Advice for a New Secretary of State, Part 4; Nikki Haley, Russia

Politico: Nikki Haley on Russia meddling: Election interference is ‘warfare’ Quoting,

“I will tell you that when a country can come interfere in another country’s elections, that is warfare. It really is, because you’re making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want to giving out that misinformation,” Haley said Thursday at a forum hosted in New York by the George W. Bush institute. ”And we didn’t just see it here. You can look at France and you can look at other countries. They are doing this everywhere. This is their new weapon of choice. And we have to make sure we get in front of it.”

In part, Haley was responding to (ABC) Vladimir Putin’s statement at a Sochi conference,

“An unprecedented anti-Russian campaign has been unleashed in the United States,” Putin said. “After losing the election to Trump, they have put all the blame on Russia and engaged in a frenzied anti-Russian hysteria.”

Haley may be right, maybe it is warfare, but the word may carry us in the direction of ineffectual response. The (BBC) Russia sanctions passed on August 2 are close to the most severe yet reasonable response, yet the Russians are still running their troll farms. In Advice for a New Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Part 1, I wrote about  mechanisms. But the New Subversion is in a new class, requiring new mechanisms. It’s really more like pest control, or training someone out of a bad habit. Subversion is a highly intellectual activity. A habit is mindless. What is the connection between the two?

It has to do with the characteristics of organizations. Vladimir Putin has been variously cast as the ultimate arbiter of a society, or as the ultimate mastermind of Russia. It is obviously a mix. Quoting  James Clapper from  (WP) Full transcript: Sally Yates and James Clapper testify on Russian election interference,

“The Intelligence Community Assessment concluded first that President Putin directed and influenced campaign to erode the faith and confidence of the American people in our presidential election process.”

So Putin was the mastermind of this. But Putin is also the head of a huge organization. Once an organization gets a ball rolling, it keeps rolling from sheer inertia. Russian subversion is a huge, industrial scale activity. Even  Putin has limited personal capital. When he initiates  an activity that is successful, his personal capital increases. If he shuts it down, his personal capital takes a big hit.

Even if the election hacks, and possibly most of the New Subversion, are Putin’s brainchild, these activities are now the shared meme of a vast organization. In crafting our response, it is a mistake to think we are now dealing with an individual. We need to influence an enterprise, something more like a huge corporation. Organizations have activities that become policies, engaged in without continuous, thoughtful evaluation. This is mindless, just like a habit.

So we need to create a continuing situation that will eventually cause a broad swath of Russians within their government to ask themselves, “Why are we doing this? It’s not paying off.”

This calls for linkage, plus some new tools. There will be nothing secret about it. Vladimir Putin, read along with us 🙂

To be continued shortly.






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