Is Putin an Evil Genius or a Clumsy Tyrant?
Is Putin an evil genius? Or is he just a clumsy tyrant who can’t get over the fact that the Soviet Union fell apart 25 years ago? In their last days in power, Obama and Kerry really need to come clean on what they think of Putin. And admit their stumbles; disastrous stumbles especially in Syria. Hillary, you too.
But far more importantly, Trump and his incoming administration will have to decide who Putin really is, and what Russia means to America on the world stage. Before they begin re-calibrating the nation's foreign policy towards the Eastern European Bear. And Rex Tillerson, Trump's nominee for State, will need to demonstrate to a partially hostile Congress that his understanding of issues like Russia's relationship with the West is deep enough to merit his appointment.
Here's the thing. There's another group who have been a little noisy lately on Russia. The IC, or intelligence community, has let America and the World know that Putin hacked for Trump, to put it bluntly. And the evidence for that is, of course, classified. So you'll have to take the word of bureaucrats buried in the IC's beltway bunkers, that Russia did indeed lean in for Trump. Something the incoming administration vehemently denies.
And these are the very same bureaucrats who President Trump will have to rely on for intelligence on Russia. So, you Evan McMullinish wonks, which is it? Evil genius or clumsy tyrant? Because if Putin is an evil genius capable of expanding the reach of Soviet-style active measures to actually influence (or at least impact on) the results of a presidential election, then what the frick was Obama doing drawing lines in the sand in Syria? To then retreat into a state of no-action, no-real-response, and then heading to a well-groomed fairway while Aleppo burned?
If, on the other hand, Putin is a clumsy tyrant who does not merit 80's foreign policy gravitas, then how could Russia's intelligence services actually shift American voters' perceptions enough to change the outcome of an election?
Ah, of course. The world is a far more nuanced place than that sort of Manichean dualism would suggest. The 3rd century has sent a sandal-wearing courier, and they want their philosophy back. You see, it all depends on context and narrative. If Obama suddenly decides he doesn't want anything to do with Syria, then those clumsy Russians will own Syria. Which they kind of do by now. And if John Podesta needs an excuse for why he flat out failed with Hillary's campaign, he can point to the Russian connection, run by that darn evil genius, Vladimir Putin.
So Putin is both an evil genius and a clumsy tyrant. If just depends on what the Democrat establishment needs.
But the thing is, that's actually not a bad description of Putin: willing to use horrifying tactics (from suspicions around the series of bombings in Russia before his first election to the rubble of Aleppo) therefore evil, if rather un-genius-like. Furious that open and democratic democracies flourish in a way that Russia has yet been able to, therefore a clumsy tyrant lookiing to re-impose not just a regional area of influence, but also to re-impose Russian dominance on the world stage.
In the Cipher Brief, former intelligence officials John Sipher and Steven Hall suggest that America and Russia share little in values and that the relationship is an antagonistic one. And that Putin is actively carving out a sphere of influence with major Middle Eastern players, and that's not just Iran. From Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Putin's bloody allegiance to Assad and his willingness to support with weapons and aircraft what has been a civil war bordering on genocide in Syria, is actually reassuring to the autocrats who run every state in the area, save Israel of course. They want loyalty and reliability, not muddled equivocations and platitudes about climate change and diversity, in Sipher and Hall's view.
Trump has shown he will immediately repair relations with Israel. Good. But that will not be enough. He will need to decide how to counter Putin's growing influence in the region. And also decide whether and how he can work with the Russian leader. It will be the great test of Trump's professed realpolitik. He will need all the advice he can get. Even from the bureaucrats who smirkingly question the credibility of his election.
Posted by AllardK at December 30, 2016 4:56 PM
Putin is not ‘clumsy.’He reached the top of the Russian power structure and stayed there, a remarkable feat. He wants power. He wants money. He wants to see Russia regain some of its former glory under the USSR, in particular in the areas with Russian speaking populations.
He is not ‘evil,’ either, at least no more than anyone else who wants power or money, and will do anything to attain it. He acts to pursue what he perceives to be Russia’s self-interest. He relies on nationalism, fear of Islam, hatred of gays, and the wealth of the Russian oligarchs.
