It’s Not Technically a Conspiracy

If you hadn’t heard, the other day the famous secrets-clearinghouse Wikileaks (use at your own risk) released a huge set of emails taken from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). In it are some revelations, particularly about how Democrat leadership was biased from the start against Sanders and actively strategized about helping Hillary beat him. He’s a pretty good sport to still be standing by the party. None of it that I’ve heard so far should really surprise anyone, though, so I’m not going to dwell on the details.

But then the Hillary campaign said the Russians did it to boost Trump. And that is surprising. It sounds like a desperate attempt at misdirection, something out of a bad spy novel. And it doesn’t invalidate the content of those emails one bit. But news outlets as diverse as NBC, the Wall Street Journal, and even Fox News are beginning to say that the evidence points to hackers from Russian intelligence. Naturally, Russian media and Trump himself deny this. Even without the cyberforensics to which experts are attesting, though, it makes a lot of sense to me that the Russians would do this:

Means: Russia has robust cyberattack capabilities

And the DNC would probably be a soft target compared to, say, military ones.

Modus Operandi: Russia is a pioneer of information warfare

Putin’s Russia has been very creative about bending narratives to its advantage, even beyond its borders.

Motive: Russia would benefit from Trump being president

To put it charitably, Trump wants to focus on areas of cooperation with Russia, especially against ISIS.

To put it uncharitably, Trump wants to strong-arm some pennies out of our allies, allies who spent decades under the Soviet boot, even if it means jeopardizing the most important bulwark of peace in Eastern Europe. We’ve mistakenly come to take this peace for granted.

Trump’s support of Brexit and general distaste for the EU, regardless of validity, fit well with Russia’s interests: a divided Europe is less capable of resisting Russian will or even applying sanctions the next time Russia wants to annex part of a neighbor, as we may recall happened just 2 years ago.

To say nothing of the similarities of leadership style between the two men.

So how is this not a conspiracy theory, again?

Because Trump wouldn’t need to be in on this. There didn’t need to be any conspiring. Vladimir Putin’s world doesn’t revolve around the US and Donald Trump, it revolves around Russia and Vladimir Putin, and Russia will act according to what it perceives to be of benefit to it.

If the Russians actually hacked these emails, though, it’s a digital Watergate, except with a foreign nation behind it, which is arguably worse. For all we know, we could be entering a new era of psychological warfare “gray ops.”

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