Let me try to clear up some confusion that may exist out there regarding my views on Russia. I do not believe that Russia is a benign threat to the United States anymore than I believe that the United States is a benign threat to Russia. Both are nuclear powers, both have global interests and both spy on each other.
I do not deny that Russia has a cyber warfare capability and is constantly probing for weak points in the United States, collecting information and preparing target packages. Duh! So are we. This is what professional intelligence organizations, particularly those with cyber capabilities should be doing.
However, I reject as total nonsense the claim by many prominent legislators, media types and pundits that Russia is acting to regain its Soviet Empire status. One of the more moderate voices on this front is Robert Kagan, who recently wrote the following regarding Putin and Russia:
He [Putin] cites the plight of ethnic Russians in the new republics as justification for eroding or even erasing the sovereignty of those states. He seeks to restore Russia to the position of global eminence it had as the Soviet Union by re-establishing its positions in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. He stokes conflict with the West to distract it from these endeavors even as he blames the West for inventing the hostility he has created.
The West cannot appease its way out of this crypto-war. Putin requires conflict to justify his rule at home and his actions in the territory of the former Soviet Union. But Western appeasement cannot address problems that spring from deep within Russia itself. Putin is encouraging Russians to believe that they must regain suzerainty over their former empire, that they must weaken and fragment the West, that they must cut the United States down to size, and that the West will oppose them implacably in all these endeavors. Appeasement can only draw him into further demands, since he cannot allow the hostility to wane.
Kagan conveniently ignores the U.S. military adventurism overseas (which, ironically, he helped encourage) in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Syria and our aggressive policies to provides arms to members of the former Soviet Union and encourage those states to join the anti-Russian NATO alliance. If the American people are going to understand the dynamics of the U.S./Russian relationship, they cannot continue with the delusional view that we are innocents and doing nothing to provoke worry and paranoia in Russia. Senators McCain and Graham like to rail again Russian intervention in the Crimea and the Ukraine while turning a Helen Keller sized blind eye to our seemingly permanent war footing in other countries surrounding Russia since September 2001.
I also find it laughable that the so-called Intelligence Community Assessment asserted:
We assess Putin, his advisers, and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump over Secretary Clinton.
The Russians may be many things, but stupid is not one of them. This “assessment” would have been classified as “No Shit Analysis,” back in my day. Thank you Captain Obvious. Why wouldn’t Russia prefer Trump over Clinton? Clinton advocated arming radical jihadists in Syria, eliminating Bashar Al Assad, imposing a No Fly Zone in Syria (which would risk a military confrontation with Russia), providing arms to countries on the western border of Russia and expanding NATO. Trump? Almost exactly opposite on each of these policies. Hell, I preferred Trump over Clinton for this very reason. I guess that makes me a Putin puppet.
What would constitute Russian “interference” in our election? Here are some things I would consider as evidence:
- A human or electronic source showing that an official in Putin’s immediate sphere (or Putin himself) communicated in writing or verbally to someone in the GRU (the military intelligence branch of the Russian military) identifying the U.S. election as a concern and directing a plan to be developed for conducting an information operation (or cyber attack).
- A human or electronic source showing that orders were issued to execute such a plan.
- A human or electronic source showing that the email from a still unknown source at the DNC or from John Podesta’s email were received by the GRU.
- A human or electronic source showing gloating/celebration by GRU or Putin authorities over receipt of the DNC/Podesta emails.
- A human or electronic source of regular communication with someone at Wikileaks.
- A human or electronic source of the delivery of the exploited emails (again, this requires either evidence or an assumption that the GRU actually snagged the emails) to Wikileaks.
Not a single piece of such evidence was referenced in the report issued last Friday. And it is quite possible to report on such proof without comprising the source or sources. There is some artful phrasing.
There also is no evidence whatsoever that the alleged Russian information campaign targeted the states where Trump destroyed Hillary in the electoral college (i.e., Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin). If you are going to try to flip an election in favor of one candidate then you must have a plan for getting that information in the major outlets of target markets. If your only hope is that Larry Johnson’s obscure blog will report on it then you are crazy to believe that my writing is so persuasive that blue collar worker was inspired to vote because I reported on what was being released by Wikileaks. Hell, I can’t get most of my own family to read my blog.
The Democrats are having trouble with their narrative. They insist that “Hillary won the popular vote.” Okay. So, basically, the Russian info op failed. Right? But the vote was not based on rounding up more voters in Los Angeles and New York City (which more than accounts for Hillary’s “popular” vote edge.) Trump won the electoral college vote and he won in areas where Hillary made it clear that his voters were “deplorables.” Last I checked, Vladimir Putin did not bug Hillary’s brain and tell her to insult half of America. Or did he?
While the Soviet Union had an ideological view of the world that, based on the Marxist dialectic, believed that communism would spread around the world and become the sole system of government, Putin holds no such view. He is a hardcore nationalist and is not conspiring to invade other countries in order to take over the world. But that fact escapes our neocon/globalist community, who appear hell bent on provoking a confrontation with Russia.
Finally, I want to encourage you to take a look at Phil Giraldi’s excellent piece at the American Thinker. It is quite thoughtful:
The eagerly awaited report on the alleged Russian influence operation and hack linked to the recent American presidential election finally appeared on Friday. It is quite possible that President Obama, the intelligence community, and Congress now hope that the case has been definitively made to tighten the screws on Russia. If that is so, they are delusional. Moscow and Vladimir Putin may or may not be guilty as charged, but the paucity of the evidence being presented by the White House and the Director of National Intelligence suggests that the American people are being very poorly served by those who have been entrusted with protecting the nation.
The report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was entitled “Background to ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections’: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution.” It followed the short “Joint Analysis Report” that appeared on December 29, produced by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. The earlier paper was entitled “Grizzly Steppe—Russian Malicious Cyber Activity” but, apart from assertions of suspected Russian activity connected to an unnamed political party, it provided absolutely no evidence that the alleged intrusions into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers and John Podesta emails were anything beyond probing for vulnerabilities to collect information, and carried out by unknown parties. In fact, it didn’t even provide the evidence for that and was instead largely a primer on how to avoid being hacked.
UPDATE–I debated former CIA Director James Woolsey on RT earlier today (Monday).