The Agony of Defeat

And just like that, the collusion narrative imploded.

Which doesn’t mean there is a political winner in the United States. Far from it.

What emerges from the indictment produced by Mueller et. al, in addition to some truly laugh-out-loud funny capers pulled on dimwitted, blinded-by-rage Trump rally stooges, is the picture of a magnificently coordinated, extremely well-financed, and brilliantly conducted psy-op campaign whose principle aim was to discredit the results of an election, sow instability, and thus to destabilize the nation and weaken its ability to act cohesively.


And the results are clear. Mission accomplished. With honors and distinction.

Truly, it was an almost flawless performance. At the cost of a few million rubles, a handful of shell companies, a hundred or so agents, and an array of phony Twitter and Facebook accounts, Russian intelligence agents accomplished by way of social media zombies, blinkered political partisans, and the manipulation of Americans’ ideological hatred for each other, what no military power on earth could ever do in a toe-to-toe slugfest.

Enter Sun Tzu. Writing 2000 years ago, the great Chinese sage reminded his audience that all war is based on deception, and that “Those who were called skillful leaders of old knew how to drive a wedge between the enemy’s front and rear…(and) when the enemy’s men were united, they managed to keep them in disorder.”

By allying oneself to an enemy’s weaknesses, Sun Tzu wrote, one can subdue the enemy without fighting at all.

Bravo, Vlad.

The Russians, and Uncle Vova in particular, understand our weaknesses all too well. Among those weaknesses are a gargantuan capacity for self-absorption, and extraordinary levels of arrogance. By brazenly, and apparently quite easily, aligning themselves with those weaknesses, the Russians produced a kind of digital hallucination, convincing many in the end that they had installed a Manchurian Candidate in the oval office.


The Russian success has also shown that they aren’t the least bit concerned about potential consequences, which says something about American power projection.

“If your opponent is temperamental,” Sun Tzu wrote, “seek to irritate him.”

It would be difficult to locate a more temperamental bunch than those legions of Americans now so encamped in their binary—and mostly antique—political platforms, and so manipulated by social-media algorithms that they routinely stumble into parked cars and telephone poles, or topple into water fountains while rubbing their smartphones.

That isn’t happening because people are paying close attention to their surroundings.

The Russian success is admirable, and probably unparalleled in its ease. The irritation of the last election cycle has now bloomed into a full blown rash, driving a gigantic wedge into our domestic and international politics, paralyzing congress, turning otherwise respectable news organizations into mud-slinging political shills, and even pitting neighbor against neighbor in endless rounds of meme-think and juvenile one-upsmanship.

It would be hard to argue, at this point, that the United States today is anything other than severely diminished as a great power on the world stage, and internally diseased.


That was going to be true no matter who got elected, and what the Russians accomplished was a brilliant exercise in adding fuel to an already overheated domestic fire.

A careful parsing of Rosenstein’s language leaves room for a spring collusion surprise, but that looks increasingly unlikely, and it has been clear for some time that Mueller’s investigation was heading in a different direction from the Republicans’ greatest fear, and the Democrats’ greatest hope.

Mueller’s indictment of some artful Russian spies won’t stop the other investigations either, but they are hamstrung by credibility problems throughout and it’s a safe bet they aren’t going anywhere. Particularly now that so many in Washington D.C. have egg on their face, not least among them every single person at the FBI.

And it won’t stop the grassy-knoll conspiracy junkies who have been backsliding around, post-indictment, with suggestions that somehow—and this is a classic desperation mindset—the utter absence of prosecutable evidence of collusion is still prosecutable evidence of collusion.

And once any conspiracy theory reaches that critical point—when no evidence is the evidence—it’s time to call in the dogs and put out the fire.

Partisan hacks, of the deeply steeped variety, won’t be able to see, and will certainly never admit, that the brilliance of the Russian operation was in its duping of virtually everyone. Each will continue to insist the other side was more duped than they were and, in a sordid twist, will insist that either winning, or losing, the election proves them right.


But neither claim is true, and the sad reality is that everybody was duped equally, even spectacularly, and while the Russian agents are at home dancing the kazachok, many Americans are left standing around with severe political hangovers and no real idea who it was that drove them home.

What’s clear from the latest indictment is that in some manner, to some degree, it was Russia that drove us home. We were drunk on partisanship, on self-absorption, and we were arrogant. And we got beaten. Badly. By experts.

And what makes that pain even more acute, in a grown up world, is that we have only ourselves to blame.

  1. Great analysis thanks.

    … and the sad part is, as you said, no one will ever admit that they got duped. So they will be duped again! Clearly, no one manipulated them. They always knew they weren’t the droids they were looking for.

    I am happy that my cynicism and disgust of politics has kept me safe. Yet again. Whew!!



