Analysts: Russia today far more dangerous than USSR was and West far less ready to counter it

Putin's speech at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow in February 2012, almost exactly two years before he commanded the Russian military to start the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. (Image: Ilya Varlamov)

Putin's speech at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow in February 2012, almost exactly two years before he commanded the Russian military to start the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. (Image: Ilya Varlamov) 

2016/11/04 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Russia under Vladimir Putin is far more dangerous to the West than the Soviet Union ever was, two Russian analysts argue; and the West–for the moment at least–is far less capable of dealing with the challenges and threats the Kremlin leader now poses, according to a third.

The two analysts who suggest that Putin’s Russia is a greater threat both draw on the work of Western analysts: Radio Liberty’s Yaroslav Shimov on Bulgarian scholar Ruslan Stefanov and Svobodnaya Pressa’s Pavel Shepilin on French author Nicolas Hénin.

Ruslan Stefanov (Image: CSD Sofia)

Ruslan Stefanov

Stefanov, the director of the Sofia Center for the Study of Democracy, is one of the co-authors of the CSIS study, “The Kremlin Playbook” which examined Moscow’s new approach to the countries of the former Soviet bloc. But the Bulgarian scholar extends his conclusions to the West more generally.

He suggests that because the Kremlin is prepared to use money far more freely than the Soviet Union ever did, it can acquire positions of power in many countries both among those who are prepared to sell to it or who hope for economic advantages in trade with Russia, something the USSR could not do as well.

An old Soviet poster hailing the Communist International (Comintern) created by Lenin in 1919. The Comintern provided Moscow a cover to create and operate a network of Soviet spies and agents of influence across the world.

An old Soviet poster hailing the Communist International (Comintern) created by Lenin in 1919. The Comintern provided Moscow a cover to create and operate a network of Soviet spies and agents of influence across the world.

And he adds that because the current Kremlin is less interested in promoting a single ideological agenda than was the USSR, it can build ties to groups that in the past would have opposed Moscow and can achieve its goals by promoting nationalism in particular countries and chaos internationally rather than seeking to expand its bloc as such.

Nicolas Henin (Image: RTBF)

Nicolas Henin

French journalist Nicolas Hénin in Shepilin’s telling completely agrees. He points out that Russia now has “a multitude of levers of influence” and is far more skillful in forming public opinion both at home and especially abroad.

“If you support leftist views,” today’s Russians “will play on your anti-Americanism. If you are a businessman, they will seduce you with promise of major contracts. If you are in the military, they will tell you that ‘in the contemporary world, we are the only country which knows how to make use of force.’” And “if you are a Christian, [the Russians] will say, ‘we share your desire to struggle against the spread of secularism.’”

Soviet operatives could never be that flexible and dexterous or that generous in the use of funds.

Troops of the Russian occupation force on parade in Sevastopol, Crimea on May 9, 2016 (Image: sevas.com)

Troops of the Russian occupation force on parade in Sevastopol, Crimea on May 9, 2016 (Image: sevas.com)

According to the French journalist, Moscow doesn’t care whether it has to use money or propaganda to achieve its ends, and it is exploiting the rise of angry anti-globalist forces within various countries to break down the West as an entity and thus increase Russia’s relative position and power.

Across the West, Henin argues, many in the population think they have been sold out by trans-national elites; and Moscow under Putin is playing up those fears in order to displace existing governments and undermine the European Union and other international organizations. When you win by supporting chaos, this is a good strategy, at least for a time.

The split between elites and populations in many countries has become so great that Moscow does not have to do much to win by supporting the anti-globalist, nationalist and traditionalist side. The “angry people” it is speaking to, in many cases don’t have the ability to take power yet; but they are already changing the balance in Moscow’s favor.

Lilia Shevtsova

Lilia Shevtsova

Putin’s success, however, is likely to be temporary, Lilia Shevtsova says, because it reflects not his strength but the current demoralization of the West. And history shows the West can come back, especially when as now it is presented with a challenge. In short, Putin may be laying the groundwork for his ultimate defeat.

Twice in the last century, the West was in a similar position, at the end of the 1920s and then again in the 1970s, but in both cases, the Moscow-based Chatham House analyst argues, “the existence of an opponent in the form of the Soviet Union forced the West to bring itself up to snuff.”

Pro-Moscow outlets using social media whipped up the Russian German community, sparked demonstrations in a variety of German cities over an alleged rape and against refugees, and called into question the ability of the German police to protect Germans from Muslims and Turks. (Image: AP)

Pro-Moscow outlets using social media whipped up the Russian German community, sparked demonstrations in a variety of German cities over an alleged rape and against refugees, and called into question the ability of the German police to protect Germans from Muslims and Turks. (Image: AP)

After the disintegration of the USSR, the West lost this external stimulus, and “liberal democracy began to lose its drive.” But Putin’s recent actions have begun to help the West recover. After trying the soft approach of sanctions, the West has recognized that it has to use hard power as well to contain Moscow.

In the short term, NATO’s response has allowed the Kremlin to generate a certain “military patriotism” at home, Shevtsova says; but that will not last. And in the end the Kremlin leader will discover that he has already “given the push for the consolidation of new political forces in the West.”

The old Western elites who thought that what happened in 1991 was forever will either have to change their views or be replaced by others who recognize that the new reality is going to be very different than what many had imagined or at least hoped for. And Western countries will be forced to recall their currently forgotten principles – and to act upon them as in the past.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Randolph Carter

    Interesting and more than a little frightening…witness the hostility in the USA between the 5% (who supposedly own 95% of the country) and the remaining 95%. Consider that the average American makes less today than they did in 1970. “Across the West, Henin argues, many in the population think they have been sold out by trans-national elites…” Particularly true here.

