The new post-truth reality and the death of democracy

• 1.3k
What the Russians have done and are doing to us is no joke, and to be sure, they're doing it harder in other parts of the world. Perhaps it started, in the modern era, with Stalin. At issue is the lie, backed where possible by force. I don't see much news from Eastern Europe or the Baltic States, but I'd guess there is relentless pressure from the Russians on those countries to corrupt the narrative in any way possible, so that truth and news become essentially impossible.

What is the best defense - that at the same time is not a cure worse than than the disease, as the Patriot Act is?

It's not an easy fix. One thing that occurs to me is that any lie that is published in any form be liable to civil action for substantial penalties, because it is a lie. For example, General Motors sells me a car claiming it is a great car. Maybe it isn't, and the deficiencies can be documented. I would have the option of suing GM for a lot of money, for lying. And if I show they lied, I win.

Or any claim of a nutritional or medical benefit from any consumable. If they lie, you sue, they lose, you win. A few cases like these and folks would quickly become re-invested in truth. Simply, we as a community would have access to some control over liars and lies.

Lies between nations is more difficult. Perhaps some war.... If anyone thinks some kind of military action against lies and liars is absurd, consider that we're already at war. If you don't think so, it's only because you and yours haven't yet become casualties. Think about what the next fifty years will bring, what the world will be like.
• 6.2k
There is some Russophobia in this thread. I don't see the point of disliking Russia. Rather we should dislike the current KGB infested leadership of Russia. I lived in Poland for a good while, and the Russophobia is very strong is post-communist states like Poland or the Balkan/Baltic states. So, whatever propaganda is being pushed by Russia, it's not on the airwaves in those states (Belarus being the exception given it's rosy relationship with Russia). In other words, they are well guarded already against Russia.

If you sit down and think about it, Russia only stands to lose from its current disinformation campaign. People can only be fooled so many times.

Instead of creating a ministry of truth, I think the money would be better spent on education and critical thinking. That's what worked during the '50s in the States, so why not try it again?
• 6.8k
education and critical thinking. That's what worked during the '50s in the States

What piece of education and critical thinking worked so well in the 1950s? That there was a homosexual communist behind every 10th desk in the State Department? That the Soviets had a huge stockpile of atomic bombs? That blacks were not allowed to live in the suburbs? That Leave It To Beaver reflected the American reality? And so on and so forth.

Sure; what the Russians (previously the Soviets) are doing to us is disruptive, but they are probably not doing anything we are not trying to do to them, at least in terms of disruption. You and I have friends. Nations do not have friends; they have interests. It is an interest of the US to protect our infrastructure from cyber attack -- something we don't seem to be doing very well at. Thieves and national operatives are ripping off data left and right. Interfering with our elections? Did the dimwits in Florida need any help screwing up their election mechanics? If our voting system isn't secure, whose fault is that--theirs or ours?

People lie. Corporations lie. Holy Mother Church lies. Other countries lie. The first step in defense is to recognize that lies are part of statecraft, as well as part of business, religion, and ordinary life as we know it. Nobody lies all the time, so one should look for the advantageous lie when something doesn't smell right.

When you set foot on a car lot (new car, used car) just remember: it isn't in the interest of General Motors, Toyota, or VW to be perfectly frank about the nature of their products. Caveat emptor!
• 5.2k
I'm fine with parsing some things as contractual fraud, and I think there should be prohibitions against contractual fraud.

Contractual fraud doesn't obtain when we're talking about subjective assessments/judgment calls, though. So "this is a great car" wouldn't count.

Contractual fraud has to be based on objective, factual matters. For example, if you were contractually promised a car with a radio that can access Sirius XM and you don't receive that. Contractual fraud can obtain via ommissions, too. If you buy food containing eggs, but it makes no mention of this on the ingredient list, for example.

I don't at all agree with speech restrictions per se, including general prohibitions against lying.
• 4.7k
There is some Russophobia in this thread.

