Russians failed miserably. Yet, they succeeded spectacularly

Without any doubt, Russians interfered in US 2016 elections. Their goals were:
1. Defeat Hillary Clinton
2. Promote discord and disunity in American democracy
What were their motives?
Vladmir Putin has several reasons to hate US and meddle in its elections. We may not agree with his reasoning but he was motivated to meddle in our elections. The foremost reason is US role in breaking up the Soviet Union. Remember the powerful message of President Reagan “Bring that wall down!” that Russian leader at that time Gorbachav heeded to. Also, Putin was not happy that contrary to the promises made by Reagan’s Secretary of State Baker, US and European nations were expanding the NATO to include some of the former Soviet territories. He was also not pleased by the opposition to his annexation of former Soviet territory Crimea. In addition, he was angered by US claims that his party election was fraudulent and that US encouraged protests at his election rallies. He wanted to show that US is divided with no unity and organized a team to sow discord in US democracy.
There were also reasons, that we may not agree with, why Putin wanted Hillary Clinton to lose. After he came to power and when his loyalists won parliamentary elections, Clinton as secretary of state claimed that the elections were fraudulent and undemocratic. When Putin was seeking reelection, Clinton, as Secretary of State, encouraged public protests at his election rallies. Finally, Clinton was instrumental in getting the so called “Magintsky act” passed that froze the assets of several Russian businesses and their principals. Russians claim this was an unjust action by the US for a matter that is their internal business and nothing to do with International affairs. It is Putin’s belief that Clinton did this as a favor to major donors of the Democratic party whose Russian business interests were being represented by the attorney Magintsky before his death in a Soviet jail. For sure, Putin wanted anyone but Clinton to win.
How did they fail?
It has been established by US intelligence that a team of Russian military officials operating out of Moscow hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and those of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. The hacked DNC emails did confirm Bernie Sanders campaign team’s belief that DNC and its Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz were biased against Sanders and favoring Clinton. But the release of the leaked emails just before Democratic party convention was too late for Sanders. Clinton already secured the nomination and the only damage they caused was the resignation of Wasserman Schultz. If the emails were released two or three months earlier, when Sanders was gaining momentum, it could have been a different story. Also, the release of Podesta emails a short time before General Election barely caused a ripple. American voters were more focused on the missing 30,000 emails from Clinton personal server. Obviously, Russians did not have them and it appears their late efforts to retrieve them from Clinton related servers did not succeed. This may be because Clinton team performed a super job in destroying them.
Thirteen Russians working out of an office in St. Petersburg, Russia placed Facebook and other social media ads in addition to engaging in other disruptive activity between 2014 and 2016 with the primary motive of undermining US democracy. The ads placed by Russians dealt with topics like “Black lives matter”, “How the lands of Native Americans and Mexicans were stolen”, “What a hero SF quarterback Colin Kaepernick is for kneeling down during National Anthems”. It is clear very few Americans, including me, came across these ads and even fewer took any action as a result of these silly ads. Russians failed to create any significant discord in our democracy or disunity among us as a result of these ads before the election.
How did they succeed?
As stated earlier, American voters as well as all of the media were focused on the missing 30000 Clinton emails for a long time. Though they never saw daylight, the actions of James Comey, the then FBY Director played a big role in the election. First of all, FBI did not move fast enough to secure them after US Congress demanded them. Then, Comey publicly announced conclusion of FBI investigation after changing key words in the report from “Gross Negligence” to “Extremely Careless”. Gross negligence would have resulted in an indictment and forced Clinton to withdraw from the nomination. Both his public announcement and his decision not to refer the investigation to a prosecutor were unusual. Also, when US Attorney’s office in Manhattan discovered that the lap top of Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton’s personal assistant, contained thousands of emails to or from Clinton, Comey did not take steps to investigate them for a whole month. All these actions, even if they were unintentional or based on misjudgment, would have made Comey look like he was favoring Clinton. Obviously, this was weighing on Comey when he suddenly announced few weeks before the election, when everyone thought Clinton was a sure shot to win, that FBI found some of Clinton emails and was going to investigate them. It appears that he wanted to protect himself from any accusations after Clinton victory that he favored her. Though he quickly reported the findings that the emails were not from the missing emails, the damage was done. American voters who had forgotten about the emails suddenly were reminded about Clinton’s major weakness. This may have very well changed the minds of some voters and made a difference in the election. Hillary Clinton herself blamed James Comey for her defeat. Without any doubt, Comey did not want his actions to cause her defeat. A good analogy is that of a star Soccer defensive player kicks the ball hard towards his own goal keeper that ends up in the goal resulting in a “self-goal”. In any case, Russians get no credit for Clinton’s loss, though that is what they wanted. All the credit should go to James Comey if the late announcement on emails made any difference in the election.
A more serious and tragic situation is the fact that we are a divided nation. There is constant criticism of President Trump and scrutiny of his personal affairs from years past. If we turn on any mainstream cable channel, we constantly hear the words collusion and impeachment even though no real evidence of collusion has surfaced yet. The so-called political pundits who frequent news channels as well as the hosts keep citing the five guilty pleas even though none of them has anything to do with collusion. The President is peppered with inappropriate questions about collusion and his personal affairs even in the presence of foreign leaders that is a total disgrace in my opinion. We constantly second guess his decisions and policies even though the voters elected him for exactly those policies. His opponents in Congress and Senate regularly poison the air waves with unsubstantiated charges. It has gotten so bad that even at home we have lost peace, with one spouse supporting Trump and the other opposing him on the issue of collusion. It is a very sad state of affairs. But Russians, with their silly ads in Social Media, get no credit for it. All the credit should go to main stream media, political pundits, and Trump’s political opponents in high elected offices

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