Category Archives: Democracy

Strongman Government


Recently, I watched the Rachel Maddow show on television. She is an unrelenting liberal so I don’t watch the show very often, figuring I get enough of that already. After watching the show, I might change my mind. I just watched a small part of the show and it was very interesting.

First, she showed brief interviews with Trumpsters who had each been asked one simple question:  “If you had a choice of 4 more years of Joe Biden or 4 more years of Donald Trump as a dictator what would you choose?”

The answers were shocking. Each one chose Trump!  One said, “This country needs a dictator. I hate to say it, but it’s true.” He looked sheepish but he said it.  Another said, “Sometimes in life we need a good paddling from the principal to set our life on the right path. And this country needs a little of that.”  A young woman said, “I’d pick Trump all the way.” She also had a sheepish grin, but again, said it.  A number of them said “Trump” with enthusiasm.  They seemed to want a dictator.

Is it really true that Americans want a dictator? Dictatorship seems to have a lot of appeal in the US. Why is that?  Rachel Maddow said, many Americans want a strong man government and think that is what Trump will give them.

Live the Peace you want


The American philosopher John Rawls in his article on the dropping of the Atomic bomb by the US on Japan, made another point: 

“A decent democratic society must respect the human rights of the members of the other side, both civilians and soldiers, for two reasons. One is because they simply have these rights by the law of peoples. The other reason is to teach enemy soldiers and civilians the content of those rights by the example of how they hold in their own case…. This means, as I understand it here, that they can never be attacked directly except in times of extreme crisis…”


This is an interesting idea. Rawls requires the democratic society to do more than go to battle against the aggressor. It must actually teach the non-democratic aggressor what it means to be a democracy. And it must teach by example; not words! The democracy does that, because when the war is over it wants to have one more democratic partner and one less enemy!

Rawls makes another very important argument, very closely aligned to the last one. This is what he said: “just peoples by their actions and proclamations are to foreshadow during war the kind of peace they aim for and the kind of relations they seek between nations

I put it this way: Live the peace you want. Show the peace by your actions because, as we all know, actions speak louder than words.

 As Rawls says, just peoples know in their hearts, that  “present enemies must be seen as associates in a shared and just future peace.Just leaders—statesmen as he calls them,  want to do more than avoiding losing the war. They also want to make sure they don’t lose the peace either!

Even in the midst of war, the democratic state must have its eye on the prize—i.e. the peace that is to follow. It wants to create a partner for the peace; not an enemy for eternity Again, I would submit that both Israel and Hamas are falling down here. Hamas is not democratic so this does not apply. Moreover, its actions have been so horrendous that it is very difficult to conceive of them as a future partner in anything. Israel though is not trying to create the just peace that can make a partner. Israel has voted for extremists at least since Ehud Barak ceased to be Prime Minister. He was followed by Ariel Sharon, and very briefly by Ehud Olmert, another extremist,  and then Benjamin Netanyahu a consistent extremist, and as a result turned from peace to war and in the process it ruined its soul! Israel turned itself into a monster. I know such a statement will hurt my Jewish friends, but I believe it is true. Israel has been provoked by extreme violence, but it has turned itself into Hamas light. I will have more to say on this in subsequent posts. Both sides are creating enemies for eternity. Both sides must deep six their extremist leaders who are leading them into the wilderness.

Wisdom from an old philosopher John Rawls


What is morally justified in War? What is not justified? How does all of this apply to the conflict between Israel and Hamas?

American Senator Lindsey Graham said Israel is justified in doing whatever it wants to do in response to the surprise attack by Hamas. That is an extreme view. He is an extremist. Such views though are common in Israel and the United States. Most of us would say there are limits to what the defending state can do, even in war, and even in a justified war. What are those limits? Unlimited war may unleash unlimited consequences that just are not justified in the combat. War is nothing if it is not complex. War is never simple. And that is why war requires careful thinking, at least when one had time to do the thinking this requires. I acknowledge that there are moments in the heat of battle where this might not be possible.

