January 13, 2017

Chaos: Putin's job is done, but he'll keep going

Putin will not make that mistake. When he bombed Aleppo, it likely wasn’t because of ISIS or Bashar al-Assad. It was because he wanted to assert Russia’s hegemony—and undermine America’s. We can presume this because no obvious Russian interests have been served by the country’s meddling in Syria, but many American interests have been thwarted. Also, it fits a pattern: Putin’s Russia creates chaos wherever possible and then seeks to take advantage of that chaos. (Consider, for example, the so-called frozen conflicts in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine.)

When he allegedly hacked into the Democratic National Committee, it wasn’t a personal vendetta, as Hillary Clinton suggested, and when he allegedly helped disseminate fake news about the candidates, it wasn’t because he cared, first and foremost, about the election result. It was because he wanted tens of millions of Americans to doubt the legitimacy of their own election. After all, Putin can’t really be sure Donald Trump will serve Russia’s interests better than Clinton would have. That Trump is so erratic must worry the Kremlin. That his instrument of choice is Twitter must compound those worries. What is beyond debate, however, is that Americans losing faith in their democracy—and the institutions that prop up that democracy, like the media—does serve Russia’s long-term interests.

Trump, who appears unbound by any code of ethics or overarching theory of international affairs, offers Putin an amazing opportunity. He will be the first American president who has said he wants better relations with Moscow and means it unqualifiedly. True, most American presidents say things like that, but there’s always an implied (and obvious) caveat: so long as our improved relations further U.S. interests.

With Trump, however, there are no obvious caveats. Why should there be? The interests we’ve long defended are not his interests. He exists outside any tradition of American government. If better U.S.-Russian relations—which, for Trump, mean better relations between Trump and Putin, however superficial they may be—endanger our Eastern European allies, or prolong the conflict in the Middle East, or, more broadly, counteract the democratic strivings of any number of peoples around the globe, that won’t matter, because those are no longer our interests. Republicans who defend Trump or warn against being duped by our own intelligence agencies may be unaware of how narcissistic and pliable the incoming president is—or they’ve yet to read much Russian literature.

Or they’ve allowed their partisan furies to cloud what should be nakedly transparent to all, which is that Russia is doing what it has been trying to do for a very long time. In previous centuries, they thought their moment had arrived—Peter, Catherine, the Communists, the post-Communists—and they were always wrong. They had imagined they were on the cusp of escaping themselves, and they never did. Now, maybe, they have arrived at a cosmically aligned juncture, choreographed by Putin and his lieutenants, destined by forces outside any human jurisdiction.

The secret source of Putin's evil


  1. Anonymous5:16 PM

    The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer

    Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decade long escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further...

    The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There is a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combating those threats...

    But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it...

    It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it...

    Most important of all, the legitimate and effective tactics for opposing Trump are being utterly drowned by these irrational, desperate, ad hoc crusades that have no cogent strategy and make his opponents appear increasingly devoid of reason and gravity. Right now, Trump’s opponents are behaving as media critic Adam Johnson described: as ideological jellyfish, floating around aimlessly and lost, desperately latching on to whatever barge randomly passes by.


  2. Um, the CIA wanted Trump, goodness knows why. They helped scuttle her campaign in the last days.

    Don't worry about Syria, Trump is declaring war on one country or another every second day, and he's not even sworn in yet.

    "irrational, desperate, ad hoc crusades that have no cogent strategy and make his opponents appear increasingly devoid of reason and gravity."

    Yes. Agree, they really must stop copying Trump's play book. It's not helping!

    Trump's sons have long history of boasting about how much Russian money is invested in the Trump business empire, this was prior to Trump's candidacy. Are we all to now think they just made that shit up, for no reason? Trump's business has ties to Russia, that's a fact.