Americans should be united against Putin

Reno Gazette Journal February 25, 2018

One of the cornerstones of socialism called “commanding heights” dates all the way back to Karl Marx. This principle is simple: By controlling a few key sectors of the economy, the government can control the entire economy and impose socialism. During Karl Marx’s time, those sectors were transportation, natural resources, utilities and banks.

Turn the clock forward to the present. Today’s “commanding height” is the social media; the objective is to create chaos in a foreign country. Based on the indictments handed by the Department of Justice (DoJ), that precisely is what Putin’s thugs did with varying degrees of success. They attempted to deepen our political divide by spreading false news and pitting us against each other. They concealed their identities to purchase advertisements on social media, favoring then candidates Trump and Sanders while disparaging Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

This operation started in 2013, employed hundreds of Russians, and had an annual budget in the millions. They created thousands of accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. In addition to favoring certain candidates and disparaging certain others during the lead up to the election, this operation also played both sides by organizing rallies like “March for Trump” before the election and “Trump is NOT my President” after the election. Many Americans, including Michael Moore (who tweeted a picture from the latter rally) unwittingly fell into this trap.

The Wall Street Journal reports that prior to engaging in political and social issues, the Russians refined their tactics by falsely spreading stories about mundane things like food poisoning. One family in NY had food poisoning from Walmart turkey during Thanksgiving 2015 (which was real), and the Russian operation, using multiple Twitter accounts tweeted and retweeted false stories of food poisoning and a news story was published claiming 200 people were in critical condition from eating tainted turkey.

That Putin tried to cause chaos should come in as no surprise to any of us. He is a gangster and he has proven that repeatedly. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube need to have strict controls in place to prevent this in the future. Social media has become a major part of our political discourse and individuals need to be authenticated. Social media companies have an obligation to enforce clear guard rails. They can do so voluntarily, or it’s just a matter of time before regulations will force them.

One final point: We all wish President Obama had done more than telling Putin to “cut it out”. We all wish President Trump would tweet a clear warning to Putin instead of tweeting about collusion or the lack thereof. But we have to deal with the way things are, and not what we wish they were. My request to you is simple: please do not share Facebook posts or retweet messages without verifying the accuracy. While we may not share the same political party, we share one country, America. We have an obligation to protect it against foreign enemies. Putin is a foreign enemy who is intent on destroying our country and We the People need to stand united in stopping him.