State Surveillance: Mass surveillance, its impact and the principles we claim to uphold.

The mobile phones, laptops, desktops and GPS devices that you and I use every single day provide tremendous opportunities. In the year of my father’s birth (1951) had I stopped a man in the street and told him that his children and grandchildren would one day carry almost all information and data in existence in their jeans’ pockets he would have looked at me like I was unbalanced. What we now also know however is that whilst we are looking at our mobiles phones they are looking back at us and recording our every word and action. We too know that when entrusting every detail of our lives to a computer we invite this upon ourselves.

The panopticon is an idea in which due to clever design one prison guard can at any time see any prisoner in his cell but the prisoner never knows if  he or she is being watched. As a result, the prisoner alters his or her behaviour. Picture this on a massive scale and we have state surveillance in 2016. The Snowden revelations showed us that any of us may be being watched at any time but we will never know it.

Today in the UK we are debating the nuances of the issue with the ‘snooper’s charter’. The ‘snooper’s charter’ gives police greater powers to hack into mobile phones, view browser histories and perhaps most significantly undermines the common man’s last defence against surveillance. Encryption. The act forces ISPs to weaken or break their own encryption at the state’s request. Edward Snowden claimed encryption was a reliable way to  resist surveillance. If the state can simply wish it away, we are in effect defenceless. Surely by accepting this we accept a form of voluntary servitude. There is no precedent for absolute surveillance (Of which we know) and its value is of question. Mass surveillance did nothing to prevent the recent attacks in Paris and Brussells.

Edward Snowden claimed that the British security services operate an intelligence gathering regime in which “anything goes” (Cadwalladr, 2014). We would do well to ask ourselves if the authorities can be trusted to use this data responsibly or effectively. Data in a networked environment is often intangible and a lack of expertise in the area makes surveillance of online communications fraught with difficulty.

To seize data  is easy, any police department can do that, but to then access and analyse it is a different matter. Afterall, the internet isn’t merely a way to communicate. How we interact online is produced by and produces cultural and social practices that are not understood by academics or law enforecment. Is it wise that this online data be used against us in a court of law, to send us to prision and placed in the national press until we as a society really understand it.

In a democratic society based on the rights of the individual using the entire citizenry as a means to an end, by observing us all, whether it be in the prevention of a minor or major offense cannot be justified without  a fundamental shift in what democracy and the rights of the individual are and why they exist. This is Kantian thinking and is the ideological pillar on which many of our core democratic principles are based. If we allow ourselves to become perpetual instruments of law enforcement we consent to a shift of narrative within our socio-political society.

This may have already happened. The global intelligence regime is growing despite the overwhelming dissaproval of the public. A poll conducted across 13 countries by Amnesty International  found that 71% of 15,000 respondents strongly opposed government spying on their phone and internet communications (Amnesty International, 2015).

In opposition to this view one may state these laws exist to protect us. But I ask who is the state to protect us in exchange for our rights. Or perhaps these programmes simply exist for our peace of mind, but I then ask, who the state is to assume what brings you and I peace of mind. The Kantian line of thought would lead us to the view that guaranteeing security is the state’s responsibility but guaranteeing contentment requires the state to assume what we as individuals think and maunfacture our ideas of happiness. A bizarre kind of tyranny.

If we all agree that mass surveillance is morally wrong in and of itself then it should not be used. We would be much better served debating constitutional issues from this principled  perspective as opposed to a pragmatic one as there is always a reason flop on our principles. The does not mean we should always do so.

This goes back further than 9/11 and  is related to a culture of control that can be traced back several decades.  The threat posed by the Soviet Union was far greater and potentially far more dangerous than that we face today from Daesh and the Al Nusra Front. The reason these powers are required today has little to do with the scale of the threat and more to do with this need for control.

The UK has gone one an interesting journey since the Computer Misuse Act of 1990 which outlawed unauthorised access to a computer. The Terrorism Act of 2000 outlawed the use of a computer to glorify  or promote terrorism and now, in 2016, the state is reserving the neo-unconditional right to access the data of any man or women  in the name of stopping terrorism. An interesting, interconnected series of acts and manifestation of our government’s growing paranoia. Of note is the fact that the first cases of people being jailed under the Computer Misuse Act were as recent as 2013. This has real world consecuences. In 2012 the monitoring of communications by the security services led to five wrongful arrests in the UK.

