Trump the stooge

An important article discusses how Trump is a Putin stooge, “First, there was the Saturday piece by Josh Marshall in Talking Points Memo, alleging the following: “At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.” Then, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook did the Sunday morning talk show circuit, telling everyone that the DNC hack n’ dump was done by the Russians to hurt Hillary and help Trump. “I think when you put all this together, it’s a disturbing picture, and voters need to reflect on that,” he told Jake Tapper”.

The piece goes on to note “Soon, even seasoned political reporters were hyperventilating. “What do you think of Trump as a Putin plant?” one of them wrote to me.Here’s what I think: we don’t know yet, really. Let’s look at what we know, or what we think we know: Trump has been desperately trying to do business in Moscow since 1987. He tried to open luxury real estate properties there then, then again nine years later in 1996, then again in 2005, then again in 2013. Sketchy? Not really. In 1987, Russia — then the Soviet Union — started opening up in much the same way that Cuba is opening up now: cautiously, slowly, trying to balance the Communist Party’s primacy with a much-needed injection of capitalism because, for one reason or another, the command economy wasn’t giving the country’s people enough to eat. Trump was just one of many, many Western businessmen who smelled opportunity and tried to cash in on it, much the same way people are now eyeing development opportunities in Cuba. When a country is in such a state of disrepair and so underdeveloped, and has such a mythical status in the American imagination, there is so much to be done and, by extension, tons of money to be made. In 1996, when Trump tried to build high-end condominiums in Moscow with financing help from U.S. tobacco companies, Russia was the wild, wild, capitalist West. The Soviet economy was still being dismantled; factories, mines, and the like were being sold for a song to anyone who could give cash to the perennially broke Yeltsin government. It is hard to overstate exactly how much easy money there was to be made. American and British businessmen rushed to Russia — Bill Browder, Boris Jordan — and became billionaires almost overnight”.

The report adds, “DNC WikiLeaks hack n’ dump, however, is the real smoking gun. As much as the Clinton campaign is trying to blame this on Russian intervention in order to deflect criticism of the unseemly anti-Sanders slant the emails revealed, the campaign has a point. Let’s look at the facts. A month ago, it was discovered that “Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear” had hacked the DNC’s servers, and that the Bears were associated with the GRU, Russian military intelligence and one of the most secretive branches of the Russian security apparatus. A month later, the DNC emails appear in the hands of WikiLeaks, bearing metadata that show they had passed through Russian computers. This is not surprising. WikiLeaks has a long history with the Russian government. Founder Julian Assange — painted as an example of Western hypocrisy – became a hero of Russian propaganda when he became trapped at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was even given a show on RT, the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda channel. Edward Snowden didn’t end up in Russia by accident. While on the lam and in purgatory in a Moscow airport, Snowden was accompanied by Sarah Harrison, editor of WikiLeaks. According to the WikiLeaks website, “Miss Harrison has courageously assisted Mr. Snowden with his lawful departure from Hong Kong and is accompanying Mr. Snowden in his passage to safety.” It seems almost indisputable that this is what happened: The Russian government hacked the DNC’s computers, then passed the embarrassing info to WikiLeaks so they could cheer a leftist hero and take down Hillary Clinton, whom the Kremlin doesn’t want to see in the White House”.

It mentions, “The Kremlin is clearly happy to see a Republican candidate who preaches disbanding NATO (or throwing it into debtors prison) and advocates an American retreat from the world stage. If America retreats, Russia advances, nipping at its heels. See, for example, Syria. If America’s role in the world shrinks, Russia’s role in the world grows. This is how Putin sees it. Russia will get stronger because America will get weaker. This is why he is overtly throwing in for Trump, who has also lavishly complimented him. This is exactly the kind of thing the Kremlin does. In the age of what Russia calls “asymmetric warfare,” this is exactly the kind of soft meddling its government has engaged in all over its near abroad and Europe, from the founding of RT, its international propaganda channel, in 2005 to the cyberattack on Estonia 2007, to the financing of Marine Le Pen’s party. There is also speculation that Putin has helped bankroll UKIP in England and Golden Dawn in Greece, among others. Putin has long raged against the West meddling in the government of Russia and the former Soviet republics, which he sees as his sphere of influence. He blames both Orange Revolutions in Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan on the U.S. government. He also blames the anti-Putin, pro-democracy protests that broke out in 2011 and 2012 in Moscow on the State Department. So in Putin’s mind, he is just answering in kind”.

It ends “We don’t know for sure if Trump is really a Putin plant. Regardless, Putin wins. We do not have nearly enough evidence that Trump has really reached some sort of arrangement with Putin, regardless of his real estate deals and the role of gray cardinal Paul Manafort, who has worked for Viktor Yanukovych, pro-Russian leader of the Ukraine deposed in 2014. Pending that evidence — say, campaign donations through shell companies or super PACs or the various naturalized American children of Putin’s cronies, or through a salary for Manafort, who is volunteering on Trump’s campaign — we can only speculate. Which is what we’re doing. That said, the speculation is, in and of itself, a major win for Putin. He has been obsessed with balancing out American power, with making sure that Russia isn’t perceived as weak. In his view, since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Washington has been alone in calling the shots in the world, instead of wrangling over the shots with Moscow as it had before. Most importantly, he has been trying to keep America from having a say in the way Russia is governed as it did in the early 1990s, when American policy wonks helped write the Russian constitution, or when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections fraudulent. For the first time in 25 years, Putin has flipped the script. Not only is America not intervening in Russian politics, Russia is intervening in American politics — or, at the very least, giving a distinct impression of doing this”.

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