Spooked by elec­tion med­dling

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Re­gard­ing the June 25 front-page ar­ti­cle “Obama’s secret strug­gle to re­tal­i­ate against Putin’s elec­tion as­sault”:

I was dis­ap­pointed to learn that the U.S. gov­ern­ment’s planned re­sponse to Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion amounted to Old Tes­ta­ment-style vengeance in the form of es­ca­lat­ing cy­ber­war­fare.

I ex­pect the U.S. gov­ern­ment to pre­vent in­ter­fer­ence in our elec­tions. Such ef­forts can suc­ceed only if all coun­tries, in­clud­ing our own, re­spect the elec­toral process. But, ac­cord­ing to an NPR in­ter­view with Carnegie Mel­lon Univer­sity re­searcher Dov Levin, the United States has the worst record of elec­toral in­ter­fer­ence, with 80 in­ter­ven­tions be­tween 1946 and 2000, two-thirds of which were covert op­er­a­tions un­known to the peo­ple of the United States. Mr. Levin’s data does not in­clude the most heinous forms of in­ter­fer­ence: coups and at­tempts at regime change, e.g., Iran in 1953 and Chile in 1970.

If vot­ers in the United States are to be pro­tected from fu­ture elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence, we must abide by the Golden Rule. If we want other coun­tries to stay out of our elec­tions, we must stay out of theirs. Oth­er­wise, a dark fu­ture of es­ca­lat­ing cy­ber­war­fare will un­der­mine democ­racy at home and abroad.

Keshini Lad­duwa­hetty, Wash­ing­ton

In the ex­cel­lent June 26 front-page ar­ti­cle “In Europe, fake news from Rus­sia is old news” was a sober­ing quote from a se­nior Es­to­nian Min­istry of De­fense of­fi­cial, who ob­served that most of Rus­sia’s “ma­li­cious ac­tiv­i­ties are aimed at erod­ing trust within our so­ci­eties be­tween dif­fer­ent groups, po­lit­i­cal move­ments, the elites and the peo­ple.”

That is eerily sim­i­lar to the cur­rent pat­terns of de­clin­ing trust seen among the U.S. public in re­cent years. While the fac­tors lead­ing to the United States’ trust deficit are un­doubt­edly com­plex and var­ied, con­gres­sional probes into Rus­sian med­dling of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion would do well to take a far wider lens in as­sess­ing the Krem­lin’s ef­forts to un­der­mine Amer­i­cans’ faith in their democ­racy. We may find that th­ese ef­forts (and their im­pacts) stretch much fur­ther back than we re­al­ize.

Joe Siegle, Sil­ver Spring

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