The Menace of The Russian Hacking

President-elect Donald Trump. The issue is more about the survival of American democracy rather than the legitimacy of his presidency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. He got his heart’s desire in the U.S. election,

 

By Joe Bartuah

There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.(Vladimir Lenin, April 22, 1870—January 21, 1924)

 

When I deeply reflect on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman’s computers by agents of Russian President Vladimir Putin, there are two scary scenarios that readily stream through the screen of my mind:

  • Scenario One—Just imagine that a future Secretary-General of the United Nations is on a crucial diplomatic mission, in an attempt to avert a crisis of global significance; the computer system of the aircraft on which this global dignitary is traveling has been attacked by cyber-militants of a major country with vested interests in the conflict. As a result, the entire operational screen of the aircraft goes blank. There are 300 other travelers aboard this airline, many of them dignitaries of other regional and sub-regional organizations traveling along with the UNSG. The pilot doesn’t know where in the world he is now, because he’s in a communication abyss. As unimaginable as this scenario is, it points to the unprecedented nature of cyber-terrorism, otherwise euphemistically known as computer hacking. In as much as I am alarmed by the specter of such a scenario, if computer hacking or cyber-terrorism is not halted through a verifiable international convention, a detailed discussion of the danger that a possible escalation of this aspect of computer hacking portends would be discussed in a subsequent article.Scenario Two—Four consecutive years have elapsed since the Republicans took over all the three branches of the United States Government. Another bout of the quadrennial electoral cycle of the presidency is looming and there are indications that the favorability rating of the Grand Old Party is at its lowest ebb. However, members of the ruling class in Russia decide that just as they had successfully done it before prior to and during the November 8, 2016 presidential election, they must continue to do the same, regardless of whatever consequence. That is, they prefer a particular malleable candidate among an array of American politicians whom their intelligence agents must work so diligently to ensure his, or her success in winning the White House. As a result, they decide to double down on their sordid covert and overt deeds in tilting the outcome of the 2016 president election. They then opt for deploying decisive intelligence, cyber, technical and financial as well as human resources to ensure that the outcome of the next presidential election is in accordance with their desire to conquer Western democracy and transform same into a similar version of the authoritarian political system in their own country.For example, in the 2016 presidential election, the Republican Party had 17 candidates, among them four sitting senators, one former senator; four incumbent governors and six former governors. In fact, one of the ex-governors is a son of a former president and also junior brother of a past president. In other words, the Republican primary largely featured the cream of the party’s political elites. Despite the politically enticing, intellectually potent nature of their candidacies, a billionaire who had been a beneficiary of his dad’s vast fortune, but with absolutely no known political experience, mounted an insurgent campaign in an unorthodox fashion and ultimately succeeded in trouncing the topnotch political class. In as much as such electoral victory was a remarkable testament about the impartiality and fairness of the American political system, it is conspicuously anathema to the Russian political system, which is a brutally vertical smack-down.Even though  the president had made such frank assessment of the Republican candidate, his views did not in any way, result in the Trump campaign incurring any form of government-orchestrated adversity. No opposition candidate was forced to seek asylum in any foreign country, neither was there any clandestine attempt aimed at endangering anybody’s life. Moreover, no frivolous claims of tax evasion were truncated against any opposition candidate as an alibi, just to indefinitely incarcerate such person for harboring presidential ambition. Besides that, for several years, President-elect Donald Trump, as a private citizen,  went around this country, fiercely disputing that President Obama was born in the United States; he claimed at the time that the 44th president of the United States of America was born in Kenya and mailed to Hawaii.That is why every American and democracy-starved people around the world must be extremely concerned about Russia’s meddling in the November 8, 2016 presidential election. Our concerns should not be limited to the outcome of the just-concluded election, because it’s already a fait accompli. Whether one likes it or not, Vladimir Putin has won his very first victory in American politics, in that, his desired candidate won the presidential election. Because of their vested interests in the 2016 election, the Russian parliament held what amounted to a special session to monitor the vote counting in the U.S. When media projected Donald Trump as the victor and Hillary Clinton conceded, thunderous cheers, hands clapping and self-congratulations erupted in the Russian parliament, as if the 2016 U.S. election was a Russian election.For me, if turning a new page with the U.S. is the goal of the Russian hacking, one would have reason to believe that it is a manageable intrusion, but if obliterating the foundation of American democracy is the goal, that is horrifying. It is scary because the unfettered nature of American democracy, which is strongly rooted in unsurpassed compassion for humanity and upholding the sanctity of human dignity are among the most formidable monuments that set this country apart from all others and tend to inspire millions of people around the world.
