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New Republic December Issue: How To Attack A Democracy

New York, NY (November 2, 2017) — After the Mueller investigation’s first round of indictments on Monday, there is still much to learn about the true extent of Russia’s influence on the 2016 election and how to prevent similar actions in the future. With growing knowledge of how Russia used Facebook ads to deliver targeted messaging to specific demographics, the true depth of their cyber capabilities is still unknown. To better understand what cyber warfare may look like and its crippling impact, an attack from 2007 provides a look at what the Russians may be capable of and why it’s time to prepare.

For the December issue cover story “Weaken From Within,” Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus examine the massive 2007 cyber attack on Estonia. Considered Web War I, the attack left Estonia’s digital infrastructure completely paralyzed from April 26th, 2007 (when it began) until May 19, 2007 when they finally, literally, pulled the plug to end it. With Russia already featuring this tactic in their manual of war, Grassegger and Krogerus write, “The question is how the West can maintain the core values of freedom of speech and the free flow of information while protecting itself from the constant presence of malevolent geopolitical actors.” Cyber warfare is a way to defeat the enemy without ever actually having to be on the ground.    


As the President of the NAACP, Ben Jealous was considered the “de facto president of black America.” Then in 2013, it stepped down abruptly. In “After the NAACP,” Jamil Smith profiles the former NAACP president who is now running for Governor of Maryland. Chronicling his time working for Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign at the age of 14 to his stint at Columbia where he became one of the first students suspended in two decades for protesting the university’s plan to tear down the place where Malcolm X was assassinated, Jealous’s career has been one of influence. As Jealous now pursues a place in office, questions now emerge about the status of the NAACP since his departure and whether or not the organization can reemerge as a leader and pivotal force in this time of mass social and political activism.

How does a former Al Queda recruiter go on to become an FBI informant and later university fellow and researcher? Tiffany Stanley’s “Only Human” provides an in-depth look into American ex-jihadi Jesse Morton’s quest to rebuild his life. Morton’s rise, and subsequent fall after being set-up when he responded to an ad for prostitution and was found to have cocaine and other drug paraphernalia in his car, speaks to how de-radicalization is only one part of the larger mental-health struggles “formers” face when the walk away from extremism. As Stanley highlights in the profile, the transition from jihadi to patriot isn’t really so seamless, rapid, and complete. Jesse Morton is a prime example of that.

This past September, the Trump administration announced its plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program impacting the future of over 800,000 Dreamers living in the United States. ICE meanwhile continues to target the parents and spouses of American citizens while police officers arrest schoolchildren suspected of being members of Central American gangs. Over the past five years, photographer Ellen Jacob has been bringing these stories to life as showcased in the photo essay “Inhospitable.” As Karla Cornejo Villavicencio writes in the introduction, “With photos like these, it can no longer be said that immigrants live in the shadows… We are strangers in the land of Egypt who have walked so long, given so much, and are simply asking to be allowed to stay in this country we call home.”


This month is Up Front, Margaret E. Peters examines why Republicans are no longer listening to businesses on immigration. “The reason the GOP has embraced anti-immigration policies actually has little to do with rising nativism,” writes Peters in “None Of Their Business?” “Instead, it’s because most businesses simply don’t care about immigration the way they used to.” As the debate over surveillance reform heats up in Washington, Elizabeth Goitein examines what it would take to actually control the NSA’s domestic spying. In “Anti-Sanctuary Armies,” Alex Shephard looks at how local and state jurisdictions have embraced the Trump administration’s agenda of deporting undocumented immigrants. Through the government’s 278(g) program, local police can function as federal immigration officers leading raids and initiating deportations. And on the environmental front, the Trump administration has continued to loosen regulations related to toxic coal waste—often at the behest of coal companies themselves. With over 1,000 coal-ash storage sites across the country, Emily Atkin looks at how Trump is making this growing public-health hazard even more critical.

Andrew J. Bacevich and Corey Robin contribute columns this month. “Since becoming president, Trump has largely ceded decision-making on the conduct of America’s wars to the very generals he derided while running for office,” writes Bacevich in “Leave It To The Generals.” With the recent implementation of R+4, a new strategy meant to be the next phase of America’s war in Afghanistan, Trump’s inability to actually decide on the direction of any warfare leaves the generals to make decisions the only way they know how. Tax reform is at the top of the Trump administration’s current agenda. In “Trump’s Fantasy Capitalism,” Robin provides insight into Trump’s hostility toward the market and how he may in fact be the biggest liability to the process. “Trump’s economy is built almost entirely on wish and whimsy, spectacle and diversion—what he likes to call ‘truthful hyperbole,” writes Robin. “To him, the economy is a game, and he likes to win.” 


In her review of Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Vivian Gornick explores how the book uses the events of Wilder’s life to track the development of the America and its people. As the Wilders went on their ongoing quest for opportunity and wealth, they like many who took advantage of the Homestead Act of 1812 didn’t recognize the hardships that lay ahead. With the Wilders being populists in their own right—a minority voice in America during the 1930s—Gornick compares their views to that of today’s Trump followers. “The Wilders among us now occupy a position so influential they have been able to elect someone of their on persuasion to the American presidency. The frontier mentality they still embody is less likely to shore up a potentially failing democracy than to wreck it altogether.”

Timothy Shenk looks at the rise of policy in politics in “Wonk Republic.” Sharing insights from The Policy State, Karen Orren and Stephen Skowronek in-depth look into the making and remaking of American institutions, Shenk highlights how they, “uncover a transformation that revolutionized American politics and now threatens to tear it apart.”

Jedediah Purdy reviews James C. Scott’s Against the Grain, which argues that early civilization was actually a disaster to humankind. Scott “reworks the entire canvas of history by reconsidering its origins through the lens of state-formation.” In “Muscle Memory,” Christian Caryl chronicles Russia’s transformation from faltering democracy in the 1990s to the Putinist present, citing Masha Gessen’s new book The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. Rachel Syme reviews Alice Grace, a new mini-series adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel. As Syme writes, “this is a show about a woman who has lost everything but her secrets, which are her most valuable and coveted possession.” Christian Lorentzen on how the new film The Killing of a Sacred Deed is a “dour series of degradations” compared to the director Yorgos Lanthimos’s previous films.

Poems by Calvin Wei, Cecily Parks, and Rae Armantrout are featured this month. For Backstory, photographer James Whitlow Delano provides a tragic look at Duterte’s fatal crackdown on drugs and crime in the Philippines.

The December issue of the The New Republic is on newsstands today.

For additional information, please contact Steph Leke