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Intervening in foreign elections: oh the outrage!

CIA and FBI Now Agree: Russians Hacked to Help Trump

All right. Let's clear something out. To all those who are fuming over Putin's intervention in the US election, I'd like to remind that trying to manipulate elections is actually a well-known American sport. It was the CIA that started their work by intervening in foreign elections as early as 1948, when they influenced the outcome of the Italian elections. There's a book by Tim Weiner about it, called Legacy of Ashes. The purpose was to halt the advancement of the communists in Italian politics.

It was shortly thereafter that that CIA engineered the coup against Mossadegh in Iran. He was the democratically elected leader, right? Wasn't America supposed to be promoting democracy? Well, not really. The US conspired together with the British to install the Shah. We all know what happened after that. Axis of Evil? You created it, and now you're complaining about it!

And then there was Guatemala, Chile… The list could go on for quite a while. Hell, it even includes Japan, the paragon of post-war democracy! The liberal democrats there came to dominate Japanese politics in the early decades of that democracy. Sounds good – except that happened largely thanks to millions of dollars of covert CIA donations. We don't want the people to choose the wrong politicians, do we?

So let's see now. The only difference between those occasions and this year is that this time the effort was directed at the US. Boo-hoo. Tough life! But that's how the game has been played. It's a game the US has been playing for quite a while. The unique thing in this case is that the intervention was a cyber one, which is really part of the hybrid warfare. Russia used cyber tools to amplify the impact of their effort, and this includes the skillful use of echo chambers around the social media and the news organizations to quote and re-post the leaked emails, and flame up the hype.

The only new thing is that cyber tools are being used for achieving political goals. In a few years when a new medium is created that we still cannot conceive of right now, that medium is also going to be employed in that game. Does that surprise anyone?

And let's not pretend that the US hasn't been spying on a number of countries, having implanted spy software even in Russia – whose cover they now do not want to blow up, which is why Obama hasn't authorized an all-out show of cyber power in retaliation to Putin's intervention. It's a delicate game.

It's all the same old political warfare that we've known for ages. It's just that new tools are being employed in it. Cyber techniques tend to amplify the impact, yes. And Russia has perfected that art (let's just remember the way they disrupted Estonia and Georgia solely with cyber means). What's important is not so much whether the effort has achieved its objectives (which it did), but the fact that it has had an impact and has influenced the election. Russia the "smaller country that doesn't produce anything anyone wants to buy" (Obama being nice here), has steered the elections in the mightiest democracy in the world into their preferred direction – by using the Internet! Do I cringe because of the very thought of this? I sure do. But do I also take my hat down to Putin? Hell yeah. He played you guys. He raped your democracy pretty bad.

So… fine, America. Go ahead and retaliate if you like. Maybe expose Putin's links to the oligarchs. Like that's going to surprise anyone. Surely not anyone in Russia anyway. Or I don't know, block some of Putin's aides and the Russian intelligence officials from accessing their bank accounts abroad. Do whatever you want. But stop pretending that you're outraged, or that you have the moral high ground here. Because you do not. You've been beaten at your own game. So man the fuck up, swallow the shame and move the hell on. I assure you there'll be brighter days ahead. Because Obama is right: no one likes Russia. And that's not good for them in the long run.

Just make sure your incoming president doesn't make it so that no one would like America in 4 years, either. Because then you'd be truly fucked.

Source: Talk politics.

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