    Watch George Carlin’s “Who Owns the Country?” monologue and consider many of the things he cites – increasingly decaying schools, the end of overtime, no more pensions, Social Security, etc. A country of the poor (whether they actually are poor or just perceive themselves to be) is a very dangerous thing.

    Why has the Department of Homeland Security ordered 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets and is planning to buy a further 750 million rounds (this from a conspiracy theory website, so consider the source)?

    All of these things (and I’m sure there are others), particularly the 5% / 95% division are things Putin could use to drive a wedge between populations in this country and sow discord and mistrust. I don’t see the USA joining him at any point in time, but he could certainly disable or impede our assistance to both Ukraine and Syria with some well-crafted propaganda.

    • Fortranz

      “- I don’t see the USA joining him at any point in time, but he could certainly disable or impede our assistance to both Ukraine and Syria with some well-crafted propaganda. -”

      It is quite possible that this “USA joining him” could/can occur, this would be the possible result of a Trump presidency. This is the current greatest well-crafted propaganda campaign for Putin and Russia in my view

      • Turtler

        “It is quite possible that this “USA joining him” could/can occur,
        this would be the possible result of a Trump presidency.”

        I agree it could/can occur because nothing should be taken out. But I doubt it would be the only possible result of a Trump presidency. And on this front I point to one of our unwitting allies. Vladimir Putin himself.

        Familiarity breeds contempt,, and he is so aggressive, paranoid, and irrational he drives people away. Just look at how Obama and Clinton came into office after the war in Georgia promising to mend fences (and “reset”) and look at where that has ended now. So I think that even if Trump came in legitimately wanting to bend over backwards for Putin (which I doubt but I suppose it is slim-ly possible) I do think he is still Trump.

        And as a proud, arrogant, and frankly egotistic person I do not think he would tolerate Putin pushing him around (and Putin tries to push EVERYBODY around) forever.

        “This is the current greatest well-crafted propaganda campaign for Putin and Russia in my view”

        A fair point, though it’s notable how much of it is stuff Putin can’t have credit for. If Clinton and her allies hadn’t set up an illegal server (and then written what they wrote- including often frankly harsh and hypocritical stuff) they wouldn’t be browbeat with it now.

        Though I suppose it is still worrying even if it happens to a bad person. After all, could Putin and his thugs be learning?

        I doubt it (they haven’t learned much, including from how they triggered Maidan) but it does make me worry.

        • Fortranz

          “- Just look at how Obama and Clinton came into office after the war in Georgia promising to mend fences (and “reset”) and look at where that has ended now. -”

          I don’t agree with this here, because you don’t seem to consider that this political position of the US was more an EU influenced position than strictly a US inspired position alone. The reason for this was that the US was more concerned with events in the Mid-East, and saw this as being the greatest threat to them. They didn’t consider that Georgia and Chechnya were conflicts that could have much influence over and continue their anti-.terrorist campaigns in the Mid-East..

          “- Though I suppose it is still worrying even if it happens to a bad person. After all, could Putin and his thugs be learning? -”

          Yes, Putin and the propagandists of RT are learning, they are learning rapidly that even in the US they can have significant influence in politics and political opinion in Western governments and media by manipulation of social media.

          This is what you should be worried about [not Clinton’s e-mails]

          • Turtler

            “I don’t agree with this here, because, you don’t seem to consider
            that this political position of the US was more an EU influenced
            position than strictly a US inspired position alone. ”

            I can understand that, but I also know how Obama came out SWINGING during the election year against Bush and McCain for supposedly alienating Russia. And well before the EU’s stance on the matter had solidified to one or more or less neutrality. While Clinton briefly tried to take a more hawkish track but quickly went with Obama.

            “The reason for this was that the US was more concerned with events in the Mid-East,”

            Obviously, that was half the reason why Putin felt comfortable attacking. Not only was the West’s main focus on the threat of Jihadist terrorism, but the top tier elements of the Georgian Army were committed with us in Iraq (under Polish command). So when Putin had his proxies stir up another border fight and used it as a pretext for his planned invasion the world was not only caught flat footed by the Olympics, but the West and indeed the Georgian military were by their commitments to the ongoing war with the various Jihadist factions.

            “and saw this as being the greatest threat to them.”

            And frankly as an American I still think that is the case, given the respective state of the various Jihadist groups (who can keep popping up in spite of massive losses) and Putin’s Russia (which lacks the manpower and reinforcement capabilities to replace significant losses, and has a military that tends to suffer from quite poor institutional morale).

            Again, half the reason Putin succeeded like he did in Georgia was because it was a sneak attack while the West and the Georgian military were bogged down. There’s a reason why he hasn’t chanced confrontation with any NATO member.

            “They didn’t consider that Georgia and Chechnya were conflicts that could have much influence over and continue their anti-.terrorist campaigns in the Mid-East..’

            Frankly, Georgia had cleaned the Islamists out of Kodori Gorge a few years back and even the most hysterical accounts (usually by Kremlin trolls) only claim they are JUST coming back now. So I doubt it. Besides, Islamist whacking in the border is one of the few military conflicts that Georgia does not have a crisis over.

            As for Chechnya? I don’t mean to underplay the role it has in the wider onslaught of the Jihad- there has always been significant overlap- but on the whole the Jihadist organizations that attack Russia (and to a lesser extent Georgia, Azerbaijan, etc.) have been pretty distinct from those that slammed planes into the American skyline on 9/11. And from a timeline of both conflicts the fortunes of war in one have usually not had that much effect on how the other was doing.

            “Yes, Putin and the propagandists of RT are learning, ”

            Which might be a first.

            “they are learning rapidly that even in the US they can have significant influence in politics and political opinion in Western governments and media by manipulation of social media.”

            This is where we raise the question of what “significant” is. Because while Russia can have significant influence in politics and political opinion on the West, it’s almost always been indirectly. IE acting in a way that will have clearly predictable effects in politics (like the decision to attack Georgia in 2008, or peddle “reset”).

