The Russians, Trump, and the Deep State (Rising)

People talk of the Deep State, a kind of shorthand to refer to the entrenched parts of the government, particularly inside the military, intelligence, and security communities, who don’t come and go with election cycles. The information they hold, and their longevity, allows them to significantly influence, perhaps control, the big picture decisions that change the way America works on a global scale. Who the enemies are, where the power needs to be applied, which wars will start and what governments should fall.

One of the features of the Deep State is that it prefers to work behind the scenes, in the shadows if you like. The big name politicians are out front, smiling for the cameras, and the lesser pols have to tend to the day-to-day stuff of government. The Deep State doesn’t trouble itself with regulating agriculture or deciding which infrastructure bill to fund. That is in large part why there will never be a full-on coup; why would the Deep State want to take on responsibility for the Department of Transportation?

When the Deep State does accidentally expose itself, it is often by accident, such as in the panic right after 9/11 when the president was sitting around reading a children’s book while Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld were calling the shots. Same for in the 1980s when a set of cock-ups exposed U.S. arms sales to Iran to pay for US proxy forces in Central America while with US support the Saudis paid for jihadists to fight in Afghanistan, laying the early groundwork for what would become the War on Terror.

Forget for a moment what you think of their actions, but pay attention: both our domestic intelligence service (the FBI) and our overseas intelligence service (the CIA) played significant roles in our election. Still not sure what the Deep State is? It’s that.

Forget what you “agree” with, and focus on what happened. In July the FBI exonerated Hillary Clinton of any wrongdoing in connection with her private email server. Yep, there was highly classified material, but that didn’t matter. Nope, the Russians and/or everybody else never hacked into her server, and nobody on her staff ever clicked Podesta-like on a phishing link. Nothing to see here. And then in October the FBI swung again and said well maybe there was something to see, buried conveniently on known-idiot Anthony Weiner’s laptop already in their possession. Funny about that. Anybody seen once marked-to-go places Huma Abedin lately?

As for the CIA, they managed to leak like Grandpa’s adult diapers throughout the campaign that Trump and Putin… something. Trump owes money to Russia. Trump’s computers communicate with Russia. Trump’s advisors work for Russia. Trump wants to build hotels in Russia. When none of that really stuck, it turned out the hacks into the DNC servers were done by Russians – in cahoots with arch-villian Julian Assange – ordered personally by Putin to elect Trump. All because Trump was Putin’s stooge, as the argument completed its circle.

If Trump could not be defeated, he would be delegitimized. Overnight the left/liberals/progressives/whatever turned into red-blooded supporters of the CIA and 21st century Cold Warriors, with anyone from that one asshole on Facebook you argue with to Pulitzer-prize winning journalists who disagree, labeled as Russian stooges, spies, fellow travelers and the like.

The result? A new Cold War, sold to the American people over the course of about a month.

When the Soviet Union collapsed and the old Cold War wrapped up, there was left a gaping hole for the Deep State. They nearly literally had nothing to do. Budgets were being cut, power in Washington defused. 9/11 was a helpful and timely accident; the War on Terror would provide the much-needed Cause to blow up spending and reconstruct status and power.

And the War on Terror started off with great promise for the Deep State, dovetailing nicely with long-sought Conservative projects such as remaking the Middle East and controlling the Persian Gulf. The future was wide open, Afghanistan a stupid but necessary prelude to the real first act in Iraq.

But despite the power of the Deep State, mistakes are made and nature finds a way. The War on Terror became a global clusterf*ck. Failures accumulated: Iraq and Afghanistan, of course. Libya, Syria, the messy Arab Spring, relations with Pakistan. You can’t really trust any of those folks to get it, we want a war that doesn’t end but looks good. Beheadings on TV simply stir people up at home and there is not much we can do about them.

Now, to be fair to the War on Terror, it had a good run. It normalized domestic spying and the omnipresence of security everywhere in America, and set up a nice bureaucracy to manage all that in Homeland Security. It got Americans used to see armed military, and militarized cops, on the streets.

But what was needed was a global struggle that made us look like we were winning without it ever ending.

If only there was some sort of model for that…

The Russians. Every American fear rolled into one guy, Putin, who might as well come from a Hollywood super-villian workshop. Unlike messy terrorists, who wanted, whatever, Sharia or a Caliphate, damn foreign words, Russia wanted old-fashioned territory, stuff on maps like Crimea and the Ukraine that mattered not a whit to America, but could be played domestically as Struggles for Freedom (C). The Russkies had troops with actual uniforms, and all the old propaganda materials were laying around. The Russians also knew how to play ball, blasting back through their RT and Sputnik channels nobody really watches but are right there to label as threats to our democracy. The Russian version of the Deep State knows a good deal when they see one, too.

