Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Big Questions In The Age Of Chutzpah: The Foreign Interference In The Elections Of 2016

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By Michael Novakhov

Summary: The big picture of the foreign interference in the Elections of 2016 still is not complete. What foreign entities besides Russia, attempted to interfere and influence the US Elections, how, and what was the impact of these attempts? The long-term assessments, prognosis, plans, and work are needed in this direction.

The full text with the list of links and the latest updates is here:

The brief version ("column") is here:

The Big Questions In The Age Of Chutzpah

President Trump expressed his doubts if Russia was the only suspect in the Elections 2016 meddling. This is a good and valid point, and it requires the further exploration.

The Twenty-First Century is emerging as "the age of chutzpah".

The 9/11 events, still waiting for their definitive investigation and understanding, and their "political equivalent" - the US Presidential Elections of 2016; the European turmoil and Brexit, the continuing economic and geopolitical ascendancy of  Germany, the so-called "ISIS", as the possible creation of the Russian Military Intelligencethe intensifying "hybrid": a mix of intelligence, terror, cyber and information wars (usually in one direction - against the West), to name just some; and other events, small and big, serve as the illustrations of this "chutzpah thesis". The other, old, of the centur y past but still very much familiar terms for this "Chutzpahnism" are fascism, totalitarianism, and authoritarianism. Every age must have and name its "chutzpahs" and its "chutzpah - reincarnations", I guess.

The other, more humanitarian and the literary term for this chutzpah obsession is "hubris" (of para-royal, a la King George III proportions, as it appears to some observers in Mr. Tump's case, or with some saintly overtones, in the Russian Orthodox cum the KGB tradition, as it might be in Mr. Putin's case). Is Mr. Trump mad? Does it matter? There are many safeguards in the system to prevent the short circuiting due to individual insanity on the highest levels, and the additional measures at improvement are on the way.

It is the legal, and closely linked to it the political insanity, with these terms as the metaphors for the aberrations in system functioning: involving the groups of people: as in a group legal-political health or psychosis, or shared legal-political illusions or delusions, or "moral insanity", the "group  psychopathy", as in criminal societies  that might be more potentially dangerous to the state security, be they genuine, intrinsic, or induced by the outside forces, as in hostile foreign intelligence operations.

But all these types of insanity are not chutzpah. Whatever its historical and personal varieties, chutzpah is sane, "chutzpah iz chutzpah". A very Yiddish word.

At the center of this spider web, which is the world mafioso Chutzpahnismo, "The Tarantula" sits

This picture was so astutely and allegorically observed by some of our most truth-seeking lawmakers. The tarantula's name is "Puti-Put", or more exactly, precisely, and politically correctly, "Putinism". Putin's Russia is a Mafia State in form, structure, ways, and methods, including her relations with the other states. The modern Russia is the ultimate triumph of the criminal will and mentality, she loves to throw her weight around too and sees herself as the reinforcer and the overseer in her neighborhood. A lot of criminal chutzpah.

With the steady trickle of the news reports on Trump investigation, it becomes increasingly clear: Russia's hostile efforts at the political interference in the West are the long-term, carefully planned and coordinated. It takes a lot of chutzpah (and a lot of advanced preparations) to do so brazenly whatever they were and still are doing.

"No fewer than 9 teams investigating collusion, meddling", but “the main problem is that after months and months of multiple investigations, no one has found any evidence of collusion...”

"It all looks complicated: hard to investigate and harder to turn into criminal charges. But the complications of Trump's Russia ties could go farther than that: They could implicate top officials of the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI itself.

And that is the best reason to believe that Mueller's investigation will not go there."

Some people would insist, and rather convincingly, that exactly these reasons: the possible involvement and implications of the FBI itself and the DOJ in the Trump affair, should make Mueller's investigation definitely "go there", to expose the dangerous reach of the unique and current threat. Senator Grassley's investigation of the FBI is also a welcomed first step, together with the one of the Inspector General for the FBI.

