Trump and Russia

Two different friends asked me today about Trump’s Russia connection. Thought I’d add a summary of my response here:

> Just curious. For the last few years you’ve been warning about Russia, but a lot of your recent posts seem to support Trump, who himself has a lot of Russian support. What makes Trump your guy?

I don’t think Trump’s relationship with Russia is any more troubling than Hillary Clinton’s. There is cause for concern. It isn’t all clean. But they are monstrously exaggerated by a media that seems determined to undermine Trump.

Also, Clinton’s connections to Russia — from donations to the CF to the Uranium deal — seemed go to without scrutiny.

My hunch is that the Kremlin wanted to ally itself with the conservative opposition to a weakened Clinton presidency. If you look closely, there are indications that they are taken aback by Trumps victory. Rhetorically, they’ve painted themselves into a corner by branding themselves as Trump allies. Their internal propaganda is all about blaming every problem on the Americans and on NATO. Likewise they’re always framing Putin as the strong, masculine guy among weaklings.

How will the Russian Press portray Putin as superior to Trump? Can you imagine them standing next to each other? Putin is 5′ 6.5″. He’s been caught wearing heeled shoes to make himself appear taller, and seems to make it a point to never be photographed with people much taller than him. Trump is 6′ 3″.

They’ll have a hard time countenancing the strength that Trump/Mattis/others project. They’re used to testing limits and lying. There are few treaties which Russia has not broken. Heritage published a list once. I recall being surprised by the number. I think there were ten or fifteen treaties which they’ve broken.

If Trump’s team is as direct and no-nonsense as they appear, how will this play out?

Don’t lose sight of the fact that most of what Russia says/does is because of internal pressures, not external ones. And for various reasons, managing the internal narrative is much more important for them than for other countries.

I’ll be watching their rhetoric closely. It’s hard for me to imagine where it will go. I can imagine them being very comfortable allying with the opposition to Clinton Presidency. I have a hard time imagining them being able to maintain their pro-Trump branding once reality sets in.

Look, Russia’s economy is smaller than Italy’s.

In economy, population, corruption, standard of living, they’re like Mexico. Mexico with nukes and world-class propaganda.

They don’t have a strong position, but they play their hand very, very, very well. Mostly through their capacity for intimidation. They threaten nuclear over almost anything — they threatened nuclear war when Washington objected to their disregard for civilians in the Chechen War. It’s all the have — making people scared. That’s it.

Returning to your question — The concerns among Trump’s associates are Manafort, Flynn, and Tillerson.

Mattis and Bolton, who are also there as Sec Def and Deputy Secretary of State are both very hawkish toward Russia.

I’m concerned, of course, but I’m not as worried as the many people who’ve bought the anti-Trump rhetoric of the MSM.