Confused by the Russian vote-rigging uproar in the US? Unable to comprehend how the mightiest technological nation on earth supposedly got outwitted by a second-rate rival, such that the Kremlin electronically ushered Donald Trump into the presidency? (Now there’s a stable comrade you can rely on.) We’re here to help you figure it all out because the eagerly anticipated Mueller Report, whenever publicly released, is likely to confuse you even more.

Here is what you need to believe in order to accept the proposition that Vladimir Putin rigged the US election, which is an article of utmost faith in the echo chamber of American mass media and especially in the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. The Russiagate outcry also has been taken up by Tories in Britain and Christian Democrats in Germany, wherever conservative forces did not perform electorally as well as they felt entitled to, which actually ought to be a big clue.

First, you have to believe that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign was perfectly crafted to win office, even though her glum staffers were distressed by her self-sabotaging aversion to single-payer national health care, restoring taxes on the rich, free public education through university, and any policy measures to halt an accelerating upward shift of wealth that sees the top one per cent possessing more than the lower 90 per cent combined. The nation had just undergone 9 million house foreclosures while bailing out the culprit banks that concocted the crisis. Clinton offered empty words to ordinary and justifiably angry Americans, for whom she barely could conceal her contempt. The only explanation for her electoral failure acceptable within the elite Democratic National Committee (DNC), which WikiLeaks confirmed was run by devout Hillary acolytes, was that outsiders hijacked the election.

You have to believe that the vast US intelligence apparatus, with a budget larger than Russia’s entire military expenditure was outwitted by technically dazzling Russkis, despite the fact that Edward Snowden among others, revealed that US intelligence operatives can hack any system they please, either leaving no trace or planting a false trail to incriminate others. You have to believe that US cyberwarfare experts, who cannot be trusted not to monitor their spouses’ browser habits, are utterly helpless to guard US communication systems from snoops, other than themselves.

You have to believe that Russian hackers, and they alone, cracked highly vulnerable DNC emails and relayed highly embarrassing proof that Hillary’s supporters there strived to undermine Bernie Sanders, the candidate whom polls indicated had the best chance to defeat Trump. You also have to believe that the DNC did not deliberately resort to blaming the messenger, WikiLeaks, in order to divert attention from the proof it offered of their emphatic favouritism for Clinton in the primaries. You have to believe that the Hillary wing of the Party, now lining up for Joe Biden, is not diverting blame from their own intrinsic shortcomings onto Russia.

You have to believe that US intelligence agencies, and not hand-picked elements, confirmed on 6 January 2017 that Russian hackers were responsible for the leaks and other meddling, although many critics point out that the agencies offered no hard evidence and did not investigate the charges, merely rubber stamping what the DNC told them. You have to believe that Hillary Clinton otherwise was en route to triumph. You have to believe that mere Facebook posts robotically induced a tiny decisive minority to vote against Hillary, whose record as a champion of working people is spotless. You must believe that the alleged tens of thousands of dollars in Facebook ads was the key element in a presidential campaign costing at least 2 and a half billion dollars. You assiduously have to avoid asking why Hillary was in a hair’s breadth contest in the last days with that billionaire buffoon.

You have to believe that former Trump fixer Paul Manafort lied when denying Russian collusion during the election, despite giving details on Trump’s shady financial dealings, which you must believe is not what the Mueller inquiry really wanted anyway. You have to believe that intelligence spooks whose job it is to tell lies “whenever necessary” are telling the truth now. You must believe that a US security state that overthrew dozens of governments, and is trying to oust the democratic Venezuelan regime today, is unable to fend off similar attempts within its own boundaries. You have to believe that ultraconservatives (like Roger Stone, who denies it) allied with WikiLeaks, an organization they fear and abhor, in order to aid Trump.

You have to believe that wily Vladimir Putin reckoned that any venture to sway the US election would go unnoticed and, even if not, that electing a noxious egomaniac would be advantageous to the Russians, who, as historian Stephen F. Cohen, points out, tend to favour stability in rivals, even if conservative ones, because conservative is exactly what Russian leaders themselves are. You have to believe that the slightest hint of Russian meddling to sway US election would not result in explosive antagonism and a new Cold War, which it has.

You have to believe that these Russiagate charges are not the collective concoction of US conservatives in both parties to tamp down any leftist ambitions within their organizations and in the country at large, and to point fingers elsewhere, even at the risk of nuclear war with Russia, a small risk if it helps them retain power. If you believe, or pretend to believe, all that, then keep chasing your Russian boogieman.

(The writers are well-known commentators and the authors of No Clean Hands, Parables of Permanent War and many other books)