Is Russia trying to take over America ....., I seriously doubt it.
How this will play out in the near future remains to be seen, but this article in Politico Magazine suggests that a 30 year old TV series might not always be purely fiction!
If the election of an American president abetted by Russian interference seems stranger than fiction, you're almost right.
Exactly 30 years ago, in the midst of the Cold War, ABC aired a seven-night, 14-and-a-half-hour miniseries depicting life 10 years after the Soviet Union manipulates the presidential election as meek and deflated Americans shrug.
“Amerika,” was heavily criticized at the time for peddling the histrionic premise of a bloodless coup. And while much of the production remains implausible, its core message is more relevant today than ever:
They did it because we let them.
Hope for a restoration of democracy is personified in Devin Milford, played by Kris Kristofferson. Milford, clearly styled on then-first term Senator John Kerry, is a Vietnam vet-turned antiwar activist-turned Massachusetts congressman.
How was it that the Soviets were able to waltz into America? The specifics of the coup are never spelled out, but various explanations are given as to why Americans were too demoralized to resist. Milford, in archival footage from his doomed presidential campaign, blames the scars from Vietnam, (Or Iraq) which “struck the core of our perception of ourselves as a people.”
Some see common cause with President Vladimir Putin in the war against Islamic militants, shelving concerns about Russia’s imperial ambitions and comfort with genocidal tactics. Much like how the Russians in “Amerika” want the United States of America to dissolve, both Putin and Trump have rhetorically undermined the European Union, and Trump has questioned America’s commitment to Putin’s bête noire, NATO. Weaker global and regional institutions make it easer for individual nations to act with impunity.
Russia isn’t popular with most Americans, but Trump supporters did not flinch when he deflected allegations that Putin’s government murdered journalists by defending him and smearing America: “at least he’s a leader … I think our country does plenty of killing also.”
And those in the “alt-right” movement see Putin as a symbol of white nationalist values. News of how Russia used hacking to manipulate voting behavior has only increased Republican approval of Putin in polls. His net favorable rating among Republicans has jumped from minus-66 to minus-10 in little more than two years, while Barack Obama’s festers at minus-64.
What’s even more disturbing is Trump’s dismissal of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia not only meddled in the election, but actively sought his victory—and then celebrated it. Trump’s reaction has been to mock and misrepresent their findings, while blaming the victims for being hacked.
His aides scoff at the implication that he’s too pro-Putin: “He is going to modernize our nuclear capability, he’s going to call for an increase in defense budget, he’s going to have oil and gas exploration—all which goes against Russia’s economic and military interests,” Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway recently noted.
But these moves are not all that provocative if Trump and Putin have overlapping foreign policy goals. Moreover, Trump himself has had every opportunity to clear up any misconceptions, and he hasn’t done it. American presidents have had warm relationships with Russian leaders in the past—Reagan and Gorby, Clinton and Yeltsin—but this feels different.
Thirty years ago, a bloated, overwrought TV miniseries tried to make that point and missed the mark. We didn’t need to fear the gulag then, and we don’t now. Hysterical prophesizing of totalitarianism can also be counterproductive, making it easier to shrug off quieter erosions of democracy.
But no matter how imperfect, “Amerika” was more prescient than its creators ever could have expected, reminding us that we can only can lose what makes America great if we surrender it ourselves.