Tripwires on the Way to the Inauguration

While President-elect Donald Trump confronts a coordinated assault by the “intelligence community,” the media, and the Democratic party that seeks to delegitimize him before he even takes the oath of office, it’s on the foreign front that the greatest danger looms.

The conspiracy theory that has been pushed by the CIA, embraced by the media, and reluctantly endorsed by the FBI – a Russian “cyber-attack” liberated emails from the DNC server and John Podesta’s gmail account, and WikiLeaks obligingly published them on Putin’s orders – is never questioned in the mainstream media. Except, of course, by President-elect Trump, whose campaign disdained this narrative by remarking : “These are the same people who said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

Ouch!

Trump has correctly pointed to the difficulty of attributing cyber-assaults to specific actors, but politics has naturally overwhelmed reality in this matter. Determined to destroy Trump at any cost, the media are ignoring all evidence to the contrary, including denials by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and evidence presented by an eyewitness. This put enormous pressure on the White House to make some sort of statement, and Obama has obliged, vowing to retaliate against “Russian aggression” that never happened:

“Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you. But it is also important to us to do that in a thoughtful, methodical way. Some of it, we will do publicly. Some of it we will do in a way that they know, but not everybody will.”

The criminal stupidity of this statement should be readily apparent: even if Obama doesn’t take any action, in the event of a major cyber-attack on Russia’s vital facilities it will simply be assumed that the US is behind it – with consequences that could escalate into a nightmare scenario.

Yes, something quite disturbing may indeed happen on Trump’s way to the White House – namely, World War III.

Yet there are other, equally dangerous tripwires that he could stumble on.  Here they are, not necessarily in order of importance or probability:

Ukraine – The Ukrainains hate Trump because he’s openly said he doesn’t consider the region to be a vital American national interest, and aid to Ukraine is likely to be cut under a Trump administration. They played a role in ambushing Paul Manafort and ginning up the “Russian plot” scenario that has now taken center stage. With the country sliding into an economic abyss, and the rebellious eastern provinces continuing their defiance of Kiev, the Ukrainian coup leaders are increasingly desperate for attention from their Western sponsors. The result is that they’ve ratcheted up their provocations aimed at Moscow in hopes of sparking a major crisis. Who knows what they could accomplish with a little help from the CIA?

In the meantime, the top US commander in Europe, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, paid a visit to Ukraine to review the US “training” mission, while Vice President Joe Biden got on the phone with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The Russians have yet to release a recording of the call, although we’re hopeful.

Europe – Yes, the Swedish government has instructed local officials to prepare for war with Russia:

Government officials in Sweden have advised towns to make preparations for potential attacks by Russia.

“The Civil Contingency Agency informed local authorities last week that they should maintain operations in underground bunkers and ensure emergency systems are working properly.

“’In a state of war, civil defense for municipalities is no different from any of the other services they should provide,’ the agency said in a letter, which instructed local governments to ‘ensure their ability to maintain their functions during disturbed situations, and at the most extreme, in a war scenario.’

"The unusual move is a return to similar defenses the country maintained during the Cold War, known as the ‘Total Defense Strategy.’

"’This strategy is not new. We used it during the Cold War and we are going to now strengthen coordination regarding civil defense,’ Magnus Dyberg-Ek, who is leading the civil defence operation for MSB, told Sweden’s Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.”

Well, yes, there’s nothing much new here, but the cold war has been over since 1989. Yet apparently Sweden’s government has decided that, as a Christmas present to the populace, they are going to revive the prospect of World War III. Now isn’t that thoughtful of them?

This has taken place in the context of a revival of an old saw in the region: sightings of alleged Russian submarines spying on Swedish defenses. It started during the cold war era, but most of these were later identified as NATO subs possibly engaged in deception, i.e. false flag excursions designed to heighten tensions. More recent sightings turned out to be a boat belonging to a Swedish civilian and a 2011 sighting that was actually a raft frozen in mobile ice.

Meanwhile, Russian ambassador to Sweden Viktor Tatarintsey laughed it all off:

"We respect the integrity of Sweden, and we have no plans whatsoever to invade Sweden, so the Swedish population can sleep easy."

However, he may be laughing out of the other side of his mouth if NATO gets busy and stages yet another covert action designed to blame Russia for a nonexistent incursion. Then get ready for the Washington Post and the New York Times – whose editorial offices are the journalistic wing of the War Party – to demand that President Trump “stand up to Putin.”

And it’s not just Sweden: the Baltic nations, all NATO members, are awfully nervous about Trump’s ascension to office, and they have been itching for a confrontation with the Russians for quite some time. With Russia reinforcing its defenses in Kaliningrad as NATO builds up its offensive forces in Poland and Romania – which Gen. Scaparrotti ominously describes as “ready to deploy on the other side of the holidays” – anything is possible.

China – This is the most dangerous flashpoint, in part due to Trump’s own belligerent rhetoric directed at Beijing. The danger was underscored by the most recent incident involving the Chinese: their seizure of an unmanned drone submarine launched from a Navy ship that was in international waters. But where, exactly, was the drone itself seized? And which US government agency is in charge of the drone program? Wouldn’t that be the CIA?

Upon pledging to return the drone, the Chinese accused Washington of “hyping up” the incident, an accusation that seems indisputable. Normally, US officials would want to keep evidence of their spying hush-hush. Which leads us to wonder why the Obama administration would hype the incident if this whole thing wasn’t staged for domestic political purposes.

However, Trump didn’t fall for the bait, tweeting:

“We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back – let them keep it!”

While the usual suspects were livid about this hilarious response, not to mention the venue in which he chose to express himself, the fact of the matter is that this remarkably laid back attitude toward what was clearly meant as a provocation shows that Trump isn’t about to start World War III with China. His response, while unorthodox, reflected the fact that a captured drone is practically useless, since there’s no way to recover whatever data it transmitted, and their design is quite simple.

There’s no doubt that the alligators in the swamp the President-elect has vowed to drain are getting mighty restless. That something might happen to overshadow Trump’s presidency before he even takes office is a distinct possibility – which is why we here at Antiwar.com are keeping our eyes peeled, watching intently as we roll on toward January 20.

That, after all, is our job: to keep you informed of the latest developments, while providing the editorial context that updates you on the War Party’s latest machinations. And believe you me, they are busier than ever.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

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Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].