theatlantic | Ben Rhodes, one of Barack Obama’s top advisers, once dismissed the American foreign-policy establishment—those ex-government officials and think-tank scholars and journalists in Washington, D.C. who advocate for a particular vision of assertive U.S. leadership in the world—as the “Blob.” Donald Trump had harsher words. As a presidential candidate, he vowed never to take advice on international affairs from “those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.” Both men pointed to one of the Beltway establishment’s more glaring errors: support for the war in Iraq.
Now the Blob is fighting back. The “establishment” has been unfairly “kicked around,” said Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former official in the Reagan administration. As World War II gave way to the Cold War, President Harry Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson, “invented a foreign policy and sold it successfully to the American people. That’s what containment was and that’s what the Truman Doctrine was. … That was the foreign-policy establishment.” During that period, the U.S. government also helped create a system for restoring order to a world riven by war and economic crisis. That system, which evolved over the course of the Cold War and post-Cold War period, includes an open international economy; U.S. military and diplomatic alliances in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; and liberal rules and institutions (human rights, the United Nations, and so on).
WaPo | Security Minister Ben Wallace said in support of the bill: “We need to make the UK a hostile environment for those seeking to move, hide and use the proceeds of crime and corruption. In an increasingly competitive international marketplace, the UK simply cannot afford to be seen as a haven for dirty money.” He added, “They all have expensive properties in London and think they are untouchable.”
Not only cutting off but also exposing the flow of money outside Russia, the result of widespread graft, should be part and parcel of our countermeasures to check Russian assault (physical and otherwise) on democracies.
Beyond that, Congress should consider a financial-crimes bill that would provide tools to seize assets of Russian and other foreign plutocrats who abscond with millions upon millions of dollars, thereby contributing to the misery of the Russian people. Vladimir Putin’s friendly oligarchs do not support Putin for ideological reasons. It’s about the money — and the more effective the West can be in depriving them of the fruits of their ill-gotten gains, the better.