Tamir Pardo
Tamir Pardo Ofir Vaknin

Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo warned today against the danger to Western democracies posed by Russian influence on public discourse. "No Russian army could've done this kind of damage like in the United States recently: To reach mutual suspicion, hostility, and ultimately violence," Pardo said at The Marker's digital conference.

"The great danger is that countries will begin to disintegrate from within," added the former Mossad head. "If we have to wait for proof until we do something, it's very sad. Cyber doesn't bring entire cities to dust and blood in the streets, the war is much cleaner. The time has come to understand that this is the threat today to humanity, to the State of Israel, and to every democratic Western country, and it is appropriate to take steps.

"There are those who think that President Trump, who was then a candidate, was a member of some Russian gang that made sure he would eventually reach the White House. It seems to me that the Russians examined the presidential candidates and asked themselves who was the most comfortable candidate for Mother Russia to sit in the White House. Who could put Russia in its rightful place? When they examined the chain of candidates and for various reasons concluded that candidate Donald Trump would suit them most, they operated the system throughout the election campaign and had influence."

Pardo noted that the response to the threat was policy. "With a combination of technological capabilities, social finesse, and regulation very much can be done. Imagine a situation where I would charge you one cent if you wanted to open a Twitter account. Would it make life more difficult? For the Russians too. Opening 50 thousand bank accounts isn't simple. Alongside all the wonderful things that exist in social networks, there are also dangers. Understanding means you have to see how to build the system in a way that knows how to monitor it."

However, the former intelligence official estimated that politicians around the world would not take the necessary steps. "I don't see a president coming out of the White House after a year-and-a-half or two and telling the public 'I'm sitting here by mistake.' Politicians from all over the world think it serves them too. I think they're wrong. At one point Trump might have thought the Russian move served him. This move could destroy him."

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