Meddling Game is Tit for Tat

The latest excuse for Hillary Clinton’s election day flop is the allegations that Russian operatives, under the direction of Vladimir Putin, hacked the DNC’s sites and stole batches of confidential e-mails which they released in a malicious effort to damage Mrs.  Clinton and help Mr. Trump. This is presented as prima facie evidence that the election was tainted. That no evidence has come to light proving  the results of the election were influenced by Russian “meddling” or that any voting machines were hacked, and that even our intelligence services seem to contradict each other on the subject, seems to matter not to the “never Trumpers”  Even the absurd effort spearheaded by Jill Stein to effect a recount of the voting in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania came to nothing -if you do not take into account the millions of dollars contributed to the coffers of the Green party. As an interesting footnote, the results of the recounts added more votes for Donald Trump and showed that in some 31 heavily Democratic precincts in Detroit, there were more votes cast than voters.

The Russian hacking allegations have triggered a furor of reactions. President Obama, who was informed of the allegations well before the election and who cavalierly ignored them, all of a sudden ordered a “thorough” investigation and revealed that he had contacted Putin and told him to “cut it out” Apparently, that frightening warning failed to impress Mr. Putin. Julian Assange, who runs Wikileaks, has emphatically denied any Russian involvement in the hacking of the DNC’s e-mails.

Nevertheless, the reaction to the hacking allegations has been visceral. The Democrats, spearheaded by President Obama, who in 2012 ridiculed Mitt Romney for calling Russia “our greatest geopolitical enemy” all of the sudden are hawks when Russia is concerned and on the Republican side, the neocons are beating the drums and calling for economic sanctions against Russia. Lost in the shuffle is the cold hard fact that intelligence services spy on each other on a regular basis.Does anybody remember how upset the Germans were when it was revealed that we had been reading Chancellor Merkel’s e-mails? And as for meddling, how about when, at the instigation of the White House,  some 350,000 dollars were spent trying to influence the Israeli elections to keep Netanyahu from being re-elected because Obama did not want him addressing Congress and voicing his opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal? And how about when in 2014 we went much further than the mere hacking of e-mails and egregiously interfered and meddled in Ukraine?  At the time, because of endemic corruption, Ukraine asked for economic assistance. The EU stepped in with a package of economic assistance subject to a rigid program of economic austerity. Part of the program called for ending the subsidies that reduced the price of the natural gas used for heating during the severe Ukrainian winters. At this junction, Russia offered a competing package of assistance without the strict restrictions imposed by the EU. The Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych chose the Russian offer. The western part of Ukraine, which includes Kiev, broke out in protests, whereas the eastern part welcomed the Russian overtures. In 2013, Victoria Nuland, at the time US sub-Secretary of State,  met openly with the protesters in Kiev, which included neo-Nazis and anti-semitic groups and even was filmed distributing food to the protesters. The end result of all this was that in February 2014, Yanukovych fled the country ahead of the elections that were called for May 25. If this is not undue meddling into the Russian sphere of influence, then what is?

All this saber rattling is dangerous, especially at this juncture. Whether we recognize it or not, we are under attack by Islamic terrorists despite President  Obama’s reluctance to call it by that name. We abandoned Iraq and ISIS stepped in and when we failed to act decisively in Syria, Putin filled the vacuum we created. We called for Assad departure but did nothing except to train and arm at considerable cost ineffective opposition groups which we did not bother vetting and which, when inserted into Syria promptly defected or were killed. The Russian position has, as it always has been, “Assad is a SOB but he is our SOB and we will back him up”

Because Donald Trump recognizes that Russia is not the Soviet Union and Putin is not the second coming of Stalin and that we have squandered enormous amounts of blood and money into the Middle East, he is attacked as a Russian appeaser. Russia is our rival but not our deadly enemy. Putin is an autocrat ruling a land that has always been ruled by autocrats. They are not trying to impose their system on us. The Cold War is over and we won but we are on the verge of losing the peace. During WW II we had no compunctions about partnering up with Stalin, a worse butcher than Hitler, or recognizing Mao Tse Tung or even bringing an olive branch to the Castro regime in Cuba. Is Putin any worse than any of them? As it stands now, both the US and Russia need each other if we are to defeat Islamic terrorism.

Hillary Clinton did not lose the election because of Russian meddling, white angry voters, FBI investigations or little green men from Mars. She lost because she was a flawed and corrupt candidate, unlikable and with little to offer, except more of the same. If she had not taken her victory for granted and spent more time and effort on the battleground states, she might have pulled it off; instead, a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation.

We are upset because the Russians allegedly meddled in our elections? We have meddled in theirs. After all, meddling is a tit for tat game.

 

 

 

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