“I will tell you this about Russia, if they had anything on me, it would have come out a long time ago, probably a long time before I ran, because they would have been much better off,” President Trump said on Fox News on Wednesday evening.
Until Sunday, it was an article of faith among American liberals that Donald Trump somehow benefitted from the Russian interference in his election campaign. It is time to re-examine that theory.
There are many issues between the United States and Russia but the most fundamental is how much each spends to defend itself against the other. Trump would always favor more military spending than Hillary. This is much more consequential for Russia. America is such a prosperous country that it is not a choice between guns and butter. We buy both. The Russian economy, not well-diversified and reliant on commodity prices, is far more fragile.
Putin has launched a new arms race, and considers competition with the West to be matter of national pride. It is expensive, and will affect the quality of life for average Russians. Putin has managed to keep a lid on civil unrest, but it always lurks in the background as the only real threat to him and his cronies. It would have been a much cheaper proposition with President Hillary.