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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/22/20

Russia wants Trump reelected, and may be Making a Bet that Bernie Sanders can't Defeat Him (They're Wrong)

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Julia Arciga at The Daily Beast writes that the Bernie Sanders campaign is convinced that notorious far right wing internet troll Richard Grenell, whom Trump wants to make acting Director of National Intelligence, is the source of the leak that Russia is backing the Sanders campaign.

At the same time, Trump lashed out because a government official briefed the House Intelligence Committee that Russia is making efforts to reelect Trump. Trump seems to have fired his acting Director of National Intelligence and installed Grenell over the House briefing.

Sanders had been briefed on the allegation, which is vague and was classified, and so he was not at liberty to disclose it.

It seems to me fairly obvious that Russian president Vladimir Putin desperately wants Trump reelected, as US intelligence concluded. At Helsinki, Putin freely admitted his support for Trump.

Indeed, that desire is almost certainly the reason that Moscow might be trying to help the Sanders campaign, if it is. Many Russian politicians and pundits are convinced that Sanders cannot win.

They are wrong in this glib conclusion. They don't understand how much Trump is hated, including by white women who are usually a Republican bedrock. They don't understand Bernie Sanders' appeal to the white working class in the Rust Belt and to Hispanics in Texas and California.

Russian geopolitical analysis is often a mess, frequently consisting of half-cocked conspiracy theories and poorly grounded conjectures.

Moreover, judging from what we know of Russia's behavior in 2016, Moscow mainly just wants US society to be polarized and for Americans to fight one another over race and religion rather than to be united. They hope a divided US will be less formidable in interfering with Russian goals like reassertion in the Middle East and Ukraine. That is, Putin doesn't care so much who is president but wants the US weak.

This is clear from the activities of the GRU hacker Guccifer 2.0 in 2016. GRU is Russian military intelligence.

That any Russian tilt toward Sanders comes from Moscow's profound desire for a Trump second term and a conviction that Sanders can't win is clear from a cursory consideration of the Russian press.

BBC Monitoring reports that"

"On 1 August, Igor Dunayevsky at the Rossiyskaya Gazeta discussed the debate performance of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren under the heading of 'US-Style Utopia.'

"On Feb. 5, RBC: Evgeny Pudovkin alleged at RosBiznesConsulting (RBC) that Sanders is a candidate of the youth, who want genuine change, but he saw Biden as the Establishment candidate.

"On Feb 12, in the wake of the Senate's refusal to impeach Trump and the chaos surrounding the Iowa Caucuses, the panel discussions at Bolshaya Igra and Rossiya 1 concluded that these two events showed that Trump is without doubt headed for a second term."

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Juan Cole is an American academic and commentator on the modern Middle East and South Asia.  He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Since 2002, he has written a weblog, Informed Comment (more...)

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