In many ways, he is no different from today’s American conservative.
What makes recent events so remarkable is that Putin helped put Trump in power. Putin successfully influenced an American election and obtained the outcome he wanted, a president who would help achieve Russian goals.
1) Russia seeks to have sanctions lifted. This will allow it to climb out of the prolonged recession caused by the Obama administration and western allies. 2) Russia wants to continue expansion. Trump will permit this, while Democrats will not; indeed, that was the only plank in the Republican platform the Trump campaign bothered to change, saying they would no longer arm the Ukrainians. 3) In order to see sanctions lifted, the economy recover, and expansion continue, Putin needs to weaken the western alliances, both military and economic.
The great question is this: is Trump compromised? The Russian oligarchs have invested a great deal of money in him, but no one knows how much, and Trump will not reveal it. In addition, Trump’s sexual promiscuity in the 90’s was remarkable, something he brags about, and during that time he went to Russia. Did Putin and the KGB obtain material for blackmail?
Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but everything about Trump’s statements concerning Putin and the Russians reinforces the possibility that Trump is not just compromised, but active on behalf of the Russians. The repeated denials by Trump about the source of the hacking, even though he knew the conclusions reached by the US intelligence community, certainly appear suspicious. His campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was fired after it was revealed he had failed to register as a foreign agent and was still being paid by a Putin ally, the pro-Russian leader of the Ukraine. Trump has called NATO obsolete and said so many bizarre things that would be bad for the US and its allies, it is difficult not to conclude the obvious.
But why did American conservatives, especially the Alt Right white supremacists, find all this so readily acceptable?
Phx8, excellent analysis once again.
But why did American conservatives, especially the Alt Right white supremacists, find all this so readily acceptable?
Putin is a white Christian man who wages total war against any Muslim group that threatens Russia’s geopolitical interests. For the racially motivated, supporting Putin is a no-brainer. He is the last hope for preserving the old world order.
My goodness, phx8 and Warren will write nearly anything to cover up the ineptness of the Obama regime and its failed policies in the Middle East.
Putin is on the rise because Obama was too engaged running around the world trashing America. Putin is on the rise because Obama and Hillary diddled while Russians and Syrians colluded to take over the area.
Obama is an embarrassment to both America and the Democrat Party. The sooner he leaves office the sooner we can forget about him and his horrible administration.
My Leftie Buddies appear to have memories of convenience when it comes to foreign interference in elections.
Remember Obama flying to London to publicly hawk against voting for Brexit? He threatened the Brits that they would go to the “back of the queue” as our trading partner.
Obama sent his thugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars to Israel in an attempt to unseat Bibi.
Thanks. Yesterday, after intelligence services released ‘forensic evidence’ showing how the Russians influenced our election, Trump stated that Putin was very smart not to retaliate. What is wrong with Trump? What is going on there? Why would someone compliment the man who just led an attack on the US?
Today Trump wished a Happy New Year to “all my enemies.” What kind of man would do that? It is very disturbing that he sees others that way. That is not healthy. That is not something a stable person would say.
Thank you for providing a classic example of how conservatives address issues. The idea is simple. Whatever Trump does, Hillary Clinton is worse. No matter what Trump does, Obama is worse.
Failed policies in the Middle East? Uh huh. Wait until Trump starts a war between Israel and the Palestinians.
Look, I could address the rest, but your comments are too silly to take seriously.
It is a shame to see you twist and turn in an attempt to justify a foreign country’s attack on America and its election process.
But not surprising.
What a silly comparison phx8. Both Obama and Hillary have held high political office and have a political record.
Can’t tell from your words what your opinion of Obama and the Middle East fiasco is, so I can’t respond to your fairy-tale Trump war between Israel and Palestinians.
My words did not “justify” anything relating to the Russians and our election. Please cite the words if you disagree.
I can prove my words regarding Obama interference in the Brexit and Israel vote.
Putin is “on the rise” because he managed to influence western elections with cyber attacks and fake news. He is doing this because an election favoring Hillary Clinton would have meant continuing the sanctions.