            The idea that we have these vast Cold War style networks of cells with a vast influence on domestic life and which explicitly, directly answer to the Kremlin does not wash with what we know. In fact it only just washed at the height of the Cold War (when Stalin and Khruschev had compliant communist parties and fellow travelers honeycombing the West, had made them pledge to wage war on it, and who were so subservient to it that they could replace party leaders at will).

            It isn’t even particularly true with scum like Fidesz and Zeman’s batch, which may be better or worse. They are certainly fellow travelers of Putin, but they have an independent agenda.

            And in the West Russia Today and the Kremlin Trolls are almost invariably fringe kooks that I would be surprised if most of the world even knew about. They can certianly have an effect- and I’ve heard people from both Right and Left mouth propaganda lines- but they aren’t a primary effect.

            “This is what you should be worried about [not Clinton’s e-mails]”

            I’m sorry, but no, I don’t think you understand.

            Those emails leaked incredibly sensitive information to anybody who could pin the source down and hack it. It was probably THE greatest violation of confidential information handling in American history and one of the greatest intel leaks of all time. And it is obviously aiding even people Clinton doesn’t want, since that’s how Putin has been getting many of the emails he’s had Wikileaks release.

            Most Kremlin Trolls and members of the CCP’s Fifty Cent Army would find releasing even a Fraction of the information that was leaked by them would be the height of their career.

            And a certain internet friend who (at least claims he) was Air Force intelligence spelled out just how damaging this was and how deliberate it had to be quite clearly.

            Sorry, but the influence of the Kremlin Troll Factory takes a very, very, very, very, VERY distant second place to crimes of this magnitude. I might try and get his two cents on it here.

            But suffice it to say, it isn’t something you should just dismiss as if it were nothing.

          • Fortranz

            “- And well before the EU’s stance on the matter had solidified to one or more or less neutrality. -”

            I don’t recall the position of neutrality of the EU you speak of. As I recall the EU had not taken the position that they didn’t condone Russia’s actions in Georgia and Chechnya from the beginning of the conflicts.

            “- I also know how Obama came out SWINGING during the election year against Bush and McCain for supposedly alienating Russia.-”

            I’m not sure what you are talking about here with “came out SWINGING” and “supposedly alienating Russia.”. Bush and McCain only disagreed with Obama as to whether to sanction Russia for it’s military action. I don’t see how this “alienating Russia” but I guess that’s what you think it was.

            “- This is where we raise the question of what “significant” -”

            You might if you spent more time reading over Disqus Blogs in Canada and the US for the past 4 1/2 years as I have. If you did you would see first hand how the Russian media has through it’s network of Blogers has sown many lies and misinformation into the opinions of of people/citizens in these countries.Further, look at what the e-mail leaks and political party hacks in the current US election has cause in the direction of the choice the Americans in deciding the selection of president. “it’s almost always been indirectly” very true, and it some times produces very real results.

            “- The idea that we have these vast Cold War style networks of cells with a vast influence on domestic life and which explicitly, directly answer to the Kremlin does not wash -”

            You are sorely wrong here there are vast networks of cells engaged in trying to influence Western public political opinion. They don’t answer to the Kremlin necessarily, but they are a new apparatus of the Russian State Media. I don’t know why you are unaware of their activities.

            “- Those emails leaked incredibly sensitive information to anybody who could pin the source down and hack it. -”

            Sorry the FBI of the USA has concluded that after 2 different investigation now that there was no information in these e-mails that significantly jeopardized national security of the US. All you are spouting is more Turmp campaign rhetoric. Get over it the e-mails were never anything of great significance and you have bought into the Russian propaganda line that they were.

            “- And in the West Russia Today and the Kremlin Trolls are almost invariably fringe kooks -”

            No they are not, they are a very real and well organized propaganda effort of the FSB. If you think you can just excuse them of like this than I think you must be one of them and are nothing in my opinion than a useful-idiot for the Russian Federation – State Media.

          • Turtler

            “I don’t recall the position of neutrality of the EU you speak of. As I
            recall the EU had not taken the position that they didn’t condone
            Russia’s actions in Georgia and Chechnya from the beginning of the
            conflicts.”

            The long and short of it is that their official stance (as shown by the Fact Finding Mission’s Report) was that Georgia was responsible for the start of hostilities in the separatist states (which is utter hogwash for a number of reasons but moving on) and that Russia was in the right to use force to “protect” its’ “peacekeepers.” (Presumably including the ones manning the artillery platforms around Tshkinvali).

            However, they found that the invasion of Georgia proper by Russia was not right and thus did not condone it.

            And even before the Fact Finding Mission (which happened after the fact) they had some sympathies for Georgia but were not prepared to give a large amount of aid to it, let alone risk getting involved in the conflict.

            Again, in this case Obama’s campaign’s stance (and thus Hillary’s) outpaced them in rushing to appease Putin.

            “I’m not sure what you are talking about here with “came out SWINGING”
            and “supposedly alienating Russia.”. ”

            Considering I had to delete a lot of my previous links to the story in favor of boning up on the Clinton leaks issue , it is a bit hard. But the long and short of it is that Obama held (and many of his loyalists still do- I know because I talk to them) that the West and Georgia had somehow provoked and alienated Putin. Even if they were not prepared to outright take Putin’s side (though some of them were) they certainly were willing to ape a significant part of his rhetoric.

            “Bush and McCain only disagreed with Obama as to whether to sanction Russia for it’s military action.”

            In terms of the legislation, and in some ways I can understand counting that above the rhetoric and campaign trails because it is what goes into actual law. but his waffling on the cause of the Georgian war (ironically like Trump, as a means to get at his domestic enemies, POSSIBLY like Trump.) is something that popped up a fair bit in his speeches on the issue.

