After Helsinki I'm having second thoughts about my Grand Russia Theory.

Since the 2016 Election I've been of the opinion that anyone expecting evidence of direct collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was going to be sorely disappointed – that there would be no red-handed moment like the release of a video or phone calls where Trump or his close associates say "OK, so tomorrow we do X and you do Y, talk to you afterward." It seemed more likely to me – and on balance I think this is still the more likely reality, even though I'm hedging now – that what happened is Russia is and has always been trying to interfere in our domestic politics and at some point the Trump people learned about specific examples of this. Instead of contacting the FBI or whatever, they just laughed and said "lol awesome" like the rank amateurs and soulless con men they are. Along the way I assumed, correctly as it has turned out, that the President would make so many ham-fisted attempts to obstruct investigations into his various malfeasances (??) that he'd eventually get rolled up in those charges.

Now I'm wondering about the viability of a second theory – that Russia, in their long-standing efforts to destabilize the politics of Europe, China, the US, and anyone else they can destabilize to their advantage economically, politically, and militarily – does have something explicit like phone calls, emails, or video of direct Trump campaign contacts and requests. Because pardon my absence of scientific rigor here, but this is just getting too weird. It's dangerous to read anything into their usual sound-and-fury reactions, but even some Republicans appear to be concerned at a level that is subtly different. I think, for the first time, it's a real possibility that Russia's grand strategy here is to hold a release of damning evidence over Trump's head for as long as possible, extract whatever favorable concessions from him they can, and then release the evidence and sit back to watch the American political system have a total, complete, years-long meltdown.

I've never believed, and do not believe, that Russia gives a shit about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump per se. What they care about is creating as much of a shitshow out of America's increasingly feeble attempts to govern itself so that it, Russia, can present itself to the world as the safer, stabler economic and military protecting power. Domestic chaos in the US also drastically reduces the chance of American attempts to limit Russian geographic expansion (and if you fail to understand that geographic security is the guiding force behind all Russian strategic thinking for the past five centuries, read up and get back to us). There was no Grand Scheme to "install" Trump. They just saw an opportunity and took it. The U.S. would do exactly the same – and has repeatedly in the past – if we thought there was some opportunity to install a total ass clown dictator type in Russia or another country.

I haven't convinced myself yet, but this is just getting too fuckin' weird for someone with an active imagination not to start thinking about more spectacular endings.

41 thoughts on “OPERATION SHITSHOW”

  • If "treasonous America-hater" weren't a consensus state for the GOP, none of this could possibly happen.

    Conservatives are conservative.

  • You're on the right track. Russia wants a world in which it, not China, is at the table with the US as the two biggest world powers. It lost its seat to China, of course. But that's what motivates Putin and his nationalist platform. He would have been fine with a president Clinton. Heck, he's just fine with the sanctions as they stand (they don't hurt the top 1% of Russians). But a president Trump weakens the US and EU, and that was worth pursuing.

  • "Now I'm wondering about the viability of a second theory – that Russia … does have something explicit like phone calls, emails, or video of direct Trump campaign contacts and requests."

    Or certain tapes, perhaps.

  • Susan Stange says:

    I have long been of the opinion that Putin and his posse are aware of how broke Trump is IRL and have used him since the late 80s as a means to launder money. I think that they may have some kompromat on him, and the perfect opportunity presented itself when he was encouraged (by whom?) to run for POTUS. Once it was clear that he was serious, the Russians came out of the woodwork to provide him with as much opportunity and money to win the election. I doubt they were attached to him winning, but once he did, sky became the limit. There is evidence that UAE, Israel and Saudi were working with him before the election, There is evidence a back channel meeting was held in Seychelles between George Nader, Eric Prince and MZB from UAE as well as the Russian state fund manager. Wilbur Ross soft landed with a former Russian Deutsche Bank employee/launderer at the Bank of Cyprus. These are all the crimes that lead to where Putin has Trumps tiny shriveled balls in a vice grip. Who cares about hacking Podesta's polenta recipe?

  • I think the thing you have to remember about Trump is that whether or not it had any decisive effect, the overwhelming evidence is that Russia supported him and their efforts to influence the election were mostly either pro-Trump or at least against his opponent. Any admission to this calls his legitimacy into question, and Trump is a guy who will lie through his teeth about things he said on video, sometimes only days before. If nothing else, he's essentially compromised by that fact alone, so he has a very strong motive to embrace Putin and support his conspiracy narratives.

