By Scott Taylor
For years now we have been told by various western intelligence agencies that Russia is using social media platforms to interfere in foreign elections and referendums. We are to believe that it was the Russians who manipulated the Brits into voting for Brexit, infused the American populace with bigotry which led to Trump’s election win, confused Ontario voters into making Doug Ford premier, and now they somehow seduced the British card-carrying members of the Conservative Party into making Boris Johnson the U.K.’s prime Minister.
Since the internet, and in particular social media platforms are chock-o-block full of fake news and conspiracy theories I was always puzzled as to exactly how the Russians were able to navigate through a sea of misinformation in order to play the Pied Piper leading us all so far astray.
Thankfully, last week the Washington Post ran a story outlining how not only Russia, but now Iran as well is planting the seeds of social discord via the internet. According to the Post, it was an Iranian ‘sock-puppet’ – the term used for fictitious online persona – who sent a tweet at a Hawaiian Congressman. The alias used by the Iranians was that of ‘Alicia Hernan’ whose fake identity purported her to be a “wife, mother and lover of peace”.
The message sent to the Congressman was a reference to President Trump: “That stupid moron doesn’t get that by creating bad guys, spewing hate filled words and creating fear of ‘others’, his message is spreading to fanatics around the world. Or maybe he does.”
Wow, pretty harsh words and some name-calling to boot? It would seem that Iranian intelligence services are going to great lengths to portray the Donald as a danger to world peace in order to make Americans vote for the Democrats. According to the Post, Alicia Hernan was one of 7,000 phony Iranian accounts that were shut down by Twitter this year alone.
Meanwhile, in the non-fake news category, last Monday Trump blew up a storm of controversy during an Oval Office meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. In typical Trump fashion, the U.S. President told reporters that he could win the war in Afghanistan within a week by simply blowing it “off the face of the earth.”
Given that Trump actually has the codes to the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and the fact that in 2017 America dropped the world’s largest – Mother-of-All-Bombs aka MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast) non nuclear bomb on Afghanistan, officials in Kabul were quick to demand clarification.
According to Trump “If [the U.S.] wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people… Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. It would be gone.”
While it is certainly true that the American military possess the combined firepower to blast Afghan cities into rubble and kill millions of innocent civilians, what is not clear is how that would in any way be considered a ‘win’.
Afghanistan is an impoverished, underdeveloped nation with largely illiterate and unskilled workforce. The U.S. military and their Afghan allies toppled the Taliban and declared victory in 2001. That was eighteen years ago and despite the expenditure of nearly one trillion dollars, and countless lives, Afghanistan remains defiant to U.S. rule.
In response to Trump’s threat to wipe Afghanistan “off the face of the earth”, a Kabul regime spokesperson stated, “The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate.” History has proven this to be the case dating back to the Afghan defeat of Alexander the Great. It is not a baseless claim that Afghanistan has become the graveyard of empires.
What Trump did not explain was how his “victory” would be cemented over the 20 million Afghans who would – according to his numbers – survive his threatened apocalypse. One has to imagine they would be pretty peeved to find themselves in a smouldering crater. But I digress.
What I have to question is why foreign state actors – like Iran and Russia would expend such energy creating ‘sock-puppets’ to fabricate the impression that Trump is a dangerous moron.
Just roll the cameras and let Trump prove that point himself.