I keep wondering why so many smart people believe Vladimir Putin is doing everything possible to win the election for Donald Trump. If I were Putin, I think I’d prefer Hillary. Bigtime.
Putin’s got a lot going with Hillary. His pals donated more than a hundred million dollars to the Clinton Family Foundation while she was secretary of state, and they gained ownership of twenty percent of America’s uranium supply. If Putin were really trying to elect Trump, he’d be leaking the details of that relationship. But no, the big story broke more than a year ago in the New York Times, and isn’t one of the major themes of the WikiLeaks archives.
Ergo, those who think WikiLeaks is part of a Russian deception—and I’m quite prepared to believe that—have to explain why the most devastating information about Hillary comes from the Democrats’ favorite daily newspaper.
Plus, if I were Putin and really wanted Hillary elected, I’d be inclined to openly endorse Trump, on the theory that most U.S. voters would reason “if Putin likes the guy, we’re better off without him.”
We don’t know a great deal about Trump’s foreign policy views (he’s been very weak on national security during the three debates), but we do know that he has great confidence in retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, who is certainly no fan of Putin. Several months ago, the Kremlin hosted Flynn at a conference in Moscow, prompting many pundits to claim that Flynn—and thus Trump—was a buddy of Putin. We haven’t heard much of that lately, because Flynn was outspokenly critical of Russian foreign policy, and said so, in public, in Moscow. Moreover, anyone who reads Flynn’s book (which I coauthored) will find extensive criticism of Putin himself, clearly identifying him as an enemy.
If, as is widely rumored, Flynn is slated for a high position in a Trump administration, that is a big reason for the Russian dictator to prefer Hillary.
It’s a mistake to analyze a KGB officer such as Vladimir Putin as if he were a standard-issue American politician. The last thing Putin would do is to make his preferences clear. Instead, he would manipulate American public opinion, by hiding his preferences and intentions.
This is not to say that Putin is focusing all his attention on deception. Traditional espionage and influence operations are the KGB’s stock-in-trade, after all, and you can be certain that the Russians have infiltrated both campaign staffs, as they have surely penetrated the Obama administration.
But still, if I were Putin I’d be for Hillary.