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During his three plus years in office, Donald Trump has waged an unrelenting war on the existing non-physical American infrastructure.  This has proven, under today’s realities, to not be to America’s advantage.  It is far more favorable to Russia since their primary goal is to see America seriously weakened.  Thanks to the Coronavirus and overall Trump policy, America is weakening by the minute, medically, economically and politically!

Trump has either made or proposed changes in all of the following areas: Social Security, food stamps, Obamacare, Medicaid, national parks, the Clean Water Act, tobacco law, DACA, school lunch programs, Medicare, taxes, NAFTA, the VA, education funding, the 2019, 2020 and 2021 budgets, the national debt, national environmental policy, national regulatory policy, health care, energy, criminal justice reforms, presidential pardons, the infrastructure and Immigration.  In the process, he has removed many of the legislative and other mandated barriers that keep the unscrupulous from exploiting their fellow Americans.

Additionally, he has been intent on remaking the Federal judiciary.  According to the Economist, in a little over three years, Trump has nominated and won Senate confirmation for 192 federal judges, including 137 district-court judges, 51 appellate judges and two Supreme Court justices. No president since at least Ronald Reagan has racked up judicial appointments so quickly (the closest was Bill Clinton with 189 at this point in his presidency).  By the end of the year, on current trends, a quarter of federal judges will be Trump’s appointees.

Mitch McConnell deserves much of the credit. The Senate majority leader and presidential handmaiden has made confirming the president’s judicial nominees his “top priority”. He has not let Senate norms and institutions get in his way. To speed up the process, Republicans have scheduled confirmation hearings during Senate recesses, and packed several hearings into a single day, over objections from their Democratic colleagues. They have also done away with a century-old tradition giving senators the power to block judicial nominees from their home states.

In addition, McConnell has reportedly been reaching out to senior conservative judges, urging them to consider retiring so they can be replaced while the White House and Senate are still in Republican hands.

What all of this means is that the American judiciary will be held in the grip of conservative judges who are appointed for life, creating an intractable situation for decades for any American who disagrees with them politically.

His focus on “America First” foreign policy has been equally broad and equally destructive.  Consider his position on Israel/Palestine, his withdrawal from or denigration of international organizations and treaties (NAFTA, Iran, the European Union, NATO, the TPP, the Paris Climate Accord, The UN Human Rights Council), his war on the State Department and on the US Intelligence Community, travel bans on diverse countries and populations, his trade wars with Brazil, Argentina and China and his apparent preference for despots (Putin, Duterte, Kim Jong Un, Erdogan, Abdel Fattah el Sisi, Xi Jinping, the Saudi Royals) over those who support democracies, are just some of the examples of the changes he has wrought in our relationships with other nations.

It is a simple fact that we are no longer viewed favorably around the world.  We no longer have the influence in foreign affairs that we had before Trump.  Of course, if you are an isolationist, an America Firster, a Russian or simply a xenophobe, you will applaud his moves in this arena.  If, on the other hand, you see value in positive relations with foreign governments or are concerned about the anti-democratic behavior of others, his attitudes will not please you.  In short, Trump would appear to be promoting and following policies that are not supported by a hefty chunk of the American people.  On the other hand, curiously, those policies would appear to be in line with the goals of the Russian leadership to weaken their American rival.

And what of Coronavirus?  The Washington Post has reported that Trump has overlooked or rejected intelligence on this matter for months.  Nothing is working!  The Russians must be absolutely delighted!  Trump has missed every opportunity since January to step up and do something – testing, the Defense Production Act, Personal Protective Equipment – anything – that would get us at least even and maybe ahead in the battle with Coronavirus.  Yet he has done nothing that has really worked for America – maybe for Russia – but not for America. Does he realize what he is doing?

Haviland Smith is a retired CIA station chief who spent his career during the Cold War working on the Soviet Union. 

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By Haviland Smith

February  4, 2020

If you look carefully and objectively at the world today, you may be able to perceive that we are approaching a crossroad. Some will even say that we are already in it. And just what is that? The people of this nation and the world are faced at this moment with a decision on what they want for the future. Do we want to continue our own fragile democracy as well as supporting other democratic movements abroad, or are we in the process of giving up on that and seeing the world sink into nationalism and populism?

