Media are reporting that President Obama has expelled Russian diplomats and their families over the hacking allegations giving them 72 hours to leave the country. 35 in total have been ordered to leave the U.S. Along with the expulsion of the diplomats the President ordered sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies, the GRU and FSB and other entities. We saw this coming for some time as Obama warned that the U.S. would retaliate though we don’t know if more of a response is coming in an unofficial capacity. It would have to fall to Trump to carry that out (unlikely).
Still, the President was right to take action and a public one at that, at least as an initial step. It serves as a means of embarrassing the Russian leadership further and if the Russians try and reply with bravado saying they don’t care about the expulsions, it will further drive Russia into isolation because it sends the message they don’t care about diplomacy with the world’s superpower. Of course, Putin has little option other than to feign outrage at this point while hoping a Trump presidency means a reboot. Originally this blog entry stated there was little Putin could do and that’s exactly what he ended up doing on Dec. 30 – nothing. What could he do? If he retaliated it would have put his “pal” Trump in an awkward spot. Trump put himself in an awkward spot, calling Putin’s inaction as a “smart move” and praising him. Really? Praising the Russian leader after allegations of hacking a U.S. election? No praise for your security services Trump that discovered it? The GOP need to hold Trump to stay the course in whatever way they can. Obama has just made it more difficult for Trump to change course on Russia without looking foolish. Speaking of foolish, this was Trump’s statement Wednesday night about the White House taking action against Russia:
“I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind the security we need.”
No Donald, “in the age of computer” we do know what’s going on and that’s what intelligence agencies in the U.S. have been trying to tell you. This kind of reply about a foreign power possibly interfering in a U.S. election speaks volumes, not only for the ridiculousness of it (“we have speed” in the “age of computer?”), but because he seems to be trying, still, not to come down hard on Russia. Why? Did he know? Or does he have business we don’t know about? The Putin as being “smart” for not retaliating only adds to the suggestions that Trump knew about the hacking or has a much closer relationship (or is planning one if you also take his political appointments into account) than we have previously imagined. Guess we will find out soon enough. In the meantime folks, watch yourselves out there in the “age of computer.”