I was on vacation recently and thus unable to report on the biggest non-Trump news of the past week, that being Macron’s victory over Le Pen in the French elections. Partisans of “the liberal order,” or as I like to call it “the liberal order that feels denying outright fascists access to political power is an anathema,” were celebrating while thousands of mentally-stunted shut-ins with Pepe frog avatars were wailing and insisting that France would now become a new Islamic Caliphate within a couple years. You know, the same thing such people have been saying for the past twenty years or so, even though the French Muslim population now is only about 7.5 percent of the total.
Of course there’s another angle to this story, which is that Russia turned its election meddling machine up to eleven this time in hopes of getting Le Pen elected. Whereas the US election meddling was mostly about trolling Hillary, the candidate they believed would certainly win, it seems the unexpected success of that campaign led the Kremlin to believe that it really could determine the outcome of foreign elections. Rather than deny connections to Le Pen and her party, Putin actually met personally with Le Pen and the two had a photo op together. Apparently neither party felt this would be seen as negative by French voters. In fact I’d bet they thought just the opposite- what better way to prove how anti-establishment you are by meeting publicly with Vladimir Putin?
Of course this all failed. What is more, the brazen attacks on Macron which included hacks, Wikileaks, and allegations that he was having a homosexual affair, will no doubt only increase his hostility toward Putin. The problem with election meddling like this is that it needs to work. If not, you’re in trouble. The trolling of Hillary worked because she lost (even if that wasn’t their original intention), and now the only repercussions against the Kremlin apart from some more targeted sanctions exist mainly on Twitter.
I think this is just another example of the Kremlin deluding itself into thinking it runs a superpower on par with the Soviet Union. I’ve long said that the “New Cold War” will be much like Putin- short and sad. This is because Moscow is behaving as though it is the Soviet Union when it has none of the advantages and far more weaknesses. By punching above its weight on several occasions, certain people at the top took those victories as proof that “Russia is back.” Now we’re starting to see how short term these gains really are.
I don’t think the Kremlin will cease its attempts at election meddling any time soon, as we will no doubt see in Germany and Italy in the near future. Still, each time they fail, or even when they succeed, more and more countries will start to take countermeasures against Russian interference. Even Russia-leaning politicians have good reason to avoid getting to close to Moscow. Russia will become increasingly isolated as the world begins to see it for what it is- not a defender against US or Western hegemony but rather an opportunistic kleptocratic dictatorship with no respect for anyone.