While the Trump campaign has vociferously applauded the Kremlin and its alleged support, the reality is that the joke is on Donald Trump. The other reality is that Moscow would much prefer to deal Secretary Clinton as president. Secretary Clinton is predictable, based not only on her tenure as Secretary of State from 2009 through 2013, but also during her eight years as First Lady from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001.
Mr. Putin has used dark public relations or “Black PR”, a process of destroying the target’s reputation. It started on December 15, 2015 when Mr. Putin issued a statement that stopped short of endorsing Mr. Trump for president, stating, “[Donald Trump is] a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt. It’s not our job to judge his qualities, that’s a job for American voters, but he’s the absolute leader in the presidential race. He says he wants to move on to a new, more substantial relationship, a deeper relationship with Russia, how can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome that.”
While a recent WikiLeaks dump of 20,000 emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee has caused political sensation, it has never been proven that the documents were obtained from Russian intelligence. This was followed by July 2016 media reports that the Kremlin had obtained all 31,830 emails sent from a private server by Secretary Clinton’s during her tenure as Secretary of State. Even though Russian intelligence is considered to be the most capable nation-state cyberespionage and cyberwarfare power, it has not produced a single email. And, one must consider the fact that as Secretary of State, her private and government accounts both during and after her official tenure were actively monitored by U.S. intelligence officials to prevent hacking from ever occurring in the first instance.
“Those who follow Kremlin propaganda understand that it is not necessary for Putin to have Clinton’s e-mails to cause serious damage to a Clinton presidency… The Kremlin knows that repeated lies are eventually taken as truth, so that an unsourced narrative, repeated, will eventually become the “truth.”,” stated Paul Roderick Gregory, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford and Cullen Professor of Economics at the University of Houston specializing in Russian politics (Emphasis in Original).
As for Trump, many Russian scholars have depicted him as an undesirable wildcard, vastly unpredictable and not someone Mr. Putin has any intention of working with on sensitive matters affecting global stability and security. Among the many comments made:
- A lawmaker in Russia’s upper house of parliament speaking anonymously said a potential Trump presidency, “…sounds very attractive but it could end as a catastrophe for everyone. The problem? He is unpredictable.”
- “Clearly the conservatives are pro-Trump, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the top people really want Trump. It could be incredibly disruptive. Can you imagine if all the things he has said come true?” I think that there are very few sane politicians of any kind, including Russians, who would actually want a Trump presidency. But they are enjoying the spectacle…,” said Maxim Trudolyubov, a senior fellow with the Kennan Institute.
- Igor Ivanov, president of the Russian International Affairs Council, stated that a ““newcomer” would be harder to deal with: inconsistent, unpredictable, given to subjective and emotional decisions that can be very hard to rectify later on.”
- Having a “…flighty and irascible populist who changes his mind three times a day” at the head of a nuclear superpower “may pose danger to the whole world and for Russia in particular,” opined Pavel Demidov, a professor at the Russian state MGIMO University.
- Konstantin Kosachev, head of the international affairs committee in the Federation Council, stated that under a Trump presidency, “a certain window of possibilities may naturally appear. But not all those possibilities may be desirable… Trump is not predictable enough.”
Secretary Clinton is predictable. While it is likely that she will continue many of Obama administration’s policies, she is also equally likely to be influenced by her husband, former President William Clinton.
During the Clinton Administration, the U.S.’s relationship with Russia vastly improved. President Clinton enjoyed a cordial relationship Boris Yeltsin, with whom he met with on 18 occasions.
As Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton was responsible a “reset” in U.S. relations with then Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who served under then President Dmitry Medvedev, at a meeting held in Geneva.
In this March 6, 2009 file photo, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presents Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a device with a red button symbolizing the intention to “reset” U.S.-Russian relations during their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo, File)
Called the “Moscow Spring”, it revitalized the relationship with Russia resulting in a nuclear arms-control treaty and Russia acquiescing to NATO-led military intervention in Libya. The Geneva meeting also resulted in a tentative agreement to resolve the Syrian War; an agreement the Obama Administration failed to back.
After Mr. Putin was elected a second time in 2012, protesters accused Mr. Putin of having rigged recent elections, Mr. Putin blamed Secretary Clinton, who had called the election results “dishonest and unfair” of giving “a signal” to demonstrators working “with the support of the U.S. State Department” to undermine his presidency. The decisive blow came when the U.S. sanctioned Russia on July 17 2014 based on unlawful aggressions in Ukraine and the shooting down of flight MH17. In October 2014, Foreign Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that a reset of relations with the U.S. was “impossible”, and that relations had been damaged by “destructive” and “stupid” Western sanctions.
Going forward, what Secretary Clinton has thus far stated that the United States must work with Russia on issues of common interest whenever possible, like arms control, but also partner with allies to limit Russia’s transgressions when needed, as in Ukraine. The United States should respond by strengthening the NATO alliance and improving the energy security of European states. At no time, has Secretary Clinton called for further economic sanctions and has made no reference to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
In sum, more than a Trump presidency, the Kremlin may simply be enjoying watching the myriad of problems unfold, many of which seem illusory at best, in the American presidential race. It is also likely that the propaganda war was not conceptualized to impact the American elections but, to serve as a subterfuge for the Kremlin’s aggressions in the European Union, most notably in Germany.
About the Author
Cynthia M. Lardner is an American journalist living in The Hague writing for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive. Her blogs are read in over 37 countries. As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.
“Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, and U.S.-Russian Relations,” Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State, as found on the www at https://history.state.gov/milestones/1993-2000/clinton-yeltsin.“Berlin’s mayor warns of growing AfD support”, August 21, 2016, DW, as found on the www athttp://www.dw.com/en/berlins-mayor-warns-of-growing-afd-support/a-19491229.
Clinton on the Issues, The Council for Foreign Relations, as found on the www at http://www.cfr.org/campaign2016/hillary-clinton/on-russia.
Gregory, Paul Roderick, “What If Vladimir Putin Has Hillary Clinton’s Emails?”, Forbes, February 12, 2016, as found on the www at http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2016/02/12/vladimir-putin-hillary-clinton-emails/#352c4cf57fe6.
Roth, Andrew, “The Kremlin may savor Trump – but still might prefer Clinton,” August 3, 2016, The Washington Post, as found on the www at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/the-kremlin-may-savor-trump—-but-still-might-prefer-clinton/2016/08/03/8395275c-58eb-11e6-8b48-0cb344221131_story.html?tid=a_inl.