What Is Happening with Russia?
The NYTimes has a good summary piece on recent developments and history of US and Russia: "The Hawk on Russia Policy? Hillary Clinton, Not Donald Trump"
An propaganda-ish video from the Hillary Clinton campaign that still makes some good points:
A post from TPM describing a key exchange in the last debate with Trump and Clinton on Russia. Briefly, Trump denied Russia was hacking the US, at the same time, going against US intelligence assessments.
A long blog post from Josh Marshall at TPM speculating on what Russia is doing-- basically trying to move the US election. A key point is that Russia is actually a relatively poor country, the economy is small compared to the size of the country, and they have limited money to use for foreign policy. So hacking is a way they can achieve asymmetric warfare.
Although Hillary typically gets blamed for being a hawk on Russia, and she is hawkish, the Obama White House is escalating tensions as well: "Did the White House Declare War on Russia?Vice President Biden announces a forthcoming covert strike against Russian president Putin and Moscow calls it a “declaration of war.”"
Here are the key facts as I see them:
1) Democratic leaders (Obama, Biden, Clinton) are clearly confrontational about Russia, and this is a long-standing position of US foreign policy, even if it used to be the Republicans that were more hawkish
2) Trump is trying to paint himself as more of a peace candidate to Russia, basically denying they are doing anything wrong, appeasing them, complimenting Putin. Trump has undeniable economic ties to Russia as well.
3) Someone has been hacking Democratic campaign materials. US intelligence thinks it is from the Russian government although there may not be absolute proof on this. (I tried to track down the evidence on this, and it gets very complicated, involving internet technology I do not understand. The bottom line is the hacking goes to wikileaks, and the material has been dripping out and primarily damaging the Democratic campaign. This of course helps Trump. So on the simple question of "cui bono" (who benefits), it IS Trump and the Russians.
4) The US and Russia each have a few thousand nuclear weapons pointed at each other, still.
So what is going on?
First of all, we are not to have a war with Russia, due to the nuclear weapons. Any conflict will have to be through proxies or indirect. Any hostility will have to carefully managed to prevent nuclear escalation. Let's just assume that no actual leaders in the US or Russia (Obama, Clinton, Putin, Trump) want to have a nuclear war (even if there are some evil creeps in each country who do).
So, I think there are three main possibilities at play here.
Russia is threatened by the US, and is indeed trying to get Trump into power, to suit their own ends, and are threatened by Clinton being elected, as she will more aggressive towards them. The US is the good guy.
Russia is largely innocent, and is being framed by the US in the hacking. Trump would be a US agent in this scenario. The reason the US is doing this is to create propaganda to build up the military more, for more military spending. The US is the bad guy.
Russia and the US are in on this whole thing together at a deep level. It is all a scam, meant to build up and keep the nuclear weapons arsenal humming. This is the deep ultimate truth scenario, where the true evil PTB are running things, for an eventual attempt at breaking out of the planetary quarantine on them, which is why they need so many nuclear weapons.
In terms of the election, Trump is just too erratic and impulsive to be trusted in these geopolitical matters, even if he wants peace on the surface. It's also not clear that appeasing Russia will help, as it will encourage further aggression, and create more places for conflict.
In any case, Hillary Clinton will almost certainly be elected president, and the while a lot of this foreign policy is just out of the hands of the public, the key thing is for Americans to stay ENGAGED in these matters and get involved in the issues, and to try to do what they can to make the US and world a better place.