John Rawls, one of the greatest of America’s political philosophers was given a very difficult task. Fifty years after the event, he was asked to evaluate whether or not the United States was morally justified in dropping an atomic bomb in World II against Japan after it had been attacked by Japan.  Such a bomb would cause massive civilian deaths. But it might prevent massive death on his side. And he had to be impartial. He could not be blinded by bias or hatred or a desire for revenge. What means did the ends justify?  That was the difficult question Rawls tried to answer. Just like it is a difficult question to say what is Israel justified in doing after a horrific surprise attack by Hamas. I just don’t think Lindsay Graham could be right.

Rawls had some interesting things to say on this complicated subject. To begin, he had the benefit of hind sight. He wrote about it 50 years after the fact in 1995.  This is what he said: “I believe that both the fire-bombing of Japanese cities beginning in the spring of 1945 and the later atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6 were very great wrongs, and rightly seen as such.”


Why did he say that? He began by pointing out the obvious—namely, that democracies are different from totalitarian states such as Russia, or Nazi Germany. He did not get to experience Hamas or ISIS. The authoritarian countries don’t go by the rules of war. Anything goes. Like Lindsey Graham on steroids.

Rawls pointed out this:


“These peoples have different ends of war than nondemocratic, especially totalitarian, states, such as Germany and Japan, which sought the domination and exploitation of subjected peoples, and in Germany’s case, their enslavement if not extermination.”


And that is quite important. The democratic governments have entirely different goals. They don’t seek enslavement or extermination. So democracies can’t go where the totalitarian states go. They would ruin themselves in the process.

The goals of democratic states are different so their goals must be achieved by different methods. Here Rawls made another very important point: “The aim of a just war waged by a decent democratic society is a just and lasting peace between peoples, especially with its present enemy.” You can’t ruin your enemy, even if you think he deserves it because of what he did to you, because after the war is over, you want to have a lasting peace with him. In my view, both Hamas and Israel have forgotten this. Hamas probably does not care. It is not a democratic state, so it may not have this goal. Israel, if it is a democracy,  must have this goal. If it doesn’t Israel is not a democratic state either. That I think would be Rawls’ view.

Rawls was talking about Japan when he wrote this, but I would submit it would be just as relevant to Hamas which is much farther away from a democracy than Hamas is:


In the conduct of war, a democratic society must carefully distinguish three groups: the state’s leaders and officials, its soldiers, and its civilian population. The reason for these distinctions rests on the principle of responsibility: since the state fought against is not democratic, the civilian members of the society cannot be those who organized and brought on the war. This was done by its leaders and officials assisted by other elites who control and staff the state apparatus. They are responsible, they willed the war, and for doing that, they are criminals. But civilians, often kept in ignorance and swayed by state propaganda, are not. And this is so even if some civilians knew better and were enthusiastic for the war. In a nation’s conduct of war many such marginal cases may exist, but they are irrelevant. As for soldiers, they, just as civilians, and leaving aside the upper ranks of an officer class, are not responsible for the war, but are conscripted or in other ways forced into it, their patriotism often cruelly and cynically exploited. The grounds on which they may be attacked directly are not that they are responsible for the war but that a democratic people cannot defend itself in any other way, and defend itself it must do. About this there is no choice.”


Here, Israel has a tough job. Some would say it has an impossible task. It is fighting an enemy—Hamas—which uses civilians to protect itself. It builds tunnels underneath or next to hospitals to make it difficult or rather, impossible, for Israel to eliminate it without eliminating massive numbers of civilians and hence losing a lot of its support from other nations. But, as Rawls said, we must always recognize and then remember, that the leaders are not the same as the foot soldiers or civilians. That burden is then thrown on the victim of the aggression.

I will continue this analysis in the next post.

Haidt’s Testimony before the  Senate Judiciary  Committee, Subcommittee on Technology, Privacy, and the Law May 4, 2022


I continue to be interested in why suicide rates, and rates of depression, and anxiety have so suddenly reached such high levels in Canada and the US and elsewhere in the west.  Is it a sign of the decline of the west? What is the cause?


Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist from New York University who has been studying moral psychology and moral development since 1987. He says that around 2014 he noticed something had gone wrong with mental health and social behavior of college students. He began to work with Greg Lukianoff to write an article for Atlantic magazine in 2015 which they called “The Coddling of the American Mind.” Later they expanded that into a book by the same title which they published in 2018. Later he also worked with Jean Twenge (a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, and author of iGen) to further collect academic research on teen mental health and how it related to social media.  They made the research data  available to other scholars on line so they could contribute to the research and critique what they were collecting.

