With the federal indictment issued Friday against the Internet Research Agency (IRA), we can finally end what has come to be known as “RussiaGate”: the involvement of Russian intelligence agencies in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the Wall Street Journal reports:
The IRA’s opinion-influencing unit, set up in 2014 to exploit social media, had at least 80 staff by 2016, and a stated goal to spread “distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” the indictment says. Employees of that division crafted viral Facebook FB posts and widely-followed, fraudulent Twitter accounts, according to the indictment. The indictment, secured by special counsel Robert Mueller, also named two related companies and 13 Russian nationals allegedly involved in the scheme.
The important part here is, of course, their objective: To spread “distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” Supporting Trump, spreading anti-Hillary Clinton talking points, and even the staging of rallies were tactics used to reach that goal. For the Russians, there were only upsides to this approach:
1. The Kremlin considered it likely that Hillary Clinton would win. By attacking her so aggressively online (and spreading fake news stories about her and other Democrats), she would end up a weak president who’d have great trouble uniting such a divided nation.
2. And if Trump did — because of some kind of miracle — win, well, their (Russians’) own involvement in the campaign could be used to discredit him.
In either case, no matter who ended up winning, the United States would end up with an embattled president unable to unite the country.
Of course, this is exactly what happened. A miracle did occur: Trump won. Immediately afterward, he and his campaign were accused of “colluding with Russia.” Even though no evidence of such collision has been found, chaos and distrust rule the day. After all, liberals argue, he was the beneficiary of Russia’s propaganda!
Yes, he was — and conservatives have to be courageous and honest enough to admit it. What those liberals neglect to mention, though, is that it wasn’t about Trump, but about wreaking havoc. He didn’t collude with anyone; Russia did this all by itself. Not to actually help Trump, but to sow chaos and distrust.
Looking at the debate in America right now, this has clearly been an effective strategy. You’ve got conservatives pretending Russia didn’t do anything wrong (out of fear of giving liberals more material to discredit Trump and the election results), while liberals are repeating time and again that Trump must have worked with the Russians (for which no evidence has been found, and which would be extremely illogical).
Enough of this nonsense. It’s time for both sides to admit the obvious:
1. Russia did interfere in the campaign, but
2. Team Trump didn’t collude with Russia
These are the only possible conclusions to be drawn from the indictment against the IRA. When both sides have the courage to say so out loud, the whole “Russia collusion” madness can be put to pasture… and they may finally be able to come up with ways to prevent Russia from doing this again in the future.
The longer the two sides continue this madness (one side denying Russia did anything, the other side pretending that Trump must have committed treason), the more Russia gets what it wanted all along.