U.S. Senator Ben Cardin Releases Report Detailing Two Decades of Putin’s Attacks on Democracy, Calling for Policy Changes to Counter Kremlin Threat Ahead of 2018, 2020 Elections

January 10, 2018

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin Releases Report Detailing Two Decades of Putin’s Attacks on Democracy, Calling for Policy Changes to Counter Kremlin Threat Ahead of 2018, 2020 Elections

U.S. Remains Vulnerable to Russian Interference without Unequivocal Presidential Leadership, Learning Lessons from European Democracies 

Top Foreign Relations Committee Democrat Makes Series of Recommendations to Counter Putin’s Asymmetric Arsenal, Bolster Defenses Ahead of Future U.S., European, Elections


WASHINGTON – A Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report released Wednesday and commissioned by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the Committee’s ranking member, details Russian president Vladimir Putin’s nearly two decades-long assault on democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law across Europe and in his own country. The report comes one year after Senator Cardin introduced the Counteracting Russian Hostilities Act of 2017, which served as the basis for the sanctions package signed into law last August, and makes a series of recommendations to adequately bolster U.S. and European defenses and counter the growing Kremlin threat to democratic institutions.

Putin’s Asymmetrical Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security,” finds that President Trump’s refusal to publicly acknowledge the threat posed by the Russian government has hampered efforts to mobilize our government, strengthen our institutions, and work with our European allies to counter Putin’s interference in democracies abroad.

Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president, and without a strong U.S. response, institutions and elections here and throughout Europe will remain vulnerable to the Kremlin’s aggressive and sophisticated malign influence operations.

“As the extent of Russia’s obvious meddling in the 2016 U.S. election continues to be investigated, it is imperative that the American people better understand the true scope and scale of Putin’s pattern of undermining democracy in Russia and across Europe. That is why I commissioned this report shortly after the 2016 election,” Senator Cardin said. “This threat existed long before President Trump took office, and unless he takes action now, it will continue long after his administration.  While President Trump stands practically idle, Mr. Putin continues to refine his asymmetric arsenal and look for future opportunities to disrupt governance and erode support for the democratic and international institutions that the United States and Europe have built over the last 70 years.

“President Trump must be clear-eyed about the Russian threat, take action to strengthen our government’s response and our institutions, and – as have other president’s in times of crisis – mobilize our country and work with an international coalition to counter the threat and assert our values,” Cardin continued.

Across eight chapters and several appendices, the report meticulously details the tools the Russian government has repeatedly deployed from its asymmetric arsenal, and how the Kremlin has learned and perfected its techniques attacking democracy both internally and abroad. Such tools – drawn largely from a Soviet-era playbook, but updated with new technologies – include military incursions, cyberattacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups, and the weaponization of energy resources, organized crime and corruption.

Putin first developed his techniques at home, against his own people. In Russia, he repressed independent civil society, journalists, and the political opposition, while manipulating cultural and religious institutions, the media, and fueling a corrupt kleptocracy to bolster his regime and increase his net worth. Putin’s increasing aggression abroad is directly related to his need to maintain power at home. As he looks to maintain power in Russia, he is likely to step up his attacks on democracies around the world.

Some European countries have shored up their democracies with a strategic, whole-of-government approach: publicly warning Moscow of consequences if it meddles; mobilizing various sectors of society to neutralize and push back against Kremlin disinformation; and confronting Russian efforts to use corruption as a tool of influence. It is time for the United States to take similar actions.

The report includes more than 30 recommendations for the U.S. and its allies.  Key recommendations include:

