America’s New ‘Red Scare,’ Unlike the Old One, is Fake

by | Apr 13, 2018 | Foreign Policy, POLITICS

The political left in America is conveniently a half-century late; in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the Russian threat was real and the ‘Red Scare’ justified; the latest scare is fake, an excuse by the left to explain its electoral failure

The same American left-wing that now portrays a democratically-elected Putin as “dangerous” and omnipotent, portrayed mass-murder Stalin as a benign “Uncle Joe.” The political left in America is conveniently a half-century late; in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the Russian threat was real and the ‘Red Scare’ justified; the latest scare is fake, an excuse by the left to explain its electoral failure.

As a candidate Donald Trump said he’d put an end to self-defeating and self-destructive U.S. foreign policies, not because he was a pacifist like libertarian Rand Paul but because he wanted to put “America first.” That was a proper, self-interested policy – hence bullish. As a candidate Trump also urged other supposedly grown-up nations like Japan and South Korea to start providing more for their own national defense (even developing nuclear weapons if necessary); he also warned NATO allies to step up their military spending (as required) and stop relying so much on the U.S. These alleged U.S. allies complained, of course, because they prefer to be military free-loaders.[1]

Unlike candidate Trump, President Trump seems willing to retain most of the self-defeating, anti-American foreign policies adopted by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and John McCain – “neo-conservative” policies that assume the U.S. must serve as the “policeman of the world,” must enter all foreign frays, right all wrongs, settle civil wars, and remove rogues, even if doing so makes things worse, doesn’t advance the U.S national interest, and even jeopardizes U.S. military and financial security. This is a bearish policy.

Yes, the U.S. is (and should be) “the leader of the free world,” but that doesn’t mean it should be the liberator of the unfree world, nor a “nation builder.” If the unfree peoples of the world wish to be free, they should first read Atlas Shrugged, then read the Declaration of Independence, then read the Federalist Papers, then revolt against their despots, and finally, adopt something akin to the U.S. Constitution, customized to local needs.

Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race? — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018

The U.S. military has been in Syria since 2014, amid a civil war. It has no specific goal. None. Nor has the U.S. Congress officially declared war on Syria, as required constitutionally.  There is no debate.

As a candidate in 2016 Mr. Trump called U.S. involvement in Syria ridiculous – and rightly so. Yet last April, as president, he launched sixty missiles into Syria, hitting nothing important, because someone there used chemical weapons. It was terrible, yes, for the chemical victims, but the attacks had nothing to do with U.S. national security interests – and Trump knew it. Last week he said he’d leave Syria soon – after saying repeatedly during the campaign that it was self-defeating for the U.S. to telegraph its military moves. More chemical weapons were (allegedly) used in Syria last weekend, so today Trump pledged to launch more missiles into Syria, this time threatening Russia, which has been helping Assad in Syria clear out Muslim rebels. Like Obama, Trump seems to favor Muslim terrorists over secular, stable strongmen – and to hell with American interests.

In another crazed “tweet” recently, Trump claimed Russia was an enemy of the U.S. – which is a patent lie. The U.S. relationship with Russia, he wrote, was now “worse than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.” This is preposterous. Were it true, it would be Trump’s fault; he’s been running U.S. foreign policy for more than a year now. What we have here is Trump the dangerous ignoramus. The fact is, America and Russia were mortal enemies during the Cold War, with mass tonnage of nuclear weapons aimed at each other’s cities. In 1962 a weak U.S. president (JFK) nearly triggered a nuclear war with Russia by allowing it to place U.S.-targeted missiles in Cuba, in response to his own government placing U.S.S.R.-targeted missiles in Turkey. Today’s U.S.-Russia relationship is worse than that? Trump lives in a made-up world.

Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018

Trump claims to admire President Reagan, but Reagan ended the Cold War not by making enemies of allies or appeasing real enemies or embroiling the U.S. in long, costly, and unrelated wars and skirmishes but by directly and firmly rejecting the suicidal doctrine of “Mutually-Assured Destruction” (M.A.D.) and telling the U.S.S.R. he knew it was bankrupt, both morally and financially, and would never defeat the U.S., whether militarily or economically.[2]  Trump is no Reagan; before long he may look like previous imperialist jackasses in America, Teddy Roosevelt and John McCain.

That Trump is now picking fights with a non-socialist Russia is pathetic and laughable. He’s doing this not because it promotes America’s national security but because it assuages Trump’s personal insecurity about silly claims by vengeful leftists that he’s a mere Putin puppet. The conspiracy theorists among today’s leftists say this only because they can’t explain why either of their beloved socialists, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, couldn’t beat Trump in 2016. They’re convinced Russia did it. They believe Russian “bots” are embedded in social media and surreptitiously lodged in our brains by ghostly KGB agents, even hiding under our beds – telling us all who to vote for.

This is America’s new “Red Scare,” but it’s coming not from 1950s conservatives in the John Birch Society who had genuine dangers to fear, given the brutality and imperialism of the U.S.S.R.; rather it’s coming from today’s pathetic, vengeful leftists, the same political wing that brazenly denied that the murderous U.S.S.R. was a threat during the Cold War. The same American left-wing that now portrays a democratically-elected Putin as “dangerous” and omnipotent, portrayed mass-murder Stalin as a benign “Uncle Joe.” Rather conveniently, the political left is about fifty years too late; the time to fear and adamantly oppose Russians was during 1945-1990 (when they were committed, vicious socialists), not since the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. in 1991 (as Russians became mere innocuous non-socialists).

