Russian propaganda and the election

Putin_with_flag_of_RussiaThe Washington Post reports that “fake news” circulated before the election–such as reports of Hillary Clinton’s bad health, that the Clinton campaign paid anti-Trump protesters, and accounts of impending international crises–originated in Russia.  Along with the hacked e-mails of the Democratic national committee, the disinformation campaign was designed to spread cynicism about the American system of government and to help in the election of Donald Trump.

Russia tried similar operations during the Cold War, but this time its propaganda agencies have developed a sophisticated presence on the internet, allowing them to manipulate social media.  So says researchers at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

UPDATE:  But read this critique of the article.

 

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Ivan the Not-So-Terrible

Ivan the Terrible is known for killing his own son and for slaughtering vast numbers of his countrymen, including the Massacre of Novgorod, where up to 60,000 men, women, and children were brutally killed.

But his reputation is being rehabilitated in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  You can tell a lot about Russia based on whose statues are being torn down or erected.  Stalin statues were once torn down, but now they are going up again.  And a big monument to Ivan the Terrible has been put up, with its dedication attended by a who’s who of Russian nationalists, including top representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. [Read more…]

FBI investigating Trump & Russia

In addition to investigating Hillary Clinton’s illegal e-mail arrangements, the FBI has been investigating possible ties between Donald Trump and his campaign with Russia.  At issue are the hacked Democratic communications that have been traced to Russia, financial connections between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russia, Russia as the source of the Wikileak e-mails, and an apparent connection between Trump’s computer server and a Russian server.

But the FBI has found nothing.  Democrats, though, reeling from the FBI investigations of Clinton, are insisting that the bureau make public what they have on the Russian connection.

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Trump’s Russian connections

In yesterday’s discussion about whether the Russians, who apparently hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s e-mails–see this for the evidence (HT: Tom Hering)–are trying to manipulate our election, reader Rustbeltrick cited another source that listed direct connections between Donald Trump and the Russian government.

According to Josh Marshall of Talking Point Memo, Trump has long been dependent on Russian investments for his businesses, including from investors with strong ties to Vladimir Putin.  Perhaps more to the point, Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort was a top advisor to the pro-Russian president of the Ukraine, whose ouster was the catalyst for the Russian intervention.  Trump’s foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, has for his whole professional life been working for Russian interests.  And there is more.

True, Marshall is a liberal journalist and maybe has a Democratic axe to grind.  But I would think the employment history of Manafort and Page is a matter of public record.  Also the investors in Trump’s business dealings.

Are Trump’s Russian connections something to be concerned about?  Or does it not really matter? [Read more…]

Trump may not defend NATO allies

Donald Trump said that he may or may not come to the defense of a NATO ally if it were attacked.  Never mind the treaty commitment that an attack upon one is an attack upon all.  He said that the US action would depend on whether or not the country “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

He was referring specifically to what he would do if one of the Baltic Republics (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) were invaded by Russia.

Remember that Trump and Vladimir Putin have something of a mutual admiration society.  What would the international scene be like if the United States allies itself with Russia, instead of Western Europe?

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Russia forbids evangelizing outside of church

A new Russian law forbids evangelizing except within a church service.  This includes using e-mail or other online communication.  It even outlaws private evangelistic conversations within one’s own home.

This is not the work of Godless communism.  It comes out of the Russian Orthodox Church and its resistance to “proseletyzing” on the part of Western Protestants and Roman Catholics. I wonder what would happen, under this law, if a devout Orthodox Russian tried, over glasses of vodka, to persuade an old-line Communist to embrace Orthodox Christianity.  I suspect this would be allowed.  My impression is that the Russian Orthodox Church considers all of Holy Russia to be its domain, even among the unbaptized.  But I don’t know.

 Ironically, the recent Great and Holy Council of the orthodox, the Russians not attending, put out a statement affirming religious liberty that pointedly did not include “the right to convert.”  I’d love to hear from Orthodox readers about why this is.

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