The Russians did it -- Revised Version

For three years, the left has been peddling the story that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election in collaboration with the Trump campaign, with the ridiculous Steele Dossier cited as the proof.

Now, the Party Line has shifted.

The Russians still did it, says the new line, possibly working with the Clinton campaign, only they fed disinformation to the gullible Christopher Steele, who than helped deceive the innocents at the CIA and the FBI. So if these agencies spent three years conducting a sham investigation that hamstrung the American Presidency and embittered political relations -- well, it was still the Russian’s fault. Perhaps Putin himself made up the more salacious details.

One can imagine some Russian intelligence operative amusing himself by making up kompromat about U.S. political figures and throwing it out into the world, sort in the tradition of the old Mad magazine “Spy vs Spy” comic strip. But it is hard to take the idea seriously, largely because no rational Russian could have thought that U.S. government agencies would take the Dossier seriously. (“Come on Boris! You want the FBI to believe that Trump got two prostitutes to pee on a bed?”)

The real explanation is that the causation went in the other direction, as suggested by the Conservative Treehouse.

The truth is the CIA and FBI worked to plant disinformation in the Steele dossier. The CIA/FBI did not get duped by Russian Disinformation. The CIA/FBI knowingly and willfully solicited Russian disinformation to be channeled to Chris Steele.

The current DOJ, current FBI, and current political class (both parties), do not want to reveal that U.S. intelligence agencies worked with Russian actors to seed disinformation into the Steele Dossier that could then be laundered and returned to the U.S. intelligence apparatus for exploitation -- via political surveillance -- using FISA.

Russian involvement, says CTH, came from oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has deep and mysterious ties with people of influence all over the world, including the FBI. If one made a list of people who had a motive and leverage to encourage Deripaska to work with Steele, the Russian government would be far down it. Democratic politicians would qualify though, because Deripaska wanted relief from sanctions, and Hillary was regarded as a shoo-in winner.

If one applies the cui bono? principle to look for others who had and continue to have good reason to promote the “Russia did it” narrative, and thus to continue to pound a wedge between the U.S. and Russia, the roster of suspects is as long as it is obvious.

The CIA/FBI conglomerate is at the top, on the theory that is better to be regarded as a fool than a knave, especially when knavery could result in criminal indictments. One should certainly expect these agencies to stand this ground, however ridiculous they appear. They will be supported by the weight of the military-industrial complex, which can never have too many enemies to fear.

These Deep State actors may also be abetted by the Republicans. Political operatives will find it hard to resist flipping the collusion narrative to claim that the Hillary campaign colluded with Russia, and the neocon wing of the party is always happy to seize an opportunity to bash the Russians.

A number of foreign nations could also have good reason to support the Russia-blaming orgy.

China is an obvious possibility; promoting enmity between the U.S. and Russia has great strategic and economic advantages.

The Ukraine is equally obvious. Our national interest in the affairs of the Donbass or Crimea, or the Ukraine itself, is zero. If U.S.-Russia relations are raw, we will support the Ukraine reflexively, without much input from realpolitik considerations. The Baltic states are in a similar situation; they have reason to fear Russia and we have no real stake, so persuading us to support them for the sake of annoying Russia is good strategy.

A little further afield is the United Kingdom and Europe. Steele was a Brit intelligence operative, and the U.K. appears to be involved in the affair somehow, but the reasons are obscure. The EU has as a simple calculus: it wants us to pay for NATO, and this requires us to maintain our animosity toward Russia.

Finally, there is the Middle East, but I confess to zero understanding of what either the U.S. or Russia is trying to accomplish there, so I pass.

On the whole, the foreign nation with the least discernible motive to disrupt U.S.-Russia relations is Russia itself. Nor does Russia have any reason to want to sow chaos in the U.S. -- another staple of the “Russia did it” narrative. We are doing that quite well on our own, and a chaotic U.S. with a $900 billion defense budget and an arsenal of fearsome weapons is not something that any other nation should want to live with.

The degree to which any of these have been involved with the Steele Dossier and its aftermath are speculative, but all of them could be involved in keeping the story going, and the list is depressingly long.

So enough. We have had three years of absurdity. It is devoutly to be hoped that Durham ends it, and soon. We need to face that we ourselves are the agents of our own destruction, and that the remedies must be internal.

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