such as Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and the normally sensible Northern California Representative Jackie Speier.
As his party’s ranking member of the key Senate committee on foreign policy, Cardin is at the tip of the anti-Russia propaganda spear. After three decades in Congress including nearly a dozen years in the Senate, he’s an old hand at spinning. No one has worked harder to get political mileage out of “Russiagate.”
A Distorted Report
Last week, Cardin upped the ante with the release of a report that he commissioned. In effect, it’s a declaration of red-white-and-blue jihad against Russia.
The report — which accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of “a relentless assault to undermine democracy and the rule…