Much is made of the post-World War II period and the Cold War when the two main competing ideologies were democracy and communism. Some saw it as horribly dangerous, particularly as they watched the hostile, nuclear armed competitors trying to manipulate uncommitted countries to their sides. And it probably was, but our worst fears were never realized. We and the Soviets somehow blundered through without major conflict.

What the Cold War provided to the world was relative security. There always seemed to be one or more superpowers present when things got really dangerous. Those superpowers tended to avoid their own conflicts and to suppress those of their so-called allies. In the Middle East, for example, despite the fact that the Sunni-Shia split had existed since the seventh century, it did not turn into today’s bitter armed conflicts until the end of the 20th century, as the Cold War became history.

Further, since the end of the Cold War, much of the world has seemed to approve globalism, which is the idea that freedom and human rights can be made available to all mankind. Proponents believe that the problems of humanity can best be resolved with democratic globalism.

What you can say about life under globalization is that it is likely to be less violent than life under populism which is a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups. This is largely because globalization has tended to bring with it an increased respect among nations for the needs and goals of other countries, where populism and nationalism recognize the desires of individual countries and their citizens above those of the rest of the world.

Was it working? Perhaps, but what has happened is that elements around the world, both on the political right and left, have turned toward nationalism and populism. And this is not a phenomenon limited to the third world; it includes countries that until very recently have appeared to support global democratization, countries like Poland, Hungary, Brazil and the Philippines, to name only a few.  Some observers think it extends to North America and the British Isles as well. How else do you explain Brexit or America’s inclination to turn past friends and supporters into reluctant allies and critics?

President Trump has introduced us to what looks like the coming new political wave. He has identified, won over and is now supporting and supported by those 30 million Americans who really have not benefited from our interest in and support of globalization. It is very clear from the ongoing political scene that they will support him in just about anything he wants to do. In effect, Trump is a strong opponent of globalization and even stronger supporter of nationalism and populism. He has overturned many of the existing policies of past American governments and essentially told the world that the only thing that matters to him (and to America) is whether or not any given issue favors America.

You can’t really say that Trump’s positions on these issues have actually directly caused other nations to follow his policies, but his policies and positions have created an environment in which it is easier for that to happen. Trump openly supports some of the worst, least democratic world leaders. This is true of Egypt, North Korea, the Philippines, Russia, China, Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Libya and India, to name a few. He appears to love and respect authoritarian leaders who oppose or crush all opposition to their leadership. He has even gone so far as to praise some of the policies of Saddam Hussein and Benito Mussolini! What does that tell us about him and his hopes and goals for the future?

It is clear that millions of Americans have been short-changed under leaders pursuing globalization and that Trump represents a desirable alternative to them.  The problem, quite simply, is that even if that is true, Trump’s seeming preoccupation with authoritarian world leaders, their philosophies and policies and his inclination to emulate them pose a grave threat to our perpetually vulnerable democracy.

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There is absolutely no way to explain much of what President Trump does nationally or internationally, largely because he changes his mind so often on so many things.   What can be said is that his actions are almost invariably consistent with the goals of Russia.  Equally, up until this moment, there is absolutely no way to know what the motivation for his policies truly is.

 

Some have speculated that he is motivated by his own personal economic goals.  He would like to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.  Others have speculated that his past dalliances in Moscow have compromised him and that he has been blackmailed into his current behaviors.  It is further speculated, given his clear admiration of and support for today’s worst world dictators, that his goal is to become one of their colleagues, changing this country forever.  He has, after all, spoken (jokingly?) of serving for an additional 16 years.

 

To be fair about this, let’s look at Trump without partisan political speculation.  What policies has he followed that have favored the Russians? In order to fully understand this, we have to have a reasonable assessment of Russian motivation in the world.  It is clear that Putin, a former committed KGB colonel, deeply mourns the death of the Soviet Union.  He has said a number of times that it was one of the greatest tragedies in history and that it is his wish that the USSR return to Russia.

 

So, what has Putin done that would support that goal?  Recognizing the ongoing power and influence of the United States in the world, he has done everything humanly possible to weaken the U.S. both internally and internationally.

