Showing posts with label Quisling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quisling. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Quisling And Fifth Columnists

It was clear when Donald J. Trump announced his candidacy for president that he thought he was running for the office of dictator. It was equally clear that many of his supporters wanted a dictator.

For those of us with long memories, this is reminiscent of an earlier time when, especially in Europe but also in this country ("America First"), authoritarian dictatorships were seen as the wave of the future. Dictators (e.g. Mussolini), it was said, could make the trains run on time.

Dictators turned out not to be the wave of the future. Democracies prevailed in World War II. When our troops came home in 1945, we recognized the victories in Europe and Asia as victories for democracy and we built a post war world around democracy. But recent surveys suggest that millennials no longer believe it important to live in a democracy. I hope they don't learn their error the hard way.

In the meantime, the 1930's and 1940's enriched many languages with words for people of an authoritarian bent.

In Norway, following the 1940 Nazi invasion, Vidkun Quisling, a former army officer and defense minister,became prime minister. He was a collaborator during German occupation. He was executed in 1945, and his name became synonymous with Nazi collaboration.

Before the German invasion, the way was prepared by Norwegians sympathetic to fascism, sometimes referred to as the "fifth column," a term arising out of the Spanish Civil War.

Both "Quisling" and "fifth column" became terms of opprobrium for persons disloyal to their own people and to democracy.

Now we live in a time when our own president seems to venerate the authoritarian tyrant who leads Russia. Not good. How did we get here? What can we do?

What if we don't want a dictator?

One of the most telling facts from the senate hearings last week and yesterday is the deep lack of Republican curiosity about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Let's be clear. The Russian effort to affect the outcome of our election was an intelligence operation by a hostile power to damage our democracy.

It appeared to succeed, though we can't yet know how many votes were affected. Apparently none were hacked in any voting machines, though some 39 state boards of elections had their voter registration records hacked.

What we do know is that this was a big deal,  using well developed Russian techniques of propaganda, disinformation, false news, cyber warfare and other approaches,

I am not a professional intelligence officer, but I know a bit about it. I had not kept up with recent developments in cyber warfare. So I consulted a recent book, The Plot To Hack America, by Malcolm Nance. Very informative.

Can we protect ourselves? Somewhat, but not completely.

Watch out for Cyber Bears.

The senate seems to be getting on the case. Today they voted 97 - 2 to take away the president's power to lift sanctions on Russia.

This may be a big deal, depending on what the House does.

As they used to say in radio: "don't touch that dial!"