Based on that research Haidt testified before the American Senate to share what they had learned. They thought they have relevant information to a serious mental health problem among American youth that the Senate should have. He summarized the research for the members of the Senate Committee. I think it is worth looking at what he told the Senate.

The literature review the two professors performed concentrated on the time period beginning in 2012. In particular he wanted to testify on the effects of social media on the plummeting mental health of America’s youth. He testified about “the  research linking deteriorating teen mental health to the arrival and widespread adoption of social media, which transformed childhood activity, attention, social relationships, and consciousness in the years between 2009 and 2012.” Besides the effects on American youth, Haidt testified that he was very interested in the effects that social media was having on “America’s political dysfunction.” In other words it was also a societal issue. We must remember that the research show similar problems at similar times in Canada.

In part 1of his testimony he spoke about “the specific, gigantic, sudden and international mental health crisis.” Haidt began by pointing out that “the crisis is specific to mood disorders—those related to depression and anxiety” and that this was “not a general across-the-board increase in other illnesses.”

He also stated that

“The crisis is not a result of changes in the willingness of young people to self-diagnose, nor in the willingness of clinicians to expand terms or over-diagnose. We know this because the same trends occurred, at the same time, and in roughly the same magnitudes, in behavioral manifestations of depression and anxiety, including hospital admissions for self-harm, and completed suicides.”


The two professors wanted to know what was going on? It was very interesting. I will get to that in the next post.



The MAGA King




While we were in Arizona, we also learned about threats of political violence on the right. Solomon Peña, who lost his 2022 run as a Republican for state House District 14 in New Mexico, was arrested by Albuquerque police and was accused of paying and conspiring with four men to shoot people at the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners in December and January. Even though he lost the election in a landslide, echoing the words of his spiritual leader, he claimed the race was rigged. He also calls himself the “MAGA King.”  Fortunately, when he attended on site with  his not so trusty AR-15 jammed and he could “only” use a Glock, or more damage might have been done.


As CNN reported,

“The stewing of doubt about election veracity, principally among Republicans and usually without proof, has exploded nationwide since then-President Donald Trump lost his reelection bid and began propagating falsehoods that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. The claims have stoked anger – and unapologetic threats of violence – against public officials down to the local level.”


Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Secretary of State for New Mexico understood what happened and put it this way: “This is how violent political rhetoric spills over into violent political action.” Peña had posted on social media that Oliver should be “hung in the town square.”

Such rhetoric is deeply troubling but increasingly American Republicans do not see it that way. Increasingly they see acts like this as justified attempts to overturn a Democratic Party coup.

It is clear that right-wing violence is on the rise in this country. It is certainly not dying out.

Do Americans care about democracy?


It turns out Bill Maher was wrong. Democracy in America is not dead. It is clinging to life by its fingernails. I hope people don’t think the issue has gone away.

Benjamin Franklin said America had a republic, if it could keep it.

According to Bill Maher

 “They can’t. They don’t want it. They want theology instead…Democracy is on the ballot on Tuesday and unfortunately it’s going to lose. And once it’s gone it’s gone. It’s not something you can change your mind about and reverse.  That’s gender.”

Thank goodness is seem Maher was wrong. For now.

Some of Donald Trump’s anti-democratic partners appear to have lost their bids for election yesterday. Others seem to have won. Some results are uncertain. Some of the luster of Donald Trump seems to have fallen down. There is hope, but democracy must be struggled for.

Many people point out truthfully that America has been in highly divisive  spots before. And they have survived. Americans are nothing if not resilient. But there are 2 differences that I see now.

One is the incredibly corrosive power of the Internet and how rapidly lies can travel on that medium. Much faster than truth. Lies and hate feed the Internet because they are immensely profitable. How does anyone fight that?

Secondly, many Americans, but thankfully not all,  seem to have given up on democracy. They literally  don’t seem to care any more if they have a democracy of not. And that is a very large group. They just care if their side wins. That is all that matters. How does anyone fight that?

