Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Russia Mystery

What is one to make of the "Russia connection" - the narrative that says U.S. and Russian officials and government members have been "colluding" in some ill-defined conspiracy to subvert the rule of law in America?

It appears that the connection is being taken seriously by many U.S. public figures. Congressmen, statesmen and journalists are busily exploring the backgrounds and recent activities of officials close to President Trump - Carter Page, Manafort, Bannon, Kushner, Flynn and others - to find out if they have formed secret links to Russian intelligence or have become compromised via business deals, thus also compromising the country's security.

In the Soviet era, the consequences of all this would have been earth-shattering: it would have meant that a carefully prepared Soviet espionage network had succeeded in bringing down the United States, the world's most powerful entity. Yet now, in the era of Putin and the insipid "power vertical", it somehow seems less significant - as if a minor undemocratic and unstable country had developed pretensions to grandeur based on a harebrained scheme to infiltrate the intelligence, information and economic structures of America and to cause as much damage as possible within a short space of time. This is not to say that damage has not been inflicted - it may well emerge from the countless investigations now underway that leaks, cyber attacks and the actions of certain U.S. officials and diplomats have had a disastrous effect on sections of America's infrastructure and public life.

But the question that arises is: why would Russia go to such lengths to disrupt America's security and economy? Russia is dependent on the U.S. for trade, and in general sees itself as a 'partner' of the U.S. in exerting pressure on ISIS in the war on terror. And also - why would U.S. officials suddenly want to collude with Russia in causing damage to the United States? Is there some secret cabal of Trumpist functionaries intent upon seizing power in the name of the Russian Federation? It hardly seems likely, yet this possibility is what lies behind the headlines: "Kushner's 'secret channel' with Russia", "Alleged Russian Hacker Shared DCCC Docs with Fla Operative", and so on.

The entire affair is still a mystery - a mystery as enigmatic as the presence and personality of Donald Trump himself, who combines all these serpentine threads into a single worrisome focus. America and the world face uncertain times.
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