Apparently – oh, horror of horrors – the Russians hacked the American Presidential Election.
This would be a remarkable feat, if it’s actually true. To ‘hack’ an election suggests, very strongly, that the Russians somehow programmed the American electorate to vote for Donald Trump. Maybe Russian agents stuffed ballot boxes right across the United States. Or maybe the Russians secretly slipped Hillary Clinton drugs to make sure she made a constant stream of unforced mistakes. Or maybe the Russians worked hard to convince the democrats they were winning when they were actually losing. Or maybe they just donated to the Clinton Foundation.
The interesting thing about this, the latest attempt to delegitimize President-Elect Donald Trump, is that there is hardly any meat to the story at all.
Apparently (at least to the best of my knowledge) there has been no official determination by the CIA that the Russians interfered, in any way more serious than the average meddling by American politicians in foreign elections. ‘Unnamed government/CIA sources’ prove nothing beyond rumour. Where is the evidence?
As far as I can tell, the worst – realistic – charge levelled against the Russians is that they backed Wikileaks and provided support in hacking the DNC. This may be true, although Wikileaks has denied it. Of course, the Russians might simply have watched Wikileaks go to work … and done nothing, either to help or hinder their project. It was a Russian who coined the term ‘useful idiots’ and Wikileaks – and people like Snowden – often serve Russian interests without actually taking orders from Moscow. The Russians have ample reason to be pleased at the results of the election without lifting a finger to interfere.
If this is true, where is the evidence?
Much has been said over the last week, of varying degrees of credibility. The files were actually sent, we have been told, by a rogue democrat within the DNC. No, the DNC computer security was weak and the hacks happened because they opened the wrong emails and followed instructions designed to open holes in their security. Or hackers right across the world managed to get in through brute-force measures. Or …
All of this is beside the point. The important detail here, as far as I can see, is this. There would be no evidence of criminal (or at least dubious) behaviour if there hadn’t actually been criminal (or at least dubious) behaviour. Thanks to Wikileaks, we now know:
-The DNC rigged the nomination process to ensure that Hillary Clinton would win. More creditable candidates were frozen out, preventing the democrats from escaping the Hillary Quagmire.
-The Mainstream Media served as an appendage to the Clinton Campaign, to the point where they shrilled for Hillary and tipped the scale in her favour. They even outright cheated by coordinating attacks against Donald Trump and sending her debate questions in advance.
-Hillary Clinton continued to take funds from big business and foreign sources, even though some of her own advisers were deeply worried about the ‘optics’ of such dealings. At best, this was a ‘pay to play’ system; at worst, this was an outright attempt to bribe a future president. Note that many of those foreign sources include nations that are effectively enemy states, including Saudi Arabia.
-Hillary Clinton was cold, dismissive and utterly heedless of her rapidly-declining personal image. She and her senior advisors ignored significant problems, as well as advice from Bill Clinton (of all people) that they were in serious danger of losing. Insulting large swathes of the American population was a losing proposition and Bill, to give him credit, realised it.
In short, the DNC’s credibility is at rock bottom – and we’re meant to trust it?
Look at it this way. There’s a scene in The Fourth Protocol where a British ‘gentleman thief’ burgles an important government official. He discovers evidence that the official was spying for Russia and forwards the evidence to MI5. Does the fact that this evidence was obtained illegally, in the truest possible sense, somehow excuse the official for his treason? Should his crimes be forgotten because the evidence came from a thief?
Blaming Hillary’s defeat on the Russians – the latest in a series of villains, according to die-hard Hillary supporters – means ignoring the many significant mistakes she made during the campaign. Worse, it means ignoring the simple fact that the DNC ignored both the demands of politics and the opinions of the ‘little people.’ Hillary listened to supporters with big bank accounts, not genuine Americans. She deserved to lose.
But there is another point here.
It is very difficult for the US to complain about Russian interference in American elections, for the very simple reason that the US has spent a significant proportion of the last eight years doing the same. Even Hillary admits that Putin had ample reason to want to give her a taste of her own medicine, as she was a major player in such meddling. What is worse, perhaps, is that America is strikingly bad at it. Obama going to Britain to insist that Britain stayed in the EU probably played a major role in BREXIT.
In the end, however, all the evidence suggests that the Russian contribution – if indeed there was any significant contribution – was minimal. Hillary Clinton lost the vote through her own miscalculations.
She lost. Get over it.