  • To those languishing under the yoke of dictatorship and camouflaged autocracy, American democracy beacons hope and fuels relentless courage. American democracy is an aspirational summit that almost every human being wishes to achieve; American democracy cultivates a culture of law and nurtures salient, serene continuity for the betterment of humankind. As a result, it tends to give hope, even to the humiliated and dehumanized. Against this backdrop, it will be extremely unfortunate, if a country with a notorious might-makes-right political culture succeeded in smashing American democracy, which indisputably epitomizes American Exceptionalism. The whole world is watching to see how the current and future U.S. governments react to the unprecedented Russian hacking. Depending how the government react, it will indicated whether, in spite of the Russian manipulation, the American people remain gallantly determined to forge ahead with their globally acclaimed decent democratic practices, or they will timidly succumb to the whims of vile dictatorial practices to the despondence of humankind.
  • But beyond the 2016 election, current and future American government officials must begin to ask some hard questions: What do the Russians want? What’s the goal of their covert and overt actions? Did they invest in tilting the 2016 election in anticipation of establishing a new relationship with the U.S. or is Putin on a revenge to thwart American democracy just as he probably believes that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush dismantled the erstwhile Soviet Union?
  • As outlandish, bizarre as Trump’s claims were, there was no government-orchestrated, or presidentially-directed backlash against the billionaire from Manhattan. What if such hate-filled tirade had been mounted against Vladimir Putin in Russia? Can anyone imagine any Russian national engaging in a foolhardy exercise such as disputing the Russian birth of President Putin? In a country where it is extremely difficult for journalists who dare to be independent to live and tell their story, would any Russian national dare to make any crazy claim for example, that Putin was born in Poland, Bulgaria or any of the other Slavic countries and smuggled to Russia? Won’t that be a suicidal hallucination? The main point I am trying to drive home here is that the Russian political culture is strikingly in contrast to the American democratic system.
  • Whereas the foundation of American democracy was laid by men thoroughly schooled in the ideals of the Enlightenment Era philosophy, what might pass as democracy in Russia is a sort of ostentatious modification of Czarist absolutism. Put another way, in the American political system, no one person wields all the power and authority, whereas in today’s Russia, Vladimir Putin practically has no check on his power. For example, before the November 8, 2016 election, President Obama had expressed his candid opinion that then candidate Donald Trump was “uniquely unqualified” for the presidency.
  • As I deeply reflect on the Russian hacking, as verifiably reported by the U.S. intelligence community, it’s the specter of such ominous scenario that has the propensity to horrify anyone who cares about the sanctity of pluralistic democracy and its attendant attributes of standing for press freedom and human rights. Competitive democracy is America’s trump-card in global affairs. The much-talked-about American Exceptionalism is strongly rooted in the competitive, impartial nature of its pluralistic political system and respect for the rule of law.
  • This then leads us to the second scenario, which is an ominous immediacy with far-reaching ramifications:
  • Scenario Two—Four consecutive years have elapsed since the Republicans took over all the three branches of the United States Government. Another bout of the quadrennial electoral cycle of the presidency is looming and there are indications that the favorability rating of the Grand Old Party is at its lowest ebb. However, members of the ruling class in Russia decide that just as they had successfully done it before prior to and during the November 8, 2016 presidential election, they must continue to do the same, regardless of whatever consequence. That is, they prefer a particular malleable candidate among an array of American politicians whom their intelligence agents must work so diligently to ensure his, or her success in winning the White House. As a result, they decide to double down on their sordid covert and overt deeds in tilting the outcome of the 2016 president election. They then opt for deploying decisive intelligence, cyber, technical and financial as well as human resources to ensure that the outcome of the next presidential election is in accordance with their desire to conquer Western democracy and transform same into a similar version of the authoritarian political system in their own country.

