A Book Update and Reflections on Russian Information Warfare

 

I promised in early September that I would return regularly to post updates on the book to which many of you contributed. I have, again, been lax about doing this. It is troubling my conscience. I am sure some of you are wondering why, and I’m sure some of you have guessed exactly why.

The reason is exactly what some of you must suspect. I am in such profound disagreement with so many of you about the Trump presidency — and particularly about the significance of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — that I’ve come to feel deeply alienated from you.

A yawning and bitter chasm now separates Americans. As thousands of journalists and pundits have by now remarked, we seem to inhabit two epistemic universes. We do not agree on facts, let alone our interpretation of those facts.

I am in the camp that many here now view as the enemy camp. I believe not only that Donald Trump is inherently unfit to be president, but that it is highly likely that he wittingly and illegally colluded with Russia’s efforts to swing the election in his favor, that these efforts probably did swing the election, and that this is preventing him from now acting in the American interest in critical ways.

I believe that Russia has attacked our country with the intention of destroying it. I believe we, and the world, are in great peril because of this.

This is a view significantly at odds with the majority view on Ricochet.

I don’t want to rehearse, here, all the reasons I believe this. The point of this post is to explain, first, why I’ve been reluctant to post or join discussions recently. It’s also to give you an update on the book, where I do offer the reasons for these beliefs, in detail. I explicitly connect Americans’ recent political experiences to those of other countries that have come, in the past decade, to be similarly divided.

But my arguments aren’t suitable for a post on Ricochet. They really do take a book to make. I’m reassured by this, because as you’ll recall, I was at first unsure that what I had on my hands was really a book. My first draft too much resembled a series of Ricochet posts, strung together. Now, I can say that the manuscript is coherent. It advances a thesis about what, precisely, is happening to established liberal democracies in the 21st century, and why it is happening. There is a chapter devoted to Russia’s role in this. I do not argue that Russia’s role is the whole explanation. But I do argue it is a significant part of the explanation.

These aren’t arguments I can reduce to the length of a Tweet or a blog post, but they are arguments I desperately want you to hear and understand. On many occasions in the past few weeks, I’ve wanted to just hit “publish” on the manuscript and have it all out there. I’ve thought, “That’s enough, this book is done, people need to read this now.” I’ve been emotional. I’ve been frustrated that our national debate seems to be missing so much evidence from events overseas, evidence that is so significant. I’ve wanted to make my arguments, at last, instead of saying, “Wait for the book.”

But I haven’t done it. I know that my arguments, even if by now they’re in pretty good shape, won’t instantly transform this debate. That’s a narcissistic fantasy. If I write this book very well, and very carefully, there is a chance it may slightly inform or shape public opinion. It may help a few people better to view our domestic problems in their international context. It might offer a few people a way of looking at our situation that’s helpful to them.

But I do not think this manuscript would have even that impact if I press “publish” now. It would be too easy to attack and dismiss, because it’s still too sloppy. It is repetitive in parts, unclear in others, emotional in places where it should be cool in tone, and in some places cool in tone — boring, that is — where it absolutely can’t afford to be. I’ve not yet subjected all of my sources to sufficient scrutiny. Nor have I been rigorous enough in my fact-checking. I’ve written too much in haste, and too much in anger. It is so easy to dismiss someone’s arguments if they make careless errors — to say, “See, what does she know about this?” — and I don’t want that to happen to my book.

So that’s what’s going on. The book is going very well. I have a clear thesis. I am on schedule. I know what I wish the book to accomplish.

And I fear you will hate it. And I feel very, very conflicted and bad about this, so much so that I haven’t been around much.

But here is the other thing. I believe — and argue, in this book — that the extent to which we have been divided into two warring camps with irreconcilable views is, in part, the product of Russian information warfare. Not in whole — it only works because the divisions are real to begin with. But that is its aim. Russia’s doctrines are widely known. This is just how they’ve done it elsewhere. This is a textbook case.

I agree with Clint Watts in his recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Please read the whole thing, but he concludes with these words:

It’s been more than a year since my colleagues and I described in writing how the Russian disinformation system attacked our American democracy. We’ve all learned considerably more since then about the Kremlin’s campaigns, witnessed their move to France and Germany and now watch as the world’s worst regimes duplicate their methods. Yet our country remains stalled in observation, halted by deliberation and with each day more divided by manipulative forces coming from afar. The U.S. government, social media companies, and democracies around the world don’t have any more time to wait. In conclusion, civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words. America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.

