WASHINGTON. Clearly, Russian efforts to subvert our 2016 election were real. Moscow, of course, also remains busy trying to subvert democratic elections throughout the world. Their aim, in particular, is to pry off or weaken our NATO allies. And this Russian interference continues to this day.
The Justice Department’s indictment of 13 Russians and three companies in February 2018 made it clear that much of the sophisticated Russian interference campaign is an attempt to subvert America’s democratic process. Activities include the theft of American identities and the creation of phony political organizations. The intent: to fan division in this country on immigration, race, and religion.
The hacking of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and a host of other dirty tricks have been widely chronicled.
For example, the Russians bought $100,000 in Facebook ads and bombarded Twitter in an attempt to influence our 2016 election. Only this constant Russian interference is nothing new. It happened in 2014, 2010, 2006 and earlier.
Most Americans are unaware of Moscow’s long-term goals. These include the weakening of NATO, the European Union and their increasingly shaky alliance with the U.S. In this enterprise, Moscow’s allies are Europe’s far-right parties.
Early in April, leaders of these parties from several EU countries met in Milan to announce the creation of a nationalist alliance for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The group, known as the European Alliance for People and Nations, aims to win the largest bloc of seats in the European Parliament and already includes members from Germany, Italy, Finland, Denmark, Austria, and France. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and the host of the meeting, said the far-right parties “share the same objectives, the same ideals, and values.”
Affinity for Putin
Vladimir Kara-Murza, Vice-chairman of the Open Russia movement and chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom writes:
“Europe’s far-right parties share something else, too: a staunch affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin. One after another, nationalist politicians across the E.U. have praised the Kremlin leader and harshly criticized their own governments for imposing sanctions on Putin’s regime over its human rights abuses at home and territorial grabs abroad. “
The Italian leader, Salvini, has declared his personal “admiration” for Putin:
“Italy could do with dozens of men like [Putin], who act in the interest of their citizens,” Salvini told supporters in his party’s northwestern stronghold of Brescia.
Austria’s vice chancellor and Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache say of the EU:
“It is high time to put an end to these exasperating sanctions and normalize political and economic relations with Russia,” Heinz-Christian Strache, whose pro-Moscow party is a junior partner to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives, said in an interview. – The Moscow Times
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front and runner-up in the last presidential election, and Nigel Farage, who led the campaign to get Britain out of the EU, have also had warm words for Putin.
In the view of Vladimir Kara-Murza, the partnership between Putin and these far-right figures goes beyond compliments:
“The leaders of Europe’s far-right provide Putin with a community he has been lacking, while most of the world has condemned the annexation of Crimea as unlawful, far-right EU legislators posed as ‘international observers’ at the hastily organized referendum that formalized it…Italy’s Salvini expressed hope that ‘Italy has a real parliamentary election just as open as in (Russia)’”
There is a reason to believe that Moscow may be financing Europe’s far-right parties.
France’s National Front, it has been reported (Marine Le Pen: Who’s funding France’s far right?), did receive loans from Russia for the recent presidential campaigns. A recent report is that an investigation by the London-based Dossier Center did uncover documents that point to direct Russian government support for a German lawmaker from Alternative for Germany (AFD). AFD is a far-right party that forms the largest opposition group in the Bundestag. (Putin’s far-right allies gear up for European elections)
Some far-right parties openly proclaim the appeal to a nostalgia for fascism.
In Italy, the party Farrelli l’Italia (FDI) announced that the great-grandson of Benito Mussolini, Calo Giulio Cesar Mussolini will run with the party in the May 26 elections.
The alliance of the former militant communist and KGB agent Vladimir Putin with Europe’s right-wing, nationalist parties, some of whom were started by neo-Nazis and Holocaust-deniers—-brings to mind the Hitler-Stalin pact. Hitler and Stalin, of course, had much in common and shared contempt for liberal democracy. Vladimir Putin and his European allies, sadly, have a lot in common as well. Both are enemies of everything America represents in the world.
Their goal is to destroy the Western alliance. An alliance which has kept the peace in Europe since World War ll ended in 1945.
Moscow’s interference in our election is part of its effort to re-establish as much of the old Soviet empire as it can. All Americans, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives should be outraged at these efforts.
There is no evidence that we are prepared for Moscow’s almost certain efforts to interfere in our 2020 election.
From voter registration to election night tabulation, there are electronic avenues for foreign adversaries to try to create havoc. And undermine American’s trust in the democratic process.
In addition to targeting the Democratic Party in 2016, Russian hackers also went after election technology.
Lawrence Norden, an expert in the democratic process at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, says that the EAC is a “necessary agency” that has “significantly strengthened federal guidelines for voting machine testing.” At the same time, he acknowledges that its “quite limited” mandate from Congress means that “huge swaths of our election infrastructure are left with no federal security guidelines.” Even more troubling is the risk that the EAC becomes, in Norden’s words “polarized by partisanship.” That has become a particularly disquieting concern since the 2016 election. – Yahoo News
At this time, eleven states are still using electronic voting machines. Without paper backup. Which means they are vulnerable.
When Russian interference in the 2016 election slowly becoming a part of the discussion, many media outlets, including the social media groups Moscow utilizes, call it a “hoax.”
The lack of action by the Obama Administration
The Obama administration did nothing serious to call attention to, or stop, what Moscow was doing. Even as Trump campaign officials were meeting allegedly meeting with Russians.
Little outrage has been expressed by some of our leaders about what happened in 2016.
It would be helpful if political leaders would express at least as much anger at Moscow’s interference as they do at one another.
Moscow, in effect, declared war on American democracy in 2016,
We, America, permitted it to happen with no serious consequences. Hopefully, we will do better in 2020, although thus far there is little indication that we will. Vladimir Putin clearly has as his goal the restoration of Russian power. As well as the weakening or destruction of the Western alliance.
Does the U.S. have a long-term policy objective?
If we do, our recent behavior does not indicate what it might be.