For years, the media, with the collaboration of US intelligence agencies, had peddled completely unfounded conspiracy theories and lies to the American public.

A particularly consequential crop of such lies has been about Russia allegedly interfering in the 2016 election, scheming to get Donald Trump elected and using Trump as its puppet.

Absolutely no aspect of that story is true, and by now, even many of the major intelligence “sources” who seeded the story into the media have admitted that they never had any hard evidence to support it.

However, these lies have by now generated self-sustaining hysteria. Saber-rattling against Russia has become de rigueur among the US foreign policy elite, and as a long-simmering conflict between Russia and Ukraine threatens to explode yet again into open warfare, the fact that so many of the makers of US foreign policy have been primed to see Russia has a deadly enemy may end up plunging the US into yet another horrendous quagmire.

Are We on the Brink of War?

In 2014, when the Russian-backed government of Ukraine was overthrown after a wave of popular protests, Russia responded by making military incursions into Crimea and essentially conquering a sizable portion of eastern Ukraine. The two nations have essentially been at war ever since.

What makes this situation even more volatile, however, is the ever-present specter of US involvement. Ukrainians have regarded themselves as being the victims of Russian going back many centuries, with the war in Crimea being only the latest example of that. They, therefore, want Ukraine to be admitted to NATO. This, they hope, will protect both from Russian military incursions and from Russian attempts to influence their government domestically.

The Russians, by contrast, regard the mere presence of NATO in the region as a threat to their interests. As the threat of NATO looms, the Russians feel that they need to respond.

There’s been tremendous military buildup recently by both countries on the border between them.

Those in the liberal internationalist wing of US foreign policy regard this as horrible and unacceptable. There is no doubt that Russia has been trying to influence Ukrainian domestic policy in accord with its own interests, but this not essentially different from how the US tries to influence Canadian or Mexican domestic policy. If the US acts this way, what moral grounds does it have to say that Russia should not?

The American foreign policy elite needs to learn to live in the real world.

The US faces an enormous number of domestic challenges, and its military is overstretched as it is. We simply cannot afford to go abroad and topple whichever governments those who set American foreign policy don’t like. Not only are such adventures extremely costly to us, but they often have unintended and unforeseeable consequences. Overthrowing a bad government or starting a war can often merely set the stage for something even worse. Just look at Iraq.

Saber-rattling with Russia and priming Americans to think that Vladimir Putin is the devil incarnate is no good for anyone. The US presence in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has only escalated tensions there.

We should allow Russia and Ukraine to negotiate a peace and pull back from madness at the eleventh hour.