By Aileen Jacobson
The war in Ukraine represents “the resurrection of political warfare by the United States,” said Tim Weiner, our speaker at the April 20 Zoom meeting, our second program on that ongoing war instigated by Russia.
Weiner, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is a former intelligence and national security reporter for the New York Times. He is also the author of several books, including a history of the CIA and a history of the FBI. His most recent is The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia and Political Warfare, 1945-2020. He also hosts a podcast.
Political warfare, Weiner explained to the fifty members who attended, is the use of a nation’s powers “short of war,” including diplomacy, economic warfare, intelligence operations and support for resistance actions.
The intelligence gathered by the CIA about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions “to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth” became overwhelming by January, he said, leading to a decision to make the evidence public. Putin had used the same kind of “blitzkrieg of propaganda” and misinformation (including calling Ukrainians “Nazis”) to justify war in 2014 in the run-up to the war in Crimea.
That time, Weiner said, U.S. officials didn’t understand what was going on, but this time they were prepared and “totally neutralized Putin’s disinformation weapons” by telling the world about them. He called this sharing of intelligence “a remarkable development” with long-lasting impact on the future global struggle “between democracy and autocracy.”
In response to a question posed by Silurians president Michael Serrill, who moderated the discussion, Weiner credited “buzz and taps and moles” as the probable sources of the CIA’s information. He also believes that the U.S. is finding “work arounds” to pierce the “Stalinist crackdown” on a free press in Russia and deliver truthful information.