Thanks for your perspective and your remarks about commenters. All of it is worrying and intensified by the digital revolution. I say this very obvious thing as someone, along with a couple of other commenters, who was an activist in the 70s and 80s when we thought we were seeing off the end of the cold war, and felt justified in our opposition to the Vietnam War, and so on. I’m here on Australian time right now and am unable to write a longer comment but it is obvious that neither Russia nor China have changed course since the end of WWII. Both, indeed all, countries, including the US and its allies, use all technologies, new and old, as well as old fashioned techniques to increase their own interests. It includes subversion which is pursued by state and commercial players. We are currently engaged in Australia in assessing the extent of China’s meddling in our affairs: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2017/06/05/4678871.htm “Power and Influence” a Four Corners ABC TV/Sydney Morning Herald investigation into the Chinese Communist Party’s so called “soft diplomacy” efforts in Australia.
It is clear that commercial and nationalistic interests drive powerful state and private players and institutions to use every tool in their toolbox to advance their own interests virtually everywhere, including the Arctic and Antarctica (exploitation of resources). In a peculiar way Trump as president and as his own brand has made this more obvious than the traditional ways of containing Russian intervention domestically and internationally. There’s reason to be scared. When I was in the Soviet Union as a young woman, an interpreter explained how many nuclear missiles were pointed at Moscow by the US, 5:1 in “favour” of the US. The threat of nuclear weapons has never retreated, despite the intentions of the START II Treaty of 2011, US weapons have never decreased and Russia’s have increased (having been below target in 2011) http://www.factcheck.org/2017/01/obama-and-russias-nuclear-stockpile/
The main issue at hand is democracy itself. How do we protect it in such difficult times. In Russia and China it has never existed, India, which is labelled the biggest democracy in the world is riddled with communal and misogynist differences, and the US, Europe (ex France) and Australia have powerful turns to the right to contend with. It is now a 15 year phenomenon that conservative parties in the West are such terrifying challengers to the very nature of democracies they claim to protect. And please, there is no looney left: just disparate groups and individuals which may or may not come together based in issue driven politics (health care, education, the environment etc.). I don’t ever remember even knowing a political loon. Loons believe in conspiracy theories, auras, the powers of crystals, or ‘tea parties’ etc, etc, which has nothing to do with the real issues ;)