They say you shouldn’t kick a man when he’s down, but that’s exactly what Russia tried to do back in 2008 when the United States was at its lowest point in recent history.
You’ll remember the housing crisis, of course.
In a recent BBC documentary called ‘How China Fooled The World’ then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson recalls doing all he could to ensure that mortgage insurers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s biggest outside investors — the Chinese — didn’t sell their stake in the companies.
At the same time, however, Paulson learned that Russian officials were working to ensure the opposite. They were trying to get the Chinese to join them in selling Fannie and Freddie holdings to gang up on the U.S.
Here’s what he said in the documentary:
“Here I’m not going to name the senior person, but I was meeting with someone… This person told me that the Chinese had received a message from the Russians which was, ‘Hey let’s join together and sell Fannie and Freddie securities on the market.’ The Chinese weren’t going to do that but again, it just, it just drove home to me how vulnerable I felt until we had put Fannie and Freddie into conservatorship [the rescue plan for them, that was eventually put in place].”
The Chinese didn’t end up doing any of that, but this just goes to show how ready and willing Russia has been to hurt the United States at any point.
A year later, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterpart would hit the “reset button” on Russia-U.S. relations.
It’s hard to imagine that button coming out again any time soon.