The US is in a social media war with Russia, so why is America losing?
When Edward Snowden released the information about the Unites States conducting secret intelligence gathering activities on it's own citizens and several other countries, America seemed to have a leg up in using technology to conduct espionage and other clandestine activities. But now Russia appears to be ahead of the US in using a key piece of technology that almost every American uses nearly everyday, social media. While the US was hunting down terrorists and spying on foreign leaders, Russia came up with an intelligent plan to use social media to sway public opinion in the US.
The United States Has Been Distracted
The US' relations with Russia have always been on the back burner, but since the end of the cold war and the September 11th terrorist attacks the US has put most of their focus on foreign terrorism. There were notable moments when the US placed their attention more on Russia, but these moments were few and fleeting up until last year. For example, George W. Bush paid attention to Russia during the Georgian War and President Obama placed sanctions on Russia for Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and their involvement in Ukraine. But the attention that is paid to Russia in these instances is short lived. If you went out on the street today to speak with people then you'd be hard-pressed to find someone that knows that the war in Ukraine is still raging on.
The United States Has Become Complacent
The United States has been a world power for nearly a century and in that time it's natural for a country to become complacent. Most great powers begin to fall after a few hundred years. Currently, the US has the strongest military in the world and has an incredible amount of soft power, including diplomacy and economic and cultural influence. So the US is still a powerful nation but America has been increasingly taking their power for granted. President Trump explains that he wants the US to remove itself from treaties and trade agreements while ignoring the fact that if the US removes itself from world affairs then the US' global influence will wane. All in all, some leaders in the US act as if America will always be powerful and will not lose its power. This same attitude is evident in the US' counter intelligence operations in that the US, a country that already has enormous power and influence, has less motivation than other countries, such as Russia, that have less power than the US but the ambition to attain power.
The United States Can't Get Pass It's Racial and Political Divisions
While Russia has been using social media to provide disinformation to the US, America has been divided over several issues from police brutality to gay rights. These issues are important issues that should be discussed but America's tendency to place enormous focus on these issues has taken America's focus away from issues that have strong potential to hurt America, such as Russia pushing misinformation in the US through social media.
President Trump continues to refuse to acknowledge Russia's involvement in the US' 2016 election. People speculate that Trump refuses to acknowledge Russia's impact on the 2016 election in spite of his advisors opinions because the Russians are blackmailing Trump. Whatever the reason, we can be sure that the president's point of view will hinder the US government's ability to address Russia's involvement in American affairs and as a result, hurting the US' ability to win in this social media war with Russia.
Featured Image Source: New Strait Times