As Donald Trump savours his victory Western elites everywhere should take note of one overriding fact: Russophobia loses elections.
There have now been two elections in the West in which Russia bashing and Putin bashing have taken centre stage. These were the Brexit Referendum in Britain and the US Presidential election.
In both elections the Western media and Western governments united in claiming – and did so relentlessly – that Putin and Russia were trying to influence the result in their favour.
They did not say that because they believed it. There was never the slightest evidence it was the case. On both occasions the claim was in fact false.
They said it because they are themselves viscerally Russophobic, and they assume Western electorates are too.
In the case of the US Presidential election this was taken to absurd, indeed ridiculous lengths.
Not only was Donald Trump – one of the most archetypical Americans in existence – called ludicrously “the Siberian candidate”, but US Intelligence even published a disgracefully dishonest statement – which the FBI refused to sign – which actually alleged that the Russians were meddling in the election in order to influence its outcome by providing hacked information to Wikileaks.
As for Donald Trump’s policies towards Russia – which amount to nothing more than the sensible suggestion that it is better to have a civilised dialogue with another country which is a nuclear superpower rather than engage in pointless confrontations with it – they have been distorted and misrepresented to a ludicrous degree.
Even today, after Donald Trump has won, Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian was at it again, making this fantastic comment in an article
“Think of the anxiety this morning in Riga, Vilnius or Tallinn. In the summer, Trump told the New York Times he did not believe in Nato’s core principle: that an attack on one member should be met by a response from all. He seemed to see Nato as a mafia protection racket: unless the little guys paid up, they should be left undefended. Vladimir Putin – Trump’s hero, admired as the very model of a leader by the president-elect of the United States – will not need more of a hint than that. The Russian dictator will surely see his opportunity to invade one or more Baltic states and expand his empire. President Trump would only admire the macho swagger of such a move.”
(bold italics added)
So what happens when this “invasion” doesn’t take place (which it won’t)? Will Jonathan Freedland apologise to Donald Trump (the man who in the article he calls an “unstable bigot, sexual predator and compulsive liar”) and Vladimir Putin (‘the Russian dictator”)? Will he admit he was wrong about them all along? I am not holding my breath…..
Indeed the Putin bashing and Russia bashing during this election have been so relentless that at times it has felt as if Hillary Clinton was actually running against Vladimir Putin rather than Donald Trump.
I always thought this was a bad strategy. Here is what I wrote about it on 30th July 2016
“…….the British Remain campaign’s attempt to use Putin as a scarecrow to frighten British voters into voting Remain was a total failure. There is no evidence it persuaded a single British voter to change their vote.
I predict the same will be true in the US election. Though Britain and the US are very different societies, I think the liberal elite in both countries is making the same mistake: they think non-elite people (ie. the great mass of voters) are as obsessed by Putin as they are.
I doubt this is the case. I think most British and US voters broadly accept the elite’s claims about Putin: that he is corrupt, ruthless and authoritarian. However my impression is that this goes hand in hand with a grudging though cynical respect for him as a strong leader who is not to be messed with.
More to the point I don’t think they think much about him or consider him or Russia dangerous. On the contrary they see jihadi terrorism – which unlike Russia has actually carried out terrorist attacks on US and EU soil – as the enemy, and are open to the idea floated by Putin and Trump of the US and Russia joining forces to fight this common enemy. Issues like Ukraine and the Baltic States by contrast are remote and far away and barely interest them.
As for the idea that such an extremely American figure as Donald Trump – whom US voters have come to know and form a view about over several decades – could possibly be a Russian agent, that is just too farfetched for most voters.
Unless Hillary Clinton is careful she could find that by banging on about Putin she is losing the voters’ attention. This whilst Donald Trump talks about issues voters genuinely care about such as immigration, law and order and jobs.”
(bold italics added)
So it has proved. Indeed rarely has a prediction I have made about an election been so entirely and comprehensively vindicated.
It is probably asking too much to expect of the West’s liberal elite that they will now drop their visceral Russophobia. It is probably too hardwired in them for that.
However the politicians amongst them should at least wake up to the fact that after more than two years of the most stupendous and intense anti-Russia media campaign I can remember (and my memory extends back to the Cold War) electoral campaigns based on it have all failed.
Even before the Brexit referendum the warning signs were already there with the unexpected defeat in the October 2015 parliamentary elections in Canada of Stephen Harper, possibly the most outspokenly Russophobic leader of the pre-1991 West. The results of the Brexit referendum and of the US Presidential election settle the issue.
To be clear the fact that Russophobia loses elections does not reflect the success of Russia’s mythical “information war” or the supposedly sinister power of RT (whose coverage of the US Presidential election has by the way been both faultless and fair). What it reflects is the good sense and tough minded practicality of Western electorates.
Quite simply, for a Western politician who wants to win an election, Russophobia is a passport to nowhere. The sooner they realise this, the better for them and for the world in general.