  • First, Mr. Trump must demonstrate presidential leadership by declaring it is U.S. policy to deter all forms of Russian hybrid threats and begin to mobilize our government in defense. He should establish a high-level inter-agency fusion cell, modeled on the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), to coordinate all elements of U.S. policy and programming in response to the Kremlin’s malign influence operations.
  • Second, the U.S. government should provide assistance, in concert with allies in Europe, to build democratic institutions within those European and Eurasian states most vulnerable to Russian government interference. As part of this effort, the President should convene an annual global summit on hybrid threats, modeled on the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL or the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) summits. To reinforce these efforts, members in the U.S. Congress have a clear responsibility to show U.S. leadership on values by making democracy and human rights a central part of their agendas. They should conduct committee hearings and use other platforms and opportunities to publicly advance these issues.
  • Third, the United States and our allies should expose and freeze Kremlin-linked dirty money.  The U.S. Treasury Department should make public any intelligence related to Mr. Putin’s personal corruption and wealth stored abroad, and take steps with our European allies to cut off Mr. Putin and his inner circle from the international financial system.
  • Fourth, the U.S. government should designate countries that employ malign influence operations to assault democracies as State Hybrid Threat Actors and subject them to a preemptive, escalatory sanctions regime that would be applied whenever the state uses asymmetric weapons like cyberattacks to interfere with a democratic election or disrupt a country’s critical infrastructure. The U.S. government should also produce yearly public reports that detail the Russian government’s malign influence operations in the U.S. and around the world.
  • Fifth, the U.S. government and NATO should lead a coalition of countries committed to mutual defense against cyberattacks, to include the establishment of rapid reaction teams to defend allies under attack. The U.S. government should also call a special meeting of the NATO heads of state to review the extent of Russian government-sponsored cyberattacks among member states and develop formal guidelines on how the Alliance will consider such attacks in the context of NATO’s Article 5 collective defense provision.
  • Finally, U.S. and European governments should mandate that social media companies make public the sources of funding for political advertisements, along the same lines as TV channels and print media. Social media companies should conduct comprehensive audits on how their platforms may have been used by Kremlin-linked entities to influence elections occurring over the past several years, and should establish civil society advisory councils to provide input and warnings about emerging disinformation trends and government suppression. In addition, they should work with philanthropies, governments, and civil society to promote media literacy and reduce the presence of disinformation on their platforms.

The full report and some accompanying summary documents can be found at the following links:


Press Contact

Sean Bartlett, 202.224.4651, Sean_Bartlett@foreign.senate.gov



Steve Schwartzberg,”A Passionate Pro-Labor Social Democrat for Congress

“A passionate pro-labor Social Democrat.” That is how Steve Schwartzberg was described in an October 2005 review of his first book in the journal Foreign Affairs. Throughout his writings—whether he is talking about American support for the postwar land reform in Japan that benefited millions of small farmers, or American support for democratic working-class movements in Latin America in the 1940s, or the failure of the United States to respect tribal sovereignty that culminated in the genocidal Trail of Tears and Death in the 1830s—Steve has shown himself to be a consistent champion of social justice and of social democratic principles.

As a high school student active in the SDUSA in the late 1970s, Steve helped lobby the Congress to help rescue the “boat people,” the hundreds of thousands of Indochinese refugees risking their lives on the South China Sea to escape communist totalitarianism. As a college student in the early 1980s, he helped raise funds to be smuggled into Poland to help the Solidarity underground in its fight for democracy and free trade unions. In recent years, he has volunteered, and helped organize volunteers, to provide free clothes and free food to the homeless, canvassed door-to-door for Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and then canvassed for Hillary Clinton in the general.

Steve has championed Medicare for All. He has championed a Marshall Plan for America involving massive investment in the nation’s infrastructure as well as a national commitment to “decarbonize” our economy. And he has championed a Freedom Budget for the 21st Century with which to begin to abolish poverty through investments in education and housing and job training. Steve has always stood for what the American people could do to help themselves, and the rest of the world, to build a more just, prosperous, and ecologically-sound future.

Having fought for many worthy causes over the decades, both at home and abroad, the SDUSA is delighted to endorse Steve Schwartzberg in the Democratic primary in the Illinois 5th District.

New Year’s Letter to our Members & Friends Announcing the Contract between ProQuest & SDUSA to Digitize the SP Papers & Documents that are Archived at the Library at Duke University

Dear Comrades & Friends;

We are writing to wish you a Happiest of Holidays and a great New Year and to inform you of a major development for our organization and its members. 2017 was a difficult year for all of us. We have suffer through the first year of the Donald Trump Administration. We still cannot believe that this man is our president. Therefore, we have been an essential part of the Resistance opposing him. In fact, we began this resistance, immediately after the 2016 election with our “Keeping the Political Revolution Alive” conference that was held on November 19, 2016 in Buffalo N.Y, that was organized by SD’s 1st Vice Chair, Comrade Michael Mottern. We held our National Convention in August and were able to share a video of the public forum to all of our members and friends on our website. We passed various resolutions at the Convention, including “Religion and Reproductive Justice,” “American Drug Policy,” endorsing the “People’s Platform.” Specifically controversial was the introduction of a resolution, “After Fifty Years of Occupation, A Social Democratic/Democratic Zionist Case Critically Endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.” This resolution was sent to the National Committee where it was passed by a very narrow margin. At the same time, the members who opposed this resolution were encouraged to write a minority report with their alternative proposals to critically endorsing the BDS movement. No one was ostracized for their opinion on this very contentious issue in our discussion on the BDS resolution. However, the fact that this kind of resolution was submitted to our national convention and later approved by the NC, is prove positive that the reorganized Social Democrats, USA, has evolved and can no longer be charged as being neoconservative. On the other hand, the SD remains explicitly committed to the survival and security of Israel alongside a state of Palestine on the West Bank & Gaza with Jerusalem as the capital of both states. And we remain firm in our critique of the political anti-Zionism that is expressed on both the Alt-Right and much of the Left, as oppose to constructive criticisms of aspect of Zionist ideology and history of the movement that still affirms the right of the Jewish people to self determination.