  • land_planarian says:

    I mean, Clinton wanted to pull Europe away from Russian natural gas, sanction them over the Crimea annexation, and escalate dangerously against them in Syria, while Trump's policy seems to have been 'it's cool, these guys love to party'

    It looks like they did way less than we've done to them and a lot of other countries, but they had a clear favorite out of the two candidates.

  • Wait. Why the completely unnecessary and complicating assumption that Trump is being coerced?

  • DW Montgomery says:

    "and if you fail to understand that geographic security is the guiding force behind all Russian strategic thinking for the past five centuries, read up and get back to us."

    This. This right here. Putin still thinks of Russia as properly encompassing all of the former Soviet borders; including the Baltic and Eastern European satellite states, and the Crimean and Caucasus region. The former Soviet satellites and regions that form the crescent from the Baltic to the Causcasus were the bulwark of defense against enemy invasion. They were literally the sacrificial offering to Napoleon, followed later by the Nazis, allowing the Russians time to ready for battle to protect Moscow and St. Petersburg. This has been the Russian philosophy since the time of the founding of the Duchy of Muscovy some 750 years ago. Expansion was always a means to protect the core state.

    The collapse of the USSR happened while Putin was an active KGB officer – and I have no doubt his primary objective is returning Russia to the glory that was the Soviet empire at its apex. Yes, while he's re-stablishing the former Soviet Union, he's simultaneously siphoning billions out of the economy (probably enough to rival Jeff Bezo's personal fortune), but so did every Tsar/Tsarina during the the tenure of the Empire. The supreme leader of Russia using the country as their personal ATM is nothing new, but I'd bet every ruble I have that Putin would prefer to be remembered as the man who reassembled the former USSR into the new Russian empire.

    With the US in political turmoil and the NATO alliance shattered, how far away are Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from being re-absorbed into the Russian hegemony?

    If you're a citizen of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus or Ukraine, how safe would you feel right about now? The US response to the annexation of Crimea showed you all you need to know. The NATO alliance will be fractured beyond repair, and the US will be embroiled in near civil war in the not too distant future. The second after Trump lifts the economic sanctions still in force, Putin's cyber armies will be engaged in preparing/softening the defenses of immediate targets, followed by the presence of Russian troops to "protect" Russian pipelines, rescue its neighbors from "uprisings", or whatever justifications are used to place troops on foreign soil.

    Don't believe my doomsday scenario? Pick up a Russian history book or two – this is a pattern repeated since the Grand Duchy spurned the Mongols.

  • No reason it has to be all one thing or another, it can be a heterogeneous mass of plans, accidents, blackmail, naked ambition, greed, stupidity, and insanity.

    Putin has been working very hard to destabilize whatever he can to further his interests, and there's a wide cast of characters very vulnerable to these approaches perfectly willing to play along for a variety of reasons. Since many of these people seem to be idiots, I suspect evidence won't be that hard to come by (doing something with it may be another matter.)

  • It no longer matters if there is or is not a “pee tape” or other existing compromising material.

    All Putin now needs to do is raise an eyebrow or otherwise hint at the obvious truth that he could create such material. Given the circumstances, that would likely sink Trump, especially before the midterms.

    So Russia already has Trump by the short ones, as Monday (and before that the G-7 and NATO meetings and the visit to the UK and all the tweets and other Trump BS surrounding all of that) made gob-smackingly obvious.

  • Schmitt trigger says:

    I also congratulate DW Montgomery on his doomsday analysis.
    How would one otherwise understand the zeal that Trump has demonstrated to dismantle all the institutions and alliances that preceding US governments created, nurtured and defended?
    In two years he has destroyed 70 year old institutions!!

    And he still has two years to go.

    The ONLY people in this whole world that can stop him are the spineless Congress.

  • Like there's any sane and "good" world leader. Excuse me, gotta change my diapers. This is the game these mofo's play. Who's surprised? Many it seems.
    Trump with the wrecking ball and the old smash and grab. Are we screwed? Claro que si. There are powers far greater than the great figurehead at play here and that includes non-human players, like, oh, the environment as one minor example.
    Russia/Putin. You gotta laugh, unless you prefer crying.

  • defineandredefine says:

    "…or whatever justifications are used to place troops on foreign soil."

