America should not let Russia’s hacking campaign go unanswered.
President Barack Obama’s decision to punish Russia for orchestrating a hacking campaign meant to influence the 2016 election is a welcome move, and one that should be supported by good patriots everywhere.
The world’s largest democracy should not let such a breach go unanswered. The strength of our country and the very cause for which we stand would be threatened should foreign governments disrupt our ability to conduct fair and secure elections. Given that U.S. intelligence agencies also fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to have his hackers meddle with democratic elections in Europe, there is extra good reason to act publicly in this way.
Obama’s administration is ejecting 35 Russian diplomats from San Francisco and Washington that it suspects are spies. It is blocking access to seaside compounds Russian diplomats enjoy in New York and Maryland (and may use to avoid detection from U.S. spies). And the administration also is imposing economic sanctions on Russian intelligence services and operatives and promising further action.
In retrospect, such moves should have come sooner, back in the days they might have had the desirable effect of preventing our long-time adversary from making a mess of our election cycle and creating the worry that the results of that meddling tipped the scales in the favor of President-elect Donald Trump. But any suggestion that it is too late to act miss the point. Our nation must signal strongly that we won’t accept this kind of behavior in the future.
No, the punishments listed so far don’t amount to much more than a public rebuke, so we hope going forward the U.S. continues to find ways to make Putin pay for his inexcusable interference.
We admit that such hopefulness, however, appears to be the stuff of make-believe. So far Trump and his team seem bent on continuing to act like the Russians are our friends and our intelligence agents are nothing but political hacks engaged in smears against his victory.
Not long after the blustery billionaire talked incomprehensibly about life in the “age of computer,” his aide Kellyanne Conway argued that Obama’s actions weren’t the stuff of a responsible president, but a political stunt meant to “box in” the next administration.
Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani called the punishments petty, too little too late, and said that the president-elect shouldn’t trust anything coming from the U.S. intelligence agencies while Obama remained in office.
Thankfully, congressional Republican leaders remain dedicated to investigating the Russian hacks and even broadening sanctions and punishments going forward.
And Trump himself said he would at least attend a meeting with U.S. intelligence officials next week.
Critics can howl at Obama on the sanctions if they want. And certainly we could argue that Obama has been too soft on Russia for its harsh backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad, so why take such umbrage at this bloodless incursion into our electoral process?
But America must protect its democratic principles and its ability to maintain them. So no, Mr. Trump. It’s not time for our country to “move on” from this insult.
It’s time to hold accountable those who seek to harm us.
President Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on June 17, 2013.