    As I deeply reflect on the Russian hacking, as verifiably reported by the U.S. intelligence community, it’s the specter of such ominous scenario that has the propensity to horrify anyone who cares about the sanctity of pluralistic democracy and its attendant attributes of standing for press freedom and human rights. Competitive democracy is America’s trump-card in global affairs. The much-talked-about American Exceptionalism is strongly rooted in the competitive, impartial nature of its pluralistic political system and respect for the rule of law.

    For example, in the 2016 presidential election, the Republican Party had 17 candidates, among them four sitting senators, one former senator; four incumbent governors and six former governors. In fact, one of the ex-governors is a son of a former president and also junior brother of a past president. In other words, the Republican primary largely featured the cream of the party’s political elites. Despite the politically enticing, intellectually potent nature of their candidacies, a billionaire who had been a beneficiary of his dad’s vast fortune, but with absolutely no known political experience, mounted an insurgent campaign in an unorthodox fashion and ultimately succeeded in trouncing the topnotch political class. In as much as such electoral victory was a remarkable testament about the impartiality and fairness of the American political system, it is conspicuously anathema to the Russian political system, which is a brutally vertical smack-down.

    Whereas the foundation of American democracy was laid by men thoroughly schooled in the ideals of the Enlightenment Era philosophy, what might pass as democracy in Russia is a sort of ostentatious modification of Czarist absolutism. Put another way, in the American political system, no one person wields all the power and authority, whereas in today’s Russia, Vladimir Putin practically has no check on his power. For example, before the November 8, 2016 election, President Obama had expressed his candid opinion that then candidate Donald Trump was “uniquely unqualified” for the presidency.

    Even though  the president had made such frank assessment of the Republican candidate, his views did not in any way, result in the Trump campaign incurring any form of government-orchestrated adversity. No opposition candidate was forced to seek asylum in any foreign country, neither was there any clandestine attempt aimed at endangering anybody’s life. Moreover, no frivolous claims of tax evasion were truncated against any opposition candidate as an alibi, just to indefinitely incarcerate such person for harboring presidential ambition. Besides that, for several years, President-elect Donald Trump, as a private citizen,  went around this country, fiercely disputing that President Obama was born in the United States; he claimed at the time that the 44th president of the United States of America was born in Kenya and mailed to Hawaii.

    As outlandish, bizarre as Trump’s claims were, there was no government-orchestrated, or presidentially-directed backlash against the billionaire from Manhattan. What if such hate-filled tirade had been mounted against Vladimir Putin in Russia? Can anyone imagine any Russian national engaging in a foolhardy exercise such as disputing the Russian birth of President Putin? In a country where it is extremely difficult for journalists who dare to be independent to live and tell their story, would any Russian national dare to make any crazy claim for example, that Putin was born in Poland, Bulgaria or any of the other Slavic countries and smuggled to Russia? Won’t that be a suicidal hallucination? The main point I am trying to drive home here is that the Russian political culture is strikingly in contrast to the American democratic system.

    That is why every American and democracy-starved people around the world must be extremely concerned about Russia’s meddling in the November 8, 2016 presidential election. Our concerns should not be limited to the outcome of the just-concluded election, because it’s already a fait accompli. Whether one likes it or not, Vladimir Putin has won his very first victory in American politics, in that, his desired candidate won the presidential election. Because of their vested interests in the 2016 election, the Russian parliament held what amounted to a special session to monitor the vote counting in the U.S. When media projected Donald Trump as the victor and Hillary Clinton conceded, thunderous cheers, hands clapping and self-congratulations erupted in the Russian parliament, as if the 2016 U.S. election was a Russian election.

    But beyond the 2016 election, current and future American government officials must begin to ask some hard questions: What do the Russians want? What’s the goal of their covert and overt actions? Did they invest in tilting the 2016 election in anticipation of establishing a new relationship with the U.S. or is Putin on a revenge to thwart American democracy just as he probably believes that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush dismantled the erstwhile Soviet Union?

    For me, if turning a new page with the U.S. is the goal of the Russian hacking, one would have reason to believe that it is a manageable intrusion, but if obliterating the foundation of American democracy is the goal, that is horrifying. It is scary because the unfettered nature of American democracy, which is strongly rooted in unsurpassed compassion for humanity and upholding the sanctity of human dignity are among the most formidable monuments that set this country apart from all others and tend to inspire millions of people around the world.

    To those languishing under the yoke of dictatorship and camouflaged autocracy, American democracy beacons hope and fuels relentless courage. American democracy is an aspirational summit that almost every human being wishes to achieve; American democracy cultivates a culture of law and nurtures salient, serene continuity for the betterment of humankind. As a result, it tends to give hope, even to the humiliated and dehumanized. Against this backdrop, it will be extremely unfortunate, if a country with a notorious might-makes-right political culture succeeded in smashing American democracy, which indisputably epitomizes American Exceptionalism. The whole world is watching to see how the current and future U.S. governments react to the unprecedented Russian hacking. Depending how the government react, it will indicated whether, in spite of the Russian manipulation, the American people remain gallantly determined to forge ahead with their globally acclaimed decent democratic practices, or they will timidly succumb to the whims of vile dictatorial practices to the despondence of humankind.

     

Filed in: Analysis

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2 Responses to "The Menace of The Russian Hacking"

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