Moskva ved Potomac

Leseranbefalinger: Jeg har samlet noen sentrale artikler om forbindelsene mellom Trumps presidentkandidatur og Putin-regimet.

De siste ukene har både norsk og amerikansk presse skrevet mye om forbindelsene mellom Trump og Putin. Nobelprisvinner i økonomi Paul Krugman kalte ham i en artikkel i New York Times i forrige ute for ”The Siberan Candidate”, en henvisning til filmen The Manchurian Candidate som handler om en kommunistisk konspirasjon.

Nedenfor har jeg samlet noen gode analyser av dette, og gjengir noen nøkkelavsnitt. Gå gjerne til kildene og les hele saken.

Hackingen via Wikileaks

La oss starte med hackingen av DNC – altså den sentrale partiorganisasjonen til demokratene. Thomas Rid, som er professor i Security Studies ved Kings College i London skrev grundig om dette hos Motherboard på mandag, under den klare tittelen ”All Signs Point to Russia Being Behind the DNC Hack”:

“The forensic evidence linking the DNC breach to known Russian operations is very strong. On June 20, two competing cybersecurity companies, Mandiant (part of FireEye) and Fidelis, confirmed CrowdStrike’s initial findings that Russian intelligence indeed hacked the DNC. The forensic evidence that links network breaches to known groups is solid: used and reused tools, methods, infrastructure, even unique encryption keys. (…)

The evidence linking the Guccifer 2.0 account to the same Russian operators is not as solid, yet a deception operation—a GRU false flag, in technical jargon—is still highly likely. (…) (Mer om Guccifer her).

The combative yet error-prone handling of the Guccifer account is in line with the GRU’s aggressive and risk-taking organizational culture and a wartime mindset prevalent in the Russian intelligence community. Russia’s agencies see themselves as instruments of direct action, working in support of a fragile Russia under siege by the West, especially the United States. (…)

Second, stolen documents leaked in an influence operation are not fully trustworthy. Deception operations are designed to deceive. The metadata show that the Russian operators apparently edited some documents, and in some cases created new documents after the intruders were already expunged from the DNC network on June 11.”

Patrick Tucker hos defenseone.com gikk gjennom bevisene for at russere står bak hackingen på søndag.

På tirsdag skrev Matthew Rojansky ved Kennan Institute på nettstedet warontherocks.com om mulige motiver:

“On the one hand, the Russians have long argued that the United States meddles in elections and domestic politics around the globe. (…) So, by that logic, it is not a stretch to think Putin would have wanted to send the message to Americans that the shoe is now on the other foot — our vaunted American democracy is just as vulnerable to foreign meddling. (…)

What is harder to believe is that Vladimir Putin is specifically picking sides, or that he actually thinks that a blatant external intervention of this type can have a predictable effect on U.S. voters that would necessarily be good for Russia.  (…)  If anything, the now very public insinuations about the Trump organization’s Russian ties or the suggestion that Putin is backing Trump against Hillary could alienate some very important swing voters, including Americans of Polish, Ukrainian, Baltic, and other East European descent concentrated in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois.”

Maxim Trudulyubov i Vedemosti er også tvilende til at Putin faktisk arbeider for å få Trump valgt, og skrev hos Newsweek på torsdag:

“The Russian political elite may indeed favor Trump, but this does not strike me as necessarily obvious. Trump may prove too disruptive even by Russian standards: his policies, if applied as advertised, may lead to regional conflicts and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which is not in Russia’s national interest, Vladimir Frolov, an astute commentator on Russian foreign policy, wrote recently.

What Moscow has already achieved is that it has made everybody believe that Putin supports Trump. This alone has proved sufficient to sow the dragon’s teeth of suspicion and distrust on the American political field. The words puppetagent and stooge dot the pages of the American press, mostly the liberal press.

I don’t know whether the Kremlin even has a favorite in the U.S. elections, but I do know what Russia’s ruling politicians love to watch. They love seeing others get caught in what one might call a “Russian trap”—when others are caught doing the very thing they accuse Moscow of doing. They also enjoy watching those who accuse Moscow of calling its opponents “foreign agents” do the same to their own political opponents.”

Russerne liker Trump

Det er imidlertid ingen tvil om hva russere flest mener om Trump. En internasjonal meningsmåling fra YouGov publisert i tyske Handelsblatt, viser at Russland er det eneste landet der Trump er mer populær som presidentkandidat enn Clinton – og med klar margin. Mens Clinton leder med mer enn 30 prosent i vest-europeiske land, leder Trump med 21 prosent i Russland. Dette gjenspeiles også i russiske medier – eller det er vel snarere opinionen som følger de sterkt statskontrollerte mediene.

Iullia Joffe dekket i Politico i juni hvordan Clinton omtales gjennomgående negativt i russisk TV. Trump derimot:

“Trump, on the other hand, is presented as a levelheaded pragmatist, a man who understands that America has overreached and that it needs to pull back. (Which, of course, is great for a Russia that has been on its own mission to overreach. Having America out of the way would make that far easier.) “Trump’s ideology is one of rejecting the destructive globalism of the last few years in favor of a healthy American isolationism,” one prominent pro-Kremlin commentator declared, adding that Trump’s saying that he will work with Putin infuriates American “globalists.”

Michael Crowley, også hos Politico, skrev i mai om hvordan Russlands propaganda-kanal i USA, RT, har fått en klar pro-Trump slagside:

“But in hours of watching RT programming and combing through its online content, I could find only the rarest, token defense of Clinton. Critical stories about Trump, touching, for example, on the violence at his rallies, tended to be less about Trump himself than the recurring theme that America is stumbling toward social and political anarchy.”