            Though to his credit, he DID support NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine until after.

            “I don’t see how this “alienating Russia” but I guess that’s what you think
            it was.”

            ?

            No, that was what he claimed helped “provoke” the war.

            “You might if you spent more time reading over Disqus Blogs in Canada
            and the US for the past 4 1/2 years as I have.”

            I’ve been on Disqus blogs since at least ’08 (first as a reader only, then an anonymous commentor, and finally as a registered member).

            And frankly?

            Disqus is not THAT important on the grand scale of things as a media. It might be approaching the point where it can outstrip the likes of a crumbling Twitter or declining Facebook, but it still is just one comment service among Many. And in terms of its’ influence on politics in the large scale it isn’t particularly notable above many of the other moderately hefty communication mediums and often times individual blogs (like Armies of Liberation back in the day), and well below the titans of communication.

            How many times have we seen an AAA news service on either side of the aisle- BBC, Fox, CNN, or the like- break stories that originated through Disqus blogs?

            It isn’t none, I know that (especially with Breitbart and others using it), but it isn’t that great.

            “If you did you would see first hand how the Russian media has through it’s network of Blogers has sown many lies and misinformation into the opinions of of people/citizens in these countries.”

            Dude, I have.

            In fact I’ve publicly made a sport of b*tchslapping several of them.

            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/fp-mag/truth_is_the_nuclear_weapon_of_the_new_cold_war/#comment-2955982054

            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/worldaffairsjournal/military_exercises_and_realignments_india_us_china_russia/#comment-2908059601

            (And on an unrelated note… can I mention that Disqus’s poor formating for notification history made finding old-ish examples a pita…).

            So I’ve met them, I’ve beat them, and I know a fair about them. And to be honest I think people overstate their influence. Particularly if one studies how propaganda and attempts at foreign pressure work.

            An army of trolls spamming nonsense has its’ uses, but they tend to be fairly marginal uses. They are not their most effective abroad, because they tend to get drowned out by the sheer number of legitimate uses. A 10,000 strong troll force is pretty formidable in terms of internet ops but it is so thoroughly dwarfed by the number of legitimate commenters in the West and elsewhere.

            They tend to work well domestically, in closed, tyrannical environments like Russia itself and behind the Great Firewall of China, where they can use their concentration and the state’s influence to basically browbeat independent voices into the ground by mass of attacks.

            However, outside without that kind of state leverage over domestic enemies and with lesser organization benefits they tend to be pretty ineffective at changing the overall picture. That doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous because they can still crash a website if they really try and might influence some people. But that isn’t going to actually convince many people like the Brexiters.

            We see a similar case with the Soviet era Communist parties, which were almost invariably marginal and unable to take power legitimately (which is why Stalin ultimately stopped trying and just hoped to use them as a fifth column within the West and most of the Politburo to follow him also stayed true to that). Astroturfing is not very effective. What is more effective (and where I think there are legitimately pressing concerns) are with mid or high level VIPs who have a vested interest in shilling for Putin, like Manafort. Those people are actually in a position to have more of an effect than just being part of the white noise.

            And like the examples of the Troll armies and the Fifth Column CPs, the only way they can really be effective in legitimate politics is if they link up with the concerns of many actual People in the public. Case in point the Vietnam protests.

            This is why I do not put much emphasis on Putin’s troll army. It really isn’t that effective at forming opinion let alone policy. And what effectiveness it has is largely based off of trying to piggyback off of other factions, which is why I view evaluating those factions as more important.

            “Further, look at what the e-mail leaks and political party hacks in the current US election has cause in the direction of the choice the Americans in deciding the selection of president.”

            This is a good example demonstrating the power the hack brigades have, and as importantly the power they do Not have. The truth is you can’t “hack” or “leak” what isn’t there. You can certainly fabricate them (as the Kremlin shamelessly has on several occasions) but they almost never gain traction precisely because the Kremlin can’t prove it.

            Here I think blaming the Kremlin troll army first and foremost is misguided. They certainly ARE to blame and I don’t like the idea of Wikileaks getting more steam, but this goes back to why it’s important to not talk out of both sides of your mouth, to retain some kind of discipline, and to not have such abject contempt for your own voters (in the case of the latter) or the law (in the case of the former). Because it can blow up in your face and again, you *can’t hack what isn’t there.*

            And in the case of the Email issue I think it absolutely SHOULD be affecting the election, because it goes to the heart of Hillary’s illegitimacy. Her campaign complaining about the trolls is a bit like complaining about being caught on tape robbing a house by a rival burglar who got there too late but decided to screw you anyway.

            It doesn’t change the substance of the offense. (And besides, the FBI had already been tracking

            “Frankly, if “it’s almost always been indirectly” very true, and it some
            times produces very real results.”

            Agreed, but again. Those are almost always the result of tapping into issues at home.

            Looking back at your example, the Kremlin couldn’t have hacked these things if they didn’t exist. They couldn’t have provided proof of something that didn’t happen, or at least not proof that would stand up to scrutiny.

            So focusing the trolls for taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves does not address the key issue they were taking advantage of.

            “Sorry the FBI of the USA has concluded that after 2 different
            investigation now that there was no information in these e-mails that
            significantly jeopardized national security of the US.”

            Utterly not true.

            Firstly, let’s for a moment pretend this nonsense was TRUE, in spite of the fact that the investigators have had to redact and declassify several things like emails to Chelsea.

            It doesn’t change the fact that Hillary would be legally disqualified from holding office, because the law is not Written about whether the information causes harm to the US or not, let alone whether or not there was intend to do so.

            Merely destroying or trying to conceal work related documents is enough.

            And secondly: it’s not true.

            Can you even address a single point in this?
            Including direct excerpts from the relevant law and quotes under oath from Comey?