If the attitude within the Russian leadership is that we are "the enemy", then "Russophobia" is justified.
• 774
If you sit down and think about it, Russia only stands to lose from its current disinformation campaign. People can only be fooled so many times.
I think that Putin plays his game brilliantly. Thanks to his earlier life as a career spy, who rose to be the director of the FSB. And he has a clear objective.

You see what Russia wants is that the multinational organizations like the EU and NATO to dissolve or severely weaken. This weakening makes Russia to have more say especially if Western countries have to negotiate with it on a bilateral basis. How to weaken these multinational organizations and institutions is simply to get the people not to trust their own states and especially multinational organizations like the EU.

Yet one has to remember that the whole disinformation or active measures campaign isn't based on totally artificial or made up reasons. Americans are wary and disappointed in their political establishment and the Europeans are somewhat dissappointed to the EU. These things would happen even without Russia. But as they exist, it's easy to nurture that disenchantment and enforce these kinds of current undertows with a disinformation campaign. And that's why the campaigns have been so successfull.
• 1.3k
I don't at all agree with speech restrictions per se, including general prohibitions against lying.

I'm thinking that's because you operate with a personal axiom that you can expect the truth, and what departs from the truth is a departure from your norm. But what if your life, or important aspects of it, are essentially lies? We already accept that some lies can be punished; I wonder if we're rapidly approaching - and if some people already live in - a world of lies. GM, for example, might lie about a car they make, in substantive ways, to make money. That's easy. Imagine entities or people - and we have such as President of the United States - who lie not for specific gain, but to destroy the possibility of the truth?

I argue that one possibility for defending against big lies is force. In a civil society, through law. In an uncivil society, which would be the result of the destruction of truth, maybe uncivil force. What would you suggest?
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Sure; what the Russians (previously the Soviets) are doing to us is disruptive...,
I'm disappointed, BC. I know that you both reason and think (and feel) better than this.
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What he said. Amen.
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But, I must ask. What has the Russian active measures campaign resulted in, which goes all the way back to the creation of the KGB and now FSB? That Trump got elected? America is experiencing an economic boom from fracking, and other economic factors.

In my view, the real threat is from China, if we're going to jump on the scaremongering bandwagon. The amount of IP theft and their mercantilist based economy is a force to be reckoned with. Trump is a sideshow.
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Nothing the Russians made possible is separate from interested parties in the U.S.A.. The same goes for leverage exerted by China. What Trump conceals is exactly who the benefactors of such arrangements may be. And he does it while pretending to be opposed to them.
Pretty slick side show.
• 6.9k
Good journalism is the major ingredient. Plus a public willingness to learn. Has the same effect on bullshit as bleach does on bacteria.
• 774
But, I must ask. What has the Russian active measures campaign resulted in, which goes all the way back to the creation of the KGB and now FSB? That Trump got elected?
That the Russians have leverage over the US President and the president is compromised like this is the most outstanding intelligence coup of all time.

Historically in my view no spy scandal does top this. Even the stealing of nuclear secrets (the Klaus Fuchs case) isn't as big, as it's obvious that good enough physicists can create a nuclear weapon even without stolen information.

That the US president doubts Americas own alliance, goes against his own intelligence services and sides with Vladimir Putin (even if later tries to change his remarks) and many time states Russian views is simply unbelievable. Naturally Trump's own administration, that got immediately rid of the russophiles in the Trump team, tries to show that everything is normal: that the US policies haven't changed, but a lot of damage has already been done. Biggest damage is that people understand that the US is an untrustworthy ally, where corruption is so rampant that even an presidential candidate and later president in Office can be influence by a competitor nation. And that his supporters are totally happy with this.
• 6.2k
That the Russians have leverage over the US President and the president is compromised like this is the most outstanding intelligence coup of all time.ssu

The degree to which this has happened is still a known unknown. We don't know how much Trump is corrupted by Russia. I say we wait and refrain from judgements as to how influenced he is.
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Lies between nations is more difficult. Perhaps some war....

Oh sure. There's no problem that a little hot war won't fix. It's been working out great up to now, so why not do it more often?

We all like to moan about how awful our leaders are, but when you read something like this, you realize that it could've been a lot worse...
• 774
The degree to which this has happened is still a known unknown.
Unknown? Really?

