MarketWatch is a subsidiary of Dow Jones, and a property of News Corp. It operates a financial information website that provides business news, analysis, and stock market data. It is neither a fake news site nor a particularly ideological one (certainly not left-wing–News Corp also owns Fox News), so I was surprised to read a column headlined “Top 10 Signs that American President is a Russian Agent.”
The “signs” the column identified were: (1) U.S. Intelligence has concluded that the Kremlin helped put him in power; (2) the new President sides with the Kremlin against the CIA; (3) He receives vast sums of money from mysterious Russians (Including an astonishing $95 million that Trump personally received from a Russian billionaire during the 2008 collapse); (4) His election made a lot of people in Moscow rich–their stock market is up 20% since the U.S. election; (5) He wants to end Russia’s global isolation and terminate U.S. and international sanctions against Russia; (6) He has surrounded himself with known Russian allies and sympathizers; (7) He repeatedly refuses to criticize the Kremlin; (8) One of his first steps as President-elect was to drive a wedge between the U.S. and China, Russia’s chief Asian rival; (9) He has announced policies that would undermine NATO; and (10) He once had his own brand of vodka.
Okay, that last one is a stretch.
The column gives “chapter and verse” for each of these signs, so those interested in more detail can click through.
My reaction to this seemingly outlandish theory is not altogether dismissive. Two points are worth consideration: first, whether Trump is simply being his clueless self or knowingly acting on behalf of the Kremlin–being blackmailed by the Russian oligarchs who financed several of his projects after American banks stopped doing business with him, perhaps, or otherwise being bribed to do so–is irrelevant. If he were a knowing Russian agent, how would his behavior differ?
Second, MarketWatch’s list of ten signs is missing a huge one. Russia’s economy is heavily dependent upon oil, and Putin’s stranglehold on the Russian people is heavily dependent upon the economy. The Kremlin is thus threatened by U.S. efforts to address climate change–efforts that diminish reliance upon and use of fossil fuels. Trump’s cabinet nominees are virtually all anti-science climate change denialists. His energy transition team has already signaled a witch hunt against government scientists working to protect the environment.
A military friend recently told me that Russia’s conventional armed forces are substandard. Evidently, according to the CIA and the New York Times, they are much better at cyberwarfare. (Slate also has a good overview of the history and tactics of the Russian hackers.)
Wouldn’t it be ironic if Russia subdued us without having to deploy a soldier or fire a shot?