            “All you are spouting is more Turmp campaign rhetoric.”

            I’m sprouting the basic law and what the report actually said.

            I can’t help if Trump’s campaign has the basic competence to mirror it.

            “Get over it the e-mails were never anything of great significance”

            Sorry, but the sworn testimony of the Director of the FBI (as shown on that video, among others) shows otherwise.

            The fact that the FBI had to REDACT unauthorized and private emails to people with no security clearance (like Chelsea Clinton) and declare them UNCLASSIFIED says otherwise.

            “and you have bought into the Russian propaganda line that they were.”

            Sorry, but I didn’t buy into this from Russian propaganda.

            I bought into this from someone who actually knows a dang about classified information handling, and through looking through the stuff.

            And again, even your own claim defeats itself. The hacks would not have been damaging had they not been the case.

            “No they are not, they are a very real and well organized propaganda
            effort of the FSB. ”

            They’re not that well organized, though they are real.

            And the truth is that even the KGB and GRU- which were much more terrifying organizations than the FSB has been (especially since it got into a fight with Kadyrov and had Putin cut them down to size)- tended to recruit the fringe kooks and try to organize them (and yes, that is what organizations like the CPUSA were).

            “If you think you can just excuse them of like this”

            I just did.

            In large part because I’ve fought against them and studied them.

            And again, the “very well organized” Troll Army has a louder bark than a bite. Most attempts to astroturf abroad for a totalitarian regime are.

            It certainly is not worth assuming that something like Brexit was primarily due to them.

            “than I think you must be one of them and are nothing in my opinion than a useful-idiot for the Russian Federation – State Media. However, I don’t
            think that you are in fact – a useful-idiot for the Russian Federation –
            State Media . What you are [and represent] to me is an opinion that is
            only naive and distorted to what the Russian misinformation propaganda
            has accomplish.”

            Cute.

            Well, for better or worse what you think or what your opinion is has no consequence on the validity of the arguments. The same as my opinions and thoughts.

            The truth is still the truth even if it comes out of the mouth of a liar like Joseph Goebbels. So whether or not I am naive, distorted, or a useful idiot has no consequence to the laws as written and the Sworn Testimony of the director of the FBI. Likewise that of someone who knows intelligence a bit.

            So can you refute a single bit of that video regarding the laws or the quotes from Comey?

            As for the Russian propaganda machine’s aims, I do not think my opinion is that naive or distorted.

            Putin is not a friend of the West, of America, Christianity, or the rest.I fully acknowledge the minions acting under his direction are trying to commit actions they see as doing the most damage to the West.

            It’s just that some times I can know that and not be particularly concerned. I can acknowledge what monsters they are and how they are looking to plant a knife in our backs, and still consider them a lesser problem.

            As is the case here.

          • Fortranz

            Do you get paid by how much you post at me? Try some thing a little less long this time please. I just might try and read it all and say something to its content.

            By the way, have you ewer heard this:

            Western Democracy is the best way of life, but is it the strongest?
            Western democracy is weakened by the very characteristic that have been its strengths self-criticism, freedom of speech and high moral ethical standards

            Western Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because another power is working to destroy it. Unless free people of Western democracy are willing to appose totalitarianism , Western democracy may indeed perish. – Jean Francois Revel 1983

            As long as there are people like you ,Western Democracies and totalitarian nations [Russia with Russian Nationalism as its political ideology] This warning of Revel’s is one that is foolish for people like you and all Western Democracies to ignore.

          • Turtler

            “Do you get paid by how much you post at me?”

            In a word, no.

            My pay is irregular to put it lightly, and it certainly is not something I get for posting.

            “Try some thing a little less long this time please.”

            Protip: Insulting people with feigned politeness tends to turn them off from heeding what you ask.

            And yes, I can tell it is feigned because of what you said later.

            As for your request, I might try. I know I often write too much. But…

            “I just might try and read it all and say something to its content.”

            That stuff is certainly not going to make me more inclined to appeal to your sensibilities. Especially after you all but accused me of being one of Putin’s fifty cent army.

            For whatever our differences, you don’t see me making demands of how you post in order for me to deign to respond.

            “By the way, have you ewer heard this:

            Western Democracy is the best way of life, but is it the strongest?
            Western democracy is weakened by the very characteristic that have been its strengths self-criticism, freedom of speech and high moral ethical
            standards”

            Absolutely, and I fully believe it is true.

            In addition to the number of home grown troubles, there’s the fact that our capital E Enemies (from Stalin and his Communist Parties, to Hitler and the Bundists and Fascists) have remorselessly, constantly tried to exploit our freedoms in an attempt to bring them down. Something they routinely murder people over if they ever tried it with them.

            “Western Democratic civilization is the first in history
            to blame itself because another power [Russia] is working to destroy it.”

            Maybe. I’m not so sure. You do get some very hand-wringing and Oh-Woe-For-Our-Sins stuff out of the Muslim world around the time Genghis’s successors tore through them. But I certainly agree it is the rare

            “Unless free people of Western democracy are willing to appose
            totalitarianism , Western democracy may indeed perish. – Jean Francois
            Revel 1983”

            Indeed, though I have some more confidence in that than Revel. Because the truth is that ironically, Western democracy can often sleepwalk in the face of mortal peril and escape unscathed in the way that others with a powerful enemy out to destroy them can’t.

            For instance, there was a good thirty or so years when it was official German Imperial policy to destroy the Monroe Doctrine and bring America low, which the US did not recognize and mostly confronted indirectly before WWI got in.

            There was also a good thirty-forty years after the Bolshevik coup where the US leadership thought the Soviets could be dealt with and might even be friendly while the Soviets wanted all the West to burn.

