Reply to post: Close, but too early to say how close

Indictment bombshell: 'Kremlin intel agents' hacked, leaked Hillary's emails same day Trump asked Russia for help


Close, but too early to say how close

(Long post, I apologize. TL;DR version is: hoping that Russians too careful, and Trump campaign too stupid, to collude, but former used the latter as useful idiots. Fear that it'll be worse.)

We should separate the acts of a hostile regime from those of a party election committee. Russia has a national agenda set by Putin. It is, loosely, to regain Russian prestige as a global superpower and not fade away into a giant country with a third-rate economy. To that end, their MO is to destabilize and delegitimize Western institutions like NATO and the EU. I really hope they fail, but I am not remotely surprised that they are trying - and while many attacks will be extremely subtle (the FSB are world-class experts at espionage, psyops etc) frankly it's on us if our systems, the quality of our public discourse and the critical thinking skills of our citizenry are so weak as to be fooled by some of their attempts.

The critical missing piece is whether elements in our polity knowingly assisted the Russians in their efforts. Hillary Clinton is such a divisive figure in US politics that she could have lost the election without needing any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. You could go so far as to say that discovering Russian collusion with Trump would be a terrible outcome for the Democratic party because it would absolve them of the need to do serious introspection as to why they lost (as opposed to the easy, "we lost 'cos Trump was cheating with the Russians' help").

Now the Russians have long had experience of "useful idiots" and "fellow travelers" that they can use as force multipliers in operations. Normally I would say that the Trump campaign would fall into this camp. The Russians saw his momentum, realized Trump's appeal and his lack of talent, and realized what an opportunity they had. None of their success *required* them to explicitly collude with the Trump campaign.

But. A Big But. The Trump campaign was so full of grifters, eager-to-please in-laws, ambitious climbers and so on with absolutely zero experience in recognizing manipulation, psych games and so on that they could, and quite likely, *did* meet with various people linked to Russia. Probably not some FSB colonel with three gold stars (the Russians would never risk compromise) but people with some linkage back to the Motherland.

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