Very gently, some sort of pattern is beginning to emerge (at least in my mind) in the ridiculously confusing soap opera that is the whole edifice of alleged Russian interference in the most recent US Presidential election.
Cast your minds back all the way to 1991. The collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union. And, more to the point, the collapse of the former Soviet Union itself as a consequence.
The Soviet Union was never really about ideology. That was in the main an excuse to have a coherent single polemic with which to combine a circle of disparate nations around Russia, in order to provide a protective zone for Russia.
Even the use of the term ‘Russia’ is fallacious. Since Russia is itself comprised of many individual republics, providing a further, inner ring of security for the central Russian cultural and political core.
Boris Yeltsin was elected the first President of the Russian Federation in July 1991. The attempted coup against Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev, one month later, and Yeltsin’s perceived central role in the collapse of that coup attempt, weakened Gorbachev’s status, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and made Yeltsin the pre-eminent elected leader in the new greater Russia.
Yeltsin proved to be a rather an underwhelming new Russian strongman. And pretty much stood by as the Russian economy collapsed, the protective Soviet ring of buffer states declared their own independence, and NATO and the European Union pushed their claims right up to the borders of Russia itself.
Yeltsin was succeeded in 1999 by a then unknown former minor FSB (successor to the KGB) officer called Vladimir Putin. Who at first made overtures to the West, looking to be treated as an equal partner, as he set about rebuilding Russia’s economic fortunes.
Putin’s overtures were rebuffed. As first Bush (preoccupied with conquering the world in his War on Terror) and then Obama (preoccupied with dusting the world down, all the while apologizing for Bush) totally ignored Putin and his now Third World-level former superpower.
Putin took none too kindly to this. Steadily increased Russia’s economic clout, as a large-scale provider of raw materials, minerals and energy. And then sought to create a new zone of economic and military influence around Russia, without the aid of the West.
This all came to a head over the Ukraine and with the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Obama’s former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, had during her four-year term in office (2009-2012) made herself thoroughly unwelcome with Putin, with her constant warnings about Putin’s renewed foreign adventuring. But matters took a decided turn for the worse over the Ukraine.
I’m not entirely sure what Putin thought would happen when he annexed Crimea in 2014. I suspect his advice was and remains not as good as he would like. And this could well be an important point to bear in mind when attempting to understand what has been going on the past few months. But then again, maybe there is an aspect to this whole game that we’re still missing. Which could well be a more important point to keep in mind.
In any event, Obama slapped on sanctions. Those sanctions, plus the much more crippling global oil glut contrived by US ally Saudi Arabia, combined to inflict devastating damage on the Russian economy. The GDP of which has shrunk since imposition of sanctions from $2.2 trillion to $1.3 trillion.
Good advice or no, this must have made Putin pretty pissed. Enough (on both counts – sanctions and oil glut) to embark on what might well still turn out to be an ill-advised incursion into US elective politics.
Ok. Before we get to that. Let’s throw in some supportive side-chat, trivia, info, whatever.
Whatever may or may not be the truth about Trump and Russia, it is not unknown for Russia to attempt to obtain compromising information on politicians in other countries. In this morning’s London Observer newspaper, a former British Labour Foreign Office Minister claims that he and other Ministers were targeted for just such reasons by the Russians.
And it’s not just the Russians doing the compromising. The Israeli Intelligence officer who sourced my book [Maggie’s Hammer] told me that the Israelis were behind the sting operation which brought down former senior British Conservative Cabinet Minister, David Mellor, in 1992.
Lest you think otherwise, the Israelis are still at it. As discovered by the London Guardian newspaper, when they ran their own sting against a senior Israeli Embassy staffer, who was caught on record talking about setting up current Tory Foreign Office Minister, Sir Alan Duncan.
In a separate Guardian article, the suggestion is made that the Israelis might have been targeting Duncan for his anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian leanings. Much the same argument was proffered by my Israeli Intelligence contact about Mellor.
But a little pushing from me elicited from my Israeli source the info that the Mellor sting was also about his involvement in illicit arms deals, winked at by the British Government, and favoring Arab nations.
In which regard, and as my book confirms (but, to be fair, it’s hardly original material), Alan Duncan has been for some decades now one of the primary bagmen for the Saudi Royal Family, in the negotiation of their nation’s ridiculously remunerative (as in, bribes) arms dealings.
That’s why Alan Duncan keeps popping back into Conservative-led British Governments, in or around departments that handle arms deals (Foreign Office, Trade, International Aid). Duncan’s there to set up the illegal commissions.
Now, if you nobble Duncan, you nobble the bloke smoothing the path for the arms deals (with the Arabs), and, more importantly, for all the bribes. Which is the real reason for the Israeli interest in him.
Another point to help set this all in context. The US, the UK, Russia, Israel and China are seen as being the current superpowers of cyber warfare. And the FBI is the lead US agency involved in countering foreign cyber warfare. All of which side-chat will become relevant as the story continues.
