Lots of news today about the Russians, the 2016 election, the hacking, and the leaks.
The Russians celebrated the Trump victory. The DNC refused to give its servers to the FBI for an investigation. Trump says it’s a politically motivated witch hunt. The CIA is mad at Trump. And on and on and on.
One of the many problems with this story is that we have grown to distrust MSM reporting almost as much as we distrust the Russians, so Trump’s accusations (right or wrong) have a certain ring of believability. Another is that there is so much leaking from intelligence agencies these days that it’s truly alarming, whatever the political slant that leaking has and whatever side it benefits.
So here’s my effort to sort it out—at least for today. I assume three things. The first is that Russians have had an interest in the outcome of every American election for a long long time, and probably a favorite as well. The second is that they probably have long done whatever they could to influence those elections and to spy on many aspects of the US (and although, in the olden days of my youth, those efforts certainly could not have included cyber-spying, I have long assumed that the Russians have been cyber-spying ever since computers have become our dominant mode of communication). In fact, on that second point, I seem to remember bugging of embassies between the two powers, and the like. Why should that sort of thing have ended when the USSR fell? Wouldn’t the mode of spying merely have shifted towards the cyber world?
And the third is that, as Romney said (and for which Obama and the chorus of Democrats mocked him back in 2012), Russia is our “number one geopolitical foe.” China is in there somewhere, as well.
You know who else tries to influence the outcome of elections by releasing information, including information that is supposed to be secret? Why, Julian Assage of Wikileaks. Also, the leaking members of the CIA. Not to mention the MSM, which includes everyone to whom the others are leaking—that same MSM that is publishing today’s stories, shaping them and deciding what slant to give them.
Everybody has a dog in this race. Heck, even I tried to influence this election (actually, to influence the primaries: I thought Trump was the weakest GOP candidate and argued against nominating him) by writing my little blog.
I don’t think that the Wikileaks information which was released actually did influence the election. I don’t think that blue collar workers in the rust belt gave two hoots about it. But is it the effort that counts?
And why would Russia want Trump as president rather than Clinton? Why would they want the Russia-fearing GOP in charge? Didn’t Obama and company show enough “flexibility” after the 2012 election towards the Russians, as he had promised them? Wasn’t Clinton going to follow in his footsteps? Why Trump? Are we really to believe it’s because he called Putin a stronger leader than Obama?
Seems to me that, if the Russians were celebrating after the Trump win—and if they wanted Trump to win in the first place—it was mainly because they bought into the idea (an idea shared, pre-election, by much of the world) that Trump was some sort of idiot, and that he’d screw things up for the US. It also seems to me that the Russians wouldn’t have been so sad, either, if the eminently hackable Hillary and the demonstrably penetrable DNC had been in charge instead.
Somehow from all of this we are supposed to understand that there is something especially unusual, new, and nefarious about what the Russians did this time (as opposed, by the way, to Obama administration attempts to unseat Netanyahu in the Israeli election). We are supposed to understand that the Russian action caused Trump to be elected, which may not have happened otherwise. We are supposed to understand that Trump is in league with our enemies the Russians, now that Russia really is our number one geopolitical enemy. We are supposed to understand that anonymous CIA leaks are fine in this case, and that the WaPo is just trying to inform us of the truth and not trying to influence anything.