Global hack an effort to distract from Trump-Russia connection

by Rodrigo Fernós

It would not be unrealistic to suggest that the global hack which occurred during the last few days is a deliberate effort to distract attention in the United States from the investigation into the collusion between the Russian government (Putin) and Donald Trump.  Russian cyberwarefare and propaganda manipulation is a well known trait, and Putin has employed the very same tactics when he first rose to the “Presidency” of Russia.

This was detailed in a detailed documentary by Frontline (PBS).

Vladimir Putin was a former KGB agent who entered politics of Saint Petersburg. In spite of an investigation demonstrating fraud, he became the ‘mayor’ (First Deputy Chairman) of that city.  As he ascended in Russian politics, he moved to Moscow and became an advisor and alleged loyalist to Boris Yeltsin. Putin, an unknown until then in the Russian political landscape, was able to outmanoeuvre Yeltsin by likely blackmailing him with bribery charges, which were then dropped when Putin ascended to power.

What is perhaps most shocking is what the Frontline news-piece revealed.

When Putin’s presidency was placed into question, there was a unexpected bombing of an apartment building. Putin used this as a pretext to ‘protect the Russian people’ against the incursion of Chechen rebels, launching counterattacks and portraying himself as the ‘people’s protector’. The Frontline investigation, however, revealed that the bombs used to collapse the building were of Russian origin, suggesting that Putin had bombed his own people in order to obtain greater political power.

This is an old political tactic often used by strongmen whereby they create the very terror they then set themselves up to defend against—a version of the ‘straw-man argument’ in the social sciences.  Under conditions of extreme duress, individuals will naturally flock to ‘strongmen’ for protection. This is akin to the ‘corralling’ method used by Native American Indians in North America to hunt buffalo: create panic and force them to run off a cliff in a herd, whose remains that then be easily picked. In the case of strongmen tactics, the victim is induced into a panic to run into the protection of the strongman, unaware that they are simply led into a spiderweb.

Given the Russian well known military cyber capacities, as well as its clear overly-close relationship with Donald Trump, it is thus not be unreasonable to argue that the massive cyberattack was an effort launched by Putin for the same ends: create external conditions that place Donald Trump as a ‘protector of the people’. Coinciding with that very attack, Trump passed a light hearted cybersecurity law, which extends many of Barrack Obama’s sophisticated cybersecurity initiatives that were well in place before the election.

It might be counter-argued that Russia was one of the most affected nations by the hack. Again, this is not necessarily a good argument in that it would be minor cost relative to the ambition of obtaining control over what has been the most powerful nation in the world during the last half century. If the benefits of the global cyber attack, as the bombing of the apartment building in Russia, drastically outweigh its costs, then there would be an incentive to do so.

Also note that the very character of the attack, also helps to hide any Russia connection; as it is a simple hacking based on well known flaws, then any potential hacker could have been the culprit. If the Russians would have presumably used sophisticated programming in the attack, this would immediately have pointed the finger at them. The complexity would indicate sophisticated programming  that only nation states with large pockets can afford, and the very code itself would have revealed ‘cultural signatures’ of its possible Russian origin.

Thus, using a ‘simple hack’ was (in theory) a good way to disguise the actual origina of the attack, as well as the intended purposes: keep Donald Trump, a pliable Russian puppet, as president.

We naturally presume that the investigation into the Russia-Trump ties will come out decisive, that Trump will inevitably be impeached, and that all will ‘return to normal’. This is a presumption that should not be taken for granted.

The failure of an investigation to eventually impeach Trump would also have significant policy and political implications for Puerto Rico.

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