Analysis by Reporting San Diego
July 17, 2017 (San Diego) White House Counsel John Dean said these words to the Special Committee during the Watergate investigation. This cancer was one of secrecy, paranoia and perhaps law breaking. The Richard Nixon White House was under siege. Dean’s statement was the beginning of the end. We are living through a similar historic moment. We have cancer growing, perhaps metastasizing, in the Donald Trump White House. This is growing by leaps and bounds. Russian interference in American elections, which the White House tried to deny, can no longer be ignored.
There is another aspect to this. What the Russians did was an attack on the United States. It was an exercise in hybrid warfare. This is a form of combat that surprisingly the United States seems unable to counter. Given the Intelligence services have used similar methods abroad to manipulate electoral results, it defies credibility that we were taken by surprise. Except it seems we were.
The meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer is a problem. The reaction from Trump Jr was not one of surprise, or shock. It brought it on. Russia is not a superpower. But Vladimir Putin is trying to revive an empire. This is not the Soviet Union, but that of the Tzars. Therefore, Russia has engaged in operations against not just the United States, but the West.
The goal of Russia is to weaken democracy itself. They have attacked elections in the Ukraine. Western Europe, and the United States. The goal is to discredit democracy, western democracy, as a system. It is not just for citizens of Western Europe, but also for their own internal consumption. The fall of the Soviet Union came with the rise of a very weak democracy and the rule of Boris Yeltsin. It led to widespread poverty and a crisis of identity and trust inside Russia.
Putin entered Russian politics partly to protect the country from what he saw as forces that meant to destroy the Russian Empire. Given the dissolution of the Soviet Union and states leaving their own ways, such as Ukraine, the Baltic States, and the ‘Stans, Russia was no longer the super power it once was. Putin blames democracy partly for this. As well as western economic bodies, such as the world bank that fascinated the rise of a kleptocratic class that has greatly enriched itself. Never mind Putin is among the wealthiest men on earth, and he took full advance of this.
His motive is not just about Russian greatness. It is also about himself. He could potentially fall under the Magnitsky Act, which might mean his immense wealth would be frozen in the West. For the moment he has not been touched since he is the head of government. However, if he loses that power the act could affect him immediately. Putin also has the interest of the Russian role in geopolitics. He is not happy that the former USSR is currently a third rate power. He blames the west for that. So some of this is revenge.
Now to the Trumps. They have their own problems. They are involved in real estate in the city of New York. The Trumps, according to Fortune Magazine, have had deep connections with the Russian Mafia since at least 2007. They write:
In a 2007 deposition that Trump gave as part of his unsuccessful defamation lawsuit against reporter Timothy O’Brien, he describes efforts to launch real estate ventures in Russia through Bayrock Associates, a shady Russian-connected outfit. Bayrock had partnered with Trump on at least four major but failed American projects: the Fort Lauderdale Trump Tower, the Trump Ocean Club in Fort Lauderdale, the SoHo condominium-hotel in New York, and a resort in Phoenix.
The links are deeper than just that. The Russians would know this. By that, we mean the Intelligence Services. So how much-compromising information. what the Russians call Kompromat, do they have the President of the United States and his family? This is not an idle question. It would explain why the president has treated the Russians with a kid glove. Moreover, the Trump family admires strong men, and that includes Putin.
Then there is the Republican Party. This is a party that throughout the Cold War accused Democrats of being soft on national security and defense. Yet they are still in denial of the very real national security concerns at play here. In fact, people like Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not remember his meetings with a Russian ambassador, in his clearance form. General Michael Flynn did not reveal his contacts. But this is not just one or two people. Many on the American right are forging ties with many in the Russian right wing, and even see Putin as an ally. Why? The shift towards what they see as family and Christian values. The other point of intersection is gun rights. However, experts doubt this is just what it appears.
This change is clear in people like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who told the Washington Post:
“There has been a change in the views of hard-core conservatives toward Russia. Conservative Republicans like myself hated communism during the Cold War. But Russia is no longer the Soviet Union.”
This is also found in places like Storefront and other far right sites. There is a growing affinity between the American right and the Russian right, some might argue the government forces.
The GOP has also decided that wining by any and all means is all that matters. Therefore, putting the country ahead the party is not something they are inclined to do at the moment. There is more, the party is willing to abandon long held cherished projects.
This has led to a prediction from Joe Scarborough, who recently left the GOP. We are quoting from the Raw Story piece:
“Political historians will one day view Donald Trump as a historical anomaly,” Scarborough predicted. “But the wreckage visited of this man will break the Republican Party into pieces — and lead to the election of independent thinkers no longer tethered to the tired dogmas of the polarized past. When that day mercifully arrives, the two-party duopoly that has strangled American politics for almost two centuries will finally come to an end. And Washington just may begin to work again.”
We will add that political historians will also conclude that the GOP lost its soul in this search for victory, as Scarborough put it. We may not go as far as declaring either of the two parties dead. Or for that matter the end of the duopoly. There are constitutional reasons why the American political system favors two major parties. It is encoded in the Constitution. However, as long as the Republican Party does not acknowledge the attack on the country, one without bombs or troops, we will continue to see further dysfunction in Washington. In effect, this is what the Russian wanted. The GOP is giving them what they want.
The United States has intervened in other people’s systems, from the coups that removed governments from Iran and Guatemala, or the help given to Augusto Pinochet by the Chicago Boys after the 1973 coup against Salvador Allende. However, what the Russian Security Services pulled off in 2016 is arguably as effective. The US is paralyzed and one of the two parties wants to fully ignore what happened.
We have cancer on the presidency. It is a cancer of ideology, foreign intervention, and a lack of loyalty to country. This cancer is a new kleptocracy, not unlike the one that currently exists in Russia. This cancer is not democratic and it is, quite possibly, the greatest crisis in the United States since Watergate rocked Washington.