Sunday, January 1, 2017

Just one day after President Barack Obama moved to expel thirty-five Russian expatriates, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the high road and turned the other cheek – an action that the Obama Administration surely did not anticipate and likely considered equally embarrassing.  I suspect as others have also noted, that this was an attempt on Obama’s behalf to close down the warming of relations with Russia that the incoming President Elect has signaled he was willing to attempt.  Yes, this was indeed the ultimate F### you to the outgoing President. I am sure they will try to spin this in a positive.  Maybe they will say Putin was wrong so he had no reason to capitulate in response, that there is no way he can retaliate (both of which are false) or make up new evidence of Russian hacking the U.S. to gather more anti-Russian sentiment.

Anyone with common sense can conclude that this isn’t about Russia or even the election, but rather Obama and the failed policy purported by the Democratic left in America. As a lame duck, President Obama has placed the interest of the failing Democratic Party over the national security interest of the American people.  His aversion for Donald Trump has led him to project and use the historical trained fear produced in the American people for decades to hate Russia – like the name of one of my favorite musical groups, a Cheap Trick. In a few months the Democratic Party and mainstream East coast media has turned liberal progressives into neocon war hawks.

Hilarity right? This re-invigorated blame-Russia ruse seemed to start a few years ago when Putin got hip to Obama’s game after the February 2014 coup to overthrow the democratically elected President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. For some reason or another, the cat folk though was smart as sh## (Obama) didn’t seem to recall that this was not the Yeltsin era, or that since then, Putin has managed to beat Obama to the punch in all of his foreign policy efforts like a chess grand master playing a beginner.

It was a foreign policy coup.  Especially when you add to the calculus the just negotiated Turkey-Russia cease-fire agreement in Syria which can be stated is a consequence of Putin’s leadership and involvement in the nation over the past year (an act that has successfully neutered American neo-liberal policy goals in their call for Assad to leave office). This is amazing seeing all of this has occurred after Erdogan’s government shot down a Russian jet and years after Obama telling Medvedev on an open mic in 2012 that he would work more openly with Russia as a partner rather than a nemesis. Add to this Russia’s improved relationship with Turkey, questions now come to the forefront regarding NATO’s second largest Army coming under a significant level of influence under Putin and concerns about deteriorating relations between Turkey and the U.S. One could go further and even include this past December when Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, while in Bahrain stating that the U.S. had reached an agreement for Qatar to purchase a 5,000-kilometer early-warning radar to enhance its missile defenses (you can see a lot of Russia with this).

It is strange that Obama is doing all of this as he prepares to leave the Whitehouse. The Obama administration on the surface seems to be trying to provoke a direct confrontation with Putin while at the same time create a new cold-war foreign policy crisis for President-elect Donald Trump to deal with the minute he assumes the office of presidency. Among other things, he has also stepped up arming and funding jihadist in Syria and has ratchetted up tensions with Putin not only in Syria, but also on his boarders by installing anti-ballistic missiles in Romania, Poland, and other nations (supposedly to protect Europe against Iranian missiles). Now to top it off, he has contrived fake Russian hacking. One sad consequence is that the Obama Administrations failure to find any solution to what is happening in Syria, diplomatic or otherwise, and how to defeat the Islamic State has resulted in historic U.S. allies in the region scratching their heads in confusion. Namely what is the position of the U.S.? What leverage if any do they have in the region and will they protect their interests in the region and how?

Even with these actions, the report the administration released detailing how the alleged hack occurred was not detailed at all. There was no mention of the fact that John Podesta was his own worse cyber enemy. It doesn’t really fall into the category of hacking when you email your passwords around, lose a cell phone or respond to a password phishing email even a 6th graders known not to open. From what I read, most of the “detailed” report produced by the FBI/DHS talked about how cats can protect themselves from malware but little if anything about proving that the Russians were the source of the DNC or Podesta email leaks. Really it was replete of circumstantial evidence and oblique hints (innuendo).

Although the President promised to consult and work with Congress on this issue, he has not nor did he present them with a detailed report PROVIDING PROOF that the Russians did it or that the motive was to elect Donald Trump. It is easy to say that a car jacker stole your car for money, but to say why he needed the money and what the money would have been used for is another matter. Thus to state unequivocally that this Russian cyber hacking attempt was aimed at the U.S. presidential election to elect Trump by talking about hacking infrastructure in an effort to help prevent more hacking in the future does not suffice as PROOF.

Jerry Gamblin said“the Grizzly Steppe data it is disjointed, ambiguous and really doesn’t provide any actionable data for most companies.” Cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr wrote: “It merely listed every threat group ever reported on by a commercialcybersecurity company that is suspected of being Russian-made and lumped them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection exists.” Errata Security CEO RobGraham pointed out that, one of the signatures detects the presence of "PAS TOOL WEB KIT," a tool that's widely used by literally hundreds, and possibly thousands, of hackers in Russia and Ukraine, most of whom are otherwise unaffiliated and have no connection to the Russian government. Lastly to quote Robert M. Lee, CEO and Founder of the critical infrastructure cyber security company Dragos stated “There is no mention of the focus of attribution in any of the White House’s statements.” In simple terms, the white house is guessing and giving an opinion that can’t even point directly to the Russian government.

Some have suggested (which I agree with) that Obama is trying to embarrass Trump and that he is trying to provoke the President elect into a cyber war with Russia (which I disagree with). However, Putin’s response demonstrates that Obama's new sanctions and expulsions is a reflection of his weakness in foreign policy. This sentiment was echoed in the comments made by Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman  Maria Zakharova when she said, “Obama and his illiterate foreign policy team” was just a bunch of “losers, angry and shallow-brained.”

Democrats are now in unfamiliar water – taking the same policy positions regarding Russia as their alter-ego Republicans. This is comical by itself, complaining about authoritarian executive leadership abroad when they sponsor and support similar leadership in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  Plus there is the added discord at home post-election which demonstrated how the Democrats incessant use and presentation of identity politics obviated the largest voting bloc in America from its constituency - working-class whites. Yes Obama can see the writing on the wall and has decided to resort to past lessons of history using the example of General William Tecumseh Sherman scorched earth/slash and burn approach. Yep, Obama trying to hem in Trump, and burn all of America in the process just to throw shade.


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