CNN reported the other day that Homeland Security officials said that Russia tried to penetrate the US energy power grid, and left tracks to show its hackers had the ability to shut down the grid, but didn’t. That is to say that Russia literally have the ability to shut down our power grid, and by implication, our economy, and by implication, our defense infrastructure, and by implication, our way of life. But chooses not to do so.
Because this is not the right time for Vladimir Putin to do so? Maybe he’s preserving his cyberweapon for a time when his adventure in global disorder will be at crossroads with our core national interests. And when that time come and if the administration in power do not kowtow to his ambitions he will then deploy his weapon and cripple us. Could that be it? Just a maybe.
This is not the first time that Russia has so affronted us and got away with it. The history has existed of Russian aircrafts buzzing US spy plane in international airspace, buzzing our destroyer many times in the Black sea, and buzzing our warship in the Baltic sea. Early this year, a Russian spy ship was spotted 100 miles off the coast of North Carolina and based on historical precedents was predicted to be on a four-to-six-months deployment off the East Coast where it will be conducting intelligence operations near Cape Canaveral, King’s Bay, Norfolk and New London. Locations that are home to US naval installations.
These incidents do not seem to rattle our leaders in Washington and there has been no occasion where it was shown that any of these incidents have provoked President Obama and now President Trump to communicate to Russia in unequivocal terms that these sorts of behaviors will not be tolerated and cannot be allowed to repeat themselves without serious consequences or injury to the Russian federation.
I was not around during the Cold War but from literature that I have read and from movies that I have watched, our presidents during those trying times were clear in their message to Russia. President Kennedy couldn’t be more clear and direct with Chairman Khrushchev with the paragraphs below in his address to the nation during the Cuban missile crisis:
It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union. . . .
I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations. . . . He has an opportunity now to move the world back from the abyss of destruction. . .
Those were strong words coming from our Commander-in-Chief. And there was no doubt in the Kremlin that those words were gonna be matched with actions if need be. Eyeball to eyeball, the Russians blinked and we won the Cold War.
Since the days of Barack Obama however, courage has given way to appeasement. From President Obama asking Medvedev during the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Korea to communicate to Putin that his tough talk on Russia were just mere talk, solely for the purpose of winning a second term, to President Trump idolizing the same Putin, one is led to wonder what hold, if any, that Putin have on the national security of the United States. Since the days of Obama. Such that whenever the occupant of the Oval Office becomes privy to that information will have no choice than to defer to Putin? Or did the election of Barack Obama usher America into the era of electing to power our own Neville Chamberlains?
Say what you can about the Trump campaign colluding with Russia to steal our 2016 election, but one truth is irrefutable. During the 2016 campaign season when all these Russian cyberattacks and social machinations against our body politik were taking place, Donald Trump was not our president. Barack Obama was and as president, his solemn duty was to protect our sovereignty from external aggression. And on the count of Russia’s aggression, he failed on his duty to the nation.
I watch TV and I have heard claims that President Obama allowed cyberwarfare against our democracy because he did not want to appear as trying to influence the election in the favor of Mrs. Clinton. I have also heard claims that President Obama failed to defend our democracy against assault by Russia because Mitch McConnell, the republican senate leader, chose not to join him in making a joint public statement against Russia’s meddling in our election to favor Mr. Trump. I have heard some ridiculously laughable stories in defense of the Obama administration’s failure to defend our country in the face of Russia’s cyberwarfare. I have.
Now let’s try this on for size.
If a criminal is coming to steal from your family to give to your neighbor, as the man of the house, you would not stand aside and let the criminal prevail because you do not want to appear as favoring your family in lieu of your neighbor. A crime is a crime. And to defend your family you must. There are no two ways about it. Elections are won on the merits of a candidate’s argument. You campaigned for this woman by the way. Many times, for that matter. So, if the candidate you are rooting for is going about winning the election the right way and a foreign power is trying to influence the election in the favor of another candidate, you owe it to America to stop that foreign power in its track, not only to pave way for the right candidate to win, not only to ensure that the people’s choice prevail, not only to guarantee the integrity of our democratic processes, but most importantly, to guarantee our sovereignty and preserve our national security.
I remember in the early days of the Obama administration when Senator McCain criticized President Obama on how Obama was conducting a particular foreign policy issue. I heard Mr. Obama reprimand Mr. McCain on national TV and told McCain to concentrate on the job of being a senator and the leave the job of the president to him. So, it is ridiculous to hear Obama defenders claim that Russia continued its cyberwarfare against our 2016 elections because Mitch McConnell refused to make a joint public statement with the White House in condemnation on Russia’s interference in our election. On what page in our constitution did it say that the president can carry out his or her solemn duty of protecting the land only when congressional leaders provides him or her with some backbone? C’mon.
Of course, Donald Trump benefitted from Russia’s meddling in our election. He was a flawed and unserious candidate than ran on divisiveness. He was not supposed to win the election. Donald Trump’s win even shocked Donald Trump himself because he himself would not cast a vote for candidate Trump for president because he knew that candidate Trump was a charlatan and unfit for the office. He did not expect to win the presidency because the presidency is a serious business and he assumed majority of Americans were smart enough to know that. Well, he got elected anyways and his on-the-job performance has been abysmal because he did not prepare for the job. And nobody should blame him for not preparing for the presidency because how can you prepare for a job that you are not truly aspiring for. Of course people find themselves in this kind of situation and quickly learn on the job and become better but when Donald Trump’s election was powered by lies and loathsome conduct, how do you expect him to recalibrate his behavior when he has many trumpeters singing his praise and defending his unbecoming behavior?
But Donald Trump was not the one that allowed Russia the courage to be bellicose towards the United States in ways that will turn President Kennedy and many other Cold War heroes in their graves. Barack Obama did. When it comes to Russia’s aggression towards us, Barack Obama was the ace that turned into a menace.
Meanwhile, it is obvious that Vladimir Putin has something very damaging on Donald Trump that will lead to Donald Trump’s political demise should he cross Putin. From the signs on the wall, that political demise is eventual. And will happen sooner than later.
Looking forward, how does the next U.S. President checkmate Russia in this game of Russian roulette? Because the status quo where Russia continues to harass us due to lack of nerves in Washington or fear of Russian blackmail among our politicians cannot continue. The United States of America and the Russian Federation play at two different leagues. And it is atypical for a team that plays at the English third division to be harassing a premier league leader. A one-time runaway win may be overlooked. But a recurrent comeback by same third division team against a premier league leader is not acceptable and cannot be condoned. Russia needs to be put where she belongs. Permanently. And that should happen, sooner than later too.