Russian Agent Hypothesis

There’s not much gun news, so I’ll give you a topic. One thing that doesn’t make sense to me about the Russian Agent theory of Trump is that the greatest geopolitical threat to Russia faces is cheap oil and gas. Oil and gas revenues represent 60% Russian exports, and 30% of its entire Gross Domestic Product. About 50% of the budget for the Russian government comes from state-owned oil and gas revenues. American Frackers are arguably a greater threat to Putin than the US military.

So if Putin were going to put a Manchurian Candidate in the White House, why would his man be generally supportive of American energy? Russia has put a lot of effort into anti-fracking propaganda in the United States. It would seem to me a top priority of a Russian stooge in the White House would be to halt pipeline construction and to use the EPA as a weapon to make hydraulic fracturing as expensive and unprofitable as possible.

19 thoughts on “Russian Agent Hypothesis”

  1. “It would seem to me a top priority of a Russian stooge in the White House would be to halt pipeline construction and to use the EPA as a weapon to make hydraulic fracturing as expensive and unprofitable as possible.”

    So, the last POTUS was the real Russian stooge/manchurian candidate.

  2. I don’t know if I would consider him a “Manchurian” candidate perse, but I think Russia took actions to further his candidacy. I think your energy argument is also too narrow of a view. Yes, in a sense, Trump would be bad for the Russian energy sector in theory, but Trump has/had the potential to really move U.S. foreign policy in a direction that would significantly favor Russian geopolitical aspirations. It is no hidden secret that Russia considers NATO and the U.S. Led “Liberal” Order as a direct existential threat it. Trump throughout the campaign questioned NATO’s purpose and existence. He questioned our “Free Trade” policy (which is a direct extension of u.s. soft power). A weaker NATO and a more isolationist U.S. was seen as beneficial to Russia- Trump has/had the potential to offer this. So it was in there interest to support him- he wasn’t perfect but they have a saying in Russia, “better is the enemy of good enough”. Trump was “good enough”.

    Now, as for Trump’s direction connection with Russia- I’m still up in the air. I think his public statements on the matter (especially when it comes to baiting trump to criticize russia) are strange. He has no problem critiquing other world leaders, but not Putin? Over and over again he keeps doing this. Coupled with his refusal to disclose his tax returns (which might show that he has significant financial involvement with Russian firms) just makes me suspicious. Now, I’m not willing to convict him on just this….but it raises interesting questions

    1. geopolitical aspirations mean dick when you are poor. Poor is what the Russians are with cheap oil and gas.

      Getting NATO allies to chip in for self defense does not make it weaker, it makes it stronger!! Are you going to invade the neighborhood where one house is the protector for the whole neighborhood, or are you going to invade the neighborhood where there is a rifle under every blade of grass?

      If Germany and France (and the rest of Europe) are more committed to their own defense, it is a significant force multiplier for the troops we already have there.

      1. Actually quite the opposite. Putin’s geopolitical aspirations for a more assertive Russia might seem counter-intuitive when viewed in their economic reality, but it’s not that crazy. Russia wants a return to the “glory days”, and Putin is happy to use that as a distraction. Why do you think Russia is in syria? Why do you think they are publicly displaying all their new military gear? They are attempting to “punch above their weight”. That does not necessarily mean they are vying to challenge the U.S. as a Global Hegemon like they did back in the USSR days- no, they are fully aware that they lack the capability both militarily and economically to do so. What they are trying to do, is tip the balance of power in Europe and in the Middle East atleast far enough to limit U.S. dominance. The U.S. might still remain preeminent, but to a lesser degree.

        As far as NATO goes, Trump has gone much further than just asking for them to fork up more money- he has openly questioned the existence of the Alliance. Now, Trump since being sworn it has walked back a bit on that, but during the campaign he brought it up quite a few times. Also, I’ll add that it’s not so easy for these countries to raise their defense spending. NATO countries in the EU has been having economic trouble ever since the great recession and these countries have a lot of budgetary pressure that limits how much they can direct towards defense. Perhaps Putin is banking on the chance that they will fail to meet the 2% goal and the Alliance will be further strained. More importantly though, Trump’s ambivalence to the EU weakens it significantly. Russia only benefits from a weakened EU- A broken up EU increases Russia’s relative economic strength.

