10 December 2016   Leave a comment

Larry Diamond has written a particularly insightful essay on Russian President Putin’s strategy of undermining liberal democracy, not only in the US but also in Europe.  The essay is systematic in its analysis of what Putin has done to delegitimize the institutions necessary for citizens to have faith that their interests are being well-represented.  The strategy underpins Putin’s desire to resurrect Russia as a great power.  The essay follows on a report by the Washington Post on a CIA report that specifically accuses Russia of manipulating the 2016 US presidential elections to favor Donald Trump.  The response by the Trump Transition Team was nothing less than extraordinary:

First, the CIA never claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  Indeed, the CIA cast significant doubt on whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.   The final National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of the Bush Administration ignored key qualifiers in the CIA assessment, and according to Jason Leopold, quoting Paul Pillar who was in the CIA at the time:

“But Pillar, now a visiting professor at Georgetown University, added that the Bush administration had already made the decision to go to war in Iraq, so the NIE “didn’t influence [their] decision.” Pillar added that he was told by congressional aides that only a half-dozen senators and a few House members read past the NIE’s five-page summary.”

Moreover, the Defense Department wrote a memo describing how little it knew about the Iraqi weapons program, but the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, never circulated it to any decision maker.  Michael Morell, the Deputy Director of the CIA at the time, has admitted that the Bush Administration did not accurately reflect the CIA assessments.  And the British Government has admitted that the US intelligence estimates were “sexed up” by the Bush Administration, not the intelligence agencies.

Second, blaming the main intelligence agency on which the incoming President has to rely for the most sensitive information is unbelievable.  President-elect Trump has just told the most informed analysts in the US government that they are hacks.

Third, the assessment has nothing to do with questioning the electoral outcome.  No one suggested that the result should be overturned.  But to suggest that we should ignore an attempt by an outside power to install a preferred leader into the highest office in the government shows utter contempt for what democracy is supposed to be.  Is Donald Trump comfortable being an agent of Russia?

Fourth, the outcome of the Electoral College ranks Number 46 out of the 58 elections in American history.  Is that how Mr. Trump describes “biggest”?  No wonder he has small hands.

Posted December 10, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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