The great military writer (and Trump-hater) Max Boot writes about an interesting conversation he had with some Beijing pols about Putin and the rumored intervention in the 2016 election.
“Was this a smart thing to do? Will other countries, like China, emulate Russia’s example?”
Turns out the Chinese think this whole thing is a cautionary tale: they told Boot that American politics is like a see-saw, if you tip one end, the other end goes up.
If—and this is a big, sketchy “if”—Trump is the guy they wanted, then what did they really get? The Chinese answer: pretty much nothing.
For one thing, it appears that the Russian Ambassador met with every Republican within 100 miles of Washington D.C., and about half the Democrats. But now everyone knows it, and everyone is freaking out.
Run. For. Your. Lives.
Look, even the New York Times says “it is common and not improper for transition officials to meet with foreign officials.” And it was the Democratic nominee of 2012 who scoffed at the notion that modern Russia was up to anything no-goodski.
At the moment, it seems like a lot of hype. What came of these meetings? What was the quid pro quo?
The Great Putin Panic of 2017 means more anti-Russian sentiment in this country than I’ve seen since the late ’70s and early ’80s, when Russia was invading Afghanistan, shooting down KAL 007, persecuting Jews and dissidents, leading to our 1980 Olympic boycott and their 1984 one, and the Cold War was getting uncomfortably hot. This is what they wanted???
It’s also had the effect of making modern-day Democrats go full anti-everything-Russian witch-hunt, like this was 1952 or something. This transformation should be evaluated by the Vatican for possible miracle-status.
Joke: least popular cocktail in D.C. right now is a White Russian.
Boot also notes that, in addition to these McCarthyite Democrats, every Republican not named Donald Trump also now has something to prove. Good luck lifting those sanctions, Mr. President, because slapping them back on will be quick and popular in both parties. And will Trump even try? Look at this NatSec team: Generals Mattis, Kelly and McMaster take a dim view of Vlad, and now much dimmer. And the new Russia hand at the NSC is the widely-respected Fiona Hill, who was very frosty about Putin even before 2016. To believe Trump will do Putin’s bidding, you’d have to believe he will defy Mattis, Kelly, McMaster, Hill, and numerous newly-minted anti-Russian leaders in Congress, and a panicked American people.
So Boot and the Chinese are asking and answering a good question. Instead of merely “Did the Russians try to intervene?”, they’re asking “Did it work?” So far, it did not.
Now, I disagree with Boot when he says that the new prez is an incompetent boob the Russkies can take advantage of.
But I think he’s right that Russia isn’t getting anything like whatever they hoped for, for now. Stay tuned.
They’re dangerous, what they do is dangerous, but that doesn’t mean they’re geniuses.
This was not a genius outcome.