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Donald Trump is within striking distance of winning the U.S. presidential election on November 8, 2016.
Polls have tightened.
For recent poll results, see realclearpolitics.com. For the latest results, click here.
FBI Director James B. Comey intervened forcefully in the presidential election process on Friday, October 28, announcing he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, casting a dark cloud of suspicion over her candidacy. The timing was such as to leave her no opportunity to rebut the insinuation that she was guilty of serious misconduct. The effect over the next 8 days of this development is not known, and unknowable.
The polls have varying degres of methodological rigor, and all depend on models of who will vote. The range of results among them is far greater than the respective margins of error involved.
As occurred in the United Kingdom, the actual election results could vary widely from the polls’ predictions. Overconfidence by democrats resulting from the media chorus that Hillary Clinton is far ahead in the polls, and confusion over the meaning of the FBI reopening its investigation of Clinton’s e-mails could lead democratic voters to stay home, while pro-Trump voters could come out of the woodwork in large numbers, to give him a narrow victory.
The momentum of the race may have been changed by FBI Director Comey’s intervention in the race, and the truth is no one really knows what will happen on November 8.
If voters were analytical and rational and held democratic values, it is hard to understand how the race could be as close as it is today.
Meanwhile, there is mounting evidence that, wittingly or unwittingly, Donald Trump is acting as a stooge of the Russians.
(1) Anne Applebaum. “Why is Trump suddenly talking about World War III?” Washington Post, October 28, 2016.
(W)e have a Republican presidential nominee who regularly repeats propaganda lines lifted directly from Russian state media. Donald Trump has declared that Hillary Clinton and Obama “founded ISIS,” a statement that comes directly from Russia’s Sputnik news agency. He spouted another debunked conspiracy theory — “the Google search engine is suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton” — soon after Sputnik resurrected it.
Now Trump is repeating Kiselyov’s threat, too. “You’re going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton,” he said this week. Just like Kiselyov, he has also noted that Russia has nukes and — perhaps if Clinton is elected — will use them: “Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk.”
(2) Matt Payton, “Donald Trump uses ‘Russian propaganda’ to attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign; ‘The Republican nominee for president is standing on a stage reciting the manufactured story as truth,’ says Kurt Eichenwald,” The Independent, October 12, 2016.
A victory on November 8 for Donald Trump would be an immense coup for Vladimir Putin. It would signify a Russian triumph likely to undermine the solidarity of the European Union and the unity of NATO.
Trump has been friendly to Putin in his public pronouncements.
Until August, one of his principal advisors was Paul Manafort, a former advisor to Viktor Yanukovich, the former president of the Ukraine who fled to Russia when his government collapsed in the face of street protests in February, 2014.
Trump has refused to release his tax returns, which might well reveal his ties to Russian figures and organizations, if they exist.
If Trump is elected, the likely foreign policy consequences vis-a-vis Russia include the following:
1) a collapse of the coordinated EU and US economic sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its invasion and annexation of the Crimea, and its infiltration and invasion of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the Ukraine. The latter involved the overt movement of Russian military forces and equipment on an accelerated timetable beginning in August, 2014;
2) an undermining of the stiff resolve and unity of NATO, which has been strengthening its defenses and deployments in countries bordering on Russia;
3) a short-circuiting of the stronger response to Russia Hillary Clinton promises to bring to the foreign policy of the U.S., in Aleppo and Syria and within NATO; and
4) a decreased likelihood that the U.S. would stand up to nuclear threats from Russia.
Donald Trump has provided no evidence he would be able to take firm action against the Russians in a nuclear show-down. The Russians have increasingly resorted to nuclear threats to achieve their objectives in foreign policy, from the Ukraine to Syria.
In the 1932 elections in Germany, no one really imagined that Adolf Hitler might become Chancellor.
In politics, unexpected things happen.
The Trenchant Observer