I believe this happened; I believe we are in danger because of it. Most of you don’t. That’s a big divide.

But for years, I happily thought of the members of Ricochet as my friends. I really enjoyed our daily conversations. I agreed with many of you about most things, and when I didn’t agree, felt that we could discuss our disagreements like adults. I felt, warmly, that you were my people — Americans (mostly) with common sense, people who looked at the world basically the way I did.

Now I feel otherwise. Now I feel deeply estranged from most of the American Right.

Now, oddly, this is almost exactly the feeling I had about the American Left in the wake of September 11. The Left seemed determined to deny the significance of what had happened, to argue that this was the natural consequence of our foreign policy, that we’d just got what was coming to us for meddling in places we had no business. A large part of America seemed to me unwilling to confront reality: Whether or not we “had it coming,” we sure had an enemy that meant to destroy us. We had to decide whether we would let that happen.

What do I conclude from this? Well, first, that I go berserk when my country’s attacked. I go stark-raving berserk. I have a history under such circumstances of becoming deeply alienated from other people in my country who react differently, who take such things more in stride–who believe, perhaps, that such things happen inevitably to powerful countries, and perhaps even that we do have them coming, from time to time–that this is the price of being a superpower. I have a history of becoming alienated from people who insist that it isn’t so easy to destroy the United States, so perhaps we ought not overreact, to the point of mocking and even demonizing those people in print, to the point of seeing them as enemies within.

But in retrospect, some of the people who said, “We ought not overreact” to 9/11 seem to me to have been right–they were not quite the moral cretins or the quislings I imagined them to be at the time. Some of the people who said, “The whole point of this is to provoke us into overreaction” were, in fact, right. I was wrong to think that everyone who said such things was blithely indifferent to the magnitude of the atrocity or incapable of grasping what it said about the nature and determination of our enemy. Some of them surely were indifferent or uncomprehending. But some of them were simply more strategic, more sensible, and wiser than I was.

What does this mean, in turn? It means that I should entertain the idea that people who disagree with me about the seriousness of this event might not be crazy. Perhaps I am–for the second time–overreacting. I don’t think I am, but I’ve done it once, so I might be.

There’s another parallel. All those cliches to the effect that “You can’t let yourself be terrorized because if you do, the terrorists win,” are grounded in the reality that yes, that is indeed exactly the point of terrorism. If you give in to it, you assist terrorists in their goals and you create incentives for them to do it again. Likewise, if I and people like me allow ourselves to be divided from our friends by Russian information warfare, Russia wins — and so does every other hostile actor in the world who sees how easy it is to divide us, and how much bang you can get for your information-warfare buck.

No, our disagreements in America are not only about Russia. But they are enough about Russia that my obstinacy kicks in: I refuse to react exactly the way the Kremlin want me to. I want to stay friends with my friends. The better angels of my nature tell me clearly that no, we are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.

Right now, I disagree with most of you, profoundly, about the most significant political issues of our era. That is awkward. That is not how I expected things to be, at all. But it’s reality.

So I will continue to make my case against many of your ideas–although I’ll do it in a book, not here–but I will not make a case against you. I do not and will not accept the idea that Americans who don’t agree with me are deplorable. I will not allow Russia — or Trump — to turn you, my friends, into my enemies.

I’ve been too fond of too many of you for too long for that to make any sense.

 

There are 356 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    No Claire.  You don’t get to say you think Trump colluded (whatever that might mean, and despite whether it is illegal) with Russians despite any evidence, and then say you’re not going to explain why.

    • #1
  2. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Claire,

    Are you unaware that the Soviets paid for the antiwar protests of the 60’s, the worldwide peace movement and the anti-nuclear movement in Germany in the 1970s?

    In other words, what you decry here is a mere pittance, a drop in a bucket compared to the information campaign they have waged over the last 100 years.

    Why, then, do you have such a visceral reaction to it now? What is it about this time?

    I have an issue with this.

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: But in retrospect, some of the people who said, “We ought not overreact” to 9/11 seem to me to have been right–they were not quite the moral cretins or the quislings I imagined them to be at the time.