 

Internally, he has interfered in our 2016 elections and continues to do so today. Whether it was his doing or not, Putin has an American President who has attempted and often succeeded in overturning just about everything his predecessor did to try to make this country a fairer, safer place.  One of the results of this policy is that it has further exacerbated the deep political divisions that exist in our country.  He has basically destroyed the effectiveness of much of the Federal Government.   The State Department, the Intelligence Community, and the regulatory agencies (particularly the Environmental Protection Agency) have all been denigrated and humiliated.  Critical substantive jobs requiring real expertise have been purposely left unoccupied or occupied by Trump sycophants. Top management jobs are often left “acting”, leaving true power to the President.

 

Internationally, he has treated European heads of state with distain and occasional rudeness.  He has spoken against the European Union. NATO and just about every other western originated international agreement.  He has shown his distrust for our involvement with international agreements by withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership (PTT), The Paris Climate Accord, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran nuclear agreement.  None of these moves have strengthened the United States and in the process of acting out his disdain for international cooperation, he has gone a long way toward removing us from our decades-long preeminence in international affairs and limiting our ability to positively influence world affairs.

 

One further clue to his motivation could be Trump’s admiration for and support of some of the world’s most conservative, autocratic leaders, starting with Russia’s Putin who clearly occupies a special place in Trump’s heart.  From there we go on to Kim Jung Un, the North Korean dictator, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Xi Jinping of China, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, the Saudi Royal family and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.  In the past, Trump has even had kind words for Saddam Hussein.

 

Trump’s current crusade on behalf of his Russian friends appears to be the reinstatement of Russia in the G7.  Russia was expelled from that organization when it annexed the Crimea in 2014.  It is fascinating that just this week, Trump announced that he would not sign off on the $250 million in US military aid to the Ukraine, already approved by Congress, which was designed to help the Ukraine confront the Russian occupation.

 

Trump appears to be the only elected leader in the United States who thinks Russia can do no harm and who believes that Russia is a friend rather than the often hostile rival she has traditionally been.  Even without knowing why he takes that position, it can be said without equivocation, that is no position for any President of the United States to take, particularly a Republican.  He is not making the world a safer place in which to live, but he is certainly helping the Russians.

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Originally published in RURAL RUMINATIONS

On Sunday, July 23rd on CBS’ “Face the Nation”, Congressman  Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the most important issue facing the country in the Russian matter was whether or not the President had some as yet unearthed vulnerability that might make him susceptible to political control from Moscow.

In this crazy world, the President is his own worst enemy.  Despite his virtually endless statements about “fake news” and this “witch hunt”, all he has managed to do with his constant tweets is keep the matter alive and on the front pages, to the detriment of his own and the Republicans’ agendas.

In what clearly was a rash initiative on the President’s part, he said recently of those states that refuse to participate in the work of his “Election Integrity Committee”, “If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about.”  Did it not occur to him that the exact same question could be asked about his dogged refusal to release any information on his tax returns?  What then would be his reason to worry of those returns became public.  Parenthetically, it is beginning to look as if the Mueller investigation may go after that information.

There is a wealth of factual information available that reveals much of what motivates the President.  Just look at the Mueller investigation and the events that led up to it.  Start with the firing off FBI Director Comey whom he has ever since done his very best to vilify.  Move on to Attorney General Sessions who is now be castigated for having recused himself from the investigation of the Russian matter, despite the fact that that recusion was dictated by Justice Department rules.  Just now we see the President attacking the acting Director of the FBI for not vigorously pursuing Mrs. Clinton and her “wrongdoings”.

The President clearly will do or say anything to get the Russian investigation off his back.

One must ask if the vilification of Sessions is a precursor to his firing, to the appointment of a new Attorney General and to the ultimate firing of Mr. Mueller.  In the meantime, it has been widely reported that the Trump White House has ordered that Mueller and his investigators be thoroughly vetted with the goal of impugning their integrity and impartiality.  That sounds like the good old Nixon days!

It would appear that, irrespective of his success in denigrating the Mueller group, the President will have to deal with increasingly bipartisan motivated investigations in the House and Senate Committees.  And in the midst of all this, some of his closest advisors and family members are being asked to appear before those committees.

