Do the Russians really want Trump to be US President?
In addition to trying to convince the American electorate that as President Donald Trump would be “ISIS’s best recruiter,” Hillary, along with the Democrats and most of the media, want people to believe that Trump is more or less in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. Beyond promulgating that Putin and Trump are engaged in a bromance of sorts, Hillary and her minions are also claiming Russia is trying to interfere in the upcoming US elections, by hacking polling machines and by releasing incriminating emails via Wikileaks and other groups. It seems as if according to Hillary, anything bad happening to her or her party is the fault of the evil Putin.
As with anything that emanates from Hillary’s mouth, especially accusations of this magnitude–remember she is basically claiming that Russia is trying to rig the US election, which, if true, is a legitimate act of war–a neurotic level of skepticism is warranted. Surprise surprise, there is minimal evidence to back up these claims. First of all an FBI investigation was unable to find any links between Trump and Russia.1 As for all of the hacked emails, it is becoming increasingly evident that their source is from within the US intelligence apparatus,2 although it does seems likely that the Russians have in fact hacked Hillary’s emails, yet they are keeping that information to themselves.
Notwithstanding the evidence invalidating Russia’s pernicious influence in the US elections, the question does come up, who does Russia and Putin hope becomes President? It stands to reason that they would prefer one candidate over the other, and it appears perfectly sensible to presume that Trump is the preference, mainly because he appears to be open to having good relations with Russia and his proposed policy of making NATO members pay their fair share could in fact help to undermine NATO, which is to Russia’s geopolitical benefit. As such there is some logic to the Democrat’s claim that Russia is in favor of Putin.
However, just because a conclusion appears to be perfectly sensible at a superficial level of analysis does not mean, that upon further, more thorough analysis, that it is the correct one. With this in mind, the best way to determine what the Russians want from the US Presidential elections, is not to listen to the analysis of the Western experts which pollutes the mainstream news channels, but to listen to what Russians themselves actually think and say about the situation.
There is no doubt that many Russians, possibly a majority in fact, like Trump. For instance according to the Director General of the pro-Kremlin Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Andrey Kortunov “As far as I can judge, Trump is viewed more positively in Russia than Clinton.”3 In a Russian poll, 34% of respondents believed that Russian-US relations would improve if Trump were President, while only 6% believed likewise for Hillary.4 Conversely only 12% believed Russian-US relations would worsen under a Trump presidency compared to 53% for Hillary. Based on these polling results it is safe to infer that average Russians prefer Trump over Hillary.
What do Russian politicians think?
Beyond what the average Russian thinks, there are a few Russian politician that have very strong negative views towards Hillary. For instance, the always colorful Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who has been called the Russian Trump, does not think too highly of her. He said she was not qualified to “to be the manager of a bathhouse. Let alone run a country!” and that she was “a vicious snake” and “a witch.”5 Conversely he described Trump as “a good man! A kind man!” and exclaimed “we need Trump! Trump! That’s what we have to fight for!”
He was also concerned that Hillary could nuke Russia, yelling at an opposing interlocutor “She’ll press that nuclear button! She’ll blow you to Kingdom Come!” Furthermore he also brought up the issue of Hillary’s alleged poor health saying “What if she has to decide – to bomb or not to bomb? And at that moment she gets the shakes!? She falls down!? She passes out!? Think what could happen to the world then!”
The State Duma’s International Committee member Vitaly Valentinovich Milonov had this to say about the two Presidential candidates:6 “And I am saying officially – [Hillary] Clinton is a cursed witch! That’s why even a funny guy like Donald Trump looks more normal. He’s funny, to be sure, and he has weird hair, and his wife poses naked for photographs – I don’t know why…But he says the right things. That America does not manufacture anything anymore. Everything is made in China.”
Thus far Putin has refrained from denouncing Hillary as a witch, and while many in the West say he favors Trump, he has made no clear endorsements. Although he has called Trump a “bright [i.e. colorful]” man, when Fareed Zakaria asked him why he thought so favorably about Trump, Putin snapped back “why are you juggling with what I said?” and then went on to say:7 “what I did note and what I most certainly welcome, is that Mr Trump said he is wanting to restore relations with Russia. What’s bad about that? We all welcome this. Do you not?! We however do not interfere into the internal political processes of other countries, especially the US! We will work with whichever individual that the American people vote for.”
When asked by a journalist “What is your actual preference” for the US election candidates, Putin responded:8
“The answer is very simple: we do not know what will happen after the U.S .President is elected. Ms. Clinton chose her aggressive rhetoric and aggressive stance with regard to Russia, and Mr. Trump, on the contrary, is calling for cooperation, at least against terrorism.
We will certainly welcome anyone who wants to work with us, and no, we are not interested in quarreling constantly with anyone, which only creates threats to oneself and the world, or at the very least makes it harder to achieve the desired results in the fight against terrorism.
We do not know what will happen after the election. We do not know whether or not presidential candidate Trump will follow through on his intentions, how far he will go in cooperation with us, whether Ms. Clinton will stick to her harsh anti-Russian rhetoric if she is elected President, or maybe she will also adjust her position. We cannot know this now.”
