Why Putin’s Foes Deplore U.S. Fixation on Election Meddling (2017.11)

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Why Putin’s Foes Deplore U.S. Fixation on Election Meddling (2017.11)

Post by Soontir C'boath » 2018-03-17 01:27am

Posted back in 17.11.23 Seems appropriate to put this up still.
NY Times wrote:MOSCOW — For months, President Vladimir V. Putin has predictably denied accusations of Russian interference in last year’s American election, denouncing them as fake news fueled by Russophobic hysteria.

More surprising, some of Mr. Putin’s biggest foes in Russia, notably pro-Western liberals who look to the United States as an exemplar of democratic values and journalistic excellence, are now joining a chorus of protest over America’s fixation with Moscow’s meddling in its political affairs.

“Enough already!” Leonid M. Volkov, chief of staff for the anti-corruption campaigner and opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, wrote in a recent anguished post on Facebook. “What is happening with ‘the investigation into Russian interference,’ is not just a disgrace but a collective eclipse of the mind.”

What most disturbs Mr. Putin’s critics about what they see as America’s Russia fever is that it reinforces a narrative put forth tirelessly by the state-controlled Russian news media. On television, in newspapers and on websites, Mr. Putin is portrayed as an ever-victorious master strategist who has led Russia — an economic, military and demographic weakling compared with the United States — from triumph to triumph on the world stage.

“The Kremlin is of course very proud of this whole Russian interference story. It shows they are not just a group of old K.G.B. guys with no understanding of digital but an almighty force from a James Bond saga,” Mr. Volkov said in a telephone interview. “This image is very bad for us. Putin is not a master geopolitical genius.”

Mr. Volkov and others say they have no doubt that Russia did interfere, at least on the margins, in last year’s presidential election campaign. But they complain that the United States consistently inflates Mr. Putin’s impact and portrays his government as far more unified and effective than it really is, cementing his legacy and making him harder to challenge at home.

Ultimately, they say, Americans are using Russia as a scapegoat to explain the deep political discord in the United States. That has left many westward-leaning Russians, who have long looked to America for their ideals, in bitter disappointment that the United States seems to be mimicking some of their own country’s least appealing traits.

The hunt for a hidden Russian hand behind President Trump’s election victory has caused particular disquiet among liberal-minded Russian journalists.

“The image of Putin’s Russia constructed by Western and, above all, American media outlets over the past 18 months shocks even the most anti-Putin reader in Russia,” Oleg V. Kashin, a journalist critical of the Kremlin, wrote last week in Republic, a Russian news site. He complained that the American media has consistently misconstrued the way Russia works, presenting marginal opportunists and self-interested businessmen with no real link to the Kremlin as state-controlled agents working on orders from Mr. Putin.

For Ivan I. Kurilla, a professor of history and an America specialist at the European University at St. Petersburg, a bastion of liberal thinking, Russia’s prominent and almost entirely negative role on America’s political stage since the November election reprises a phenomenon first seen in the late 1800s.

“Americans use Russia each time they feel their own identity in crisis,” said Mr. Kurilla, the author of a new book on the history of Russian-American relations, “Frenemies.”

Unlike China and India, which are far more distant culturally and geographically from the United States, he added, Russia is a country on to which alarm over America’s own internal problems can be easily projected.

“American liberals are so upset about Trump that they cannot believe he is a real product of American life,” Mr. Kurilla said. “They try to portray him as something created by Russia. This whole thing is about America, not Russia.”

The first time this happened, he said, was in the decades after the American Civil War, when amid deep trauma over the conflict and a series of corruption scandals, Russia suddenly became the focus of feverish discussion as a model of menacing tyranny. This was largely because of the writings and influential public lectures of George Kennan, an American explorer who returned from Siberia in the 1880s with horrific stories, mostly true, of Russian despotism.

Both Mr. Volkov and Mr. Kurilla worry that American intelligence agencies have made it too easy for the Kremlin to deny its interference in the American elections — and, at the same time, also take credit for it — by keeping concrete evidence secret, which has only allowed sometimes wild conspiracy theories to take flight.

“This helps the Kremlin a lot. It promotes Putin’s image as a geopolitical mastermind, the smartest and strongest man in the world,” Mr. Volkov said. “It hurts us a lot that no evidence has been released. And it helps Russian propaganda because the Kremlin can say it is all just a conspiracy against Russia.”

The state-run Russian news media, while echoing the official Kremlin line that Russia has not interfered in any way, often takes barely disguised delight in American accusations that Mr. Putin masterminded a stealthy campaign to undermine the United States.

Michael Idov, a Russian-American screenwriter, author and former magazine editor, said the idea that Mr. Putin, through hacking, fake news and other tools, could outfox and disorient the world’s most powerful democratic nation makes the Russian president look invincible. But this image of a “globally victorious Putin is hard to accept when you can’t even find decent cheese in Moscow” because of Western sanctions and Russian countersanctions, Mr. Idov said.

Americans often tend to see Russia as a tightly controlled and finely tuned state machine that induces business people, academics and other Russians to subvert American democracy on orders from Mr. Putin. Mr. Putin’s critics instead see a far more ramshackle structure racked by infighting over access to money, favors and the president’s ear.

Mr. Putin’s opponents despair that the United States seems to have been seized by what they view as a Russian-style spasm of paranoia and conspiratorial thinking that puts blame for internal problems on sinister outside forces.

Many Russian liberals, for example, were appalled when the state-controlled Russian news media hounded Michael A. McFaul, America’s ambassador in Moscow from 2012 to 2014, and portrayed him as an agent of subversion bent on undermining Mr. Putin.

