I come at the world of international politics from a weird angle-developmental disabilities and foreign adoption. Also, I have readers in remote countries that I’ve had to look up on my globe.
Many, many years ago, my programmer son in-law said, “You should put up a web site about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.”
“An informational site on the world wide web.”
“The what?” I’d never heard of a world wide web. Neither had anybody else outside of university librarians, the pentagon and a few programmers.
The result of this discussion became the first ever web site on the planet earth dedicated to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since I was in direct contact with the primary researchers on the topic at the University of Washington, I was in a great position to distribute information globally. I began communicating with government officials from all over the world. Yes, I had to look up some of those places in my atlas. I not only gave out information, I learned a great deal about the countries I communicated with and their lawmaking systems and how they approached solving problems like prenatal exposure to alcohol.
Meanwhile, my local projects placed me in contact with children adopted internationally. When you talk international adoption coupled with prenatal exposure to alcohol, you are talking about Russia among several other countries. The adoptions of children prenatally exposed to alcohol in Russia seemed to be particularly challenging for the adoptive parents. Thus began my study of Russia. Remember, my study started back in the early nineties just as Gorbachev was on his way out and Yeltsin became the new president.
After I’d spent years reading, studying, and interacting, Putin came to power and surprised me when he stated that Russia is a European country. Part of the country is in Europe, but the culture is heavily influenced by Eastern thought processes. They have much in common with their neighbor, China. Their system works. However, for us, it is important to remember that events related in time, space, or theme may be considered related through spiritual/mystical forces in Russia. A child who has learned the unique Russian thought pattern will indeed look illogical to the adoptive family, and that child will find his new parents insane. It is okay for a culture to function using a combination of western logic and eastern mysticism. It helps for adoptive parents to realize they may encounter something that looks like an illogical little blip from their adopted child.
From my concern about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I saw both Putin and Medvedev as assets to their country because of their support of healthy living practices and moderation in alcohol consumption. Under them, some excellent legislation was passed to help lower the incidence of alcoholism especially in pregnant women. They both pushed for internal solutions for their orphan population. As far as my interest in alcohol related birth defects went, Russian leadership seemed to be on the right track.
Now, with Putin, I am well aware of his reputation outside the realm of alcoholism and international adoption. I’ve read several books about him, including his biography. Do I think he has ordered political assassinations? Certainly. Have US presidents ordered political assassinations? Certainly. It happens. It’s wrong, but it happens wherever there is power and corruption.
So where does this background lead in relationship to the 2016 election? First, we have to understand that US foreign policy is dominated by our weapons industry. Any and every problem must be bombed. We tend to interpret foreign disputes through bomb colored glasses. Russians don’t think the same way we do. On top of the different thought processes involved in solving a problem, Putin is a master in martial arts. He will use violence as a last resort, and he knows how to exploit other’s weaknesses, using his opponent’s own power against them. So this brings us up to the issues of conflict in Syria and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Putin stated very clearly that if we sanctioned Russia for annexing Crimea there would be consequences. I believed him.
Our national response to Putin’s promise of consequences seemed to be interpreted as a bomb threat. I shuddered at the threat and wondered what form those consequences would take. Putin is not a man to be messed with. He is ruthless. He will follow through, and he is probably the best strategist we’ve seen in at least a hundred years.
The US, in response to Putin’s promise of consequences, beefed up our military presence in the Baltic Sea. Here is where our whole military/industrial thinking failed us. We should have beefed up our internet security and vetting of political candidates.
I wonder now at how deeply Russian influence had penetrated into our systems long before the election came along.
When the first hints of Russian hacking surfaced in the news, I didn’t pay much attention. Anybody who’d read Putin’s official biography would simply nod and think this was very consistent with his KGB training and something he’d do. Yes, hacking is illegal. We don’t enforce those laws among the elite in the US, so why should Russia obey them? Putin has mentioned repeatedly that the internet is an excellent tool for the CIA to spy on our citizens. He has also demonstrated an excellent understanding of how the internet can be used to spread propaganda and manipulate the citizenry. He has spoken to the Russian public about the risks of social media exposing the population to espionage. He never used email. Pundits told us it was because he didn’t understand. It has become apparent that he understood the potential for email security breaches all too well.
Using 20/20 hindsight, I look at our policies toward Russia over the last two decades and wonder how many of our mistakes are the result of thinking in only military terms. How many of our mistakes are the result of influence from corrupt oligarchs and how many of our mistakes are the result of compromised public advisors.
With this background, I had wondered about the possibility of Russian influence on our last election. Is the investigation of Russian influence just a smoke screen and distraction from issues we should be thinking about? Is this the most serious question our country needs to answer? If it is true that Russia influenced the election how deeply does the corruption run and who is compromised? With these thoughts in mind, I read the transcript of the Glenn Simpson/Fusion GPS testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The transcript is long and involved. I had to reread sections to keep straight who is talking and to comprehend the import of what this testimony means for our country. I now have more questions than I started with. The transcript can be found here http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/01/senate-democrats-just-released-the-full-fusion-gps-testimony/ I highly recommend that everybody read this with an open mind and mull over the implications and inconsistencies that came to light. We do need to ask, how deep does the influence run, who is compromised, and what this means for justice in this country.
Coming away from the transcript, I believe we’ve been subject to Russian propaganda for years. I believe that some of our oligarchs do cooperated with Russia to destroy the United States. I believe it is very feasible that Putin’s goal is to break the US into several smaller countries. Did Russia through operatives in Russia and in the US influence the 2016 election? I am certain they did.
The problem I see isn’t so much the Russian influence as it is our response to it. Again we have to deal with Putin’s superior abilities to strategize. He’s happy to have us shake our fists and blame him for the influence. He will get that wry little half smile on his face and deny role in the election. The only way we can defeat Putin, is to take responsibility for ourselves. We must set aside our addictions to feel-good propaganda and learn to love our neighbors. We must remember that Russian propaganda may purport to be anti-Russian while haranguing against either liberals or conservative.
Folks we are just people. We are not members of one evil fantasy group or the other. We are just people with different ideas of how to do a job. We absolutely must work together to save this country or we will become seven different countries and some of those countries will be very, very poor.