By Wang Wenwen
The US is edging toward another round of sanctions against Russia after the State Department turned over to Congress a list of Russian defense and intelligence entities. The new sanctions are meant to rebuke Russia for its actions in Eastern Europe and Syria as well as for its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. The so-called Russiagate is at a crucial stage.
As the US and Russia are plunging deeper into their worst crisis since the Cold War, Russia has become the focal point of the various contradictions and political infighting within the US.
At the height of the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union were engaged in intensive espionage when they used all available tools to uncover each other’s secrets, driven by their pursuit of different ideologies and global clout. The fierce game of espionage was a feature of the whole US-Russia rivalry at that time.
Yet the current contention between the two reflects more the political divisions in the US. By accusing one side of “colluding” with their traditional foe, the other side can win more political initiative and exploit more political gains.
According to a new survey conducted by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland, Americans are facing the largest social and political divisions since the Vietnam War. The popularity of social media also lends a helping hand to sow this division in the US political system.
In September, Facebook disclosed that it had identified more than 3,000 ads – $100,000 worth – linked to Russia that focused on divisive US social issues and which were seen by about 10 million people before and after the 2016 US elections.
Margarita Simonyan, Moscow-based editor-in-chief of Russia Today, rebuked in a statement, “Somehow it did not occur to us that in a developed democracy, regular media advertising can turn out to be a suspicious and harmful activity.”
After all, it is the US’ own problems that have caused its divisions. Americans believe that Russia’s Internet trolls intended to sow the divisions along political lines and attack American social fabric, but they do not know Russia’s real intentions – does it want Trump to be the president or does it want to divide the US? Is US society, which prided itself on its values and systems, so vulnerable as to be divided by Russia?
More than two decades have passed since the end of the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia is smaller than the Soviet Union both in size and international influence. But why does the fear of the Americans toward Russia keep rising?
For Russians, “Russiagate” did not affect them much, but for Americans, it exposed their lack of confidence toward their own system.