I should probably be clear from the start that I don’t think there’s a secret contract or even outright verbal agreement somewhere where Russian leaders or agents promise to fuck with the US election in return for specific things. I think it can be viewed much more generally as an effort to have a friendly US administration and keeping the US government a dysfunctional mess on the Russian side, and saying yes please thanks for the assist from Team Trump.
Off the top of my head, what Russia(ns) have actually gotten out of this:
- Sudden change on the Republican platform on Russia and the war in Ukraine.
- Refusal to implement veto-proof sanctions handed down by Congress.
- Removal of Russian companies from sanctions lists.
- A president who refuses to criticise Russia or Putin in any way, whatever they do.
- Weakening of NATO and the US-European relationship.
- A generally weak US government that can’t act effectively on the world stage (Putin has been gloating about this publicly for a while now).
- A general boost towards insane Russia-style “conservatism” in the US.
We don’t have to assume a complete takeover of the US government would be necessary for this being worth it. We also don’t have to assume any super competence on the behalf of meddlers in the election. What was done has been laid out pretty clearly (in the Mueller report and elsewhere) and it’s not terribly clever, nor did anyone seem to care to keep much of it super secret.
We know there was troll-farm activity, propaganda efforts, phishing attacks and dissemination of stolen information during the election. We know Russian operatives have tried to influence conservative politics through organisations like the NRA. We know there were discussions about undercutting or removing sanctions (and we know sanctions were undercut), we know there were attempts to set up secret back channels of communication to avoid US intelligence services, etc.
I’m also puzzled why you think the Trump administration’s subservience and willingness to support or overlook corrupion and bad shit with the likes of the Saudis or Israel in any way mitigates their subservience and willingness to overlook corruption and bad shit with Russia. It’s not like one cancels out the other. Likewise, instances of the administration actually doing something that’s gone against Russian interests don’t cancel out every time Trump has rolled over like a good puppy. The very limited arms sales to Ukraine is the only thing of significance I can think of, and even in that instance it seems to have been used as leverage to halt the investigations into Manafort’s business with Yanukovych.
I do agree with you that the whole frantic circus around this is more than a little ridiculous, but again that would seem to be a feature.
I get this, but we do tend to have higher hopes and aspirations for our governments, and constant expectations of corruption in every aspect of government tends to eventually lead to acceptance (grudgingly or not) of corruption in government. I’d argue that’s a really bad thing and a major reason for why Russia and several other ex-soviet countries have such a hard time getting their shit together.
edit: When it comes to Trump personally, I rather suspect he just really wanted to be besties with Putin, whom he seems to have a massive crush on, and that goddamn hotel in Moscow. So when people came to him and his campaign staff and offered to be all friendly and helpful he wasn’t going to go tell the feds, or say mean things about them publicly. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.