            Heck, even France- troubled as it is- has not gone belly up totalitarian in 200 years in spite of invasion, occupation, and a lot of coup attempts

            The Toyotomi and German Empire could only wish they had that luck when dealing with Ieyasu and the Pacifists. So I do think several of the things that make the West superficially vulnerable to subversion also protect it.

            “As long as there are people like you ,Western Democracies and totalitarian nations [Russia with Russian Nationalism as
            its political ideology]; this warning of Revel’s is one that is foolish
            for people like you and all Western Democracies to ignore.”

            Look moron: since you decided I’m not the one who was stupid enough to attribute the result of a democratic election in which Putin was a side issue at best to Putin.

            I’m also not the one who attributed the defeat of an investigated felon responsible for a series of pie on face foot shooting to him.

            If you truly respected Democracy as you claim to, you would recognize that if Putin had truly helped decide these elections, it was only THROUGH exploiting the nature of Democracy itself and the fact that there were plenty of people who were angry.

            But noooooooo~. You claim to revere democracy but are quick to blame totalitarians for people in a democracy committing the heinous sin of Not Voting The Way You Want.

            Grow up.

          • Fortranz

            “- Protip: Insulting people with feigned politeness tends to turn them off from heeding what you ask. -”

            Oh yes I see you are Russian and think that if someone doesn’t agree with you or the way you write [like Dostoevsky’s war and peace] that that is an insult

            “- As for your request, I might try. I know I often write too much. But…

            “I just might try and read it all and say something to its content.”

            That stuff is certainly not going to make me more inclined to appeal to your sensibilities. -”

            Grow up student I haven’t insulted you yet gust told you to get to the point that’s all.

            “- Especially after you all but accused me of being one of Putin’s fifty cent army. -”

            Really, and how did I do this? Oh yeah, it must have been when I told you with what I said that, I have more knowledge than you are giving me credit for.

            “- Look moron: since you decided I’m not the one who was stupid enough to attribute the result of a democratic election in which Putin was a side issue at best to Putin. -”

            And now who is resorting to piety ad hominem? By now.

          • Turtler

            “Oh yes I see you are Russian”

            Not even close, dumb@$$. I don’t even have a drop of Slavic blood in me and cannot write or speak Russian to save my life (something that might be likely if I were ever stupid enough to go to Dwarfistan).

            But of course, it’s MUCH easier to simply “see” that everybody who had a part in your Preferred Way not winning as a conscious enemy agent.

            “and think that if someone doesn’t agree with you or the way you write [like Dostoevsky’s war and peace] that that is an insult”

            No, I do not.

            But I do see that calling someone foolish or inferring that they somehow ignored Revel’s warnings is.

            Or are you going to seriously argue that “Foolish” is not an insult?

            “Grow up student I haven’t insulted you yet. I just told you to get to the point that’s all.”

            This just in: claiming a debate opponent has a great tenant of Western philosophy and calling them “foolish” for it is merely getting to the point, not an insult.

            Sorry, not gonna work. Likewise the implication that Putin’s troll farms played a driving role in the outcome of these elections.

            “Really, and how did I do this? Oh yeah, it must have been when I told
            you with what I said that, I have more knowledge than you are giving me
            credit for.”

            No, you don’t.

            If I were really a member of Putin’s Fifty Cent Army, I’d have been fired literally Years ago.

            I point you to my comment history, going back YEARS. With scarcely a nice word for Putin even in the damning-with-faint-praise category in it.

            But of course, you want to ignore that. Because it lets you cling to your delusions that you are right to broadly insult the integrity of millions of American and British voters as unthinking puppets of Putin.

            “And now who is resorting to piety ad hominem? By now.”

            Firstly, it’s ByE, not By.

            Secondly, no, it’s not resorting to ad hominem. It’s pointing out that you quite literally claimed that Putin and his troll army had “significant” ability to manipulate public opinion in the West.

            “they are learning rapidly that even in the US they can have significant
            influence in politics and political opinion in Western governments and
            media by manipulation of social media.”

            Among others.

            “What you are [and represent] to me is an opinion that is only naive and
            distorted, by what the Russian misinformation propaganda has accomplish in Western political opinion.”

            You see, for all your complaints about the length of my posts THIS is why I format them the way I do. So that I can retain proof of what somebody said, and cannot HONESTLY be accused of distorting someone’s claims.

            Hate to tell you this, but I’m not going anywhere and neither are many of the Brexiters. And if your best policy is to continue to insult as all as ignorant moppets of Putin, you’re just underlining why condescension and conspiracy theories do not win elections by themselves..

            So deal with it.

          • Fortranz

            “- But I do see that calling someone foolish or inferring that they somehow ignored Revel’s warnings is. -“????

            You got to have a very thin hide if you think that this:

            “- this warning of Revel’s is one that is foolish for people like you and all Western Democracies to ignore.-”

            Is a grievous insult to you and warrants the ire that you are giving it. Plus, you might think this about it also, I’m not calling just you foolish but any Western people(s) that this would refer to as well.
            Further, how does “inferring” that you and any Western Democracy that somehow ignores Revel’s warnings is either, foolish or an insult?

            Look Turtle stop pontificating at me you don’t have all the worlds knowledge and neither do I. We only disagree. So you deal with it.

            “- And if your best policy is to continue to insult as all as ignorant moppets of Putin, you’re just underlining why condescension and conspiracy theories do not win elections by themselves..-”

            Here is how Russia through both traditional media and social media distorts, corrupts and misinforms world public opinion:

            The Russian State Media widely uses propaganda of revisionist history myths of the “Great Patriotic War” [WWII]` as a moral right too justify it’s violence and denies responsibility of any crimes or political excesses against humanity of its USSR [Soviet] past. Russian State Media learned a long time ago that the world public memory of events seldom retains factual data for more than a few weeks. This media narrative’s purpose is to convey the impression that Russians are victims of Western Democracy’s hysteria. That Western Democracy’s institutions colluded in falsifying the Media and intimidate or politically corrupt other nations by abusing and corrupting laws or governments. Russian State Media does this with the certain knowledge that very few citizens of Western Democracy are interested in much more than a single declarative sentence to summarize events that are inherently complex. Making it possible for citizens of Western Democracy’s too be duped into substituting irrelevant but memorable misinformation points into the world public opinion and memory of events.

