On the heels of my “Left Becomes Right” article, Ben Shapiro wrote a piece with which I heartily agree.
But, as it turns out, many of those who mock “muh principles” have no actual principles other than empty tribal victory. Never was that clearer than this week when several of the self-appointed members of the Trump-ardent defense squad went full social justice warrior, invading a Shakespeare in the Park performance of “Julius Caesar” that depicts President Trump as Caesar. Screaming “Liberal hate kills!” they stormed the stage, called audience members Joseph Goebbels and held up the production. Those who objected to this obtuse behavior were simply being hamstrung by “muh principles,” they then proclaimed.
Except that there were no principles at stake here. What was the supposed principle? Perhaps it was that artists shouldn’t make art that invokes images of violence inflicted on a president. Then why weren’t they upset about a rodeo clown dressed up as President Obama in 2013? Perhaps it was that radical rhetoric leads to violence. Then why weren’t they upset when candidate Trump urged his followers to clock protesters? Perhaps it was that shutting down others’ free speech is bad — a sort of ironic lesson for the left. Then why didn’t they say so, rather than claiming that the content of the play justified their activity? And why would this be a good strategy, given that the self-immolating hard left’s free speech shutdowns have backfired so dramatically that even Obama and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have been forced to condemn them?
Principles aren’t fluid things. They aren’t to be discarded in order for us to defend them. So to mock principled behavior, as many on the right have in recent weeks after two screeching douche crackers rushed the stage during a production of Julius Caesar, is counterproductive, as well as contradictory.
Here’s the thing, folks. Those of you claiming we’re at war are missing a crucial piece of effective warfare – something I’ve discussed previously when I talked about Russia’s information operations. We are not fighting a war with guns and grenades. We’re fighting a war for the very heart of America. We are fighting a war FOR our principles, and we can’t drop kick them in the nuts in order to protect them. We can’t take a dump on the First Amendment – exactly like the left is doing – to protect the First Amendment. If we want to win, we need numbers. We need numbers at the voting booth and on the ground promoting the same principles certain people like Loomer and her pal want to shit on in retaliation for the left doing so, and we’re not going to get numbers using retarded leftist antics, because those to the right of center are just not that dumb.
Yeah, you’re going to make rabid Trumpanzees screech with utter joy when you use the leftists’ antics against them, but those aren’t the people you want to win over. They’re already in your camp.
All that said, I present my friend James Schardt.
Remind me never to follow Col. Kurt Schlichter into combat.
In his latest Townhall column, Schlichter shoots back at Ben Shapiro’s article pointing out that if we don’t keep hold of our principles, we are no better than the Left. Schlichter says points out if you don’t win, your principles don’t matter, because they will be ignored by others.
If he fights like he argues, he’ll get me killed for no good reason.
To quote Sergeant Harper from the book Sharpe’s Rifles, “There are two kinds of officers, sir: killin’ officers and murderin’ officers. Killin’ officers are poor old buggers that get you killed by mistake. Murderin’ officers are mad, bad, old buggers that get you killed on purpose.”
Schlichter falls into the second category. He wants to use the Left’s tactics against them. But he forgot to assess the battlefield. He forgot to determine whether the Left’s tactics are actually effective. Culturally, the left is in a position of dominance, so their tactics have to work, right?
Let’s not forget that the left lost big this last election. Let’s not forget they just lost a special election in Georgia where Pajama Boy lookalike Jon Ossoff just lost to Republican Karen Handel.
So not quite.
Obviously, comedy, mockery, making your opponent look absurd then presenting your own side as an alternative works. Telling a story with an example of your opponent as the villain works. Showing how your ideas will benefit an individual or group and/or showing how your opponent’s ideas have hurt them works.
Making an ass out of yourself in public does not.
What Schlichter is advocating roughly the equivalent of: “after fending off a full frontal assault over half a mile of kill zone causing 75 percent casualties to the enemy, let’s do a suicidal charge for our side.”
I don’t want to follow that guy.
We are in a fight for the hearts and minds of America. Most people don’t pay attention to politics. They don’t care. All they want is for tomorrow to be just a little better than today. They see politics as snippets and sound bites. The Left understood this for the longest time. They worked to win the hearts and minds of the general public, and Democrats were viewed as the ones with hearts, because there were very few alternatives to their information so they did not need to do much to keep people convinced their beliefs were correct.
