According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment, Russian trolls, operating out of St. Petersburg, took American identities on social media and became players in our 2016 election.
On divisive racial and religious issues, the trolls took both sides. In the presidential election, the trolls favored Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, and Donald Trump, and almost never Hillary Clinton.
One imaginative Russian troll urged Trumpsters to dress up a female volunteer in an orange prison jump suit, put her in a cage on a flatbed truck, then append the slogan, “Lock Her Up!”
How grave a matter is this?
This Russian troll farm is “the equivalent [of] Pearl Harbor,” says Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who would head up the House Judiciary Committee, handling any matters related to impeachment, if Democrats retake the House.
When MSNBC’s Chris Hayes pressed, Nadler doubled down: the Russians “are destroying our democratic process,” he said. While Russian trolling may not equal Pearl Harbor in its violence, in its “seriousness, it is very much on a par” with Japan’s surprise attack.
Trump’s reaction to the hysteria that broke out after the Russian indictments: “They are laughing their (expletives) off in Moscow.”
According to Sunday’s Washington Post, the troll story is old news in Russia, where reporters uncovered it last year and it was no big deal.
While Mueller’s indictments confirm that Russians meddled in the U.S. election, what explains the shock and the fear for “our democracy”?
Is the Great Republic about to fall because a bunch of trolls tweeted in our election? Is this generation ignorant of its own history?
Before and after World War II, we had Stalinists and Soviet spies at the highest levels of American culture and government.
The Hollywood Ten, who went to prison for contempt of Congress, were secret members of a Communist Party that, directed from Moscow, controlled the Progressive Party in Philadelphia in 1948 that nominated former vice president Henry Wallace to run against Harry Truman.
Soviet spies infiltrated the U.S. atom bomb project and shortened the time Stalin needed to explode a Soviet bomb in 1949.
As for Russian trolling in our election, do we really have clean hands when it comes to meddling in elections and the internal politics of regimes we dislike?
Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland of the State Department egged on the Maidan Square crowds in Kiev that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine. When the democratically elected regime of Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in Egypt, the U.S. readily accepted the coup as a victory for our side and continued aid to Cairo as tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members were imprisoned.
Are the CIA and National Endowment for Democracy under orders not to try to influence the outcomes of elections in nations in whose ruling regimes we believe we have a stake?
“Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?” Laura Ingraham asked former CIA Director James Woolsey this weekend.
With a grin, Woolsey replied, “Oh, probably.”
“We don’t do that anymore though?” Ingraham interrupted. “We don’t mess around in other people’s elections, Jim?”
“Well,” Woolsey said with a smile, “only for a very good cause.”
Indeed, what is the National Endowment for Democracy all about, if not aiding the pro-American side in foreign elections?
Did America have no active role in the “color-coded revolutions” that have changed regimes from Serbia to Ukraine to Georgia?
When Republicans discuss Iran on Capitol Hill, the phrase “regime change” is frequently heard. When the “Green Revolution” took to the streets of Tehran to protest massively the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, Republicans denounced President Obama for not intervening more energetically to alter the outcome.
When China, Russia, and Egypt expel NGOs, are their suspicions that some have been seeded with U.S. agents merely marks of paranoia?
The U.S. role in the overthrow of Premier Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, and of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, and of President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon in 1963, are established facts.
When the democratically elected Marxist Salvador Allende was overthrown in Chile in 1973 and committed suicide with an AK-47 given to him by Fidel Castro, the Nixon White House may have had no direct role. But the White House certainly welcomed the ascendance of General Augusto Pinochet.
What do these indictments of Russians tell us? After 18 months, the James Comey-Robert Mueller FBI investigation into the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta emails has yet to produce evidence of collusion.
Yet we do have evidence that a senior British spy and Trump hater, Christopher Steele, paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC to dig up dirt on Trump, colluded with Kremlin agents to produce a dossier of scurrilous and unsubstantiated charges, to destroy the candidacy of Donald Trump. And the FBI used this disinformation to get FISA court warrants to surveil and wiretap the Trump campaign.
Why is this conspiracy and collusion with Russians less worthy of Mueller’s attention than a troll farm in St. Petersburg?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.