That apparently has persuaded the President to ask about his ability to pardon people, even including himself.  In this specific case, the President has reacted to outside stimuli in a way totally consistent with someone who is guilty of something.  It is certainly not the reaction of a person who has nothing relevant to hide.

Finally, and in the same context of the issue put by Congressman Schiff, we need to look at the President’s policies as reflected in his actions and statements, to see if they are  consistent with the goals of any foreign power.

Examine the moves made by President Trump during his short time in office.  Under hostile influence, every move would have to undermine American strength.  He would have to undercut NATO, weaken the European Union, causing dissention within the former East European countries, damage US foreign policy goals, weaken the international influence of the US, encourage the destabilizing flow of refugees from the Middle East to Europe.  He would move us out of international agreements (Climate, NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership). Trump’s recent move to cease support for anti-Assad rebels in Syria is a specific Russian goal, now achieved.

He would get an A+ from any hostile country on all of these issues.

Putin’s underlying goal is to return Russia to the kind of “glory” and “power” that it had during the Cold War. To do that, he would have to somehow reduce the vast world-wide influence of the United States.  It really doesn’t matter whether, as suspected by Rep Schiff, the President is under Russian influence.  The President could see Russia as a power base and consider his close support of their policies to be his exploitation of the Russians, rather than their exploitation of him..

What really does matter is that Trump’s policies are clearly closely aligned with and supportive of Russian goals for the world, making our current policies a real cause for worry for Americans who recognize that Russia is not our best friend.

Haviland Smith is a retired CIA Station Chief who served in East and West Europe, and the Middle East working primarily against Soviet and East European targets.  He was also Chief of the Counterterrorism Staff and Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director of the CIA. 

The author’s other writings can be seen on https://rural-ruminations.com

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Originally published in RURAL RUMINATIONS

 

The National Rifle Association’s basic policy on the issues of gun ownership and control is to relentlessly fight any and every proposal for change that comes to the surface, irrespective of its relevance and importance to the issue of the Second Amendment. This view is not shared by the vast majority of Americans.

 

Those issues which have been successfully fought and defeated by the NRA at the national level, include all efforts to control guns and ammunition, the use of Saturday night specials, cop-killer bullets, plastic weapons, machine guns and a waiting period for the purchase of weapons (the Brady Bill).

 

The problem with this policy is that at some point in the future, perhaps in the aftermath of some particularly egregious “mass shooting”, the Congress, under nation-wide pressure, might turn on the NRA and enact some laws that would, for the first time ever, actually threaten the Second Amendment and thus make legitimate gun ownership far more difficult to enjoy.

 

If the definition of “mass shooting” is restricted to four or more dead, we have seen 146 of them between 1967 and 2017 with an average of 8 deaths per incident, or a total of over a thousand killed.

 

The 10 deadliest single day mass shootings since 1966 alone have produced 287 deaths or an average of 28.7 per incident.

 

So, the numbers are going up and recent events in Fair Haven have shown us clearly that Vermont is not immune to this ongoing madness.

 

Sadly, during the periods under examination, virtually nothing has been done in the Congress or the Vermont legislature to help law enforcement authorities deal with mass shootings.

 

There are a number of steps that would not threaten our Second Amendment rights, but which would almost certainly make mass shootings far more difficult to carry out.  In this context it is critical to remember the comments of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia  who shepherded the 2008 decision on the Second Amendment through the Supreme Court.  The majority opinion ruled that the Second Amendment does create an individual right of gun ownership.  However, the opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, makes it clear that federal, state and local governments can act in their own interests.

 

Justice Scalia wrote, “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

 

One can only speculate on the impact that our most recent mass shooting in Florida is likely to have on the ownership and use of weapons in America.  Of course, the main question is how powerful the upcoming country-wide demonstrations by American students is likely to be with a Congress that has clearly been more oriented toward the perceived needs of the NRA than those of its youth.  If it is truly nation-wide and manages to persist, it could be quite powerful.  It might even persuade some of our congressmen who cleave so strongly to the NRA that they also have some level of responsibility for the security of our youth.