Then, the Internet came about. The Left couldn’t stop alternative information from getting to the masses. People could share ideas without the Left as a filter, and suddenly the Left needed cheerleaders to keep their own people in line. They needed to show their own people that they were doing something to fight back against the “wrong” ideas of the right. Disrupting speeches, getting conservative or libertarian TV shows canceled, blocking highways.
Were these actions effective?
They only worked for those already convinced and engaged. For the people who wanted to hear what the other side had to say, who just wanted to watch a TV show, to go to work in the morning, they looked like a bunch of braying jackasses.
People don’t listen to braying jackasses.
But Schlichter wants us to behave like jackasses, because he already knows we’re right. The tactics he is advocating are a Pyrrhic victory, if they are any sort of victory at all.
We’ve seen it on our side before with open carry. Guys walking around with rifles because they could. “If you don’t exercise your rights they aren’t rights at all!” The actual effect was to alarm the public, annoy the police who had to investigate and figure out if the armed person was psycho or just stupid, and invigorate gun control advocates who now had an opportunity to paint the gun rights crowd as a bunch of buffoons. They also prompted several establishments that were more than happy to quietly follow state law regarding open carry and simply serve coffee or food to their customers without drama, to publicly ask their customers to leave their guns out of their stores.
Congratulations, jackass! You just delayed removing those Texas State laws you were protesting by two years. WINNING!
If you want to be politically active, remember most people are not. Cheerleading only works on people who already agree with you. Baseball fans generally do not care about the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Convince people your ideas are correct. That leads to victory at the voting booth. Disrupting a play or speech only makes you look like a jerk. It makes you look like even you don’t think your ideas are good enough to convince anyone.
Before you adopt a tactic used by the Left, make sure it is productive, that it works. Think before you act. Fighting the Left isn’t enough. What Schlichter is pushing isn’t winning, it’s just fighting, and fighting poorly at that.
I’ll fight all day long, but I want to win. Go ahead and pull ideas from the Left’s playbook, but think before you use them.
What I’m about to say won’t be popular, but I’ve never been one to chase acclaim or write anything for the sake of people agreeing with me. I’ve said this more than once: I don’t write for anyone but myself, and this time is no exception. I had to consider my reaction to the news that two right-wing activists rushed the stage in New York City during a performance of Julius Caesar.
The play has drawn controversy, because the title character apparently resembles President Trump.
At first, I thought it was a non-story.
There was a small part of me that even laughed a bit, because I admire the refusal to allow the left to normalize violence against the right – especially after the terrorist assassination attempt from a few days ago, the call for the murder of the President from a frothing, sub-cretinous zealot writing for the HuffPost, and the pasty, fat Twitter bitch proudly launching the #HuntRepublicanCongressmen hashtag after Hodgkinson’s rampage.
But then I walked myself back a bit. What was I thinking?
I was reacting in little more than revenge, stroking a quick schadenboner at the idea of fighting back. But this isn’t fighting back. This isn’t even close.
This is Julius Caesar. The play existed long before Trump.
A few years ago, the same play was performed in a modern vein, with the title character resembling then-President Obama.
This isn’t anything new and different. Shakespeare’s plays are constantly being adapted to modern times. Coriolanus with modern weapons and Serbian landscape, O with Julia Stiles and Mekhi Phifer, modern dialogue reenacting Othello at an elite private high school, The Lion King (if you can’t see Hamlet in that one, I can’t help you), the modern version of The Taming of the Shrew with the late Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles (directors love her for these types of roles, I guess), and the numerous times Romeo and Juliet been redone with a modern flavor, including West Side Story and the odd, but interesting Leonardo di Caprio/Clare Danes film from the 1990s,
This is art. It’s what art does. It reflects modern life, it adapts, it recreates classics for modern audiences, it constructs unique interpretations.
This wasn’t a leftist attempt to somehow normalize violence against the right. Julius Caesar is an inherently political play, and lest we forget, Caesar is assassinated in the middle of the production, the conspirators are forced to flee, and Brutus is filled with doubt and remorse at betraying Caesar until the very end and his suicide. The play does not advocate political assassination. It shows the aftermath of betrayal.
