The past few months have been rough for the politically-involved.
If you're like me, you're asking yourself very difficult questions about which candidate may or may not be best for America. While none of us can know for sure which candidate that will be, we can make some educated guesses based upon the facts at hand.
But before I present the points to back the thesis of my article, allow me to share some additional details with my readers, for the sake of perspective.
Active Measures, as aptly paraphrased by Wikipedia:
"...[range] 'from media manipulations to special actions involving various degrees of violence'. They were used both abroad and domestically. They included disinformation, propaganda, counterfeiting official documents, assassinations, and political repression, such as penetration into churches, and persecution of political dissidents."
Russia is currently succeeding in (in the words of a Twitter friend), "gaming" Horseshoe Theory.
Simplistically speaking, Horseshoe Theory challenges mainstream notions of Left-wing vs. Right-wing, by arguing that the far left and the far right are really much closer together, much like the tips of a horseshoe.
The conventional wisdom...
In other words, Russia is weaponizing ideology ITSELF. They are exploiting the far left and far left in an effort to polarize, while simultaneously discrediting political Centrists.
At present, there's still widespread denial about the existence of Active Measures even during the Cold War, let alone the present day. Those who have an awareness of Active Measures would generally agree that they have presently become a greater problem than they *EVER* were, prior to the collapse of the U.S.S.R.
When I became aware of the scale of Russia's active measures in America and in the world, I began an ongoing process of distancing myself from partisan politics, as a whole. Just as Active Measures seek to intentionally blur reality by exploiting partisan biases, I found that my own partisan biases were blurring my ability to correctly interpret world events.
By stepping back from partisan politics, I was able to once again discern between fact and fiction.
I began to understand that the chaos of the past eight years was not *solely* the work of an Obama White House considerably further left of center than I, myself, am comfortable with.
I began to understand the machinations of Russian active measures, which seek to seize upon seemingly inane and inconsequential points and effectively paint realists as racists and idealists as radicals.
IDEAS ARE IMPORTANT. PERSONALITIES, LESS SO.
While this election may largely focus on personalities, it is really the candidates' underlying ideas, beliefs and objectives that will be pivotal to America's destiny.
Aside from Trump's propensity for the garish, he has struck chords that resonate with many voters. The danger in this is not the message itself, but the big picture--the historical runup that led to the prospect of a Trump presidency. To understand this, we must take an altogether different look at the past eight years, this time considering an additional variable we had not accounted for before...Russian influence.
As I have tried to share with my readers, Trump has surrounded himself with individuals who are closely associated with either the arch criminal, Semion Mogilevich, or his ex-KGB counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The evidence over the past few months rules out coincidence to a mathematical certainty.
But what gets lost is a view inside the mind of the Kremlin, the true heirs to the term "social engineering". Twentieth century history teaches us that the Russians are masters in the art of manufactured crisis, controlled opposition and the construction of dominant social narratives. They do this via influence operations that target the media, government officials and even pop culture icons, via agents of influence.
Some of them might surprise you...
But the Kremlin strategy goes well beyond this. Social engineering, as an element of active measures, includes hours of planning out and analyzing how various segments of a population react to certain events. It means that the Kremlin literally analyzes numerous permutations of an event or narrative in the American media in order to plan out how the population will reflexively respond, all to the benefit of Russia. It is easy to see how well this has worked in Ukraine, for example.
Because I am aware of the extraordinary direct and indirect involvement of foreign state actors in this election, agendas will not be enough. Understanding the means, motives and opportunities of our adversaries must be treated with equal weight.
Trump's perspectives on foreign policy, particularly with regard to NATO, are not only revealing but potentially very dangerous, as retired Admiral James Stavridis pointed out two days ago, in Foreign Policy.
Over the past eight years, we have seen the resurgence of Kremlin front organizations, reminiscent of the Cold War era. We have witnessed the meteoric rise of many telltale narratives, largely originating from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the old Russian intelligence field manual, so to speak, which KGB also distributed in the Arab world.
Russia set out, with great ease, to transform the brashly left-leaning and idealistic Mr. Obama into an aspiring Fidel Castro who wished to declare martial law on America and seize its small arms. Mr. Obama effectively empowered the gun industry by playing to individuals' fears about the erosion of second amendment rights. And, until the Obama administration rightly issued sanctions against Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the Tula Arms Plant made a king's ransom here, selling AK-47s and 7.62x39 ammunition, particularly after the Newtown shootings.
So here are a few observations and concerns I have for the elections, based upon my current analysis of Election 2016:
- The "Hillary vs. Putin" narrative is a powerful narrative but, unfortunately, I don't think either Team Hillary or the State Department will "sign off" on it. The problem, aside from John Podesta, himself, is that the Hillary camp doesn't fully appreciate Russia's toxicity. They change this stance (and their campaign staff) pretty quickly. And no Hillary, you should *NOT* want to keep Mr. Blumenthal on as an advisor. Ask me about Blumenthal's involvement in the Gennifer Flowers affair, Mrs. Clinton, if you need convincing.
- Jill Stein (Russia), Gary Johnson (Russia) and others will drive the narrative that there's no difference between Clinton and George W. Bush. We will hear the altogether familiar accusations of "McCarthyism", references to mass incarceration and the "police state"...perhaps the resurgence of the "I can't breathe" narrative, only this time in the context of a Hillary Clinton presidency. And beyond any shadow of a doubt, we will hear the narrative, "Team Hillary: Economically beholden to the military-industrial complex".
- They can get to *ANYBODY*. Perhaps you heard Newt Gingrich's comment the other day, on CBS This Morning?
Or, perhaps you may recall that James Cardin was a former Obama staffer, no doubt well aware of the dangers of Russia. Now, Mr. Cardin is consigned to writing pro-Kremlin drivel from the bowels of Moscow's new crown jewel, The Nation.
- The Trump campaign has momentum. The Clinton campaign needs to ramp it up and improve their game if they want to win. How many Trump bumper stickers have you seen today? How about Hillary Clinton bumper stickers?
- The Hillary campaign's lack of concern over OPSEC is the very tool Russia is using to sabotage them. Aside from the troubling ethical questions of the affair, sloppy OPSEC led to the leaked Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting. The first media outlet to report on it was Newzsentinel. You can see what they are very quickly, with a simple Google search.
Speaking from the heart, I cannot easily imagine an America wherein the seat of executive power is filled by modern-day Chekists. And, setting my personal feelings about Mrs. Clinton aside, I have serious doubts about Hillary's ability to take the necessary steps to isolate herself from Russian influence.
But who knows? Maybe she will read this article and hire some skilled subject matter experts.
It's not too late...YET.