Democratic pollster and Fox News Contributor Douglas E. Schoen is perhaps best known for his incisive analysis of U.S. politics. But in recent years, as Russian strongman and former Soviet intelligence operative Vladimir Putin launched a bid to reclaim his country’s lost empire — by force if necessary — Schoen first felt compelled to turn his analytical eye to events abroad.
His 2016 volume "Putin’s Master Plan" revealed Putin’s scheme to exploit every vulnerability tolerated by a complacent West. If anything, Putin’s global land grab has only accelerated, and now Schoen offers a new book, "Putin on the March: The Russian President’s Unchecked Global Advance."
Its clear-eyed assessment of Putin’s stunning successes sounds the alarm — and reveals how the West can put a halt to the Russian president’s mischief. In this exclusive excerpt, one of three provided courtesy of Encounter Books, Schoen lays out his playbook for countering Putin’s global assault on democracy.
An exclusive excerpt from Putin on the March: The Russian President’s Unchecked Global Advance by Douglass E. Schoen [Encounter Books]:
Syria is the starkest example of the failure of [former] President Obama’s “lead from behind” strategy. The United States sat out this great struggle, and many more have suffered in Syria who may not have had America stayed engaged. More than anything, this is my counsel in Syria: Engage. To date, I’m not persuaded that Trump has the interest or commitment to do so.
If President Trump and his defense team are serious about countering Russia, they must make dramatic, far-reaching, and sustained efforts to counter the country’s hybrid-war brazenness. Operationally, the United States and Europe need to make a concerted effort to regain the upper hand with Russia in the information war. The Russians have wrought havoc with their signal jamming and other systems hacks; much work needs to be done to better protect American communication systems.
In turn, we need to turn our own considerable cyberwarfare capabilities more effectively against Moscow. Our offensive capabilities in jamming Russian communications systems must be made more robust. Russia’s formidable propaganda organs must also be countered. The United States should be much more aggressive — and confident — in refuting the reporting and assumptions of organs like Russia Today, which exerts enormous influence. RT can and should be discredited.
“The goal of an American-European partnership should be to create an alternative narrative to Russian propaganda, and disproving organizations like RT,” wrote Caleb Larson, an analyst at Atlantic Expedition. “By combating these disinformation campaigns, the United States and Europe can create counter narratives to combat Russian propaganda and give an alternative perspective. Hopefully this would serve to reduce domestic Russian support of military adventurism in the Baltic countries and elsewhere.”
Richard Weitz argued that the United States should amply fund its international broadcasting company Voice of America, and he called for a reconsideration of the shortsighted decision in 1999 to abandon the United States Information Agency.
Weitz also recommended a comprehensive rethinking on the part of the United States and its European allies about how to fight the hybrid-war threat. He suggested that the United States and NATO develop unified security budgets. He also proposed that NATO must increase its capabilities for rapid deployment of security forces to vulnerable countries, and give each nation’s armed forces critical reinforcement against the Russian threat.
The Lexington Institute’s Dan Goure called for aggressive modernizing of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He also argued that the United States should create a “cyber and electronic warfare capability to turn off the Russian power grid and information networks and acquire the means to turn the Russian integrated air defense system into Swiss cheese.”
Will the Trump administration do any of this? If Trump himself has the will to pursue such objectives, he has the team in place to achieve them. McMaster, in particular, is certain to be much more hawkish on Russia than his predecessors. In 2015, after the Russian success in Ukraine, the U.S. military devised a secret program, which McMaster headed, to figure out how the military should respond to the Russian threat. The program, the Russia New Generation Warfare Study, is meant to transform the U.S. military’s response in the face of threats through 2025. It “is intended to ignite a wholesale rethinking — and possibly even a redesign — of the Army in the event it has to confront the Russians in Eastern Europe.”
Wesley Clark has described McMaster’s efforts as the most dramatic shift in focus for the U.S. military since the end of the Cold War.
“It is clear that while our Army was engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia studied U.S. capabilities and vulnerabilities and embarked on an ambitious and largely successful modernization effort,” McMaster told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “In Ukraine, for example, the combination of unmanned aerial systems and offensive cyber and advanced electronic warfare capabilities depict a high degree of technological sophistication.”
Next: The second of three exclusive excerpts from Doug Schoen’s new book, Putin on the March: The Russian President’s Unchecked Global Advance: How America’s oil weapon can stop Putin in his tracks.
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