 

No Vermont hunter seeks protective measures that would seriously threaten his Second Amendment rights.  However, if one can step back from the “all or nothing” approach of the NRA, there are a number of steps that could be taken which would maintain those rights and at the same time provided us all, not just our children, with increased security.

 

These include background checks on all gun purchasers, waiting periods for handgun purchases, no sales to those with violent criminal backgrounds or those on terrorist watch lists, and the banning of all automatic rifle sales.

 

Slightly more intrusive and threatening for the NRA would be the banning of large capacity magazines, assault rifles and weapons that could be converted to automatic from semi-automatic using bump stocks.

 

The issue here is to find which of those measures will accomplished the desired goals.  Perhaps the best way to go about that in Vermont would be to have Governor Scott, who, unlike he NRA. does not seem generically opposed to constructive change, appoint a qualified panel to sit down and work through the problem and its potential solutions.

 

Haviland Smith learned about guns and hunting in NRA programs in the l930sand 40s.  A life-long hunter, he has been a Life Member of the NRA since 1968 and was a member of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board from 1989-1995.

 

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Originally published in RURAL RUMINATIONS

President Trump says constantly that he is an extraordinary negotiator (The Art of the Deal).  That may be true, but in considering the relevance of his self-centered praise, one has to understand that his experience as a negotiator was established in the dangerous canyons of New York City,  and the way he discusses his negotiating style makes it clear that he does not feel he has to abide by many rules. That may work in New York and the USA and maybe even in the international commercial world.  The real question is whether it is likely to work in the far more complicated world of foreign policy.

 

The world is a frightfully complex place.  It is beset by regional, political, tribal, economic, military, and confessional issues.

 

Take the issue of Syria.  Mr. Trump would like to depose the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad.  In pursuit of that goal, he has enlisted the military assistance of the Kurds.  The Turks despise the Kurds, constantly referring to them as “terrorists”.  In fact, the Kurds, who live in a number of countries in the Middle East as well as Turkey, are the largest ethnic population in the world that does not have a country of its own.  All told, they total 35-45 million souls.  The Turks are members of NATO and at least until we brought the Kurds on board on the volatile Syrian issue, were among our best friends in the Middle East.  The Turks are infuriated with this new Trump policy and are rapidly turning against us on many other issues that are important to us.

 

Or look at Palestine/Israel.  In recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Mr. Trump has created a firestorm of anger, not only in the Islamic world which favors a mutually negotiated solution to that issue, but also in thoughtful countries, most prominently in Europe and in many other countries around the rest of the world. This Trump position on Palestine/Israel, a radical American departure from the past seventy years, is clearly a move to court ideological Americans who strongly support Israel.  It is certainly not the first time US foreign policy has been designed purely to woo American voters, but it has been focused on a region that does not need further foreign meddling causing further tensions.  And that is precisely what it has done.  It may please some of Mr. Trump’s political base, but it has further destabilized an area that desperately needs stability.

 

Despite the fact that Mr. Trump calls himself a “stable genius” on many issues, most emphatically including foreign policy, he presents as the exact opposite.  He doesn’t like to read and says that for him it is not necessary. So, he insists that all policy papers submitted to him be limited to one page in length. Issues like Israel/Palestine and Syria simply cannot be appropriately covered on one page.  Policy decisions based on insufficient information are always dangerous.

 

Mr. Trump acknowledges that, rather than reading, he gets his critical information from watching a lot of TV. Apparently his choice of stations is highly focused on the most politically partisan.  In this case, only the word “partisan” is important.  It makes absolutely no difference if it is far right or far left.  Either way, he is not getting the impartial information that is critical to, first, understanding this complicated word and, second, formulating foreign policy.  And this is true both for a “stable genius” and for a blithering idiot!

 

Assuming that he really is an extraordinary negotiator, he got his expertise in the commercial world.   Clearly that world thrives on uncertainty and instability, the kinds of things that make  businessmen and commercial companies say yes to avoid financial chaos.  That is the exact opposite of what is needed in the world of international relations.   What is needed there is stability and predictability.  Those were the elements that got the world through the Cold War.  Both sides understood that and followed policies that were predictable and stable.  We survived.