    When I read this quote, I am wondering who “some of the people” are? Do you mean to imply that there were people in power who thought there was no such thing as over-reaction, because I am not aware of any. I am aware of people who thought the US response to 9/11 was going to be the use of nuclear weapons, but none of the people I am referring to are Americans. Mostly they are Europeans.

    Whoever said this

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Some of the people who said, “The whole point of this is to provoke us into overreaction” were, in fact, right.

    Is utterly wrong. Completely wrong. Exactly wrong. Islamists do not seek mass martyrdom. They seek domination and to enjoy the fruits of their spoils. The Afghan crime wave in Europe is the expression of this.

    Earlier this year, I came across this article. and what struck me was this passage in particular.

    To them, Europeans are the enemy, and their women are legitimate spoils, as are all the other things one can take from them: housing, money, passports. Their laws don’t matter, their culture is uninteresting and, ultimately, their civilization is going to fall anyway to the horde of which one is the spearhead.

    I disagree with you regarding President Trump’s fitness for office, but this

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: it is highly likely that he wittingly and illegally colluded with Russia’s efforts to swing the election in his favor, that these efforts probably did swing the election, and that this is preventing him from now acting in the American interest in critical ways.

    Lacks evidence. Been looking for it for a year and there is no there, there. By any measure you care to name, GDP growth, Stock market, labor market, consumer confidence, regulation reduction, improving due process rights – Americans are benefiting from the Trump presidency. Kindly show me where he has taken any action that works against us.

    I wish you well on the book.

    • #2
  3. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Instugator (View Comment):
    Are you unaware that the Soviets paid for the antiwar protests of the 60’s, the worldwide peace movement and the anti-nuclear movement in Germany in the 1970s? …

    Why, then, do you have such a visceral reaction to it now? What is it about this time?

    Of course I’m aware! And I have exactly the same reaction to this now as I did then! This is what I don’t get — I haven’t changed. I have maintained exactly the same views about this issue. No, though, I don’t think this was a “pittance” compared to past efforts. I think it was exceptionally successful.

    • #3
  4. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I do not and will not accept the idea that Americans who don’t agree with me are deplorable. I will not allow Russia — or Trump — to turn you, my friends, into my enemies.

    Or Hillary?

    • #4
  5. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Hi Claire.    Been missing your writing.   When I saw your post  I was hopeful that in light of the now overwhelming evidence that the Clintons were, in fact, in cahoots with the Russians to enrich themselves at the expense of US national security (the uranium deal) and to influence the election (the fake dossier)  that you were issuing a mea culpa.   That would have been welcome indeed.    I’m genuinely sorry that’s not the case.

    I know you assert that you aren’t reacting exactly the way the Kremlin wants you to…. but you are.   By continuing to pound a wedge into America – and based on a narrative that has been exposed to be false – you are doing exactly that.    I know you assert that you don’t find us deplorable.   But by your continued support of those who do, your actions belie those words.

    Heavy sigh.   All the best.   Luck with the book.

    • #5
  6. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Claire.  If you are going to write about the US and our election and our strange new President, you should really be here and travel around the country in order to remind yourself why we are very different from Europe, and where President Trump came from.   Here the administrative state is corrupt and will always be corrupt.  It is inept and will always be inept.  In France those things are also true but far less so.  It’s smaller, more homogeneous, and has the best most educated civil service on the planet, with Japan a close second.  France is comfortable with itself, or at least things French and with restrained upward mobility that comes with centralized elite control.  They are proud of their Colbert tradition which was central mercantilistic control by and for the elite ameliorated with paternalism.   They are a nation.   We’re too big, too heterogeneous and too dynamic and too easily corrupted to be mercantilistic which is what socialism ultimately means if not totalitarian.  We are not a nation and function in our own way well only when we fully embrace that fact.   We have to have decentralized governance and highly limited government but we have to figure what that means in this post cold war digital age.     I don’t know how Trump plays into all this.  His rhetoric doesn’t encourage me but so far his actions do.  But he is a symptom of changes we haven’t been able to come to grips with.  He isn’t their cause.

    On the other hand we all await a book about Europe including Russia and Turkey where it’s heading, why, and how our two continents should approach a future that includes Russia, the Middle East and Asia.   Help us come to grips with our role in the world.

