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information warfare

Each week, the editor’s of LA Progressive pick what they regard as a particularly insightful comment from one of our readers, both to draw attention to one particular reader’s thoughts and to encourage more readers to weigh in with their opinions. This week’s pithy "Feedback Friday" response comes from Wes Wes King, who commented on James Preston Allen's "“Information Warfare—13 Russians Indicted: Is Social Media Also Implicated?”"

I appreciate the spirit and intent of your article and you make some very cogent points. That said, you wander into some “traps” along the way that undercut the essence of what I think you are driving at – that is to help us understand some of the sources and mechanics of the “disinformation” we have to tolerate in our current political-media culture.

In the first place, the cartoon at the top of the article, in and of itself is the very least.

The frenzy around a multiplicity of Russian “election interference” narratives…going on for well over a year now is a phenomenon that is beyond tiresome and serves little purpose other than to distract people from truly substantive issues.

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The very idea that a few “hokey” memes or ads (mostly enticements to get people to pay money for something…i.e. a money grab)…even if they may, and I emphasize may, have amounted…very generously…to a few hundred thousand dollars of investment could, or would have had any impact on an election (i.e. 2016) in which over $6,000,000,000 of media money was invested by various sources domestically doesn’t even pass the “smell test”.

The tag you drop in at the end about Putin “controlling” Trump is confounding at the very least and further distracts folks from a more reality-based narrative. Regarding the Russians, a better assessment is that they don’t see much real difference in US policy regardless of who is our President. American foreign policy is, and has been since the end of the Cold War, very expansionist vis-a-vis NATO and somewhat menacing toward Russia. That is a bi-partisan thrust which shows no signs of abatement. No indication from Trump either, other than some rhetoric about “burden sharing” amongst our Allies. Not exactly “cozying up” to Putin (remember when George W. Bush called him “Vladimir”…not so long ago…here in the US…under the guise of renewed “friendship”.).

The legitimate thrust of the true Progressive movement is undercut by this Russia-bashing “circus” because it puts wind in the sails of Establishment Democrats who are no friends of Progressives but relish a “proxy fight” with President Trump over any issue that does not force them to address fundamental needs for policy change…for which so many Progressive yearn. They (Establishment Dems) can also attempt to browbeat Progressives for not being sufficiently vigilant on this largely false issue. In the end, this may actually help Trump because of the farcical nature of the entire exercise, for which he will spare no opportunity to opine (usually on Twitter).

Finally, props to you for pointing out other social media examples of propagandizing with intention to mislead the public or shape opinion via a slanted presentation. It is a wide open sea of information/disinformation and you point that out…and we should be wary. Even still, the concept of Russia as any, even remotely influential element of our general body politic, still gets too much play.

The continuation of this fruitless narrative serves no purpose other than to distract.

Wes King