            Now if you fail to see this is going on all the time than I doubt you ever will. But my hope is you will get out your denial and think about it.
            Now Good bye [I’m done with you again]

          • Turtler

            “You got to have a very thin hide if you think that this:”

            No, I simply know what the definition of Foolish is.

            That and naive, among others.

            “Is a grievous insult to you and warrants the ire that you are giving
            it. ”

            Yes, frankly, it is.

            Because somebody “merely” telling you F*** you is a jerk who can be shrugged off.

            But insulting what I have done for years and years about the most important cause of either of our lives- the defense of the West-?

            That is something else.

            “Plus, you might think this about it also, I’m not calling just you
            foolish but any Western people(s) that this would refer to as well.”

            Which would be a bit more convincing if you hadn’t gone out of your way to identify that attack as being against me.

            “What you are [and represent] to me is an opinion that is only naive and
            distorted,”

            “As long as there are people like you… ]; this warning of Revel’s is one that is foolish for people like you and all Western Democracies to ignore.”

            “Further, how does “inferring” that you and any Western Democracy that somehow ignores Revel’s warnings is either, foolish or an insult?”

            Do I seriously have to explain how an accusation that someone has ignored one of the great threats to the West and one of its’ issues is insulting?

            “Look Turtle stop pontificating at me you don’t have all the worlds
            knowledge and neither do I. We only disagree.”

            On this much I agree.

            However, I do not need all the world’s knowledge and neither do you, if we did Putin or one of the other nasties would have won a long time ago.

            I do however know the meaning of the term foolish. Likewise that of naive.

            And I also know that one of Putin’s mouthpieces didn’t just up and *fabricate* one of the largest intelligence leaks in history.

            “So you deal with it.”

            And I am.

            “Here is how Russia through both traditional media and social media, distorts, corrupts and misinforms world public opinion:”

            I am painfully well aware of what the Kremlin does in terms of the media, and has done for centuries. I’ve been fighting it for years now and have watched a couple Presidents go through the cycle of coming in naively hoping Putin could be a friend or ally, realizing his perfidy, and ending up at odds with them. Only for their challengers to come to the table arguing that Putin really isn’t at fault, the West isolated him, etc.

            And the cycle repeats.

            On the rest of the paragraph, I fully agree. You give a good summary of the Russian psychosis and how it has been marketed.

            However, the caveat I add is in that Putin’s propaganda is a little bit more insidious than even that. In that it does contain half-truths and sometimes full truths. If the Kremlin weren’t opportunistic or willing to exploit chances other people threw at it- like the Bushes, Obama, and now most grievously Clinton- it would have gone out of business a long time ago.

            That is the problem. And if we do not stay wary of ourselves and Putin’s allies, we might well get dragged down to something approaching their level. Which will allow the Kremlin to air everybody’s dirty laundry.

            That is as true a threat with Trump as with anyone else.

            “Now if you fail to see that has been going on since its beginnings in 1917 and all the time in Russia, than I doubt you ever will.”

            Already have, and it extended to much earlier than 1917. Just look at how Olha of Kyiv and Alexander Nevsky have been made into heroic figures in spite of their despotism, oppression, and on occasion genocide.

            The Bolsheviks didn’t get that ball rolling. They simply appropriated it.

            “But my hope is you will get out your denial and think about it.”

            Denial only applie if someone claims something does not exist, so it does not apply to me.

            I do not deny the Kremlin’s propaganda machine is hard at work and tries to influence politics. I have been doing my small part to fight it for years.

            What I do deny is apocalyptic claims about its’ effectiveness or ability to swing entire foreign elections. In large part BECAUSE of my knowledge of it and its’ history.

            “Now Good bye [I’m done with you, again]”

            Except you didn’t get “done” with me before, so Again does not apply.

    • Turtler

      Well said on the whole, and I agree. But in terms of that….

      “Why has the Department of Homeland Security ordered 450 million
      rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets and is planning to buy a
      further 750 million rounds (this from a conspiracy theory website, so
      consider the source)?”

      I can imagine there are plenty of reasons for this, some sinister or dangerous (not necessarily imminently dangerous, but something to keep you awake), but mostly pretty mundane or even goofy. Ultimately, ammunition expenditure tends to be quite extensive. Especially since mandated life fire practce on the range came into vogue years and years ago. So a lot of times you have tens or hundreds of millions of these things being shot off.

      And a lot of those that aren’t being shot off just sit there and sometimes literally rot. Ammunition doesn’t go bad nearly as often as it did in-say- the Blackpowder era, but it does on occasion. So a lot of times you have to add more to replace it.

      All of this just to keep the ammunition levels Even and meeting the stockpile requirements, let alone to grow them. And yeah, the government- including DoHS- have to meet stockpile requirements for various contingencies, “You must have X amount of bullets and Y amount of magazines on hand in case this happens.” And yes, one of those is in fact civil war, a coup attempt, or having to basically go to war against a domestic insurgency (which could be used theoretically by the wrong person to try and crush the public).

      If that’s worrying, you’re right. It should be. But it’s better to be prepared than not to be, and it gets lumped in with other things like the possibility of a zombie invasion, imminent outbreak of WWIII, or a coup by the Girl Scouts (yeah, that last one is serious).

      And finally, there’s the possibility of some back scratching in the famously inbred military requisitions system. People ordering more munitions than they need in order to create a demand, give old business partners a job, and the like.

