The Senate report on Russian meddling is a sign of unfettered self-righteousness and amateurishness

They think you are a cretin. They think you are a cretin who will believe anything they say and that they can get away with anything. There is not other plausible explanation if you want to understand the reasoning behind the new Senate Democratic minority report on the Russian “assault” on democracies worldwide. The 206-page report was released last week on the 10th of January and you can find it here. The full title of the report is “Putin’s asymmetric assault on democracy in Russia and Europe: implications for U.S. national security”.

The language used in the document is strong and condemning, the language of an intrasigent moral authority who has had enough of injustice and corruption. “For years, Vladimir Putin’s government has engaged in a relentless assault to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Europe and the United States. Mr. Putin’s Kremlin employs an asymmetric arsenal that includes military invasions, cyberattacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups, and the weaponization of energy resources, organized crime, and corruption”, the report begins. “Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president”.

“Mr. Putin has thus made it a priority of his regime to attack the democracies of Europe and the United States and undermine the transatlantic alliance upon which Europe’s peace and prosperity have depended upon for over 70 years. He has used the security services, the media, public and private companies, organized criminal groups, and social and religious organizations to spread malicious disinformation, interfere in elections, fuel corruption, threaten energy security, and more”, the report goes on. It reads like a collection of old cliches and platitude about history and political theory but it is good to become familiar with these cliches and platitudes because the contemporary political discourse seems to be made of nothing else. Did they think about what they were writing? Probably not too long, because the writing reads so natural and flowing, like the writing born out of genuine and robust inspiration and ideological harmony, where everything and every details perfecty suits the whole.

But reading all too coherent texts like these, an intelligent person should inevitably ask himself a few questions, almost by default. Did Putin really make “a priority of his regime” to attack democracy? Did Europe’s peace and prosperity really depend upon the transantlatic alliance?

“Mr. Putin resorts to the use of these asymmetric tools to achieve his goals because he is operating from a position of weakness—hobbled by a faltering economy, a substandard military, and few followers on the world stage”.

Nobody is saying that Russia is a paradise and Putin is probably not even entirely innocent of the things he is accused of. But to anybody who lives in the real world and is engaged in observing public life and the political debate around himself in many Western countries, instead of taking for granted a picture of the world worthy of a comic book or the last Hollywood superhero saga, with the forces of good firmly against the forces of evil, the threat posed by Russia seems to have been wildly exaggerated – and on purpose.

“In the same way that Russians overestimate America, seeing it as an all-powerful orchestrator of global political developments, Americans project their own fears onto Russia, a country that is a paradox of deftness, might, and profound weakness—unshakably steady, yet somehow always teetering on the verge of collapse. Like America, it is hostage to its peculiar history, tormented by its ghosts”, wrote journalist Julia Ioffe, a less than friendly figure to Russia, in a recent story in The Atlantic. While it is hard to ever agree with Julia Ioffe on anything, these lines help to understand why those in power are more willing to sell the fairy tale of the Russian global threat and those who have no idea whatsoever about Russia are more than willing to believe it.

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