Fast Dispatch: Russians Invade via Social Media, The U.S. Keeps Others Out

Bias dominated the news cycle recently, including insistance that contracts should be voided on allegations of sexual misconduct, Apple hiding Easter, and the inability of the Senate to agree on an immigration plan.  But it is Russians and Germans who made more news… and the Washington Post making some Fake News.

Florida Shooting

Reality Dispatch doesn’t cover this type of issue much, because the facts aren’t generally in dispute.  At this point, the media and public are generally engaging in passionate vitriol over who should’ve done what, including debates over the FBI, who ignored multiple warnings about the shooter months in advance and have acknowledged not following protocol, over gun control and mental health policies (the shooter was adopted, with both parents dying before he was over 19.)  There’s a lot there, but not much of it hinges on interpretations of facts.

Reality Dispatch does pay attention to Fake News though… meaning false reporting.  The reliably far-left Washington Post falsely claimed President Trump spent more time congratulating First Responders than comforting victims.  The President, in a display far more sensitive than the Post, simply did not invite the media to his hospital visits.

Even if The WaPo corrects this later, their initial lie is what people will remember.  That’s part of the challenge with the media and the Fake News battle.

Germans Against Defense

NATO was a mutual defense pact between the U.S. and Western Europe.   In 2006, NATO members agreed to commit two percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to defense spending.  Only the U.S., England, Greece, Estonia and Poland have met this goal; most of Europe… including Germany… has skimped on defense.  Germany currently spends about 1.2% on defense.

Defense is becoming an important European issue with the tensions as President Trump insists partners pay their fair share and as a result of Russian aggression including the 2014 attack and take-over of Crimea and the more recent Ukraine proxy attacks.

The news is that German deputy Sigmar Gabriel (under Angela Merkel) has stated that Germany will not spend that 2%, but wants the European Union to step up.  At roughly the same time, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen stated that Germany will spend more on its military, especially as part of PESCO, the Permanent Structured Cooperation defense pact that most of Europe signed  late last year… excepting Ireland, Denmark, Portugal and Malta… and England.  However, she is bucketing military and foreign aid together.

England’s Brexit – the U.K. leaving the E.U. – complicated E.U. defense, as the U.K. is still a member of NATO, but cannot reasonably be part of an E.U. military force… and has one of the dominant European military forces.

Also, PESCO is voluntary.  Historically E.U. countries have not met their NATO commitments, their E.U. fiscal balance commitments, their E.U. defense commitments, or indeed pretty much any commitments.  However, given that recent Russian aggression, this could be a disastrous long-term approach by Germany.

Why You Care

Understanding the challenges between European “States” (countries) helps understand what the media or columnists are not telling you, when they criticize the U.S. for foreign policy choices.  There are no “right” choices for the U.S. in Europe currently, as the Europeans aren’t even close to agreeing with each-other or living up to their own internal agreements, and much further from living up to their agreements with the U.S.

The Russians are in the news…

As you may recall, both Twitter and Facebook have acknowledged being used by Russia to impact the 2016 Presidential Election.  Meanwhile, the DOJ and FBI have been investigating Donald Trump for collusion with the Russians, and then have been embarrassed as it turned out that the Democrats and the FBI have been the dishonest ones.

Analyzing the FBI Memo Against the Hype

This week’s news is that the DOJ has indicted 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies for interfering with the election… without any U.S. citizen knowledge.  That last bit is important, as it undermines the persistent Democratic talking point that Trump colluded.

The indictment is here; it’s 37 pages and a pretty dry read.  Of note:

  • Paragraph 43 (they’re numbered) on Page 17 states, “ They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump. ”  Which tells us the Russians weren’t supporting Trump so much as the fringe candidates.
  • Paragraph 57 on Page 23 states that the Russians held rallies simultaneously for and against Trump, including a NYC rally on 12-Nov-2016, “Trump is NOT my President”, and a Charlotte NC rally on 19-Nov-2016, “Charlotte Against Trump.

The Russian activity listed in the indictment was more pro-Trump than anti-Trump, but is clear that Trump and his associates were not involved or aware.  (Nor were Clinton’s.)

This does still leave the Democrats on the hook for the Steele Dossier.  Which is the message from the moderate and right press.  Predictably, the left media is claiming this refutes Trump and proves collusion, partly because the indictments claim the Russians wanted to hurt the Democratic candidate (they were out to hurt everyone) and because, well, Russians are involved so it wasn’t a “witch hunt” if they found witches.  Even though Trump wasn’t aware or complicit, forget “innocent until proven guilty”; they’ve gone with “guilty despite any proof.”  

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