In writing about how armies should plan a siege in his Art of War, Chinese strategist Sun Tzu wrote the following: “Those who render others’ armies helpless without fighting are the best of all.” In warfare, there are several ways to do this, but few are so time-honored as the classic misinformation campaign.
Feed your enemy false intelligence and lure them into a trap. When they fall for it, they will be demoralized and much easier to force into surrender.
Now, I’m not the type of person who suggests America is ready to surrender, but we have quite evidently fallen victim to a misinformation campaign on a national level. It is very evident, based on statements from multiple sources within the Trump Administration that Russia did what they could to interfere in the 2016 election. They are not believed to have severely impacted the race, but there was enough interference that it has put Russia on multiple investigators’ radars.
Nikki Haley spoke Thursday about that interference, and made it clear what she thought about it:
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Thursday that interference in U.S. elections by another nation “is warfare,” telling an audience in New York that such meddling has become Russia’s go-to tactic.
“I will tell you that when a country can come interfere in another country’s elections, that is warfare. It really is, because you’re making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want to giving out that misinformation,” Haley said Thursday at a forum hosted in New York by the George W. Bush institute. ”And we didn’t just see it here. You can look at France and you can look at other countries. They are doing this everywhere. This is their new weapon of choice. And we have to make sure we get in front of it.”
And, Haley is absolutely correct here. Here’s Meriam-Webster on warfare:
What Russia is doing is pretty simple, yet it’s what ends up being the least talked about aspect of all this Russian interference chatter. The Kremlin wants to destabilize the West. That’s pretty evident, even to the people who agreed that Mitt Romney was, in fact, receiving calls from the 1980s regarding the return of its foreign policy.
Turns out, Romney wasn’t insane, and neither are you. Russia was still hostile toward the U.S. and working to undermine it however it could. Enter our addiction to social media, and you have the perfect recipe for creating that chaos.
And, that’s what the endgame was – sewing chaos within the United State. Russia wasn’t necessarily for or against Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but they wanted there to be so much fighting over it, so much divisiveness, that they took the calculated risk on where to toss their social media grenades.
In sewing that chaos, Russia did commit an act of warfare, according to the definition of the word. Is it going to lead to a physical war between the two nations? Of course not. We live in a world where that type of war is difficult. But, Russia is stretching its legs and pushing all the limits to see where the global community is going to draw the line. What sucks is that it hasn’t drawn one yet.
So, Russia and Putin will continue to push the limits. America, however, should start pushing back and draw a line. While Trump may not be the ideal president, he has also shown he isn’t quite the type to get pushed around by another foreign power. Push come to shove, I do think he will slap Russia’s hand away from the cookie jar if Russia makes it personal enough, but what happens beyond that is truly anyone’s guess.