Why Trump is fond of Putin

This is hardly surprising:

President Vladimir Putin feels insulted by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election, Donald Trump has said after meeting him briefly at an Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam.

“You can only ask so many times… he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election,” the US president said.

Mr Putin later dismissed the allegations as “political infighting”.

The US intelligence community has already concluded that Russia tried to sway the poll in favour of Mr Trump.

President Trump has refused to acknowledge a reported assessment by the CIA and other intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the run-up to last year’s presidential election.

You don’t actually need to trust Putin an inch to believe he is telling the truth that he didn’t try to swing the outcome of the US election. None of this passed the smell test from the beginning, and the whole think reeked of an effort to explain Hillary’s catastrophic loss and an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency. I always suspected Putin found all of these accusations highly amusing; other than the usual shit-stirring that Russia’s spy agencies have been involved in since the Soviet times, exploiting divisions in US society to sow chaos as part of their zero-sum rivalry with America, I very much doubt Russia had any involvement in the US election. For one thing, it’s never been explained why Putin would have preferred Trump to Clinton.

Of course, those who don’t want very much to change in US politics are aghast at this:

This says less about how much Trump trusts Putin than how little he trusts branches of his own government. And who can blame him? Both the FBI and Department of Justice disgraced themselves during the election with regards to Hillary Clinton, and Obama spent eight years politicising other branches such as the IRS. Moreover, Trump’s efforts to “drain the swamp” have been met with ferocious opposition from what people call the Deep State, or (a term I prefer) the Permanent Government, i.e. those who have done extremely well from the status quo and for whom Trump represents an existential threat. Is the CIA part of this? Of course it is. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Trump could probably get a warmer reception walking into a branch of the Russian government in Moscow than an American one in DC. I’d even go so far as to say parts of the American government represent a far greater political and even mortal danger to Trump than Putin does. If you were Trump, who would you believe? Putin – who at least doesn’t pretend to have America’s interests at heart – or known liars in the American government who have sworn to remove Trump from office using fair means or foul? That’s a tough one.

Then there’s this from Andrew Neil:

Let me take a guess. Perhaps Trump has realised that the entire American political establishment wants him gone and is doing everything they can to undermine and remove him; half the American electorate has gone into meltdown and, a year on from his election, are calling him a white supremacist Nazi when they’re not screaming at the sky; and supposedly intelligent and educated foreigners, particularly Europeans, are acting in a spectacularly immature manner over Trump while their own countries descend into chaos. Standing out from all this is Putin who, for all his faults, is remaining reasonably calm, acting like an adult, and not throwing around childish insults. Little wonder Trump is taking him more seriously than anyone else.

The lessons that ought to be drawn from this are that if you demonise your own president and try to bring him down, he will take his friends where he finds them; and if you insist on acting like a child, the adults in the room will ignore you and talk among themselves. Thus far, the reaction seems to indicate the exact opposite.

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34 thoughts on “Why Trump is fond of Putin

  1. I’d like to know how the CIA knew the DNC was hacked by Russia, when no-one from the FBI or CIA had access to the servers (the DNC have refused to let them out).

    My “Occam’s Razor” view of the DNC hack is that it was internal. Someone who didn’t like how the Clinton camp had taken over the DNC and had access to the mail server released everything. It makes sense in terms of both who can easily access an email server (external attacks on email servers are hard) and motivation.

    Personally, I think there’s a more benign explanation of intelligence agencies: the likes of the CIA like to keep the perception going of external threats. They talked up the Sony email hack as being North Korea, despite that being a very fishy suggestion if you follow the hacking timeline. They want taxpayers to nod through more spending for their projects.

  2. BonM4 – yes, that’s my take, too. There was obviously massive infighting in the DNC (not revealed, just confirmed, by Brazile’s doorstop); my guess is that a Bernie supporter thought they could force the establishment to be more even-handed in the later stages of the race. As well as distrust based on the naked anti-Trump stance of all the three-letter agencies, you have to add their demonstrated incompetence; when then NSA can’t keep their own damned secrets, it’s hard to trust them on much else, or believe much about what they tell us.

  3. “For one thing, it’s never been explained why Putin would have preferred Trump to Clinton.”

    Clinton spoke flippantly about war in Syria, even when told the Russians might respond. Of Clinton’s many faults, her casual war monger was the nastiest.

