“It wouldn’t be a bad opening for a Tom Clancy novel about the Cold War” – that’s how the Los Angeles Times described the sequence of events leading up to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats (“spies”) and the latest face-off between Washington and Moscow. Indeed the whole episode of has about it a fictional aura, which is, after all, only appropriate, since the entire basis of this latest cold war drama is pure invention.
The Russian “spy nest” had supposedly been in use since 1972 – but our Keystone Kops were just now getting around to dismantling it. Oh well, better late than never! It’s a 45-acre compound on the Maryland shore, about 60 miles from Washington, a place where Russian diplomats went to relax with their families: neighbors said they never saw anything the least bit off, and that the Labor Day picnics to which they were invited featured plenty of really good vodka. The head of the town council, a retired Marine, told the Los Angeles Times: “They’re good neighbors, and have been the whole time they’ve been there.” On New York’s Long Island a similar scenario unfolded: an estate long the site of Russian diplomats relaxing with their families is raided by the feds, and impounded, while baffled locals look on.
It’s all part of the security theater performed by Obama’s dead-enders, as they do their best to cast a long shadow over the incoming Trump administration. And like any performance, it comes with a little booklet explaining the provenance of the piece, in this case a “report” reiterating in a most unconvincing manner the assertions we’ve been hearing since Election Day: that Trump’s victory was the culmination of an elaborate Russian conspiracy, a remake of “The Manchurian Candidate,” only this time with computers.
And just to add a little extra frisson to the mix, as the clock ticked toward 2017 the Washington Post ran a story alleging that those omnipotent Russkies had hacked into Vermont’s electricity grid – and were about to turn out the lights! Except they didn’t, they weren’t, and it was all a bit of that “fake news” WaPo has been warning us about. The “Russian malware” was found on a laptop that wasn’t even connected to the internet. And it wasn’t Russian malware, it was Ukrainian.
Oh, the drama! Except there wasn’t any – at least, not enough for a Tom Clancy novel. Instead we saw a series of anti-climaxes: no break into the grid, no evidence of a Vast Russian-Trumpian Conspiracy (as promised), and no Russian retaliation for the expulsion of their diplomats. Instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would ignore the childish antics of the outgoing administration and instead wait for the adults to enter the room.
You could hear the gnashing of teeth in Washington, D.C., all the way to California.
Oh, but that didn’t mean the propaganda campaign abated. We haven’t seen one like this since the march to war against Iraq in 2003: the entire media-governmental-academic axis has been spinning full thrust in an effort to convince us that the President-elect of the United States won his office by dint of a foreign power’s exertions. It hasn’t worked: the public doesn’t believe it. Indeed, by reiterating this nonsense 24/7, the “mainstream” media is making itself more an object of derision than it already is: even Mrs. Clinton’s partisans think they’re biased.
My favorite part of this whole business is the role being played by Donald J. Trump. Unlike some of his spokesmen, and of course very much unlike the media, the President-elect has refused to swallow this Putin conspiracy theory for so much as a single minute. He’s shown more understanding of the difficulty of attributing cyber-attacks than most reporters, and he’s been skeptical from the beginning of the idea that it was the Russian state that hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails. In response to the latest barrage of hot air that’s slowly hardening into “fact,” Trump had this to say:
“’I just want them to be sure because it’s a pretty serious charge,’ Mr. Trump said of the intelligence agencies. ‘If you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong,’ he added, referring to intelligence cited by the George W. Bush administration to support its march to war in 2003. ‘So I want them to be sure,’ the president-elect said. ‘I think it’s unfair if they don’t know.’
“He added: ‘And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.’
“When asked what he knew that others did not, Mr. Trump demurred, saying only, ‘You’ll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.’”
The national security “Deep State” has naturally been opposed to Trump: his “no-regime-change” “America First” foreign policy would effectively put them out of business. However, that doesn’t mean the intelligence community is uniformly anti-Trump: far from it. Indeed, there are those who believe that the DNC/Podesta hacks were the work, not of the Russians, but of some inside our own intelligence community who were loath to see Hillary Clinton in the White House. And there is a whole school of thought, including Craig Murray, former UK diplomat, who maintain that the “hack” was in reality a leak, and that it came from American insiders rather than via the GRU. Murray is quite close to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: asked to comment on Murray’s statements, Assange said “I don’t want to go there.” Assange has stoutly denied any Russian involvement in the publication of the DNC/Podesta emails.
Is Trump about to blow this whole phony “Putin did it” scam wide open?
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. What we are seeing playing out is the reaction of the swamp creatures as Trump proceeds to drain their natural habitat. That screeching roaring sound you hear is their collective outrage as the implications of Trump’s triumph become apparent.
So get out the popcorn, and put your feet up: the entertainment is about to begin!
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.