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The Republican Party is committed to tearing America apart by pitting us against each other. Why would they do this?

Here’s a clue: 63 Republicans voted this week against a resolution in support of NATO.

Yes, they voted for Putin’s side of the war. Seriously. Although it’s been largely ignored by American TV media, you can read all about it over at The Washington Post in an article by Aaron Blake titled: Why 30 percent of the House GOP voted against reaffirming NATO support.”

Their unflinching support of Putin comes shortly after Koch Industries announced they would be joining Halliburton and Cargill among the handful of American companies staying in Russia.

It’s easy to understand a privately held company that’s not accountable to public shareholders choosing to defy the Biden administration and world opinion by staying in Russia to squeeze out more profits.

It’s also arguably unsurprising that Koch subsidiaries would stay in Russia, given that the family’s patriarch, Fred Koch, made his initial fortune helping build out Stalin’s oil infrastructure back in the day.

What is surprising, though, is that 63 Republican members of Congress would vote this week against a resolution in support of NATO. Which raises the question that America media seems to be ignoring: Why?

Why would 63 Republican members of Congress seemingly join with Koch and Halliburton in refusing to go along with censuring Russia?

Is it possible they share a fondness for Putin’s authoritarianism, white ethno-nationalism, contempt for one-person-one-vote democracy, hatred of LGBTQ people, and contempt for both science and the rule of law?

Or were these Republicans just moving their feet when their morbidly rich paymasters yelled, “Dance!”?

Or both?

That Republican vote against NATO comes just a few days after a Koch-affiliated nonprofit sent out a memo filled with what some would describe as pro-Putin talking points on the war.

Judd Legum broke the story yesterday at his Popular Information site, noting the memo advised its readers that “overly-broad sanctions rarely work as intended and often strengthen the authoritarian regimes.” Its authors add, according to Legum, that it’s important for Russia to achieve a partial “victory” in their war of aggression.

It’s been 43 days since Putin declared war on an independent democratic republic that represented no military threat to Russia whatsoever.

Ukraine did, however, represent a very real and, to Putin’s way of thinking, existential threat to his rule in Russia. And, apparently, to the ongoing rule of about a third of the Republicans in Congress.

Autocrats hate and fear functioning democracies. A successful, non-corrupt democracy in Ukraine was as big a threat as Putin could imagine: it was showing the way to freedom for both Russians and other Russia-aligned countries in the region like Belarus where the Putin-affiliated oligarch running that country has recently imprisoned or shot and killed pro-democracy protestors.

But does a functioning democracy like Ukraine, with its famously anti-corruption President Zelenskyy, also represent a threat to the GOP’s plans to remake America in Putin’s image?

This isn’t the first time in recent history that the Republican Party has gotten into bed with Vladimir Putin’s interests.

Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, oversaw the installation of a Putin puppet in Ukraine in 2010. When Viktor Yanukovych was finally ousted in a people-led rebellion in 2014 that sent him packing to his hideout in Russia, Manafort hopped on a plane to America and offered to run Trump’s 2015 primary campaign for president.

For free. Honest: free. Manafort volunteered for the job and did it without a penny of pay from Trump or anybody else, at least not anybody else here in America.

This was the same Paul Manafort who’d taken over $10 million from Putin-aligned Russian oligarchs to help put Yanukovych into office in Ukraine (and thus keep Ukraine out of NATO). The same guy who was indicted and convicted by Robert Mueller in 2018 for crimes associated with that pro-Russia effort. And then was pardoned by Donald Trump the day before Christmas, 2020.

In his role running Trump’s campaign, Manafort oversaw changing the GOP’s 2016 platform language to eliminate negative references to Russia, and removed language calling for the US to provide “lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine. The Washington Post summarized the story with the headline: “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine.”

Manafort then began sharing inside-GOP information with an alleged Russian spy, Konstantin Kilimnik, which could have aided Russia’s intelligence services and troll farms to micro-target potential Trump voters via social media in the 2016 election.

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As CNBC noted at the time:

“A longtime associate of former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chief Paul Manafort gave Russian intelligence agencies ‘sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy’ during the election that year, the U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday.

So here we are:

  • Putin runs rigged elections and the GOP is openly working to rig elections in over 20 states.
  • Putin trash-talks LGBTQ people and the GOP has put homophobia at the center of their 2022 electoral strategy.
  • Putin embraces white nationalism in Russia, just as the GOP does here.
  • Putin has “actively cultivated neo-Nazism” both in Russia and “in the United States” while the GOP lionizes Kyle Rittenhouse and embraces American neoNazi movements.
  • Putin has contempt for the rule of law while the GOP embraces people who tried to overthrow the government of the United States.
  • Putin put so much money into the NRA that they’d become, as NPR described the result of the Senate investigation, a “Foreign Asset To Russia Ahead of 2016,” shoveling cash and support to Republican candidates.
  • Putin frequently lies to his people about things that are easily disapproved…the same as Trumpy Republicans do on an almost daily basis.
  • Putin shuts down independent news media, while Trump and some Republicans call media in the US “the enemy of the people.”
  • Putin attacks science in Russia as Republicans do here in the US.
  • Putin promotes a muscular “Christianity” through corrupt preachers who openly defy the teachings of Jesus, as does the GOP.
  • Putin’s politicians are funded by rightwing oligarchs, just like Republican politicians are here.
  • Putin hates “liberals” and civil rights protestors, just like the GOP (which has gone so far as to legalize running them down with cars).

Our media seems confused by all this in ways reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man:

“’Cause something is happening here, And you don't know what it is, Do you, Mister Jones?”

But Americans are starting to figure out the game. It sure ain’t calculus: this is simple one-plus-one addition.

As DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said on my program months ago about the GOP, and recently repeated on MSNBC: “It is a party built on fraud, fear and fascism.”

Republicans are increasingly voting with Putin because they hope to turn America into something that looks and works very much like Putin’s Russia. It’s very comfortable for the morbidly rich oligarchs and their wholly-owned politicians as well.

This move toward autocracy in the GOP is the biggest threat our democracy faces today. Spread the word.

Thom Hartmann
Independent Media Institute

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.