An excerpt from the op-ed follows:
Given the attention accorded to Vladimir Putin’s efforts to undermine American politics, one might think that Russian intelligence has the most accomplished spooks and computer geeks in the world. That is surely not the case. Its successes in the United States surrounding the 2016 election have much more to do with American weakness—how much liberals and conservatives loathe each other—than with Moscow’s prowess and planning. It’s an excellent guess that Putin’s men had no idea that their actions would become such grand theater.
We need to decompress and soberly assess the threat that Moscow actually poses to the foreigner-resistant, gladiatorial sport that is American elections. Driven by the shock of Donald Trump’s victory, many Americans are caught in an Internet nightmare in which Russians ruthlessly attack and we lamely defend. Whatever the investigations of special counsel Robert Mueller reveal, this mania is, unfortunately, likely to get worse.
A historical perspective: During the Cold War, nonmilitary covert action—clandestine operations that seek to advance a political mission—was a peculiar endeavor. Intelligence services had to invest time, effort, and sometimes significant amounts of money in work of very uncertain return. The Central Intelligence Agency usually had a pretty sensible approach to this in the “golden era” of covert action before the 1970s: It would find anti-Communist democrats and simply let them do what they did, just with more money to do it.
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.