The Story Behind The Story Is The Most Interesting Story Of All

Sometimes the story behind the story is the best story of all. Let me explain.

America is all agog, and rightly so, at the latest revelations of alleged collusion between the Trump Presidential campaign, and Russia’s Putin regime, to get Donald Trump elected President of the United States.

One of the fruit of the President’s loins, some cynics might describe him as spoiled and damaged fruit, Donald Trump Junior, just released a series of emails which suggest he was ready, willing and able to collude with the Russians to get Daddy into the White House.

Donald Junior may well have unleashed a firestorm that could burn down the White House but that is another story for another time. His father, the President, took a long time to come to junior’s defence, which is interesting in itself.

When he did, he took to Twitter, of course, his preferred form of communication. And it’s his preferred form of communication because no one can contradict him. If anyone does, or tries to, they’re banned.

The President praised Donald Junior’s “transparency” and “openness”, in releasing the email correspondence. The Trumps use the word transparency in the same way they do modesty. Neither applies to them. For example, there was nothing transparent or open about Donald Junior releasing his emails. The New York Times newspaper already had them and was going to publish. Donald Junior got in first to try and steal the newspaper’s thunder.

While the President might be praising his son publicly, privately he would be calling him a jackass because he’s provided the FBI’s special prosecutor, appointed to investigate Russian collusion in the Presidential election campaign, part, if not all of the smoking gun he needs to prove the case.

Now I am not going to mine the nitty gritty of the emails and the whole Russian election thing. Plenty of others are doing that right now and doing it better than I ever could.

I’m more interested in the other intriguing questions that have come out of this. Such as, who leaked the emails to the New York Times? And what did they hope to achieve in doing so?

Leaked information is done with three goals in mind: the first is the explosive nature of the information being released publicly, the second is the hysterical publicity that almost always accompanies it, and the third is a higher purpose of some kind.

In other words it is always done, selectively, carefully and for a good reason. And the Donald Trump Junior emails leak is no exception.

So let’s start with the first question: Who might have leaked the emails to the New York Times?

The list of potential suspects would have to be small. The first, and most obvious, is that the leaker is someone close to Donald Junior who had access to his private computer. But it is a less likely scenario, I would have thought. Donald Junior could very easily narrow down and successfully identify a suspect and they would be made the scapegoat. Donald Junior would then be able to spin the narrative to be all about the betrayal rather than the contents of the emails. The fact that he hasn’t done so, would suggest the leaker isn’t someone close to him.

Could it have been someone in the intelligence service? Or the FBI? Who could remotely access Donald Junior’s computer? These days that seems perfectly achievable if the latest publicity concerning computer hacking and ransom demanded, is any kind of guide. So if the leaker was the FBI or someone connected to the Special Prosecutor’s office, the question is why would they do it?

That is a much tougher question to answer.

But one reason might be that whoever obtained the emails from Donald Junior’s computer, would have to, or be wanting to prove that Donald Junior wrote them. Just finding them on his computer is not enough and not proof beyond reasonable doubt. Someone else could have written the emails to try and discredit him. This would be especially so if Donald Junior denied being the author of the emails. Proving that he wrote them in the face of his denials would not be impossible but it would be difficult and time consuming. And we are talking about proving them to a legal and possibly criminal standard.

So why not roll the dice to see what Donald Junior does? Leak the emails to the New York Times and see if they can flush him out and get him to publicly say he was the author, which of course is what he did, almost on cue.

Donald Trump Junior is clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He has just opened a Pandora’s box worth of trouble for the President.

He has also placed a great deal of pressure on Congressional members of the Republican Party.

The Republicans hold the majority in the Congress and it is the Congress alone that can get rid of the President. Republican Senator John McCain made an interesting observation when he said that more shoes are going to drop before this has ended. Maybe he knows something we don’t.

In many ways President Trump is his own party’s worst nightmare. If they do decide to get rid of him by a Congressional majority he will hardly go quietly into the night. He will go kicking and screaming accusing everyone of a vendetta and a witch hunt. More disturbingly he has plenty of supporters, armed supporters, who believe him when he says it.

Consider this. What if the FBI knew in advance of Trump Junior’s meeting with the Russians and secretly recorded the conversation? Junior says the meeting was a dud and nothing of any substance in relation to the Presidential election was discussed. But… we only have his word for it. All I can say is watch this space.

I am reminded of the Chinese curse: May we live in interesting times. Except it’s not a curse anymore. We are.

Putin The Not So Sharp Shooting Russian President

As we speak, Australia is playing host to the G20 summit in sunny Brisbane. And it is. Very sunny I mean and very hot as well as Downunderville rolls into a southern hemisphere pre summer.

The G20 is where world leaders gather to talk about and make decisions that will benefit mankind as a whole. But usually ends up doing neither.

Anyway, all of the leaders of the free and not so free world have lobbed into Brisbane: Obama, Cameron, Merkel and Jin Ping to name a few. But there is one world leader I just don’t get at all.

When I say ‘get’ what I mean is like. I can’t say I am a big fan of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Now in my defense I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide the Russian President is not for me. This bloke has been on my radar for a while. For a start there’s that photo of Putin, you’ve probably seen, of him bare-chested, carrying an enormous rifle with a telescopic sight.

I mean what was that all about?

Some commentators have very kindly suggested it’s part of Putin’s PR spin to the Russian people.This is a no nonsense tough guy who’s here to remind everyone that post cold war Russia is still a formidable world power. Putin can’t be pushed around. Here is a man who’s not afraid to use force so best not to mess with him.

