IS THE TRUMP TEAM PREPARING FOR A STRATEGIC ALLIANCE WITH PUTIN?

15 Jan

The American and even the global political landscape have been thrown into chaos with the election of Trump and many explanations have been put forward how he succeeded in becoming the most powerful man on Earth. While all kinds of socio-economic reasons have been mentioned, a lot of emphasis has been put on techniques to sway the vote. Gerrymandering, designed to favor Republican candidates, together with computer hacking and propaganda supported by the Russians as well as voter suppression of minority voters were all in play.

TRUMP WON THE ELECTIONS VIA THE SOCIAL MEDIA

But a fourth element has hardly gotten the attention in the media it deserved and that was the last-minute application of social media marketing techniques based on automated psychological (or psycho-) profiling, used to sway voters sitting on the fence with messages styled to their personality. Nothing new, but the level of refinement and automation of the process were new and have likely been responsible for the additional Republican votes in critical states that were required to get Trump a victory in the US Electoral College.

An important lead came from a German article in the Swiss magazine DAS on 3 December 2016, titled:

“I have only shown that the bomb exists.”

It was an interview with psychologist Michal Kosinski, who had developed a method for analyzing human beings in great detail through their behavior on Facebook. In the article Kosinski clarified the methodology that helped Donald Trump win. I need to explain it a bit in detail for you to understand why the information from the article is very important. The basis is that psycho-profiling done on “mouse click and Facebook Like” behavior could be processed into an algorithm to customize a message to selected individuals to ‘take the bait’.  “Take the bait” means that the targeted user would either click a specific link supplied by the marketers or political persuaders, or else the user would at least consider making a slight change in their behavior (e.g., voting for a specific candidate instead of staying home). It stated that with just a few hundred Facebook Likes, savvy marketers had enough information to know someone better than their life partner. Kosinski claimed that up to a 1400% improvement on the number of clicks on a message could be achieved by applying this technique to tailor the message to someone’s psychological profile, and all this fully automated.  This form of psychological analysis based on an assessment of a user’s Facebook behavior is an extraordinarily clever, even extreme marketing method. If you want to test the basics of the method, you can go to a website from the Cambridge university https://applymagicsauce.com/demo.html and see what this method makes of psychological profile based on your facebook behavior. (This is just a test site based on a few Likes and while it does show the output and method, the samples are too small to give an accurate outcome.)

It turns out that on the company that developed the psycho-profiling into a highly effective commercial marketing tool, based on user Facebook selections, is called Cambridge Analytica.  One of Cambridge Analytica’s Board members is Steve Bannon, the former publisher of the ultra-right online newspaper “Breitbart News” and now the appointed Donald Trump’s chief strategist. The first time the psycho-profiling political marketing technique was applied in national politics was months before, in the UK’s Brexit campaign. Cambridge Analytica likely helped the Vote Out campaign win an unexpected victory with the application of the same techniques, throwing Europe into disarray.

When Trump won, all the pundits and pollsters saw their predictions go up in smoke as the results of the presidential election came in and it was clear that Trump had won, in many cases by razor thin local majorities in states like Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It turns out that through these techniques, directed at a small portion of strategically chosen undecided voters in swing states, they could lead to winning results. Persuaded by these messages, many undecided voters were swayed and through the addition of their votes, these states could to go to Trump and with that, the election. The technique was used in the same way with the Brexit campaign months earlier and since then its full force applied to the Americans. At a presentation by Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica gave a presentation at the Grand Hyatt in New York on 19 September 2016, where he stated confidently: ‘We have a psychogram of all adult US citizens – 220 million people’.  It was this information that gave Trump confidence about his winning chances, despite the polls. This is why he could confidently say in the weeks leading up to election day: ‘the elections are rigged – unless I win’, in spite of what the media proclaimed was a 3-0 win (though without a clear knock-out) for Clinton in the presidential debates. While everybody was admiring the organization of Clinton’s campaign and how they outspent Trump’s activities, Trump was confident about his win, exactly because of what his campaign manager Bannon explained to him about the capacities of Cambridge Analytica.

