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Russia Latest: Some Thoughts

by John on 02/15/2017

TrumpPutinSome quick thoughts on the latest Russian revelations.

First, read the New York Times piece that has busted this wide open.

On the surface, it’s not good for Trump.  Still, we can’t jump on this as the next Watergate just yet.

Here are some thoughts of why you might question the story:

  • The story is based on intelligence sources which apparently leaked classified information.
  • And yes, the story also says there appears to be “no such evidence … of cooperation” or colluding between the Trump campaign and Russians “on hacking or to influence the election.”
  • And you can ask: are elements of the intelligence community out to get him and is this dangerous for our country? 
  • And you can make the point that we need to ally with Russia against ISIS much like we did with Stalin and the Soviets in WWII to oust the Nazis.

But it is hard to negate these aspects of the story:

  • This isn’t the first connection between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
  • The Trump campaign was meeting with Russian intelligence, not just Russian officials. Why Russian intelligence?  National security analyst Juliette Kayyem said on the Michael Smerconish Radio Show that you could excuse the contact if there was also contact with, let’s say, allies such as Israeli or British intelligence.  But there wasn’t.
  • Intelligence operatives are so concerned about Trump’s policies they are willing to risk conviction.
  • Trump has been effusive in his praise of Putin at a time when Russian hackers hit the Democratic Party during the campaign.
  • Trump fired or let his National Security adviser resign in light of leaked info that he lied about concerning his conversations with Russian officials about lifting sanctions while Obama was still president.

So do we believe the story?  That’s up to you.

Question it?  Sure.

But completely ignore it as media bias?  No.

  • Trump is calling it fake news again. This does nothing to help other nations feel comfortable with the US. 
  • Fox News is allowing a number of pundits and anchors blame the Obama Administration for this leak.

Making those arguments the main points of this issue actually could leave us vulnerable.

Many of you think the New York Times is not worth reading.  If so, then you have problems with seeing other sides of an issue.

Maybe I am too pro media.  I have worked in newspapers and TV stations investigating major pieces.

And before publishing or airing something, I would sweat blood from my forehead making sure everything is right, as did most of the people I worked with.

accidentalsuperpowerHere’s more perspective.  Here are two books you should read for a wider perspective on foreign-policy. I have reviewed them both here and here.

They offer differing points of view.  Peter Ziehan, in The Accidental Superpower, sees the US shifting towards isolationism. The big factor: US shale oil giving us more energy independence.  He believes Russia, as a nation and a people, might not exist in the next 20 years.

But Brett Stephens, in America in Retreat, sees such isolationism as dangerous for the rest of the world.  He is a real military hawk who believes without US military power nations like Russia will do as they please.

Both make their cases in detail and both are very convincing.  Much of what they have written is now happening politically and economically.

america in retreatFrom these books, and other experts, I get a consensus of thought that Russia’s future looks bleak and frightening:

  • Russia has an aging population while it discourages immigration.
  • Russia is not a democratic country; and is always following a strong man; who needs the US as an enemy.
  • Russia, at some point, will face a large Muslim population within their borders.
  • Russia has limited resources due to its geography.
  • Russia needs a warm weather port, so it’s incursions into neighboring countries like Ukraine is no surprise.
  • Russia’s one major resource has been oil; and shale oil in the US, in part, has hurt Russian oil revenues by flooding the market and dropping prices.
  • Russia has double-down on military spending and hacking technology and get back to a Cold War mentality at the expense of services for its population.

Man without a faceSo, Russia’s friendliness is more about desperation.  This is a country trying to survive.

That’s my take.  Give me yours.  Tell me what you’ve been reading.

Also I have this book in my cue: The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.  Anybody read it?  Any thoughts?

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