The CIA’s conclusion that Russia intervened to swing last November’s presidential election in favour of Donald Trump, may be hard to swallow for some.

This investigation may also have implications for the integrity of Britain’s Brexit referendum last June.

Additionally, it could determine how upcoming elections in France and Germany may be vulnerable to Russian manipulation.

Such reports, if they are truthful, would make anyone question the stability and solidity of every Western democracy. Imagine if the politics and electoral outcome of a country such as the USA, can be influenced by apparently a coordinated group of hackers and internet trolls, or the funding of another country like Russia.

Such possibility, shatters really the validity of our elections, referendums and the very political system that we are so very proud of in Europe; democracy.

But are such conclusions real, or is it an attempt of the Western elites to discredit the undesirable electoral outcome, influencing their countries’ public opinion by using Russia as a “boogeyman”?

Or perhaps they wish to place the blame for their failures on the usual scapegoat. Russia, just as the USSR, still serves as the reason why we need to spend millions for protection, defence mechanisms, military spending and so on.

During the past we needed a powerful alliance like NATO, to protect ourselves from the Soviet threat. So if Russia is launching a cyber-war on us, then why isn’t Europe today developing its own cyber-defence system?

Each state in Europe has obviously its own intelligence agency, but when faced with well organised “attacks” by countries like Russia, China or even our own very allies like the USA, perhaps we could coordinate our resources better.

A truly united and strong European continent, could pose many challenges and act as a threat to other potential global players. Therefore, if what these reports are claiming is true and our elections are being targeted by Russia or any of our competitors, we will have to defend ourselves.

Nevertheless, this defence towards such attacks, should not necessarily be us hacking or interfering with our competitors’ elections or internal affairs. Rather informing our own citizens about the reality of the situation.

The EU should get its own group of “trolls”, which instead of spreading lies and false news, they should do the opposite. Spread facts and information.

There are plenty of pro-EU enthusiasts, bloggers, journalists, campaigners and civic society groups from across the block, that can be employed to promote better knowledge of what the EU does, or how it works.

Debunking any myths could be our best line of defence, preferably before the alleged foreign “trolls” are able to infiltrate our social media to spread their agenda or lies.

However, we have to understand that the biggest “enemy”, is not Russia or any other “power” outside the EU. Our worse enemy is our own governments, plus that of our allies such as the USA.

It is them who fail us with their disastrous policies, corruption, nationalism, conservative nation centred politics while serving the vested interests of a handful of the upper class from within our countries, or the powerful Western elites.

They haven’t grasped that people are fed up with their neo-liberal agenda, paying for the banks, the euro and to support this outdated capitalist system, which is in urgent need of reforms.

Our leaders on both side of the Atlantic, have ignored the needs or voices of the ordinary citizens for too long, yet now it is Putin’s trolls and agents that are posing a major threat to our democracy.

Even if there is some truth in this, we will have to do some serious soul-searching first, to find why people are turning against our political and economic system or establishment, the EU, its role and achievements.

We can not blame others before we fix the cracks in our political structure. We also need to realise that our own media can also be biased, serving the interests of equally destructive for our societies agendas, coming from within our countries or group of allies.

Assuming that Europe is serious about succeeding and moving forward, becoming a major player in the globe, then our national governments should stop standing in the way for starters. We either move forward with this project or we do not.

If our governments are sabotaging the EU itself, often siding with Russia, the US or any other global power to serve their own interests, then they can not blame anyone else for interfering.

It is them that become a threat to democracy and our political system, our values and the future of our future generations.

People are unaware or ignorant about their national or European politics and reality because the truth has been purposely twisted or withheld from them for too long, by their entrusted governments and leaders. It is no wonder then that they are easily manipulated by the “trolls” of Russia or any other infiltrator.

The EU has an increasing number of supporters and followers, willing to work and share their knowledge and enthusiasm with their fellow citizens. This is a valuable pool of existing resource, that is unexploited.

If only our national governments allowed the EU to fund its own collective intelligence, comprised by an active civil society but also a European version of FBI or CIA, then nobody would be able to manipulate or influence its elections and internal affairs.

This could form the backbone of our defence towards “meddling” from the outside, securing the political stability that our continent needs to achieve its goals for the future.

The more we delay this development, the further we will be weakened by more coordinated and organised cyber campaigns against European unity.
Our countries are small and form easy pickings for bigger players in the globe, comfortably corrupted and manipulated, turned on each other.

Populism and nationalism can never offer solutions to this problem. Our interests for a future stable and prosperous continent, lie in a more integrated Europe, not a divided one.

Christos Mouzeviris
Christos Mouzeviris is a Greek journalist and photographer based in Dublin. Christos is a pro-European federalist.

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