Therefore,we hope that 2018 is fruitful and positive for all of us, with a continuing resurgence of the Left in the United States, ending the year with the defeat of the Republican majority in Congress and many state governments. We have been doing our part in achieving this goal. Despite, the small size of the SD, our treasurer Rick D’Loss has been a elected member of the city council of Carnegie, Pennsylvania since 2009, as a socialist in the Democratic Party. Steven Schwartzberg, a SD member since the 1970s, is running for Congress for the Illinois 5th District, under the slogan, “Stands Where Bernie Sanders Does: Social Democratic Leadership for the Illinois 5th District.” Comrade Schwartzberg states, “I am running for Congress because I am a social democrat who thinks that it is time for a moral as well as a political revolution in this country. I believe that my background and skills will enable me to help advance that twin revolution better than any of the other candidates in the race.”

Please go to http://www.schwartzbergforcongress.com/#home for information about Steve and his campaign.

This is the first of a series of letters to our members & friends discussing how the SD can grow and prosper politically in 2018 and beyond. We also need to hear suggestions, ideas and proposals from you. We know that this is a very dangerous time for the U.S and the world. You can reach me at DHacker300@aol.com or 516-669-1748. The aurora of authoritarianism is coming from the White House, while the Republican Congress seeks to undo the entire legacy of the New Deal. Yes, the Class Struggle is real. And we know which side we are on. The side of Workers and the poor of all races, sexes, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. But we need your help. Whatever you can donate-especially if you have not paid your dues for 2017. Please send in your donations to Rick D’Loss at 225 E. Main St. Carnegie, Pa. 15106.

We are also writing to let you know that ProQuest, a Ann Arbor, Michigan-based global information-content and technology company founded in 1938 as University Microfilms has chosen Social Democrats,USA as the sole and rightful heir to the original Socialist Party of America and its legacy and ownership of the SP papers & documents that are archived at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and University Archives at Duke University. This is not only a wonderful and meaningful honor. It has great legal/practical implications and benefits. – not the least of which will be future funding streams for the SDUSA and the access it will afford our members and others will be priceless. ProQuest has signed a contract with Duke University to scan and digitize the following materials: Socialist Party of America Papers (1897-1963)

Socialist Party of America Papers, Addendum (1919-1976).

As the legally recognized Licensor of these papers, the SD has to agree to give ProQuest permission to scan and digitize this archival collection. We have signed an agreement with ProQuest to proceed with this project. This is the agreement:

As for royalties from sales of the digitized collection, we reached the following agreement

This means that both the SD and Duke University will get 10 percent of the revenue of any sale of the Licensed SP papers. In addition, all members of Social Democrats USA will have free access to the digitized SP Papers archives. We have also discussed with ProQuest scanning and digitizing the Social Democrats, USA Records, 1937-1994 (Bulk 1970-1994) that are also at Duke University Library’s Rubinstein Archives.

We encourage you to use this amazing collection after the completion of the project in 2020. In the meantime, there are collection of Leftist papers, books, organizational journals, newsletters, etc. even art and political posters available to all of you, and accessible from your home. If you need recommendations and/or help visiting these collections, do not hesitate to contact David Hacker. I cannot overstate how important this agreement with ProQuest and their choice of us as the legal heir to the historic Socialist Party of Eugene V Debs & Norman Thomas. Comrades, this is hugh! The debate over which organization is the legal successor of the SP is over. The SDUSA is the historic SP. In future letters, I will discuss the full political meaning of this fact and how it gives our organization the flexibility to both work in the Democratic Party and also run independent local campaigns under the SP logo.

Yours in Solidarity;

Patty Friend, National Chair: SDUSA David Hacker, National Secretary: SDUSA

Socialists See an Opening for Change


Social Democrats USA passed key resolutions and discussed a strategy to move the country forward in their Biennial National Convention in Carnegie, Pa. on Aug. 11-12.

Social Democrats USA is a faction of the old Eugene Debs/Norman Thomas Socialist Party. The Socialist Party of America merged with the Social Democratic Federation, once a part of the Socialist Party, in 1956 to form Socialist Party/Social Democratic Federation. Socialist Party/Social Democratic Federation changed its name to Social Democrats USA in 1972.