By the same token, they were dismayed to see Russia’s own ambassador in Washington, Sergey I. Kislyak, treated in much the same way before he left his post in August, with the envoy being widely depicted as a Russian spy master at the center of a sprawling web of anti-American intrigue.

Tit-for-tat reprisals by the two countries, which included an order that American diplomatic missions in Russia slash their staff by 755 people, have hit pro-Western Russians hard because, unlike many in Mr. Putin’s base, they travel to America and have personal and professional contacts there. They now worry about getting visas and having their association with the United States viewed as treachery.

A decision by the Justice Department to force the American arm of RT, a state-funded television channel targeted at foreign audiences, to register as a “foreign agent” has caused particular dismay as it echoes Russia’s own moves to brand critics of Mr. Putin as part of a traitorous “fifth column” directed by the West.

Alexey Kovalev, a relentless critic of Kremlin propaganda who runs a website dedicated to exposing lies on state-run Russian news outlets, complained that the move would only lift RT’s fortunes and encourage the Russian authorities to give even more money to a little watched venture that has trafficked in outlandish conspiracy theories and has only a minuscule American audience.

“I think this is a stupid politicized decision that will not hurt it in any way, even symbolically,” Mr. Kovalev said of the Justice Department decision. “Precisely the opposite: This is undoubtedly a victory for RT. They now have the status of a victim of censorship, which doesn’t exist in reality, and an excuse to go after their own internal enemies.”

A few independent Russian media outlets have investigated the Russian meddling story, including RBC, a newspaper that recently produced an in-depth report on how a so-called troll factory of paid online agitators based in St. Petersburg had tried to incite street protests in the United States through postings on the internet by a phony group claiming to represent disenfranchised black Americans.

But reporting in the independent Russian news media has often focused on how little real impact such disruptive efforts have had, leaving readers with the impression that the main victims are not so much American voters but Russian taxpayers, whose money has gone to support an array of well-funded but largely ineffective operations.

“The difference between suspicion and evidence has become blurred when it comes to the American election. This makes myself and others very disappointed,” said Maria Lipman, a veteran Russian journalist.

Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, who earned millions lobbying for years on behalf of dictators around the world, “did not need lessons in dirty tricks from Russia,” Ms. Lipman said. All the same, he has, because of his work in Ukraine for former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, become the prime example among Mr. Trump’s critics of Russia’s hidden hand.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, recalled Ms. Lipman, who edits Counterpoint, a highbrow Russian-language online journal, many Russian journalists looked to American news media outlets as models of dispassionate, objective reporting in contrast to their country’s highly politicized and opinionated press.

“Now, they see the American media as having an agenda and having their coverage distorted by this agenda,” she said.
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Re: Why Putin’s Foes Deplore U.S. Fixation on Election Meddling (2017.11)

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-03-17 02:31am

“American liberals are so upset about Trump that they cannot believe he is a real product of American life,” Mr. Kurilla said. “They try to portray him as something created by Russia. This whole thing is about America, not Russia.”
I'm not going to sit here and say stupid shit like "we should totally give treason a pass," but even if there were Russian super-hackers and social-engineering geniuses behind the helm of the 2016 election:

Those people didn't
drive faith in government and both parties to historic lows.
gerrymander the ever-loving shit out of many federal districts.
make HRC buy out the DNC and win the nomination.
make HRC say stupid shit during the election.
make HRC be near completely unelectable on a national level.
make HRC be near completely unelectable on a national level and still beat Trump in the popular vote.

The list literally goes on and on WRT to the shit that has piled up to let a guy like Trump not only get elected leader of the free world, but get the nomination of a major political party at all. If Russians had a hand in that, it wasn't anything like how the media and many liberals like to play it up. You don't need Russians to dig up dirt on HRC. There's enough sitting out in the open already. But it'd played up like, as mentioned in the article, they were Bond level villains combined with a 12th level intellect.

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Re: Why Putin’s Foes Deplore U.S. Fixation on Election Meddling (2017.11)

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-03-17 05:04pm

This strikes me as an extremely disingenuous argument.

So we should just ignore Russian interference in the election because it might make Putin look strong? There is no ambiguity about the fact of Russian interference, any more. You can literally make a stronger case for 9/11 Trutherism, than to deny that it occurred. As in, to do so, you must deliberately dismiss any evidence as a conspiracy that does not fit your pre-decided conclusion.

I also object to the implication that "American liberals" (hive mind that we are) are pushing the collusion narrative because they can't accept American responsibility for Trump. This is an argument perfectly crafted to appeal to angry "anti-establishment" third party-types, who are already predisposed to view anything said by the intelligence community or the "mainstream" as a lie and a conspiracy, but it doesn't hold up.

No one is saying that Trump was "created" by Russia, or that Russia is the only factor in Trump's victory. This is a straw man, and a lie.

What we are saying is that interference happened, possibly with Trump's collusion; that this is significant; and that it should be addressed. Along with many other issues.

Trying to say "But what about all these other issues" any time Trump/Russia is mentioned, is just another example of "Whataboutism". The internal problems of American politics matter. They should be addressed. I and others have created numerous threads to discuss those issues.

But trying to change the topic every time Trump/Russia is mentioned, such that it becomes impossible to discuss the issue, is a deliberate attempt to derail the debate and deflect attention from the issue. It is dishonest debating.
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Re: Why Putin’s Foes Deplore U.S. Fixation on Election Meddling (2017.11)

Post by FireNexus » 2018-03-20 04:00pm

I heard a radio lab about how Putin’s machine actually creates opposition parties which play into Putin’s message. Sounds alarmingly convenient to me that his opposition would want us not to focus on something for the which Putin-loyal oligarchs could suffer financially, weakening his position. The idea that the west focusing on stuff that would eventually force recriminations is not consistent with wanting to remove Putin from power.
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All the rest? Too long.

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