Trump: Petulant Puppet of Putin’s Petro-State

December 22, 2016

Wall Street Journal:

Malicious software used in a hack against the Democratic National Committee is similar to that used against the Ukrainian military, a computer-security firm has determined, adding evidence to allegations that the hackers who infiltrated the DNC were working for the Russian government.

The malware used in the DNC intrusion was a “variant” of one designed to help locate the position of Ukrainian artillery units over the past two years, the security company, CrowdStrike, said in a report released Thursday. The artillery units were deployed to defend Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.

CrowdStrike concluded that the malware used against the Ukrainian military was designed by a hacker group known to security experts as Fancy Bear. The American security firm said the group works for the Russian military intelligence agency, known as the GRU, and was one of two Russian hacker outfits that stole emails from the DNC earlier this year.

All U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the hacks against the Democratic committee to hackers working at the direction of senior Russian government officials. CrowdStrike said it has concluded that Fancy Bear and another Russian group, which security experts call “Cozy Bear,” carried out the intrusion.

Washington Post:

The larger problem with approaches that treat “Russia,” or “the Kremlin,” or “Putin” as something monolithic and unchangeable over time is just that – neither Russia nor Putin have been unchanged nor monolithic over the 15 years of his rule. Had Russia been a coherent unity, the Soviet Union would never have collapsed to begin with. But the observed inconsistency in the Kremlin’s behavior that realist theories struggle to explain is easily understood if we remember that rather than being “an insecure superpower” Russia is first and foremost a petrostate. Petrostates are empirically shown to become aggressive against their neighbors when oil prices skyrocket. In a study of 153 country cases in the last 50 years, political scientist Cullen Hendrix shows that high oil prices consistently make oil-exporters more aggressive toward their immediate neighbors, while they don’t affect the behavior of non-exporters. On average if the oil price hits a threshold of $77 per barrel in constant 2008 dollars, petrostates get 30 percent more aggressive than non-exporters

Jeff Colgan of Brown University analyzed militarized interstate disputes in 170 countries between 1945 and 2001 and found that countries where net oil export revenues constitute over 10 percent of GDP were among the most violent states in the world. Such petrostates showed a remarkable propensity for militarized interstate disputes on average and engaged in militarized conflicts about 50 percent more often than non-petrostates in the post-World War II era. Examples include Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez expelling their U.S. ambassadors, Venezuela’s mobilization for war against Colombia and Iran backing Hamas attacks against Israel during the 2008 oil price peak. Likewise Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980 and Libya’s repeated incursions into Chad also happened during the peaks of the oil prices in the 1970s and 1980s. The mechanism is simple: High oil revenues lower leaders’ domestic political accountability and responsibility for policy decisions while increasing risks of international adventurism. Oil revenues also increase states’ military capability by providing them with larger and more fungible pools of funding for military expenditures.

Dana Nuccitelli in the Guardian:

A batch of stolen emails was released to the public, with evidence pointing towards Russian hackers. The media ran through the formerly private correspondence with a fine-toothed comb, looking for dirt. Although little if any damning information was found, public trust in the hacking victims was severely eroded. The volume of media coverage created the perception that where there’s smoke, there must be fire, and a general presumption of guilt resulted.

The year was 2009, and the victims were climate scientists working for and communicating with the University of East Anglia. The story was repeated in 2016 with the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

After 1,000 of climate scientists’ private emails were stolen and published online, snippets of text were taken out of context and misrepresented to falsely accuse the scientists of scandal, conspiracy, collusion, falsification, and illegal activities. Climate deniers and biased media outlets whipped up such froth over these misrepresentations that various organizations launched nine separate investigations to identify any possible scientific wrongdoing uncovered by the emails. They found none.

For the climate scientists who lived through Climategate, the Wikileaks email scandal crated a sense of déjà vu. In both cases, the Russian petrostate may have been the perpetrator of the illegal email hacks, and emerged as the winner of the faux scandals, while the rest of us lost.

By helping elect Donald Trump, Russia now has a friendly American leadershipreplacing an outgoing administration that sought to punish their invasion of Ukraine and bombing in Syria. Russian operatives covertly interfered with the American election to aid Trump’s campaign, and Americans responded by electing Vladimir Putin’s preferred candidate. Russian agents may also have been behind the Climategate email hack (although the perpetrators were never identified), and again they achieved their intended goal of shaking public trust in their victims, and disrupting the Copenhagen conference.

18 Responses to “Trump: Petulant Puppet of Putin’s Petro-State”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Not to ignore the WSJ and Guardian pieces, but a Rachel Maddow clip that popped after Peter’s comments is very illuminating, and speaks to the WashPost ideas about petrostates. More importantly, it gives some of the best reasons I’ve seen for NOT confirming Tillerson as SOS. The last 3 minutes or so really lays it out. Be afraid, America, be very afraid.


