Well there we go — an evidence-based answer with sound reason. I absolutely stand corrected.
Ryan Bohl

Fair enough and those are all legitimate, reasonable positions for many people to take.

However, they become highly dubious when put forth by the Obama-Clinton wing of the Democratic Party, which is doing most of the Russia fear-mongering right now (including their surrogates in the MSM).

That is the wing that pushed for the much-publicized reset despite Putin’s brutal, authoritarian credentials having been long-since established and despite Russia’s war with Georgia. That is the wing that infamously (and justifiably) mocked Mitt Romney for suggesting Russia was a top geopolitical threat to the US despite the same. That is the wing that continued accommodating Russia and cooperating with her even after the annexation of Crimea.

Indeed, it seems all of Putin’s other sins were tolerable, even prior interference in our elections and domestic affairs as long as it was unsuccessful in damaging Democratic interests.

From where I sit, it looks like Russia/Putin did what they always do, but Democratic incompetence and arrogance allowed those tactics to bear Trumpian fruit, and all this Russia hysteria is an attempt to distract from those massive failures and miscalculations.

“…he represents a direct threat to American strategic interests, especially in his military adventures in Ukraine, a country that was exploring NATO membership, and his cyber wars on Estonia, a NATO ally.”

I’d agree that these are bad for US strategic interests, but it should be uncontroversial to point out Russia — with an economy a fraction of ours, a military that cannot afford to modernize in any meaningful way and a fractured population much smaller than ours — is not an existential threat to the US or western Europe. There’s even a persuasive argument to be made supporting the idea that the Crimea invasion was a defensive rather than offensive move (you can read it here and a shorter version here plus rebuttals here, though you might have to register to read the latter).

If you buy the argument that western forces played a significant role in precipitating the Ukrainian crisis—and, personally, I find that argument more compelling than the alternative—then that reduces our strategic interests to weakening (and possible eliminating) Putin’s sphere of influence b/c we view his government as wrong or antithetical to western liberalism. We can argue about the propriety of the US playing global morality cop, but it seems obvious that’s what we are doing and that’s a weak strategic interest (in my opinion).

One that’s further weakened by the selective nature about which we go about it given the aforementioned governments we consider allies regardless of their often-monstrous actions.