Perhaps it might be even worse, but that it has happened is quite clear already. It was perhaps unclear in 2016, when Trump's appraisal of Putin and Russia was a bit odd (among other odd things with Trump). I personally noticed the odd thing in an article that was questioning why Trump had put Carter Page into his foreign policy advisor team as that was totally off from the ordinary GOP thinking. Now we have a better picture.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has indicted or gotten guilty pleas from 33 people and three companies that we know of — the latest being former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

That group is composed of five former Trump advisers, 26 Russian nationals, three Russian companies, one California man, and one London-based lawyer. Seven of these people (including now all five former Trump aides) have pleaded guilty.

But we don't know. Yeah, sure. But this really is only now about the degree. Otherwise there's a problem with this argument.

You see, to give a proof the argument that Trump furthers Russian agenda you just need to listen to Trump. Has Trump any time something negative or critical about Putin? Never. He has deliberately altered a speach with taking out the pre-written part about the US commitment to NATO at a NATO summits. Trump makes this all very simple to follow. Of course, one has to follow it and not retreat to one's own echo chamber.
• 579
Russophobia

That's a Russian propaganda term, which in practice means any word or action by an outside actor or an opposition figure that rubs the Russian leadership the wrong way. Russophobic is an update of the Soviet-era go-to term Anti-Soviet, which was used just as freely by Soviet leadership and propaganda.

People can only be fooled so many times.

You couldn't be more wrong. Everything we've learned indicates that people can be fooled as long as they are willing to be fooled, which is most of the time.
• 1.8k
Of course, one has to follow it and not retreat to one's own echo chamber.ssu

One thing you and Trump have in common is that if either of you said the sky is blue on a sunny day, I'd be inclined to fact check it.

Beware of bias. Beware of propoganda. Beware of people who are preying on your darker nature. Be aware of what constitutes your darker nature.
• 5.2k
I'm thinking that's because you operate with a personal axiom that you can expect the truth, and what departs from the truth is a departure from your norm.

No, it's not that. I really am a free speech absolutist, where I realize that's going to include lots of expressions of lies, offensive remarks, slander/libel, incitement, etc.

Part of my aim there is to get people to not put such a ridiculous amount of weight on what other people say, especially not when it's purely based on what people say and not based on actions, other sources of knowledge, etc. too. I want people to be skeptical in general.

Although I don't consider myself "just a libertarian" any longer--I'm rather a very idiosyncratic brand of "libertarian socialist," my disposition when it comes to laws that are meant to prohibit things, to control what people can choose to do, etc., is still very much that of a minarchist (close-to-but-not-quite-anarchist) libertarian. You can easily sign me up for removing laws. It's much harder to get me on board for creating more laws..
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One thing you and Trump have in common is that if either of you said the sky is blue on a sunny day, I'd be inclined to fact check it.
Please do check then and correct me if I'm wrong.

Beware of bias. Beware of propoganda. Beware of people who are preying on your darker nature. Be aware of what constitutes your darker nature.
Yet please understand how Russia works and how different it is from other countries.

It's peacetime deterrence would be with any other country seen as preparations for war. Russia understands that it's not as strong as the US and it's allies, but it can improve it's position by smart intelligence operations.

The bias a lot of people in America have is the "we likely do it also"-bias. This is really a bias because many times no serious thought goes into this, just with the assumption that because the US has it's CIA, it has to do totally similar things as the Russians. Well, the fact is that you can see these information warfare operations that the US has done especially in hindsight. The reasoning to the Iraq War is a classic information campaign, pushed by the White House. The help that the State department gave to the Serbian opposition in throwing out Milosevic is another classic move (which the Russians use as the justification for their own operations). Yet do you think that the US would openly start meddling in Russian elections? They think, after Operation Ajax in Iran, assume that there wouldn't be blowback with direct meddling in Russian politics?

And here is the utter brilliance of Putin. Any ordinary politician or even an intelligence chief would think that this kind of operation, direct interference on the elections and also direct assistance to one candidate (with the candidate being totally open to this) would be extremely risky and create a huge blowback as Americans would go ape shit crazy about the thing. But Putin likely understood this wouldn't happen.

