Can be described as bold critic who is ready to challenge John McCain, the veteran among us senators, but if the debate is about military matters or about the defense, the guts will need double the amount. John McCain — hero of the Vietnam war, he has behind him decades of work in the Senate Committee on armed forces, and if you challenge him, you definitely do so at your own risk. As a traditional Republican-type, he is the most fearless critic of Donald trump in Washington.
However, despite all the respect for his professional and personal qualities, the last time his actions cause some doubt. His statement during a visit to Australia that he believes Vladimir Putin is more dangerous than the “Islamic state”, caused outrage among experts and in social networks. Many believe his argument is absurd. How can you say that Putin or any other politician, is a bigger threat than a wild teoreticheski minded militants rampaging across the middle East and chop off the heads of all those who stands in their way?
But maybe he’s right? Or maybe something right? Much, of course, depends on the context of who or what is in danger. As far as we know, we are talking about Western civilization — the intended target for attacks by the Islamic state — or about something else? In fact, this statement McCain has been updated twice. The first time he talked about global security and the second about the Western democracy in light of how Donald trump won — or not won — in the presidential election.
So it turns out that I do not agree with McCain in terms of his views on Russia’s democracy, and how pernicious are Putin’s intentions in relation to democracies in other places. Putin’s Russia has nothing in common even with the last years of decrepit Soviet Union from the point of view that citizens are free to say and do. Travel and the Internet has opened up Russia to the world to such an extent that now it will be difficult to reverse this process — even if you think that Putin is going to do it (I don’t think so).
And if Putin is not the great enemy of democracy at home, then why should he try to undermine it abroad — even if to imagine that he could do? Despite the loud accusations in Washington, cited evidence that Russia tried to manipulate elections in other countries are based largely on assumptions and fears than on the facts. On the other hand, if the conspiracy existed, the purpose of which was to ensure the arrival of trump power, then McCain’s right — in this case, the rigging of elections in the most powerful democracy in the world, in fact, would represent a much greater danger than Islamic state.
McCain is on much more secure ground when it comes to global security. Here the superiority of Russia over the “Islamic state”, of course, undeniable. Although its armed forces are still not fully meet modern requirements, Russia, however, is a nuclear power, and its military is able to act at a considerable distance from its territory. Its capabilities are incomparable to what has “Islamic state”. Even if you focus on special risks asymmetric wars, the duel between the Russian armed forces and the Islamic state, Russia will win. Even in its weakened post-Soviet Russia, most likely, will win in a duel against any enemy, except, perhaps, the United States and China.
So why so much noise about McCain’s statements that Russia is a greater threat than the “Islamic state”? This outrage, in my opinion, has little to do with any friendly feelings towards Russia — although some people may reject the wording of McCain during the cold war (as I do). To a much greater extent it reflects the exaggeration of the “Islamic state” in our Western heads. A combination of techniques from the field of public relations of the XXI century with the barbaric methods of the past have given this “brand” frightening value that far exceeds what exists in reality. Even if the “Islamic state” has reached its tentacles to Libya and is looking now to the South, even if his agents occasionally are able to overcome the defense of the Western cities and make a bloody operation, is the territory that is under its control, continues to decline.
Iraqi armed forces supported by the United States may face difficulties trying to re-establish its control over Mosul, however, the active propagation of the “Islamic state” in the middle East has stalled — thanks, in part, to the joint efforts of Western countries and Russia, and, partly, the cruelty with which ISIL enforces its power.
It should be obvious that Russia is an infinitely greater potential threat than “Islamic state” — or it could represent a threat to you, if you were her enemy and she would be ready to fight. But we are dealing with Russia, which, for the most part, not going to fight, and touting itself the “Islamic state”, which, of course, wants to fight, and such a combination distorts our perception about the relative threats. McCain was wrong, attributing Russia certainly pernicious goal, but he was absolutely right, trying to determine the proportionality of the “Islamic state”.