For much of 20th century, U.S and Russia had engaged in Cold War. A war between two different ways of governing a country -- Democracy and Communism.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, democracy had won the upper hand. But it appears Russia is now engaging in a new kind of warfare - cyberwar.
According to a report released last friday by U.S. intelligence agencies, President Vladimir Putin himself ordered Russian interference in the U.S. election. What does all this mean for U.S policy, for U.S-Russia relations, or even democracy itself?
The Report— What We’ve Found Out
Most of the evidence was classified, but the report made available was plenty shocking.
President Putin’s main goal was to undermine “public faith in the US democratic process”, and to harm Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate. Russia had a clear preference for helping elect Donald Trump.
How did they do it? The report has an answer. Russian intelligence agencies hacked into the Democratic National Committee (DNC), releasing thousands of private emails. These emails were passed over to Wikileaks, which released them to the public. In addition, Russian agencies collaborated with fake news sites and social media trolls who broadcasted messages in support of Trump and against Clinton, to a global audience.
Why would Russia support Trump? As it turns out, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a personal grudge against Hillary Clinton. During her role as U.S Secretary of State, Clinton was a tough negotiator and called out the 2011 elections in Russia as unfair and rigged in favor of Putin.
If all this is not enough, the report claims that Russia is only getting started. With the lessons learned from their “Putin-ordered campaign” against the U.S., Russia will attempt to influence elections worldwide and undermine democracy.
The U.S Response
President Obama has strongly condemned Russian interference in the election. He has imposed sanctions on Russia, expelling Russian intelligence agents from the United States and threatening further action. Most of Congress, Democrat and Republican alike, are behind him. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are collaborating with Democrats to introduce even harsher sanctions on Russia, calling their interference an act of war.
President-Elect Trump, however, has different ideas. He has shifted between denying the attacks and blaming the DNC for being careless about its security. On Friday, he received a classified briefing on the same report. While Trump has accepted the findings, he denies it has affected the election in any way. The question remains how the U.S. will deal with Russia— Mr. Trump seeks friendship with Russia, Congress wants punishment.
Whatever the party or belief, we can all agree that Russia’s interference in the U.S. election is not something to dismiss. And that we don’t have an idea what it means for the future of both countries, and the entire world.