Most Western commentators have focused on the ways in which Vladimir Putin is seeking to use his agents of influence to affect the outcome of the American presidential election, but a report in Novaya gazeta suggests he may be counting on what he is doing today to affect and destabilize the US longer after the votes are counted.
Aleksandr Panov, the Washington correspondent for Novaya gazeta, provided in his paper the most detailed Russian summary yet of Western articles about how the Kremlin has sought to influence the campaigns of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to Russia’s advantage.
Near the end of that article, the Russian journalist makes a comment that suggests that once again, in contrast to Americans, Moscow is taking a longer view about its role in the US presidential vote and about what may happen both independently and as a result of Russian involvement in that process.
He writes the following: “This year Americans are confronted with a choice of ‘the lesser of two evils.’” And that has consequences: “Victory in the elections does not mean that the [current] scandals will disappear. The winners do not await ratings of 80 percent but new investigations in the Congress and the media, with the worst variant being impeachment.”
Russian involvement with campaigns could easily become the basis for such investigations and even for suggestions that the outcome of the elections was illegitimate, and that could be a reason why Moscow has not tried to conceal what it is doing but rather has almost flaunted it as an indication of Russian power.
Two other Russian commentaries this week, one by Igor Eidman and a second by Igor Yakovenko, provide additional reasons for drawing that conclusion because they highlight the way in which Moscow has proceeded quite publicly and without its usual caution to show that it is influencing this or that American political camp.
Writing on the Kasparov.ru portal, Eidman argues that “Trump is Putin’s last hope” because the Republican’s coming to power would “inevitably destroy the anti-Putin coalition of Western countries and in general introduce into the camp of democratic countries discord and division.”
But two other of Eidman’s observations are more to the point here.
He says that “Putin of course wants not only to help but also to influence Trump,” and he observes that Russian special services began playing a long game in the 1990s by paying court to American political consultants who had come to Russia.
Among those, the Russian commentator says, was Paul Manafort whom the Russian agencies assisted and who now is in Trump’s inner circle. [quote]It is beyond question, Eidman continues, that this “link with Russian overseers has not been lost,” yet another indication that Moscow seeks to use such people to promote its own interests over the long haul.[/quote]
And also on the Kasparov.ru portal, Yakovenko suggests that it is time to dispense with Lenin’s term “useful idiots” and instead use the term “useful scoundrels” to describe those who are cooperating with Moscow to spread its influence in the US and elsewhere.
He observes that “Lenin called Western bourgeois politicians and public figures who supported the Bolsheviks useful idiots. In Lenin’s time, they really could be ‘idiots,’ that is, people who did not understand whom and what they were supporting.” But with the rise of the Stalin regime, they were more like scoundrels than like idiots.
Today, “there are various reasons useful scoundrels masquerading as idiots have who supposedly do not understand the threat to the world that the Putin regime poses,” Yakovenko says. Some like former German Chancelor Schroeder or IOC head Bach do so for “obviously” selfish interests.
Others, like Trump, “are seeking together with Putin to increase chaos in the world because in a world of order and stability, they do not have any political prospects,” he argues, adding that these politicians will suffer the same fate as their predecessors who indeed were “useful idiots,” Yakovenko continues.
And that fate is this, he says. Their names will become symbols of those who are prepared to betray their own civilizations and reach out instead to “the enemies of civilization” as such.
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