There is a spectre haunting this year’s election. To borrow a phrase from Ronald Reagan, “There’s a bear in the woods.” Reagan’s metaphor pointed toward the threat of Communist Russia during the 1984 election cycle.
The bear I’m referring to is also Russian. The bear I’m referring to is Vladimir Putin.
See, I remember the Cold War. I remember being afraid as a child, watching the Soviet Army goose-step around Red Square in Moscow. I also remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, the symbolic death of the Red Menace.
But now I get those same feelings of fear when I see the carnage in war-torn places like Syria and Ukraine. These have become the proxy wars of the 21st century.
With the media circus that is our current election cycle, it’s easy to get over-focused on events here in the States, to get caught up in the negative rhetoric and mud-slinging. After all, this could potentially be the most important election in American history. But regardless of whether the Asses or the Elephants come out on top, there will be an unspoken victor from this whole mess: Russia.
If Trump wins, then our great nation will be in the pocket of Putin, a former Soviet intelligence agent. There should be no speculation as to “if” — The Donald’s actions (and potentially, computer servers, like the one that has been communicating with Russian bank Alfa, as reported by Slate) and calls for certain foreign powers to initiate electronic warfare against American interests was not cheeky banter. It was much closer to treason. His stance on NATO and his push to change the GOP position on Ukraine make his alignments clear.
Trump the circus performer is hugging the bear, but it’ll be the American people who get mauled.
If Hillary wins, a whole different set of problems could arise. The sentiment of many ultra-far-right (though not-so-far-right in this election) radicals and supremacist groups is that if Hillary wins, they will bring open civil war and rebellion here in the U.S.
While this sentiment is often echoed by the ultra-far-right during presidential elections, it’s never happened — not even in this time of the Bundy militia, Standing Rock protest militarization and open, mainstream racism and hate.
And if our country goes to war with itself, even with NATO and our European allies, saddled with millions of refugees trying to escape the proxy war, we will have left the bear’s cage open.
Hillary the ringmaster knows exactly what the bear is up to, but it’ll run free while she’s trying to stop a fight at the concession stand.
There’s another situation that either prospective president could find themselves in: the plausible scenario where we decide to intervene fully in the Syrian conflict and are propelled into a third World War.
This is an outcome made more likely by the thousands of U.S. and NATO troops and heavy armor being sent to bases in Eastern Europe, as reported Sunday by various media. While nowhere near a declaration of war, this type of provocative action in the current geopolitical climate echoes the posturing by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War.
In all of these situations, America loses. In all of these situations, Putin’s Russia wins. Happy voting on Tuesday, and perhaps, dasvidaniya.