Attorney General Barr informed the nation that President Trump and his team did not collude with Russia and also provided insight into Russia’s two-pronged effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Barr said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller “determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election. The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election.”
The scope of Russia’s effort was both alarming and dangerous. However, the Russians clearly thought they could get away with it — and they did. The reason why has as much to do with the Obama administration as it does with Russia’s objectives.
When leaders make a decision to undertake efforts against an adversary, they must consider the ramifications of their actions if discovered. Intelligence analysts and policymakers provide the decision-maker with the most likely course of action that the adversary — in this case President Obama — might take. That analysis is based on historic actions that have been taken to date. It didn’t take the Russians very long to determine that they were going to be able to get away with it after examining the Obama administration’s foreign policy record.
For the better part of eight years, the Obama team consistently got it wrong. The result was a feckless foreign policy that emboldened our adversaries and left the nation both more vulnerable and weaker than the one the administration inherited when it took over. From the Iraq withdrawal to ISIS, China’s proprietary-data theft, North Korea’s attack on Sony, the “red line” over Syria’s use of chemical weapons and Russia’s invasion of Crimea, our adversaries watched as Obama stood by and did nothing.
They saw an American president who shied away from conflict and who failed to respond to attacks against the nation and our allies. With each failure to respond, our adversaries become more emboldened. There were policy options available to more effectively deal with these threats to America’s security, but in the end, Obama’s team made the decision not to deploy them.
That failure ultimately led to Vladimir Putin’s decision to interfere with our presidential election. Russia’s effort to “sow societal discord” in the United States sought to weaken us as a nation.
We are stronger as a nation when we are united and when our democratic institutions are functioning at their best. Putin knows this, and he sought to weaken our nation to further Russian objectives around the globe. He alone is responsible for his actions, but the decisions he made were informed by U.S. policy and the failure to act. Those charged with the defense of our nation failed, and they allowed one of America’s greatest adversaries to sow societal discord. That discord has paralyzed our democratic institutions and deepened our political divide.
At some point, those in the Obama administration who were responsible for defending our nation need to be held accountable. The time for that accountability is now.
Alex Plitsas (@AlexPlitsas) is a national security and management consultant and Army combat veteran. He served previously in the Pentagon as chief of sensitive activities for the assistant secretary for special operations.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.