    • #6
  7. Vice-Potentate Inactive
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    Two things I’m just going to leave on your doorstep. First, I’m inclined to think of meddling as a constant occurrence. How much is done is only constrained by how easily information can be quashed. I’m not willing to make a tradeoff wherein we get rid of meddling at the price of having information curated for us. I’d rather have it messy. And, probably more importantly, I’m glad your back. I don’t expect anything written here to make you come around more often, but it’s pleasant to know you’re still swirling out there; plugging away feverishly at a book that will be well written, well received, and make me harumph when I read it.

    • #7
  8. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    I’m sorry, Claire.  I hope you recover soon.  It’s a shame that my donation to your book fund, based on your excellent past work, is going to waste.

    You deny that you’ve changed, Claire, but it isn’t true.

    • #8
  9. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    But russian information warfare didn’t divide us.

    The left learning the wrong lessons from the sexual harassment panic of the 90s, the antiwar movement of bush administration, and winning dirty on gay marriage, divided the country.  That is the surface level stuff.

    The deeper level stuff is that these are easily foreseeable outcomes of diversity and the effects of time, with social media catalyzing trends already underway.

    A trivial amount of facebook advertising didn’t divide the country.  The lefts rising culture of ethnic/gender pogroms, and their ownership of societies middleware divided the country.  Anybody who lived through the 90s doesn’t want a social justice warrior in charge HR.  But the left learned that power politics work and they have some very powerful levers, and they are terrifying.  Social Media just made everybody aware of just how terrifying.

    All social problems in america stem from how the left has changed since the antiwar movements in 2004.

     

    • #9
  10. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    If anything it seems the Russians were poking both sides, trying to rile us up, although we were pretty riled anyway. But they’ve done that for ages – they were behind the Nuclear Freeze movement in the 80’s.

    The Trump-Russian collusion claim has been around for a year with nothing substantial in evidence. Unless you know stuff that no news organization in the world has uncovered, I don’t think it’s reasonable to make that claim any more. There’s more evidence of a Clinton-Russia collusion these days. Did they pay Trump half a million dollars for a speech while looking for favors??

    • #10
  11. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):
    I think it was exceptionally successful.

    Because the outcome wasn’t what you wanted? Because I have to tell you, in my very blue collar family, Trump was overwhelmingly favored and it didn’t matter what coast they were on.

    If, in fact, a mere $100k (of which only $40K was spent before the election) in social media ads, coupled with the Macedonian content farms targeting and inflaming both sides finally put paid to the Felonia von Pantsuit – well in that case, I owe those folks a good case of whiskey.

    Thing is, and I was told this long ago by a senior NCO I admire, Psyops isn’t the Jedi Mind Trick. People think it is, but it isn’t.

    So in reference to Soviet funding of the peace movement,

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):
    Of course I’m aware! And I have exactly the same reaction to this now as I did then!

    That peace movement had lots of public demonstrations. Thousands of people marching, favorable news coverage, petitions, the whole 9 yards. I didn’t see that with the Trump campaign. I saw it after, with the pink hat march (people protesting against the President’s words while remaining silent about the predators in their own midst) and the divisive “he will not divide us” campaign, plus the continuing media meltdown.

    President Trump spent $650M and Felonia directly spent $1.1B and you expect me to believe that Russia’s $100K swung the election?

    Look at this article. In light of the Donna Brazille bombshell of the morning, we know that Felonia spent $1.1B of her campaign money while directing the spending of an additional $860M from the DNC and Hillary Victory fund. She spent (or directed the spending of)~$2B and couldn’t close the deal.

    Enough people in enough places decided that she needed to go and she was shown the door.

     

    • #11
  12. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    I have always disagreed with you because I think Russia is a minor distraction. It is China that is the real problem. Did you follow the Chinese Communist Party Congress a couple of weeks ago? Xi is now in Mao’s position with no successor in sight. And China is a far more capable country than Russia. China actually is a party-state with all of the criminality of Russia as well.

    Furthermore, to even begin to suggest that Russians are the only disinformation game in town as far as our elections is ludicrous.

    • #12
  13. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I do not and will not accept the idea that Americans who don’t agree with me are deplorable. I will not allow Russia — or Trump — to turn you, my friends, into my enemies.

