In his latest op-ed for the Washington Post, Michael McFaul complained that "President Trump barely touched on Russia" in his UN General Assembly speech.
Accusing Russia under President Putin of becoming "the world's greatest threat to the sovereignty of other nations" and "increasingly acting as a rogue state," McFaul demanded that Congress bring together the series of recently introduced anti-Russian bills and pass a unified single bill that lands on Trump's desk for signature before the upcoming midterm elections.
The tough new sanctions, the Obama-era diplomat says, must include "preemptive sanctions that should go into effect automatically in response to future hostile Russian behavior," and hit "ongoing Russian illegal activity…with new sanctions." Sanctions should also hit Russian "traditional and social media entities," McFaul said, building on his earlier suggestion that Sputnik and RT be branded 'foreign agents'.
McFaul's sanctions-on-steroids proposal was met with mixed reviews. Receiving praise from his 'Russia hacked our elections' readers, the ex-diplomat was derided by others, who worried that such an escalation would only increase tensions, or suggested that McFaul didn't really seem to think things through.
This is a dangerous path of confrontation. The American people have very little to gain here.— Hans Sausage (@hans_sausage) 28 сентября 2018 г.
Another foul piece of warmongering pipedreams. Russia acctualy benefits from the sanctions and ultimately it drives Russia into the arms of China. More sanctions are simply strategically unwise and will just hasten Washington's downfall. pic.twitter.com/sUSlMVuBda— Mats ☮ Nilsson (@mazzenilsson) 28 сентября 2018 г.
does the inevitable war, as a consequence of such actions, not bother you though?— Dom (@AgapovDominick) 29 сентября 2018 г.
Not a good idea, strategically. This will end up with a much stronger Russia/China cooperation that US may want.— Laura Goldenberg (@lauragoldenb) 29 сентября 2018 г.
@McFaul The Gov't should also sanction @Boeing for buying & using #Titanium from Russian Companies for their engines that are used in both commercial & military airplanes of the US Military. https://t.co/TSweNr20mf https://t.co/HQbeSu4gAk— KC2YKN (@KC2YKN) 29 сентября 2018 г.
Russian senator Alexei Pushkov, who has a history of back and forth debate with McFaul going back to the American envoy's time in Moscow, joined in the criticism, calling sanctions "stupid" and pointing out that they fail to harm the Russian economy.
US sanction are detrimental to the US-Russia relations and undermine international security. They do not make the US safer. Besides they are stupid — they drive Russia and China closer which is not in the US interest. Finally, they failed to tear apart the Russian economy.— Алексей Пушков (@Alexey_Pushkov) 29 сентября 2018 г.
Others pointed out the US's sordid record of military interventions and interference in the internal affairs of other states over the years, suggesting that maybe it's time for other countries to sanction the United States instead.
USA has invaded other countries much more times than any other state. So there is the time to put sanctions on USA.— Салобой (@Saloboy33) 28 сентября 2018 г.
I read your opinion piece, might i remind you that the US is also guilty of al those things, it interfered in dozens of elections, it supported ruthless dictators, it illegally invaded various countries and changed their borders and uses drones to kill people without a trial.— Kloothommel (@Kloothommel74) 29 сентября 2018 г.
A few others took to dismantling the minutia of McFaul's claims about Russia's malevolent actions point by point.
1. Russia does not insist on the lifting of sanctions. 2. In the elections, Russia did not intervene or interfere. 3. There are no Russian troops in the Donbas. 4. A referendum was conducted in the Crimea, 96% of Crimean residents expressed a desire to reunite with Russia.— Larisa (@BaykovaL) 29 сентября 2018 г.
Michael McFaul served as US ambassador to Russia between late 2011 and early 2014, and has been included in a Russian 'mirror sanctions' list for his role in harming Russia-US relations, making it impossible to travel to Russia. The ex-diplomat has repeatedly complained that the sanctions effectively ruined his academic career, and has even met with Russia's ambassador to the US to try to get him off the sanctions list. McFaul had a hard time accepting President Trump's victory in the 2016 elections, chalking it down to Russian meddling.