Based on Putin’s responses, although he welcomes Trump’s conciliatory tone, he has not endorsed a candidate and generally speaking as kept his opinions on the matter to himself. Putin is intelligent enough to understand regardless of what Trump or Hillary is currently saying, that when either gets into office they could behave much differently. Furthermore, even he does prefer Trump, he is not really showing it, which is a very sensible move as if he overtly supported Trump, then that support would be used by the US media and by Hillary’s machine as ammunition to discredit Trump and possibly reduce his chances of winning the election.
Analysis of Russian commentators
Since even if Putin was supportive of Trump, he would mask such support, it is difficult to determine who in fact he desires to be US President. To help gain a better understanding of what Putin may be thinking on this issue, we have to consult opinions of Russian commentators and experts. It is interesting to note that some such Russian analysts seem to be arguing that Hillary Clinton as the President of the US would be better for Russia than Donald Trump.
First off, Andrey Kortunov has pragmatically argued that “I doubt we can be certain of who is better for Russia. This is an equation with many unknowns.”3 He describes Hillary as “a foreign policy professional and understands well both U..S capabilities and limitations. She is fairly predictable. She is strict and may be combative, but ultimately she’s a predictable secondary school teacher.” Conversely:
“Trump is not. He knows much less about foreign policy but feels more with his ‘spinal cord’ at the level of intuition. He feels that another eight years of Obama’s policies will not solve America’s problems and that some unconventional and untraditional approaches are called for. He himself probably does not know what he will do exactly, but there is a demand for change in American society and Trump is trying to tap into it. … I think Trump is most likely to surprise us. There will likely be good surprises and bad ones.”
So in effect Hillary may not be that great for Russia but at least she is a seasoned and predictable politician who as a result Russia should be able to deal. Trump on the other hand is an unpredictable live wire who, while being open to rapprochement with Russia, could also behave in a manner the may produce great difficulties for Russia. Based on Kortunov’s assessment it is a toss up from the Russian perspective as to who will be the more favorable candidate.
The President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Igor Ivanov prefers Clinton to Trump.9 He considers Hillary to be the experienced professional and that “It is usually easier to achieve an agreement with experienced professionals, even if they are inflexible negotiators and difficult partners. They are predictable, rational, and they are well aware of their limitations.” To Ivanov Trump is the inexperienced newcomer who “usually [are] harder to work with: the lack of experience often translates into inconsistent and unpredictable behavior; it leads to subjective, emotional and at times erroneous decisions that can be very hard to rectify later on.” Ivanov’s analysis is similar to Kortunov’s, basically the experienced Hillary will be predictable and rational and therefore easier to deal with than the unpredictable Trump.
Rotislav Ischenko, an analyst for Russia Today had a different take on the situation.10 He prefers Hillary partly because she is so inept that her Presidency would guarantee the decline of US power and world hegemony, which is beneficial to Russia. In his view, Trump, while possibly being more willing to work with Russia, may be able, through reforms, to arrest America’s decline. Thus he may make the US stronger economically and militarily which is not good for Russia. As Ischenko concludes his article “Hillary Clinton is Washington’s guaranteed way into the abyss. After her, no Trump will be able to save America.”
It should also be noted that another reason Russia may prefer Hillary is that she is highly blackmailable and venal. Based on the email server fiasco, it is likely that the Russians have hacked Hillary’s personal emails and thus may be able to blackmail her by privately threatening to release incriminating emails to the American public. Furthermore based on the workings of the Clinton Foundation, it is clear that Hillary is not one to turn down money in exchange for favors. So the Russians may believe they can buy Hillary off. Trump, being apparently less reckless with his private communications, does not appear to be compromised and since he is already very wealthy, probably will be resistant to foreign bribery, as he doesn’t need bribes to live a lavish lifestyle, he already has enough private wealth for that.
It seems that many thoughtful Russian analyst actually believe Hillary, maybe only slightly, would be better for Russia than Trump, as she may be easier to deal with due to her experience and predictability. However, many Russians, such as Zhirinovsky, see Hillary as bat shit crazy enough and ill enough to actually start a nuclear war with Russia, while Trump, however unpredictable and inexperienced he may be and however successful at reviving the US, does not appear to want such a devastating nuclear war. The crux of the matter is whether or not Russians believe Hillary is crazy enough to start nuclear war, some do, while other believe her prior experience and behavior precludes such insanity.
The unanswered question that remains is Putin’s assessment of this situation, which he is keeping to himself. Obviously he is open to Trump, simply because Trump currently appears to be open to Russia. Conversely Putin is weary of Hillary’s “aggressive rhetoric and aggressive stance with regard to Russia,” but does he really believe Hillary is crazy enough to provoke a nuclear conflict Russia? That is the question we would all like to have answered, and based on the results of today’s elections in the US, we may eventually get the answer.
 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-22/nsa-whistleblower-us-intelligence-worker-likely-behind-dnc-leaks-not-russia , http://www.infowars.com/confirmed-us-intel-operatives-leaked-clinton-campaign-emails-not-russia/