Being perpetually aware that you may be being watched is enough to significantly alter human behaviour and what it means to be human in the internet age. State access to such a massive amount of data has not prevented some of the biggest terrorist attacks of our time, has led to gross abuses of power and will be misused and misunderstood until we as a society can better understand it.

In 2004 Richard Thomas, UK Information Commissioner, warned us of sleepwalking into a surveillance society. We may already be here.

 

State Surveillance: The bogeyman of our time?

In Response to ‘State Surveillance: Mass surveillance, its impact and the principles we claim to uphold’.

Did you ever get the feeling that someone was watching you? Did you act differently as a result? Maybe they were. But that’s not the point. Rather, the point is that it is natural to, every now and again, feel that. Paranoia over state surveillance has become the cultural bogeyman of our time. In reality, little has changed since the 1980s.

Credit cards, Oyster cards, log-in IDs and home security cameras are essentially a willing acceptance of surveillance that the state has always had the power to exploit and we said nothing. Police have been able to hack into mobile phones for years and as for private companies breaking encyption on request; private companies have and will be obliging to government whether formalised or not.

In the first 6 months of 2015 Apple provided information requested by the British government in 56% of cases relating to a device and 63% of cases in relation to a customer’s account, Google did the same in 75% of cases, Facebook in 78% of cases and Twitter in 52% of cases (Whitehead, 2016).

The author of ‘State Surveillance: Mass surveillance, its impact and the principles we claim to uphold’ cites the fact that ISPs will retain our data for one year under the terms of the Investigatory Powers Bill. If you have ever used an Oyster card you may know that information regarding any given journey on any given day was kept for eight weeks following your journey. What’s more, this information was useful to law enforcement.

So, what’s new? Rather than entering a dark new era resembling Orwell’s ‘1984’ the Investigatory Powers Bill merely makes the existing surveillance regime relevant in 2016.

We must not pretend that surveillance has no purpose. In ‘State Surveillance: Mass surveillance, its impact and the principles we claim to uphold’ it was suggested that perhaps these programmes exist to make us, the public, feel better and Kantian logic was used to put forward the view that the state has no right to decide what should make us happy. What is not mentioned is that the security services foiled 7 major terrorist attacks on UK soil between November 2014 and November 2015 by Daesh alone. In this time Paris saw the Charlie Hebdo massacre and later the tragic deaths of 130 people. Perhaps this is related to the ‘anything goes’(Cadwalladr, 2014) oversight regime our intelligence services enjoy as cited in that article. Perhaps it is mere coincidence that this is the case. But we have been presented with nothing to suggest it is.

Furthermore, he cannot seriously suggest that linguistics experts in conjunction with IT and communications professors from our finest universities cannot decipher the meanings of online communications. Is, for example, the innermost meaning of ‘meet me outside the train station at 8’ beyond the comprehension of MI5? I think not. What is beyond question is that this information could be essential in foiling a terrorist attack at Knightsbridge Station or Manchester Piccadilly.

As for the possibility of abuse of the system, this has always existed. However, even if theoretically possible it is beyond paranoid to believe that these brave men and women have the time or inclination to watch the 87 year-old Mrs. Griffith walking home from the supermarket. Mrs. Griffith’s freedom and agency to do as wishes, say what she wishes and express what she feels is protected under the Human Rights Act of 1998 and if she were to do something sinister  it is better that she be reprimanded.  Accepting that the state has any authority implies a kind of voluntary servitude. This does not make us slaves.

Furthermore, the s philosophical arguments in ‘State Surveillance: Mass Surveillance, its impact and the principles we claim to uphold’ simply cannot be applied to the modern world. If citizens should not be used as a means to an end the police should cease all covert operations. On top of this, whilst of intellectual interest his assertion that government attempting to make us happy is a ‘kind of tyranny’ is curious to say the least. If so, David Cameron’s attempt to ‘make happiness the new GDP’ represented the theft of our civil rights.

Utilitarianism is not of the same mind as Kantianism and would claim that all actions should, directly or indirectly, promote human wellbeing.  If a programme, effective or not, causes the population to feel safer, lowers anxiety and by extension allows us to live our lives in a more productive and contented manner surely this programme is a good thing. Social Contract theory –as prominent as the Kantian theory used by the author of the article in question- suggests that we must, through a cost-benefit analysis decide what is an is not reasonable. In a representative democracy this is the job of parliament and all standard operating procedures have been followed regarding the so called ‘snooper’s charter’.

