Russian skepticism

This community’s tolerance towards Russiagate-scepticism is clearly dwindling. As someone who has followed and loved Boing Boing for several years, I find that sad.

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The tolerance isn’t about skepticism, the tolerance of repeating the same memes over again without any substantial addition or relating it to the subject at hand has fallen.


To me, it seemed more like not wanting rain on the Cold War parade. But to each his own.

In all cases, the “Russia is the enemy undermining our democracy” seems to be precisely the tiring meme that refuses to go away. See this analysis, for instance:

" So if we’re going to view the actions of Cambridge Analytica in their proper light, we need first to start with an admission. We must concede that covert influence is not something unusual or foreign to our society, but is as American as apple pie and freedom fries. The use of manipulative, psychologically driven advertising and marketing techniques to sell us products, lifestyles, and ideas has been the foundation of modern American society, going back to the days of the self-styled inventor of public relations, Edward Bernays. It oozes out of every pore on our body politic. It’s what holds our ailing consumer society together. And when it comes to marketing candidates and political messages, using data to influence people and shape their decisions has been the holy grail of the computer age, going back half a century."


What’s dwindling (partially as a result of the efforts of Russian troll farms) is the community’s tolerance toward whataboutism, which is not the same thing as scepticism. Here’s the moderators’ view on the topic:


Calling Russia’s attack on democracy a “meme” is offensive.


I concede the point but would like to maintain that a sense of a) consistency (application of the same standards across the board) and b) a sense of proportions is relevant for this topic.

I remain unconvinced that the spectre of Russian meddling is important compared to the internal issues of American politics. And it’s sad that people apparently can no longer stand to have this pointed out.


And insulting to Putin. From a geopolitical point of view, why wouldn’t his regime want to undermine confidence in liberal-democratic institutions in the West if it could?

Russian meddling (demonstrably more than a spectre) is exploiting and exacerbating the internal issues of American politics. I know that liberals and progressives in Europe like yourself on this site are oh-so-much-more superior and educated compared to American ones, but trust me when I say that we can recognise and simultaneously deplore both Russian interference and the internal issues (including the many failings of the Dem establishment).


Just for clarification:

I’m not doubting their intentions, I’m doubting their efficiency and thus relevance. I frankly believe that Trump’s victory was created by the deficiencies of American politics (among which, Republican gerrymandering of electoral districts and registration obstacles in the south), and that that’s what people should focus on.

It’s my sincere belief that the “Trump as a Russian asset” story is a red herring. I might some day be proven wrong, of course.

(But now even I think we might be drifting off topic. Will go for a nice walk in the sun. :slight_smile: )


Explain two things to me please.

  1. Because someone else did something bad, how is you think it then is justified for another person to repeat said bad thing?

  2. Exactly what in all the various reports and news stories that we have seen makes you believe that Russia DIDN’T meddle in our elections, in that at the very least financially back one candidate and attempt to disparage the other?


In that I’ve seen no evidence presented to this effect. I did read about the troll factory in Saint Petersburg, of course, but that’s a rather old story & its effect seemed to be doubtful.

They may have tried, I concede that, but I doubt they were important for the result. The result I’d ascribe purely to the dynamics of American politics, not to Russian meddling.

As for financial support there’s this fact check:

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Do you see any evidence that the bulk of the BB is community is focusing exclusively on Russia as the cause of the 2016 disaster or that we’re deliberately ignoring problems with the GOP or the Third-Way Dems? There are hundreds of other topics that address both.

It depends how you define “asset”. A “president” who is probably deeply in debt to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars to Russian oligarchs who themselves do business only at the sufferance of Putin might reasonably be considered an asset.


THIS. Because perhaps in an ideal world and through the idyllic eyes of an American who thinks their shit doesn’t stink, you COULD perhaps believe that being in debt to an American firm like Apple or GE or in debt to an American billionaire like Oprah or Gates would not mean the US government or any politician owns you…HOWEVER…this is Russia we are talking about. Being in debt to anyone there is the very same thing as being in debt to the Russian government and ultimately to Putin.

period. end of story.


