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A Russian Syllogism

One can be simultaneously appalled by Donald Trump's parroting of Russian propaganda and reject the notion that Russia is a major geopolitical threat to America.

There seems to be an impression out there that if you think Donald Trump would be a disastrous president, then you need to be freaked out about the Russians trying to get him elected. I don’t see why that is the case. Nor do I see why, if you think Hillary Clinton is overhyping the Russian threat, that means you should be sanguine about the fact that Donald Trump eagerly parrots the most simpleminded Russian propaganda.

It is possible to hold all of the following thoughts in one’s head at the same time:

  1. Russia is trying to influence the American election in an underhanded way in order to improve their geopolitical position, much as they are doing elsewhere in Western Europe.
  2. However:
    1. they are not actually very good at it;
    2. this is nothing new; the Russians have played these kinds of games since Czarist times;
    3. this is nothing unique to Russia; other great powers play these games regularly as well, most certainly including us;
    4. to the extent that it works at all, it’s because they are exploiting existing tensions, so focusing on those makes much more sense than focusing on them.
    5. All of which is reason enough not to freak out and overreact (though we certainly have every reason to be angry).
  3. Donald Trump is happy to play the part cast by Vladimir Putin because:
    1. he’s a fool who thinks everything he reads on the internet is true so he’s easy prey for conspiracy-mongers of all sorts; and/or
    2. he’s a nihilist who believes nothing is true so he parrots whatever Russia says that seems useful; and/or
    3. he is flattered by Putin and actually admires him in the manner of much of the alt-right; and/or
    4. he owes money to Russian oligarchs.
    5. All of which are reasons enough not to want Donald Trump to be President (assuming you needed more reasons).
  4. Hillary Clinton is happy to over-hype the Russian threat because:
    1. she’s a hawk who over-hypes threats generally; and/or
    2. she’s an American primacist and therefore ideologically can’t come to an accommodation with any other power about spheres of influence; and/or
    3. she wants to demoralize Republicans who take the more typical GOP line into not voting for Trump; and/or
    4. she is specifically paranoid about anybody spying on her.
    5. All of which are reasons enough to worry about the possibility of conflict with Russia under a Clinton administration, and for both left- and right-wing opponents of an aggressive foreign policy to continue to work to mobilize an anti-war coalition no matter who is president.

That’s the way I see it, anyhow.



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