    I can't help but notice that this seems pretty similar to American foreign policy over the last 120 years or so.

  • that Russia's grand strategy here is to hold a release of damning evidence over Trump's head for as long as possible, extract whatever favorable concessions from him they can, and then release the evidence and sit back to watch the American political system have a total, complete, years-long meltdown.

    I think that's also the strategy of the republicans in congress.

  • It's a mercy that many cold warriors that voted Republican because they were tough on communism didn't live to see this day.

  • I don’t necessarily think that “installing” Trump was the focus as much as it was “anyone but Hillary”. She was a much bigger threat to Putin than the rest of them, he saw an opportunity and pounced. I’m betting on the fact that Trump was even a contender was a huge windfall. Underestimating Russia is a bad idea, but the US government is pretty fucking stable compared to their own and that of the countries they’re used to tangling with.

    I also don’t think this pee tape (if it exists) is something he would give this much of a fuck about. The Trump family thought they could hang with Putin and realized they were way, WAY out of their league. This has to be about money, and perhaps owing a LOT to a KGB gangster who will erase you from this planet without a second thought.

  • "and perhaps owing a LOT to a KGB gangster who will erase you from this planet without a second thought."

    Is being nice if name was available. For intellectual purposes, only.

    @ Tim H.:

    I hope that those still alive are suffering from something like what they wished on their enemies.

  • "democommie, I hope they feel stupid.".

    I don't know if they're smart enough to feel stupid. I'll settle for them being dead or terrified of dying.

    Yes, I know that makes me seem like a heartless bastard. Where they are concerned, I am a heartless bastard.

  • Isaac Segal says:

    I agree with Aurora: it's about money. But I suspect it's more than a Russian oligarch or mobster holding a marker on Trump. Not only has he—as his son has publicly boasted about—been dependent on Russian financing since American banks refused to fund any more bankruptcies, a ridiculous amount of cash has flowed into Trump properties. Further, the only major bank that will loan him money is Deutsche Bank, which was slammed with a $600 million-plus fine for running a money laundering operation out of its Moscow office.

    None of this is new to Trump. The Trump Taj Mahal was found guilty of money laundering, and his New York projects were rife with mob connections. (Author David Cay Johnson has a ton of material on Spanky's shady ties and dealings.)

    My guess is that what has Trump really shitting his pants is not the possibility of being thrown out of office, but of being thrown into jail—along with his family.

  • I’ve said this here before, but the percentage of the powers-that-be in modern Russia with connections to organized crime is such that Trump is all but guaranteed to have some connection as well, given his business dealings, even if everything were above board on his part. Obviously, things are somewhat below board, perhaps even the floorboards at this point. Tl; Dr there are enough skeletons to sink a normal politician, unknown if it will affect Trump.

  • Chicagojon2016 says:

    I think Putin deeply cares about Clinton and doing whatever could be done to keep her from being elected. He sees her and Democrats (rightfully so) as a driving force in US global politics under Obama that had us bombing countries around the world, expanding NATO, and encouraging uprisings in the name of freedom. I also suspect that he's not a big fan of female leaders (see: Merkel, Angela) and perhaps women in power at all…though I don't know about that and am just speculating since it's a frequent trend in other strongmen.

    US actions under Obama in his mind are the opposites of his world view of stability through strength/non-interference (mixed in with a little bit of Mother Russia regional control of course) and that's exactly what he told Obama in 2009 when they first met. There's a great 'The Axe Files' podcast where Axelrod goes into a summary of that first meeting. Medvedev was the president but it was Putin that came in and did all the talking…basically lecturing Obama for an hour on his view of US history and geopolitics and flaws/hypocrisy/(atrocities?) committed by the US.

  • Chicagojon2016 says:

    Gotta find the axe files espisode…but look at some of the details here: https://www.politico.com/story/2009/07/obama-meets-with-vladimir-putin-024621

    I would love to have a recording of that meeting…

    "The planned 90-minute session ran over by a half hour at Obama’s insistence, so he could be sure his relationship with Putin was on solid footing, they added."

    Yet by the meeting's end, Obama had revised his assessment of Putin and is now “very convinced the prime minister is a man of today and he’s got his eyes firmly on the future,” a senior U.S. official told reporters after the meeting concluded.