The first of the scandals really to take hold in the long messy 2016 US Presidential election was the one relating to the Clinton Foundation. I think it is generally recognized that the primary trigger for all the attention was a book called Clinton Cash, which was published by Breitbart’s editor-at-large, Peter Schweizer, and was later adapted into a documentary that was executive produced by former Breitbart chairman and current Trump White House strategy adviser, Stephen Bannon.
To be fair, I have written elsewhere that the book is not complete nonsense. The New York Times investigated it and found it not totally wanting. But this post is all about source, trigger and context. That book led to NYTimes coverage, which it is suggested may have been a primary catalyst for FBI interest. Pay close attention to regularly occurring protagonists in this post.
The main allegation in that book was one concerning a potential connection between some of Hillary Clinton’s voting as a Senator, on the purchase of certain uranium interests by Russian companies, and donations to the Clinton Foundation. What is of interest to me is the Russian connection.
The second scandal relating to Clinton was, of course, to do with her e-mail servers. And once again, and almost certainly quite properly, the source for the information was the FBI.
I say ‘quite properly.’ What was proper was that the agency doing the investigation was, quite properly, the FBI. What was questionable in its propriety was the behavior of the FBI Director, an admitted Republican, in his pronouncements about the investigation by the FBI.
To be honest, I can’t determine who first brought Clinton’s private email servers to the attention of the FBI. The best I can find out is that the subject first seems to have become public during the congressional hearings on Benghazi. This is why I raise the point about the nations and the agencies focusing on cyber warfare. They are the ones who would know about and trade in the ‘currency’ of cyber knowledge.
What is also noticeable, but again, to be fair, it’s a bit after the event, so I’m not sure anything nefarious attaches per se. But it is interesting to note, nevertheless. All of the reports, leaks, etc. many of which were later determined to be ‘fake news’ about alleged FBI indictments of Clinton over both the Foundation and the email servers, followed pretty much the same trail of unnamed FBI sources to Fox News to certain specified Fox News announcers (hack, hack, hack … Bret Baier … hack, hack, hack).
Ok. Back to the storyline itself. Putin had no great love for Hillary Clinton. He made no secret of the fact that he would prefer a Trump Presidency.
Which neatly brings us to a huge ‘what if.’ You have Putin. Guy from nowhere. Turns Russia around. Still a bit of a banana republic. Wealth is all raw materials. But a banana republic plus. Lots of money. Fast cars. European banana republic. He’s in charge. Democracy and accountability long since gone into the toilet. He can pretty much do what he wants. He loves dealing with his own oligarchs. Through whom he has amassed, by all accounts, a fortune of some $40 billion.
Here’s Trump. Who is just a Western-style oligarch. Who’s been dealing with Russia for thirty years. Putin is just the latest strongman with whom he’s had to deal. I set this out in much more detail in two previous posts – http://bit.ly/2jEixV5 and http://bit.ly/2idAnxz. Trump is no stranger to doing deals with nefarious strongmen. For crying out loud, he built skyscrapers in New York City and casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Trump is also not averse to playing long games. Especially those where he affects a short-term setback (e.g. bankruptcy) in order to entertain a long-term revival.
So. What if two strongmen, who have few political and business scruples, and a combined dislike of Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic Presidential Candidate in 2016, decide they’d like to make a few more bucks, and by-the-by, wouldn’t mind redrawing some geopolitical maps to the benefit of their respective countries and pockets, set out to play a con on the world? What might that con look like?
I can’t help but feel it might look something like this. Some ‘revelations’ about Clinton (based on some fact). Some ‘revelations’ about Trump (based on a lot less fact – I’m not saying there ain’t seedy facts; I’m saying the ‘revelations’ deliberately don’t necessarily deal with those facts). Feeding those revelations to some outlets. And seeing what comes out of the mix.
People make the mistake of thinking that long-game cons, intelligence psy ops, whatever, are surgically designed and executed masterpieces, not unlike the screenplays for the Ocean movies. Not so much. It’s all about getting some ingredients, throwing them into a pot, and seeing what happens.
In this case, the aim is to dent Clinton, at some point before polling day. Mission accomplished. Followed by denting Trump. Only then to have his info discredited. Thereby improving his position before polling day. To be honest, I think that was the intention. That’s why the info about Trump was leaked to Mother Jones last July. But for some reason, the Trump info didn’t gain traction until after the election.
No matter. It gets some air. How exactly? We may never know. Some bright spark at the FBI? Someone in US Intel pissed off at Trump? Trump’s team? Again, who knows? The point is, the 35 pages of memo’s finally gain traction on the circuit. They are condensed into a two page summary. Which finds its way to an intelligence briefing. And voila. Little late. But we have the second stage of the ‘what if’ Trump/Putin gameplan: ‘revelations’ about Trump.
What next? I think the same thing that was intended if the Trump ‘revelations’ had become common currency before the election. Short term hit on Trump’s credibility. Followed by later discrediting of the memo’s. Thereby restoring and improving Trump’s credibility.
The only difference is that Clinton is no longer the target. The ambition now is to damage the reputation of Congress, US Intel, American media in general and CNN in particular.
Then again. This could all just be plain fancy. And it could be that Putin simply wants to hurt America. Only time will tell.
[I have further associated articles linked to the same post on my Facebook Page]