How peculiar and… How Sad! How Sad! To see you side with Putin against your own country.
Oh wait. Conservatives no longer accept the determinations of American intelligence services, at least not if it makes Trump or Putin look bad.
The Russians favored Brexit because it weakened western economic ties, especially the EU. Obama openly took a side in this referendum because one side clearly supported the interests of the US, the UK, and the ER, while the other side sought to tear down international relations and the international economy. However, we did not launch attacks on the Brits, not the way the Russians did to them and to us. And yes, the Brits will go to the back of the line for trade considerations.
Guess I better not refer to ‘us’ anymore since the interests of conservatives in America are taking a back seat to the interests of Trump and Putin. American elections and democracy are now subordinate to the need to tear down Obama and tear down Hillary Clinton in order to make Trump look less bad.
You must be very proud.
I applaud the wisdom and courage of the British electorate for daring to throw off the tyranny and shackles from Brussels restricting their freedom and denying them justice.
Obama had no legitimate reason for interfering in a British vote to remain in or leave the EU. Imagine the outrage if the British PM came to the US to publicly support or oppose NAFTA.
And NO…the Brits will not be treated differently by Trump in trade considerations.
I noticed that phx8 has nothing to say regarding Obama sticking his nose into Israeli elections. Suits me…silence indicates agreement.
The Obama administration did not interfere with Israeli elections and there were no “thugs.”
Point to something Obama did that was illegal. Provide a link. Should be easy if what you say is true.
Will the British electorate throw off the “tyranny and shackles” of Brussels? I see. Looks like the Scots will throw off the tyranny and shackles of the Brits. Northern Ireland may do the same.
What will happen to the Brits if they go through with it?
First, for business, they will not receive the same treatment as members of the EU. The Brits will take a back seat.
Second, London may cease being the financial center of the EU; instead, banks and other financial institutions may leave. Given the choice of dealing with the EU or dealing with just Britain, the financial guys will follow the money. They may relocate to Dublin. Depends on whether the Brits actually go through with Brexit.
Third, it is a common practice for Brits to work abroad, especially young people, and for people from other countries of the EU to work in Britain. That may end.
There is still a lot of uncertainty.
The pound remains near a thirty year low. An interest rate cut kept the economy from tanking, at least for now, and the FTSE is slightly above where it was prior to the vote.
The Trump administration will have to treat the Brits differently because leaving the EU means tearing up all the previous treaties. Maybe Trump will actually reward the Brits with more favorable trade terms. That would help undermine the EU even further, and be greatly appreciated by Putin.
phx8, why should I bother proving Obama interference in Israeli elections when all you do is justify his actions as you did with Brexit?
You provide imaginary justification for trashing Trump which you expect your minions to cheer…and they do.
Your writing on WB has become laughable phx8.
However, Happy New Year to you and I look forward to a fun 2017 on WatchBlog.
Happy New Year to all!
Today Trump returned to denying the Russians were behind the election hack. The more he denies it, the more suspicious I get. At this point the denial is completely implausible. What is Trump trying to hide? What do the Russians have on him?
Some suggest the issue is merely a way of delegitimizing Trump. It is not. Trump will be president regardless of what the Russians or Director Comey did. Nothing can change that now. Did the Russians and Comey influence the election? Yes. Is there anything that can be done about it now? No. It was an extraordinarily close election, and that is that. The only way forward is to prevent that kind of attack on the United States from succeeding again. Both the GOP & the Democrats benefit from addressing this.
So what is going on with Trump? Just how bad is it?
The election wasn’t hacked. Incompetency led to the hacking of personal emails.
Yes it an issue that needs to be addressed by both party’s.
Yes, intentionally and falsely claiming that the election was hacked, screaming n*zi and trying to label Trump as ‘Putin’s puppet,’ is about nothing else than trying to delegitimize Trump enough to prevent him from passing the conservative policy he was voted to enact.
What’s going on with Trump? Right now, nothing but left-wing conjecture. Doesn’t mean nothing is there, but Trump isn’t even President yet and the left’s hyperbole and end of world projections have far surpassed the ‘Obama is a muslim’ rhetoric we had in 08.