    “What was striking was that there was a clear definition of where we disagreed,” another official said. “There was none of this diplomatic speak. … It was a frank discussion on hard security interests.”

  • Chicagojon2016 says:

    Woohoo, 2nd response to myself!

    Found the bit from The Axe Files about Obama meeting Putin back in 2009 (at Putin's house)

    Episode 245: Michal McFaul – former US ambassador to Russia
    ~40 minutes in (though I highly recommend this entire episode)
    Axe describes Obama's opinion of the meeting as: "Conversation isn't exactly how the first hour of it went…it was a 57 minute speech about the indignities that had been heaped on Russia by the West"

    McFaul describes it as: "…the meeting was to last an hour…my job was the SAO (Senior Administration Official) who was going to read out the meeting summary to the press corp and we're 55 minutes in and our guy hasn't said a word".
    "By the way Putin left Bush to the side…he likes President Bush; it's was deep state, it was the Bush administration and he was going off after them and that's the way he thinks. To this day that's the way he thinks."

  • Admittedly, Trump is very consistent about falling all over himself to suck dick on any authoritarian leader he can clamp onto: Putin, Xi, Kim Jong-un, Duterte, Erdogan, etc., etc.

  • I think the Russian government had plenty of reasons to support Trump over Clinton, like her (and Obama's) support of "moderate" rebels (aka AQ and ISIS) in Syria, and of the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine. (Yes, Ms. Clinton was out of office by that time, but Asst. SoS Nuland would quite possibly been elevated to Secretary of State in a Clinton administration.)

    But whatever Russia's actions to influence the election were, I still can't see how they could possibly have been as influential on the outcome as Fox News, Citizens United, Robert Mercer, Sheldon Adelson, and of course our anachronistic Electoral College.

    The US government worked hard to get Boris Yeltsin reelected in 1996. Yeltsin appointed Putin Prime Minister in 1999, who ascended to the Presidency upon Yeltsin's resignation. Blowback's a bitch.

    All the talk of "treason" and "acts of war" makes me think that the DoD and intelligence (sic) agencies want a new Cold War to keep their budgets high and rising now that the War On Terror ™ is petering out and American's aren't quite as scared as we were say fifteen years ago.

  • What if the Russians were able to directly alter voting tallies to the extent that the anticipated "blue wave" fails to transpire? If the Russians were then to release unseemly trump kompromat AND reveal their tampering at the polls AND the illegitimately installed Congress failed to act (which recent history compels us to believe would be inevitable) — now there would be a shitshow to end all shitshows.

  • Barkus Annointo says:

    'Impeachable offense' & 'treason' turn out to be slippery concepts, when you actually try to pin something on a sitting prez whose party controls most of the traditional levers of power. My prediction: he's going to get away with it, & all I got was this
    WASF tee shirt.

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    @Mister Sterling:

    This sounds about right. Putin is in great shape either way, but the modern conservative movement is so cheap, corrupt, and stupid that he just couldn't pass.

  • "A key aim of the book [The Russians Are Coming, Again] is to remind activists that they should not succumb to the dominant Russo-phobia, as some on the left have, as it is driven by elite interests whose agenda is attached to that of the military-industrial complex. Backed by the corporate media, these interests will consistently invoke the specter of the Russian threat as a means of defusing social movement organizing and class conflict, and as justification for sustaining astronomically high military budgets."


    Same as it ever was…

  • HoosierPoli says:

    This summit was the first phase of the plan. Vlad was quite a bit more open then he gets credit for. Did you direct your officials to interfere? Yes. Do you have kompromat? Well, I won't say yes, but I won't say no. Meanwhile Trump has to stand right there and utterly abnegate himself. It gets worse from here, and the rest of the GOP is waiting until it's far too late to jump out of the minecart.

  • I made the observation a year or so ago that by all accounts the Ruskies appear to have run the perfect game, the perfect con … but for the rube, but for the mark. In the end, that may be what saves us.

  • The russians (Vlad and his henchscum) want this to happen because they know that world will be a smoking ruin if they ever go to the nukes.

    The country known as Russia, btw, would be a cratered, radioactive moonscape for the next couple of hundred years. This isn't a doomsday prediction–it's a truth of nuclear weaponry.

  • geoff says:
    "American's aren't quite as scared as we were say fifteen years ago"
    Maybe you're right. And maybe that can change ahead of the midterms with an October surprise.

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