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Congressman's Russia-Rant Shot Down by Former Ambassador McFaul

Representative Connolly appears agitated to the verge of seizure while hyping alarming allegations about Russia

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Gripping his chest and gasping for air, Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) looks like he's on the brink of a medical crisis. But he's not. Connolly was just deeply distressed during a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing over the trouble he believes Russia is causing in the world.

Clearly this is a highly-charged hyperemotional issue for Connolly. You see it in his face and gestures. It also came out in his verbal inflection. Each time he said "Russian" he didn't simply say the word. It came out with a distinct tinge of deep disgust as "RrrUSHan!"

In making his points about the Ukraine crisis he said people there are dying because of "RrrUSHan! provocations," "RrrUSHan! subterfuge," and "RrrUSHan! provocateurs."

If you delve into Connolly's understanding of Russia, the reason behind his unbridled angst becomes clear. 

In a C-Span interview earlier, Connolly took to the soapbox about the Ukraine crisis of 2014. He likened Russia's role to that of Nazi Germany's in the occupation of the Sudetenland. Connolly exclaimed; "Had we responded to naked aggression it would have set some limits and some clear stakes for Hitler and his band of thugs!"

Connolly went on to explain: "Now here we are in Europe and we are seeing naked aggression ... by the Russian military ... and we have to set limits." He believes that Putin must be punished and that "part of that punishment has to be a military calculation."

Back at the House hearing, Connolly continued that theme: "Putin seems to be engaged in some kind of reestablishment of Russian hegemony in some kind of delusional tsarist longing for some glorious past that really never existed. And that's very dangerous."

I think Connolly's rhetoric is very dangerous.

During the House hearing Connolly turned to Michael McFaul, former Ambassador to Moscow and a witness at the hearing. The congressman was looking for support on his thesis about Russia's action in Ukraine. 

But instead he got pulled up short. McFaul clearly asserted: "It was not, in my view, some grand design to recreate the Soviet Union."

What's more, McFaul said of the Russian activity in Ukraine: "It was in response to the collapse of the government in Kiev." 

That completely shot down Connolly's theory that Putin is bent on making a Hitlerian march to conquer former Soviet space. Hooray to McFaul for setting the record straight.

But Connelly didn't give up even then. He recounted the sense of the "RrrUSHan!" problem he got from people in Ukraine, the Baltics, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Georgia. He added, "I think there is real anxiety among lots of former Eastern [inaudible] countries, and they're looking to our leadership to try to respond to it."

I don't doubt there is heightened anxiety in those areas. 

But I'd attribute it to the rantings and unsubstantiated allegations of troublemakers like Connelly. They're likely the source of the anxiety. And they're the ones that are pushing and pushing world tensions toward the brink.

I wonder, do the constituents who sent Connolly to Washington realize what he's up to? He's running unopposed for reelection this year!

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