The problem is that many people in America have demonstrated they don’t care about democracy. The Republican who was up for election  as governor in Wisconsin said ““Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor.” But he appears to have lost. But he lost narrowly. He got more than a million votes, less than 100,000 votes behind the winner.

Maher made another very important point about how democracies can be lost if we are not vigilant:

“This is how it happens. Hitler was elected. So was Mussolini. Putin. Erdogan. Viktor Orban.”

That has not happened.  I would say today it looks more like it won’t happen then yesterday. There is hope. But there is not certainty.


We are Doomed


Not every one likes Bill Maher.  I know he is the worst interviewer on television.  Often he does not let his guests speak, but speaks up for them instead.  As well, when he lets them speak, he has some very interesting guests from all ends of the political spectrum from Steve Bannon to Nancy Pelosi.  And he sometimes makes some very interesting points.

For example, he was the first one to predict that Trump would never resign after he was elected president. He said that almost immediately after the election in 2016!  Now every one knows that. But not many said that in 2016. But Maher has also appreciated, as few others do, that this refusal now has important consequences.  Americans seem to be tolerating, if not encouraging,  this refusal even though the peaceful transfer of power has for long been considered the most important characteristic of democracy. It is what distinguishes democracy from autocracy.

And now millions of Americans have demonstrated clearly that they don’t think this element of democracy is important. They don’t care! I have found this astonishing. Many have not. Many shrug their shoulders as if it didn’t matter.

Maher said “Well we had a good run.”  On November 8, 2022 Americans had a chance to vote for democracy. As Joe Biden and many Democrats said, “Democracy is on the ballot.”  And they were right. And it didn’t matter to millions Americans. Inflation was more important than democracy. Bill Maher predicted this 4 days before the election as if it was a foregone conclusion. This is what he said,

“Tuesday is the election and I know I should tell you to vote in the most important election ever. So, O.K., yes. You should vote.  And it should be for the one party that still stands for democracy preservation. But it’s also a waste of breath because anyone who believes that is already voting and anybody who needs to learn that isn’t watching and no one in America can be persuaded about anything anymore anyway.”

On this point Maher is right.  No one will change their mind. Trump was right when he said he could stand in Times Square, murder someone and it wouldn’t make any difference to his supporters. They are that determined to vote for him no matter what he says or does. that gives him a lot of rope.  Look at the mountains of evidence revealing his nefarious deeds. Yet, his supporters are filled with religious devotion that cannot be altered. No one can be convinced out of a theological devotion. That in itself is enough to kill democracy.

Maher gave another pertinent example—the January 6th hearings. Those hearings provided Americans with an overwhelmingly convincing narrative that Donald Trump had no respect for democracy as he led the charge against democracy and his devoted followers followed. As Maher said,

“The January 6th hearings it turned out changed nobody’s mind. Democrat Jamie Raskin said the hearings “will tell a story that will really blow the roof off the House.”  No that was Hurricane Ian. Hearings roof not blown. The Committee did a masterful job laying out the case but we live in Partisan American now. So it’s a little like doing stand-up when half the crowd only speaks Mandarin. No matter how good the material is it’s not going to go over. After all the hearings the percentage of Americans who thought Trump did nothing wrong. Went up 3 points! That’s America now.”


Again, Maher is right. The truth did not matter! All that mattered was that millions of people are devoted to Trump and nothing—absolutely nothing—will turn them away from their religious leader. The overwhelming narrative is irrelevant.

I am a Canadian; I have no dog in this hunt. But I do. America is the leader of the modern world. Maybe not for much longer, but for now that is true. If America coughs the rest of the world catches a cold.

 I am posting this as the election is drawing to a close. I don’t know any results. I hope Maher is wrong; if fear he is right.

Are we doomed?  Let’s see what happens tonight.

The Rage of the Lawless



Did you read the article in the Washington Post by two outstanding lawyers and public servants, namely William S. Cohen and William H. Webster? the y commented on the right wing hysteria that followed the Department of Justice issuing warrants to enter and seize government documents from Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago Florida.

William S. Cohen is a former secretary of defense and former Republican senator from Maine. He was a moderate Republican who served as Secretary of Defence in the Democrat Clinton administration.

