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OPINION

Russian Election Interference?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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What do Fidel Castro, Salvadore Allende, Mohammed Mossadegh, and Manuel Noriega, as well as the nations of Cuba, Chile, Iran, and Panama all have in common ?  They all were the victim of meddling by the United States in their internal political affairs, to include the attempted or actual overthrow of their governments.

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One could also easily add the nations of Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Australia to the list.  And most recently Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel can be included since the Obama Administration actively worked against the reelection of the Israeli leader.  It’s quite likely that the list of countries and governments that the United States has either outright overthrown, or at the least tried to influence elections in is quite long and touches every continent.

As an old Cold Warrior I happen to believe that our efforts to fight and prevent the evil and spread of communism was a noble cause.  And sometimes things were done during that effort that in hindsight might not have been such a good idea after all, especially when they are revealed and made public.  Egg sometimes takes a long time to, and is difficult to wash off of one’s face.

There’s a strong case to be made that the one time when we should have involved ourselves in the internal affairs of another country happened early on during the administration of Barack Obama.  Iranians rose up in the streets against the regime in the Islamic Republic, and instead of taking advantage of this situation and encouraging and helping the Iranians, instead we sat on the sidelines and allowed a popular uprising to be quashed.  And consequently one of America’s biggest threats, the Iranian regime to remain in power.

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It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that nations all over the world have a vested interest in the internal politics of their neighbors, adversaries and enemies, and even their friends.  And that countries regularly try to influence the internal affairs of other nations in order to try to protect their own interests, or to benefit economically.

Watching the recent hearings that took place in the United States Senate about the supposed Russian hacking of our elections I was reminded of two things.  One, the pomposity of some politicians would be humorous if it wasn’t so destructive, and two, I recall then-candidate Donald Trump questioning during the presidential campaign why we would telegraph to our enemies what we’re going to do.

Apparently the good senators, with the exception of Republican Tom Cotton from Arkansas who knows firsthand the destructiveness that poor OPSEC – operational security – causes from his time as a combat commander in Iraq, most of the others haven’t a clue about discussing these sensitive matters in a public forum. 

All of our adversaries practice, just as we do what is referred to as “open source intelligence gathering”, in which a great deal of useful intelligence can be obtained from unclassified and published, or publicized sources.

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If our enemies know the extent that we are aware of their activities they can change or adapt their tactics.  If we warn them that we’re going to retaliate they can take steps to prepare or prevent any effective retaliation.  In addition, they can also prepare a response.  Knowing an attack is coming and who it’s coming from can exacerbate already heightened tensions during which things can sometimes spiral out of control.

Wouldn’t it be more effective if we just quietly acknowledged to ourselves what was done, and then very quietly went about the business of getting even ?  Wouldn’t it be better if our enemies just woke up one day to find that their computer networks had suddenly crashed with no explanation ?  Our enemies would have no way of knowing for sure that we were behind the problems they were experiencing.

But no, not with our politicians !  Our politicians seem hell bent on tipping our hand to our enemies on a regular basis, no matter the potential costs.  Our politicians find it more important to pontificate in a public forum than to practice real OPSEC and protect our sources and methods, not to mention our plans and tactics.  Our politicians gladly warn our enemies that we discovered what they did and that we’re coming for them.

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Indeed we view interference in our political process by foreign governments to be a concern, just as I’m sure Cuba, Chile, Iran and Panama did.  And we should take whatever steps are necessary to protect the integrity of our elections.  And that would include implementing a national voter ID law to prevent illegal aliens from voting in our elections, and preventing the flow of illegal future Democrats across our borders.

But Democrats don’t seem to be really too concerned about protecting the integrity of our elections after all, as long as it benefits them.  

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