The public’s role is becoming harder every day. The everyday citizens’ task must overcome disenchantment, distrust, or outright contempt for public officials. This weighs heavily upon Americans and makes recognizing the truth nearly impossible. For most Americans, it’s “tune out” time. Despite historically low approval ratings the same people seem to get reelected to Congress and nothing changes. Where has “Camelot” or “It’s Morning in America”gone?
Politics and especially our Congress members have gone high tech. There are researchers, writers, strategists, communication specialists, make-up professionals, booking agents, and lest we forget, “chief of staffs” supporting most members of Congress. Consequently most everything we hear or read from these public officials has been sanitized and reflects a carefully nuanced position statement. Can’t be too careful these days, ones words might come back in the next election.
Let’s consider the Senate and House investigations over whether or how or with whom the Russians interfered with the 2016 Presidential election. Forgetting for a moment the Republican political speak which seeks to avoid questioning the validity of President Trump’s victory, and instead listening to the righteous indignation, typically, “this is a serious matter, if true, and Congress must get to the bottom of these charges”
To be sure if the Russians and members of the Trump campaign team did collude this would and should be front page news. But, the fact that Russian operatives hacked into emails and electronic files, or distributed “fake” news should rank in the “so what else is new”, or the “been there, done that” categories. History of CIA involvement in foreign elections is well documented and decorated US foreign policy’s covert component. So, let’s hold back the crocodile tears.
Today’s news brings a similar but different revelation. When asked by a reporter whether the Russians were supplying the Afghan Taliban weapons, US General John Nickolson responded that “he could not refute” such a claim. Hmmm.
For the press and Congress, this represents just one more piece of evidence that the Russians are up to no good. This is another chance to express righteous indignation. Hmmm.
I wonder how many remember the book “Charlie Wilson’s War” which recounts the cover CIA operation, funded by Congress (largely through Representative Wilson’s efforts), against the Russian attempt to occupy Afghanistan during the 1980s. Been there, done that.
It is of course not in our military’s best interest to have anyone arming the Taliban or financing their activities. There are other covert methods to make the Russians realize this interference is costly for them too. But righteous indignation is a poor choice.
Whether it’s the Russian interference in US elections or supporting surrogates in world conflicts, the facts are that the world is a tit for tat place. Bombastic statements and doing the “unexpected” have questionable value. These strategies rank poorly in effectiveness and well behind righteous indignation. Covert “payback” is more difficult but is more easily understood by adversaries.
Righteous indignation, on the other hand, should be reserved diplomatic exchanges and not used to brain wash the American public.