Behind the scenes and the events, are the arrays of the ultimate players. 

And their ultimate goals appear to be complex and hidden, they might be paradoxical, masked by deception, and just lurk teasingly above the waters.

It is generally assumed and reported that the pro-Trump election activities, such as Twitter bots and the social media propaganda, ascribed to the groups of Russia - oriented hackers, did not affect the election results. "The report said that while Russian operatives did not change vote tallies, Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an elaborate effort to propel Trump to the presidency — not only via hacking but also through the dissemination of “fake news” aimed at undermining Clinton and boosting Trump."

But is this "assumption of no impact" correct?

"The spread of Russian-made fake news stories aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton on social media is emerging as an important line of inquiry in multiple investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow."

Where are the statistical studies of these factors: bots, social media, and propaganda, hypothetically directed from abroad, and their impacts? How to measure it? The studies of this type, especially post factum, are very difficult to construct and to conduct, and these questions might never be answered definitively, but the common sense impressionistic assessment would suggest that these activities did not go without a trace and without their intended effect, to say the least.

The possible purposeful manipulations of the pre-elections opinion polls, with the intent to mobilize the backlash emotions of protest and the opposition to the results of these polls on the election day, have also to be studied and investigated. Did we investigate and study this possibility? The importance and significance of these factors seem to be evident.

Historically, from the ancient times, the attempts at the revolutions from above by the "subversion" and/or co-optation of the ruling elites, were, apparently, one of the most time-honored traditions, a part of the royal statecraft and entertainment, and highly thrilling and rewarding activities on the part of the states, statesmen, and their intelligence services.
Lenin was said to be, and very likely so, the German agent, for example. Did Mr. Putin decide to fill the Leader's slippers and continued this noble tradition and pursuit?

The Euro-Asiatic Roots Of Russian State and Russian Kleptocracy go far back for ages, they got encoded into the Russian society and culture on the "socio-genetic level", tying together the plundering traditions of conquerors and rulers, from Vikings to Byzanthians, to Tatars.
"If you don't deceive, you cannot sell", the old Russian saying goes: "Не обманешь не продашь".

Among these issues, some type of a political-financial love triangle can be traced.  

It is wedged between the Russian-Jewish Mafia and Putin's Russia as the Mafia state on the one side, German Finance Capital - the Deutsche Bank, The Laundromat to the World, closely connected with the German Intelligence Services on the other side, and the Trump's political machine and his political environment, the "T people", as he called them, on the third side.

To make the matters even more intriguing, apparently there is some secret or semi-secret agreement between Russia and Germany on cooperation in intelligence matters, which opens up the whole slew of various security issues which should be the subjects of the separate discussions.
"According to the cited "confidential interview", BND and the Russian Intelligence Services do maintain "a formal intelligence sharing agreement" (page 225)":

I do not think that we know enough at this time to make the definitive impression if Putin is and/or was the "German agent", or if Merkel is and/or was a "Russian agent", both witting or unwitting, or at least the agents of influence, but the impacts of the US Elections of 2017 visibly appear to benefit and to enhance further the stature of the "right honorable" Germany, and to paint the Russian Intelligence Services (and possibly RISS among them), presumably involved in this "operation", almost as some hapless idiots, which they are not.
In-te-res-ting contradiction, which might contribute to the understanding of the "is he? - isn't he?" dilemma. See also: on "History as a tragedy and as a farce", and on the "the proof of the pudding"...

Most likely, both Putin and Merkel were and are, first of all and most of all, "their own agents", while appearing to flirt with some other, alternative or not, determinations. Flexibility, the artful sense of play, a certain broadness in building the alliances and coalitions, while preserving and enhancing your own interests, are the valuable skills of the political arts and crafts. But the various legitimate questions do legitimately arise...

Was the Putin's personal political standing somehow compromised, due to the Trump affair and its repercussions, in the opinion of the Russian citizens and voters? It does not appear to be so, at least not at this time yet, he still riding those polls high enough, second only to Stalin in popularity among the Russians, in a tie with great Pushkin. What a nice company, indeed! Some cracks started to appear, though.

