Please Get Your Russia Conspiracies Straight

Another public hacking episode is in the news this week, and naturally, Russia is being blamed for it.

Not that there appears to be much evidence as of yet that Russia is truly responsible. And such evidence is unlikely to be found, even if they did do it. Hacking cases are notoriously difficult if not impossible to definitively attribute. And attribution becomes even more unlikely if you’re assuming the hackers have the effectively unlimited resources of a nation-state to fund very sophisticated attacks.

This all leads to a kind of Catch 22. Either Russia’s state hacking apparatus is extraordinarily formidable and advanced – in which case, their culpability is not likely to be proved. Or, they are incompetent fools who can’t even cover their own tracks – in which case, how much of a threat could they really be? Which one is it?

Sadly, that’s not the only cognitive dissonance going on here.

The target of the latest purported “Russia” hacks was two state voter registration systems. This fits well with the useful campaign narrative that Putin is trying to manipulate the election to favor Donald Trump. But a moment’s thought reveals that this story has contradictions of its own. On the one hand, we are told that we must fear the recklessness of Donald Trump and be appalled at the idea he would have control of nuclear weapons. But on the other hand, the reckless Donald Trump is also allegedly a “puppet” of Vladimir Putin, the leader of the other nuclear country that the US is most likely to exchange nuclear weapons with. How do we possibly reconcile this?

To believe both of those ideas simultaneously is to believe that Russia is trying to manipulate the elections in Donald Trump’s favor, so that once elected, Donald Trump will start a nuclear war against Russia. Sure, no one ever says it like that. But if you believed both narratives that the Clinton campaign advances, that’s where you end up. Hopefully, you don’t need me to tell you that is crazy.

Thus, I have a humble suggestion. If you’re going to demonize Russia, ideally try to use some actual facts. But if you can’t muster that, at least get your conspiracy theories straight. It would save the rest of us a lot of needless frustration.

Eric Schuler is the author of The Daily Face Palm blog, which focuses mostly on foreign policy and bad economics.

7 thoughts on “Please Get Your Russia Conspiracies Straight”

  1. Sometimes I think Putin just sits back and has a good laugh about the US of A. The Americans may like to think they are important, but I think those days are looking further back in the rear view mirror. It is sad really, it was a country I used to look up too, can’t say I do anymore.

        1. Americans are not as in favour of intervention as is our government.

          Would Tibetans be at fault for China’s government, were China a democracy? I’m from South Carolina; we were conquered. And the 14th Amendment totally changed the US, centralised citizenship.

          Assuming votes are accurately counted, regular voters are politically uneducated and depend on a biased mass media for information. Furthermore, voters must work, haven’t the time to keep up with news.

          And we have a two party system which makes controlling voters easier, because we’re lumped into two broad coalitions (Republicans and Democrats). Frequently what’s considered “moderate” is whatever is supported by special interests, who sometimes fund both parties.

          America is heavily influenced by special interests, but assuming “the people” do direct things:

          Would you blame people in Syria caught in the fight between various radical groups, all of them fairly bad? That’s how real life is. There frequently is not a good side. US politics is like that: You have to pick between Satan and Cthulhu.

          And the US isn’t somehow worse than other parts of the world. The US is just powerful. If the US declines in power while another polity rises, we’ll continue to see similar abuses, perhaps even worse abuses.

  2. And they got some local official’s email address. They could use that to distribute confounding spam messages on election day. imagine them disenfranchising all the right wing idiots in Illinois and Arizona for a change.

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