Clinton was the perfect figurehead, already warm friends with one of the last desiccated Cold Warriors, Henry Kissinger, and already more than predisposed to cast the Russians into their role. Trump, well, he didn’t seem to get it, and, when it was becoming clearer he might win, he needed to be made to get it. The Deep State appeared to have some internal dissension; that publicly popped up when it appeared the FBI and CIA were not sure which horse to back in the latter days of the campaign and how to do it. Hey, mistakes were made, sorry, even the Deep State is kinda human.

Well, it was messy and dragged on past the actual election, but everything is settled now. The intelligence report that just came out made things clear: Russia is the bad guy, Trump now the cuck of the Deep State, things are back to “normal.” Funding will pour into the military, intelligence, and security communities. Since the war will be a cold one, the US can declare periodic victories just like in the old days over things like the Olympics, chess matches, dissidents saved, spy stuff We Can’t Tell You About but will leak out anyway. We can have proxy wars and skirmishes that seem like huge deals but can usually be managed in scope. Any troublemakers at home, in or out of the White House, can be labeled Russian sympathizers on CNN and Maddow and dealt away quickly.

Overall, the 1950s weren’t that bad now were they?

BONUS: One currently outstanding question is whether the manipulations of the Deep State in our election became public by accident, such as after 9/11, or whether someone (us? Trump? Putin?) was meant to see them for some purpose. Hang on to that question.

MORE BONUS: Yes, yes, this is all conspiracy nonsense. The moon landings were faked and 9/11 was an inside job by the Mossad. There is no Deep State, or Trump really is a Russian Manchurian candidate, or the spiders from Mars are actually pulling the strings or I am reading those weird Geocities-like websites for preppers and soon will be posting cheesy animated GIFs of flags waving, whatever. I’m also a Russian, or Edward Snowden, or being paid by someone to write this. Whatever you need to tell yourself, and you should never believe what I say and say how sad it is that this is what I’ve come too. I’ll kill a puppy in your honor. Thanks!

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

  • CuriousNC

    For the bonus question, I think they assume the public is blind to the deep state. The goal is to castrate Trump and to avoid introspection regarding Hillary’s loss. If Putin doesn’t know that they wish Russia harm by now then he is a moron.

    I guess for us its an opportunity to watch and document the actions of the deep state and perhaps learn more about its organization.

    • Don

      You could always just read, The Modern Spy Masters by Stephen Grey to learn quite a bit. Or any of the other books on modern intelligence techniques in the domestic scene. Or something on how modern spying is actually done. You won’t find much James Bond stuff but you will find lots on email hacking and detailed info on how all countries prefer it as a method that’s safe for agents.

  • Don

    The deep state manipulated the election? How so? The situation didn’t call for manipulation when there was one candidate who is a corporate psychopath who positively should not have become president. And in any case, it’s supposed to be assumed that the deep state worked for Hillary but she didn’t win. It doesn’t sound very consistent but rather more like paranoia, especially when Peter spends so much time on the emails.

    But there’s little doubt that most Americans will love to hear conspiracy theories involving the deep state! They start to feel like James Bond’s brother or something!

    In the case of Trump being advised by the intelligence community, there were no tricks being played by the ‘deep state’. They simply told it straight up like it was. Russia hacked but they declined to say whether it made a difference. No conspiracy to influence there folks. Nothing to see here. Move along now.

    p.s. Oh, and fwiw, I don’t think the deep state was being revealed at all when Bush2 sat like an idiot reading about the pet goat. conspiracy theories and paranoia, and easy to see.

    luv from Canada.

