Russia: Why You Should Give a Damn
Russia: Why You Should Give a Damn
Recently Senator Rand Paul publicly said that Russian election meddling wasn’t a big deal because “we all do it.” I agree with Dr. Paul on a great many things, including the fact that the Obama Administration had been too hesitant and hadn’t done enough to stop Russian aggression, but to imply that what the Russians did in 2016 was no big deal because all countries meddle in others’ political affairs, shows a lack of understanding of the depth and breadth of Russian meddling.
In other words, Rand Paul is acting like a stereotypical libertarian, whose understanding of foreign policy is limited to history books and isolationist memes found on Facebook.
But now Donald Trump seems to be following in similar footsteps.
This weekend, I spent some time reading the full text of Robert Mueller’s indictment against 12 Russian GRU officers who engaged in a sophisticated game of not just election interference, which was a short-term goal, but a more strategic game of diminishing Americans’ trust in our government and our system of elections.
Let me say that there was nothing too surprising in the indictment, other than the extent and sophistication of the Russian activity, which went far beyond what we’ve seen them do in Europe and what the hapless Obama administration did in Israel by sending some cash to an NGO to defeat Netanyahu. Russia worked to throw our entire election system off kilter in order to destabilize the US and diminish Americans’ trust and faith in our elections system and the US government writ large in order to gain strength at our expense.
I’m happy the names of the GRU officers were publicly released. It’s also very clear that this type of operation could not have and did not happen without approval from the very top: Vladimir Putin. The operations were too broad and required too much structuring and planning on the part of the GRU to not have been directed from the very top. That’s just not how Putin operates. They did it in France. They did it in Germany. They did it in the former Soviet States, including going as far as to apparently attempt the assassination of Macedonia’s Prime Minister.
So the fact that they tried to meddle in our elections isn’t at all surprising.
What should be surprising and disturbing to every American is the extent to which Russia went to deliberately undermine Americans’ confidence in our entire system of government. This wasn’t just about impacting the results of a single election. (There were definite reasons for the Kremlin to support Trump over Clinton in that election – some of which I will get into below – but the Russians, and pretty much the world expected Clinton to be the President Elect the day after the 2016 Election.) What they did was much more corrosive and subversive.
Antonov oversaw a department charged with spying on every part of our government, as well as NGOs and political organizations. (Article 10)
Russia stole money from Democratic donors by redirecting them from a political donations website to one set up by the GRU. (Article 33) As much as I want stroke my evil schadenboner, I simply can’t laugh at a foreign power defrauding my fellow Americans. Sorry.
They manipulated reporters and sowed the seeds of division even back then, again going far beyond anything they did in Europe and our own meager attempts to influence elections in Israel. This was a longterm operation that began well before the 2016 election.
And back to that…
Putin isn’t stupid. He knew Russia would have to be prepared for a Clinton presidency, even as he hoped to have Trump in the White House. But as the intelligence community assessed back then, the Russians were only too happy to swing the election Trump’s way, but there was no judgment about how effective or ineffective Russia’s activities were. Intent doesn’t equal success, and Putin was ready for anything, especially given that Russia’s longterm goals went far beyond swaying the results of one election, which no one – other than the Democrats desperate to justify the loss of Queen Pantsuit to that orange assclown from New York – assessed they actually did.
Fact is Clinton was a crappy candidate. Period. As I looked back, and even as I read Donna Brazile’s book “Hacks,” I realized the only people responsible for Clinton’s loss were Clinton herself and her screeching, complacent campaign monkeys. My elderly, psychotic cat would have made a better candidate. Pretty much anyone would have flogged her wrinkled, entitled ass like a crusty dominatrix with a well-worn cat o’nine tails.
But since the Russians expected Clinton to win, it would have been smarter to ensure that she started her term as President from the weakest position possible. So, yes. Release emails showing her for what she was – an arrogant, lying, cheating sow who worked to win at any cost.
That will weaken her from the start, and if it somehow helps Trump, that’s bonus!
Why would the Russians have preferred Trump in the White House? Putin already answered that question at today’s presser. But to expand on this a bit…
1 – Clinton was promising to continue Obama’s policies against Russia, including economy-crippling sanctions, which despite Russia’s claims that they were ineffective, did contribute (along with falling oil prices) to Russia’s economic decline.
2 – Clinton was promising to be even more hawkish on Syria than Obama was. Hell, even Trump zeroed in on that fact during the election.
3 – Trump was publicly flogging NATO and the E.U. both during the campaign and later – two entities that were critical to the effectiveness of the multilateral sanctions program against Russia after its annexation of Ukraine. The weakening of those alliances would be a boon to Putin as he and his monkeys worked to influence the Europeans and mitigate the effects of sanctions.
