Fighting Big Lies
After years of Kremlin-sanctioned Russian interference in Western elections, the threat posed by information warfare has become too big to ignore, and too serious to leave to the discretion of private online platforms. Lawmakers should recognize disinformation campaigns for what they are: deliberate attacks on free societies.
PARIS – From the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s absurd claims that Ukraine is run by Nazis who are pursuing genocide against the country’s Russian-speakers, the Kremlin has long been an expert in the dark art of disinformation.
A forgery published in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Protocols supposedly exposed a Jewish conspiracy to achieve world domination. It was as big a lie as has ever been told, and it became a pillar of the virulent anti-Semitism that led eventually to the extermination of most European Jewry by Hitler’s Third Reich.
As for Putin’s own big lie, it has deceived almost no one outside of Russia, but it may well have incited some of the atrocities that Russia’s poorly trained, ill-informed soldiers have committed in Bucha and elsewhere. Disinformation and lies can kill. They can also tip a country over to the wrong side of history.