But that didn’t matter to Laura Loomer and Jack Posobiec, who decided it was their right to interrupt others’ work and artistic efforts to spew their froth flecked rhetoric.
This wasn’t courageous protest. This was an obnoxious stunt that interrupted a work of art. Whether or not you agree with the portrayal of Caesar as Trump – and whether or not you agreed with the 2013 portrayal of Caesar as Obama, it’s art, and these two poo-flinging, froth-flecked chimps had no right to interrupt the play and to try and stifle others’ artistic expression.
There’s no excuse for it. Much like there’s no excuse for Antifarts disrupting peaceful speeches and demonstrations, there’s no excuse for these two incoherent loons disrupting a public performance.
Loomer and Posobiec had no right to that stage. They had no right to interrupt that play and to take a large, steaming dump on the work of others. This wasn’t them exercising their freedom of speech. This was two right-wing assholes acting exactly like the left-wing assholes we criticize for their attempts to shut down voices of dissent.
No, they did not stand up to political violence.
No, this was not a Trump assassination play any more than it was an Obama assassination play four years ago.
I wouldn’t expect Trumpanzees to exhibit deep thinking on any level, but I would at least hope they’ve read Shakespeare in what passes for whatever institution of higher learning that saw it fit to give them their respective degrees.
These two jerks disrupted a Shakespeare play, because their tender snowflake labia were chafed at the main character’s resemblance to the President.
They did it for attention, and now they’re asking equally ignorant supporters to pay legal fees for their obnoxiousness.
What makes them different from any prognazi who disrupts peaceful assemblies or screeches to shut down speech it doesn’t like? What makes them different from Trigglypuff?
Here’s a clue, snowflakes. It doesn’t, and they aren’t.
They were butthurt that their deity in the White House was somehow portrayed as the subject of an assassination. They obviously haven’t read the Shakespeare play. They obviously haven’t seen previous versions, including the one in which the title character was a tall, black man with an obvious resemblance to Barack Obama, and if they did, it certainly didn’t offend them enough to disrupt the performance.
They figured given the inexcusable antics by Kathy Griffin, Madonna’s admission of wishing to burn down the White House, Snoop Dogg’s video in which he shoots Trump in the head, and other violent, cowardly celebutards, they had a free ticket to a bit of asshurt, howling snowflakery.
These two cheese dicks did what any screeching, fascist progtard would do. And there are supporters out there who are raising money for Loomer’s legal defense?
First, it’s incendiary political speech. Then it’s Shakespeare. I can’t wait until these perpetually offended loons start protesting The Lion King for portraying the assassination of a benevolent orange and ginger leader by his evil sibling. Pretty soon we will become a vanilla society, afraid to offend anyone who screeches loudly enough, facing fines for uttering a bad word, and afraid to speak our minds in public.
What these two did was emulate perfectly and with a not insignificant amount of tone deafness everything we hate about the fascist left.
Congrats, Loomer and Posobiec. You’ve become the left.
Well, here it is – the dumbest thing I’ve read all day. It’s the runaway winner and gold medalist in the idiot olympics. It’s weapons-grade moronic. It would be a crime not to ridicule it.
Some fuckwitted cock smoker has broken my brain today with his utter drain bamaged dumbshittery. Before I launch into analysis of what passes for intelligent discourse on the left this day, let’s define a few terms, shall we?
Treason: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Collusion: secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose.
Obstruction of justice: Obstruction of justice is defined in the omnibus clause of 18 U.S.C. § 1503, which provides that “whoever . . . . corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be (guilty of an offense).”
Act of war: An act of war is an action by one country against another with an intention to provoke a war or an action that occurs during a declared war or armed conflict between military forces of any origin.
High treason: Treason against a sovereign or state. We don’t have that in our legal code. We have treason, which I defined above, and which is punishable by death. There have been five people in total executed for treason against the United States in our history: Moses Dunbar (1777), David Farnsworth (1778), Herbert Hans Haupt (1942), Thomas Hickey (1776), and William Bruce Mumford (1862).