    It seems that where ever you get your information has turned you into our enemy. Not us into yours. President Trump has an impressive achievement rate of success since he has been in office but you are still determine to write an “Never Trump” book, with no evidence of maleficence.

    • #13
  14. Derek Simmons Member
    Derek Simmons
    @

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I’ve come to feel deeply alienated from you.

    +1

    • #14
  15. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I believe not only that Donald Trump is inherently unfit to be president, but that it is highly likely that he wittingly and illegally colluded with Russia’s efforts to swing the election in his favor, that these efforts probably did swing the election, and that this is preventing him from now acting in the American interest in critical ways.

    First question: Did Putin expect Trump to win?

    If not, then it is misleading to discuss “Russia’s efforts to swing the election in his favor”. More likely then, Putin intended and expected Hillary to win but wanted to rile up Trump supporters.

    If Putin did expect Trump to win, what accounts for that brilliance of predicting a Trump win against polls and both campaigns?

    Second question, if Putin was behind all the alleged hacks and supported Trump, why didn’t: a) the anti-Bernie DNC scandals break earlier; and b) all the missing Hillary emails become public?

    • #15
  16. Patrick McClure Coolidge
    Patrick McClure
    @Patrickb63

    I cannot add to the great observations by so many posters above.  I do find it sad that you have allowed your visceral hatred of President Trump to metastasize into conspiracy-theory level foolishness.

    • #16
  17. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    Claire, I appreciate the courage and civility shown in your honest views. Indeed, though not without ambivalence, I substantially disagree with much you express – especially as to the role of Russia as a cause of our dissolution as a culture, a society and a polity. This, in my view, is mainly the fruit of homegrown left/Marxist agitprop (formerly blatantly assisted by the USSR, though vociferously denied at the time) and democrat/MSM identity politics going back to at least the 60’s. I am also pretty sure Russia did not get Apple, Chase, Google et al to give lots of millions of dollars to the SPLC, which labels anyone and everyone who disagrees with leftist rubrics as a “hate group.” Nor did it cause CNN,  MSNBC and others to amplify that list as if it were factual “news.” Nothing, in my view, could be more divisive; this has already led to specific violence.

    As to overreacting to terrorism, I believe we have indeed done so – by attacking the fundamental values of a free society, turning us into a surveillance state. Our responses to those bent on destroying us, however, have been more moderate.

    And, in case there is a moral dimension to interfering with elections in other countries, I must ask where was the outrage when US taxpayer money was used by the Obama administration in a significant effort to oust Netanyahu?

    Differences as to views and even as to facts, I’m afraid, have become part and parcel of living in this iteration of modernity. Finding signal in the static is an ongoing challenge and requires effort. That is why it remains important to have discourse – especially with friends with whom we disagree. Tolerance of disagreement, after all, is a characteristic of conservatism and surely not liberalism, whose main project today is to zealously crush all disagreement with a wild religious fervor resembling demonic possession.

    I look forward reading your book, as I have all the others.

    • #17
  18. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I believe not only that Donald Trump is inherently unfit to be president, but that it is highly likely that he wittingly and illegally colluded with Russia’s efforts to swing the election in his favor

    Claire, I appreciate your courage in voicing your thoughts to what you believe is a hostile audience, and I understand why you feel you cannot make a book length argument in a Ricochet post.  But if you feel so inclined, I would appreciate it if you would clarify one sentence in your post.  That’s the sentence quoted above.

    First, what do you mean by “collusion”?  This is a word that is not defined in (and, in fact, does not even appear in) any criminal statute, so far as I know.  Can you give us an example of any action by Trump or his campaign which was part of the “collusion”?

    Second, on what basis was the “collusion” illegal?  What provision of the U.S. Code was violated?

    Third, are you able to identify anyone whose vote was changed by the “collusion”?  Anyone at all?  If not, how do you claim that the “collusion” changed the outcome of the election?

     

    • #18
  19. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Donald Trump is president, not because of any amount of Russian influence, but because the Democratic Party ran Hillary Clinton as its candidate. And the Democratic Party ran Hillary as its candidate, not because of any amount of Russian influence, but because its own cancerous policies and the hubris of the Clintons.

