Lacking confidence, US blames foreign influence

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/21 22:43:39

The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security jointly released a statement Friday entitled "Combating Foreign Influence in US Elections."

"We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies… adversaries target US elections to divide America," it stated, although there was no evidence of any voter interference.

Washington's fidgeting shows the vulnerable side of the US electoral system, something in which the country prides itself. Since when did the US lack so much confidence in its democratic institutions?

The statement noted that elements of these campaigns include using social media to amplify divisive issues to create fake news and disseminate foreign propaganda. But social media is just a tool.

Undeniably, one of the characteristics of social media is that people can hear voices with which they agree while missing out on opposite opinions. Social differences can in this way be exacerbated.

Born in the US, social media, which once made the country proud, has also brought other problems. Fake news and rumors spread expeditiously as US society is already divided and filled with inconsistent politics. People are gradually losing their trust in US government. Social media has only aggravated these problems.

The US has never lacked social consensus as much as it does today. So many different opinions occur on so many issues. With increasing immigration flooding into the US, blue-collar white people are turning disgruntled. They think the newcomers are stealing their job opportunities. Racial discrimination is still splitting society. The game between Republicans and Democrats is getting fiercer. Wide gaps are emerging on different states' policies. People's opinions of Obamacare, anti-terrorism and immigration policies are becoming sharply different. But are they caused by foreign interference?

No one can divide America but America itself. Blaming other countries and social media can attract eyeballs, but cannot save the reputation of the US government.

The US system faces unprecedented challenges. What makes the US uneasy comes not from without, but from within. Why is the US so fragile today? Instead of bridging social divisions, Washington politicians rip them wider apart.

US scholars busy themselves all day long studying the fragility of other countries. Yet it is high time for studying the fragility of the US itself. History suggests that if the US sneezes, the world might catch a cold.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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