In the past fifty years the U.S. hasn’t fared very well militarily (or economically) whenever it has blustered and intervened in foreign civil wars which in no way ever advanced its own national interest. For examples, just see the Korean “conflict” (1951-53),[3] the Viet Nam War (1963-1975),[4] Yugoslavia (1998-99),[5] Afghanistan (2002-present), and Syria (2014-present).[6] Mr. Trump is either unaware of this history, which is bearish for stocks, or he’s aware of it and will intervene anyway (which is also bearish), hoping it’ll stop crazy leftists from humiliating him with their stupid lies about why neither Bernie nor Hillary is president.

There’s really no way to appease insanity without going insane; yet that’s the foreign policy path Trump treads.


Dr. Salsman is founder and president of InterMarket Forecasting, Inc., an assistant professor of political economy at Duke University, and a contributing editor at The Objective Standard. He can be reached at [email protected].

[1] For decades European critics have accused the U.S. of being “imperialistic,” yet European governments have begged it to be so – to act like an empire, providing dependent states with an umbrella of military protection. They’ve criticized Trump for de-emphasizing NATO. The U.S. umbrella permits disingenuous European politicians to spend less on their own military and to buy votes with profligate welfare-state spending.
[2] “The Secrets of Reagan’s Success (Part III): Foreign Policy,” The Capitalist Advisor, InterMarket Forecasting, Inc., August 20, 2004.
[3] See
[4] See
[5] See
[6] See


  1. “The same American left-wing that now portrays a democratically-elected Putin as “dangerous” and omnipotent, portrayed mass-murder Stalin as a benign “Uncle Joe.”

    Leftist priorities.

  2. Putin’s “democratic” elections involve assassinating and jailing his political opponents. He has invaded Ukraine, Georgia, and Chechnya, and has funded anti EU populist and authoritarian parties from all over the European political spectrum to weak European faith in liberal democracy. One of the reasons that the Left is so stridently opposed to Putin all of a sudden is because of Trump’s fascination for this tyrant and many others, like Duterte and Sisi. Trump even went so far as to praise Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent removal of term limits from the Chinese presidency, saying that it would be good for us to do that in the US someday. Trump threatened to jail Clinton, his political opponent on national television, despite her never having even been charged with a crime. He refuses to release his tax returns and divest himself from his business holdings. He hires people with shady Russian connections, like Manafort and Flynn. He puts family members like Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka in positions of political prominence despite their complete lack of qualifications. If the Left associates Trump with Putin, it is because Trump only has nice things to say about the Russian dictator, and his penchant for authoritarianism, lack of transparency in government, and nepotism, among other things, are reminiscent of a dictator like Putin.

  3. Given your comments about Trump (and Putin) are true, that is not why they oppose him as similar criticisms can be made of Leftist “leaders.”

    The Left opposes Trump (and Putin) because he is not *THEIR* “dictator.”

    Thanks for your post.

  4. “democratically elected Putin”…
    “non-socialist Russia”….

    Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I still agree with the premise of the article, the left are 50 years to late on Russia and are just using Putin as a bogie man to explain their total failure.

  5. POLITICAL THEATER…all of it. We have enough of our own problems to worry about how Putin achieves power. The Mueller indictments of the 12 Russian agents is fake. He is pleased that he will never have to go to court because he couldn’t prove any of it. Likewise Putin doesn’t have to deny interference. Putin can just demand that we play by the same fake rules our politicians, the media and bureaucrats demand of Russia. We don’t. We spend billions more than Russia interfering in foreign politics, including Russia, and even more fostering coups (like the one that ousted the corrupt stooge pro-Russian president in Ukraine and replace him with the corrupt stooge pro-western president). Both Democrats and Republicans play this theater game to distract Americans from the real problem, which is their ownership of the rest of us and their life of unearned luxury living off the productivity of their indentured servants. Additionally,if you don’t know that Hillary committed hundreds of criminal violations of the Espionage Act, you don’t know anything. But obviously you are completely distracted by all this theater regardless of which side anyone believes.

  6. Both Democrats and Republicans are satisfied with the actions of authoritarians so long as the tyrants are on the their side. The reason that America is losing so badly in all of this theater is that the left is viscerally anti capitalist, have disowned the best of western culture and are therefore anti American. Why are the Republicans continuously losing this fight? Because the left is better at GOVERNMENT. See my response above on POLITICAL THEATER.

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Dr. Salsman is president of InterMarket Forecasting, Inc., an assistant professor of political economy at Duke University and a senior fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. Previously he was an economist at Wainwright Economics, Inc. and a banker at the Bank of New York and Citibank. Dr. Salsman has authored three books: Breaking the Banks: Central Banking Problems and Free Banking Solutions (AIER, 1990), Gold and Liberty (AIER, 1995), and The Political Economy of Public Debt: Three Centuries of Theory and Evidence (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017). In 2021 his fourth book – Where Have all the Capitalist Gone? – will be published by the American Institute for Economic Research. He is also author of a dozen chapters and scores of articles. His work has appeared in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, Reason Papers, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, the Economist, the Financial Post, the Intellectual Activist, and The Objective Standard. Dr. Salsman earned his B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College (1981), his M.A. in economics from New York University (1988), and his Ph.D. in political economy from Duke University (2012). His personal website is


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