Update: After publication of this article, the State Department announced that 35 Russian diplomats would be expelled, and two Russian diplomatic compounds closed in the United States. In addition, the Obama administration announced sanctions against two Russian intelligence agencies: the GRU and the FSB.
Does President Barack Obama want to go to war with Russia because his party lost an election? Recent leaks from his administration point in that direction.
The measures the Obama administration is looking at would be the harshest against Russia since the fall of the Soviet empire. Obama’s team is reportedly looking to include, “economic sanctions and diplomatic censure.” They are looking to convert an “executive order that was meant to give the president authority to respond to cyberattacks from overseas” to include anything that would influence an election.
It would be a serious problem if Russia hacked voting machines or manipulated the final tallies of elections. However, there has been no evidence to date of that happening. The recount in Wisconsin put any claim regarding the hacking of election results to rest. There was very little change as a result of the recounts, and none of any statistical significance in the results from Wisconsin after the Quixotic Jill Stein-requested recount.
If the Russians influenced the election in other ways, like the alleged hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s Gmail account, it would still be problematic. However, it would be hard for this administration to make a case that it affected the election in any meaningful way. After all, hacking foreign governments for leverage, including allies, is something the U.S. has had to admit to doing through the NSA on multiple occasions.
There is also the fact that Hillary Clinton’s team ran perhaps one of the worst “front-runner” campaigns in American political history. Former Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley can rest easier at night knowing her campaign against Scott Brown is no longer the most inept “front runner” campaign in history. The Clinton team’s refusal to go to Midwestern state’s when the people on the ground were crying for them to was malpractice, and was a much greater factor in her loss than any interference by the Russians.
But back to Obama and Russia. The real issue is that Russia poses a geopolitical threat to the United States. A threat that has been growing throughout his tenure, since Clinton’s disastrous Staples “easy button” themed “reset.” Mitt Romney, in the 2012 campaign, famously attacked Obama on his feckless Russian foreign policy. Obama infamously responded, “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back. Because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.”
The main problem with Obama’s foreign policy is that it is based on his perceived political needs. In 2012, Obama calculated that the nation would believe that Romney was looking backwards, while he looked “forward” — remember it was his 2012 campaign slogan. Therefore he minimized a real risk Russia posed to U.S. interests in order to keep political power.
Once again, Obama is doing something that is not necessarily in the best interests of the country, but of him and his political party.
Flash forward to 2016: Obama is incensed that his agenda lost an election. He was fully committed to ensuring that Clinton won election. Her four years would be a continuation of his non-legislative transformation of America. The fact that she lost means his policies lost at the ballot box. That just couldn’t be for the bringer of hope. There must be another reason: enter the Russians and the alleged hacking.
It is hard to know if alleged hacking by the Russians really bothers the president, because he was not that worried about them when it was politically expedient. To him, and the professional Left, politics is a zero sum game. It is worth risking an open row, if not conflict, to put in place sanctions on Russia, not to punish Russia but to paint Trump in a corner.
If Trump or his administration reversed the sanctions, look for the Left to scream collusion, and use the removal of sanctions and diplomatic censure as proof.
Once again, Obama is doing something that is not necessarily in the best interests of the country, but of him and his political party. For the American people, the next three weeks cannot come fast enough.
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