Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Putin’s Playthings

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

 

Putin will do anything to advance Russia’s interests because his country is in terrible shape.

 

About a year ago, Donald Trump Jr. met with a mysterious Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Trump Jr. was purportedly eager to receive information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

 

Veselnitskaya denies that she was working for the Kremlin to lobby for favorable Russian treatment. But in the past, Veselnitskaya has been connected with a number of Russian-related lobbying groups.

 

Trump Jr., for his part, proved naïve and foolish to gobble such possible setup bait. The Russians proved eager to confuse, confound, and embarrass everyone involved in the 2016 election.

 

This latest Trump family imbroglio piggybacks on six months of Russian collusion charges. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned less than a month into his job after being less than candid about his contacts with the Russians. Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s erstwhile campaign manager, had some questionable Russian business interests and resigned well before the election.

 

All these stories were luridly headlined in the press.

 

Yet several intelligence officials from the Obama administration — former CIA director John Brennan, former FBI director James Comey, and former director of national intelligence James Clapper — asserted that they had found no evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign to rig the election.

 

Former FBI head Robert Mueller is now overseeing the probe into possible Russian meddling as a special counsel. There are also several other Russia-related investigations being conducted by various agencies and congressional committees.

 

Some members of Congress are asking why Obama-administration officials such as Brennan, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice requested surveillance files on Trump-campaign officials, may have unmasked names, and may have allowed those names to be illegally leaked to the press.

 

Earlier, some Republican anti-Trump operators (and later some Clinton campaign operatives) hired former British spy and opposition researcher Christopher Steele to compile a dossier on Donald Trump that would include some ludicrous Russia-related allegations. Weirder still, Steele’s firm may have had some contacts with none other than Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

 

Senator John McCain, a former target of candidate Trump’s invective, acquired the anti-Trump dossier and made sure that the FBI investigated the phony dirt. Comey did just that.

 

In no time, the so-called Steele dossier was leaked. The website BuzzFeed admitted it could not verify any of the accusations but published the entire sordid file anyway.

 

One of the principals of the Clinton campaign, John Podesta, was a board member of a green-energy firm that suddenly saw an infusion of Russian cash — purportedly in an attempt to sway Podesta.

 

Congressional science and energy committees and subcommittees are currently interested in whether the Russians funneled cash into American anti-fracking groups such as Sea Change on the expectation that they might help derail American energy exploration and production.

 

The Russian government has lost nearly half its oil revenue because of the innovative American ability to frack gas and oil, which has crashed world energy prices. Russian president Vladimir Putin apparently will do anything to see it stopped.

 

Early in 2016, investigative journalists reported that Russian interests donated to the Clinton Foundation and offered generous speaking honoraria to former president Bill Clinton, apparently in hopes of gaining leverage with then–secretary of state and likely future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In one controversial deal, the U.S. government approved sales of a large amount of North American uranium deposits to Russian interests.

 

The list of Russian capers, collusions, and conspiracies could be expanded, but the picture is clear: Putin’s Russia is in bad shape. It is economically weak and eager to do anything possible to hurt the U.S. — largely by using a fake-news disinformation campaign, spreading Kremlin cash, and playing a gullible and often unprofessional U.S. media eager to find a scandalous Russian under every American bed.

 

So far the Russian disinformation program has worked brilliantly.

 

What foreign government could possibly entangle in truth, lies, half-truths, rumors, and scandals the Trump family, Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, James Comey, John McCain, John Podesta, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and a host of other Beltway grandees?

 

Who could prompt enough investigations and inquiries to overwhelm and distract the entire U.S. government at a time when North Korea is aiming missiles at U.S. territory, Iran is pressing ahead to develop a nuclear weapon, Syria is a genocidal mess, and immigrants from the war-torn Middle East are sweeping across Europe?

 

Putin is now America’s puppet master — and we are his empty-headed playthings dangling from his Kremlin strings.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/449653/trump-russia-vladimir-putin-america-puppet-master

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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

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