Rus­si­a­gate re­veals Amer­i­cans lack con­fi­dence in own sys­tem

People's Review - - COMMENTARY - BY WANG WEN­WEN

The US is edg­ing to­ward an­other round of sanc­tions against Rus­sia after the State Depart­ment turned over to Congress a list of Rus­sian de­fense and in­tel­li­gence en­ti­ties. The new sanc­tions are meant to re­buke Rus­sia for its ac­tions in Eastern Europe and Syria as well as for its al­leged med­dling in the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. The so-called Rus­si­a­gate is at a cru­cial stage. As the US and Rus­sia are plung­ing deeper into their worst cri­sis since the Cold War, Rus­sia has be­come the fo­cal point of the var­i­ous con­tra­dic­tions and po­lit­i­cal in­fight­ing within the US. At the height of the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union were en­gaged in in­ten­sive es­pi­onage when they used all avail­able tools to un­cover each other's se­crets, driven by their pur­suit of dif­fer­ent ide­olo­gies and global clout. The fierce game of es­pi­onage was a fea­ture of the whole USRus­sia ri­valry at that time. Yet the cur­rent con­tention be­tween the two re­flects more the po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions in the US. By ac­cus­ing one side of "col­lud­ing" with their tra­di­tional foe, the other side can win more po­lit­i­cal ini­tia­tive and ex­ploit more po­lit­i­cal gains. Ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey con­ducted by the Wash­ing­ton Post and the Univer­sity of Mary­land, Amer­i­cans are fac­ing the largest so­cial and po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions since the Viet­nam War. The pop­u­lar­ity of so­cial me­dia also lends a help­ing hand to sow this divi­sion in the US po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. In Septem­ber, Face­book dis­closed that it had iden­ti­fied more than 3,000 ads - $100,000 worth - linked to Rus­sia that fo­cused on di­vi­sive US so­cial is­sues and which were seen by about 10 mil­lion peo­ple be­fore and after the 2016 US elec­tions. Mar­garita Si­monyan, Moscow-based ed­i­tor-in-chief of Rus­sia To­day, re­buked in a state­ment, "Some­how it did not oc­cur to us that in a de­vel­oped democ­racy, reg­u­lar me­dia ad­ver­tis­ing can turn out to be a sus­pi­cious and harm­ful ac­tiv­ity." After all, it is the US' own prob­lems that have caused its di­vi­sions. Amer­i­cans be­lieve that Rus­sia's In­ter­net trolls in­tended to sow the di­vi­sions along po­lit­i­cal lines and at­tack Amer­i­can so­cial fab­ric, but they do not know Rus­sia's real in­ten­tions - does it want Trump to be the pres­i­dent or does it want to di­vide the US? Is US so­ci­ety, which prided it­self on its values and sys­tems, so vul­ner­a­ble as to be di­vided by Rus­sia? More than two decades have passed since the end of the Cold War, with the col­lapse of the Soviet Union. Rus­sia is smaller than the Soviet Union both in size and in­ter­na­tional in­flu­ence. But why does the fear of the Amer­i­cans to­ward Rus­sia keep ris­ing? For Rus­sians, "Rus­si­a­gate" did not af­fect them much, but for Amer­i­cans, it ex­posed their lack of con­fi­dence to­ward their own sys­tem.

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