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The Russian leadership are consummate nationalists. Expect nothing else. They will only act in their perceived national and personal interests. Once you understand and accept that fact, it is much easier to deal with them.
In that vein, of course the Kremlin attempted to sway our recent election, just as we attempted to sway theirs in 2011. Just as we also did in Israel, Ukraine, et cetera, et cetera. President Obama was quite busy. Putin has a long memory and revenge is a dish best served via email leaks. However, attempting to have an impact and actually doing so are two different things. I don’t think Russia hurt Hillary’s chances in the election; she did that well enough all by herself.
Russia will use any method available to them that they think will achieve results. Nothing is off the table. Their cultural history demands this. They evolved from under the thumb of the Mongolian hordes. They did not develop along the same track as the West. There truly is a divide.
Many Americans think that because Russia is an official Christian nation, they can relate to them in the same way you could walk into a church in another American state; ie, things may be slightly different but mostly, the belief structure will be the same. This is ridiculous.
The Russian Orthodox Church has become a partner to the Kremlin in the pursuit of national goals. They are basically another organ of the state. Don’t expect them to find them singing Amazing Grace and talking about forgiveness. On the contrary, the church preaches a nationalistic gospel of Russian power and might, which is the only ‘right’ in their eyes. They preach a morality which is now alien in the West. I am not saying this is right or wrong—what I am saying is that it is just a fact. They perceive Russia as the Third Holy Roman Empire, after the fall of Rome and of the eastern empire in Constantinople to the Ottomans. Their morality is Christendom, not the Gospels. With the cultural suicide we are seeing on the Continent, maybe they have a point, but that is for another column.
Russia is very good a Kompromat; ie, compromising the integrity and moral power of others. The famous honey trap is not a thing of the Cold War past. If they can blackmail or compromise an American or Western official, they will do so. The image of General Flynn sitting next to Vladimir Putin is an image the Left can forever dig up, no matter that there was nothing nefarious going on.
I am not saying you cannot work with Russia…you can. What I am saying is that once you realize and accept everything above, you can make deals, find common ground, find ways to work together. However, you can never trust them, not now anyway. Maybe in another generation or two, but not now. For now, the best we can hope for is a pragmatic partnership. However, we have to draw our red lines and stick to them. Doing otherwise is a recipe for disaster, as we see in Eastern Ukraine and Syria.
L. Todd Wood, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, flew special operations helicopters supporting SEAL Team 6, Delta Force and others. After leaving the military, he pursued his other passion, finance, spending 18 years on Wall Street trading emerging market debt, and later, writing. The first of his many thrillers is “Currency.” Todd is a columnist at The Washington Times, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, the New York Post, the National Review, Zero Hedge, Newsmax TV, Breitbart, and others.He is editor in chief of Tsarizm.com. For more information about L. Todd Wood, visit LToddWood.com.