Did the Russians conspire with the Trump campaign to prevent Hillary Clinton becoming president? Despite nothing more than some tepid, circumstantial evidence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is continuing to look into the accusations with – it appears – complete disregard for the most fundamental cornerstone of any investigation; motive.
There have always been so-called conspiracy theories, and there always will be. The quickest way to get to the heart of any such theory is to ask one, simple question: Why? Looking at those allegedly involved in any given conspiracy, one must always begin by asking what ‘they’ would gain by said conspiracy coming to fruition. Is the end result actually beneficial to those who are conspiring?
Observing the question of whether or not Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections, one has to look, first, at the possible motives of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. A former KGB officer who has been in politics since the early nineties, Putin is not exactly a nice guy. What drives the man, however? He is neither businessman nor globalist; neither human rights advocate no philanthropist. He is a Russian nationalist and a wily politician.
During the Obama presidency, Vladimir Putin was able to achieve a lot with almost complete impunity; he annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine and was able to assert Russian influence and military power in the Middle East. Additionally, he has witnessed the grave depletion of U.S. military capability.
It is practically redundant to say that Putin paid very close attention to the 2016 presidential election, but how would he have benefitted from a Clinton presidency, as opposed to a Trump administration?
There can be little doubt that Hillary Clinton – as president – would not have significantly strengthened the U.S. military. She would not have pressed the Russians on Crimea or Ukraine, save for more sanctions that would cause Putin little trouble. More significantly, Clinton would not have ramped up the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) and would likely have overseen a further draw-down of American military involvement in Russia’s southern neighbor, Afghanistan.
Rational perspective dictates that Putin would have been quite content to see Hillary Clinton win the election.
Contrast this with Donald Trump’s campaign promises: Rebuild the military; defeat ISIS – involving greater U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Syria; Strengthen national security and border protection; renegotiate trade deals for the benefit of the U.S. economy. In fairness, Trump never promised to put pressure on the Russians over their military interventions within their own geographic sphere of influence, but – in every other way – a Trump presidency was, clearly, going to represent a greater challenge to Putin’s agenda of spreading Russian influence.
Motive is always the place to start, even when dealing with an adversary as enigmatic as the Russians. Why would Putin’s motive be the election of an American nationalist who intends to strengthen the country, when the obvious alternative was a president who despised nationalism, shunned the idea of a strong military and – more significantly – stood by, as Secretary of State, whilst Russia had its way?
Were the Russians really in a position to have influenced the outcome of the 2016 election, it is far more likely that Hillary Clinton would now be in the White House.