Confirmation that Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin's intelligence services were actively trying to steer the election to their useful idiot Donald "Rump" Trump fits a pattern of Russia's methodically undermining Western democracies. Putin's "Greater Russia" fantasy demands the weakening of NATO and the European Union, supporting far-right movements in Austria, France, Germany and elsewhere where xenophobia and white nationalism are growing. Writing in The Atlantic, Larry Diamond presents a thorough and chilling report on Putin's success thus far, the greatest of which is his influencing the U.S. Presidential election outcome for Rump:
"We stand now at the most dangerous moment for liberal democracy since the end of World War II. There are still many more democracies worldwide today than when the Cold War ended. But outside the West, many of them are fragile or rapidly declining....The greatest danger, however, is not what is happening in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. It is the alarming decay of liberal democracy in Europe and the United States, accelerated by escalating Russian efforts at subversion. Putin’s forces are on such a roll that they can no longer contain their glee. One pro-Putin Russian governor recently declared in a radio interview, 'It turns out that United Russia [Putin’s political party] won the elections in America.' Donald Trump’s election victory was an extraordinary political achievement for someone who has never held or sought political office. It drew the support of many tens of millions of voters who rallied to his themes of controlling immigration, changing the way things are done in Washington, generating economic opportunity for those left behind by globalization, or somehow just 'making American great again.' But it probably would not have happened without Russia’s hacking of America’s political process—and on behalf of a candidate who had said he wanted good relations with Vladimir Putin." (emphasis added)Putin's cunning operations against Western Europe received an ancillary boost when, upon Russia's brutal military intervention in Syria, thousands upon thousands of refugees fled into Turkey and Western Europe, providing the xenophobic, racist and anti-democracy forces there with a pretext to rally voters to their cause. More "glee" for the autocrat Putin.
We are awaiting the nomination of Russophile and ExxonMobil plutocrat Rex "T Rex" Tillerson as Rump's Secretary of State. T-Rex is beloved by Putin, and they have had a warm relationship for many years, owing to the intersection of Big Oil in the U.S. and Russia (where oil revenue is literally money in Putin's pocket). It's important to remember that ExxonMobil skirted the sanctions against Russia in a 2014 deal to drill in the Artic. Assuming he's confirmed, we'll have the first Secretary of State to have received Russia's Order of Friendship, which is awarded to foreign nationals "whose work, deeds and efforts were aimed at the betterment of relations with the Russian Federation and its people." He can certainly be expected to earn that medal again going forward, if Putin's calculated correctly.