Either Way, Russia Wins

No matter which way the 2016 presidential election goes, Russia, and its current vohzd, Vladimir Putin, will come out as winners.

In the past two weeks the Republicans and Democrats have nominated presidential candidates who are enablers of the revanchist regime of Vladimir Putin.  Actions that 25 years ago (the Soviet Union collapsed in the winter of 1991) would have drawn outrage as aid and comfort to an implacable Cold War enemy today are met chiefly with partisan rhetoric and short-sighted media commentary on campaign tactics.

Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed his admiration for a strongman who ruthlessly suppresses dissent in his own country and foments uprisings elsewhere (Georgia and Ukraine, including the Russian annexation of Crimea). Trump has suggested a possible United States break with NATO, the alliance formed to counter Soviet Russia and still stridently opposed today by Putin. Trump installed as campaign manager a former foreign agent who supported the Putin-backed Ukrainians. And at the 11th hour of platform committee work at the RNC, after showing little to no interest on other issues (apart from the U.S.-Mexico border wall), the Manafort-led Trump convention forces watered down platform language to support Ukraine in fighting Russia-backed rebels.

Hillary Clinton presided over the "Russian reset" that saw Putin roll through Ukraine to annex the Crimea region and perpetuate the ongoing conflict in that country. Trump has now famously called for the Russians to release Hillary's missing 30,000 emails (those deleted from the now also-famous "home brew" server), an invitation which assumes less-than-vigilant custody of U.S. secrets by the former Secretary of State. And most damningly, she and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, through their non-profit foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, received donations and exorbitant speaking fees from Russian interests behind a venture known as Uranium One, which resulted in the acquisition of uranium rights (a core component for nuclear energy, and ominously, nuclear weapons) by those interests. The deal, requiring State Department approval, again, transpired during the tenure of Secretary Clinton.

Whether or not you believe Trump and Clinton are blackmailed or bought, merely the prima facie recklessness of their conduct and associations would have disqualified either from government service, much less the nation's highest office, scarcely more than two decades ago. The Cold War ended with Soviet collapse, but Putin is determined to reassert hegemony over the "near abroad," the old Soviet republics, in his unrelenting campaign to restore Russia's lost prestige. Many of America's interests directly conflict with his. Clinton's "extremely careless" (to quote FBI Director James Comey) conduct with regard to an, at best, international competitor or, at worst, foreign adversary in Russia means, at a minimum, we must assume that conduct's exploitation – and Trump is little better.

The Republicans and Democrats have nominated two reckless and negligent candidates as goes U.S. national security. Without either yet having taken the oath of office (and to say nothing of a whole host of other crucial foreign policy questions: ISIS/terrorism, Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, etc.), each has shown immense vulnerability to foreign influence.

Either way, we are compromised.

No matter which way the 2016 presidential election goes, Russia, and its current vohzd, Vladimir Putin, will come out as winners.

In the past two weeks the Republicans and Democrats have nominated presidential candidates who are enablers of the revanchist regime of Vladimir Putin.  Actions that 25 years ago (the Soviet Union collapsed in the winter of 1991) would have drawn outrage as aid and comfort to an implacable Cold War enemy today are met chiefly with partisan rhetoric and short-sighted media commentary on campaign tactics.

Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed his admiration for a strongman who ruthlessly suppresses dissent in his own country and foments uprisings elsewhere (Georgia and Ukraine, including the Russian annexation of Crimea). Trump has suggested a possible United States break with NATO, the alliance formed to counter Soviet Russia and still stridently opposed today by Putin. Trump installed as campaign manager a former foreign agent who supported the Putin-backed Ukrainians. And at the 11th hour of platform committee work at the RNC, after showing little to no interest on other issues (apart from the U.S.-Mexico border wall), the Manafort-led Trump convention forces watered down platform language to support Ukraine in fighting Russia-backed rebels.

Hillary Clinton presided over the "Russian reset" that saw Putin roll through Ukraine to annex the Crimea region and perpetuate the ongoing conflict in that country. Trump has now famously called for the Russians to release Hillary's missing 30,000 emails (those deleted from the now also-famous "home brew" server), an invitation which assumes less-than-vigilant custody of U.S. secrets by the former Secretary of State. And most damningly, she and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, through their non-profit foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, received donations and exorbitant speaking fees from Russian interests behind a venture known as Uranium One, which resulted in the acquisition of uranium rights (a core component for nuclear energy, and ominously, nuclear weapons) by those interests. The deal, requiring State Department approval, again, transpired during the tenure of Secretary Clinton.

Whether or not you believe Trump and Clinton are blackmailed or bought, merely the prima facie recklessness of their conduct and associations would have disqualified either from government service, much less the nation's highest office, scarcely more than two decades ago. The Cold War ended with Soviet collapse, but Putin is determined to reassert hegemony over the "near abroad," the old Soviet republics, in his unrelenting campaign to restore Russia's lost prestige. Many of America's interests directly conflict with his. Clinton's "extremely careless" (to quote FBI Director James Comey) conduct with regard to an, at best, international competitor or, at worst, foreign adversary in Russia means, at a minimum, we must assume that conduct's exploitation – and Trump is little better.

The Republicans and Democrats have nominated two reckless and negligent candidates as goes U.S. national security. Without either yet having taken the oath of office (and to say nothing of a whole host of other crucial foreign policy questions: ISIS/terrorism, Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, etc.), each has shown immense vulnerability to foreign influence.

Either way, we are compromised.