Trump and The Russian Connection: Political Arm Wrestling

Nathan Le Master
January 15, 2017

The story of Trump’s bromance with Putin keeps on spinning and spinning around the news cycle’s merry-go-round. Lines are being drawn, and teams are being drafted. In one corner you have a weird coalition consisting of Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, most Democrats, some Republicans, the liberal media, spearheaded by the CIA’s determination to paint Donald Trump as a pawn of Russia’s Putin. In the other camp, you have Donald Trump, a few Republicans, and the conservative media in a defensive crouch. Crossing the divide, you have progressive journalists like Glenn Greenwald demanding more concrete evidence of the connection between Trump and the Kremlin. Recently Greenwald stood his ground in an interview with CNN, arguing for caution towards the CIA’s accusations. In the wake of the most momentous election in American history, I do agree with Greenwald that it’s important to remember that the CIA isn’t some holy appendage of the American people, bidden by our collective will. The CIA has historically been a dangerous entity, notorious for acting against the American people. Below are just a few instances of their documented indiscretions:

When the democratically elected Guatemalan president Jacob Árbenz attempted to nationalize the American owned United Fruit Company (of which the then CIA director Anthony Dulles owned stock), and free his country from being a banana republic, the CIA supported a military coup that overthrew him, replacing his government with a dictatorship that killed tens of thousands of Guatemalan people.

Operation CHAOS:
The 1960s are known for its intersectionality when it came to civil rights. Demands for greater freedoms for racial and sexual minorities, as well as women’s lib, were all entwined with the anti-Vietnam protests. With the Cold War as the backdrop, civil rights activists were collectively seen by the establishment as enemies of the state, sharing commonalities with the Soviet Union. President Johnson therefore permitted the CIA to launch Operation CHAOS, whereby undercover agents infiltrated the student antiwar movement under the guise of searching for Russian spies and instigators. Organizations that were investigated and wiretapped included the Black Panthers, Students for a Democratic Society, and Women Strike for Peace. The full extent of Operation CHAOS was not known until the 1975 Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, which only happened subsequent to Nixon’s Watergate Scandal, where the American people first adopted a highly skeptical attitude towards the political establishment.

Operation Mongoose:
After Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs debacle, the CIA stepped up their covert operations at overthrowing Cuba’s communist regime. Employing a unique arsenal of assassination methods ranging from exploding cigars, to wetsuits containing toxic spores, to ballpoint pens rigged with poison, to contaminated milkshakes, the CIA were determined to kill Fidel Castro, and install a government more friendly to American interests. They also frequently used propaganda to turn the Cuban people against their leader.

When the democratically elected Iranian president Mohammad Mossadegh suggested reclaiming his country’s oil from British Petroleum, America swiftly intervened, supporting a military coup that overthrew Mossadegh, replacing him with the authoritarian Shah. The Shah proved to be such a cruel ruler that the Iranian Revolution, blending religious extremism with nationalism, overthrew him in 1979, and founded a government that’s proved to be America’s thorn-in-her-side since.

Osama Bin Laden:
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to prop up their communist government and secure essential resources, America threw her support in the opposition, even providing financial support to a then-little known Afghani nationalist, Osama bin Laden.

Suddam Hussein:
In 1980, during the Iran-Iraq War, the CIA provided financial and military assistance, as well as intelligence to Saddam Hussein, proving the maxim true: an enemy of our enemy is a friend.

El Salvador, Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua, Angola, Indonesian, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Congo, Chile, Ecuador, and the list goes on:
In an effort to combat the Communist tide, the CIA has dirtied its hands by directly or indirectly supporting right-wing dictatorships as well as far-right death squads. In order to conduct business, an air of guarded secrecy constantly surrounds their organization. So when the New York Times first published its article touting Trump’s connection to Putin via an anonymous source leaked to the CIA, it’s important to remember that this is the same CIA with an extremely long, muddied track record. Therefore, when Trump went straight to Godwin’s law, tweeting that America’s intelligence agencies are comparable to Nazi Germany, the comparison isn’t totally unfounded. Ultimately, both operated nefariously, violating basic human rights. But be that as it may, that doesn’t excuse Trump’s camp from acting in a holier than thou fashion. After all, just as the CIA conducted itself as Hillary Clinton’s bulldog during and after the election, the FBI also has been acting as Trump’s bulldog, with director James Comey relentlessly targeting Clinton over her email server. And while the CIA has a track record of unlawful behavior, remember, the FBI also has its own infamous past (just search for COINTELPRO, or read this story how the FBI thwarted its own terrorist plot).

We have a significant accountability issue in this country. Operating with carte blanche, our intelligence agencies have become highly politicized entities, acting with few or no repercussions. Therefore if your political views are pro-Trump, your perception of the FBI is most likely highly positive. And if you’re anti-Trump, you most likely endorse any negative Trump accusation the CIA puts forward. In our increasingly polarized world, nothing is more dangerous than blindly following those that echo our worldview and perceptions. I’m not denying the extremely high probability of a Trump-Putin connection. But if there’s one takeaway from this, it’s that we must revive a healthy dose of skepticism in those very institutions that have repeatedly proven to be working with much murkier motives.

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