December 16th, 2016


When I was an undergrad minoring in Political Science, my area of concentration was the Soviet Union. I remember one conversation in class when Dr. David Williams told us that one of the challenges in negotiations between the United States and the USSR was that Americans played poker, Russians played chess. The analogy seems forced, but Dr. Williams when on to explain that while poker is all about bluffing in the short term, there was no bluffing on the chess board, you couldn’t fake having an extra queen hidden somewhere. In addition, he said, poker is about many small games played serially while chess is a long game with the potential for total victory at the end.

Those two games shape us and the Russians. Vladimir Putin knows how to play chess and, I expect, poker. I doubt that is true about our next president.

Will Drabold, writing in Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin: Global chess match between Russia and the president-elect for Policy.Mic, explains the problem:

NBC News reported Wednesday that Vladimir Putin had a personal hand in directing how information hacked by Russian operatives was leaked to influence the election. The news was the latest in a string of revelations pointing toward Russian interference in the election. This detail comes as President-elect Donald Trump continues to show a friendlier posture toward Putin by refusing to specifically acknowledge the alleged interference — and nominating a certified friend of Russia for secretary of state.

In Politico, two homeland security experts detail how Moscow uses a combination of disinformation, volume, social media attacks and targeted posts online to influence the outcome of elections. The all-of-the-above approach to digital attacks, by thousands of pro-Russian operatives, swarms the internet to convince voters on the margin to follow a purportedly Putin-determined course of action — in this case, electing Trump.

Trump, of course, refuses to even discuss the possibility because even the mention threatens the legitimacy of his election. Trump is a deal maker, he may even be the best deal maker we have, but I don’t know that he’s prepared for playing his game when the table stakes are this high.

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