  4. Just another American hysterical panic. But this one is transparently baked up by the Dems rather than, say, the yellow press.

    For these purposes CIA = Dems = FBI.

    Remember the Maine!

  5. The biggest piece of BS is this whole “intelligence community” says that Russia did it. We’re supposed to believe said departments blindly with no evidence in order to replace an election procedure, the basis of,our form of government. It’s a complete fraud.

  6. Dom “Clinton spoke flippantly about war in Syria, even when told the Russians might respond. Of Clinton’s many faults, her casual war monger was the nastiest.”

    While that might be a problem for Putin, Trumps energy policy is fatal. Its really unlikely Putin would destroy the Russia economy to have strategic advantage in Syria. It will take a while but the fracking is the end of the middle eastern and Russian influence.

  7. In the office where I spend much of my week there is a TV permanently tuned to CNN but, thankfully, on mute.

    There isn’t a day that passes where the bottom ticker tape text doesn’t mention Russian “hacking”, yet we are still to see any credible evidence presented.

    The simplest explanation being most likely would suggest that this story is perceived by CNN as driving ratings regardless of whether there is any substance in it.

    It would be better for democracy if the Democratic Party and their client agencies would concentrate on fighting the next election not the last.

  8. What about this one.

    The whole thing isn’t about Trump or the Dems.

    It’s about making Putin look like the good guy, just another plank is his global ascendancy.

    “It will take a while but the fracking is the end of the middle eastern and Russian influence.”

    It is certainly the dawn of a long term cheap energy, cheap manufacturing phase, which is very bullish for the US and Western economies.

    But there is another complexity here the Kissinger instigated Petrodollar.

    The US economy would collapse overnight if this mechanism stopped, hence they need the Saudis and they need that Aramco IPO on Wall Street. BRICS are anti petrodollar and are working very hard to undermine and replace it, its the kind of stuff that starts wars.

  9. Everything you say is true. Still, Trump would have been better off keeping his mouth shut about this.

  10. Wow, I just read that article in the NYT linked in the above Andrew Neil tweet and then this other one popped up, I definitely need to keep up:

    Russia Scandal Befalls Two Brothers: John and Tony Podesta

    “In a twist with Shakespearean undertones, the two influential Washington brothers have found themselves on opposite sides of the scandals over Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

    We all know where the NYT sits politically so for them to publish this, then just like Weinstein its a case that they can’t not publish it any longer.

    Its definitely a Shakespearean twist alright. Mueller the war hero and his multi millionaire investigation now pointing their big guns at the notorious brothers.

    So how about this one.

    This whole thing has been a Trump sting right from the start and that Mueller is actually going after the homosexual mafia?

    The impeachment, the collusion with the Russians, the accusations, the tweets were just a ruse that the Media, Deep State, Democrats and bad Republicans bought, done in order to give Mueller cover and time to go after Hilary, Obama and all the other degenerates?

    And Putin still gets to look good.

  11. Bardon: “The US economy would collapse overnight if this mechanism stopped, ”

    I’m outside my pay grade here, but it seems like the petrodollar means countries sell in the US because they need dollars to buy Saudi oil. In the future, won’t they need dollars to buy US oil?

  12. For one thing, it’s never been explained why Putin would have preferred Trump to Clinton.

    Because obviously the actually existing Deep State that runs Russia would never have any motivation to destabilise or discredit Western institutions. And I am sure they would never, ever want to see the electoral process of a Western democracy called into question, regardless of specific outcome. It is indeed a fortuitous stroke of luck that Wilkileaks, Edward Snowden, et al, have been so keen to helpfully remind us that the real villain of the piece is, as ever, the US intelligence community…

  13. “I’m outside my pay grade here, but it seems like the petrodollar means countries sell in the US because they need dollars to buy Saudi oil. In the future, won’t they need dollars to buy US oil?”

    Dom, the good thing about here is that we are all on the same pay grade.

    The systems is such that non oil producing countries that want to buy oil must buy it in US$. So lets say Greece wants to buy Kuwaiti oil, it will do this in US $ which is neither the currency of the seller nor the buyer, meaning that it has to have US$ in the first place. So this situation over the forty odd years it has been in place (about when the gold standard was removed) has manged to propel the US $ as the word most traded and largest foreign reserve held by all central banks, also and because of oils massive dominance in terms of sheer size and volume over other tradeable things and other commodities then they are generally bought and paid for in US$. This demand for US$ increases its value, the US$ can print and export as much of it as it likes for nothing.