Maybe I need to be Russian to get it but I have to be honest and say that photo said none of those things to me.

I think Putin just looked like a redneck. A bogan. That photo implied nothing that was authoritative, measured, thoughtful or considered, as you would expect a world leader to be. Instead it showed someone deeply flawed. We are talking about impressions. And I think this was the wrong impression to be giving anyone.

But that’s nothing compared to some of the things that have happened in that part of the world causing me, and a lot of other people, to feel uneasy. For example, there are the Russian journalists who’ve ended up dead after they opposed or criticized him. Crimes that remain unsolved and more than likely will never be solved.

But the anti Putin sentiment reached a crescendo with the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines flight over the Ukraine, killing everyone on board. Instead of being contrite, humble and apologetic in the face of mounting evidence that Kremlin backed, Russian separatists were responsible. Putin was bellicose and belligerent.

I am not a big fan of the current Australian Prime Minister. Nor am I a particular fan of his brand of politics. But I take my hat off to him when he said Russia must come clean and atone for what happened to flight MH17.

It was followed by press reports here and in Russia of the Australian Prime Minister threatening to ‘shirtfront’ the Russian President. No doubt it was a bit of political bravado from the Australian Prime Minister’s office to grab a headline. It also might have been a bit tactless but no less so the Russian President’s over the top response.

Having been invited as a guest of Australia at the G20, Putin ordered a fleet of Russian warships to sail into Australian waters. This is yet another example of the macho Russian President’s sledgehammer approach to international relations. It’s a bit like being invited into someone’s home for the first time and rubbing your muddy boots all over their brand new, white mohair rug.

Putin just seems intent on resurrecting the dangerous brinkmanship of the 1960s Cold War. Some of the incidents in recent times: A simulated Russian attack on a Danish island as it played host to 90 thousand people at a political festival, Putin telling a youth camp that other countries should realise “it’s best not to mess with us,” that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations in the world and it was actively strengthening its nuclear deterrent.

What was Putin trying to achieve in saying this? I guess it makes sense if you want to go down in history as the man who ended our world as we know it. He’ll be making history. Except there won’t be anyone left to write about it or read it.

The Australian Prime Minister urged Russia to be a super-power for ideas and values instead of trying to recreate the lost glories of Tsarist Russia or the old Soviet Union.

In any case Putin seems to have forgotten, the real power these days lies in economics and this is where his hawkish approach to international relations could backfire.

The risk is that Russia will be seen as an unpredictable partner, a global bully, someone with whom very few countries can develop a normal and robust relationship.

But it’s clearly something Putin is prepared to wear especially if it makes him look good to the folks back home.

I suppose we couldn’t say nyet to inviting him to the G20 but I, for one, won’t be sorry to see him leave.

Armageddon

I read something today that has not reared its ugly head for at least two decades or more. Two words that are frightening and chilling: Nuclear War.

Just when I thought that human beings had come to the realization that nuclear war doesn’t end in anyone’s victory. You just succeed in annihilating the human race. So what is the point of even talking about it? Well try telling that to Vladimir Putin. He seems to think there is a point. So much so that he deliberately warned of nuclear war in relation to any NATO plans for intervention in the Ukraine.

He told a Youth Forum, and the irony should not be lost here, Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations in the world. It is a reality, he said, not just words. Little did he realise or maybe he did realise he would also be condemning his audience of young Russians to annihilation.

A conventional war has already begun in the Ukraine. That is why Putin’s words should chill to the bone. Ukraine’s Defence Minister warned on Facebook to expect casualties in the tens of thousands. He said a Great War had arrived at Ukraine’s doorstep the likes of which Europe had not seen since World War 2. And it seems Putin agrees with that assessment. The Russian President reportedly told the outgoing President of the European Commission that if Russia wanted to it could take Kiev in two weeks. What is even more worrying, if that could be possible, NATO is taking Putin’s words seriously. They are already discussing a rapid response force of several thousand soldiers to react to any invasion of a member state. It will also include combat aircraft and naval ships from all 28 members of NATO. At this stage Ukraine is not a member of NATO, thank God, but it wants to be and NATO wants it to be.

Putin in even more inflammatory language referred to eastern Ukraine as the new Russia and warned the United States and NATO to back off. Putin said Russia did not want to engage in any large-scale conflicts. But at the same time one Russian news agency quoted him as saying that Russia was “ strengthening our nuclear deterrent forces and our armed forces” which seems to suggest the exact opposite.

Some estimates suggest that Russia has 1800 operational nuclear weapons with a stockpile of an additional 7000 warheads.

Russia is now making no secret of its intentions in relation to Ukraine. Russian tanks, trucks and armored vehicles have been observed crossing its borders with Ukraine. Pictures have been flooding into social media sites. A major Ukrainian airport is reported to have fallen to Russian forces. Loyalist Ukrainian forces are digging in around cities on the Baltic coast. The Russian objective at this point is to capture a bridge of land between its territory and the Crimean Peninsula. Ukraine says its forces are already in retreat. They will be no match for the might of Russia. Just how many Russian soldiers are presently fighting in Ukraine is anyone’s guess. Some say a thousand troops others say five thousand. The point is the deployment is only going to get more substantial as time goes on.

This is a nightmare waiting to happen. The worse case scenario: a nightmare that’s already begun. Certainly it is already for Ukraine. The way things stand it won’t take much for it to be upon us all. And God help us all if that happens.