The View from Above

J. Stewart Cook’s Canadian Commentary

Much has been said about Russia since the beginning of the 2016 USA election. Most has been concentrated, however, on Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin.

Is there a new born fascination with Russia or is it with Vladimir, the “Rock Star?” I see him more as a Tom Jones, “a musical ‘shape shifter,’ who could slide from soulful rasp to pop croon, with a voice as husky as it was pretty.” He may not be as demonstrative as Tom Jones, but he knows how to capture an audience…They say, “it’s not unusual!”

Without getting into a long dissertation of who Vladimir Putin is, it is sufficient to say that he is a “mover and shaker,” wielding power and influence throughout Russia and the world. He is the current President of the Russian Federation, holding the office since 7 May 2012.  He was Prime Minister from 1999 to 2000, President from 2000 to 2008, and again Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012. During his second term as Prime Minister, he was the Chairman of the United Russia Party, the ruling party. Needless to say, President Putin has a stranglehold on Russia! Over his political career Putin has enjoyed very high domestic approval rating, and received extensive international attention as one of the world’s most powerful leaders.

It would seem that Donald Trump has only good words to say about Vladimir Putin. Then on the other hand, President Putin has not hesitated to “cozy up” to President-elect Trump, ever since he announced that he was running for the Presidency of the United States of America.

So what are the issues from America’s perspective as it relates to Russia, more specifically, President Putin? Essentially, one is looking at five issues. The interference by Russia in the 2016 USA election, hacking e-mails (Democratic Party), instilling fear in the intelligence community, the role of the Senate and a word or two from Donald Trump. Throughout the election, the aforementioned was “hashed and rehashed,” as well as been “tweeted and retweeted.” Were there conclusions to the issues? Of course. Everyone had their own conclusion with nothing (yet) concrete!

As we all know, the USA is not Russia and Russia is not the USA. No matter what, the President of the United States cannot unilaterally decide that certain actions will be taken on an immediate basis without consultation of elected officials (note, however, that the President does have certain powers under the United States Constitution). In Russia, before Vladimir says do it…it is already done! The US government can write all the policies and directives it wants, it can hold committee hearings, it can have debates amongst its elected officials, but it will NEVER be able to act at the speed Russia is able to under leaders like Vladimir Putin. As archaic as it may seem, Russia dos not govern within the scope of a democracy. It’s governance is as open as the Internet when suited!

Recently the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on “Foreign Cyber Threats to the United States” heard from members, along with experts in the intelligence community, relating to Russia’s cyber espionage operations threatening the USA. As we know, President-elect Trump has always dismissed these findings. His reasoning…where is the proof? Perhaps another country or other individuals were responsible. Lately, he has been softening his strong held views on this issue!

I must say, with all due respect to the members and experts, at times the hearing seemed no different than a discussion or debate amongst junior high school students!

Little Johnny McCain asked Jimmy Clapper if he was aware of any “gadget” that would prevent the Russians from hacking the USA systems. Jimmy responded by telling everyone that he had gotten for Christmas the latest anti-cyber war application called U-SPY-2. Little Johnny asked him how good it was but Jimmy told him he had yet to try it! Little Johnny then turned to Mikey Rogers. He told them that U-SPY-2 was already outdated and that a new version would soon be out, which would be ten times better. Was it good enough to prevent the Russians form spying on the US? Not really said Mikey, since Russia was developing a program called SPY-1-UNO2, the next generation of cyber spying applications.

Perhaps the USA was its own worst enemy when it opened “Pandora’s cyber box!” Did it foresee, at the time, that cyber war would someday be a reality? Did it think that Russia would be as knowledgeable as the USA in the field of computers and the World Wide Web?

So here we are. Not really knowing what to do about cyber hacking, cyber wars. Oh, one can certainly retaliate, however, beware. The last thing the USA needs is another Russian operation “hacking” a utility, or perhaps worse, an affront to the electrical grid.

Let us hope that President-elect, Donald Trump, will masterfully negotiate a “détente” between the USA and Russia. In doing so, many of the concerns raised by elected representatives may be assuaged before any serious actions or retaliations are taken. The new President needs the support of all Americans!

I do not foresee failure, however, in the event that it does occur, I trust President-elect Trump has a “better handle” on flushing first!


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