You see, the outrage would be seemed as partisan. It's the losing democrats bitching about losing to Trump. The Trump voters simply would see it as a way that to take away their victory. And many Americans will want to sideline the humiliating issue and want to forget it. I actually believe that in a few decades young Americans will be totally ignorant about this whole event. Not only is the whole debacle very humiliating for the Republican party, but actually also for the intelligence services too.

This is because after the Mueller report comes out, the obvious question would be then "How did the system let this to happen"? One of the jobs that the FBI is stated to do is to keep taps on foreing intelligence services and their operations in the US. Why was the FBI asleep on the switch? Hence there isn't this urgency from the intelligence services to look at their own performance. Actually the whole thing would have been over if total idiot Trump wouldn't have fired Comey.

Above all, it's the American voter who did vote for Trump who will not get it. He or she will likely go with the excuse that the whole thing is blown out of proportion by the leftist liberal media. That a Republican presidential candidate conspired with a foreign nation that isn't even an ally won't sink in. The Trump supporter will fail to look at the issue objectively. And that's the brilliance of what Russian intelligence services did.
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The "we likely do it also"-bias", is not a "likely" bias. There are many articles out there that don't have a good use for the "likely" word. They outright admit that the USA meddles in foreign elections and other kinds of domestic politics of foreign states. And, while they don't really hold that American interventionism "has to do totally similar things as the Russians" to be comparable to Russian interventionism* (that's probably your own assumption at work), among their examples of American interventionism you'll find that of the US meddling in Russian elections. You must have missed that, so your criticism, besides of mischaracterising the "we do it too" position, it also ignores facts that this position marshals to make its case and, thus, is one step behind the position it criticises. Also, there's no "brilliance" in Putin's estimation. Anyone who's not totally disconnected from reality can see that events, actions, facts and "scandals", of varying magnitude, are rationalised and/or ignored all the time.

*of course, some people admit that "we do what what they do", but "hey, we're the good guys, we are justified in doing it".
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They outright admit that the USA meddles in foreign elections and other kinds of domestic politics of foreign states.
Great powers do that. They do influence especially smaller countries in their "sphere of influence". For example France meddles a lot in the politics of it's old African colonies. Yet trying to meddle directly in Russian affairs? Or the Chinese? That Russia had an success with this, that Trump retweets Russian disinformation etc, is quite astounding.

among their examples of American interventionism you'll find that of the US meddling in Russian elections.
Please do give an example of this in Russia. I truly would like to know this.

Some may say that the US had Yeltsin as "their man", yet that the US (especially the Clinton administration) pinned hopes that he would make reforms in Russia is quite different to this when you think about it.

Anyone who's not totally disconnected with reality can see that events, actions, facts and "scandals", of varying magnitude, are rationalised and/or ignored all the time.
And how many are disconnected or just uninterested? Those are the focus group of disinformation. In fact, one could argue that the whole objective of active measures such as disinformation is to disconnect and confuse people.
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There is some Russophobia in this thread. — Wallows

If the attitude within the Russian leadership is that we are "the enemy", then "Russophobia" is justified.

Yes, I think it would be. But (in my view), the new 'truth' (i.e. lies) comes out of the West, not Russia. Presidents Bush and Blair introduced the concept of defining truth by constant repetition, although they were just completing what had gone before. Now 'experts' are treated with contempt, and truth is something you create by repeating your own beliefs over and over, ignoring any factual objections that may be offered.
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Great powers do a lot more than influencing with respect to other states. From establishing/removing regimes to establishing the states themselves. Trump retweeting Russian (or any other kind of) disinformation is just Trump being Trump, not a success of the Russians. It's not like there were negotiations and they convinced him to do something he didn't want.

Some may say that the US had Yeltsin as "their man", yet that the US (especially the Clinton administration) pinned hopes that he would make reforms in Russia is quite different to this when you think about it.ssu

The matter is not if Yeltsin would proceed with the reforms USA wanted from him. The matter is whether USA tried to influence the elections (and Russian domestic politics in general), which it did.