        As for germany and france- I don’t disagree with you that they should provide more. But our contribution isn’t as significant as you think. We have less than 40,000 troops in europe, no permanent armored brigade (we have a rotational one), and one combat air brigade. According to our military analysis (and confirmed by independent groups like RAND) have shown that Russia has the capability to amass 300,000 troops and thousands of armored vehicles, capable of attacking it’s contiguous neighbors in a matter of hours. In fact, a RAND study came to the conclusion that Russia could probably conquer most of the baltic region in less than 4 days with our current military posture. They determined that we needed a minimum of 3 Armored Brigades just to able to delay the Russian advance until U.S. and Nato reinforcements could arrive.

    2. This whole notion that the Russians helped Trump really bugs me. Assuming that they were behind the Wikileaks and hacking (which is by no means proven) it seems to me that they weren’t really trying to help Trump as much as hurt Hillary. They were probably operating under the same assumption that the rest of us were, that she would win. It would therefore be in their interest for her new presidency to be weakened by as much scandal as possible, thus giving them a free hand to act internationally, while president Hillary would be too distracted to do anything about it. The Trump win was probably just as much as surprise to them as anyone else and just like the rest of us they don’t know what to do about it.

      1. I do think they were surprised about Trump’s victory, but just because they were surprised didn’t mean they didn’t try to take action to assist in his election. I agree that they also probably “leaked” the hillary documents to weaken her as well in case she won. In that sense, I think they “killed two birds with one stone”. I think at first they were happy that Trump won but are probably a little hesitant now. Trump is hard to predict policy wise and I think the Russians might have bitten off more than they could chew.

  3. I have been saying the same thing for a while.

    The Democrats were for the Russians before they were against them.

    Besides, it’s too easy and convenient. My theory is that if anything, the Chinese planted the links to Russians, because in reality they have the most to lose from the Trump presidency.

    Regardless, warming ties with Russia is the smart play if Trump thinks the real enemy is China and not Russia.

    1. Actually, China also has a lot to gain from a Trump presidency. The withdrawl from TPP is a perfect opportunity for them to push their own version of it- The RCEP (which already had many of the signatories that the u.s. had). If they finalize it, it could make the Chinese the dominant economic power in the region (or increase their hold on it, some argue they are already the dominant regional power). This will be a huge boost to their Soft Power and will cause regional nations to start aligning politically with China. We’ve already seen this start- just look at the Asian development bank (China’s version of the World Bank), despite our protests even many of our close allies signed on (Japan, South Korea, Australia, etc). Our preeminence in the region isn’t as much due to our military (China already has military superiority in the region when compared with our forward deployed forces. They might lose in a pro-longed conflict with us, but in a short one they would most surely win) as it is due to our “soft power”- our trade deals, our alliances, our “good will”. They are “contained” because nearly everyone surrounding them aligns their politics with U.S. interests because of our “community of nations” building in the region. If we recede from this, these countries are going to start looking elsewhere for partners, and trust me, the chinese are right there with billion dollar business deals waiting to pounce.

  4. Some allege that GWB’s come-hell-or-highwater invasion of Iraq was to assure the stability of international oil markets which Saddam Hussein was placing at risk. (Not to “take the oil.”)

    Perhaps Russia has a similar view; not that competing U.S. competition is necessarily bad, but anyone friendly to oil and oil markets is good, in the long term.

    But, we may be assigning too much economic rationality to world leaders; especially fascist world leaders like Putin and his crew. Regaining prestige for Mother Russia that was lost when the Soviet Union disintegrated may be a more emotionally appealing motivator. To me it appears significant that the only Republican platform plank that the Trumpkins demonstrated interest in and were insistent about, was that Russia’s encroachment into Crimea and Ukraine be respected and treated more favorably.

    To make an analogy, I have never seen an economic analysis of this sort, but did Hitler’s military adventures really make economic sense for Germany? Even if successful, would the balance sheet have shown them to be worth the tremendous squandering of resources and manpower? The point being, that national ambitions are not always motivated only by the economic value of commodities.

    1. It did not get much attention at the time compared to the pee-pee prostitutes allegations, but this maintains that Christopher Steele’s dossier on Trump included reports that a Trump adviser received an economic offer from the Russian oil industry.

