America's Long History of Meddling in Russia
Russia -- OK, not the actual Russian government but a private troll farm company located in Russia -- bought $100,000 worth of political ads on Facebook designed to change the outcome of the 2016 election. Except that only a small fraction of those ads were political. Also except that the small fraction was divvied up between pro-Hillary Clinton and pro-Donald Trump ads. And especially except that $100,000 in Facebook ads can't affect the outcome of a $6.8 billion election.
Now the media outlets who touted special counsel Robert Mueller's fizzled Russiagate investigation daily for two years are warning that Russia is planning to do the same thing in 2020.
Be slightly afraid, very slightly afraid.
"Our adversaries want to undermine our democratic institutions, influence public sentiment and affect government policies," read a statement from top Trump administration security officials issued in November. "Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions."
Setting aside the question of whether it's smart to take the U.S. government at its word -- it isn't -- if Russia were to meddle in our domestic politics, we would have it coming.
To say the least.
Throughout its history, the United States has repeatedly attacked, sabotaged and undermined the Soviet Union. U.S. interference was one of the major contributors to the collapse of that country in 1991. So the Russian government that followed -- the system now in place -- might not even exist if not for the United States.
Imagine being one of the freshly minted leaders of Russia in the months following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. You have a lot on your plate. The last thing you need is a U.S.-led force of tens of thousands of troops invading your chaotic new country, most of which is primitive and dirt-poor. But that's what they got. It took three years to kick out our troops.
That's a little more interference than Facebook ads.
During World War II, the U.S. and the USSR were allies against Nazi Germany -- enemy of my enemy and all that -- but even after promising to jump in, the feckless Americans dragged their feet for three years before getting into the war, content to stand down as tens of millions of Soviet citizens died. Then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt "deliberately made the Soviet people shoulder the hardships of war and hoped to see the Soviet Union bled white," a wartime commander named Ivan Kuzovkov told Tass news service in 1984.