What must our election look like to foreign observers?

An excellent source for careful commentary on Russian matters is Patrick Armstrong, a former Canadian diplomat who produces original essays, mostly for Strategic Culture (a site that may or may not be supported by the Russian government) and a biweekly SitRep providing perspective on news reports about Russia.

His latest column, "The US Election Is Not Over," expands his beat to review the evidence of election fraud in the U.S., concluding both wryly and dryly that:

[O]ne might observe that the U.S. government declares foreign elections to be fraudulent on [a] mere fraction of this evidence. Or even, in the case of Belarus, with no proffered evidence at all.

Armstrong closes with some thoughts about how the situation must appear to foreign observers:

2020 has not been a good year for the United States: COVID-19 has wreaked havoc, the economic gains of the past few years have eroded, civil violence and rioting have been common.  A disputed election leaving half the population thinking its candidate was cheated out of office will not make things more peaceful.  Many are speaking of, if not outright civil war, severe civil strife.

And, in a condition of widespread civil strife and who knows what else, what is the future of the Imperium Americanum?  Many pundits will quote Plehve's alleged remark about the attractiveness of a "little, victorious war" to distract the population.  But what little wars are there left?  Afghanistan?  Iraq?  Hardly victorious.  It is unlikely that overthrowing Maduro would be very short or, even if it were, that it would distract impassioned American rioters.  A war with Iran would be neither little nor victorious.  A really severe civil war would divide the U.S. military and bring it home.  The consequences of the November 2020 election, whoever winds up in the White House in January, will be long-lasting; the Imperium will have important concerns at home.

What from Moscow's perspective?  The ingathering of American resources to deal with problems in the homeland will be welcomed but the dangers of a nuclear state imploding will not.  2021 may make 2020 look like a blessed haven of stability.

The last paragraph is the crucial one.

From Moscow's viewpoint, the willingness of the Democratic party to embrace the Steele Dossier hoax and destroy Russian-U.S. relations for the sake of partisan advantage, combined with the inability of the Republicans to resist the temptation to compete over who can hate Putin the most, must be deeply disturbing.

Add to that the failure of U.S. institutions to run a transparent election that produces results that can be accepted as honest, plus the reality that a reader of Strategic Culture or of RT, the Russian state news service, is better informed about the problems with the election than is a reader of the N.Y. Times or Washington Post.

Were I sitting in the Kremlin, I would be quite worried about what these crazy Americans might do next.  An out-of-control empire with a disintegrating political culture is a fearsome thing.  Sitting in the U.S., I am quite worried about possible Russian reactions to the situation, because the potential for miscalculation, adventurism, or fear-based pre-emption is huge.

James V DeLong lives in the Shenandoah Valley of VA.

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