But it is worth taking a moment to absorb the implications of Flynn’s resignation. For much of the 20th century, the left was relentlessly smeared for supposedly being in league with Moscow, thus posing a threat to national security. Even leftists who passionately opposed the Soviet regime were portrayed as being the accomplices of Moscow. Now the national security adviser of a hard-right Republican president has resigned for actually being in league with Moscow. Flynn not only discussed lifting sanctions on Moscow – he lied about it.
The west’s ascendant populist right portrays its opponents as traitors, all while aligning itself with Moscow’s authoritarian regime. Trump has long bragged about having “a relationship” with Vladimir Putin, praising the Russian despot’s murderous war in Syria as “wonderful”. France’s Front National gets soft loans from a Russian bank close to Putin, backed Russia’s annexation of Crimea, praised his regime, and demanded the banning of dual citizenship – with the notable exception of Russian passport holders. When Italy’s government lost its constitutional referendum last year, populist right leader Matteo Salvini tweeted, “Viva Trump, viva Putin”. Shortly after being defeated in the country’s presidential election, the far-right Austrian Freedom party signed a cooperation agreement with Putin’s party. Britain’s own Ukip is besotted with Putin: its short-lived leader Diane James named Putin as one of her three political heroes, while Farage described Putin as the political leader he most admired.
The populist right regards Putin’s regime as a model to replicate, as an inspiration in its quest to build authoritarian, racist regimes across the west. Trumpism and Putinism have striking resemblances. The Flynn scandal should come as no surprise. There is a slogan that used to be chanted at protests: neither Washington nor Moscow. It should be dusted off for a new generation.
Author: Owen Jones