      So I wouldn’t view this as too imminently worrying, even as someone who has had their faith in government be beaten.

  • Fortranz

    Russian Nationalism – is a redefinition of former Soviet [USSR} ideology and practices in the current Russian authorities/institutions and leadership. It is based on the ideas of ideological superiority of “Russian Compatriots” and territorial neocolonialism of the former USSR borders. As well as, application of the Russian Orthodox Church theological theory on Russians being the Chosen People. Current Russian government is institutionally and economically similar in structure to Fascist governments in terms of these ideological principles. Russian Nationalism’s ideology is based on the illusion of acceptability of its fallaciously perceived interests of the Russian people. It further will violate principles of international law too imposes on the world its own version of truth of the national interests of its citizens. Current Russian Nationalism’s [Putins] leadership politics is consistent with Fascist totalitarian ideas of, cult of the supreme leader, nationalist great power chauvinism, nostalgia for Soviet [USSR] past and religious traditionalism.

    Russian Nationalism – in the Russian State Media widely uses propaganda of revisionist history myths of the “Great Patriotic War” [WWII]` as a moral right too justify it’s violence and denies responsibility of any crimes or political excesses against humanity of its USSR [Soviet] past. Russian State Media learned a long time ago that the world public memory of events seldom retains factual data for more than a few weeks. This media narrative’s purpose is to convey the impression that Russians are victims of Western Democracy’s hysteria. That Western Democracy’s institutions colluded in falsifying the Media and intimidate or politically corrupt other nations by abusing and corrupting laws or governments. Russian State Media does this with the certain knowledge that very few citizens of Western Democracy are interested in much more than a single declarative sentence to summarize events that are inherently complex. Making it possible for citizens of Western Democracy’s too be duped into substituting irrelevant but memorable misinformation points into the world public opinion and memory of events.

    Further, Western Democracies are societies in which both internal [domestic anti-government groups] and external threats [Russian Nationalist Imperialism] that seek its end, appear [or are made to appear] to be fighting for legitimate aims [eg: pro-Russian separatists in East Ukraine]. While casting its defenders [USA, EU, UK, Canada, Australia, NATO etc.] as repressive reactionaries. Even the internal forces of peace, reconciliation and legitimacy of the Western Democracies [political opposition to Russian Imperialism in the Ukraine] are discredited and paralyzed by the Western Democracies themselves. Through their internal and external excessive self-criticism, denial and self-doubt and political compromise of their legitimate aims.

  • Turtler

    Nope, Don’t Buy it. Sorry. I don’t know who these “experts” are, but I don’t believe them. And not only do I not believe them, I wonder how much time they’ve spent wargaming this stuff.

    Yes, wargaming, even for entertainment. Because I do think there’s an awful lot to be said for digging through official figures and primary sources, and then going through the trouble of placing unit after unit after unit and trying to calculate things like rates of reinforcement, reinforcement pools, and whatnot.

    The truth is that the USSR was always a great power capable of threatening peace in Eurasia singlehandedly with masses of troops, even before it got WMD and the ability to shoot them across continents. It had an industrial and population capacity to put dozens of millions of people and the associated troops in the field and to REPLACE those as they got steadily destroyed or ground down. In other words, to fight a full scale total war on a global scale for YEARS and YEARS and YEARS.

    And this is before we get into its’ diplomatic and intelligence resources it had. Including the unalloyed fealty of every Communist party in the world until around 1956, and then most of them even after that. A global fifth column responsible for such things as sabotage of the French, Belgian, and Dutch war efforts and British diplomatic will in the lead up to WWII.

    Then thanks to to those spies, they managed to get their hands on the fruits of the Manhatten project and a little while later gathered the power to all but obliterate life on Earth in quanities much larger than they can maintain now.

    Putin and Russia are still a threat, do not get me wrong. However, I agree with Mark Steyn. They are dangerous both because of the totalitarian pathologies that have ravaged them for so long but also because of their weaknesses. A male population halving itself due to lack of reproduction and then keeling over early from runaway untreated STDs and alcoholism is not something you want to try and fight a total war with. And they lacked the resources to properly maintain many of their WMD like the Kursk, let alone get new ones.

    The fact that Ukraine has gotten the best of their poison proxies and false flagged troops so far says plenty about how they have fallen.

    • Alex George

      I think you are right. Russia is perhaps more dangerous in its attitudes than the USSR was (as it is unpredictable sometimes to the point of stupidity), but it doesn’t have the strength or skill of its predecessor.

      • Turtler

        That’s basically my opinion as well, though of course stupidity and egotism can be as dangerous as genius in the right circumstances….

  • zorbatheturk

    Putin’s RuSSia offers the world very little. Unfortunately the West has been slow to stand up to the little wannabe Hitler in the Kremlin. Putin is an anachronism, a throwback to the spy days of the 50s. The KGB is all he knows. His only new trick has been learning how to steal. Easy enough when the siloviki control access to economic resources. To do anything in RuSSia requires a bribe. Rarely if ever do corrupt states achieve much for their citizens. Not much chance of change in RuSSia. A RuSSian is a shitizen, not a member of a civil society. All they can hope is to survive like a rat.

    • Alex George

      True. I think this part of the article goes too far: “And he adds that because the current Kremlin is less interested in promoting a single ideological agenda than was the USSR, it can build ties to groups that in the past would have opposed Moscow”

      The fact is that the USSR had plenty of involvement with groups who did not share its ideology. It was capable of supporting and working through diverse groups in the West. And it did it better than modern Russia does.

      Just look at the balls-up in Crimea recently, where the FSB paraded a supposed Ukrainian saboteur and forgot that the alleged terrorist incident actually happened two days AFTER they arrested him! Yuri Andropov must be rolling in his grave…