Members of the Washington establishment and other assorted leftists love to cry “Russian disinformation” whenever one of their favorite causes or people is criticized. But when actual Russian disinformation targets their enemies, they willingly go along with it.
When The Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop surfaced in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, exposing the corruption of a candidate’s son — and raising questions about his own father’s involvement in his schemes — 50 former national intelligence officials dismissed it as Russian disinformation. Most other major media outlets agreed, and ignored the story until after the election. Twitter even banned it.
But when presented with clear-as-day Russian disinformation about President Trump colluding with Vladimir Putin after his 2016 election win, the mainstream media ran with it.
Either way, Vladimir Putin got what he wanted. It is his “Doctrine of Chaos.”
Make no mistake: Moscow has no specific political preference. It targets both Democrats and Republicans equally, trying to discredit both sides, pit the voters against one another, and undermine the electorate’s confidence in the election process. It’s a subversion tactic that can be more effective than actual combat, as Russia is currently finding out with its faltering invasion of Ukraine.
The “Doctrine of Chaos” was developed under Putin’s orders — and here’s how it works. The Russian media weigh in on every divisive story and sentiment gripping America. One of the gifts that keeps on giving is the US media’s obsession with former President Trump. Currently, the Russian media are exploding with coverage of the FBI’s raid on the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate to retrieve classified documents removed from the White House.
Soviet-era pro-Kremlin Russian daily newspaper Izvestia claimed “the reason for the raid on Trump’s estate is to prevent him from running for president in 2024.” Other Russian media outlets crowed: “They want to flush Trump down the toilet … They are driving him into the grave. Trump cannot have a normal life in his homeland. He is being hounded, shunned, investigated, persecuted.” Pravda and RenTV newspapers declared that “FBI’s raid on Trump could ‘detonate’ the situation in America, which is ripe for revolution…The attempt to prevent Trump from running in 2024 can result in a coup d’état.”
Some of the stories in the Russian media get picked up by Western media, unintentionally playing into Putin’s hands, helping politicize the issue and further polarize our society. It is sadly no surprise that an FBI bulletin recently warned of “dirty bomb” threat and increased calls for “civil war” after the Mar-a-Lago raid.
In the run-up to the 2016 election, Russia targeted both sides — the Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign.
Immediately after Trump’s victory, Russian agents, using false American personas, staged simultaneous US rallies both in support of President-elect Trump and in protest of his victory. “Show your support for president-elect Trump” was a slogan in one Russian intelligence-controlled rally, while “Trump is not my president” was the theme of another, both in New York. In North Carolina, Russian spies held a rally, “Charlotte Against Trump.”
As Americans look forward to the midterm elections in November, so too is Russia ratcheting up its divisive coverage through social media posts. In July, the Justice Department indicted a Russian operative, Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, for taking part in a multiyear covert operation that used US political groups to unknowingly foment disorder on behalf of Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB. Ionov recruited political groups in California, Florida and Georgia, provided them financial support and ultimately directed them to publish pro-Russian propaganda — without any of them ever realizing they were essentially working for Putin.
Having concluded that both former President Trump and current president Joe Biden are polarizing figures, the Russians are betting on unwitting Americans to help boost divisive social media posts in the next presidential election. Currently Russian State TV, Channel 1, is running a “scandalous” biographical movie of President Biden’s son, “My Son Hunter,” featuring juicy clips from the infamous Hunter Biden laptop. “It’s really like a movie,” say Russian pundits, taunting the Biden family and Americans.
But Putin doesn’t care who wins our next election. What he really wants is to defeat the entire US by making our society increasingly fractured. And some of us are playing right into his hands.
Rebekah Koffler is the president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting, a former DIA intelligence officer, and the author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America.”
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