The Cold War Daily

Notes on the new great power struggle.

Russia election hacking and Russian influence stories by Chris Zappone


The only surprise for me is why the US media didn’t cover it more closely. But I have some good ideas about why they didn’t.

May 3, 2016
Blog: Donald Trump as a Manchurian Candidate (…sort of) for Russia

June 15, 2016
Fairfax: Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin: Russia’s information war meets the US election

June 22, 2016
Blog: Russia’s US election hacking / information war campaign

June 24, 2016
Fairfax: DNCHack: Did Kim Dotcom warn the world about the Democratic Party hacking?

July 26, 2016
Fairfax: DNC leak: Russia better at information war now than during Cold War

July 24, 2016
Blog: The first US election fought in cyberspace

August 1, 2016
Blog: DNCLeaks justified because, well, I can’t vote in US: Julian Assange

August 9, 2016 (Republished October 13, 2016)
Fairfax: Donald Trump campaign’s ‘firehose of falsehoods’ has parallels with Russian propaganda

August 11, 2016
Fairfax: DNCLeak: Five times WikiLeaks and Russia have crossed paths

August 14, 2016
Blog: For Russia’s social media propaganda, change is everything

August 19. 2016
Fairfax: Shadow Brokers NSA leak: this too could be a form of Russian propaganda, says expert

August 25, 2016
Blog: Information war and propaganda: a brute force attack on reality

September 7, 2016
Blog: Russian influence and Shadow Brokers’ message ‘to elites’

September 9, 2016
Fairfax: Who controls our news? Welcome to the era of Russian and Chinese information war

September 14, 2016
Fairfax: WikiLeaks drops latest Guccifer 2.0 data on Hillary Clinton, DNC, Democrats

September 16, 2016
Blog: Isn’t Russia’s meddling in the US election a ‘Cyber Pearl Harbor’?

October 14, 2016
Fairfax: If Donald Trump scares you, you should fight for facts everywhere

October 14, 2016
Blog: DNCHack is the ‘most significant’ of any cyber attack ever seen: Thomas Rid

October 19, 2016
Fairfax: Twitter bots: Donald Trump ‘has rabies’ – and it’s something we should all care about

October 26, 2016
Fairfax: SurkovLeaks: Is Vladimir Putin aide’s email hack payback for DNCLeak-Clinton exposure?

November 25, 2016
Fairfax: Why was I blocked by WikiLeaks on Twitter?

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Russian influence in the US (circa 1935)

Russian influence works by playing on existing biases. Today, a libertarian’s cry for “freedom” can lead a libertarian to support Moscow’s position – even unwittingly – on issues like Ukraine, US foreign policy, or NATO’s role in Eastern Europe.


Malcolm Cowley

So it was in earlier times when Moscow wooed Western writers to function as a cheering squad for Russian objectives within the US.

In 1935, American literary critic and writer Malcolm Cowley helped form the League of American Writers, whose members included Erskine Caldwell, Archibald MacLeish, Upton Sinclair, Clifford Odets, John Dos Passos, and Dashiell Hammett among others. The Communist (read: Moscow-controlled) group tried to influence US foreign policy.

As Wikipedia notes: “The League’s policy objectives changed over time in accord with the shifting party line of the CPUSA. Beginning as an anti-fascist organization in 1935, the League turned to an anti-war position following the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 and to a pro-war position after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.”

Cowley, in a memoir, looks back on the time with a sense guilt.

After discussing his literary aspirations and his resolution to oppose the advance of Hitler in the 1930s, Cowley describes how the idealistic writers at the time, who he calls ‘Men of Good Will’, ‘failed disastrously’ in their aims. (emphasis mine)

“We’ in this case refers to all the thousands of writers and would-be writers, of intellectual and world-be intellectuals, in the Western countries who were moved by similar aspirations. We were the Men of Good Will, in the phrase made popular by Jules Romains’s many volumed-novel; we were those of public spirit, assured of their perspicacity, who held meetings and issued statements and uttered warnings of impending catastrophe. Internationally, the Russians were our friends. We had learned to be skeptical about what was happening inside Russia…Internationally, however, the Russians seemed above reproach. They supported the League of Nations, they voted for sanctions against the aggressors, they promised to defend any Eastern country that Hitler invaded, they proclaimed that peace was indivisible, that security must be collective, in other words, they flattered us by saying exactly what we might have said if given a voice in international rivalries. We were moralists, and so, it seemed, were the Russians outside their own borders.”

“As a matter of fact, we were part of their calculations. They hoped, they gambled they could change the policies of France, Britain, the United States, and thus form an alliance too strong for Hitler to attack. In order to persuade the governments of those countries, they had to create a strong base in popular sympathies, and this was not a task that could be performed by the Communist parties… But perhaps – so the Russian leaders must have reckoned – the Men of Good Will could do more to convince or frighten the statesmen. We writers, professors, publicists might thereby contribute something to the defense of the Soviet Union- and hence we were solicited, importuned, published, assembled in congresses, gently admonished, wildly praised, and in general made to feel our importance.”

From —And I Worked at the Writer’s Trade. Chapters of Literary History. 1918-1978 by Malcolm Cowley

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‘The nation-state badly needs a heritage narrative’: Sterling


This came up in Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowski’s annual State of the World chat this year.

“…the nation-state badly needs a heritage narrative. If you don’t have one that compels respect, then you’re not a nation-state, and you get turned into a [laundry money].

“In 2017 a lot of heritage narrative started to appear within the post-Brexit Europe. Pro-EU guys, who used to be very colorless, technocratic, as invisible and as function-centric as possible, started raising their heads over the parapet and talking about World War II. About historic missions, ever-greater union, mistakes that would be regretted for a generation — a very temporal, linear narrative, asserting that the EU is an advance, that it must move forward, that heretics and dropouts from Europe would be abandoned, like deadbeats kicked off a moving train.

“So the EU, which was about market regulations, turned into European history again. Some tautly argued history, too: this happens, that happens, this happens because of that. ‘Atemporality’ is a lot more loose, emergent, and multi-causal than that. Atemporality is like an open-source, flat-world, marketplace of meaning where people place meme-bids.”

I have been thinking something similar – and about what a challenge a bigger, lasting meta-narrative is in the current media environment. I have something written about this but haven’t had time to publish. Eventually…

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