Morality: principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
This creature Jason Fuller – it would be a stretch to call him a writer (hell, I’m not even sure he’s a homo sapien) – has penned a column for the HuffPost that is so filled with absolute ass-fucking absurdity, that I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t ridicule him. Fuller claims that it’s not enough to impeach Donald Trump. America must be “redeemed” by trying him for treason and executing him.
Yeah, I know. I had to read that one a few times, because it’s so mindnumbingly fucktarded, it was actually painful.
In just these short few months, Donald Trump has managed to gut environmental protections; sign two executive orders attempting to implement a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries; fire the former head of the FBI specifically for investigating the Trump campaign ties to Russia; isolate the United States from much of the rest of the world; and submit a budget which would eviscerate social programs designed to help the worst off among us. And these are just the things I can think of off the top of my head, without even conducting a search.
I’m assuming that by “gut environmental protections” this gelatinous lump is referring to the Paris Climate Agreement that has absolutely no enforcement authority, because participation is voluntary, that the most egregious polluters in the world almost certainly will ignore, but it’s great messaging for them to sign, which doesn’t even mandate changes to state laws, and which most companies don’t need to be environmentally conscious, because green technologies have become less expensive, more effective, and more desired by shareholders these days and are already being used.
Yeah, that’s some high treason right there, shit guzzler!
Travel ban on Muslim-majority countries… Oh, you mean like Indonesia, which has nearly a 90 percent Muslim majority? Nope.
Pakistan, which is 96 percent Muslim? Nope.
Bangladesh, Turkey, or Egypt which are all more than 90 percent Muslim? Nope, not those either.
Saudi Arabia, right? I mean, they’re 100 percent Muslim. Surely, travelers from that country – from where the majority of the 9/11 hijackers came – would be banned from the United States!
Yeah, perhaps it’s time for Fuller to shut his cakehole, but unfortunately, he goes on.
Submitting a budget Fuller didn’t like is apparently equivalent to treason. Firing the FBI Director, which was no-doubt a dick move, but which he had the authority to do, and which did nothing to stop the investigation into Russia, but rather was followed by the appointment of a special prosecutor, is also treasonous, according to this incoherent moist, brown, oily, malodorous stain on the underwear of humanity.
These are all the things he can think of off the top of his pointy little head. Not a great accomplishment, monkey.
There is very little doubt left that Trump and his team colluded with members of the Russian government to try and rig the election in his favor, even if the Russians did not outright hack the voting process itself; while we may not yet have 100% incontrovertible proof of their collusion, the administration’s attempts to hide previous contacts with the Russians, their willingness to blatantly lie about their communications, and the contents of Trump’s meetings with former FBI director Comey are all incriminating on their own. And Trump’s decision to fire Comey specifically to hamper that investigation is obstruction of justice, no matter what spin he or anyone else puts upon it.
Trump and his team colluded with the Russians! But we don’t have proof that they did! But Comey said Trump wasn’t under investigation! But he got fired! But Comey’s testimony didn’t reveal collusion! But we know there was collusion! Because DERP!
And the interference of the Russian government to circumvent our democratic procedures for electing the President of the United States is an act of war. There is no other way to characterize it; this was an all-out attack by the government of Russia on our democratic process, the very foundation of our country. This elevates Trump’s simple obstruction of justice to high treason under the Constitution.
Note the definition of “act of war” above, turnip. Also note, as I explained several times on this site, there has been no evidence that the Russian hacking altered votes in any way. They probed our states’ election systems for vulnerabilities via hacking before the election took place. They openly admitted to preferring one candidate over another. They launched an elaborate information operations campaign, which has been described as “information warfare.” But an “act of war” is not a definition that fits.
We can also argue that Trump’s continued insistence on a travel ban — he’s not even disguising his intent anymore, based on his recent tweets — serves the purpose of assisting ISIS, which is arguably the nation’s biggest enemy right now. Trump’s campaign rhetoric and subsequent travel ban orders against the Muslim population serve as a valuable recruitment tool for the Islamic State by giving them credibility. ISIS’ whole narrative is that Western powers seek to destroy Islam; Trump’s willingness to wage what amounts to a constitutional jihad against all of Islam makes their entire case for them…
That Trump fails to recognize how much he is assisting ISIS with his rhetoric — or simply does not care — is a subject for debate, but it is a fact which he cannot dispute. By choosing to ignore this fact, he is aiding the greatest foreign adversary in the modern world and therefore committing another act of treason.
