Remember the claims that Vladimir Putin and the Russian government had a role in inciting the mob that broke into the Capitol building in Washington DC back in January? I wrote about this in an article a few weeks ago. No sooner had the dust settled than social media was abuzz with statements that Putin either arranged the whole thing or at the very least was celebrating what had happened. As former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes put it, “This is the day that Vladimir Putin has waited for since he had to leave East Germany as a young KGB officer at the end of the Cold War.”
The idea that Putin and the Russian state want nothing more than to see Western democracies collapse into chaos is now so widespread as to be pretty much an uncontestable truth. Everybody knows that it is so. Russian “disinformation”, election “meddling”, and all of the rest of it, are put down to Putin’s enormous fear of democracy and of the West, and his concomitant desire to undermine both.
If you have any doubts, just Google “Putin, undermine democracy.” I did, and this is what I got:
As you can see, at the top of the list comes an article in The Atlantic from last year with the title “Putin’s Goal Is to Bring Down American Democracy,” after which we have a Science Direct article “Russia’s Attempt to Undermine Democracy in the West,” something from the Foreign Policy Research Institute entitled “Is Russia Undermining Democracy in the West? Conference” (I looked up the conference – the answer to the question was overwhelmingly “Yes), and then a Foreign Affairs article “How Russia and China Undermine Democracy” (note that there’s no question here that they do – the issue is just how). And on and on it goes.
You get the point. Putin wants to destroy Western democracy, and revels in destabilizing it at every opportunity. If you have any doubts about that, anti-disinformation campaigners point to the work of alleged Russian internet trolls and bots who, they say, latch on to divisions in Western societies and then exploit and accentuate them, in order to destabilize us from within.
I decided to put this to the Google test as well, searching for “Russia, exploit divisions America’. I got the following results:
The Atlantic again tops the rankings with an article entitled “Russia Is Still Exploiting America’s Divisions.” After that, we have the same Atlantic piece that appeared in the first search, then others with titles like “Russia exploits our divisions,” “How Russia used social media to divide Americans,” and “Russia seeks to exploit divisions in the West.”
So there we have it. Russia is out to get us. It wants domestic chaos in the West, and is doing all it can to create it.
But is this true?
Here’s the problem. No senior Russian official has ever said anything of the sort. Really. I challenge you to prove the opposite. Just find one quotation from Putin, foreign minister Lavrov, or anybody else at the top of the Kremlin pile, saying that this is what they want. I’m betting you won’t find it.
To the contrary, what you find when you study what Russians say is that the one thing they value above all else is stability. In fact, the word “stability” appears over 20 times in the 2016 Foreign Concept of the Russian Federation. And stability in foreign affairs, it is felt, depends on domestic stability. A country that is in internal turmoil is going to be incapable of pursuing a constructive foreign policy, and will likely try to deflect from its internal problems by assertiveness abroad. It’s better that other countries, even ones that are relatively hostile, are stable than that they are falling apart.
And so it is that in a meeting with businessmen on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin had the following to say:
We see what is happening, for example, overseas: of all those who walked into the US Congress building, 150 people were arrested and face anywhere from 15 to 25 years in prison. We have no way of knowing whether the internal contradictions will stop there. We really want them to stop, and I will tell you why. We are interested in steady relations with all our key partners, and internal squabbles, for internal political reasons, are in the way of achieving this kind of stability in the relations between our states.
How does this square with the gospel truth we have been told to believe, that Putin rejoices at every sign of turmoil in our midst, and is doing all he can to provoke chaos amongst us?
It doesn’t square at all. Something must be wrong.
Indeed something is – everything we’re being told by The Atlantic and all the rest of them is total, complete, utter nonsense. It not only isn’t supported by the evidence, but is in fact rejected by it.
Will anybody notice? Sadly, I doubt it. The same old lies will keep on being repeated. They’ve been said so often by now that nobody can imagine that they’re not true. But at least you, dear readers, will know that they’re not. And perhaps if we can spread that truth a little bit further, then drip by drip we might have some effect. I’m not optimistic, but at least we can try.