The Investigatory Powers Bill is not the ideological or philosophical shift the author of ‘State Surveillance: Mass surveillance, its impact and the principles we claim to uphold’ would have us believe. Government surveillance should be taken seriously by us all and the potential for abuses is never to be ignored. But simply approaching any debate from a natural disposition of mistrust and suspicion is not the way for us as a society to make reasonable, responsible collective decisions on the nature of liberty, privacy and appropriate measures taken to protect us all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Terrorist Attack Could Benefit Trump

There is a constant question mark over which nation and which location will be the next to fall victim to a serious terrorist attack. In the United States, the possibility of an attack has taken on added significance with the presidential election looming, and there is little doubt which candidate would stand to gain the most politically should such an incident occur before polling day on the 8th November.

The recent bombs blasts that occurred in New York have not yet been claimed by any particular terrorist group. It is likely that it was an instance of lone actor terrorism inspired by Islamic State; however, this has not been proven. The most important aspect of the incident was instead the contrasting reactions that it drew from Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. One seized on the Afghan born perpetrator Ahmad Khan Rahami’s immigrant background to repeat calls for ‘extreme vetting’ of migrants entering the US, the other called for increased harmony between law enforcement agencies and Islamic communities in the US. It would not take a genius to deduce who said what.

The failed attack in New York re-emphasises how events beyond either candidate’s control could heavily influence the outcome of the election. The incident in New York thankfully did not result in any fatalities. However, what if another attack should occur in the coming weeks that does? There is every chance that such an incident will fuel more support for Trump and his hard line stance on immigration. In the aftermath of an attack, fear and anger rather than restraint generally take hold. The American people will demand tough rhetoric from both of their presidential candidates, something which Trump excels at projecting, far more so than the calm and professional Clinton. It is worth noting that Trump will be in a better position than ever to attack Clinton during the upcoming televised presidential debates that are set to draw massive national audiences.

It may seem cynical to focus on what Trump could gain in the event of such a tragedy. However, the reality is that Trump has harnessed the fear and anger that millions of Americans feel over issues such as terrorism to great effect. Another successful attack would inspire yet more fear and anger, and there is no telling how many more voters that he will be able to rope in should that time come.

Sporting Controversies will Disrupt Relations with Russia

The recent controversy surrounding Russian sport reached a zenith with the publication of a report by the world anti-doping agency (WADA) accusing the Russian state of being complicit in an unprecedented deception of anti-doping regulations for Russian athletes. The repercussions of the report will be felt beyond the world of sport, and could make easing political and social tension with Russia increasingly difficult for Europe and the United States.

WADA’s report is the latest in a series of incidents that have greatly damaged Russia’s sporting and national image. It follows highly publicised incidents in Russia domestic football that show that homophobic and racist attitudes are rife amongst Russian football supporters, and the disturbing organised violence of Russian hooligans in France during the recent  European football championships.

A natural backlash against Russia has resulted, with Russian athletes banned from competing in the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Whilst this sort reaction is understandable, it could well reinforce a Cold War style ‘encirclement’ mentality in the minds of many ordinary Russians and politicians. This attitude, born out of the belief that Russia is encircled by hostile nations, was fuelled in the days of Stalin as a way of galvanising the Russian population against other nations that were mistrustful of the socialist path that the country had taken after the 1917 revolution. In the modern day, the proliferation of a similar way of thinking has dangerous implications when the need for deescalating tensions with Russia is paramount.

Other factors away from the world of sport are fanning the flames. Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian leadership style and foreign policy are reminiscent of the strategies employed by the USSR during the Cold War. This has undoubtedly contributed to the resurgence of a Cold War style mentality in Russia. Another factor that cannot be ignored is the need for national pride that has motivated the above controversies. The WADA report for instance, suggested that one of the motivations behind the doping scandal was the desire by the Russian government to enhance the performance of its athletes who were seen to have performed unacceptably in previous international athletics tournaments.

Russia must modernise its way of thinking and other nations must continue to tread carefully when imposing sanctions in sporting terms. These sanctions will fracture the relationship between Russia and the rest of the world further, at a time when the need for stability is desperate.

Counter-terrorism: Security Can’t Make Us Safe

Thursday 14th July. A man drove a lorry into a crowd of 30,000 people gathered to watch the Bastille Day fireworks from the seafront Promenade des Anglais. 84 people were killed in minutes, including more than 10 children.

