|Marie Le Pen and Vladimir Putin.|
As the French prepare to vote Sunday in a presidential election marked by acrimonious debate about Russian influence in Europe, there’s little doubt about which candidate Moscow backs.
Last month, the combative populist Marine Le Pen of the right-wing National Front flew to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin. It was a display of longtime mutual admiration. The frontrunner in a field of 11 candidates, Le Pen shrugs off allegations of corruption and human rights abuses against Putin, calling him a tough and effective leader. Her hard-line views on immigration, Islam and the European Union win praise from Putin and enthusiastic coverage from Russian media outlets. Her campaign has been propelled by a loan of more than $9 million from a Russian bank in 2014, according to Western officials and media reports.
Meanwhile, aides to Emmanuel Macron, the center-left former economy minister who is Le Pen’s top rival, have accused Russia of hitting his campaign with cyberattacks and fake news reports about his personal life. Although French officials say the computer disruptions were minor and there is no conclusive proof of links to the Russian state, President François Hollande and other leaders have warned about the risk of interference comparable to hacking operations that targeted the U.S. elections. The French government, aided by briefings from U.S. agencies about their experience last year, has beefed up its cyber defenses.
“The Russians have had an aggressive espionage presence here for a long time,” a senior French intelligence official said. “The Russians now have more spies, more clandestine operations, in France than they did in the Cold War.”
This is really the lesson that the world needs to take from the election of Donald Trump, and that is that the Russians wish to disrupt their democracy in such as way as to not only select an incompetent leader but to also show that their political process is deeply flawed.
In short Russia wishes to completely undermine western democracy.
(Let's not forget the UK officials are also accusing the Russians of interfering in the Brexit vote.)
One would think that at this point rational people would immediately reject ANY candidate that was complimentary toward Vladimir Putin, or who had actually traveled to meet him, but sadly there are literally millions of irrational people driven by deeper feelings of racism and nationalism.
These are people who use their fear and insecurities to choose a candidate, and not logic nor intelligence.
If Putin gets his way Trump may soon be joined by a number of deeply flawed, and easily manipulated, world leaders who will either refuse, or be unable, to stand in the Russian leader's way as he accumulates even more riches and positions himself as a key power in the world.
And that, in no way, bodes well for the future of America or Western Democracy.