It can happen here.

Author:Conniff, Ruth
Position:COMMENT - The election of president Donald Trump
 
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Many Americans were shocked to learn about the CIA report that Russia meddled in the U.S. election in order to help elect Donald Trump.

Trump himself dismissed the CIAs conclusion as "ridiculous," saying "it is impossible to know" who hacked the email accounts of both major parties, releasing information that damaged the Democrats on the eve of the election. Trump has characterized the entire U.S. intelligence establishment as tainted, partisan, and generally incompetent.

But as Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman observed dryly in a New York Times opinion piece, "Dirty tricks against a democracy? Id trust CIA expertise on that."

Dorfman lived through the CIA-sponsored coup in Chile, which replaced a democratically elected president with a brutal military dictatorship. Now a professor of literature at Duke University, he notes the irony of the current situation, but says he takes no pleasure in watching Americans confront the spectacle of their democracy subjected to foreign interference.

This is not the Cold War, when American political leaders of both parties justified covert operations around the globe based on fears of an amorphous communist threat to the "American way of life."

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The threat we now face is that, after a close election, American voters have handed our country over to a President who has expressed loud contempt for the institutions of our democracy, who admires the authoritarian Russian President Vladimir Putin, and who appears to view U.S. foreign policy primarily as a tool to further his own business interests.

The danger is not that America will be taken over by a foreign power, but that under Trump we will be transformed into our own version of Putins Russia, a kleptocracy whose leaders have no regard for the common good or the planet.

There is plenty for Putin to like about the new administration. Trump has repeatedly praised Putin, and has nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State. Tillerson received a medal of friendship from Russia and has been frustrated by U.S. sanctions that block Exxon's plans to drill for Russian oil.

In the old battle between the public interest and private greed, as Robert M. La Follette, the founder of this magazine, described it, private greed is winning, personified by President Donald Trump.

Trump doesn't even pretend to care about the Constitution or the rule of law. He has proposed rounding up people based on their religion, torturing detainees...

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