Internal differences led to a three-way party split. One faction formed a political party, Socialist Party USA, which still exists to this day, and another faction formed the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. The DSOC later merged with the New American Movement to form the Democratic Socialists of America, an organization that still exists today. The Democratic Socialists of America has experienced a membership surge in the aftermath of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. SDUSA is a smaller organization.

“We trace our beginnings right back to the old Socialist Party of Eugene Debs,” SDUSA secretary-treasurer Rick D’Loss said. “There’s no other group around today that can say that. Debs originally belonged to a party called Social Democratic Party of America.”

SDUSA’s national office, once located in New York City, folded in 2005. This left the organization with a local affiliate in Johnstown, Pa. The people from the local spearheaded a revival in 2007. D’Loss believes in the potential for average people to work for change.

“Your average person that isn’t political or even particularly progressive believes in making things better,” he said. “The Democratic Socialists of America are pretty much radical leftists and not everyone is going to join a group like that. The guy on the street doesn’t see himself as a radical leftist and Social Democrats USA is a place where an average guy can fit in and say ‘we just want to make things better than they are now. We think people should be able to go to the doctor or make a better wage.’ They’re not radical people, they just want to make things better.”

At the SDUSA Board meeting on Aug. 11, the board passed a resolution supporting the decriminalization of marijuana. The resolution said decriminalization would mean less contact between police forces and those they police. Less contact would mean a more positive environment between police forces and the civilian community. In addition, the resolution also supported drug treatment programs.

The SDUSA Board also passed a resolution supporting the liberating force of religion as well as the separation of church and state. The resolution also committed the organization to a pro-choice position on abortion. It also supported expanded access to adoption services and sex education. The Board also committed Social Democrats to the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s People’s Budget which includes bold planks like universal healthcare and education, taxing Wall Street and transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

The Board also discussed a resolution supporting arms control and a foreign policy where diplomacy is front and center. The newly introduced resolution will be discussed at a later date. The resolution might be considered a break from the past. Some past members of SDUSA became what is termed “neoconservatives.” In the 1970’s Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee head Michael Harrington criticized the organization for its “obsessive anti-communism.” Harrington supported German Chancellor Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik, a policy of dealing with the Soviet Union in a diplomatic manner.

Carl Gershman, who was Executive Director of SDUSA from 1975-1980, served in the Reagan Administration as the US Representative to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights. Joshua Muravchick also belonged to SDUSA at one time. Muravchick, an advocate of the 2003 Iraq War, served on the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion from 2002 to 2009.

Shortly after passing the resolution, SDUSA National Chair Patty Friend conducted a meeting on organizing SDUSA locals. Friend presented a simple philosophy on organizing.

“The biggest part of organizing is showing up,” she said. “Organizing is everything. It’s wonderful to have a broad base of people that think like you, but it’s not enough to have a base of people thinking the right thoughts. You need to be able to take action. The power of a group will always be bigger and more long-lasting than the power of one.”

Friend said the organization wanted for members to be active in local progressive causes and to charter locals. The national convention included a forum on Aug. 12 at Off the Wall Productions in Carnegie. Stressing the democratic ideology of the group, there was a banner that said “pro-democracy, pro-labor,” displayed in front of all live speakers. Friend, D’Loss and Michael Mottern moderated a discussion with European social democratic leaders via Skype. Veselin Tonev and Emil Knyazhin of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, Zsolt Csiszár of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party and Christian Hörbelt, a graduate Student at the Europa-Universität Viadrina, discussed the rise of European right-wing populism, the past of social democracy in Europe and the steps it has to take to regain a foothold on the continent.

The second session featured Union Edge talk radio host Charles Showalter speaking on the accomplishments of the labor movement. Union Edge is the only labor-oriented talk radio program in the Pittsburgh region. Carnegie is an inner-ring suburb of Pittsburgh. Showalter talked of the struggles of organizing unions amongst a hostile political environment and also the positive economic side of the union movement. He said that higher union wages lead to more money being spent in local communities.

The third section included University of California at San Diego Sociologist Lane Kenworthy. Kenworthy penned a book “Social Democratic America.” The sociologist reiterated the point stressed in his book and that’s that the United States will become more social democratic in the next 50 years. He talked about the need for wage-loss insurance, a higher minimum wage, increased educational opportunity, expanded early childhood education and more generous unemployment insurance and social security.

Jason Sibert worked for the Suburban Journals in the St. Louis area for over a decade and is currently executive director of the Peace Economy Project in St. Louis, Mo. Email jasonsibert@hotmail.com.

From The Progressive Populist, September 15, 2017