As it stands in 2017, you may be forgiven for feeling that we’ve teleported 70 years into the past. In the latest maelstrom to engulf American politics, a new McCarthy style witch hunt is taking place. Do the Russians have something on Trump? Did they hack the DNC? Did they win the election for Trump? There are many questions and almost no answers, all hinging on one dubious source, an ex MI6 agent, now in hiding, who supposedly weaned the information out of a Russian intelligence agent from the FSB. Obviously the claims on their own are incredibly serious and deserve some investigation, but I can’t help feeling that the all-important man, Putin, is sat in the Kremlin smiling, a figurative Nero playing the violin as Washington burns.
What many fail to understand about Putin are his tactics. Spy thrillers and fiction would have us all believe that evil foreign governments sabotage our elections with money, entering their own puppeted candidate whom they could control at their whim, but this idea is a complete fantasy. In the modern world, power is won through disinformation. Any observer who knows anything about Putin knows this is his signature move. For those of you that pay attention to the documentaries of Adam Curtis, you’ll be aware how Putin used his ally, Vladislav Surkov, to command massive popularity in Russia. He did this through an incredible campaign of false information and deception, most notably funding opposition parties in his own country, only to announce that they received government funding, thus throwing into disarray the oppositions supporters and activists. Surkov knew that by doing this, its members would question who to believe, whether the government was using them, and even whether they were supporting the right group in the first place, and the population of the country would follow suit. This is a new type of warfare, one that aims at causing maximum confusion and fear, with only one winner, the man with the answers, Vladimir Putin.
Putin doesn’t give a damn about Trump. For all he cares, Hillary could’ve won and it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference. What he cares about is his own power, and the only way to defeat a hegemony on the scale of the United States is from within. Putin’s success is to promote enough disinformation and lies, that American democracy itself is undermined. Think of these events for a moment: Hillary is shown to have compromised the safety of top secret emails, emails from the hacked DNC show her manipulative tactics against Bernie Sanders, Trump is supported by ex KKK David Duke, a recording of Trump is released stating he can grab women, in cleaner terms, in their private areas. Now think of current events. Trump is purported to have paid hookers to urinate on each other, and to have secret ties with the Kremlin. Doesn’t it seem a little too good to be true? You could be sure that if Hillary won, similar information would’ve leaked about her deals with Saudi Arabia, who I should say it is no secret funded her campaign. Putin’s brand is chaos. Do you really think an FSB agent was coaxed out of such high level information, probably known by only the top members of the Kremlin? The truth is this is exactly what Putin was aiming for. Why is there any reason to believe anyone when everyone is hiding a secret?
Unfortunately for all of us, the damage has already been done. The seed of doubt has been placed. Intelligence agencies are warring with their commander in chief, and the public is once again divided, all the while Putin solidifies control over his neighbours and weakens his greatest opposition. This is the reality of our modern world. Now more than ever it is important to remember one simple thing. If America and the Western democracies are to be brought down, it is to be by ourselves, no foreign actor. Putin may hand us the tools, but it is we who choose to use them. Whether it be through thoughtless articles, poor journalism, or worse, misinformed citizenry, those who would rather squabble over party politics and pointless issues than rally to the defence of our democracies, against a man who seeks to create a new world order.
A democracy is only as strong as its people, and we are proving ourselves to be truly weak.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln.
For a taste of Adam Curtis’ documentaries, watch the clip below or search for “Bitter Lake” and “HyperNormalisation” on BBC Iplayer.