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Key Words: Exploiting weakness, Russian election hack could ultimately expose strength of American democracy

Once the U.S. intelligence community came to the conclusion that Russian state actors had interfered in aspects of the 2016 presidential election, a question immediately arose as to whether the Kremlin sought to tilt the scale decisively in Donald Trump’s favor or the highest ambition of its alleged hacking and disinformation campaigns during the run-up to the U.S. vote was merely a marginal diminution of faith in Western-style democracy. Consensus seemed to form around the notion that the latter came closer to truth.

Surveying the postelection status quo, an Obama administration official quoted in the much-discussed New Yorker story ”Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War,” frames an alternate, and ultimately more hopeful, question:

‘To me, the question might finally come down to this: Will [Russian President] Putin expose the failings of American democracy or will he inadvertently expose the strength of American democracy?’

Celeste Wallander, senior adviser on Russia, Obama White House

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