You can certainly argue it, turnip, but that that doesn’t make it in any way true. A temporary travel restriction on six countries that even the Obama Administration saw as a specific threat – enough to impose travel restrictions on for several months – is certainly not giving aid and comfort to the enemy or adhering to them in any way, which before the Constitution was adopted was pretty clearly defined in the treason statute of Pennsylvania as “to aid and assist any enemy… by joining the armies of the enemy, or by enlisting, or procuring, or persuading others to enlist for that purpose; or by furnishing such enemies with arms or ammunition, provision, or any other article or articles, for their aid or comfort, or by carrying on a traitorous correspondence with them.”
In other words, turnip, acting to secure America’s borders – regardless of whether or not you agree that it will protect our country, and regardless of whether or not it actually assists ISIS (and quoting a CNN story that cites a British scholar who claims it will boost recruitment and help ISIS is not the same as definitive proof that it has, doorknob) – does not qualify under the definition of actively providing aid and comfort to the enemy.
This same argument also applies to top-ranking White House and Republican aides, including — but likely not limited to — Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Vice President Pence. While they may not be participating quite as directly as Trump himself, the fact that they support his agenda and are helping to protect him means that they are accessories and are thus also committing acts of treason. All must face justice.
Well, isn’t that precious? Any one who disagrees with this derptastic shit nugget’s frothing indictment of Trump’s actions must be tried for treason and executed. Got that, boys and girls? Here’s your unhinged progtard, who wants to kill anyone who supports Trump’s policies.
The rest of the piece is at about the same level of derp as the part I already fisked. Lots of incoherent rambling and an insistence that Trump and anyone who supports him must be tried for treason – without actually providing any evidence of collusion, obstruction of justice, or “high treason,” whatever the hell that is, and however the hell it differs from regular ole, garden variety treason – and an immediate call for executions. Because Jason Fuller is an expert on treason, you see, working a self-admitted low wage job somewhere in a small American town, his assumption of guilt based on his own froth flecked unhingeary must inevitably end in death for all involved.
After an unhinged Bernie Bro yesterday decided to attempt political assassination, the site pulled Fuller’s tardsome rant, which is why I linked to a Google cached version of it. If I have to suffer through the fucktardulous derpery, so do you!
In a spectacular show of tone deafness, Fuller claims the only way to restore morality to America is to murder those with whose politics he disagrees after trying them for treason!
This is the path America is on.
This is our current trajectory.
Antifa retards trying to silence dissenting voices by throwing projectiles and Molotov cocktails and threatening political opposition. Nuclear-grade fucktard Bernie supporters trying to assassinate politicians with whom they disagree.” Delusional monkeys with keyboards claiming that the only way to make America moral again is to kill the President, Vice President, and Congressional leaders who support the President’s agenda, presenting not even a shred of coherent evidence to support his insane claims of treason. Celebricunts traumatizing the President’s kid while culturally appropriating ISIS’ trademark beheading on the national stage.
These people want to kill you. I say this as someone who was firmly in the #NeverTrump camp during the election. I say this as someone who many times disagrees with this administration’s policies. I say this as someone who sees what is going on in this nation and carries an extra magazine or two for her M1911 anywhere she goes these days.
Because these people want to kill you. They want a civil war. They proudly admit to be preparing for it.
And with cretins like this Fuller tardzilla fanning the flames of violence, they’re likely to get it.
I didn’t see this testimony Rand Waltzman presented in April before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity before I wrote my recent post on Russian information operations, but it certainly seems Mr. Waltzman of the Rand Foundation was reading my mind.
Or I somehow read his by osmosis.
All I know is this testimony on the “Weaponization of Information” echoes broadly what I wrote in a recent post about Russian information warfare.