    Make no mistake about it – Had the Democrats run anybody other than Hillary, Trump would not be president.

    • #19
  20. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Songwriter (View Comment):
    Had the Democrats run anybody other than Hillary, Trump would not be president.

    I don’t know about that, the country is pretty fed up with the Democrats.

    • #20
  21. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Instugator (View Comment):
    President Trump spent $650M and Felonia directly spent $1.1B and you expect me to believe that Russia’s $100K swung the election?

    If anyone with $100k can significantly swing an election why has no one done this before?

    Will we ever have another “fair” election if you can buy the Presidency for your candidate for less than the cost of a normal family home?

    What actually swung the election was very banal. Some people really liked Trump. Some people really hated Hillary. Some people were Republican so they voted for the Republican candidate. Finally whether you agreed with it or not Trump was giving some idea why you should vote for him, Hillary did not.

    It isn’t as sexy or spy novel inspiring as shouting “Russia”but it is the most likely answer.

    • #21
  22. Chuckles Thatcher
    Chuckles
    @Chuckles

    @claire are you familiar with Abraham’s talk with God prior to the destruction of Sodom?  (You can find the part I’m thinking of  at Gen. 18:28ff.

    I mention it only to ask this question, not to imply any other comparisions:  How many friends do you need here so that you will not forsake us?

     

    • #22
  23. Quinnie Member
    Quinnie
    @Quinnie

    I find this post incredibly reckless.   Donald Trump wittingly colluded with the Russians to swing the election?   What balderdash.   I would gladly refute your facts, but you present none.

    • #23
  24. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    The division of Left and Right by basic facts and assumptions, preceding differences of argument, is decades old. We have discussed it many times on Ricochet.

    What is possibly recent, though I doubt it, is such division between fellow conservatives. Conservatives often disagreed on the veracity of economic indicators and studies, military assessments, etc. But perhaps the points of our factual disagreements are more pressing than before, such as whether or not the FBI is a trustworthy source.

    It is of course reasonable to investigate seemingly delusional or subversive reports — I draw the line at financially encouraging them. But it’s hard to believe you have well balanced the Left’s narratives about Russia in your readings with carefully drawn rebuttals on the Right. Do you not trust sober-minded writers like Andrew McCarthy at NRO? With any subject, it is insufficient to seek counter-arguments without care for their quality. The first rebuttal you encounter might not be the best one.

    Not all who defend Trump from particular allegations or praise particular actions approve of his every decision, nor fail to criticize him for reckless behavior. Many on Ricochet, such as your friend Peter Robinson and myself, have mixed impressions about the current president. But such even-handed approaches are not common among pundits, most of whom dug in early.

    Because these disagreements begin with basic facts and beliefs, trust is crucial. Do you trust different sources than you did 5 years ago? If so, you should understand why. Has your trust followed from your preferred conclusions, or the other way around?

    In any case, thanks for explaining, Claire. Independent of politics, we hope life is treating you well.

     

    • #24
  25. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:I believe not only that Donald Trump is inherently unfit to be president, but that it is highly likely that he wittingly and illegally colluded with Russia’s efforts to swing the election in his favor, that these efforts probably did swing the election, and that this is preventing him from now acting in the American interest in critical ways.

    I believe that Russia has attacked our country with the intention of destroying it. I believe we, and the world, are in great peril because of this.

    This is a view significantly at odds with the majority view on Ricochet.

    Claire,

    This has nothing to do with the majority view on Ricochet. As you know I personally miss your presence on Ricochet very much. However, your claims that I have quoted are absurd.

    First, if every Russian government written social media entry was perfectly done to appeal to the American psyche and convince in favor of Trump, it would have amounted to nothing but a drop in the Ocean of social media content. It could not have affected the election in anything like a significant way.

    Second, half of the content of the Russian stuff was against Trump and pro-Hillary. Also, most of it was very clumsily written and wouldn’t have been effective with Americans anyway.

    Third, there is no evidence whatsoever that Trump colluded with the Russians at all. In fact, there is now massive evidence that Hillary through Podesta colluded with the Russians to obtain the phony Steele dossier that was very damaging to Trump. This is a much more significant interference in the 2016 campaign than anything that even might have been Trump’s fault. After a year and a half of investigation, no collusion is in evidence by Trump. However, there is major evidence that a corrupt runaway special prosecutor is trying to extort phony confessions out of Manafort and Papadopoulos. Mueller as FBI director under Obama-Clinton suppressed obvious evidence of the Clintons collusion with the Russians and the massive payments they received for it. Mueller is prejudiced in the extreme and should be removed from his position immediately.