But Russia as the country continues its inexorable slide to the inevitable economic, social, and political decline and stagnation; accelerating brain and capital drain, facing the centrifugal forces of dissolution as the multi-ethnic and the multinational entity. The times of the overpriced oil (as the result of the complex manipulations) are over and unlikely to come back. Without this essential politico-economic lever, Mr. Putin is not able to deliver. His chutzpah balloon was punctured, and he is landing on his own speculative oil price needle.

The "Operation Trump" still is unfolding

And if it indeed occurred, it might have been ordered and directed by Putin personally or by his circles, foreign, domestic, or both; with or without his personal initiative and approval. It might be viewed as the last and desperate attempt at prolonging Putin's political and personal shelf life,  and maybe, his very survival. We simply do not know enough details yet, but these details cannot obscure the major thrust of the story.

Alternatively, the intriguing possibility of the hypothetical "Operation Trump" as the way of un-sitting Putin by discrediting him, including, perhaps, by some strata of his own Intelligence Services, in concert or with some knowledge of these actions by the others, is also a distinct one, however remote it appears to be.
"By far the greatest threat to Putin and his unique system of governance is the growing dissatisfaction in the Russian military", that might be the only real and viable opposition to Putin's kleptocratic regime. The patience of the Russian people is legendary, but the cumulative changes in perception and attitudes towards power might manifest themselves swiftly and suddenly, as if by the paradigmatic ("revolutionary") switch.

However, in this country, the changes in attitudes towards the Russian shenanigans start to become visible. "According to a new report from Politico, State [Department - M.N.] is derelict in its duty to monitor the activities of Russian diplomats in our country. Keep in mind that not less than one-third of those diplomats are actually spies...
This is a touchy matter because Russian “diplomats” have become increasingly aggressive in their espionage in America. It got worse under Obama, whose White House never took countering foreign espionage very seriously, and has exploded since Trump moved into the Oval Office. Russian spies have been observed roaming across America at will, without any pushback from State, which is supposed to supervise their activities and punish violations."

Not surprisingly, the backlash against Putin in the USA intensified measurably. "As investigations into Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election continue, Russian President Vladimir Putin's image in the U.S. has worsened. Thirteen percent of U.S. adults now have a favorable opinion of Putin, down from 22% in February. His 74% unfavorable rating is the highest in Gallup's trend."

Mr. Pompeo  "couldn't confirm whether Putin personally directed the plan", as it was alleged in the IC January 6, 2017 Report, which might be explained by the different types and sets of data used for the collection, assessments, and analysis. "Personally" or not, the Russian role and complicity in the undue interference in the Elections - 2016; be they primary, secondary, or tertiary, appear to be undeniable.

The Americans naturally, do not like the Trump - Russia scandal and its alleged direct or indirect perpetrator even now, at a whiff and sniff stage. Imagine, what would happen after the investigation is completed and the results are announced, at a "cash and carry" stage. I do not think that the majority of the Americans would object to the idea of the timely regime change in Russia, which is long overdue and might be desired by many social strata within the Russian Society and power structures also.

The punishment should fit the crime.  

And it would be good also for historical-prophylactic purposes, among many other findings, analyses, and conclusions. The Kremlin's and other putative and aspiring geopolitical doctors should get a full dose of their own medicine.

It takes a lot of chutzpah to assume that you, whatever and whoever you are, can attempt to install the President of the US as your puppet or a client and can get away from this brazenness unscathed. Even if you imagine that you are this and you are that: the Super-Duper-Bondy-Blondy, The Chief Card Carrying Chutzpah Delivery Man - 24/7, or The Hybrid Tzar of the World.

