The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming was a 1966 comedy about an accidental Russian invasion on the west coast. The Guatemalans are coming, the Guatemalans are coming was the comedic response when our president in 2018 projected an immigrant invasion on the Mexican border. Of the two, it turns out the Russian invasion was no joke.
“Active measures” to sow discord in the western democracies were institutionalized in the Soviet Union in 1961 when the KGB created its disinformation directorate. In 1967, Directorate D morphed into Service A with a defined political warfare mission. When he became premier in 1982, former KGB head Yuri Andropov greatly expanded the use of active measures to psychologically invade and disrupt democracies.
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (9 Republicans and 8 Democrats) just completed publication of a five-volume report that details Russian use of active measures “to conduct an information warfare campaign designed to spread disinformation and societal division in the United States…. Operatives used targeted advertisements, intentionally falsified news articles, self-generated content, and social media platform tools to interact with and attempt to deceive tens of millions of social media users in the United States. This campaign sought to polarize Americans on the basis of societal, ideological, and racial differences, provoked real world events.”
Russian active measures are no surprise to the FBI. “We are seeing, and have never stopped seeing, efforts to engage in malign foreign influence by the Russians,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Using deception and discord to divide and conquer is an age-old tactic. In a 1787 letter to Thomas Jefferson, James Madison called it “the reprobated axiom of tyranny.”
Salvation Army pastor Harold Laubach, Jr., explained, “The British have used it, the Chinese use it, Mexico has used it, Russia uses it, and it works so well, that many governments use it. Even our own government uses it.”
Worse, our politicians use it on us. Behind most is a political apparatus invoking discord and disunity to stay in power.
“Basically if you can divide a people over small differences, they are much easier to control or to overcome,” said Laubach. The problem we face today is, “for every person that wishes to see and exhibit unity with their Christian brothers and sisters, there is another person, trying to cause arguments, spreading rumors, engaging in gossip, instigating arguments.”
With this growing proclivity among us to tear down rather than build up, how easy it is for Russian active measures to deceive and divide us. The Atlantic reported, “The Russians have learned much about American weaknesses, and how to exploit them.”
Laubach called on us to heed Romans 16:17-18: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.”
With apologies to Earl Pitts, who invaded radio in 1968, “Watch out Amurica!” The Russian invasion is real.