American Putin

Making Russia Great Again

Everyone has heard the latest reports, this one from The New York Times this morning:

Computer systems used by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign were hacked in an attack that appears to have come from Russia’s intelligence services, a federal law enforcement official said on Friday.

The apparent breach, coming after the disclosure last month that the Democratic National Committee’s computer system had been compromised, escalates an international episode in which Clinton campaign officials have suggested that Russia might be trying to sway the outcome of the election.

In the next column over The Times reports that Democrats “used their convention to portray Mr. Trump as a dangerously unstable figure and a friend of foreign despots like President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.”

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin announcing the annexation of Crimea, Red Square, March 10, 2014.
  • As The Guardian reported today, the Trump’s party platform “removed references to arming Ukraine in its fight against pro-Russia rebels, who have received material support from the Kremlin.”

Americans aren’t used to the idea that foreign governments might use hacked emails for the purpose of distorting their politics. In fact, the Russian government has been playing similar games for years. Back in 2007, Russian hackers launched a major attack on Estonian government and commercial websites — including banks, the defense ministry, the parliament — in apparent revenge for a decision to move a Soviet war memorial. In 2014, hackers attacked Ukraine’s national election commission, three days before people went to the polls, in an attempt to disrupt the vote.

We know more generally that Putin’s Russia has, as a matter of foreign policy for over a decade, overtly and covertly supported political parties friendly to Russian interests in Western democracies. Putin’s Russia has actively sought to undermine the European Union and NATO by systematically exploiting and inciting nationalism, anti-immigrant fervor, and working class outrage. Most recently, the Russian intelligence apparatus sought to influence the outcome of the Brexit vote in favor of “leave”.

author, the code economy: a forty-thousand-year history

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