The whirlwind of Russian spy news over the past few weeks has forced Americans to confront questions that previously would only have seemed possible in fiction: Did a foreign power influence the American elections? Do the Russians really have dirt on the incoming president, or a hidden relationship with him? Did the Kremlin want Donald Trump to win? Why? We aren’t even certain that these are the right questions, and the data points in this tangled story—the meetings, the scandalous dossier, the tweets—don’t make much sense on their own. Together, though, they reveal a methodical campaign that closely resembles what we’ve seen Russia try elsewhere before. For the past eight years, since just after Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008, I have worked in nations around the Russian periphery, and watched the Kremlin systematically chip away at former captive nations that are viewed as threats to the Kremlin’s internal narrative of control and its corrosive worldview. What Russia has attempted in the United States is not an isolated action but one case study in the evolving, expansive hybrid war being waged by the Kremlin against the West. What’s happening isn’t about hacking, or cybersecurity, or fake news. It isn’t about BuzzFeed, or everyone’s new favorite buzzword, kompromat. In the most important sense, it isn’t really even about Donald Trump. The leaders in the Kremlin don’t care about any individual American winning or losing. They care about America as a nation losing.
On the fields of this new hybrid war, few want to accept that Russia is already winning. The Kremlin’s campaign of disruption has succeeded in deepening divides in our society, tarnishing a considerable cross-section of our leadership, eroding faith in our institutions and propelling Russia to the center of our political life. It has helped turn us against each other and our allies, and made us distrust the very tools and institutions that can give us clarity on the threats we face. Russia has won a series of small but cascading victories against us, the cumulative effect of which is absolutely crushing.
But the Kremlin’s aggressive campaign against the American people has also, in many ways, exposed its vulnerabilities. The Kremlin’s power is primarily in the shadows—in the difficulty of identifying and exposing the tactics it uses, and the money it uses to fund them; in the creeping narratives it propagates to erode our values and our certainty; in the loose network of advocates and causes it has captured into its campaigns to act indirectly and from a hundred different directions.
Full Article: Russia Is Already Winning – POLITICO Magazine.