William H. Webster is a former director of the FBI and the CIA and a retired judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. He served under both Democrat and Republican administrations, including that of Donald Trump.

Neither is a left-wing radical. These are respected lawyers and public servants.

These two hard-headed experienced lawyers with deep knowledge of the law and national security issues have jointly issued a severe warning in the Washington Post. They commented how unusual it was for an Attorney General like Merrick Garland together with FBI director Christopher Wray to have  authorized the execution of search warrants of the home of the former president Donald Trump. Wray was a Trump appointee after Trump dismissed former director James Comey. Webster and Cohen said they both had full confidence that the warrants by these men who were “both honest and honorable men,” were justified.

.Even though it is clear to them that the warrants were rightfully issued, and executed, Cohen and Webster were highly critical of the actions of leading Republican leaders who together with the former president did their best to inflame the Trump supporters. As Cohen and Webster said,

Prominent Republicans reacted with predictable fury and heated threats of retaliation against the attorney general — unprecedented acts of vitriol based on the belief the FBI’s conduct was politically motivated rather than legally necessary. In doing so, they recklessly and knowingly undermined respect for a “law and order” institution and the men and women who risk their lives to protect us.”


And that is the real problem. Republicans claim to be the party of law and order, but repeatedly, in service of their former leader and president, Donald Trump, they do all they can to “reckless and knowingly” undermine “respect for law and order.” Every who saw what happened in Washington D.C. at the Capitol on January 6th knows what the effect of disrespecting law and order can lead to—violence, chaos, and insurrection. This is serious stuff, but Republican leaders seem to have forgotten it in their rush to pay obeisance to Donald Trump at the expense of the country.

As important as this issue is because it could lead to violent insurrection, Cohen and Webster think it is even more important to consider what they called “the far larger issues surrounding the conduct of the former president.” These two respected jurists acknowledged that the House Select Committee investigating the Jan.6 2021 incident, which I call an insurrection and others call a riot, acknowledged that this committee

“…has produced compelling evidence that Trump and his supporters engaged in an orchestrated six-step plan to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, culminating with the assault on the Capitol.

We share disgust and deep disappointment that the Republican Party’s decency and respect for the rule of law has been defined down to a cultish devotion to a demonstrably unprincipled man of greed and blind ambition.”


As a society we must learn how to contain the rage of the lawless. If we can’t do that, everything else is pretty futile. Is that not what conservatism is all about?

Blitzkrieg on the Truth


When Hitler invaded Poland and other countries in the 1930s he famously created a new form of war that he called Blitzkrieg. It was striking how fast European nations caved into his attacks.  Putin has been trying to something similar in the wars on the Ukraine. First the one in 2014 and then again in 2022.  In their own way they were both as impressive as Hitler’s “wins.”

Vladimir Kara-Murza described what happened in Russia this way in the Washington Post:

“While Vladimir Putin’s planned blitzkrieg on Ukraine appears to have stalled in the face of firm resistance by the Ukrainian military and its people, another, much less noticed assault has brought the Kremlin swift and total victory. Within a single week, all — literally, all — of Russia’s remaining independent media voices have been silenced in a co-ordinated effort by the prosecutor general’s office and the government’s main censorship agency.

One after another, media outlets that dared to report honestly on Putin’s assault on Ukraine had their signals cut off and their websites blocked.”


One of the early casualties of this war on truth was a famous radio station in Moscow called Echo of Moscow. To many people in Russia, it symbolized the best of journalism in Moscow for over 30 years.  They also shut down TV rain a popular online news source.

Many people who have become cynical about media think western media is as untrustworthy as Russian media.  That is a dangerous illusion. They are not equivalent. Nowhere in the west has media been shut down completely as happened so fast in Russia. We should remember that. If we are led to believe our media is as untrustworthy as that in Russia, we will not trust it when it is vital to trust it, such as during a pandemic. Or a war. The lack of trust crippled our response to a pandemic and cost many lives. The same thing can happen during a war. I am not advocating for blind trust in any media, but trust based on critical reasoning. Blind trust is as bad as blind distrust. We are not the same as Russia. Our media is not perfect, but it is much better than what Russians enjoy.


