Russia is not just at war with Ukraine; they’re also in a cold war with us. And last week Putin got a significant victory in that war, which is now being fought on the battleground of social media and the Internet.
Representative Matt Gaetz and Senator Rand Paul helped lead Putin’s victory this week in his cold war with America by stripping aid for Ukraine out of the continuing resolution to keep our government funded for the next 45 days.
It was a clear signal from Republicans in Congress to Putin that if he can just hang on long enough, his propaganda efforts will eventually lead America to drop out and hand Ukraine over to them.
Today’s propaganda battle is primarily being fought on the Internet, principally on social media.
That’s where Russia’s now well-documented targeted efforts in six swing states (using secret, insider information from the 2016 Trump campaign given them by Paul Manafort) succeeded in pulling out a squeaker Electoral College victory for Donald Trump. It’s where they hope to repeat that in 2024.
It was also a signal to China, Japan, Australia, South and North Korea, and Taiwan that America can’t be trusted to defend allied democracies when they’re physically attacked by larger authoritarian states. By increasing the chances of an aggressor’s victory, the GOP’s continuing resolution encourages authoritarian states like Russia and China and, thus, makes the world less safe.
The Putin Republicans are being aided in this by social media companies owned by rightwing billionaire oligarchs — and their fossil fuel oligarch buddies funding the GOP in every state and federally — who are each richer than any king or pharaoh in history.
Given the media power these oligarchs and their monopolies have, it’s hard to offer any easy solutions to this threat now facing our democracy.
The Biden administration is awake to the threat: President Biden’s speech in Arizona last week explicitly called out the MAGA extremists in the GOP, and Democrats in Congress and in regulatory agencies are going after their monopolies.
Those efforts, though, will take years to reach fruition; after all, it was exactly 40 years ago this year that Reagan instructed his SEC, FTC, and DOJ to functionally stop enforcing our nation’s anti-trust laws, so they’ve had four decades to reach astronomical levels of consolidation and wealth.
Any effort to take on the media giants is complicated by five corrupt Republicans on the Supreme Court having legalized political bribery in 2010 with their Citizens United decision.
So now it’s largely up to us to carry the message forward. You and me. People who value democracy and want to see a world safe from tyrants and wannabee tyrants like Putin, Xi, MBS, and Trump.