And paradoxically or not, this can be the best decision and the best solution for the presumed, supposed or designated "puppet": it is better to cut these real, or implied, or illusionary strings once and forever, regardless of how they or their perceptions came about in the process of this political narrative, than to engage into the futile "protesting too much" against their investigations and untangling. No "puppet master" would mean no strings attached, and no need to fight and untangle them. Very simple, logical, and quite doable. The other aspiring "puppet masters", buttoned up and otherwise, should take their notices also.

However, the big, historical investigative work should then start in honest: how did this whole thing come about, what is wrong with the American political process that makes it vulnerable to these types of attacks; how to counteract and to prevent them, and what safeguards to put in place.

The next series of questions asked should recognize and address the issues related to Russia as the true criminal enterprise masquerading as a state which at this point came to threaten no less than the very principles on which the Western Civilization, Culture, and democracies are founded. How do you deal with this situation? The simple old containment strategy might carry the risks of contagion and contamination: the "moral black hole" of the Russian corruption on the highest levels is a threat to Global Security. And this strategy of simple containment, as the "wait and see" attitude is also plainly, obviously, and painfully inefficient: the aggressive and messianic Soviet State and threat did not disappear, they transformed themselves into the Post-Soviet Russian State, which is even more aggressive and more of a threat.

"For nearly two decades, in fact, the Russian government and Russian companies spent money systematically to create corrupt business relationships as well as to undermine democracies in both Eastern and Western Europe." The suspicious interactions of Jared Kushner with "VEB", Russian "Vnesheconombank", which is not really a bank but the front of the Russian Intelligence Services, in addition to "special treatment" for him, Trump, and the whole family by the Deutsche Bank, is the kind of circumstances under the current investigation, which legitimately fuels these concerns.

Not all the facts of these Russian interventions are known publicly yet. 

The big picture still is not complete. Inevitably, the next set of questions arises: what other foreign entities attempted to interfere and influence the US Elections, how, and what was the impact of these attempts? The long-term assessments, prognosis, plans, and work are needed in this direction.

And, since these efforts at electoral interference are nearly universal, at least on the part of the big international players, the further questions arise: should these efforts be somehow regulated and restrained, or to be left to the province of the "free for all" Intelligence Services' competition?

"Because this Putinist onslaught has demonstrated a capacity to erode our institutions and those of other democratic countries, it deserves a prominent place in our thinking about global security. We are sleepwalking if we do not recognize this danger", proclaimed a group of Congresspersons recently.
Can you neutralize the spider web if you do not get "The Tarantula" out of its center?

The roles, interests, and places of Germany in these and other events, present and the future, should also be assessed objectively in this late post-WW2 period. Ms. Merkel and her parties just downgraded the Germany relations with the US from "friends" to "partners", under the convenient, timely, and planned? excuse of the controversies with the Trump's Presidency.
The relatively new complexities of the US - Russia - Germany triangle are reflected in this paradoxically pointed question: "Sanctioning Russia – With German and French Allies Who Needs Enemies?"

"The return of geopolitics means that the fundamental choice facing Europe in the twenty-first century will be between self-determination and external domination. How Europe addresses this question will determine not only its own fate, but also that of the West", opines Joschka Fischer.

"The primordial interest of the United States for centuries (WWI, WWII and the Cold War) has been to stop a coalition between Germany and Russia, because united they are the only force that could threaten us", observed George Friedman, and this observation, it seems to me, retains its validity and the strategic thrust more than ever. So far, "Divide et Impera", this "common rule of politics", seems to be quite skillfully and successfully employed by Germany and Russia against the US, rather than the other way around. The same dynamics are evident in US - Russia - China triangular relations.

This is doubly regrettable because, for Russia, it is the trans-Atlantic rather than the Continental orientation that seems to be the most viable and promising option and alternative, only if obscured by the subjectively colored, short-term goals and the shortsightedness of the current policies of Putinism.

"How very sad", as Mr. Trump would say.

All these are big, wake-up questions. They need big, fundamental, well thought out, and exhaustively researched answers, the results of the bitter lessons learned. To try to come up with these answers in-depth will take a lot of chutzpah too.

6.26 - 7.6.2017