Russia has a very different view of IO than the United States (or the West in general). For example, a glossary of key information security terms produced by the Russian Military Academy of the General Staff contrasts the fundamental Russian and Western concepts of IO by explaining that for the Russians IO are a continuous activity, regardless of the state of relations with any government, while the Westerners see IO as limited, tactical activity only appropriate during hostilities. In other words, Russia considers itself in a perpetual state of information warfare, while the West does not.
This is part of the reason why I believe we’re so far behind the Russians when it comes to information warfare. We are complacent, fat, and happy. We’re glad to simply complain about our food being prepared not to our specifications in our favorite restaurants, bitch about slow wi-fi, or grumble about Russian election hacking as a way to justify our beliefs that the C-hag won last year, or alternately as a way to bellyache about all those unwarranted attacks on 45.
We’re too lazy to understand just how dangerous, complicated, and intricate Russian information operations are. The “Lisa Case” in Germany showed skilled manipulation of the news cycle and the Russians’ ability to stir up unrest and even impact diplomatic relations between the two countries. A young Russian-German girl had gone missing for 30 hours and was reported by First Russian TV to have been raped by migrants. The story turned out to be fake, but Russian media flogged that story like a fat submissive in vinyl chaps. The Russians effectively used a combination of media, the Internet, social media, and Foreign Affairs Ministry statements to manipulate the story to suit their needs.
– A journalist from the First Russian TV channel picked up the case of the Russian-German girl and brought it to the main news in Russia;
– Russian foreign media like RT, Sputnik and RT Deutsch reported on the case;
– Social media as well as rightwing groups distributed the information on the internet;
– Demonstrations were organised via Facebook involving representatives of the German-Russian minority (Deutschlandrussen) as well as neo-Nazi groups;
– Russian foreign media in Germany reported from these demonstrations, which brought it to the German mainstream media;
– Finally, at the top political level, Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov made two public statements about his concerns about the inability of the German police and legal system to take such cases seriously because of political correctness.
Why would the Russians want to promote the narrative that it was Arab immigrants who kidnapped and raped the girl?
Well, for one, it gave Moscow the opportunity to foment unrest in the heart of Western Europe.
It also allowed Russia to undermine the populace’s confidence in their law enforcement structures, their government and its ability to protect them.
And it gave the Russians an opportunity to blame the mass numbers of refugees that Germany had taken in since the civil war in Syria began, as well as link up with far right nationalist groups, with whom Russia shares common bonds, given the resurgence of nationalist tendencies in Russia that are helping Putin galvanize support for his efforts to restore Russia’s world power status.
Rand Waltzman says Russian information warfare techniques are fairly unsophisticated, because troll farms and bots are easily traced.
It’s the combination of various efforts, coupled with soft power initiatives like youth
education indoctrination, glossy videos, sports stars and entertainment celebrities that makes their efforts much more sophisticated than what we’re accustomed to.
While Americans derp about how the mainstream media isn’t to be trusted and how they’re attacking our poor, angelic president, Russia uses the Internet, its broadcast and print outlets, and unwitting, useful idiots in our own country to subtly push their message to the masses.
While Americans stage boycotts of states whose politicians actually give a rat’s flying fuck who uses what bathroom, the Russians are probing our election systems for vulnerabilities. Just in case.
While Americans don pussy hats and boycott Ivanka Trump products, the Russians are using think tanks, “charitable” foundations, religious organizations and the Russian Orthodox Church, and expat groups to infiltrate society, influence politicians, and spread a pro-Russia message.
I don’t consider these initiatives unsophisticated, even though the tools they use are not complex.
But Waltzman is correct about one thing: the Russians consider themselves perpetually at war, and information warfare, as I said in my last article on the issue, is much cheaper than conventional military action.
The consider NATO their primary national security threat. They have never stopped. To them, NATO (and really, the United States) are the barrier they need to overcome to regain a world power status. And since they can’t match us militarily, they can certainly outwit us in the information operations arena.
If this doesn’t concern you…
If you think this is still about attacks on Trump…
If you refuse to recognize the strategic implications of the Russians’ efforts, because you’re so focused on defending your political candidate…
You are part of the problem. You are easily read and manipulated. Your behavior is predictable enough for the Russians to effectively target you and those like you.
We need to start thinking like they do – that we are in a perpetual state of information warfare – and act like it.
