Naughty Russians

According to the New York Times those naughty Russians are at it again.

Today’s online lead story entitled “Russia Reactivates Its Trolls and Bots Ahead of Tuesday’s Midterms” with the subtitle Researchers have identified a series of Russian information operations to influence American elections and, perhaps, erode support for Ukraine” marks a new low in what the Gray Lady, self-designated as one of America’s “newspapers of record,” prefers to call “journalism.” o He is also the author of ‘The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin.’”

Here is what it is all about: “The user on Gab who identifies as Nora Berka resurfaced in August after a yearlong silence on the social media platform, reposting a handful of messages with sharply conservative political themes before writing a stream of original vitriol. The posts mostly denigrated President Biden and other prominent Democrats, sometimes obscenely. They also lamented the use of taxpayer dollars to support Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces, depicting Ukraine’s president as a caricature straight out of Russian propaganda.”

Per the Times, “The goal, as before, is to stoke anger among conservative voters and to undermine trust in the American electoral system. This time, it also appears intended to undermine the Biden administration’s extensive military assistance to Ukraine.”

Well, one might object that Ukraine’s president is indeed a figure tailor-made for ridicule as he used to play a piano with his penis, but that is perhaps a secondary issue. The more significant theme is that people who oppose the Ukraine war, for any number of reasons, and, particularly if they are conservatives, are becoming trolls for Russia in part due to the disinformation efforts and are being influenced by way of discussion fora like Gab. The targets “are generally US conservatives who are maybe more accepting of conspiratorial claims” according to one of the cybersecurity experts consulted by the author. The Times links Berka, who might indeed be a made-up identity “posing as an outraged American,” to the secretive Russian Internet Research Agency in St Petersburg which it claims was involved in interfering in both the 2016 and 2020 US elections.

The Times also names another site that it links to Russia, “For its contact information, lists a cafe inside a converted gas station in Cotter, Ark., a town of 900 people on a bend in the White River. The cafe has closed, however… No one at Election Truth responded to a request for comment submitted through the site.”

One might object that neither Berka nor would appear to be a major disinformation threat sponsored by a foreign government intended to bring down the Republic. Nevertheless, the article clearly adheres to the view that anyone objecting to the continuing war in Ukraine is a Russian dupe. It cites Liz Cheney, who has called the few Republicans who want to cut funding for the war as “the Putin wing of the Republican Party,” and Myers observes that the disinformation unfortunately echoes “a theme that has gained some traction among Republican lawmakers and voters who have questioned the delivery of weapons and other military assistance.”

Another “expert” cited in the article, one Edward P. Perez, a board member with the OSET Institute, a self-described “nonpartisan election security organization,” called the Russian efforts “manufactured chaos” in the country’s body politic – in part because the divisions in American society are already such fertile soil for disinformation. “Since 2016, it appears that foreign states can afford to take some of the foot off the gas because they have already created such sufficient division that there are many domestic actors to carry the water of disinformation for them.”

Myers and his agenda driven quoted “experts” do not consider for a moment that there are a lot of good reasons for opposing US involvement in the fighting in Ukraine, many of which are rooted in a conservative view of what is America’s appropriate role in what is becoming a multipolar world. First, the United States has no national interest at stake that compels it to enter the fighting on behalf of Ukraine. Second, the war itself could have been averted if the United States and Europeans had been willing to address and negotiate Russian national security concerns in a serious way before the fighting broke out. Third, even now, a push by the US and its allies would likely bring the two sides to the negotiating table and a truce could be arranged. Fourth, the United States would in fact be playing a positive role if it would opt to do whatever it takes to end the slaughter taking place. Fifth and finally, expansion of a US direct role in the conflict could prove catastrophic if someone blinks and the war goes nuclear.

So, the compelling need for the continuation of an unnecessary war is the main point being made by Mr. Myers’ featured article, which clearly reflects the views of the New York Times editorial staff. And the enemy characteristically comes from within – Americans who oppose the involvement of the United States in the war against Russia and are accused if being little more than “domestic actors” who are peddling disinformation provided by the Kremlin. Given that this article has appeared two days before national elections, the intent is clear. The Russians are, per the Times, generating disinformation about Ukraine and Americans who go along with the lies are being manipulated. Moscow is again interfering in a US national election! Vote for the Democratic candidates as they will be the ones that can be relied upon to keep the war going! Three cheers for Joe Biden!

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