Russia is still hacking our political system Editor’s note: This is Donna Brazile’s final column for UFS/Andrews McMeel Syndication.
“They’ll be back,” said FBI Director James Comey to the House Intelligence Committee about Russian hacking. “They’ll be back in 2020. They may be back in 2018.”
During the 2016 presidential election, I was the interim head of the Democratic Party. Based on the intelligence briefings and the things I experienced at that time, I believe Russian interference in American politics hasn’t gone away. It’s still with us.
Most certainly, Russia will be just as active in our 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 presidential election as they were in the Clinton-Trump contest. I want to point out to you, dear reader, the indications of what is to come.
To fully understand how it came about that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed hacking and engaged in alleged collusion with campaign officials, let me share how this bubbling cauldron of Russian undercover cyber politics got its start in Europe.
There -- among Europe’s Western democracies -- three worldwide events dovetailed into popular discontent: 1. waves of refugees fleeing unstable governments, terrorism, and war; 2. globalization of the economy via free trade; and 3. rising income inequality.
It isn’t only in America that government policies favor the privileged few; it’s a worldwide problem. The numbers of citizens in the middle class have shrunk, and stagnant wages plus diminishing opportunities envelop millions across the globe. Establishment governments and political leaders failed to respond to popular demands for living wages and opportunities for everyone.
Free trade, meant to lift all boats with a rising economic global economy, also resulted in citizens losing jobs to inexpensive foreign labor markets. Then came the millions of fleeing refugees with foreign cultures and faiths -- convenient scapegoats for all that was wrong.
Extremist political parties have grown throughout Europe. Their right-wing message, spreading across borders, makes a powerful appeal to nationalism with its rejection of immigrants, economic globalization and multinational alliances like NATO and the European Union
Europe’s extremist parties and Russia do share common goals: 1. to weaken NATO; 2. to dissolve the European Union; 3. to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; and 4. to oppose the political and economic establishment in Western nations.
So it was that Russia entered with monies to fund campaigns and to wage a sophisticated cyberwarfare inside other countries.
A study by the European Council on Foreign Relations says that while these parties “are not under Moscow’s control,” they are Putin’s friends. France provides the clearest documented example. Its National Front antiimmigrant presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, is currently tied in the polls with France’s centrist candidate.
For years, Le Pen has made gains by being stridently antiIslamic: “Immigrants are illegal (and) must be sent back to their homeland,” she said, a position Trump echoed almost word-for-word.
Le Pen called for France to leave NATO “without delay,” while Trump said NATO is “obsolete.” Le Pen has worked to dissolve the European Union, while Trump praised Britain’s vote to withdraw from the EU.
There’s more, but you get my drift. In 2015, Trump adopted a political platform that was forged and used by Europe’s far-right parties long before he threw his hat in the ring.
In 2016, Le Pen reportedly requested a $30 million loan “from a bank close to Putin” to fund her current campaign for the French presidency. While this isn’t collusion, previously acknowledged Russia-