By Frank Vernuccio
Originally posted in the New York Analysis of Policy & Government newsletter
The New York Analysis of Policy and Government begins a two-part examination of the charges of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
The President’s military attack on the airbase of Russia’s ally Syria, in response to President Bashar al-Assad’s heinous use of illegal gas weapons against his own people, further diminishes allegations that Trump is friendly with Putin. The Russians had warned the White House against the move. The move is in sharp contrast to the Obama Administration’s reluctance to offend Putin’s Syrian ally.The “Russian Connection” allegations against the Trump Administration need to be seen for what they truly are.
Even by the usual harsh standards of politics, the slash and burn tactics practiced by the losing side of the 2016 election have been excessive. The situation is deeply worsened by the complicity of a media that remains embarrassed that its open advocacy of Hillary Clinton was not only unethical but also unsuccessful. Combined with an academic establishment that seeks to censor non-leftist student speech, and the financing by rogue billionaires of street protests, its adds up to a (mostly) nonviolent attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election.
The normal governmental avenues are increasingly unavailable to the hard left. Voters have taken note of Progressives’ failed policies at home and abroad. Republicans now dominate the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and most governorships and state legislatures. Rather than do the soul-searching and preparation for the next campaign as the GOP did in the aftermath of the 2008 election, when it was Democrats that took total control of the federal government, the extremists who have taken over the Democrat Party are seeking to delegitimize the election results.
Since the Trump Administration is too new to actually have a record to criticize, allegations have been made about improper actions before the election, specifically, contacts with the Russian government.
No convincing evidence has yet to be presented, either of illegal contact (despite the newly released information that the Obama Administration was indeed engaging in surveillance of the Trump campaign) or of any resulting impact in the campaign—that much is clear. But a larger question looms. Why would the Russian Government favor a Trump victory?
The Obama loyalist theory is this: in 2011, protesters marched in Moscow, claiming Putin had rigged his election. Clinton had criticized the election, angering Putin. This, the former President’s supporters maintain, motivated the Russian President to retaliate by moving against Clinton. Russia did hack DNC computers, so there was, at least, some smoke. But was there fire?
The idea assumes that Putin is as sensitive as a college student needing a safe space to hide from microaggressions. Was the ex-KGB official so hurt that he would place his entire government at risk by helping Trump? Would he overlook, because of Clinton comments, the enormous favors that Clinton and Obama did for Russia, which included:
- Slashing spending on U.S. armed forces,
- Selling 20% of U.S. uranium (the basic ingredient of nuclear weapons) to Moscow,
- Signing the New START treaty which, for the first time in history, gave Russia the lead in atomic weapons,
- Doing virtually nothing other than impose weak sanctions in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,
- Roadblocking U.S. energy production from federal lands, thereby giving Russia’s chief export greater value,
- Withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq and allowing Russia to become the main influence in the region.
There also another problem: there is no evidence that, other than hacking computers, Putin actually did anything that in any way actually influenced even a single vote. The most the DNC can point to is that some Clinton quotes may have been leaked, although even that is open to question.
In contrast, during the campaign, Trump pushed concepts that were virtual daggers pointed at the heart of Moscow. The first was the undoing of the dramatic and dangerous cuts to the U.S. defense budget. The second was a promise to reinvigorate the U.S. energy sector, which could cause significant harm to the Russian economy. The third was a reversal of Obama’s intentional reduction of U.S. leadership across the globe.
Much was made of Trump’s attempt to get NATO countries to spend more, claiming that pleased Moscow because it opened up a wedge between Europe and the U.S. The assertion doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, in large part because several European nations now express a willingness to beef up their defenses. Having a greater defense against Russia’s increasingly powerful military is not exactly a result Putin would want.