    If the petrodollar system collapsed and remember the US could not even touch the sides with supplying oil to meet market demand, and no one buys it in US$ anymore then the demand for US$ would stop and it would absolutely tank overnight. Iran can’t wait to sell it in anything other than US$ and it looks like the BRICS nations are a likely taker, so they had better be quick in stopping Iran making any trades.

    https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/China-Readies-Yuan-Priced-Crude-Oil-Benchmark-Backed-By-Gold.html

  14. “The systems is such that non oil producing countries that want to buy oil must buy it in US$. [But countries on the whole don’t buy oil; companies do.]

    So lets say [a Greek company] wants to buy Kuwaiti oil, it will do this in US $ which is neither the currency of the seller nor the buyer, meaning that it has to have US$ in the first place.”

    So what? Then Kuwait (I’m assuming that the Kuwait entity that sells oil is the government) can buy other stuff with its dollars and the dollars flow round and round. True each company, or its bank, would hold some reserves to even out the bumps but it’s not obvious to me why large and ever-growing reserves might be needed. There’s something awry with this analysis.

  15. Yes it was a bit hap dash of me there, trying to explain something like the Petrodollar system in a few sentences. Its a pretty well documented system and there are many good papers on this and accounts available on the web. You also need to grasp the size of the oil market it is huge and growing and then you will understand the currency reserves required the US monopoly and the fact that you cant bypass the US$ purchasing requirement and why Saudi are favoured by the US.

    There is definitely an escalation going on in Saudi right now with the bloody purge, asset seizures, the Lebanese situation, incoming missile strike and the heightened tensions with Qatar and then there is Iran. Its common knowledge that the Iranian central bank which isn’t part of the system will sell oil outside of the Petrodollar system. My firm had a major inward investment deal fall through recently, the investment manager pulled out because some of the investors in his fund were Saudi and we have significant Qatari shareholders. This actually impacted me as they were going to cash out shareholders. Sabre’s are being rattled since Trump done his Saudi war dance.

  16. “you cant bypass the US$ purchasing requirement”: why not? Even if you can’t wouldn’t it be child’s play to put together some sort of oil purchase plus currency swap arrangement that would have the same effect?

  17. dcardno,

    “you have to add their demonstrated incompetence; when then NSA can’t keep their own damned secrets, it’s hard to trust them on much else, or believe much about what they tell us.”

    If you’re referring to Snowden, what he got was a big fat nothing. It’s one of the most ludicrously hyped stories of the past decade. He got a load of Powerpoints of the design of a quite normal system for managing police requests and everyone lost their mind. It’s all compliant with FISA. There’s nothing of any real value in there to anyone. Some of the slides even look like they were doctored later. Logos of various well known internet companies in the header of an official document on every page? I’ve worked with government bureaucrats and it just doesn’t ring true.

  18. “the usual shit-stirring that Russia’s spy agencies have been involved in since the Soviet times”
    Ever since Lenin, Moscow has been doing this. It’s been continuous, unscrupulous, and ineffectual. But evidently they enjoy it, and everyone needs a hobby. We shouldn’t over-react. Unfortunately, over-reacting is exactly what has happened.

  19. Trump undoubtedly knows how much help he did or (more likely) did not receive from Putin. He no more has to take Putin’s word for it than I have to take Andrew Neil’s word that he works on TV.
    In any case Trump has nothing to gain by publicly disagreeing with Putin on this issue, so why would anyone think he would?
    So far nothing has turned up to demonstrate that Putin did anything to back Trump, just some low level stuff to cast doubt on both Trump and Clinton, and some potentially more important stuff about bribing Clinton for specific advantages.
    Indeed since Clinton appears more bribable than Trump I would guess that Putin would have preferred her.

  20. If the petrodollar system collapsed and remember the US could not even touch the sides with supplying oil to meet market demand, and no one buys it in US$ anymore then the demand for US$ would stop and it would absolutely tank overnight.

