Comrades, I have a story to tell. Mother Russia has in no way interfered in the U.S. presidential elections. Simply not true. The Russian people would never tolerate such actions from their democratically elected leaders. The meeting between Trump Jr. and Ms. Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer was simply an innocent effort to foster better relations between Mother Russia and the United States. The news media has it all wrong! Where is the proof that anything was ever discussed about Ms. Clinton? There is no proof. Case closed, just like the metal cap on my bottle of Vodka.
A bit of sarcasm written above. I put pen to paper today offering a slightly new perspective regarding the plethora of articles covering the 2016 elections and Russian interference. None of articles impressed me much, nor the bi-partisan leadership in Washington. When Vladimir Putin was asked if he had interfered in the 2016 elections he responded “no.” Putin commented further by quoting former U.S. President George Bush who made this well-known political statement: “Read my lips, no new taxes.” For those who study history, we know the president reneged and signed off on a congressional tax increase shortly after making that statement. Was Vladimir Putin trying to tell U.S. something?
While most of us spend our lives focusing on family and friends, managing careers and engaging in hobbies, etc., I feel compelled to inform all concerned, that the world is a much more complicated and treacherous place than what we would like to believe or hope for.
To be honest, in many respects I do not blame the Russians for their aggressive military and intelligence gathering operations. It is all a matter of perspective. A few historical notes regarding my comment. During World War II, the former Soviet Union lost 80 military personnel for every American war casualty, a ratio of 80 to 1. The Russian death toll was in the tens of millions when one factors in civilian population deaths. I mention this to highlight who actually paid the highest price in terms of lost human life for the war effort. Stalin often complained that his people fought the war and the western allies financed it. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
We often view the Cuban missile crises as a Soviet military provocation, a crisis hinging on the outbreak of nuclear war. The other side of the story is that Nikita Khrushchev while vacationing on the Black Sea observed from a distance by boat U.S. nuclear missiles deployed in Turkey less than 100 miles from mainland Russia. These ballistic missiles were deployed prior to the Russians deploying their Cuban based missiles. Through intense negotiations, the crisis was averted, both sides withdrew their missiles. Yes, there are two sides to every coin. Russia has been invaded several times by western European powers; so if the Russians come across as being somewhat paranoid I really can’t fault them. I add the caveat that patriotism is a wonderful thing, so long as you don’t do it at your neighbor’s expense. Ask anybody living in Poland or the Ukraine. It is not a warm fuzzy feeling to have a hungry bear as your next door neighbor.
So the world keeps churning and nations continue to spy on each other. I don’t understand why Congress is so upset that the Russians explored influencing our election process, hacking databases or disseminating false information. Our government does it all the time to other countries. Just ask any disposed dictator who isn’t in office any longer. They may not know the English language, but they do know three letters of the alphabet- CIA. It is true we tapped into the former Soviet military communication systems, Pacific Ocean underwater communication cables precisely. Courtesy of the U.S. Navy and specifically the silent service. We bugged the Soviet embassy. The Soviets bugged our embassy. We had to demolish the U.S. embassy in Moscow and rebuild it from scratch as it was saturated with listening devices. Every country uses tricks of the trade to gain the upper hand. Indeed, influence can be obtained by many different venues. I will explain.
Several years ago, I attended a conference in Washington, D.C. staying at a reputable hotel for one night. The hotel was in the District of Columbia, very close to all the major government offices. Having spare time early in the morning before day two of the conference, I decided to grab a cup of coffee in the hotel lobby area and read a newspaper. I noticed several young ladies exiting the elevator at different times that morning. None of them checked out at the front desk. They did not possess shopping bags filled with souvenirs. They did not carry lap top computers or briefcases. No luggage. I don’t believe they were vacationing or on business as we know it. As they exited the building, I observed most of them had a brief verbal exchange with the doorman. Though I don’t read lips, I do interpret facial expressions. I do not know what was said, but these ladies appeared to be regular visitors at the hotel. I inferred that the doorman communicated his desire that these ladies leave the hotel expeditiously. Yes, information and influence can be obtained through various means as I said above, both inside and outside of government.
Collectively, we all need to be more diligent and proactive in safeguarding information. I do not know why voter information has to be stored on the web. Hardcopy records work for me. I personally like seeing the senior citizens working at the polls. This is better than some millennial losing our personal information because the software security settings were compromised. Our society seems to have a fetish for storing sensitive information on the web or in the cloud. Where does cloud information go when it rains? Does it evaporate?
Yes, the Russians have and will continue to probe and exploit our vulnerabilities and human weaknesses. They will use every advantage possible for military, economic and political gain. We will be returning the favor. In closing, I was going to share my recipe for Borscht soup, a Russian favorite, especially in Siberia. I will for the time being pass, it is the wrong time of year for a hearty soup consisting of beets, potatoes, onions, vinegar, spices and a few other condiments. At least I don’t have to worry about someone hacking my computer and stealing my confidential prized recipe. Just remember three things- no new taxes, Russia DID NOT interfere in the presidential elections and BOTH Donald and Hillary did absolutely nothing wrong.