In the days since we have seen familiar scenes. Francois Hollande has extended the national state of emergency. Theresa May has pledged greater security funding and a full review of security procedures in England. Boris Johnson condemned the “appalling” incident, which demonstrated “a continuing threat to us in the whole of Europe and we must meet it together”. But for all the condemnation, the calls for solidarity, vigilance, and stricter security measures, are we any safer?

Let’s assume – as everyone has done – that Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was an Islamic extremist. The fact remains that he had no known Jihadi links and his actions were totally unpredicted. France has officially been in a state of emergency since the Paris attacks in November and yet he went under the radar. Perhaps in the coming weeks we will discover that there was an oversight by police or counter-terrorism units. But there will always be gaps and mistakes. We live in an age where we spend more than ever on national security and yet we feel less and less safe. We need a new approach.

We need to address the motivation behind terrorism. What is it that drives individuals to commit unspeakable acts, to sacrifice their lives? Islam is a lazy answer. In an interview on CNN Reza Aslan made this point: “Islam is just a religion and just like every religion in the world it depends on what you bring to it… People are violent or peaceful, and that depends on their politics, their social world, the way that they see their communities, the way that they see themselves.” It takes more than religious belief to create a terrorist. You need political conviction, passion, perceived moral justification and, crucially, disenfranchisement. No-one takes the decision to kill themselves and murder innocent people lightly. A terrorist is someone who believes in a cause so strongly that they will sacrifice everything for it, someone who feels they have no other options. If we ignore the political and social factors that lead to radicalisation we miss a chance to prevent it.

Increasing security will not suppress radicalisation. In fact mass surveillance, detainment without trial, racial profiling, tightening of immigration and media contempt all contribute to it. It is not enough to tell them that they are wrong – we must convince them that they are wrong, convince those at risk of radicalisation that there is hope, that the west is not at war with Islam, that violence is not the only route to change and that their concerns are being heard. In order to prevent terrorism we must address the motivation behind it. Until we do so we won’t be safe.

Trump Will Not be a One-Off Presidential Candidate

Donald Trump once again displayed his talent for causing controversy with his criticism of the parents of Captain Humayun Khan, an American Muslim soldier who was killed in action during the Iraq War in 2004. His comments once again called into question the Republican candidate’s attitude toward the issue of racial relations. However, despite the shock that his remarks have caused, the worrying prospect that such behaviour may become the norm in future US presidential elections cannot be ignored.

Aside from the remorseless and uncaring manner of his comments, Trump’s criticism of Khan’s bereaved parents was unsettling because it showed that Khan had failed to win Trump’s respect despite sacrificing his life for his country. The link between Khan’s Islamic background, Trump’s comments and the hard line stance that he has taken over the issue of Islam in America is clear. The mere thought that these comments were racially motivated is enough for eerie historical comparisons to be made between Captain Khan and African-American soldiers who fought for the US during both World Wars, but returned home to experience the same racism, bigotry and violence that they had always faced.

What is also of considerable concern is the legacy that Trump’s success may leave. He has actively caused controversy to stir up more support amongst his anti-establishmentarian followers. It is unlikely that this anti-establishment feeling will subside anytime soon. It has been caused by escalating social tensions over sensitive issues such as race, immigration and gun control, which has been exacerbated by increasing instances of violence over these areas. The recent shootings in Dallas and Orlando to name but two examples. These tensions will take a long time to reconcile. The prospect of another candidate like Trump, who seeks to use this tension to their benefit emerging again in the future is realistic.

The notion that the sort of rhetoric directed toward Captain Khan’s family could consequently become the norm in US elections is disturbing. Finding a way to reconcile the social and political tension that helped give rise to it will be the greatest domestic challenge faced by the White House and Congress over the coming years. Unless genuine bi-partisan agreements and compromises are reached over the contentious issues plaguing US society, something which both major parties and the White House have failed to do during the Obama administration, we could very see this election campaign repeat itself soon.

 

Peerage Chaos

It is testament to the current state of the Labour Party that despite the furore around David Cameron’s resignation honours, it was a decision made by the Labour leadership that garnered the most headlines; this being Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to offer former Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabiti a peerage.

