Political warfare and Congress

Political warfare and Congress

In testimony to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, Timothy Snyder said:

Democracy is in decline, dragged down by the autocratic lie. The autocrats offer no new visions; instead they lie about democracies and insert lies into democracies. The test of disinformation is its power to alter the course of crucial events, such as wars and elections.

Russia undertook a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on the basis of a big lie about Nazis.

Even as we meet today, Russian (and Chinese) propaganda shapes House debates about Ukraine, the most important foreign policy decision of our time. In domestic politics, the most important matter in coming months the coming presidential election.

To begin with the war. Beijing cares about Ukraine because it is the decisive conflict of our time. It can spread lies about Ukraine thanks to prior Russian labor. Beijing wrongly blames the war on Washington. Chinese information actions seek to attract American actors around to Russian propaganda tropes meant to justify Russian aggression and bring about American inaction.

Though Americans sometimes forget this, Ukrainian resistance is seen around the world as an obvious American cause and an easy American victory. So long as Ukraine fights, it is fulfilling the entire NATO mission by itself, defending a European order based in integration rather than empire, and affirming international order in general. It is also holding back nuclear proliferation.

Given these obvious strategic gains, American failure in Ukraine will lead other powers to conclude that a feckless and divided United States will also fail to meet future challenges. The fundamental goal of Russian (and thus Chinese) propaganda is to prevent American action, thereby making America seem impotent and democracy pointless — also in the eyes of Americans themselves. [Continue reading…]

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