    • At this point, I’ve come to a conclusion that I would have considered seriously insane, like Alex Jones insane, just a year ago. In fact, I am starting to think that perhaps the answer to all the craziness is that Trump is deeply in debt to Russia, and cannot pay what he owes.

      It would, I believe, explain everything else, including the appointment of Tillerson.

      America won’t go down without a fight, but with Trump as president, we would be fighting our own gov. and it’s institutions, the armed forces included.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        You’ve been watching too many movies, Nicole. In the real world, Trump is going to Make America Great Again, and don’t forget that he is the ONLY one smart enough to know how to do that.

        (Although the “Trump is so far into debt to Russia that he’s going to pay it back by handing over the U.S. WOULD make a good move script—–are you old enough to remember Dr. Strangelove and the Manchurian Candidate?)


    • My wife likes to quip that I have three girls: her, our female cat and Rachel. Watching Maddow each week night has become something of a ritual in our home. Has been for the past few months. We don’t watch cable, though, and see only what they make available up on the msnbc website. I didn’t see this, so I presume it is one of the stories that msnbc hasn’t posted for non-subscribers.


  2. Thought I’d join the crowd and contribute a link [Krugman on the 19th]. WARNING: very depressing.


  3. This was a particularly good piece, Peter… I learned a lot reading it, including the climate gate emails were probably stolen by Russian hackers…. I don’t know how I missed that one before. And the petrostate link, although it seems obvious, having research to back it up was enlightening. Thank you for your excellent journalism!

    I am not entirely convinced Russia’s leverage over Trump (probable?) is all about debt, though it might be. I am suspicious that there’s something more illegal behind it. If he came clean about debt, people would forgive him (supporters anyway), so it just seems likely that they have more on him than that. I could obviously be wrong, but the suspicion is there.


  4. If only it was possible for both Presidential candidates to LOSE!!!!

    At the end of the day, the DNC emails made it very clear that they had rigged the primary so that Clinton won them…. Perhaps if the DNC had done their job with a reasonable level of integrity we would be looking at an inauguration of Bernie… just saying…..

    Heads up on the appointment of Peter Navarro to lead the newly created White House National Trade Council… they are going to place tariffs on imports, discussion of around 10%… that is going to effect the cost of PV generation etc…

    • dumboldguy Says:

      What’s very clear at the end of the day is that you need to get over the bern and stop tilting at windmills, crying over spilt milk, etc…


    • I don’t think Sanders would have won the primary regardless.

    • andrewfez Says:

      Even without the emails it was obvious: Bill Clinton illegally tying up voting in Massachusetts; Arizona and other places closing down large amounts of polling places to reduce voter numbers; MSM combining super delegates with regular delegates on graphics to make it look to voters that Hillary was severely leading the entire time and already had the primary wrapped up; Chris Matthews throwing Clinton softball questions whilst he and other outlets threw out hardball leading questions to Bernie about raising taxes to pay for universal healthcare, emphasizing the part about raising taxes over and over, or asking him silly things about Cuba & Venezuela in an effort to tie democratic socialism to plain old totalitarianism with a twist of socialism; the Nevada debacle where they lied about Bernie voters throwing chairs; Hilary’s paid online trolls that were intervening in comment sections; letting the Southern states vote first to garner a more conservative democrat via momentum; Wasserman-Schultz admitting on TV that the super-delegates were there to stop grass roots candidates from winning; Washington Post throwing out 16 anti-Sanders articles in a couple days targeting primaries; Bernie Bros sexism narrative; multiple places refusing to publish exit polls; statistical anomalies showing voting machines weighted in favor of Hillary, large amounts of people being kicked off voter rolls, &c. I’m still not sure if my provisional No Party Preference ballot for Bernie was ever counted out here in CA.

    • andrewfez Says:

      And here’s part of why Clinton really lost:

      Hillary campaign’s national political director said in response the Daily Beast article referenced in the video, ‘And in the calls we had with them [the Bernie people on the ground] every other week, we inserted college affordability and climate change at their pushing‘.

      ‘At their pushing’ meant Clinton was not a climate warrior: her team had to be pushed by the real progressives to add that into the messaging. Clinton herself, in her climate ad, basically admitted that all she was going to do with solar expansion was let the already projected expansion happen….alongside fracking and more pipeline expansion.

      The other part of why Clinton really lost was voter suppression in MI: look up Cross Check – Greg Palast for Rolling Stone Mag. Democracy now has a video on it. Trump won by 10k; there are 75k uncounted votes in democratic parts of Detroit with Republicans blocking their counting at every step.

  5. andrewfez Says:

    They forgot to add the most violent interventionist oil state out of all of them: The United States. We have a history of destroying democracies in favor of strong man dictators if it looks like a state isn’t going to let us rob them blind with regard to resources. Heck we have a recent history of throwing out strong man dictators in favor of shit-show chaos for the sake of getting some privatized oil flowing.


  6. As Assaunge leaked the emails, my hunch told me that this was somehow familiar to “Climate Gate.” I shared this with my far left friends but their hatred for Hillary has blinded them.


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