Thursday, July 13, 2017


Do you have friends or colleagues who think Donald Trump colluding with the Russians is not a big deal? Are you tired of them arguing that because the Democratic Party was looking for dirt on Donald Trump, through an intermediary from the Ukraine, this means that the Democrats are hypocrites? If so, here's how you can/should respond.

First, explain to your Trump loving friends that their Ukrainian-Russian comparison is a "false equivalency" argument, which means it has no merit. Since you're probably dealing with someone who is most likely challenged when it comes to science (and vocabulary) you're probably going to need an example they can understand. Let me help.

In real simple terms, a false equivalency occurs when you have someone who says something like, "I don't know why Mexicans just don't assimilate. My grandparents came to the United States years ago, and they assimilated." What they leave out is that their grandparents came from Canada or Great Britain, had degrees, and already spoke English (yes, I actually had someone make this argument to me).

So, yeah, their ancestors may have been migrants, but their experience is not the same as - or the equivalent of - the poor uneducated groups who migrate from Latin America. Ergo, it's a false equivalency.

The false equivalency with  "the Ukraine is Russia" story line becomes real once we recognize that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was engaged in "opposition research" on Donald Trump, and was offered information on Trump. Apart from the fact that opposition research is what every political campaign does, it was the DNC who was offered the information (and not the Clinton campaign).

In plain English, there's a difference between securing opposition research for campaign strategy, and having a hostile nation-state undermine the integrity of a presidential election (and our democracy) so they can elevate a global stooge to do their bidding.

Let's be clear here. Rather than looking for information on Hillary Clinton (opposition research), Donald Trump's campaign was actively being assisted by a hostile nation-state, Russia, who hacked the vote.

Specifically, Vladimir Putin directed his intelligence and military agencies to actively work towards sowing misinformation and doubt about our presidential elections, which America's national intelligence agencies have confirmed. Let's be clear here (and to repeat), there's a difference between opposition research and having a Head of State directing his intelligence and military agencies, and other state resources, to attack our democracy by undermining a presidential election because they want to shift the geo-strategic map.

Because Trump's supporters have suddenly forgotten what Ronald Reagan understood, let's remind ourselves of one thing: Vladimir Putin's Russia is hostile nation-state. Their long game, as I pointed out in January, is to collapse the post-World War II order that the United States and the west created.

Vladimir Putin wants to upend the global order so that Russia can jockey for position in a new global hierarchy, that they want to manage. This means that the United States and it's strategic alliances built up throughout the cold war must be weakened. This point can't be repeated enough: The United States must be weakened for Russia to achieve her goals.

Putin is playing a big chess game here.

Undermining NATO, destabilizing the European Union, getting a pass on Syria, etc. - which Donald Trump is helping along - are all big moves that help Vladimir Putin on the global chessboard.

Donald Trump is a novice on the global stage and doesn't understand any of this.

Worse, Donald Trump's being played by Vladimir Putin in ways that probably have Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon rolling over in their graves. There's a definite, and obvious, imbalance there.

Indeed, President Trump's decision to not try and impress Vladimir Putin with his much talked about (and mocked) power grip handshake should be seen as a sign that he does not want to upset his puppet master.

At the end of the day, Donald Trump actually thinks bloviating and blustering about countries like North Korea (which poses no geo-strategic threat to the United States), and cozying up to Putin, makes him a star on the global stage. They don't. They make Trump, and the United States, look foolish and naive.

Putin's long game is well established, and does nothing to enhance U.S. interests. This does nothing to make America great again.

One final thought. If your Trump supporting friends and colleagues are anything like the ones I run into, explaining false equivalencies, outlining the difference between opposition research and the undermining of our democracy, and pointing out Putin's broader geo-strategic chess moves will probably be too much logic for them to handle. They will probably drink more of the Fox News Kool-Aid, and invite you to join them.

Don't argue their points. Don't drink the Kool-Aid. Simply walk away.

It will frustrate, rather than validate, the voices in their head.  

- Mark

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