The Doomsday Clock has been moved closer to midnight than it’s been since 1953. The U.S. has shot down a Syrian plane. Russia has threatened to shoot down U.S. planes. There is no way to overstate the importance of avoiding telling hostile lies about Russia right now.

Dan Kovalik’s book, The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Russia, is a good place to start if you watch a lot of television, don’t read much about politics, and simply can’t imagine the CIA doing anything inappropriate. This is a great primer. Framed around the current Russiagate madness, the book is a catalog of U.S. government sins over the past many decades.

If, however, you’ve not been under a rock, then at some point the fact that the CIA overthrew Mossadegh, to take one example of hundreds, fails to really serve as evidence that Russia did or did not “hack the election” (whatever that means). Still, all the context is a good reminder, and the bit of the book that addresses Russia directly is helpful. Kovalik documents outright lies by the U.S. media that should make us wary. Putin, for all his actual flaws, has been demonized like no previous leader of Russia or the Soviet Union, and there appears to be less room in the U.S. media for contrary views now than back when Senator McCarthy was playing the role of Rachel Maddow.

So, it’s worth recalling that Russia was promised no NATO expansion, that Russia tried to join the EU and NATO, that Russia has tried many times for mutual disarmament, that Russia helped the U.S. attack Afghanistan, that hostility toward Putin really took off in Washington, D.C., when he refused to help attack Iraq, and that Russia was lied to about Libya. That last one, Kovalik points out, has a lot to do with Putin being in office and with Putin resisting the U.S. in Syria. Russia has tried repeatedly to make peace in Syria, and when Obama finally agreed to a ceasefire in Syria the U.S. military nixed it by bombing Syrian troops (either with Obama’s approval or with Obama’s acceptance).

It’s worth recalling that the Democrats decided to push the Russian hacking story long before any of the evidence-free “assessments” that have since been produced. To this day no more evidence for the accusations has been produced than for the generally debunked North Korea / Sony hacking story. To this day, the most likely source of the information gained by WikiLeaks is a DNC leaker. To this day, the most likely hacker of the DNC and depositor of the name of a former head of the KGB in Cyrillic, is the same award-winning crew that told us Iraq had weapons and whose director reportedly spends 3 hours per day making the 19-minute trip to the White House (OK, maybe it takes him 142 minutes to read a note out loud to Trump). Yes, I’m talking about the CIA.

That the CIA may be manipulating Trump (and is leaking selected statements with impunity) is, of course, no concern at all, because the CIA is not Russian. That U.S. election machines are completely susceptible to hacking, and that evidence suggests they have been hacked frequently over the years is only of any possible concern if Russians have ever been involved. That the main accusation against the Russian government is that it accurately informed the U.S. public what one of its two big branches of government was doing seems not to matter. Yes, the two parties have displaced the other branches, choose nominees, control ballot access, distribute funding, monopolize debates, draw district lines, etc.

But the fact that we’re risking nuclear war still seems to me something that we have to go on hoping will matter to someone at some point.