Wednesday, November 16, 2016


While most of us are still in shock over the result of the just concluded US Presidential Election, it is important to analyze a very important factor which also led to the emergence of Donald Trump as President- Elect; and that was Russia’s involvement and interference into the electoral process.
At the 3rd Presidential Debate, Hillary Clinton made a very poignant remark about Russia’s meddling in the elections. She said, “We’ve never had anything like this happen in any of our elections before.” She was right! The ‘Russian factor’ i.e., Russia’s shameless and undiplomatic interference in order to influence the outcome of the elections, was so brazen and mind-boggling that it had sent shock waves reverberating around the world! It was no secret that Russia favored Trump to win the US Presidency; and at the end, the Kremlin achieved its goal. In the months leading up to the elections, observers noticed the blossoming ‘bromance’ between President Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump; with both men taking turns to heap praises on one another at various occasions. According to Trump, Putin was a more effective leader than President Barack Obama; and Putin reciprocated in kind by referring to Trump as ‘brilliant’ and ‘talented’. At the same time, the Kremlin made no secret of the fact that in its opinion, an emergence of a President Hillary Clinton, would not be in its best interests as regards US-Russian relations, and Russia’s growing ambitions in the global community.
To achieve Russia’s aim of an eventual Trump Presidency, during the election season, Russian hackers- with the blessing and backing of the highest echelon of Russian government i.e., President Vladimir Putin himself- gained access into the databases of the US Democratic Party, acquiring sensitive information which was then used to scuttle the ambitions of the Democratic Party Nominee (and Putin antagonist), Hillary Clinton. The trail from the hack of the Democratic Party’s e-mails which led to the resignation of former Democratic Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and also showed how the upper echelon of the party favored Hillary’s emergence over Bernie Sanders as the party’s Presidential Nominee, all pointed towards Russia. Granted, there were other factors which led to Trump gaining the advantage at the polls- or should I say, the Electoral College- but there is no denying that Russia’s involvement in the whole process, put enough of a dent in the Democratic Party’s ship, which also contributed to the eventual flood which occurred November 9th.
But then, why is Putin so anti-Clinton?
A brief look at Russia’s incursions into various political arenas all around the world would help in understanding why it was very important to the Kremlin that the US elect as its leader, someone who would cozy-up to Putin, rather than try to use strong tactics against the Russian state; and Trump showed himself as a malleable puppet- directly and indirectly. He stated his intention to develop friendly relations with Putin; and not to get involved in scuttles against Russia’s strategic interests. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, doesn’t see Russia (and Putin) through rose-colored spectacles.
The US and Russia have not seen eye-to-eye on various issues of global importance lately. In Crimea, in Syria, and now with the Baltic States, there has been lots of friction between the global powers. In Putin’s calculation, it would be better to throw the weight of the cyber-attacks and propaganda dissemination to favor the man who would pose no real threat to Russia’s quest for global dominance. So, Hillary had to be taken down via cyber warfare.
During the campaign season, Trump had threatened that if he became President, NATO members would essentially have to pay their own way if they hoped to get US military cover in the case of an assault on their territories. For states like Poland and Lithuania, on whose borders Russia had deployed missiles, this was a scary situation to imagine; but for Putin, it was music to his ears! NATO’s deployment of anti-missile defense systems in Romania, and its further plans for another deployment of such system in Poland- take note that this was a strictly ‘defensive’ measure against Russia’s continued assaults in Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine- was seen as a direct attack on Russia. Trump, by his careless utterance, was basically disregarding the NATO charter which clearly states that an attack on one member nation is an attack on all! The Republican candidate ‘flipped the middle finger’, to the principle of collective security on which NATO is anchored! The world held its breath; and Putin smiled…he had found his man!
Hillary Clinton has been a thorn in Putin’s side for many years now. As the former first lady made her exit as Secretary of State, one of the notes she left behind for President Obama, was to ‘Snub Putin’. She advised her Chief that the only thing the Russian President responded to, was force; and he (Obama) couldn’t afford to be naïve as regards Putin’s intentions. While former President George Bush spoke in glowing terms about Putin at some point; stating that he had “looked into the eyes of the Russian President and seen his soul”, Hillary stated firmly that Putin was a former KGB agent, and as such, had no soul! She supported ordinary Russians who took to the streets of Moscow in 2011 chanting that the parliamentary elections to the Duma had been rigged in favor of Putin’s party. Also, as Russia continues to support Bashir Assad in Syria, Hillary had been one of the major proponents of the ‘Assad Must Go’ movement; and she also supported sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea. During the 3 debates, Clinton had clearly showed that she would be very firm against Russia’s global quest for domination. Unlike Trump, she would not pander to Putin nor give him any lee-way for further expansionist actions. The Russian President was enraged! Hillary Clinton had a ‘target on her back’ from the day she announced her intentions to run for the office of President of the United States; and the Kremlin was resolved to take her down! The US Elections 2016 was Putin’s time for payback!
Putin hates Hillary’s guts. He hates the fact that she understands how the game of foreign policy ought to be played as regards to Russia. Hillary Clinton understands that with Russia, only ‘force’ works. You can never afford to bargain with the Kremlin from a weak position because Putin preys on weakness! We await to see how Trump will deal with Putin, when he assumes the US Presidency; but if he intends to follow through on his campaign rhetoric, the US can be sure to see a further diminishing of its influence in the global community, as Russia increases its own. Alliances would also shift, as former allies might begin to align themselves with the new ‘boss’ in town i.e., Russia. I do not think that this would be good for the world. I had hoped that Clinton would become President…but her loss has become Putin’s gain!