Anna Nemtsova rapporterte i Politico i forrige uke om hvordan Trump oppfattes i Russland:

”Here in Moscow, I often hear Trump being compared to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the extremist nationalist politician whom people call Zhirik and who is known as the “palace jester” of Russian politics because of his calls to execute dissenting ministers, lawmakers and generals by shooting them in Red Square, or to reduce the birth rate in Russian Muslim republics by imposing a financial penalty for the birth of a third child. (…)

Earlier this month, Russian Trump fans — including Putinologists, mild and far-right nationalists, anti-globalists and Donbas separatists — gathered in annexed Crimea to discuss post-November U.S.-Russia relations during a 9-day long Kremlin-financed forum. Even the militia leaders of self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics showed up. Sitting in the presidium at a table covered in red cloth, Sergei Markov, the organizer of the annual forum since 1999, explained to the auditorium full of political scientists and graduate students, that once America elects “the palace jester” Trump as its president, the Kremlin’s life will be easier everywhere — in Syria, in Ukraine, in Europe and at home.”

Trump er “soft on Putin”

Det er for mange påfallende hvordan Trumps tone overfor Putin er en helt annen enn den vi er vant med fra republikanere. Trumps beundring for ”sterke menn” er velkjent, og noe jeg har skrevet om tidligere, som en del av analysen av hans autoritære holdninger.

Og Trump har allerede gitt Putin et par gode kort. Han ga i det store og hele blaffen i innholdet i den republikanske politiske plattformen som ble vedtatt på landsmøtet, og som for eksempel er langt mer sosialkonservativ enn Trump er, men en endring var viktig for Trump (i tillegg til å bygge mur mot Mexico), noe som Josh Rogin skrev i Washington Post forrige mandag:

“Throughout the campaign, Trump has been dismissive of calls for supporting the Ukraine government as it fights an ongoing Russian-led intervention. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade. Still, Republican delegates at last week’s national security committee platform meeting in Cleveland were surprised when the Trump campaign orchestrated a set of events to make sure that the GOP would not pledge to give Ukraine the weapons it has been asking for from the United States.”

Hans uttalelser til New York Times i forrige uke om at Natos medlemsland ikke automatisk kan regne med amerikansk støtte dersom de blir angrepet er også gull for Putin.

“For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

Senest onsdag svarte han imøtekommende, men uforpliktende på et spørsmål om han vil anerkjenne Russlands anneksjon av Krim og oppheve sanksjonene. Og han skapte oppstyr ved å anmode russerne om å offentliggjøre de epostene som Hillary Clinton har slettet fra sin tid som utenriksminister, implisitt at de allerede har hacket hennes server– en oppfordring han senere har bortforklart som sarkasme.

Men Masha Gessen i New York Review of Books advarer mot å tolke det at Trump inntar standpunkter som er gunstige for Putin dithen at Trump på noen måte er russisk “agent”:

“Trump’s foreign policy statements are perfectly consistent with his character and thinking. The man is uninterested in anything he doesn’t understand. He is incapable of strategic planning, and he has a particular distaste for paying debts. Of course he doesn’t see any reason for the United States to fulfill its obligations to other countries and organizations—just as Trump personally wouldn’t fulfill his obligations to other people, or to organizations. Yes, that happens to be exactly what Putin would want him to say. But the idea that Putin is somehow making or even encouraging him to say these things is a work-around for the inability to imagine that the Republican Party’s nominee is saying them of his own accord.”

Dette stemmer godt med Beauchamps analyse hos Vox:

«All Trump cares about, instead, is getting more money for the United States, as he’s said: «my whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy … But now I want to be greedy for the United States. I want to grab all that money.» His theories for how to do that — like spending less on alliances and other foreign commitments — line up exactly with a series of Russian foreign policy objectives.»

Follow the money

Flere har sett nærmere på Trumps forretningsforbindelser med Russland. Franklin Foer i Slate peker på at hans investeringer der, helt tilbake til 1980-tallet i det store og hele har løpt ut i sanden. Josh Rogin skrev om disse forbindelsene for Bloomberg i mars.

Men nå er russiske oligarker viktigere som investorer og kjøpere i Trumps prosjekter. Washington Post publiserte en gjennomgang 17. juni:

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” (…)

Foer skriver også om de nære og velkjente forbindelsene mellom Trumps valgkampsjef Paul Manafort og det forrige regimet i Ukraina.

“Trump’s campaign manager is a wizened operative named Paul Manafort. It’s true that Manafort is a mercenary by trade. His old Washington consulting firm pioneered the practice of representing the dictators of the world, no matter their grim record. (I profiled his authoritarian ambit earlier this year.) Late in his career, however, Manafort dedicated himself to working on behalf of clients close to the Kremlin. His grand achievement was reviving the doomed career of the anti-charismatic politician Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort’s image-crafting and shrewd strategy culminated in Yanukovych’s election to Ukraine’s presidency in 2010. Thanks to Manafort’s handiwork, Ukraine pulled into Putin’s sphere of influence. Unlike other American consultants who flitted in and out of Kiev, Manafort set up camp there. He became an essential adviser to the president—his tennis partner even.”

Foer har skrevet mer i detalj om Manafort tidligere.

Zack Beauchamp hos Vox skrev om de russiske forbindelsene i går:

«Carter Page, another Trump foreign policy adviser, has served as an adviser for Gazprom, Russia’s state-run energy corporation. As recently as March 2016, he said he owned shares in the company. «Page has defended Russia with relish,» Slate’s Franklin Foer writes. «He wrote a column explicitly comparing the Obama administration’s Russia policy to chattel slavery in the American South.»


Bilde: Dmitry Azovtsev, http://www.daphoto.info, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=252023

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