No informed high official in our government disputes that Russia is doing its best to influence the 2020 election, not by hacking into computers and altering vote totals but by sowing dissension among us.
In case you hadn’t noticed, that strategy worked very well in 2016 and has since. Don’t give Moscow all the credit, however — we Americans are quite good at going for each other’s throats without any encouragement from abroad.
But Vladimir Putin’s regime — and other foreign foes — leave nothing to chance. They continue to use social media to spread lies against both Democrats and Republicans, and to encourage the gullible to see conspiracies where there aren’t any.
Just last week, President Donald Trump’s administration charged a Russian, Artem Mikhaylovich Lifshits, of being involved in his government’s disinformation campaign. Lifshits allegedly is involved in Moscow’s Project Lakhta, an effort to capitalize on divisive social issues in the United States.
Millions of social media users see false posts that come from the Russian campaign. Of course, they are disguised.
None of this is to say Putin’s regime is not continuing to attempt to find back doors into U.S. election-related computers.
Also last week, Microsoft revealed it has detected hacking attempts targeting U.S. political campaigns, parties and consultants. Microsoft blamed the attempts on the same Russian military intelligence unit that in 2016 hacked Democratic Party computers.
There is nothing most of us can do about such electronic sabotage, of course. We can refuse too fall for internet disinformation campaigns aimed at increasing discord among us. In the long run, they will do Americans more harm than any other online war — by attempting to make us enemies.