Truth, guesswork and Russiagate

The United States government claims we are under attack from Russia.  That is the justification for military buildup in Syria and along Russia’s borders, for waging economic war against Russia and sanctions against Russian individuals, and for a diplomatic campaign against Russia.

Before we blunder into a nuclear war, which would mean the end of the United States, the Russian Federation and much of the rest of humanity, we need to look at the basis for these claims.  Specifically, we need to assess the evidence for three claims: –

Ideally, I would advocate reserving judgement until the results of the Mueller investigation are in.  But official Washington, including the press corps and the top leaders of the Democratic Party, are acting as if the results are already in.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that newspaper articles should be classified as truths, probabilities, possibilities and falsehoods.

Here is how I see the balance of truths, probabilities, possibilities and falsehoods:

∞∞∞

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin stated several times in 2016 that he would be pleased if Donald Trump was elected, because Trump advocated better relations with Russia.

Why would he not?  Russia in 2016 was hard-pressed by U.S.-led economic sanctions and a U.S. military buildup.   Hillary Clinton was and is an extreme war hawk.

Putin is a ruthless operator with few scruples.   There is credible circumstantial evidence that Russian intelligence sources engineered a false flag terror attack in order to rally public sentiment against the rebel province of Chechnya.  There is strong evidence that Russian intelligence services murdered the dissident and human rights advocate Alexander Litvinenko.

So it is possible that the Russian government penetrated the Democratic National Committee computer files and published e-mails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton, or that individual Russian hackers did so with the knowledge and encouragement of the Russian government.

The reasons I have doubts this happened are (1) the FBI has never conducted its own examination of the DNC computers and (2) the FBI has never interviewed Julian Assange about his claim that he received the information from a whistleblower.   Why would they not do this?  Were they afraid of what they might find out?

Maybe the DNC was hacked by more than one person or group, acting independently of each other.

In any case, the result of the DNC e-mail hacks was to disseminate truthful information, which is not an act of war.

It also is possible that Russians used social media to try to influence the election.  But I don’t see how the 13 Russians who were accused of distributing social media ads under fake names could have had any impact.  If they were Russian intelligence agents, they were decoys to divert attention from a secret real campaign that so far as not been discovered.

If Vladimir Putin did try to engineer Donald Trump’s election, he must feel buyer’s remorse.  President Trump has approved weapons shipments to Ukraine, which goes beyond what President Obama ever did.  He wants to keep U.S. troops in Syria indefinitely to undermine Russia’s ally, Syria.  He is continuing the nuclear arms race against Russia.

Like President Obama, Trump talks about improving relations with Russia.   But like Obama, he so far has done nothing to make this happen.  Putin, with all his ruthlessness, is a defender of the status quo.  It is the U.S. government that seeks regime change in targeted countries, and that seeks military dominance in every important region of the world.

∞∞∞

Donald Trump, like other authoritarian nationalists, has long expressed an affinity for the authoritarian nationalist Vladimir Putin.   He also made a lot of money in business dealings with Russian oligarchs and organized crime figures in the New York real estate market.

Donald Trump

So it’s natural that he is reluctant to impose sanctions on individual Russians.   This, however, is no proof of collusion with President Putin.   One of Russia’s big problems is that the richest Russians take their money out of Russia and invest it in real estate in London, New York and Miami.  Sanctions drive the money back to Russia, which is what Putin would want.

Overt cooperation between Putin and Trump would not make sense for either one.   Vladimir Putin would be a fool to trust someone as erratic and undisciplined as Trump with information that could destroy them both.  And Donald Trump, if he suspected Putin was helping his campaign, would be a fool to have any contact or allow his campaign staff to have any contact with Russians.

I think all the stories about contacts between Trump supporters and Russians are, if anything, indications that there wasn’t any prior agreement to fix the election.   Why would you try to set up meetings for something that is already decided?

I don’t think that Russian interference in the U.S. election, even if proved, is a justification for going to war.   The U.S. government, the old Soviet Union and many other countries have tried to covertly influence other countries’ elections over the years.  None that I know of has ever gone to war over this.

My guess is that the Mueller investigation will not produce evidence of collusion with Russia that could be used as a basis for articles of impeachment.  It is possible that it will produce evidence of corrupt dealings with individual Russians that could be used to indict Trump supporters and appointees.   And it is very possible that it will produce indictments for obstruction of justice, such as lying to the FBI, a crime generated by the investigation itself.

LINKS

The Warm War: Russiamania at the Boiling Point by Jim Kavanaugh for Counterpunch.

The media’s Mueller speculation has reached a new level of lunacy by Matthew Walther for The Week.

The Curious World of Donald Trump’s Private Russian Connections by James S. Henry for The American Interest.

The Curious World of Donald Trump’s Private Russian Connections (Cont) by James S. Henry for The American Interest.

Russian Collusion: Hillary Clinton, DNC & FBI Are the Real Stars by  Michael Doran for National Review.

Is Trump the New Clinton? by Musa al-Gharbi for The Baffler.   In case you forgot, the Chinese helped Bill Clinton win reelection in 1996.

Debunking Russiagate, attempts to stop the new Cold War by Larry Kummer for the Fabius Maximus web site.

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