      Memos: CEO of Russia’s state oil company offered Trump adviser, allies a cut of huge deal if sanctions were lifted

      A dossier with unverified claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia contained allegations that Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia’s state oil company, offered former Trump ally Carter Page and his associates the brokerage of a 19% stake in the company in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on Russia.

      The dossier says the offer was made in July, when Page was in Moscow giving a speech at the Higher Economic School. The claim was sourced to “a trusted compatriot and close associate” of Sechin, according to the dossier’s author, former British spy Christopher Steele.

      “Sechin’s associate said that the Rosneft president was so keen to lift personal and corporate western sanctions imposed on the company, that he offered Page and his associates the brokerage of up to a 19 per cent (privatised) stake in Rosneft,” the dossier said. “In return, Page had expressed interest and confirmed that were Trump elected US president, then sanctions on Russia would be lifted.”

      I have not been real clear on what the sanctions placed on Russia amounted to, but they could provide the entire economic explanation for why Russia supported Trump.

      1. The problem is that everything in the Steele document is suspect because several key points of it have been shown to be false. The mainstream media (and not so mainstream, like Mother Jones) *REFUSED* to release it before the election because parts of it were provably false. They didn’t want to get caught like Dan Rather did with the Killian Documents. Releasing it prior to the election, and having those key points in it shown to be wrong, would have helped Trump, not hurt him. When it was released after the election, it was released with a major caveat saying “we know there are problems with this document, but we’re releasing it for you to decide”.

        In short, the Steele accusations aren’t worth the electrons they are composed of. I wouldn’t trust them.

  5. All this talk of Manchurian Candidates distracts from the fact that levers were turned in the US intelligence and legal system that should not have been turned – that should not have been pliable by simple political players. If a FISA warrant was truly used to gather data from anyone near Trump – instead of a criminal warrant from DoJ – then the shit is broken a lot worse than you think. It’s a bad page from history, writ large.

    And the distraction in talking about Russia and Team Trump is exactly what they want. And it seems to be working.

  6. “If a FISA warrant was truly used to gather data from anyone near Trump…”

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean. If a FISA warrant was issued, could it not have been as simple as, a judge having been convinced that there was reasonable suspicion of espionage going on? I.e., that what was suspected fell outside the authority of the DoJ?

    1. The FISA court is notorious for granting FISA warrant requests. From its inception through 2015, approved 38,269 requests, and denied just 12 of them. It modified just 631 of them.

      It’s basically a rubber stamp. When the DoJ goes to the FISA court asking for permission to monitor a United States Person for foreign intelligence reasons, that permission is granted 99.97% of the time.

  7. “if Putin were going to put a Manchurian Candidate in the White House, why would his man be generally supportive of American energy?”

    I’m glad Sebastian started this thread, because it has caused me to look into things, like the economic sanctions against Russia, that I have been very lazy about investigating.

    What is described in this makes it sound like finding a White House friend who would end sanctions, would be of much more immediate economic benefit to Russia, and would far overshadow any long term concerns about that friend’s attitudes toward the American oil industry. Those could be dealt with later.

    In short, it sounds like sanctions have murdered Russia’s economy, and they’d like them gone yesterday.

    1. I absolutely agree with your assessment of the effect of the sanctions on their economy. I think they saw Trump as more likely to lift the sanctions. That’s one of the reasons they probably supported him

  8. To think that the Russians intentionally helped Trump win, you must believe that the Russians had better polling data in November than all of the US media and the DNC. Not plausible.

    The Russians were running ops against Hillary because they, like everyone else, expected her to be the next president of the US.

  9. “you must believe that the Russians had better polling data…

    No, all you need to believe is that they thought they could disrupt our election by making it closer than it might have been; and thereby, subvert a good deal of our (small-d) democratic system, that depends on the faith of the voters.

    Trumpakov won, and still couldn’t (wouldn’t?) stop bitching with his allegations that the vote was rigged, several million illegal voters came down from NH to MA, blah-blah-blah.

    Who instructed him to keep on bitching, with his red meat for Trumpkin voters, that yet serves to further undermine the integrity of the system?

    When the guy who won the election keeps screeching paranoia about it, you gotta wonder. But just imagine what Trumpkins would be saying if he had lost narrowly!

  10. “Who instructed him to keep on bitching,…”

    Gee, your biases are showing. Don’t assume the other guy has masters just because you do. I don’t like Mr. Trump much, but he doesn’t show any sign of having a boss.

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