The financial support being referenced in general is not money that Russia paid Il Douche directly but material contributions by Russians to his 2016 campaign. For obvious reasons, the U.S. has laws about unregistered foreign agents providing any kind of material support (e.g. social media ads) for a candidate.


Well, when literally all the US’s intelligence agencies say so, I think they’re probably onto something. They tend to compete you know, and wouldn’t hesitate to try and discredit each other.


Speaking as an European liberal, I for one have absolutely no difficulty in accepting the idea that Russia has been meddling in the US election.

They’ve been financially supporting far-right parties all across Europe, to stir shit up, create political division and propagate anti-EU mindsets. Russia has also engaged, and continues to engage, in online “hybrid warfare”, mostly through trolls and collaborators in social media and news commentary, but also via actual hacking and DDOS attacks.

And there have been numerous campaigns in Russian media to make various neighboring countries and the West in general look bad. Speaking as a Finn, the state-sponsored Russian media has been stirring up shit over child custody issues, blowing real cases out of proportion and telling outright lies about the treatment that the children of Russian people receive from the state and the police.

(Why? Because your average Russian considers Finland to be a good neighbor, a safe and pleasant place to go on holidays or shopping trips to. And that doesn’t suit Kremlin’s policy of using nationalism to distract from the kleptocracy and the lack of meaningful democracy, so all neighboring countries need to be shown in bad light.)


No offense meant to you. There is a certain variety of smug European liberal or progressive that does think that way, though – to their own peril, since as you note the U.S. isn’t the only place in the West where xenophobic Know-Nothings can be stirred up in order to undermine liberal democracy.

The view is based somewhat in reality. The American left is considerably to the right of the European left, to the point where they see the Democrats as a centre-right party at best. The American electorate in general is probably less informed and politically engaged than are that those of European countries. I also understand the dismay on the part of European liberals at the abject failure of the Dem establishment in 2016. Still, that’s no basis for downplaying the fact that Russia is meddling, especially since “skepticism” is usually occasioned by a lack of evidence in terms of means, motive and opportunity.


None taken! :slight_smile:

Just wanted to get a contrary opinion in this thread, to remind American posters that skepticism about Russian involvement in the US election is hardly an universal attitude here in Europe.


I don’t think that Putin is trying to undermine our democracy, he is just trying to “make Russia great again”. Since Russia doesn’t have the population or the GDP of the United States or the European Union, the only way for it to look great is by making her perceived competitors less great. He is trying to undermine the United States and the European Union. One way to do it is by sowing discord and doubt about the established institutions. Good ol’ “Divide et impera”.

I don’t think that Trump is a planted Russian agent, but I believe that Trump likes Putin a lot and sees him as a role model. He admires him as a fellow autocrat, kleptocrat, and plutocrat. Trump most probably has Russian business partners and financial backers. When Putin realized that a Trump presidency would desestabilize the US and its parternship with the EU, and that it would be more lenient about Putin’s violations of international law, it chose to support his candidacy and to undermine his opponents. It also seems to me that at some point Putin’s henchpeople got in direct contact with Trump and his campaign people. Trump did not oppose Putin’s meddling in the US elections, he actually welcome it and publicly asked for more of it.

Putin doesn’t want to help make America great again, quite the opposite. Trump is a power and attention seeker, trying to make the rich all over the world even richer. Trump’s voters that do not share his racist propaganda are either rich and selfish, or poor and deluded.


That’s actually a nice analysis.

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Right now, what I see from the Russian hackers is a risk of overexposure, whilst they still pursue the game of “let’s you and him fight”. Sowing FUD, as the Putin regime seeks not so much to destroy the USA and the EU as to nerf them both so that they can no longer interfere.