Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

We’re Running Out Of Time To Deter Russia

| Sep. 08, 2018

As the midterm elections approach, one thing is clear: Neither the Trump administration nor Congress has done enough to deter Russia and other hostile foreign powers from interfering in the U.S. democratic process. That is despite the Kremlin’s clear record of meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and despite consistent warnings from intelligence professionals and other experts that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to continue his influence campaigns. Too much of the conversation has so far focused on defending the nation from attacks with better cybersecurity and election technologies. That is needed. But a more potent strategy would convince Mr. Putin and others that the consequences of even trying to penetrate American defenses are too grave to risk.

Finally, nearly two years after the 2016 vote, members of Congress are getting closer to imposing a more robust deterrence policy. Two bipartisan bills have been introduced, one shepherded by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and the aptly named DETER Act, whose leading co-sponsors are Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). The Senate Banking and Foreign Relations committees held hearingsWednesday and Thursday in which witnesses such as former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and former undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns, both respected experts, endorsed a deterrence approach. “Putin’s a rational person,” Mr. Burns said. “He’ll understand that those are going to be the penalties; we’ve got to make sure that he perceives we’re serious about it.”

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For Academic Citation:We’re Running Out Of Time To Deter Russia.” The Washington Post, September 8, 2018.