  • Bianca

    I will enjoy watching the show. They have discounted Trump many times before. it is, as he well knows — BECAUSE THEY UNDERESTIMATE HIM. And those that do that, never bother to read what actually became part of the campaign, and then part of the strategy of reforming the governance and the direction of foreign policy. Deep state, like one of their more globally known knights, George Soros, is being trashed in Trump-supporting universe. Since he was the bane of the existence of many a country ever since the nineties — it is amazingly refreshing to see the vigor with which he is being dismantled. Yes, he is not the deep state, but is their very important external machinery. Once discredited, chased out of many countries — deep state is losing one of its key globalist influencers. And with him, tens of thousands of globally spread NGOs, university branches, activists, centers, institutes — are endangered. This is a rip in the Matrix, that they will have hard time repairing. And as they do, they may have to come to the surface. Just like Kissinger now trying to get himself, and his Moscow company, in the middle of the communication flow between Russia and Trump administration. I did not hear complaints about his Russia business. But then, he is one of the elders of the deep state, followed by Albright. Hillary’s connections are still not quite clear — she has kept them well under wraps. But deep state does not trust just anybody, they way they trusted her. Obama was merely a vessel, for Clinton administration in the shadow, lame duck from day one.
    As it is now pretty obvious, the way they are trying to order Trump around, that these people mean business. So, we will have to see who pops up unexpectedly, as Trump will be Trump. He has made his calculations on how to rebuild economy, and the calculation very much depends on being able to deal with a bunch of problems, with the help and cash of Russia and Russia’s military. Otherwise, without calming the global mess, it will be tough for Trump to have the money to do key things. Restructure economy, withdraw from global policing, deal with conflicts quickly, and leave cops, but not necessarily US, rebuilt military, take care of veterans, reform education, and reform immigration. If one adds to that some important side objectives, like create conditions for the revival of small farming, and small business — he needs all the money he can get.
    And somehow I do not see him bending over backwards to worry about Latvia. Russia is not interested in Latvia — in the least, but US money and weapons are pouring into Europe. He will send them some crayons, and suggest some safe places. And it is really not funny. US has things to do, global issues to discuss with real global powers — some semblance of understanding reached. And to be dragged into notorious European intrigues — seriously.

    • Don

      Seriously Bianca, it’s quite interesting how fast Trump caved to the intelligence network. It’s just that, if he didn’t intend to stand strong on his position of Russia not hacking, then he shouldn’t have started it and caused himself the embarrassment of folding his hand.

      This is a very good indication of Trump’s lack of balls, so to speak. He must have come out of that meeting with his knees knocking and a dry mouth.

      In a way that’s a good thing, from the POV of him leading the charge for more wars. He doesn’t have the knowledge of how to go about it and now we know he doesn’t have the balls. He’s the wizard hiding behind the curtain in his emerald city.

      But on the negative side, others who know how to pull strings and start wars are going to be leading Trump around by the nose. That’s very dangerous and in my opinion even more dangerous than Bush2 and his neocons.

      As for the deep state Bianca, you said so much in that post that makes me think you don’t even understand what the deep state really is! Suffice to say, Kissinger, Clinton, and Albright do not the deep state make.

      • john g

        “I think he accepts the findings,” incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus told Fox News Sunday.

        Oh yeah, keep that fake news going, Don.

        If you say it 17 times in an authoritative tone, it becomes truth.

        Just like alchemy.

  • john g

    Indeed, well said Peter. And some will never get it, despite the bonus points.

  • George Kafantaris

    Putin is meddling here and elsewhere to mask the serious problems of the Russian economy back home. How bad is it, anyway?
    “Russia’s industrial base is floundering, having difficulty producing goods, other than arms, that can compete in the global marketplace.
    In other words, Russia has an economy these days that more resembles a colony than an imperial power.
    Putin seems preoccupied with restoring Russia to what he sees as its rightful role as a global force, but his reluctance to carry out structural reforms at home is throttling the economy and having damaging social repercussions. He is pushing a growing number of Russians to the brink, or over the edge, of the poverty line.” — Justin Burke

    • Don

      Russia is taking some lumps George but I would suggest it’s no where near as bad as you suggest. So how about considering this:

      The US has run out of sanctions to bring against Russia. Putin is tremendously popular and the sanctions that are primarily meant to destroy that popularity are not having that effect. Russia has adopted a policy of diversifying trade relations away from the West and that’s been going on for nearly as long as the sanctions regime has been placed on Russia.

      So the success of the sanctions against Russia is all a matter of to what degree it’s working. And the biggest factor to start to consider now is just how successful will Russia be in diversifying trade toward the Brics countries?

      It would all be worth an in depth discussion but I doubt there is enough intelligence on this board to even start it. This board is still mostly about US domestic politics of blaming the ‘other’ party and placeing false hope in Trump. We’ll see?

      luv from Canada.

    • Harriet Logan

      Those so called ‘structural forms’ you advocate for were put into place already by Yeltsin. He almost totally destroyed the Russian economy by doing it in the way you and the US corporate government want. Putin is actually repairing much of the damage.

  • Harriet Logan

    Trump’s position is extremely weak, since he is opposed by both the Democratic and Republican Parties top Establishment figures, though he has tried to placate the RP group of his oppositionists by simply adding many of the worst of them into his newly forming Administration. On top of that, he didn’t even win the popular vote!

    His strength though, is that he has now become somehow the Peacenik in all this mess. Doing this has totally exposed the Obama and Clinton’s as the war mongers they truly are, as they nonstop Russian bait the poor guy. He truly is the lesser of the many known Establishment evils lined up against him. Who would ever have foreseen such a thing happening? What a scary America we live in!