Remember that old movie, “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming!”? Well, may I — your constituent – ask you to turn your attention away from all the current partisan bickering and realize that the Russians are already here and infiltrating who-knows-how-many aspects of American life?
We know the Russians dispatched gangs of internet trolls to post fake news stories to influence our last presidential election. But what if Russian hackers are also working on ways to shut off America’s power grid or launch our nuclear missiles? What if they are funding organized crime to try to destabilize major American cities or figuring out how ways to disrupt our food supply?
Could you and your colleagues, please, knock off the distracting, never-ending partisan political fights (about everything!) and focus on the Russian threat to this country?
Thanks for reading this,
A concerned voter
That’s the letter I’d plan to send to each of my representatives in the U.S. Congress.
It seems crystal clear that Russian megalomaniac Vladimir Putin has had – and continues to operate– a massive internet-based campaign aimed at destabilizing the United States. He would like to see our democracy paralyzed and then eliminated. As American news reaches the Kremlin Putin surely giggles over his nightly vodka as he watches the political paralysis his cyber meddling has created.
Only the foolish would believe Putin is done trying to manipulate the American mindset. Yet the focus on Capitol Hill remains firmly entrenched in other issues punctuated by partisan preening, posturing and finger pointing – all with the apparent goal of getting face time on the evening news.
This is no way to tend to the nation’s business. I wish there were laws with teeth in them criminalizing political malingering and dereliction of duty.
Make no mistake, our nation remains under attack by the Russians, not in the traditional military sense but, rather, on the nearly invisible cyber war battlefield. Just because our presidential election has passed that doesn’t mean Putin and his band of internet vultures plan to pack it in and find other ways to spend their time. Under Putin’s guidance they are certainly focused on developing new ways to mess with America.
We are told the FBI is investigating. And there are two secret congressional investigations underway – one in the Senate, one in the House – also tasked with discovering and dissecting Russian activities surrounding our 2016 presidential election. How far did they go to try to manipulate U.S. public opinion? What did they actually accomplish? And, perhaps most important, were any Americans colluding with the Russians to sway election results? Rumors of treasonous scheming have been rampant, obviously coming from operatives inside both major political parties.
Odd how these political propagandists don’t realize who the enemy is. The real adversaries aren’t democrats or republicans they are Kremlinites under the direction of a sleight-of-hand despot who desperately needs to distract his people from their own sad plight under his leadership.
A new study of the 2016 election by researchers at Stanford and New York University concluded that, “Fake news didn’t actually sway the election.” While recognizing that social media did play a part in disseminating fake news the study found it was not a dominant source of news. “Even the most widely circulated fake news stories were seen only by a relatively small number of Americans … (probably) rabid partisans,” the study reported.
So, if the study is right and Russian attempts did not have a measurable effect on the presidential election what is Washington really investigating?
You bet I’m interested to know if anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the outcome of the election. I’m also interested to learn if Hillary Clinton’s camp engaged in a post-election dirty tricks campaign against President Trump to make her a more attractive candidate should she take another crack at the presidency in a couple years. And whether Obama loyalists have a plot to discredit Trump as he undoes so much of the former president’s legacy.
But, now what is most important is our national security. It is clear that battles, henceforth, will not require armed soldiers marching through streets. Future wars may very well begin and end with shadowy characters sitting at keyboards launching subversive tactics to demoralize and defeat their foes.
Let’s hope the outcome of all these investigations isn’t simply an exercise in political drama that ends with no definitive answers. And let’s pray our leaders aren’t so mired in the past that they myopically focus only on high-priced weaponry systems as a means to insure the nation’s security.
We need to strengthen our own army of keyboard warriors who can root out internet attacks before they do damage and, ideally, paralyze Putin’s cyber war effort. We would all be safer for it.