Shami Chakrabiti had recently appointed by Jeremy Corbyn to conduct a review into anti-Semitism within the Labour Party. Chakrabiti’s findings were very sensible (if not too dramatic!) and appeared at least temporarily to address this issue. Alas not. The timing of Corbyn’s decision has raised both ethical and political questions and places a big asterix over the findings of the review.

Politically, this was a missed opportunity for Labour. After Theresa May refused to intervene and Conservative donor Ian Turner turned down a knighthood, Labour had a chance to make some political capital. Jeremy Corbyn’s initial promise during the leadership contest last year not to create any new peers was immediately broken and with that the chance to take the political high ground disappeared. It is clear that the damage this would do should have been picked up by the Labour leadership team, who have managed to miss a clear conflict of interests.

The ethical problem for Corbyn arises over when he made this offer. If it was made during or before the inquiry was conducted, was any sort of pressure placed on Chakrabiti to come to the correct conclusion? This hypothesis was given further weight by accusations from former Labour advisor Ned Simons who claimed Chakrabiti ignored explicit warnings about anti-Semitic comments made by Jeremy Corbyn’s staff. The offer of a peerage has also angered The Board of Deputies with vice President Marie van der Zyl calling the decision beyond disappointing in a statement released by the organisation.

On a larger scale, this whole debacle has raised questions about our honours system. An honour should only be awarded to those who have gone above and beyond and not simply to those who have completed their jobs. Cameron’s resignation honours list smacks of cronyism and is exactly the sort of thing which puts people off politics. We need our politics to be pure and beyond reproach. Once again this has not been the case and that should disappoint anyone interested in politics.

 

 

 

The Lib Dems could be back in business!

The last few years has been a chastening period for the Liberal Democrats. It started with the coalition and the broken promise on tuition fees and was followed by poor local election results; finally culminating in the 2015 General Election where the party was reduced just to 8 seats. Since then a lot has happened in British politics and the Liberal Democrats have struggled to gain attention.

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has changed politics forever in this country. The historic vote has opened up new schisms in British politics and has mobilised a new generation of voters, especially ‘Remain’ voters. Among these ‘Remain’ voters there is a real sense of anger and a feeling that they have been let down by the result. Although this is not the result the Liberal Democrats wanted or campaigned for, this may present them with an opportunity.

The Liberal Democrats are unashamedly pro-European. Leader Tim Farron has already stated the party will fight the 2020 General Election on a platform of reversing Brexit. This will appeal to a decent proportion of the 48% of the country who voted to Remain in the European Union and want to see Brexit avoided at all costs. It opens up opportunities in ‘Remain’ strongholds, particularly in London where the Liberal Democrats lost seats in the 2015 General Election.

Furthermore the ongoing turmoil of the Labour Party creates a space for the Liberal Democrats to exploit. Labour’s move to the left has given the Liberal Democrats a chance to appeal to voters on the centre left who feel alienated by the Labour Party. Some clever political positioning alongside their stance on the EU could enable the Liberal Democrats to quickly recover some ground lost over the last few years.

The Liberal Democrats are showing some signs of recovery, but have yet to achieve anything too dramatic. This may not change anytime soon. However a gradual recovery from a party many thought to be dead should not be scoffed at. It is impossible to predict what will happen next in politics in this country, but maybe just maybe a Liberal Democrat revival is not too far off.

 

 

Russia’s Very Own Turkish Coup

The move by Russia to normalise its relations with Turkey was unexpected. However, it makes perfect sense when one considers Russia’s foreign policy strategy is focused on outmanoeuvring the US and Europe over the refugee and Syria crises.

The tension that had until recently dogged relations between the two nations had been caused by the downing of a Russian jet near Turkey’s border with Syria on 24th November last year. One of the most significant links between this incident and the normalisation of Russo-Turkish relations is that a repeat is now highly unlikely. The strengthening of ties between the two will allow the Russians additional freedom to conduct airstrikes in Syria. Russia is thus in a considerably stronger position to advance its own aims and those of Bashar al-Assad, something which the US and Europe do not want to see.

The significance of Turkey in the current refugee crisis cannot be ignored either. There are approximately 2.75 million refugees currently in Turkey. Russia, like ISIS, has utilised the crisis to destabilise the domestic and foreign affairs of the US and Europe. The normalisation of ties with Turkey will give the Russians increased influence over the fate of the millions of refugees resident there. This spells bad news for a Europe that is already being strained at a political and societal level by both this crisis and Brexit. The EU’s aim of expanding will also have been set back by the normalisation as Turkey had a significant interest in one day joining the EU. It is now highly doubtful that this will happen anytime in the short or medium term future, and once again shows the ease at which Russia is able to outflank the EU at a diplomatic level.

