- February 24, 2020 at 23:39 #6604
To the surprise of few, the upcoming American presidential elections are already seeing interference from Russian hackers. The eyebrow-raising factor in this latest Muscovite attempt to influence the contest for the White House is that the Kremlin is giving aid to Senator Bernie Sanders, the current frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Although Russia will, of course, categorically deny interfering in America’s electoral cycle once again and never openly declare its intentions in backing Sanders, there are several possible reasons for its latest move.
When Trump was elected, hopes ran high in Moscow for a possible reconciliation between the United States and the Russian Federation: famously, Trump’s election was toasted with champagne in the Kremlin on the night of his victory. This was mostly due to Trump’s campaign rhetoric; he expressed admiration for Putin more than once, and made threats to withdraw the United States from NATO. No doubt this latter point was music to the Kremlin’s ears, since without US military power the alliance would lose most of its potency, and NATO has long been a thorn in Russia’s side. Not for nothing has it instigated aggressive military campaigns against Georgia and Ukraine, NATO aspirant nations.
The Trump presidency, however, has perhaps not been what Russia had hoped for. The sanctions placed on the Putin regime have not been lifted by Obama’s successor, and military aid to Ukraine has continued, even increased, with anti-tank capabilities and early-warning radar systems being supplied to assist Kiev in its war effort. Arguably more seriously (and certainly more tangibly), Trump authorized a cruise missile strike on the Shayrat airbase in 2017, an installation controlled by Russia’s Syrian government ally. In addition, the United States has not left NATO – nor does it show any signs of doing so.
It is perhaps logical, then, that Moscow is looking to the Democratic Party to start a more harmonious relationship between the White House and the Kremlin. The other candidates will be unlikely to win Russia’s cyber trust: Biden and Warren would likely once again portray America as the leader of the ‘Free World’, and adopt the pan-Western rhetoric common to the Obama era; Peter Buttigieg, a veteran of the United States Navy who served in the Afghan wars, would also not appear to the Kremlin to be the ideal man to curtail or reduce America’s military power. Sanders, therefore, may appear a logical choice of resident for the White House instead of his Democrat rivals, or indeed the current occupant.
Senator Sanders has long been a champion of social policies – hardly surprising, given his self-identification as a ‘democratic socialist’. His vision for the USA would result in the country’s inner workings resembling more of a European model, the most obvious facet being free healthcare for all American citizens, as well as the cancellation of student debt. To claim that Sander’s plans are ambitions would be a significant understatement; to implement them would necessitate an overhaul of the entire economic system of the United States. Some of the funding for his plans would come from reducing the size of the US military – something Russia would undoubtedly get behind. A 1988 visit by Sanders to the Soviet Union did, by his own admission, shape some of his views on foreign policy, another factor the Kremlin may find encouraging.
Sanders himself has spoken disparagingly of Putin and Russia, openly referring to Putin as a ‘dictator’. Yet Sanders does not have to like Russia for the Kremlin to make use of him, and while Sanders has publicly condemned any attempt by Moscow to help his campaign, unwanted Russian cyber help will undoubtedly become a focal point of the pre-election period.
Yet the Sanders campaign may be faced with the difficult choice of deciding whether or not they hate Trump’s Republican administration more than they resent Moscow’s attempts to interfere in America’s democracy. Sanders failed to secure the Democratic nomination in 2016, and at 78 years of age, the Vermont senator is very much in a last chance saloon. Trump, meanwhile, enjoys dedicated support from a core of Republicans, but many undecided voters will be unnerved and concerned by Sanders’ use of the word ‘socialism’, a term with a decidedly negative connotation in the USA. As unlikely as it may appear on the surface, the possibility exists that the Sanders campaign will –despite public protestations to the contrary – turn a blind eye to any outside interference that could help in toppling Trump’s administration. What remains a certainty, however, is the fact that the following months will see an increase in cyber activity and coverage.February 25, 2020 at 11:16 #6605
This may well do favors for the Trump campaign! Russian backing will not be enough to put a socialist in the White House. The economy is better than it was during the Obama years, and the impeachment saga…This is not the first US election to see Russian cyber intelligence meddling, nor will it be the last. Also countries other than Russia have hackers, data scientists, and an interest in influencing US elections. I think we ought to be more worried about China!February 25, 2020 at 11:49 #6606
Israeli intervention in US elections vastly overwhelms anything Russia may have done. Israel interferes openly, brazenly, and with enormous support it seems. Netenyahu went directly to Congress (where he was met with wide applause) without informing the president, to undermine Obama’s policies in 2015.February 25, 2020 at 14:21 #6607
Israeli interference in US elections is not a new phenomenon. However it is does not receive as much media exposure as Russian intervention, I wonder why this is?!February 26, 2020 at 10:17 #6610
Russian intervention is far more aggressive and malicious in my opinion. However interfering in US elections is not a Russian monopoly, that is correct.February 26, 2020 at 10:56 #6612
AAM I couldn’t agree with you more, Noam Chomsky certainly does!February 26, 2020 at 14:08 #6614
Israel is an allie, Russia is not! And who is Noam Chomsky?!February 26, 2020 at 14:21 #6615
Allies that engage is such subversive activities pose an even greater threat! Friendship that is not built on respect is no friendship at all. Let us not forget that Israel has a history of spying on the US and other allies.
Noam chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, and political activist. He is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He is the author of such books as ‘Understanding Power’, and ‘Who rules the World?’
Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, in short.February 26, 2020 at 14:41 #6616
I mean the spying point is valid. The Israeli spy Polland is in prison in the US for spying activities on Us soil. However reality is everyone is spying on each other these days. Cyber security knowledge definitely facilitates this. a hack is much harder to trace and attribute blame for than a cold era human spy with radio devices and bugging equipment.February 26, 2020 at 14:50 #6617
You do not even need to go as far back as Polland. Recently, during the Trump administration, the US government concluded that Israel was behind the placement of miniature surveillance devices (Sting Rays) near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington. The US did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behaviour.February 26, 2020 at 14:58 #6619
Sting Rays, interesting name! Can someone tell me more about them?February 26, 2020 at 15:41 #6620
Sing Rays are miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as ‘Sting Rays’, they mimic regular cell towers to fool cellphones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally they are called international mobile subsriber identity catchers or IMSI catchers, they can also capture the contents of cell and data use.March 2, 2020 at 11:58 #6630
Looks like it might be a Biden v Trump election though…
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