As the public is growing impatient with the Russian investigations, it seems that Congressional leaders are eager to jump out of the hearings regarding hacking straight into warmongering.
On Sunday, The Hill reported on the growing number of Democrats that are calling Russia’s actions during the November elections an act of war. As the hearings in both chambers of Congress heat up over Russia’s meddling, the rhetoric from lawmakers has kept pace. Rep. Jackie Speier said, “I actually think that their engagement was an act of war.” Maryland Senator Ben Cardin has even compared the Russian hacking to Pearl Harbor, where 2,403 people died.
Not to be outdone, Republicans are also beating the drums of war at every turn. Former Vice President Dick Cheney called the Russian meddling an act of war and Senator John McCain told a Ukrainian television station that:
“It’s an act of war and so we have to make sure that there is a price to pay.”
Fortunately, there are cooler heads surrounding the issue. The Hill quoted international law professor as saying, “[w]ithout a scintilla of a doubt, it is not an act of war,” instead saying that it violated sovereignty laws and laws against meddling in another state’s affairs. Army chief of staff Mark Milley, was also quoted, telling a conference last Tuesday:
“If it’s an act of war, then you’ve got to start thinking of your response to that sort of thing.”
Of course, Russia needs to be investigated. Their alleged efforts in the election are nothing short of reprehensible. However, we must be careful in how we treat those actions. If we are calling the hacking efforts an act of war, we must be willing to follow through with that. Are we, as a country, willing to put boots on the ground over this issue? Are we going to launch airstrikes against a nuclear superpower because of subversive internet tactics?
Democrats are unwilling to admit that they lost in November. They are continuing to blame everyone but themselves. If they fail to learn from the defeat, that is on them. But to drive us to war over it is ludicrous.
Meanwhile, Republicans have been longing for a super-villain to justify their defense spending increases. The war on terror is not a war that we can outright win with military might and does little to justify an update nuclear arsenal or build more aircraft carriers. Republicans have also seen Americans grow tired of endless spending and conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. An arms race with Russia could be just the ticket to bolster defense contracts.
There is no excuse for Russia’s actions last year and they do need to be held accountable. Similarly, if members of Trump’s transition team worked with a foreign entity to win last November, the punishment needs to be swift and harsh. Russian interference had nothing to do with Democrats losing Senate races, and a hacking scandal is hardly justification for a military build up.