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A deep dive on Putin, Trump and cyberwar from The New Yorker

Good Monday morning MinnPost readers. Rather than do any blathering of my own this morning, I just urge you to read The New Yorker’s smart, thorough, calm but scary, balanced (because it also suggests how things look from Vladimir Putin’s point of view) treatment of how and why the Russian cyber-team became involved in helping Mr. Trump come to power.

It’s long. Very long. It’s written for adults. If you qualify, wait until you have some time for a deep dive and then click this link.

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/28/2017 - 09:35 am.

    It IS a deep dive

    It’s also long, as advertised, and requires at least a bit of historical memory.

    It’s also illuminating, highlighting what seem to me to be parallels between Trump and Putin in their styles of governance, as well as in raising the question, “Why would the Russians prefer Trump in the White House to Clinton?”

  2. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 02/28/2017 - 11:11 am.

    Raises more questions

    A good article in that it raises more questions than it answers. One for me is that why the US did not use its power after the fall of Communism almost 30 years ago to deliver the peace dividend which a massive cut back from armaments and national defense could have ensured? It would have made sense in the early 1990’s for the US to have dismantled our military-industrial complex erected against Communism and redirected those resources to fulfilling the promise of America at home. Who was it that said to never let a crisis go to waste?

    I never knew before that Boris Yeltsin had warned about a resurgence of Russia. Putin seems to be the fulfillment of that warning. And little wonder given the long history of US adverturism in foreign affairs. How could the neoconservative policies under Bush to remake the Middle East culminating in in the invasion and occupation of Iraq been perceived otherwise? It’s disheartening to me that knowing how much was wasted in bringing the last Cold War to an end, this country’s leaders did not have more brains and sense to read the signs and avoid getting caught up in another. Maybe Putin and the Russians would prefer a Trump in the White House just to avoid another Cold War.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/28/2017 - 03:44 pm.

    Putin and the “end of history”

    What I find interesting is the “end of history” as it was defined on the strictly democracy/communism/fascism axes proved to elusive on many other, less politically defined axes that people live on. Because after all, you can’t call Putin a communist (and pretty much any other person in this world)–he’s more of a tzarist with the goal of reinventing the autocracy of the Romanov (by the way, did you know that all of the Romanov family are now saints?)


    From “The End of History?” Francis Fukuyama**

    …The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism. In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in the intellectual climate of the world’s two largest communist countries, and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon extends beyond high politics and it can be seen also in the ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse contexts as the peasants’ markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the past year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran.

    What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affair’s yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in. the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run…

    (end quote)

    Oh, history ! How disappointing you are sometimes.

    It is clear that the enemies of “Western liberal democracy” thrive and are to be found within and without the US.

    The voice and desires of the multitudes are always under attack by the people who realize that democracy may not support their aggrandizement and accumulation of money and power.

  4. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/04/2017 - 06:27 pm.

    It took time

    I finally had time to read it and yes, it is long… but empty. OK, even if the Russians hacked DNC, they were just the messengers; the messages came from the DNC and Podesta… Whose fault is it? And how is it worse than killing people in Ukraine and Syria?

    A few picks from the text (not that they are new revelations, of course)

    “For many national-security officials, the e-mail hacks were part of a larger, and deeply troubling, picture: Putin’s desire to damage American confidence and to undermine the Western alliances—diplomatic, financial, and military—that have shaped the postwar world.” Really, our intelligence and government just now learned about Putin’s goals to damage America? Oh, yeah, they hoped for reset…

    “What we have is a situation in which the strong leader of a relatively weak state is acting in opposition to weak leaders of relatively strong states,” General Sir Richard Shirreff, the former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said. “And that strong leader is Putin. He is calling the shots at the moment.” So whose fault is this?

    Putin “was alarmed by the Obama Administration’s embrace of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. And he was infuriated by the U.S.-led assault on Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.” Understandable. And zero benefit for America. Whose fault is this?

    “Putin absorbed the death of Qaddafi as an object lesson: weakness and compromise were impermissible. “When he was a pariah, no one touched him,” Zygar wrote. “But as soon as he opened up he was not only overthrown but killed in the street like a mangy old cur.” That is true, too, and America, with beating the weak (Yugoslavia and Libya) and letting perceived to be strong (North Korea and Iran) off, has reinforced this sad state of affairs in the world, especially in the last 8 years.

    “Imagine you have two dozen TV channels and it is all Fox News,” Vladimir Milov, a former deputy energy minister under Putin and now a critic, said.” Didn’t we have something like that, except they were all MSNBC? Wasn’t Obama glorified all the time?

    “Yet diplomatic concerns inhibited some of the United States’ active measures.” “From 2011 to 2013, Iranian-backed hackers waged a sustained DDoS attack on dozens of American banks and financial-services companies, but the U.S. didn’t respond in kind, partly because the Administration was negotiating with Iran to curb its nuclear program.” Sure, Russia and Iran don’t have those diplomatic concerns meaning that they use active measures… and win.

    “It was a baseless story alleging that Clinton had received millions of dollars from Saudi royals. Mattes said, “The fake news depressed and discouraged some percentage of Bernie voters.” If we relate this to the quote saying that this kind of stuff would not work if it were about British Queen, we can say that the problem was in Clinton, not in Russians.

    “Der Spiegel published a startling editorial recently that reflected the general dismay in Europe, and the decline of American prestige since Trump’s election. The new President, it said, is becoming “a danger to the world” that Germany must stand up in opposition to.” So, based on the rest of the article, it was Obama who gave Putin an opportunity to do the things he is doing and now it is already all Trump’s fault?

    “Talbott said, “The not quite apocalyptic answer is that it is going to take years and years and years to get back to where we—we the United States and we the champions of the liberal world order—were as recently as five years ago.” An even graver scenario, Talbott said, would be an “unravelling,” in which we revert to “a dog-eat-dog world with constant instability and conflict even if it doesn’t go nuclear. But, with the proliferation of nuclear powers, it is easy to see it going that way, too.” America might have been loved in Europe five years ago (why fine, not two, by the way?) but it was seen as week everywhere else which resulted now in that dog-eat-dog that Mr. Talbot is predicting for the future.

    “The working theory among intelligence officials involved in the case is that the Russian approach—including hacking, propaganda, and contacts with Trump associates—was an improvisation rather than a long-standing plan. The official said, “After the election, there were a lot of Embassy communications”—to Moscow—“saying, stunned, ‘What we do now?’ ” Obviously, there was no “let’s elect Trump” order from Putin to anyone and Russian interference was just a game to weaken America which, as we well know, has been and will be Putin’s goal.

    So, getting back to the election result, everyone still points out to hacking and pro-Trump fake news as at least partial reason for his victory. But people conveniently forget about all the dirt that was poured on Trump from mass media and all the fake interpretations of that (racist, sexist, rapist, etc.). Did anyone count how many votes it cost Trump?

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