It’s in the nature of nation-states, especially those with pretensions to global influence, to insinuate themselves into the domestic operations of their neighbors near and far, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia has not exactly disguised its ambitions. Just ask the beleaguered residents of Ukraine and the Baltic states. According to the Washington Post, the CIA has concluded with “high confidence” that Russian interference in this year’s presidential election — primarily the thousands of e-mails leaked from the Democratic National Committee and others — was designed to boost Donald Trump’s electoral prospects, not merely to shake Americans’ faith in the integrity of their electoral system. If true — and that’s a big if as of now — Russia is more brazen than one might have thought.
Of course, interfering in an election by exposing sensitive information, as Russia seems to have done, and, say, tampering with Diebold machines are two different things — a distinction that Hillary Clinton partisans have conveniently forgotten. Since the report broke late last week, eminences such as Paul Krugman have called the election “tainted,” high-profile commentators have gone so far as to suggest we have a “revote,” and the Clinton campaign has announced that it supports a demand from ten presidential electors (among them Nancy Pelosi’s daughter) for an intelligence briefing in advance of the Electoral College’s December 19 vote. Needless to say, this is all part of the ongoing effort to find excuses for Clinton’s loss other than Hillary Clinton. Kremlin machinations make for a helpful addition to the list that also includes Madisonian republicanism, James Comey, and “fake news.”
Amid so much panic, it’s worth recalling precisely who has been responsible for America’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia for the last eight years. The president-elect is not the one who oversaw the Russian “reset,” or who allowed Russia to gobble up Crimea and invade Ukraine with impunity, or who enabled Putin to prop up the Assad regime in Syria, or who permitted American diplomats to be harassed in Moscow. It’s not Donald Trump who has created a nearly global safe space for Russian adventurism. Additionally, it’s not President-elect Trump and his secretary of state who exchanged classified communiqués over an unsecured e-mail server, and it was John Podesta, not Kellyanne Conway, whose password was . . . “p@ssw0rd.” High-ranking Democrats were laxer about data security than the average Apple store, and now they’re stunned that a foreign power may have exploited those vulnerabilities.