Information warfare isn’t new, but Russia is much better at it than we are.
But… but… but… Hillary!
But… but… but… Obama!
But… but… but… Trump!
Coming in 3… 2… 1..
Over the past few days – and months – we’ve seen an enormous amount of frothing DERP about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 Elections. Again. After Comey’s testimony, the left predictably screeched that his testimony was damning – that the President tried to obstruct justice when he urged the former FBI Director to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The right – again inevitably – celebrated the fact that Comey confirmed Trump wasn’t personally under investigation and that the New York Times report about contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians was mostly incorrect.
I’m not going to rehash my take on Comey’s testimony. I did so amply the other day, so if you’re interested and haven’t read it yet, please do.
But as I continue to read the vast mental flatulence on both the right and the left, I have to wonder why it is that both sides are ignoring the elephant in the room: Russia’s sophisticated, complex information warfare – not just against the United States, but also our allies. While the right derps that it’s time to forget the Trump/Russia thing, and the left screeches about impeachment, the Russians are engaged in some of the most advanced information warfare I have ever seen, and neither side seems interested in talking about it.
It’s not about the Trump/Russia nexus. It’s about Russia and its assaults on us and our allies.
It is quite obvious Russia cannot match us in conventional warfare. It’s largest State Armaments Program, approved in 2010 and intended to modernize its military and spend billions of dollars on procurement of new armaments over a 10-year span, was stymied by declining oil prices (at the time the SAP was approved, the Russians counted on oil prices staying above $70 per barrel) and western sanctions, among other things. The new 10-year SAP (the Russians approve one every five years) should be much lower than what the Defense Ministry likely wants, given the poor economic forecasts and continued sanctions by both the EU and the United States. And while they spend a lot more for their national defense as a percentage of GDP than we do, their real defense spending is a bit over $50 billion, compared with roughly $660 billion America alone spends on its defense (not to mention the more than $254 billion spent by other NATO members last year).
So let’s not kid ourselves. Russia is no match for us, and no match for the rest of NATO when it comes to conventional strength.
But I think they’re light years ahead of the West when it comes to propaganda, misinformation, disinformation, and manipulation. They know and understand their enemy (that would be us, boys and girls), and they are particularly good at exploiting vulnerabilities to achieve their goals through soft power and propaganda.
This is how they gain their advantage. They work to support public officials who they perceive will be either most supportive of or most easily manipulated into supporting Russia’s long term goals. And they do so surreptitiously and in a manner that uses witting and unwitting agents to spread propaganda and disinformation in support of its strategic goals.
Such operations could include anything from the spread of false information (are you thinking of the goofy Trump/Russia/hookers “dossier” leaked during the Presidential campaign?), to secret funneling of funds into the coffers of pro-Russian politicians, to planting manipulated or outright false news stories, to paying hackers to troll western news sites and post comments that support Russia’s long-term strategic goals, the Russians are experts in information warfare. Hell, they have an entire doctrine and military force just for information operations, which makes our IO efforts look amateurish by comparison! And if you think this new IO unit is only meant to “counter” western propaganda, there’s this bridge I want to sell you…
Recent reporting indicates that U.S. investigators believe Russia may have planted false news stories after having hacked Qatar’s state news agency last month.
The stories about Qatar’s support for terrorist groups caused a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf country, and FBI investigators sent to Qatar to examine the incident noted they believed Russian hackers were behind the intrusion – a claim the Kremlin, of course, denies. But there’s no denying that the move could have driven a wedge between the United States and its allies in the Middle East by quoting false remarks to Qatar’s ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel and questioned whether the American President would even last in office, causing its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to cut their political ties.
Was the fake news story planted by transnational criminal groups, and if so, for what purpose? And given the Kremlin’s ties with criminal organizations, and the fact that Moscow uses criminals to further its policy goals, does it really matter whose fingers were physically on the keyboards? Using criminals affords Russia some plausible deniability when it comes to their information operations, and Russia doesn’t appear at all hesitant to use them, given their more conventional tools are no match for the West.