Russia tried to shut down all media during the failed coup d’état by the hard-line communist leaders in August 1991. That closure did not last long because hundreds of thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow to quell the putsch. While the Communist failed, Putin has succeeded.  Recently, the Russian authorities have  also completely shut down dozens of other news outlets, both Russian and foreign, which Russian officials claimed had been spreading false information about the activities of the Russian armed forces in the Ukraine. Roskomnadzor, the Russian censorship agency that is obedient to Putin’s will, has also completely blocked Twitter and Facebook, even though both are very popular with many Russians.  Millions of them use these platforms but the agency closed them down.  The CBC and most western news agencies have been kicked out of Russia or left because of the constraints.  As Kara-Murza said, “Near-total darkness has descended on Russia’s information space with frightening speed.

 Vladimir Kara-Murza described the situation in Russia this way:

“In other words, the journalists’ crime was telling the Russian people the bloody truth about Putin’s war — the truth that is completely absent from Russian state television, which is presenting viewers with an Orwellian reality in which it is Ukraine and the West, not Putin, that are to blame for the hostilities, and in which there is no war and no civilian casualties — only a highly targeted “special operation” directed against the imaginary “Neo-Nazis” in the Ukrainian government.”

Such a total lie depends on a similarly total monopoly on news coverage. After silencing critical voices on television — the largest source of information for most Russians — early in his rule, Putin tolerated smaller outlets such as Echo of Moscow as part of a pretend democratic facade for the West’s benefit. But under the conditions of war, even small pockets of independent media that could show Russians what heinous crimes their government is committing could present an existential danger to the system.”

Not all news agencies were banned in Russia, but the government made it so uncomfortable for them that almost all of them have left the country. As Kara-Murza said, Russia passed a law with lightning speed that had the effect of “criminalizing honest reporting”.  The penalties for the “crimes”  can run as high as 15 years in prison. A day after the new law was passed the police raided the offices of Lev Scholsberg a well known Russian opposition politician who had until then been a vocal critic of Putin since 1914 when Russia invaded the Ukraine the first time. The police also detained a Russian orthodox priest who spoke out against he war through his sermons.



As the Guardian reported,


“Global news media said they were temporarily suspending reporting in Russia to protect their journalists after a new law cracking down on foreign news outlets was passed that threatened jail terms of up to 15 years for spreading “fake news”.

Britain’s BBC said Friday it had temporarily halted reporting in Russia, and by the end of the day, the Canadian Broadcasting Company and Bloomberg News said their journalists were also stopping work. CNN and CBS News said they would stop broadcasting in Russia, and other outlets removed Russian-based journalists’ bylines as they assessed the situation.”


Meanwhile Russian media spreads the now unchallenged party line that Ukraine is led by Neo-Nazis.

The point I want to make is that you might distrust media in the west, but no one can say they spread falsehoods like their Russian counterparts. We would be very foolish to conclude our media is the same as theirs. That would be a dangerous mistake.


Russian Disinformation


Russian weaponized the techniques of disinformation it had used in the first war in Ukraine in 2014. in the Brexit campaign and in the 2016 US election campaign. No doubt those astounding successes, and the lack of resistance from the west led Putin to believe western democracy was weak and ready to have it feathers plucked


According to Carole Cadwalladr of the Guardian


“From 2014 to 2016 Putin had carte blanche across our entire information system. So in St. Petersburg he set up the Internet Research Agency  and we know that thousands and thousands of trolls and fake accounts flooded out information system. And that is the thing that really confused people and distracted people. It wasn’t that Putin set out to support Trump,  or had any political agenda, in 2014 it was simply about spreading confusion, making us more divided, increasing polarization. It was divide and rule if you think of it like that.”


