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Arising from the smoldering ashes of three quarters of a century of Marxist-Lenin dictatorship is the specter of President Vladimir Putin, former KGB agent and the new Kremlin sorcerer — an evil, ruthless, vindictive dictator not against employing Soviet-style methods of psychological warfare, assassination and war.
He is marching according to a Russian manifesto dedicated to replacing the United States and democratic European nations as the world’s lone superpower. Continuing this march toward global hegemony, Putin and his oligarch cronies have spun a deceitful web of propaganda that has enveloped the U.S., and penetrated our 2016 and 2020 election processes.
This is being accomplished in part by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian organization that targets U.S. audiences and successfully sows discord in the U.S. political system by pretending to be the personal accounts of private U.S. citizens, larger social and public social media, and U.S. political and grassroots organizations.
As an example, Parler, a right-wing social media site that was founded in 2018 with about 4 million users, has been flooded with completely false IRA assertions that mail-in voting amounts to fraud, that left-wing activists somehow infected President Trump with the coronavirus, and that Joe Biden is a “sexual predator.”
These are all part of a continuing effective Russian disinformation campaign run by the IRA and infiltrating all conservative right-wing media. These lies amplified by Russian propaganda have ensnared Trump and his sycophants and led them to deconstruct American institutions from the top down. They are trampling political norms, attacking democratic institutions, discrediting government agencies, peddling baseless conspiracy theories, pressuring local election boards, leveling baseless accusations of widespread election fraud, and on and on.
The current anti-democratic atmosphere and the gullibility of many U.S. citizens and members of Congress have greased the conduits for the IRA to continue to sow seeds of chaos and civil disorder in our society. The U.S. intelligence community confirmed that Russia is behind a major and ongoing series of cyberhacks that compromised more than 250 government agencies and private-sector companies and corporations. Given Trump’s disinclination to believe that Russia engages in malign cyberactivity against the United States, the administration has remained silent.
Some senators and house members, incumbent and incoming, attempted to turn a ceremonial event Jan. 6 into a constitutional circus by objecting to the certification of the election. As a result, they are unknowingly assisting Putin in his pursuit of the Russian manifesto of global hegemony.
They are willing to credit malicious lies that will poison our democracy for generations and lead to the ultimate overturning of the election and the collapse of U.S. self-government, thereby fulfilling part of the Russian manifesto.
This cacophony of IRA-constructed lies cumulated Jan. 6 with a Trump rally that ended in a deadly insurrection against the U.S. Congress to pressure lawmakers to toss out the election results. The Trump mob marched to the Capitol, breached the barricades, overpowered Capitol Police, climbed scaffolding, scaled walls, shattered glass, busted into the Senate chamber, stood at the presiding officer’s desk, and marauded about the Rotunda and Statuary Hall wearing MAGA hats, carrying Confederate flags, posing for souvenir photos and scribbling graffiti.
U.S. and world citizens were appalled.
After some centuries led by czars, the communist regime and now Putin’s dictatorship, the Russians have futilely attempted to discredit the U.S., destroy its standing in the free world, weaken NATO and resurrect the Soviet state. They are now dancing in the Kremlin, rejoicing in their easy success in the apparent vaporization of democracy accomplished on the cheap by their successful propaganda machine.
Martin M. Sokoloski, a Shannondale retiree in Maryville, earned a master’s degree in mathematics and a doctorate in physics. In 2004, he was an IEEE/AAAS congressional Fellow in U.S. Rep. Rush Holt Jr.’s office and helped the New Jersey Democrat establish the Congressional Research & Development Caucus. Sokoloski managed NASA’s Remote Sensing R&D Program and the Army’s Harry Diamond Laboratories basic R&D, and was a Visiting Research Professor at Drexel University.