It would certainly be in Russia’s best interest to have a President in the White House who wasn’t as enamored by international alliances as his predecessors. A weakened NATO and a weakened E.U. would give Putin an advantage because both organizations are more effective when the US leads multilateral actions against Russia along with them.
Which brings me to today’s joint press conference and one simple question:
Dear Mr. President – just what in the unholy fuck would possess you to say something as stupid as what you blurted out this morning? Have you lost your everloving mind???
Are you fucking kidding me?
I just gave you several reasons why it would be above.
Russia never stopped viewing NATO and the US as its primary national security concern, and 68 percent of Russians view the US as their #1 enemy. And in 2008, Putin told CNN that the Russian war in Georgia in 2008 was directly related to the Presidential election, claiming that the US helped Georgia invade South Ossetia to bolster the candidacy of John McCain, citing his security services.
Russia also wasn’t thrilled that NATO expanded closer to what it considered its sphere of influence, ignoring the fact that its continued aggression toward and interference in the in the affairs of what now are sovereign nations caused them to seek out NATO’s Article 5 collective security guarantee in the first place.
So as no doubt your intelligence community briefed you, Mr. President, Putin had plenty of reasons – both tactical and strategic – to interfere in the 2016 election and and work to degrade Americans’ confidence in their governmental structures. The fact that you fail to publicly recognize this is appalling, the fact that you impugn the credibility of your intelligence community on the international stage gives Putin an upper hand as you show yourself to be weakened by a security apparatus in which you have no trust, and the fact that you claim both sides are somehow guilty of causing Russia’s continued aggression demonstrates your inability to grasp the historical relationship between our two nations and Russia’s strategic thinking.
If I sound frustrated, I am.
The Mueller indictment showed in stark detail how the Russian GRU went about planting long-lasting seeds that would grow not only to interfere in our election process, but also erode our basic confidence in our system of government.
They gained valuable intelligence by hacking the systems of our political parties and our candidates.
They hacked the election systems of US states, probing for vulnerabilities and stole information pertaining to hundreds of thousands of American voters.
They learned about American society and analyzed how to best influence us.
And most importantly, they impacted the way Americans analyze and process information about their government…
…and they still do.
A review of Twitter accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, the St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” implicated in Russia’s alleged attack on the 2016 election, found 48 accounts with handles like @MilwaukeeVoice and @Seattle_Post that shared actual, localized news items, “serving as sleeper accounts building trust and readership for some future, unforeseen effort,” NPR reported.
They created social media accounts that posed as sources for Americans’ hometown headlines and continue to use them to gain Americans’ longterm trust in order to influence how we think and how we process information in the future.
NPR found and researched 48 such accounts, and Twitter suspended them. But does anyone have any doubt there are scores more?
I certainly do not.
The discovery and suspension of the local accounts suggests two things as investigators continue to build their understanding about Russia’s campaign of active measures against the United States and the West.
First, that the Russian misinformation project was a years-long effort, one that wasn’t simply focused on the 2016 election but on destabilizing the United States over an extended period of time.[…]
Second, the failed effort to create local news accounts also says something about how Americans trust local news sources more than national news — and how the Russians evidently knew about that vulnerability.
In the face of overwhelming evidence about Russia’s continued hatred of the US, its actions in our country and elsewhere, and the immense amount of evidence showing Russian aggression and interference in the very basic structures of our society, how the hell can the President claim that the US is somehow to blame for Russian aggression?
I tell ya – following in Obama’s footsteps when it comes to Russia, ignoring the obvious and very real threat Russian disinformation campaigns and efforts to alter the relationship American citizens have with our government by smarmily claiming that Russia has no reason to interfere in our elections (as opposed to Obama arrogantly claiming the 80s want their foreign policy back) is not a smart, nor does it show any depth of understanding about our current policy toward Russia. Neither is kissing the ass of the man who has been working for years to destabilize our country by falsely accepting responsibility for an aggressive foreign power’s behavior. (Gee. I seem to remember how much we hated the Obama apology tour back in the bad ole days.)
No, there’s no evidence that Trump is guilty of collusion with Russia, although scum like Roger Stone appear to have been at the very least willing to diddle the Russians’ taint to help Trump win the White House, judging from the very obvious references to him in the indictment. No, Trump probably had no knowledge of what some of his pals were up to, and frankly, no collusion was necessary given the level of penetration the Russians already had.
But to claim that the Russians were somehow innocent of wrongdoing is willfully blind and ignorant, and completely unacceptable given the intelligence resources at the President’s disposal.