Reveal
With 18 memcons and 56 telcons available through the library’s website, it is possible to view directly the key discussions between these two leaders over time, from the early days when Clinton publicly backed Yeltsin in his bloody political standoff with the Russian parliament [...] The battle between Yeltsin and the opposition legislators came to a head on Oct. 3, when Yeltsin ordered his military to shell the parliament building. A bloody clash between the executive and legislative branches was not exactly a sign of a healthy democracy, but Clinton phoned two days later to tell Yeltsin, “I wanted to call you and express my support.” Yeltsin responded, “Now that these events are over, we have no more obstacles to Russia’s democratic elections and our transition to democracy and market economy.”

In his first term, Boris Yeltsin needed Bill Clinton’s support as he battled domestic Russian opposition to his policies. It was not just financial support for Russia that was critical, although that assistance was important, including when Clinton publicly endorsed what became a $10.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund announced in the midst of the 1996 Russian presidential campaign. [...] In the run-up to the first round of the Russian presidential election in June 1996, Yeltsin was growing desperate for financial assistance. He told the U.S. president, “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of$2.5 billion.” Yeltsin explained that he was not seeing results yet from the rescheduling of Russia’s debt by the group of major creditor countries known as the Paris Club, and the bulk of the recently announced IMF loan would not arrive until later in the year. “But the problem,” said Yeltsin, “is I need money to pay pensions and wages.” Clinton assured him, “I’ll check on this with the IMF and some of our friends and see what can be done.” [...] In late December, a few weeks before Clinton was to meet Yeltsin in Moscow after the NATO summit, the two men spoke by phone. The primary purpose was to discuss the recent Russian parliamentary elections and for Clinton to remind Yeltsin of how the United States had delivered on the economic assistance announced at their first meeting, in Vancouver, the previous April.

Russia experts in the U.S. government thought that Yeltsin would lose overwhelmingly, and Clinton’s top Russia adviser, Strobe Talbott, wrote later that the president “followed the referendum as though it were an American election.” [...] Clinton happily threw his support behind the Russian president. In a call the next day, Clinton told Yeltsin, “I’m about to issue a statement in support of your policies. I want you to know that we’re in this with you for the long haul.” Yeltsin closed the call by saying, “I hug you from the bottom of my heart.”

Given the fact that Clinton and the IMF hand-picked Yeltsin who hand-picked the "democrat" Putin, and that Russia defaulted on its debt, I think that we can all agree that USA, once again, chose rightly.
• 774
Given the fact that Clinton and the IMF hand-picked Yeltsin
Handpicked Yeltsin??? Where on Earth do you get that idea?

Did Clinton handpick Yeltsin to climb on a tank in front of the White House (the Russian one in Moscow) and oppose the "August Putsch" and be the leader opposing the Soviet establishment? Because that was basically the reason that Yeltsin, then the head of the Russian Government, got to lead new Russia as the Soviet Union quickly collapsed afterwards. If I remember correctly, it was Yeltsin that abolished the Soviet Union.

The idea that the US picked Yeltsin because the IMF gave a loan is really absurd. Yes, it is support, but how does this mean they picked Yeltsin? Who else would the Americans have picked? The communists? If the other candidate was Zyuganov of the Communist party, how much picking sides there was? Would Clinton pick a candidate riding on nationalism and Soviet nostalgia and the candidate of the party that was (and is) the immediate successor of the Soviet Communist Party (that Yeltsin banned)? Basically Americans were more like forced to back Yeltsin. Especially when you remember that Russia had the Rubble crisis in 1998, one IMF loan here or there doesn't matter so much.

No, the Clinton administration just assumed that everything would be fine and dandy and democratic with Yeltsin and simply hoped for the best. As your article emphasizes, then the Russian leader was then at an extremely weak position, which naturally the Americans thought as the new normal. Yeltsin couldn't even handle the Chechens and everyone was back then writing off the Russian military. And actually the article you refer to notes the obvious thing: Yeltsin had the same policies, starting from opposing NATO enlargement, as Putin has now. But then, American leadership seemed to have thought that Russia is over, it will never recover as obviously oil prices couldn't rise.

