The Russians are coming

Is Russian President Vladimir Putin satisfied? According to one line of analysis, despite the victory of his favored candidate, he hasn’t really gotten what he wanted from his country’s unprecedented effort to manipulate the American presidential election in 2016. There haven’t been sweeping changes in American policy toward Russia, and specific irritants like the Magnitsky Act remain in place. And after all, the election itself wasn’t the goal; it’s what happens after that matters.

That view isn’t wrong in its particulars, but it provides too narrow a focus on what Putin may want and what helps him. And it doesn’t explain why Russia isn’t done screwing around with American elections.

Which they most certainly aren’t. On Tuesday, the leaders of the American intelligence community testified to Congress that Russia has already set its sights on this November’s midterm elections. “We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen, and other means of influence to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States,” said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. “There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

And why wouldn’t they? Just think what they accomplished in 2016. For a laughably small investment — a few hundred thousand dollars here and there on social media ads, employing some (probably low-paid) hackers — not only did they help President Trump get elected, but they achieved what is surely Putin’s more fundamental goal: undermining American democracy.

Part of that was accomplished just through the election of Trump. He diminishes public faith in democratic institutions and processes. He increases anti-American sentiment around the globe. He weakens Western alliances. And by …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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