    Nah. This theory raises its head frequently, but is disprovable nonsense. The volume of oil traded per year is something like $1.7 trillion per year. The value of dollars traded is around $4.5 trillion per day. The demand for dollars absolutely dwarfs the demand for oil in terms of value.

    In other words, a fluctuation in the dollar value impacts oil prices whereas the value of oil has absolutely no effect on the dollar whatsoever. If the entire world switched to trading oil in Currency X, the US (or anyone else) would simply buy Currency X using their dollars and then buy oil: at no point would anyone holding dollars be out of pocket. This is equally true if a single country demanded Euros for their oil: buyers would just trade their dollars for Euros, then buy the oil.

    It’s a theory that refuses to die, despite being so obviously disprovable.

  21. Sorry TIm you haven’t disproved it, the demand for dollars starts with the demand for oil. If you dont think Trumps first overseas visit was to KSA to announce a huge arms deal followed by denouncing Qatar after it done a deal with China for gas in yuan or the demonisation of Iran by the US has anything to do with it then that is fine to. I just think otherwise and there is nothing wrong with that.

    http://www.newsmax.com/Finance/PeterReagan/China-Assault-Dollar-Invest/2017/06/05/id/794244/

  22. Bardon, that article is tripe mate; it’s a load of blather from a man who wants to sell you gold.

  23. Sorry TIm you haven’t disproved it, the demand for dollars starts with the demand for oil.

    The demand for oil is $1.7 trillion per year. The demand for dollars is $4.5 trillion per day. If that doesn’t convince you that the price of oil has no effect on the dollar, I don’t know what will.

  24. BonM4

    If you’re referring to Snowden…

    No, I was actually thinking more of the subsequent hacking tool releases. I disagree that Snowden was “a big fat nothing” or that what he revealed was compliant with FISA, but that’s opinion. Snowden was an embarrassment, not a loss of capability.

  25. There is no ‘Petrodollar ‘ system, it’s very simply the fact that USD’s are the most widely accepted and most stable currency that everyone either accept, or transact too.

    The reality is there are actually very few currencies people are prepared to use.

  26. “there are actually very few currencies people are prepared to use.”

    I can remember when “nobody ever lost his job for buying IBM”. When these things change it can be fast.

  27. “I can remember when “nobody ever lost his job for buying IBM”. When these things change it can be fast.”

    Can’t see it with currencies.

    You have the USD, Euro, GBP & Yen in the top tier. Then it’s a collection of the smaller, stable countries and the large unstable ones. Hell, the New Zealand dollar has twice the trading volume of the Indian Rupee, what does that tell you?

  28. Tim, do you take blog requests? Since this idea of a petrodollar comes up so often, maybe a longer post on it is appropriate.

  29. Dom, here is a view from down under I do not agree with everything in the article but I do subscribe to the overview. I dont think Oz will break off from ANZUS either. Form your own opinion on this but you need to understand the basics on currency issuance since WWII and how the US$ climbed to the top. Like I said there are economic sanctions going on in Qatar right now which is an economic warfare of sorts, big games are being played.

    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-demise-of-the-us-petrodollar-and-the-new-multipolar-world,10469

    “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are,” said the Republican Senator from Nebraska Chuck Hagel to law students of Catholic University last September. “They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.”

  30. “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are,” said the Republican Senator from Nebraska Chuck Hagel to law students of Catholic University last September. “They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.”

    The election of Trump should have ended this illusion once and for all. No US government policy is in anyway about protecting America’s national interest. Suggest this to any random US government official and they will recoil in horror.

  31. Tim, do you take blog requests? Since this idea of a petrodollar comes up so often, maybe a longer post on it is appropriate.

    Good idea!

  32. The petro-dollar myth has been going around for years. Due largely by people’s inability to understand that oil being priced (by agreement & for convenience) in $US in no way implies that oil deals are settled in $US. As Tim says, the traded value of the $US moves against a basket of major currencies, the price of oil (in $US) normally moves in the opposite direction.
    But, then, that all markets require both buyers & sellers is something escapes a surprising number of people, too. Particularly those in favour of wealth taxes.

  33. There is no ‘Petrodollar ‘ system, it’s very simply the fact that USD’s are the most widely accepted and most stable currency that everyone either accept, or transact too.

    The reality is there are actually very few currencies people are prepared to use.

    Exactly. The Oilfield Expat did a good post on Putin not quite understanding this point.

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