There’s no doubt that the American political class has been in a state of “civil war” since the moment that Trump started rising in the polls during the 2016 Republican primaries, but this elite conflict is intensifying in the aftermath of the Democrats’ failed “Russiagate” witch hunt against the President after both parties accused one of another of relying on Russian support ahead of the November election. It was reported late last week that security officials briefed Bernie Sanders about supposed Russian efforts to help him in the Democrat primaries, following which the Vermont Senator angrily condemned President Putin as “an autocratic thug who is attempting to destroy democracy and crush dissent in Russia.” Trump, meanwhile, claimed that he hadn’t previously been aware of this report and blamed his nemesis Adam Schiff for “leaking” it to the public, sarcastically calling on the Democrats to launch an investigation into this matter. His National Security Advisor, however, had a much more serious reaction and doubled down on the “deep state’s” assertion that Sanders is being backed by Russia.
Robert O’Brien told CBS News in an interview that “They’d probably like him to be president, understandably, because he wants to- to spend money on social programs and probably would have to take it out of the military, so that would make sense.” This is terribly ironic since the Democrats earlier claimed that Russia supported Trump during the 2016 election precisely because of his promises of brokering a “New Detente” between the two rival Great Powers which would have been akin in practice to what Sanders might prospectively do by disinvesting from the military and thus likely reducing the US’ military presence in Central & Eastern Europe in the event that he’s elected. In other words, the pot is calling the kettle black simply because it’s “politically convenient” to do so in this case even though O’Brien’s boss was accused of also being the recipient of unsolicited Russian support. It turns out, however, that the intelligence briefer tasked with informing Congress about Russia’s speculative preference for Trump’s re-election earlier this month might have “overstated” their assessment, according to CNN of all sources, but the narrative that Sanders is “Russian-backed” still persists.
What’s happening here might appear confusing upon first glance but is relatively straight-forward upon pondering it for a moment. Both the Democrats and Republicans alike are weaponizing Russia’s purely speculative preference for different candidates based on totally different criteria in order to deceptively equate this with imagined so-called “meddling” in support of their opponent, which amounts to nothing more than the American elite waging a sophisticated form of Hybrid War on voters’ minds. Each party is appealing to the preexisting bias of their supporters to convince them that the other is a “Russian puppet”, the lingering suspicion of which they hope will be powerful enough to sway on-the-fence voters against them and to the side of their candidate instead. The Democrats are convinced that Trump is a corrupt oligarch that’s secretly in debt to President Putin or possibly even being blackmailed to do his bidding, while the Republicans are now beginning to wonder whether Sanders’ socialist ideology both binds him to the USSR’s successor state out of “geopolitical loyalty” and might also be the vehicle for advancing Russian strategic gains vis-a-vis dismantling the American military that Trump invested trillions of dollars into rebuilding since the Obama era.
These narratives are all the more sinister when considering that the Democrat National Committee (DNC) and its “deep state” allies stand to gain from both of them. The DNC hates Trump for ideological reasons, the same reason as they fear Sanders, and they’re afraid that the powerful “old guard” will be relegated into political obscurity if the President is re-elected, Sanders wins the nomination, or the latter emerges victorious in November. Most of their “deep state” allies also dislike both of them for the same reason, though those most closely connected with the military-industrial complex obviously have sympathy for Trump’s military-driven “America First” policy and would accordingly prefer for him to remain in office. Nevertheless, they don’t have much influence in shaping the outcome of events so they shouldn’t be regarded as all that pivotal of a factor in this case. With all of this in mind, it’s extremely intriguing that Trump’s National Security Advisor would piggyback on the DNC’s narrative and actually propagate it even further for self-interested political gains, which represents an “unholy alliance” if there ever was one when considering how much that false narrative interfered with his boss’ ability to get his job done over the past three years.
The reason why the claims of “Russian meddling” are so effective is because they’re vague enough to sow the seeds of doubt in an already suspicious public’s mind without ever having to be conclusively proven. In fact, because Russia is wrongly regarded by many Americans as a “KGB-ruled dictatorship” due to a prior decade-long infowar against the country, it’s easy for them to imagine that “those cunning Russians” are “much too clever” to ever be “caught red-handed”, but that “all rumors stem from some truth” so there’s “probably” something “true” about these accusations. In reality, however, they’re nothing more than speculative assessments about Russian strategic intentions under various scenarios, meaning that they’re by their very nature pretty nebulous and inconclusive. They can’t ever be confirmed one way or another short of a “smoking gun” such as an authenticated recording of President Putin or influential decision makers just below him openly stating their country’s preferred candidate and admitting to detailed plans to “meddle” in American elections so as to bring him to power. Failing that, all that one can do is speculate about “Russia’s choice”, but deceptively equating that with imagined “meddling” transforms such “chatter” into a Hybrid War weapon of manipulation.