7 days in May or betrayal?

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“Nothing, absolutely nothing, it seems. Everyone has a second motive, if not a third. —John LeCarre’s Cold War Rule, Yesterday and Today in “The Pigeon Tunnel”.

So, with hindsight, what was it about in the 2016 elections? A private deal between Putin in Moscow and Trump in Washington to defeat Hillary Clinton, which some Trump-hating Liberal Democrats have called an “act of war.” Or was it rather the deep state conspiracy to pave the way to impeach Trump and shape the direction of foreign policy?

When Hillary Clinton and her friends searched for an explanation for her unexpected defeat to a totally inexperienced Twitter suitor, they rushed to blame Vladimir Putin, and in a taint that has become part of group thinking for our mainstream media. , many pointed to his role as a former KGB colonel (overlooking the fact that the elder Bush had once led the CIA). It seemed like almost daily a new scoop broke about a new and alleged Russian effort to derail the Clinton campaign on the front pages of the NY Times and Washington Post. Few have bothered to mention that the United States has interfered in one way or another in the elections of many countries for many decades.

“We have been attacked by Russia,” said an indignant Democratic representative, obviously a Clinton, an assault “ordered by Vladimir Putin”. Another Democrat called the alleged interference an “act of war”.

When Senator Rand Paul, the Republican of Kentucky, a proponent of a sober American foreign policy, dared to criticize Montenegro’s membership in NATO, the bellicose anti-Russian Senator John McCain, à la McCarthy, defamed him , claiming that he “now works for Vladimir Putin.” And when Obama allegedly told Putin to “take your breath away,” it became easier to blame the Russians.

I picked up a copy of Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’ new book, “Shattered: Into Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign. There are relatively few mentions of Russian interference. On October 7, 2016, the ‘Intelligence Community’ declared that Moscow had led the hack to interfere with the US election. The accusation was largely ignored by its campaign in due to other distractions that day, such as Wikileaks’ publication of John Podesta’s first batch of emails and Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape, both of which dominated the headlines that followed. , the book chronicles staff issues, James Comey, Bernie Sanders, and most importantly, an inability of Hillary and her speechwriters to define why she was running and what her future presidency offered voters.

Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by a Republican, called on Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, to come forward with relevant documents, presumably because some senators, especially Democrats, could. think that her tiny number of votes ruined Hillary’s chances. As far as I know, The Times, a major critic of Trump, has yet to comment in editorial or in its Op Ed columns.

Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer told the Rachel Maddow show that he thought Trump was “really stupid” after downplaying the intelligence community’s motives.

“Let me tell you, you go up against the intelligence community, they have six ways starting Sunday to get back to you,” Schumer said.

I wondered how we could determine if certain Russian Facebook ads influenced enough white working class voters to mark their ballots for plutocrat Trump.

What Schumer meant was rarely, if ever, questioned by pundits or political writers, most seemingly content to let his ominous comment die quietly, unexplained.

Glenn Greenwald, who covered the Snowden affair, and Robert Parry of the highly critical Consortiumnews.com pointed to numerous media errors, such as false claims that the Russians entered the United States by breaking into computers in ‘an electric company in Vermont and that the “intelligence community” that linked the Trump team to Russia included only three of the total 17 intelligence agencies in Washington and only three hand-picked anonymous agency analysts were involved .

I also wondered how we could determine whether some Russians paid ads on Facebook influenced enough white working class voters to mark their ballots for plutocrat Trump. Masha Gessen, the Russian-American journalist, editor for the New York Review of Books and serious and persistent critic of Putin, doesn’t think the Russians have affected the race. “Is there a reason, at this point, to think that a small drop in the sea of ​​Facebook ads has changed the American votes?” The answer to all these questions is: no, not really “, and she concluded:” A lot of Americans want to prove that the Russians elected Trump, and the Americans did not.

Writing in the London Review of Books, Jackson Lears, professor emeritus of history at Rutgers University’s Board of Governors, also objected to conventional opinion.

Lears pointed to two American academics, Frances Shen of the University of Minnesota and Douglas Kriner of Boston University who studied voting in three states Clinton lost – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – and where, according to Shen and Kriner, once-loyal Democratic voters went to Trump supposedly because they found “a significant and significant relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump.”
And then this potential if unfounded Lear blockbuster: “Edward Snowden and others close to the NSA say if a long-range hack had taken place, the agency would have watched it…. In September, Snowden told Der Speigel that the NSA “probably knows full well who the invaders were.” But if the German magazine or the NSA knows anything, they have been silent.

For a broader perspective, I turned to curator Christopher Caldwell’s Claremont Review of Books essay, “The Prince,” about Steven Lee Myers’ book “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin” Caldwell writes for the neocon Weekly Standard and occasionally for the Times In his review of Claremont, he concluded that while the Russians under Putin “have come to believe that the West does not just live with a weakened Russia and humiliated; he wants Russia to be broken and humiliated ”, for which he has paid a substantial price both diplomatically and in sanctions. Says Caldwell: “We will not understand a thing about Putin until we realize that in the eyes of most of his compatriots he was right to pay him. “

Would Putin have dared to interfere in the 2016 elections and risk even more severe reprisals? Like everyone else I will have to await the judgment of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, whose verdict may or may not be accepted in a political city whose culture is too often marked by a lack of integrity, and tarnished by subsidized special interests and think tanks.

Anyway, what happened in the 2016 race?

So I turned to Fiona Hill, a former Russian affairs scholar at the Brookings Institution who co-authored the psychoanalytic study, “Mr. Putin: Operational in the Kremlin,” and now works for Trump’s National Security Council . About Putin, she wrote, or rather speculated, “He’s not delusional,” adding, “but he lives in a Russia of the past, a version of the past that he created. Its present is defined by it and there is no coherent vision of the future.

Like most world leaders, including Americans, then and now.

Murray Polner

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