 

So far, Mr. Trump has followed policies that have been unstable and unpredictable.  That’s OK if you are buying a new hotel, or talking about an irrelevant country like Monaco, but it is not the case for places like North Korea, China, Russia and now, additions like Pakistan, which he has recently offended – all of which have atomic weapons.

 

It would be nice and almost certainly potentially productive to see and hear some more dignified and less inflammatory verbiage both within and emanating from the White House.  It might even make us some international friends, the exact opposite of what our current modus operandi is bringing us.

 

Haviland Smith is a retired CIA Station Chief who served during the Cold War in East and West Europe, and the Middle East, focused on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  He also served as Executive Assistant in the Director’s office and as the first Chief of the Counterterrorism Staff.

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First Published in Vermont Digger

The Soviet Intelligence Officer’s Handbook defines an “agent of influence” as “an agent operating under intelligence instructions who uses his or her officialdom or public position, and other means, to exert influence on policy, public opinion, the course of particular events, the activity of political organizations and state agencies in target countries.” Thus, the concept of an agent of influence was well known in the USSR and remains so in today’s Russia.

During the Cold War, it was generally accepted at the CIA that coercive recruitments involving some sort of blackmail more often than not did not work at all, or if they initially appeared to work, they often fell rapidly apart. The reason for this is clear. People who are coerced into recruitment find themselves in a subservient position to the recruiter (case officer). They are constantly worried that the secret on which the coercion was based will become public and are continually concerned that the secret will ultimately be used to force them into increasingly dangerous situations. All of which is a shaky basis on which to start an inherently dangerous clandestine relationship.

We learned that good recruitments are based on mutual interest. Recruitment is a successful nonsexual seduction. If the potential agent can be found to have needs or desires that can be satisfied by the case officer, that is precisely where we wanted to be. We wanted the potential agent to understand that we supported him or her in many possible ways. Money? Perks? No problem! Some of our targets wanted revenge on their bosses. One particularly fascinating agent wanted revenge on the KGB because during collectivization in the 1930s, they had taken and later killed his grandfather’s cow! That was his sole motivation for cooperating with us. He never took a penny while he totally raped the KGB and the USSR.

In fact, some “successful recruitments” never involved acknowledgement on the part of the agent that he or she was an agent at all. Normally in such cases, some fig leaf of a noble motive for mutual cooperation was concocted to make such an admission unnecessary – support of world peace, avoiding conflict, etc.

This could be particularly important when dealing with a potential agent of influence, many if not most of whom were important people in their own environments. If they had not been, how could they be of assistance? The only important characteristic in an agent of influence, is that he be motivated to carry through on the goals important to the case officer. Even if he was recruited in a “honey pot operation” (sexual seduction), a critical staple of the Russians, or was motivated by his need for money, power, recognition, revenge or anything else, that agent could often be enticed into full cooperation on the basis of the premise that he was cooperating for reasons that were morally acceptable to him, that he was saving world peace or improving relations between the two countries involved. It mattered not one whit whether or not this was objectively true.

What mattered was that he support the goals of his case officer and take direction from him.

In this context, it is fascinating to look at the positions taken by President Donald Trump on U.S. national and international issues, as those positions clearly support the goals of today’s Russian government.

Putin would do everything possible to weaken the United States. He would love to see ethnic and religious divisions in the United States grow. He clearly revels in the dissent that now exists in our political system between Republicans and Democrats. Ditto our relations abroad, particularly those with European countries. He applauds our disengagement from economic cooperation around the world, seeing us therefore weakened.

Additional Russian goals include: The weakening or destruction of NATO and the European Union; the encouragement of authoritarian governments in countries like Austria, Italy, Sweden, France, the Netherlands and Denmark in the context that European dissent would weaken Europe and increase Russian chances of reestablishing hegemony over the USSR’s former Warsaw Pact allies. They support Brexit as it weakens European cooperation. These goals are supported by most Trump policies.

And through it all, Trump defends Putin in the context of Russian meddling in our elections over the judgments of his intelligence community!

Despite the fact that there are clearly jointly held goals and policies, this does not mean that any sort of formal relationship exists between Russia and Trump. If he falls into any convenient category, it may well be that of unacknowledged cooperation as described above.

 

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