Pete Sabey: What does Putin want?
Stretch your imagination for a moment and try to put yourself in Putin’s shoes — or better yet, Putin’s head. What would you want to happen to the U.S? And what means would you have at your disposal to accomplish these nefarious plans?
As to the means, you would unleash a barrage of bots to manipulate social media with a flood of misinformation in hopes of changing the outcome of a presidential election. With the help of Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, feeding you sophisticated data on key swing states, you would succeed in flipping the dysfunctional Electoral College. With this better-than-expected outcome you would be able to install a long-cultivated asset as president — this despite a huge loss in the popular vote. Coup d’etat accomplished!
You would want this asset, who is secretly beholden to you (way beyond your coup of installing him as president) to be afraid to challenge your aggression against neighboring countries. Done.
By your asset’s sheer incompetence and disloyalty to free-world allies, and his thoughtless shredding of international treaties, you would certainly want to bring the U.S. down from its perch as leader of the free world. In the process you would make the U.S. a global object of ridicule. Mission accomplished!
As an unexpected bonus, your asset would totally fail in marshaling his government to fight the pandemic, thus crippling the economy and undermining the healthcare system. Gift accepted.
You would want to subvert the next the election in favor of your now totally pliable presidential puppet by again rigging the election — as all dictators routinely do. And by having your puppet proclaim during the campaign that the only way he could lose is if the election was rigged against him. Check.
Building on the repeated claim of election-rigging and conspiracy against your asset, you would again use sophisticated technology to create countless sources of mis- and dis-information as a means to sow fierce division in the electorate. Then, if your asset loses, there would be armed resistance and ideally a civil war, but minimally, severe social disorder and much bloodshed.
You would then happily fulfill your side of the bargain by permitting a Trump Tower in Moscow, with adjoining penthouse suites for yourself and Donald.
A dream for a dictator and a wannabe dictator.
A nightmare for democracy. Surely we can hope the American public is now sufficiently aware of Putin’s scheming not to be fooled again?
Pete Sabey lives in Grass Valley
Novelist Quentin Reynolds was a combat correspondent in North Africa during World War II. My grandfather, Barry Faris, was editor-in-chief of William Randall Hearst’s International News Service.
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