Normalisation of relations with Turkey was nothing short of a masterstroke from Russia. It shows that they are still a force to be reckoned with on the world stage, whilst decreasing the likelihood of a solution to the refugee and Syrian crises and the instability in the EU being found. Should the isolationist and unstable Donald Trump capture the White House later this year, Russia’s work to ensure that it becomes one of the dominant powers in Eurasia will be frighteningly close to fruition. The need for greater cohesion and purpose within the EU, and for the West in general over the refugee and Syria crises has never been greater.

Corbyn’s stance on NATO is an insult to Labour’s past!

The Labour leadership debates thus far have been dominated by questions about electability, coups and potential splits, but in the last hustings the debate took a different turn and moved onto NATO. Jeremy Corbyn has always been lukewarm about NATO and in response to a topic controversially refused to commit to upholding Article 5: the principle of collective defence (“an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies”).

One of the reasons for Corbyn’s popularity has been his stance on foreign affairs. Corbyn was a famous opponent of the Iraq War and is a long-standing critic of military intervention of any sort. In the 2015 Labour leadership debates Corbyn claimed he could not think of an instance where he would use military force. This was a position he further advanced with these views. Corbyn stated he wanted to avoid getting involved militarily and wanted to achieve a world where we did not need to go to war.

NATO was co-founded by a Labour government led by Clement Attlee in 1949 after World War 2 around the idea of collective security. Although NATO hasn’t always guaranteed world peace it has largely been successful in its aims and has acted as a deterrent for aggressive nations. War is a last resort and all other options must be exhausted before a military solution is implemented, but we must be realistic about the world we live in. Corbyn is right that we should pursue world peace with vigour and attempt to improve relations with other countries, but is wrong to suggest we shouldn’t uphold Article 5. A refusal to come to the aid of a fellow NATO member is a dereliction of duty and is a stance which should not be compatible with being leader of the Labour Party.

The hope is this situation never arises, but if NATO is to work as a deterrent all nations need to be committed to its goals and working together. Being lukewarm about NATO will only give succour to aggressive nations. It is not a stance which is popular with Labour MPs highlighted in this article by Wes Streeting and with the general public according to a 2014 poll. Corbyn’s idealism has been praised by many but this is a step too far and has made the job of re-uniting the Labour Party all the harder.

Why Russia Want Trump to Win

The linking of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to Russia raises questions over what Russia may have to gain from a Trump victory in the election later this year.

The answer appears obvious at first. Trump has previously praised Vladimir Putin and has suggested that the United States’ NATO allies will only be able to guarantee American protection by fulfilling their ‘obligations’ to the US under his watch. Such statements further empower Russia and fit in with Trump’s isolationist outlook on foreign policy. Should Trump be given a chance to realise this vision and scale back or withdraw existing American international commitments, it would give Russia a golden opportunity to increase its global influence.

The Russians would also undoubtedly prefer a politically inexperienced Trump to be in the White House come next January. However, the key factor behind why they would find a Trump victory preferable is China. Russia’s recent normalisation of its relations with Turkey showed its desire to continue its aggressive foreign policies of the past few years, as the normalisation allowed it increased freedom to conduct airstrikes in Syria without serious reprisal. This evidences a clear desire from the Russians to expand their influence over Eurasia. China is its biggest rival in this regard with its gargantuan population, and burgeoning economy and military might. Trump’s rhetoric toward China has been markedly confrontational. His foreign policy promises thus far include labelling China as a currency manipulator and bolstering the US military presence in the South China Seas. If successfully enacted, these policies would result in the US and China spending time and resources on countering each other as opposed to Russia.

It cannot be conclusively proven that the Russians are influencing the US election. What has been obvious for a long time however is that international order is returning to a balance of power state with no one state dominant over the international system. The US, China and Russia instead all vie for increased global influence in order to gain an advantage over one another. A Trump victory would seriously affect the balance of power in Russia and China’s favour. All that remains to be seen is whether this possibility will affect the way millions of Americans vote when they go to the polls on November 8th. The pleasing aspect for the Russians and the Chinese is the not inconsiderable possibility that it will not.

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