Colson: No proof, but Russian interference makes perfect sense
Hit & Run
Russia, Russia, Russia.
It seems that once again we are obsessed with the Evil Empire (as Ronnie Reagan called it back in the 1980s), but this time it’s all about the possibility that Russia has been unacceptably meddling in our political affairs and working hard to undermine American voters’ faith in democracy.
I noted with interest that The Nation, a political weekly journal that has been around since the 1880s, ran a photo recently showing two of those iconic nested dolls that Russia is so famous for, but with a modern twist.
Rather than the rosy-cheeked Russian matrons that typically decorate the dolls’ exteriors, one of these two feature the image of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, and the other shows Donald Trump, who needs no introduction.
The dolls reportedly were on sale in a store in Moscow, where presumably they must have undergone some sort of governmental vetting before they ever made it to the shelves. Which means they are the products of the country’s manufacturing industry, which further means that there likely are a lot of them for sale.
Even more interesting is the fact that The Nation, in a previous edition, cast a skeptical light on the current crop of anti-evil-empire propaganda that is part and parcel with suspicions that Trump is far too friendly toward Putin, or at least far too forgiving of Russia’s hegemonic actions and policies toward its neighbors and, indeed, the rest of the world.
Instead of hysterically focusing on Russia as a bad actor on the world political stage, The Nation argued, U.S. voters and observers ought to be devoting their energies to exposing and upending the worst excesses of the young Trump administration.
OK, that makes some sense, since we have a far greater likelihood of tamping down Trump’s nastier impulses and policy outbursts than we have of doing much in the way of putting brakes on Putin’s power grabs and dictatorial abuses.
One implication of this line of thought, though, is that it might be the Trump administration itself that is keeping the spotlight on Putin and Russia as a way of distracting our attention from what is going on in our own backyards.
You may not remember this, but Trump himself confirmed back in January that the Russians probably hacked into the Democratic Party’s emails and other online data and released certain types of information damaging to the political fortunes of Trump’s erstwhile opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump adamantly denied, however, that the hacks had anything to do with helping him achieve his narrow Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton (though he lost the popular vote), or that Russia was trying to help him win the election.
Trump also declared that the Russians probably would have released information damaging to the Trump campaign if they had any, by which he implied that since no such information was released, they did not have any.
He also angrily denounced reports that Russia had a dossier on Trump’s own activities while in Moscow in 2013, information that reportedly was compiled by a British former spy and which contained details of some highly salacious activities on the part of our current president.
The report has never been verified by U.S. intelligence agencies, possibly because it was considered too prurient to bother with. But it’s still out there, believed by some while dismissed by others, and a continuing source of disturbance to our orange-coiffed commander in chief.
Trump’s links to Russia, likewise, have never been fully explained, just as his “bromance” with Putin has puzzled the hell out of a lot of people, particularly in light of the Kremlin’s well-documented history of cyber warfare aimed at destabilizing just about any nation that Putin considered a threat.
Concern continues to mount, however dismissive and blase our president pretends to be.
One former acting CIA director, Michael Morell, has called Russia’s hack of the DNC “the political equivalent of 9/11.”
An investigative story in the New Yorker detailed Russia’s emergence from the dark ages into cyber-warfare expertise, noting its electronic destabilization of a neighboring state, Estonia, in 2007 after that nation deigned to relocate a monument that the Russians wanted to stay right where it was (the monument was called the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn, and was a Soviet-era grave marker).
Other targets of Russian cyber warfare in the past have included the former Soviet republics of Georgia and the Ukraine — look it up, read about it, learn.
It has long been clear that Russia’s favorite target, though, is the U.S., and it is equally clear that Putin is a despot and a tyrant with global ambitions that include the overthrow of U.S. power around the world.
It also has been shown that Putin, and with him his state apparatus, have long viewed Hillary Clinton as an anti-Russian militarist who would pose clear challenges to Putin’s continuance in power.
So while nothing is proven yet, it makes absolute sense that Putin would do everything he could to prevent Clinton from getting her hands on the reins of power in this country, including helping to elect a man who just might be helpful in destabilizing the U.S. without any overt help from Russia.
More on this topic in the near future.
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