Comey told lawmakers one of the reasons he decided to announce no charges in the Clinton private email server probe was because he was concerned about an apparently fake piece of Russian intelligence that suggested the Russians had communications indicating former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had assured Democrats she wouldn’t allow Clinton to be charged, and he feared that if the fake intel was released, it would undermine the Justice Department’s role in the probe.
Nuanced? Sure. Indirect? Yes. Cognizant that Comey would likely do everything possible to ensure the integrity of his agency – that nothing was more important to him? Absolutely.
The Russians knew their target and understood his likely motivations. It was a win for them either way. Either they release the alleged email from Lynch, undermining the DOJ probe, or they use Comey as an unwitting actor in their game, knowing he would sacrifice everything to ensure the integrity of his Bureau was not compromised, and they undermine his and the Bureau’s credibility in the eyes of at least half of the American public.
And let’s remember, it’s not just the West that the Russian hackers – witting or not – are targeting. In 2011, on the date of the Russian parliamentary election, a number of liberal internet sites experienced DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, including Ekho Moskvy, the New Times and Bolshoi Gorod magazines, the election monitoring organization Golos, and the business news and blogging site Slon.Ru.
Coincidence? If you think so, wanna buy a bridge?
They don’t just target the West. They use information operations to ensure their own populace and Russian nationals abroad toe the line in their “understanding” of world events and become politically involved to promote pro-Russia agendas wherever they live.
Furthermore, information warfare can cover a vast range of different activities and processes seeking to steal, plant, interdict, manipulate, distort or destroy information. The channels and methods available for doing this cover an equally broad range, including computers, smartphones, real or invented news media, statements by leaders or celebrities, online troll campaigns, text messages, vox pops by concerned citizens, YouTube videos, or direct approaches to individual human targets.
As I said a while ago, I doubt Trump wittingly colluded with the Russians, and no one has assessed this to this date (save for progtards who still refused to believe that Hillary Clinton lost the election). But I also said the Russians very subtly worked to manipulate public opinion in favor of Trump and erode confidence in our election system. It’s impossible to say whether this insidious campaign was in any way successful, and no reliable assessment exists to that end.
No one claimed the Russians successfully hacked election systems or manipulated votes, and frankly, that would be beneath them. They’re much more intricate and Gordian than that. While there is evidence of a GRU attempt to hack into a voting software supplier prior to last year’s election through spear phishing, no assessment of the effort’s effect on the actual election was made.
Besides, wasn’t it much more effective to hand certain documents to WikiLeaks instead? While Julian Assange still claims the Russians didn’t give WikiLeaks that information, as I have previously said, it’s doubtful he would know. It’s not like documents arrived on his doorstep postmarked “With Love, the Kremlin.”
Wouldn’t it be much more effective to work to discredit a certain candidate?
Wouldn’t it be easier to plant certain information that would influence an adversary’s actions and decisions in Russia’s favor?
NATO research shows:
Control of an opponent’s decision is achieved by means of providing him with the grounds by which he is able logically to derive his own decision, but one that is predetermined by the other side. This can be achieved:
- By applying the pressure of force.
- By assisting the opponent’s formulation of an appreciation of the initial situation.
- By shaping the opponent’s objectives.
- By shaping the opponent’s decision making algorithm.
- By the choice of the decision making moment.
Do you not believe that spreading disinformation to manipulate your adversary’s decision making process is much more sophisticated than hamhanded attempts at hacking election software?
The whole point of this is that both sides are so focused on politics, they’re ignoring the very real threat of Russian manipulation of candidates, elections, and societies writ large.
Our focus shouldn’t be a simplistic question about whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians (although, if anyone is proven to have done so, which they have not so far, they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law), but how Moscow used its information warfare efforts to exploit our vulnerabilities and impact our society and our political landscape, and gain insight into our leadership and their intentions.
This is the broader question that both the right and the left seem to be ignoring in their efforts to respectively defend or impugn the President.
We shouldn’t drop our investigation into Russian attempts to influence and manipulate, as it’s critical to understanding this sophisticated adversary. But ultimately, the threat is much bigger than the two political sides choose to acknowledge. While I see nothing but disdain and snark from certain people on the right about Russia hacking, fact is it’s a thing, and the hacking is part of a much bigger effort that needs to be analyzed and investigated, lest we fall even further behind the Russians in that realm.