The Corner

National Security & Defense

So Now the Russians Are a Threat

I must admit that it’s a little bit amusing reading the Left after the Wikileaks DNC hack. Huffington Post right now (Tuesday afternoon) is awash in hysterical anti-Putin headlines, declaring the hack to be “worse than Watergate.” Over at Slate, Isaac Chotiner asks if the DNC hack is an “act of war.” (No, it’s an intelligence operation, not an air raid.) And now there’s suspicion that more revelations may be on the way. The panic is palpable.

It’s hard not to resist schadenfreude, but we must. After all, this is the same progressive movement that mocked Mitt Romney’s accurate declaration of Russia’s ambitions and intentions during the 2012 election. But now that the DNC is under siege, we face a national emergency. Better late than never, I suppose. On the list of threats to our national interests, I’d rank the DNC hack well below Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, annexation of the Crimea, threats against NATO-allied Baltic states, and aggressive assertions of power in the Middle East, but meddling in American presidential politics is serious nonetheless. 

And it’s a matter of concern that the Putin government may view Trump favorably enough to intervene on his behalf to humiliate his opponent. It’s fair to wonder, what does Putin either like about Trump or hate about Hillary? Or is Putin merely seeking to cause chaos, and the DNC servers were a target of opportunity? Spare me any explanation that Putin would ratchet up international tensions merely because Trump “respects” him or has said nice things about him. Putin is a cold-eyed calculator who plays an old-school great power political game — from the line of thinking that says that nations don’t have “friends,” only interests. If Putin is intervening in the American election, he’s pursuing Russian interests, not Trump interests. But why?

Add the Wikileaks data dump to interesting research indicating that at least some online pro-Trump Twitter accounts appear to be Russian in origin (this isn’t news to those of us who’ve been targeted by the alt-right — it’s plain that many of those accounts aren’t American), and the concern should only grow. Again, I don’t claim to know why Putin seems to be intervening to aid Trump, only that for now that appears to be the Russian strategy. If the goal is sheer disruption, however, then he could shift his fire at any time. If the goal is to truly aid Trump, I’d be surprised if this was the last Russian surprise of the election. 

But at least now — on this one thing — most progressives and conservatives are united. Putin’s Russia is, in fact, a geopolitical threat.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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