Now that the presidential adviser on national security issues has resigned, and his potential successor declined the post, the administration in the White house no longer meet the characteristic that gave her Donald trump, calling it “well-oiled machine.” And no matter how strongly the President and his team deny the fact that this was largely a consequence of “the history of Russia,” the question of the Kremlin’s meddling in us policy continues to create a lot of doubt and speculation.
Views on this situation are divided. Some portray trump a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the online meme, the U.S. leader appears to us as red-haired goddess, firmly embracing a half-naked Putin, while they go on horseback through the Siberian plain. Others imagine a strong male friendship between these two leaders that, if not planned to undermine the existing world order, or at least agreed to help each other in increasing wealth, and influence.
Of course, this is something there, however — as in the case with the election campaign of 2016 — the boundaries between expert analysis and unsubstantiated allegations is very much blurred. Perhaps the essence lies precisely in this confusion and mess that has become the new standard, and it is the most serious threat. Because, if you rely on the few facts that have been confirmed for sure, most of the headlines in the media today is a strong exaggeration — and these exaggerations play into the hands of Putin. Putin is the only man who in the first hectic weeks of the administration, trump has managed to strengthen its credibility and enhance its reputation, becoming the most powerful leader in the world. You like it or not, but now he seems to be winning.
How we need to rethink this scandal?
First, consider the departure of Michael Flynn (as Michael Flynn) from the post of adviser on national security and the promises which he could give or not give to the Russian Ambassador concerning the lifting of sanctions. Yes, the Logan Act forbids private individuals to intervene in the diplomatic process — as we know, at the time those conversations Flynn had not yet occupy the post of adviser on national security issues. However for anybody not a secret that in case of his election, trump had intended to take a more business approach in relations with Russia. As a candidate, trump has said that he is determined to usher in a new era of deal-making and diplomacy, based on the interests of the country, preaching the way of America which will steadily pursue its economic and strategic objectives, rather than engage in a long and tedious debate around human rights principles and the rule of law.
In this context, it is not necessary to be seven spans in a forehead to understand that the first item on the agenda trump concerning Russia, most likely, will somehow touch the joint fight against Islamic state (a terrorist organization banned in Russia — approx. ed.) in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. So, if Flynn had not signed the contracts and did not receive money for it, his sin, obviously, is only excessive enthusiasm. Whatever signal Flynn Russia, for both sides, over was hardly something more significant than a nod of the head neighbor at the bar, who came to drink a glass of beer after work.
Second, many of the regular contacts of the former head of the election headquarters trump Paul Manafort (Paul Manafort), and many political and business partners trump, whose names are still not named, representatives of the Russian intelligence for several months before the US election. How illegal were those contacts? Understand the Americans with whom they communicate? (“We are not talking about people who wear badges with the name and say, “I’m an agent of Russian intelligence”” — then said Manafort.)
I’m not saying that it is not necessary to conduct an investigation. Press reports published this week, and declassified us intelligence report, released in January, indicate that a lot of representatives of the election headquarters trump was happy to undermine Hillary Clinton and welcomed any assistance in their attempts to gather incriminating evidence. Furthermore, they are not too concerned about who is behind the information they receive, and how it was produced, this information. Regardless of whether there were compromising documents in the network due to the Kremlin-sponsored hacker groups or is it the handiwork of someone weighing 400 pounds sitting on your couch and eating cupcakes, supporters of the tramp gladly accepted help from them. Moreover, when the administration was asked to respond to quite legitimate questions regarding Russia’s actions, she refused to admit even the most obvious problems, starting instead to blame the “fake news” and “stupid people” who dare to raise such questions.
However, the fact is that Putin did not affect the outcome of the presidential election in the United States. Did he mess together in the process and stir up a scandal? Yes. But, neither he nor trump, if it comes to that, I didn’t expect anything other than the victory of Hillary Clinton. According to the January report of investigation, the Pro-Kremlin bloggers were planning to start a Twitter campaign #DemocracyRIP designed to sow doubts about the results of the vote, as soon as the information about the defeat of trump.
Although disrespect trump to the process of accountability and transparency in itself forces to start an investigation, the biggest concern is that Putin will be able to benefit from this scandal, whatever may be the outcome. Although the speed of convergence may slow down, but if trump will remain in power in the US, Putin will be able to rely on such a revision of relations between Russia and the United States, based on which will be based on pragmatism, not ideology, and which in its scope will far outstrip the “reset” of President Obama.
At this time, the reorientation of the relationship will include not only a symbolic exchange of red buttons between the officials (or, as on Thursday, the colorfully put it, the trump, the “stupid plastic button that made us look like a bunch of idiots”). The basis for a reorientation of relations between Russia and the United States will be based on the desire to earn money. After two years of decline in GDP, the Russian economy shows signs of recovery: according to IMF forecasts, in 2017 the growth will be 1%, and the Kremlin-funded Agency Sputnik reports the highest level of confidence in the business community since 2011. In this business climate foreign investment, not to mention partnerships in the oil and gas sector will thrive, especially if no one is going to mention politics.
Meanwhile, if the administration trump will fail, Putin will become a legend both within Russia and abroad. The complaint of Emmanuel Macron (Emmanuel Macron), the main contender for victory in the presidential elections in France, that Russia is interfering in the French election, only strengthen in the public mind the image of Putin as a person who is able to put down even America.
However, this reputation as an evil genius who don’t deserve it. The Kremlin is indeed developing complex global media strategy, focused around the tactical theft and leakage of private information in combination with the production of information materials in which truth is often deliberately distorted. However, it deals not only with Russia, and until 2014, Russia in this sense inferior to many countries.
The problem is, with what zeal trump and his supporters were ready to take advantage of the weaknesses of our system, which found itself as a result of the operations of Russia, and to seize any opportunity for manipulation, which they were granted. The truth is that trump, not Putin, undermines the credibility of the American President.
Cynthia Hooper, Jr., Professor of history and Director of the program of study Russia and Eastern Europe at the College of the Holy cross.