(JNS) “The fax will set you free!” Years ago, that was such a hopeful rallying cry. I was among those convinced that exciting new technologies would defeat tyrants and censors. When the facsimile machine, an invention of the 19th century (look it up) came into widespread use in the 1980s, it seemed to be the sharp point of a freedom-friendly technological spear.
A fax machine could do in minutes what it had taken Soviet dissidents weeks to achieve with a typewriter: make a copy of a forbidden book and transport it from one place to another.
Years later, of course, there was the advent of the even more revolutionary Internet, followed by social media and other developments that promised to bend the arc of history toward liberty.
You know what’s happened since: Tyrants have learned to use high technology to spread disinformation while, in totalitarian countries, censors have become adept at repressing truthful information they find inconvenient.
We all know there was Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. But only some of us grasp what the Kremlin intended—and still intends—to achieve.
“The Russian government’s goal is to weaken our country—to diminish America’s global role,” Fiona Hill, a Russia expert who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, explained in congressional testimony last year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian security services, she added, “deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.” READ MORE