He had learned what Hannah Arendt had said. It was enough to sow confusion. The Americans and English would do the rest. Putin must have been stunned at how easy it was and how successful that was it. Even after the FBI marvellously exposed his nefarious efforts, Americans were again deflected from the real issue. First, the Democrats smelled the blood of Donald Trump in the water and attacked him in a misguided frenzy. Not that I think he was innocent. They thought this would be enough to get him impeached. Then Trump hit back saying there was no collusion. When the Mueller report did not come out clearly that there had been collusion, the Republicans, were also distracted and began a similarly misguided frenzied attack on Democrats that deflected attention away from the real issue, the fact that a foreign power and the second most militarily powerful country in the world had interfered with a free election and then nobody seemed to care. He got away it completely!  Both Democrats and Republicans failed to attack the real wolf at the democratic door in their unseemly haste to attack each other. Putin perhaps without knowing how he did it, found an open path to the heart of the democracy he wanted to attack and no one was concerned about what he was doing. Each side was only concerned about what the other side was doing. No one raised a finger to stop the Russians or even criticize them. Putin must have been thunderstruck at this luck or at the foolishness or the Americans or more likely, both. It was the same in England. The opposite parties hated each other they ignored the real danger—Putin.


Besides the astonishingly polarization of the country, Putin was aided and abetted by the fact that the international media giants were private closed black boxes that allowed Putin to operate in complete darkness without public objection. As Cadwalladr said,


“we had no idea what was going on inside them and it was only in 2016 that the FBI started telling us what was going on, and only after the election journalists and academics slowly picked out the truth of what was happening. It was through the social media platforms that Putin launched this information war against Ukraine and against us. And those social media companies can still be used in that way!”


This attack had huge societal impacts, it was discovered and yet it was largely ignored as Americans in America and the English in the UK concentrated on attacking each other rather than the much more vicious foreign enemy that was eating their vital innards.


Both sides used language to minimize what Russia had done. In the US and UK the referred to Russian “meddling” in the elections. It was really a declaration of war. As Cadwalladr said,


“this was a military strategy and it was carried out in many ways by military intelligence! The GRU which is Russian military intelligence, they are the ones who carried out the hack and leak on Hillary Clinton emails for example. Those intelligence GRU officers are there now playing a fundamental war in Ukraine now. It was those same GRU intelligence officers who helped to poison a former Russian military officer and double agent for the British intelligence agencies Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, in the city of Salisbury England. Again, the English resistance to this was minimal. Again, Putin must naturally have reached the conclusion that the West was weak and ready to be plucked.”


As Cadwalladr said, “this was Putin using an unconventional chemical weapon on British citizens in Britain and he got away with it.” We here in Canada are fairly familiar with how many Americans did not want to hear about Russian interference in the US because they saw this as an attack on the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s presidency and saw all such claims of election interference as Democrats looking out for their own interests. The same thing happened in the UK. People who supported Brexit did not want to hear any allegations that Russians interfered with that referendum because they did not want to see that vote as illegitimate either. In both cases the “winners” did not want the distraction of foreign interference. In both cases Putin learned a very valuable lesson, namely, to insert himself inside the widening polarized rifts between conservatives and liberals in both countries, was easy and very profitable. In each country, Putin was handed a golden opportunity to wreak mischief and havoc on account of the host countries polarized populous!


Carole Cadwalladr pointed out that,


“All the way through this reporting we see this really clear line Brexit, Trump, and Russia. And there is a triangulation there. There is a straight and clear line through multiple individuals and organizations and via the tech platforms…I America the Mueller report got bogged down in this question did Trump collude with Russia? And actually the big takeaway from the Mueller report should have been Russia successfully attacked America! This was a military attack and it got away with it. And that same attack was across the information systems which we all use and in that year 2016 they were completely unprotected! And in Britain we have been blind to waking up to that. The US had this massive investigation by the FBI and Congressional committees. In Britain we have had not one single investigation. There was one report and Boris Johnson personally tried to suppress that report.


In both countries the political parties think the issue is about politics. It is not about politics. It is about power and Putin. Of course this weak response from the UK and the US emboldened Putin and he is now using the same techniques in Ukraine but not with as much success.


Unfortunately, Cadwalladr has been attacked by a wealthy businessman in the UK for libel based as a result of her reporting. It has cost her 1 million pounds and 2 &1/2 years of her life. She was lucky she got crowd source funding. But such efforts have a chilling effect on the search for truth. And that is now common place around the world. It is really truth itself that is under attack. In the US CNN was targeted as a news organization as “fake news” by Trumpsters. The terminology of fake news has been weaponized. These are dark times. This is what happens when we acquiesce with attacks on truth.

And attack on truth is a declaration of war.