Explainers April 10, 2019

Using Transparency to Deter Russia’s Asymmetric Attacks on the West

Russia is a relatively weak state on the international stage. A former great power, today it has a gross domestic product roughly equal to that of New York state; this feeds into the country’s insecurity about its role in the world and its economic and military strength compared with those of its chief competitors. Russia knows it cannot compete with the West on an even playing field. Thus, it has developed a shadowy, asymmetric strategy to subvert opponents and alter the global status quo. A key part of this approach is the country’s strategic use of ambiguity. As the United States responds to these attacks, and seeks to prevent future ones, it must take into account that public transparency, as well as its relationships with allies, are integral to any effective response.

It is with this in mind that policymakers should view the ongoing dispute between Congress and the U.S. attorney general regarding the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted this past Wednesday to subpoena the full, unredacted Mueller report and its underlying evidence. The vote comes after U.S. Attorney General William Barr failed to meet the April 2 deadline that the committee’s chairman, Jerry Nadler (D-NY), gave him to provide the documents.

Congress needs to see the full report and underlying evidence for many reasons—not least of which are the scores of unanswered questions about the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. Included on this list are the details of the more than 100 contacts between Kremlin-linked operatives and the Trump campaign, all of which the involved parties denied. The American people deserve to know the truth and to have confidence in the systems that form the pillars of U.S. democracy.