In fact those who supported in a crucial way Yeltsin in the elections were the infamous oligarchs of the period. They did the promoting, they supported the media campaign roughly giving over 700 million dollars to Yeltsin's campaign. They likely got their money back until Putin cracked on them.

And finally, how much CIA involvement was there in this support of Yeltsin? There is really a profound difference with giving public and Private support or picking sides in an election (as even the EU sometime does) and an intelligence service operation.
• 774
Trump retweeting Russian (or any other kind of) disinformation is just Trump being Trump, not a success of the Russians. It's not like there were negotiations and they convinced him to do something he didn't want.
Trump surely isn't coerced, he was a willing partner here.

After all, who could know that one of the main missions of the FBI is to keep taps on the actions and operations of foreign intelligence services in the US?
• 6.1k
If the attitude within the Russian leadership is that we are "the enemy", then "Russophobia" is justified.

So, likewise the Russians are justified in Americaphobia? Everyone is justified in their phobias about anyone they even suspect might see them as the enemy? Does it matter who sees whom as the enemy first? Might paranoia not be universal when it comes to international affairs? If it is universal does that make it justifiable?
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Yes, it is support, but how does this mean they picked Yeltsin?ssu

When there are options, and you choose one of these options, you pick it! God forbid, though! The Americans support the communist? That would be preposterous! Fortunately for them, though, they had other options. And they picked Yeltsin. They could also have chosen not to be involved, but picking Zyuganov would have been more likely than not being involved, wouldn't it? I guess they must have been forced to be involved and be involved exactly in the the way they did. Some sort of fatalism, I presume. The tragedy of great power politics, someone would say...

No, the Clinton administration just assumed that everything would be fine and dandy and democratic with Yeltsin and simply hoped for the best. As your article emphasizes, then the Russian leader was then at an extremely weak position, which naturally the Americans thought as the new normal. Yeltsin couldn't even handle the Chechens and everyone was back then writing off the Russian military. And actually the article you refer to notes the obvious thing: Yeltsin had the same policies, starting from opposing NATO enlargement, as Putin has now. But then, American leadership seemed to have thought that Russia is over, it will never recover as obviously oil prices couldn't rise.ssu

No, the Clinton administration did more than assumimg. They actively supported someone who during his first term couldn't keep Russia from turning into a shithole. Someone who was implementing privatisation measures, co-designed by American institutions, by presidential decrees. They probably liked it? Or, maybe, they were genuinely believing that more of the same which made it a shithole would solve the problem. What harm can a little homeopathy do? As to whether Yeltsin had the same policies as Putin, I won't comment.

In fact those who supported in a crucial way Yeltsin in the elections were the infamous oligarchs of the period. They did the promoting, they supported the media campaign roughly giving over 700 million dollars to Yeltsin's campaign. They likely got their money back until Putin cracked on them.ssu

Yeah, that makes it worse for the American support, not better. It took Yeltsin's uncontrollable privatisation and corruption for the oligarchs to emerge. Americans were fine with that, they even contributed to it in its early days through HIID (long before Yeltsin's re-election, even before Clinton assumed office). Sure, they might wanted American oligarchs in their place, but you can't have it all, can you? At least their efforts weren't in vain; some Americans benefited from the policies they helped to design, at the expense of Russian and American citizens.

"Got their money back"? More like they looted the country, but at least now privatisation was real! After all, that was the objective. I'm also amazed to hear that Putin cracked on oligarchs. Until now it hadn't crossed my mind that there can be an authoritarian (or not) capitalist state without oligarchs. Unless you mean that he replaced some of the old fellas with new ones. Who can blame him!

