- Jan 2017
The Kremlin's worldview has been made clear in writing, and in practice:
- It is a war.
- It's all one war machine: military, tech, info, diplomatic, economic, cultural, criminal, etc.
- Information warfare is not mere propaganda. It aims to subvert and destroy truth, reason, and decency.
- They aim to divide nations, and their citizens.
- They will use military force, as far as they can get away with it.
This Russia does not aspire to be like us, or to make itself stronger than we are. Rather, its leaders want the West—and specifically NATO and America — to become weaker and more fractured until we are as broken as they perceive themselves to be. No reset can be successful, regardless the personality driving it, because Putin’s Russia requires the United States of America as its enemy.
Putin's Russia requires the U.S. to be weak. Even better if it's a weakling stupid enough to think Putin is its pal. I'm sure Putin will say lots of nice things about Trump as long as he's getting a piece of the action.
we first need to see the Russian state for what it really is. Twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union collapsed. This freed the Russian security state from its last constraints. In 1991, there were around 800,000 official KGB agents in Russia. They spent a decade reorganizing themselves into the newly-minted FSB, expanding and absorbing other instruments of power, including criminal networks, other security services, economic interests, and parts of the political elite. They rejected the liberal, democratic Russia that President Boris Yeltsin was trying to build.
Following the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings that the FSB almost certainly planned, former FSB director Vladimir Putin was installed as President.
President-elect Trump has characteristics that can aid him in defining what comes next. He is, first and foremost, a rule-breaker, not quantifiable by metrics we know. In a time of inconceivable change, that can be an incredible asset. He comes across as a straight talker, and he can be blunt with the American people about the threats we face. He is a man of many narratives, and can find a way to sell these decisions to the American people. He believes in strength, and knows hard power is necessary.
Trump is, first and foremost, a liar, a narcissist, a would-be tyrant, and -- okay -- a rule-breaker (a cheat). Trump will do what Trump thinks is good for Trump. He doesn't give a shit about America. So far, it looks as though Trump is eager to enrich himself through partnership with Putin. We will most likely have to defeat both of them.
the West is already at war, whether it wants to be or not. It may not be a war we recognize, but it is a war. This war seeks, at home and abroad, to erode our values, our democracy, and our institutional strength; to dilute our ability to sort fact from fiction, or moral right from wrong; and to convince us to make decisions against our own best interests.