    1. The endless search for the middle road continues.



  2. Since this administration began, I’ve been nose-deep in The Art of War again. This one just seems so apropo, and perhaps serves as a warning.
    “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.”
    ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War



    1. Uncle Vova has had his copy at the ready too…



  3. Your gift of discernment on all things political exceeds that of the “experts.” <



    1. I throw a lot of darts at the board. Sometimes I get lucky. Thanks, Ricks



  4. We are still talking about the Russians?



  5. Via Saddle Tramp on the Highways of America:
    Yes Craig. Agreed. Don’t jump to any [collusions] too quickly would be one of the lessons it seems. Experts? Experts of intent, yes. As opposed to let’s say those Watergate bungling burglars whereas a 12 year old street smart kid could have done better. In this case, as you in your usual wry writing style point out so well, we were ripe for the taking. It was a collusion by collision one might say. I have not been quite circumspect enough with following all of this to come to any real conclusions [or collusions] that will unify national rage and a correction.
    We are our own worst enemy and were given a push in the wrong direction [for us] and the right direction for them. A pure and simple opportunistic move if anything at all. Let’s hope that the patience does not wane and wither while a still hot case is in cold pursuit. Prosecutable to any significant degree? Prosecutable by shame only maybe. Self removed? Maybe if all of the Kings men and women abandon ship and nobody else signs on that could force a replacement. A game of attrition maybe, but then it’s back to a new boss same as the old boss scenario again. So many [the populous] are still bunkered down and without viable alternatives at the ready, have no where to turn. It also seems we are all devils in this game with all of it’s machinations and classic Byzantine intrigue at play. Maybe this is an unwitting wake-up call, that is if it can be made advantageous by an awareness of our national foolhardiness. Duped by the Russians was child’s play. All they did was harness the lunacy already in full force and point it in their own opportunistic direction. I hope it unwittingly back fires on them. If it is a case of outright bought and paid for puppetry or even a case of the useful idiot, it will be quite interesting to see how that all plays out. In this case a return to that vanishing middle might be our only hope, but I am afraid that we will still remain victims of our own success with everybody unwilling to give up their own sacred ground for others to pass through as on common ground. Few will volunteer. Wanna build a wall for our essential national security you say. Start drafting 18 year olds for it’s construction (put a brick in the wall) and make it a military project. After all, they are the ones who will have to maintain it in it’s long illustrious career. See how far that gets.
    Put someone in a forced unified effort and you find out how worthy the cause really is.
    In the meantime back at the ranch they just keep juggling porcupines and hedgehogs for our inane entertainment.
    And yes, maybe it is time to call in the dogs and piss on the fire…



  6. P.S.
    Just picked up a copy of the January / February 2018 issue of RUSSIAN LIFE MAGAZINE just to see how the other half lives….

    A quote from inside by President Vladimir Putin addressing the Sobor of Bishops, the highest decision-making body of the Russian Orthodox Church, the first time in history any Russian leader has visited the assembly:

    “The state, while respecting the independence and sovereignty of the Church, is counting on continued cooperation in such important spheres as education and healthcare, preserving our cultural and historical heritage, supporting families and teaching young people, and battling against social ills.”

    — Vlad (Sun Tzu) Putin

    My comment:
    One can (as elsewhere) come to their own [con] clusions.



    1. Uncle Vova has my admiration. He is harnessing the strengths of his nation–and the Orthodox Church is one of those–to achieve what he believes to be strategic goals in favor of his people. Which, ultimately, is his job. How he got it or how he maintains it is Russian business. What’s clear is that he is doing it, and certainly taking his share along the way.

      That he is also a murderer and spy is somewhat beside the point. Our moral indignation doesn’t change the facts on the ground.

      He is our adversary, and for whatever reason we don’t seem to be taking him altogether seriously enough. Together with a strong China, they are formidable–I would say dominating–adversaries, and serious nations who have not lost sight of essential national notions such as the balance of power.

      We are no longer a serious nation. We are a television show drowning in commodities and meme-think and seem to have no real appreciation for how nature works–even in the realm of mankind. Which boils down to this: the slow and the weak get eaten alive.

      Whether we like that or not, there it is.

      thanks for being here, Tramp, your comments are much appreciated.



  7. Craig,
    Sorry but I just cannot leave this dangling with all due respect:

    […] and seem to have no real appreciation for how nature works–even in the realm of mankind. Which boils down to this: the slow and the weak get eaten alive.

    I understand where you are coming from, but wish to add to it. In the animal world (not including us) I give full exemption to the law of the jungle. Our crimes then are all the more heinous. Just watching the BBC and a story on the hope for a young girl with Elephantiasis and the research being done to help her. That is the society I want to protect as you no doubt do yourself. I do not encourage sloth or apathy for improvement. It is the innocent ones my heart cries out for. That defines us differently I would hope. I have been around the block myself. I just thought I would put it in context. Appreciate your reply as well.



  8. Craig…
    Perhaps (or perhaps not) it may be worth mentioning the kismet factor in my above comment. I assure you it happened just as I described. It was the juxtaposition of your post and having seen this on the BBC NEWS HOUR that motivates my comment. I was overwhelmed seeing this young girl (and I saw her beauty and strength) and that of those helping her and was honestly overwhelmed. This is why I can never be faithless. I was struck by your summation and felt compelled to respond. It was contextual for both of us. Just wanted to explain. If I post something it is as I say. You may post this at your discretion, but it is really for you. Thanks Craig…




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