And finally, how much CIA involvement was there in this support of Yeltsin? There is really a profound difference with giving public and Private support or picking sides in an election (as even the EU sometime does) and an intelligence service operation.ssu

I don't operate under your assumption that one "has to do totally similar things as the Russians", to count as meddling in and influencing the elections. USA's political personnel was more overt, simply because it could afford it. That doesn't make it less of an interference. Had Putin given a 10bn loan to Trump to boost his chances for success, the whole world would have imploded (on twitter at least). But I guess that if you do it through the IMF (in exchange for more neo-liberal reforms), it "doesn't matter so much". Had corrupt, state-funded Russian organisations been actively involved in designing American policy, the world would burn (on twitter at least), but, as I said, people are willing to ignore or rationalise anything.
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Oh sure. There's no problem that a little hot war won't fix. It's been working out great up to now, so why not do it more often?
From the OP:
What is the best defense - that at the same time is not a cure worse than than the disease, as the Patriot Act is?
On the assumption you agree there is a serious problem - and maybe you don't - what solutions can you think of?

I agree, war is not good, but sometimes a little is good, and better than a lot. There's an argument to be made that the cause of freedom finds it necessary from time to time. Both Putin and the Chinese are pushing, each in their own way. I'm old enough to really not have to worry too much about it, but I hate to leave the world a worse place that it needs to be, for lack of a little courage.
• 579
Your proposal to go to war over fake news suggests the knee-jerk reaction of a right-wing authoritarian. The priority is not so much to deal with the situation as to punish the transgressor, no matter the cost and the consequences.

As to actually addressing the problem, you have to accept the reality that many problems cannot be successfully resolved - as in Mission Accomplished! - only mitigated or contained at best. In the end you have to choose between the least of evils, and the choices are often far from obvious. Sometimes the least worst option is to do nothing. I am not saying that this is the case here. I don't know what the best approach to deal with information warfare (as Russians themselves like to refer to it) would be.

Education (counter-propaganda) and exposure may help to mitigate and contain, but not every such effort is going to be successful, and some may even be counterproductive. Simply debunking lies can actually have a blowback effect, as some studies suggest.

Political pressure? Sanctions? I have a feeling that these are the kinds of direct responses that are easy to sell to your domestic audience, because they show that you are doing something and being firm. But do they actually work? I am not so sure.

War? Are you fucking nuts?
• 774
When there are options, and you choose one of these options, you pick it!
How many options were there?

I guess they must have been forced to be involved and be involved exactly in the the way they did. Some sort of fatalism, I presume
Yep. Sometimes what people say they thought earlier is actually what they thought earlier.

Yet my point here is that US moves here aren't out of the realm of ordinary influencing. Now with a small Latin American country they, the US, could and have been far more hostile and rough as these countries have been considered the backyard of the US. Yet with a nuclear state like Russia things have to be handled far more delicately, just as with the Yeltsin and the US. To try to influence opinions, views and policies isn't a taboo. After all, the job of all ambassadors is to influence their country of residence.

Yet the Trump-Russia axis is quite different from the ordinary. And for Russia to get involved with US politics in such way is very much "out-of-the-box" moves.

(And anyway, after the Soviet Union collapsed there indeed was a brief window when Russians were totally open to new ideas and genuinely open to the West. During that brief time you would have to had larger than life politicians to understand the exceptionality of the situation and do a dramatic reallignment either by truly accepting Russia into the West and into NATO or dissolve NATO. But that didn't happen. We had mediocre ordinary politicians that didn't use the opportunity. And with the war in Kosovo, that sealed Russian thinking to what it is today.)

Had Putin given a 10bn loan to Trump to boost his chances for success, the whole world would have imploded
Sure, it would.

Because that IMF loan went to the Russian state, not to the personal pockets of one individual reality TV celebrity. Yeltsin's administration could pay salaries to government employees thanks perhaps to the IMF loan. When you give Trump money, that isn't the same as giving money to the US and it uses it to pay public sector salaries.

Furthermore, it's really difficult now to understand how perilous the situation of the collapse of the Soviet Union was. For example my country was really making plans how to cope with masses of refugees if there would happen a civil war in Russia (as we have an +1000km border with Russia). We seldom give credit to the many Soviet politicians that made the disintegration so peaceful. Now with the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine we can indeed imagine that the Soviet Union could have gone the way of Yugoslavia and disintegrated to a bloody civil war (which it actually did in the Caucasus), and then we could have seen deaths in the hundreds of thousands or even a million or so.
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