Since my original “No, Russia did not hack the election” post a few days ago I’ve coped a bit of criticism questioning my partiality and patriotism – though not as much as over my post about Peta Credlin and Tony Abbott. Just as I find it an amusing experience to be criticised as insufficiently right by the right, I find it equally amusing to be criticised as insufficiently anti-Russian by the left. To all those who consider me some sort of a Trumpyite Putin apologist all I can say is I wish you guys were as cold warriors the first time around; maybe we wouldn’t have had to wait until 1989 for the Berlin Wall to fall. Then again, maybe you would have launched a full nuclear attack in retaliation for the KGB going through your rubbish, so there would not be the Wall, or me – or you.
In any case, let me briefly elaborate again on the whole saga.
Did the Russians hack the election? As I said in the above-mentioned post, no, they have not. Though 50% of Clinton voters – no doubt thanks to the mainstream media’s “fake reporting” – do think that Putin’s online minions actually hacked into the election computers and switched votes to Trump.
Did the Russians interfere in the election? Yes, most likely, though no one seems to actually know with any degree of certainty the extent of their involvement. Did they actually hack into Hillary’s and John Podesta’s email accounts? Or did they merely have a hand in disseminating all the embarrassing information? Despite months of constant coverage, we simply don’t know. While “the US administration is ‘is 100% certain in the role that Russia played’ in election-related hacking”, the most notorious Australian alive, Julian Assange, maintains that “Our source is not the Russian government. It is not state parties.” I don’t trust Assange as far as I can throw him, but I would like to see some evidence – any evidence – to back up the 100% claim.
Was the Russian interference a bad thing? Yes; you don’t want anyone interfering in your domestic politics, but least of all someone who has been if not technically an enemy then decidedly unfriendly and in a global geostrategic competition with you.
Is it a new development? WikiLeaking the Democrat dirt might be, but Putin has been pretty hostile to the United States and her allies, particularly in Europe, for a better part of 12 years now. So no.
Did the left care about it until now? Nope. I’m glad you do now, though it’s a pity that Vlad had to start reading your mail for you to notice.
Is Putin a bad guy? Some sections of the populist right have a large soft spot for Vlad, on account of his seemingly uncompromising attitude to Islamic terrorism as well as his unashamed nationalism and staunch defence of the Eastern values. I’m not a section of the populist right. So yes, he is a bad guy.
Is Trump a passive beneficiary of the Russian mischief, or has there been some collaboration between the two parties? I would love to know, and so would everyone else. Personally, the latter would surprise me; neither Trump nor Putin strike me as being that stupid. If I’m wrong, I would consider such dealings treasonous, in the same category as Teddy Kennedy’s dealings with the Soviets in 1983 to prevent the re-election of Ronald Reagan.
Has Trump been too cavalier about Russia and too chummy with Putin? Yes; and yes, that’s a bad thing. I have written about it extensively for months now; in fact, one of my first posts on The Daily Chrenk was precisely on this very topic. It reminds my biggest concern about the coming Trump Administration.
Has President Obama reacted appropriately by expelling 35 Russian diplomats? It’s hard to judge not knowing the exact nature and extent of Russia’s interference with the presidential election. The United States, and the West more broadly, clearly need to work out a coordinated and serious response to Russia’s actions of overt and covert aggression around the world.
Should Trump have praised Putin’s response to the expulsion? No, it was a dick move. But it was not treason. And neither is questioning Obama’s actions. I know that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” has been on an eight-year holiday, though I’m reliably informed that it’s tanned, rested and ready for its grand return. Until then I will keep making the point that criticising an Administration’s actions does not equal supporting the enemy, regardless whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat in the White House.
I’ll leave the last word to David Harsanyi, under whose conclusion I sign myself wholeheartedly and with two hands:
Here are two positions an intellectually honest person can simultaneously hold.
First, that Russian President Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian who, though no Stalin, still subverts human rights, and is generally antagonistic to the idealistic aims of the United States . When Republicans cozy up to this sort of person, as Donald Trump has done, they undermine the stated beliefs and values of conservatism.
Second, though there’s little doubt he wishes he could, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not “hack” the American election. In fact, there’s no evidence that the Russians had anything to do with Trump’s victory.
Now, I understand why so many on the Left want to force Republicans to choose between these two statements. They’d like to delegitimize the democratic validity of Trump’s presidency (in much the same way they did with George W. Bush) and smear those who don’t join them in this endeavor as unpatriotic Putin-defending lackeys. Considering their own past, and the president’s own accommodating attitude towards the Russians (and Cubans, Iranians, Fatah/Hamas, and other illiberal regimes) this seems an uphill battle, but it’s not unprecedented.