THE ALLIANCE WITH RIGHT-WING EUROPE

Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader and winner of the Vote Out Brexit campaign showed up very quickly after Trump’s win and Trump suggested to London that he would make a great ambassador to the US under Trump. Meanwhile Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, a niece of the leader of the French Front National tweeted   “I answer yes to the invitation of Stephen Bannon, CEO of @realDonaldTrump presidential campaign, to work together.” Cambridge Analytics will do work for the French presidential elections in April 2017 and there have been indications of contacts between the right-wing parties in Switzerland, Germany and Italy and Cambridge Analytica for campaign assistance. (1)

WHO IS REALLY BEHIND CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICS?

On 22 August, 2016, Ann Marlowe wrote an article titled: ‘’Will Donald Trump’s Data-Analytics Company Allow Russia to Access Research on U.S. Citizens?’’ (2). In this article, Marlowe researches a dizzying web of relations around the veiled ownership of the company, which she then traces back to U.K. property mogul Vincent Tchenguiz, who himself has connections to Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, a Putin protégé, who the US has indicted for bribery and tried to get extradited. So, the elections have also been targeted, possibly decisively, through an instrument at least partially in the hands of people linked to the Kremlin.

WHAT DOES THIS ADD UP TO?

While the media are only talking of the sway the Russians hold over Trump and their interference in the elections at the behest of Trump, it is quite possible that we are actually seeing a much larger mutually sought alliance of right-wing parties with the Kremlin emerging. But what is it, they are after?

Since Trump clearly does not have a coherent world vision beyond a smiling look in the dressing table mirror, the input must be traced back to several strains of power in the people around Trump. While the ‘’free for all capitalism’’ candidates are well represented in Trump’s team (Tillerson, DeVos, Sprite, Pruitt, Zinke, Perry, Mnuchin), the Christian, western culture ideological guys clearly play a crucial role as well: Bannon, Pence, Sessions, Mattis and the Christian Orthodox on the team, Priebus. Mike Flynn is one of the most outspoken members of Trump’s cabinet regarding the ‘’danger of Islam’’. Bannon, who turned Breitbart, (the most influential alt-right website in the US run by ideologically driven journalists that attracts a lot of extreme right-wing Americans to its website) into a demagoguery tool for Trump and who got Cambridge Analytics to help win the presidency, is a central figure in the ideological make-up of the new government.

Can we read in all this information as circumstantial evidence of a geopolitical line-up between the Trump team and the Kremlin? How does Trump want to ‘’Make America Great Again’’? One possible explanation comes from what the author of ‘’The Race for What’s Left’’ (3) Michael Kale describes as ‘’The pursuit of untapped oil and mineral reserves in remote and hazardous locations is part of a larger, more significant phenomenon: a concerted drive by governments and resource firms to gain control over whatever remains of the world’s raw materials base. Government and corporate officials recognize that existing reserves are being depleted at a terrifying pace and will be largely exhausted in the not-too-distant future. The only way for countries to ensure an adequate future supply of these materials, and thereby keep their economies humming, is to acquire new, undeveloped reservoirs in those few locations that have not already been completely drained. This has produced a global drive to find and exploit the world’s final resource reserves— a race for what’s left.’’ At the same time, mass robotization and Fourth Industrial Revolution are shaping up to put hundreds of millions of people out of work within a decade. In that sense, Trump is right that he could bring production home again, just not with the promised jobs attached to it.  The predictions of Limits to Growth are clearly visible on the horizon now. In a world confronting (or attempting to deny in some cases) overpopulation, resource exhaustion and climate change, maybe the Trump-Putin team are starting to reshape the global world order in a final separation of the haves and the have-nots and secure what they will need to keep their countries going. It is a situation where stark choices need to be made. Maybe they think the time has come for a Russian-US alliance to keep those strong countries safe and wealthy while large parts of the world will start to disintegrate. Key words in this alliance are: oil, resources, dominance of western (white) culture and Christianity, a crusade against Islam, propaganda and forcing China into a retreat. Democracy, compassion, a free press and human rights are not key to this emerging world view. The world seems to be preparing for an epic and disastrous battle and there is little time left to avert the worst of consequences. Pay attention to the upcoming French elections in April, because if the Front National wins in France, the EU will splinter and no counterweight against a Kremlin-Washington axis will come from that continent anymore.

1: For the complete article in the reputed Swiss ‘’Das Magazin’’: https://www.dasmagazin.ch/2016/12/03/ich-habe-nur-gezeigt-dass-es-die-bombe-gibt/

2: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/211152/trump-data-analytics-russian-access

3: Klare, Michael. The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources (Kindle Locations 209-215). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

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