Everyone has justifiably been focusing on Trump’s bizarre comments about Russia over the last 72 hours because it’s unusual to hear such parroting of Russian propaganda from a Republican Presidential candidate. But just because the news is focused on the shiny new object in the room in terms of Russian capitulation, doesn’t mean that Hillary is some sort of newfangled Democrat who is strongly opposed to Russia’s interests.
Like pretty much every nationally prominent Democrat since the 1940s, Clinton has developed not only a habitual preference for bowing subserviantly before Russia but has also actively developed business interests with the Kremlin that are… troubling to say the least. As the WSJ notes:
Hillary Clinton touts her tenure as secretary of state as a time of hardheaded realism and “commercial diplomacy” that advanced American national and commercial interests. But her handling of a major technology transfer initiative at the heart of Washington’s effort to “reset” relations with Russia raises serious questions about her record. Far from enhancing American national interests, Mrs. Clinton’s efforts in this area may have substantially undermined U.S. national security.
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The Kremlin committed $5 billion over three years to fund Skolkovo. Mrs. Clinton’s State Department worked aggressively to attract U.S. investment partners and helped the Russian State Investment Fund, Rusnano, identify American tech companies worthy of Russian investment. Rusnano, which a scientific adviser to President Vladimir Putincalled “Putin’s child,” was created in 2007 and relies entirely on Russian state funding.
What could possibly go wrong?
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Russians tied to Skolkovo also flowed funds to the Clinton Foundation. Andrey Vavilov,the chairman of SuperOx, which is part of Skolkovo’s nuclear-research cluster, donatedbetween $10,000 and $25,000 (donations are reported in ranges, not exact amounts) to the Clinton’s family charity. Skolkovo Foundation chief and billionaire Putin confidantViktor Vekselberg also gave to the Clinton Foundation through his company, Renova Group.
Amid all the sloshing of Russia rubles and American dollars, however, the state-of-the-art technological research coming out of Skolkovo raised alarms among U.S. military experts and federal law-enforcement officials. Research conducted in 2012 on Skolkovo by the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Program at Fort Leavenworth declared that the purpose of Skolkovo was to serve as a “vehicle for world-wide technology transfer to Russia in the areas of information technology, biomedicine, energy, satellite and space technology, and nuclear technology.”
Moreover, the report said: “the Skolkovo Foundation has, in fact, been involved in defense-related activities since December 2011, when it approved the first weapons-related project—the development of a hypersonic cruise missile engine. . . . Not all of the center’s efforts are civilian in nature.”
As between Trump and Clinton, it’s actually difficult to say with any certainty who would be less effective in terms of checking the malignant spread of Russia’s interests. Trump might not even know what is going on in the Ukraine (which is doubtless troubling) but if you’re of the opinion that Clinton would actually do anything to remove Russia from the Crimean peninsula, or prevent continued Russian expansion into NATO signatories, then you’re allowing yourself to be deluded just as surely as Trump’s voters are.
The reason everyone is focused on Trump’s remarks is not that Trump is significantly friendlier to Russian interests than Hillary is – although Hillary is probably happy to allow the media to foster that image. The reason is that we usually have at least one President who realizes that Russia is a problem, and this year we don’t.