    Sorry, Claire but I’m not buying. I like you very much but I won’t let that prejudice me in this. It is too important. If your point of view holds sway then extreme damage will be done to this country. As America has been the motive force for Liberty in the world since the Enlightenment, this will also do grave damage to Europe and the rest of humanity.

    No thanks.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #25
  26. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Thank you for posting, Claire. I always enjoy your posts, even when I disagree.

    I disagree.

    First off because it is hard for me to imagine what exactly the oh-so-subtle FSB social scientists could possibly concoct that would budge my opinion of that cattle futures trading, Rose Law Firm records losing, Billy Dale firing, reset button pushing, Sarajevo sniper dodging, what-difference-does-it-make former Secretary of State of ours in the slightest. Even if any of the Trump dossier were true, Vladimir has darker dirt on her. Her dossier would have made a mysterious appearance on the corner of the Resolute desk in her first week on the job.

    Secondly, because if the Russians were all that adept at mind control, the Magnitsky Act would never have passed, let alone still be in effect.

    Thirdly, because the Democrats’ sudden antipathy to all things Russian will not survive their return to power. It will vanish down the memory hole sometime during the Inauguration parade.

    We could have done better. We should have done better. But there is no path forward in “coulda/shoulda.”

    • #26
  27. Chuck Enfield Inactive
    Chuck Enfield
    @ChuckEnfield

    Hi Claire,

    It’s nice to hear from you again.  As somebody who is between camps, I’m looking forward to your book.  I’ve got my concerns about President Trump, as do many people who support him, but when it comes to the debate between the two camps, the anti-trump camp is losing the argument based on the evidence.  Much of the evidence offered by the pro-Trump camp is speculative or mere assertion, but some of it is better, even if still anecdotal or suggestive.  Nearly all the anti-trump evidence is by assertion or analogy. If you have stronger evidence to offer I’m eager to read it.

    Chuck

    • #27
  28. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    I will buy and read your book, Claire. (Unless it has a cover blurb by Louise Mensch…)

    I will try to consider your allegations and arguments dispassionately and with as open a mind as may be warranted.

    But it’s a big task ahead of you.

     

    • #28
  29. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:I believe not only that Donald Trump is inherently unfit to be president,

    As has been discussed before, ‘fitness’ is not a real category.

    but that it is highly likely that he wittingly and illegally colluded with Russia’s efforts to swing the election in his favor,

    I know the British Remain campaign wittingly colluded with the Obama administration’s efforts to swing the referendum in their favour. As with much in that campaign, and with Obama’s foreign policy, it probably had the opposite effect. The ‘illegal’, therefore, makes all the difference. And what a difference. I hope the ‘illegality’ amounts to more than failure to file paperwork to comply with unconstitutional lobbying registration regulations.

    that these efforts probably did swing the election,

    That’s going to be tricky to show, since no-one seems to agree, beyond the broad fact that Hillary was a terrible candidate, what caused folks to pull the lever for DJT.

    and that this is preventing him from now acting in the American interest in critical ways.

    Progress against ISIS, China being brought to a sense of its responsibility for North Korea, the UN being held to a higher standard, help to Eastern Europe, reminding NATO allies of their treaty responsibilities, at least talk about a stronger military…. What’s missing?

    I believe that Russia has attacked our country with the intention of destroying it.

    Highly likely. But with means laughably inadequate to do so.

    I believe we, and the world, are in great peril

    As, on balance, do I.

    because of this.

    No, not because Russia bought Facebook ads of Jesus armwrestling Hillary.

    • #29
  30. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Clint Watts: The U.S. government, social media companies, and democracies around the world don’t have any more time to wait. In conclusion, civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words. America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.

    I know he’s torturing a metaphor here, but does anyone else find this deeply unsettling? That we must “quell information rebellions”? What is the solution: suspension of Habeas Corpus? Government censorship? Adopting the tactics of Putin’s Russia with respect to “information rebellions”?

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.