European view: US election & Russian interference
Long gone are the days of American interventions in different third world countries' election process. Ok, not so long ago, yet we are witnessing a very special and complex beginning of the New Cold War, with the 2 superpowers engaged in a peculiar fight. As if it were almost a direct kind of fight; fortunately, not yet military.
While the geopolitical spectrum is rapidly changing in the Middle East — with a central battleground which is Syria — and in Eastern Europe, particularly in Ukraine and Moldova, Washington and Moscow also have another front line open: the November 8th US presidential elections.
Let's briefly see what happened in the past 48 hours: Friday evening, the Obama administration officially announced that Russia is involved in the Democrats email hacking, with orders from top level. Literally minutes later (I would say 15) Wikileaks released their "October surprise": hundreds of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton's address, covering her closed-door speeches on WallStreet (which proved total contradiction with her campaign announcements on banking and trading regulations) and other affairs of the Clinton foundation. To sum it up diplomatically: a grey, grey area.
One hour later — the same Friday night, European time — came out another blow of the presidential campaign: Trump's released audio from a beauty pageant, where he used offensive language about women and brags about peeping models changing outfits, along with radio host Howard Stern.
Impressive unfolding of events, right? I thought so myself while also watching how the media covered the subject: Russian press was promoting the Clinton- Podesta email scandal, while mocking the US accusations of hacking; American press was going crazy over the Trump tape release. Europeans where sleeping at that time, yet they were more moderate in promoting the stories on Saturday and Sunday, offering an inside into both stories.
One might ask why would the Kremlin go through such trouble to interfere in an election so important to its global counterpart, since it is clear that none of the 2 lead nominees, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, could ever be Russian puppets. As much as one dislikes Clinton or Trump, it is safe to assume that they wouldn't owe anything to Russia to such a degree where they would favour special and controversial relations with the world's largest country.
And here is the "Spiel" (the trick, as we say it in my country): the answer lies in the Russian 8 year interference in European matters. When it came to the US and the European Union, Moscow's foreign objectives were not to impose certain leaders, but to create enough mistrust in the current ones (as if there weren't enough reasons to do so already, but that's politics) so that the population would not offer support for their leaders actions towards Russia or other foreign points of interest.
Destabilisation was also an important consequence and a Russian objective, achieved through misinformation spread rapidly in the online environment, promotion of fear and seeding insecurity in the minds of Europeans. Populist eurodeputies (Members of the European Parliament) with open and deep ties with Moscow became voices of this scaremongering techniques.
We are witnessing the results now, and the real consequences for Europe have not even yet unfolded. Maskirovka managed to shake Europe up and helped deepen the obvious gaps between & inside European nations. Instead of closer cooperation and becoming a real foreign superpower that would have countered Russian influence in places of interest such as the Middle East and Central Asia (in order to import nonRussian gas from Turkmenistan, Armenia or Azerbaijan), Europe is off the beam, divided and fearful. The EU thinks no more of its common foreign policy in MENA countries or Africa, finding alternative gas sources to reduce dependency towards Russia, and most importantly exporting its values to the Eastern Partnership states.
Taking all this into consideration and given all the skeletons that the 2 presidential nominees have in their closets, one can easily understand why Russia is meticulously meddling in US elections: with a load of problems to deal at home, the US will get more and more in the "isolation mood", unwilling to increase military spendings for the proxy wars with Russia or open new battlefields. Just take a look at the last years of the Obama administration.
Disclaimer: opinions displayed in this article are my own and do not express the views of the institutions I represent.