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US Election Results Vulnerable To Computer Hacking


bludog
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Recent Russian computer hacking of voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois put a spotlight on how vulnerable computers that do not leave a paper trail are to electronic tampering; Especially touch screens. Computer hacking of the widely used touch-screen voting machines, without a paper record, could swing elections in the US. Or at least create election mayhem.

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-election-hackers-fraud-20160830-story.html

Reports this week of Russian intrusions into U.S. election systems have startled many voters, but computer experts are not surprised. They have long warned that Americans vote in a way that's so insecure that hackers could change the outcome of races at the local, state and even national level.

- snip -

When it comes to voting machines, experts say the most secure systems rely on the strengths of old technologies and new ones. Voting machines with optical scanners, for example, use computer technology to read paper ballots in which voters fill in a bubble next to their preferred candidates. This creates both an electronic tally and a paper record, as do some newer touch-screen systems.

The combination is difficult for even the most sophisticated hackers to defeat. Some states require automatic auditing of selected results to verify that computerized and paper totals are the same. In the case of controversy, recounting is a possible if cumbersome remedy.

- snip -

Systems that collect only digital records offer many possible targets for hackers - at polling machines, at counting stations and on the computers that collect and tally up overall results for a jurisdiction. Princeton researchers showed in 2006 that one widely deployed electronic voting machine was vulnerable to a virus that could be carried on cartridges used to collect totals. Once installed, such a virus could quietly tweak results for years without detection.

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What should happen if it is discovered that the Russians were able to hack the election in the following three cases:

  1. They succeeded in hacking but the hacks did not change the ultimate outcome.
  2. They succeeded in hacking but the hacks changed the ultimate outcome from Clinton to Trump.
  3. They succeeded in hacking but the hacks changed the ultimate outcome from Trump to Clinton.

In each of these cases, if we find out immediately after the election, what should the country do?

 

Side note: If the feds move to protect the States' electoral systems against hacking, and then Clinton wins, the right will accuse the Dems of having fixed the election.

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Interesting questions. Proceeding on the assumption that Trump is not in this for the sole purpose of cashing in on a HUUGE windfall after the election is over:

 

There are still over two month to fix this; But since the individual states control by what means the votes are recorded and counted probably nothing much will chance prior to the election. But the Putin has already tipped his mitt and no longer has surprise on his side. Election officials will be watching. But if the Feds mandate a nationwide hack-resistant electoral system and Clinton wins, of course Trump will scream bloody murder. But he has already bellowed to his followers that the only way Clinton can possible beat him is by cheating. No matter the facts or reality, expect a defeated Trump to claim he was robbed.

 

Since all indications are that Putin and Russia back Trump, a Russian hack is unlikely to change the outcome from Trump to Clinton.

 

But if they succeed in falsifying enough votes to overturn a Clinton victory and install Trump as president, he and the Republicans will probably fight tooth and nail to deny tampering and prevent Clinton from claiming her rightful position. They might try to pull of another Gore-Bush type election swindle by immediately trying to ram another dominating, far right conservative judge onto the Supreme Court. For sure, power in the hands of Trump would equal blatant abuse of power. His business career shows this. Would Clinton just quietly fade away like Gore? Who would ever have expected Gore to slink away in shadow? If Hillary put up a fight, would Trump, as Commander-In-Chief invoke martial law? I am guessing he would.

 

In the event of a Trump victory by swindle, a tremendous amount of what's probable depends on the makeup of Congress after the election, which could also be subject to a Russian hack job. Trump is 70 and has been the boss all his life as his father before him. He can be counted on to pay as little attention to Congress as possible, unless they back him to the hilt.

 

If a Russian hack that failed to sway the election and was discovered afterward, it would be time to put a better system in place, nationwide.

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Computer hacking would be an easy thing to do and no one would ever know.

It's probably happened for 20 years or more.

 

Red states could have it help red candidates, same with the blue states.

Even with paper printouts from the voting machines, can you imagine the difficulty of getting all those printouts together in case of a contested race, copying, fake printouts, damaged ones??

 

Unless there is a National standard, govt controlled coding, anti hack, for the machines, we can and will at the mercy of fraud.

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I worry more about the owners of the ballot counting machines hacking our elections than the Russians. There is tons of evidence they have been hacking our elections for years and no

 

What should happen if it is discovered that the Russians were able to hack the election in the following three cases:

  1. They succeeded in hacking but the hacks did not change the ultimate outcome.
  2. They succeeded in hacking but the hacks changed the ultimate outcome from Clinton to Trump.
  3. They succeeded in hacking but the hacks changed the ultimate outcome from Trump to Clinton.

In each of these cases, if we find out immediately after the election, what should the country do?

 

Side note: If the feds move to protect the States' electoral systems against hacking, and then Clinton wins, the right will accuse the Dems of having fixed the election.

The election of 2000 was hacked from various sources and changed the ultimate outcome from Gore to bush. There was a media consortium who went to work, actually counting the ballots. Of course they found significant fraud from the GOP that could not be undone. Even with that election fraud, the GOP (bush) did not win the election. Gore received more votes and should have been awarded more electors in the electoral college. The New York times, later admitted that when the count was done Gore should have been declared president, however, this happened right after the 9/11 disaster and they made an editorial decision not to announce bush was illegitimate right after the attack.

 

So from history, it looks like nothing would be done.

one seems to care, so why bother now? Even if the election is hacked, the USSC can still void the election and appoint the guy they want.

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so why bother now? Even if the election is hacked, the USSC can still void the election and appoint the guy they want.

 

DonJoe, I'm still asking the questions I asked. I know you gave the answer you wanted to give, but it wasn't to what I asked.

 

What I asked are hard questions, and someone may eventually have to answer them. I hope not, but you never know. So I threw it out for discussion. Changing the subject and saying "why bother?" is discussion, and youre perfectly free to discuss (obviously) but it isn't an answer to the questions.

 

But if they succeed in falsifying enough votes to overturn a Clinton victory and install Trump as president, he and the Republicans will probably fight tooth and nail to deny tampering and prevent Clinton from claiming her rightful position. They might try to pull of another Gore-Bush type election swindle by immediately trying to ram another dominating, far right conservative judge onto the Supreme Court. For sure, power in the hands of Trump would equal blatant abuse of power. His business career shows this. Would Clinton just quietly fade away like Gore? Who would ever have expected Gore to slink away in shadow? If Hillary put up a fight, would Trump, as Commander-In-Chief invoke martial law? I am guessing he would.

 

If a Russian hack that failed to sway the election and was discovered afterward, it would be time to put a better system in place, nationwide.

 

 

Bludog, thanks for the thoughtful answers. I agree with what you wrote, but I'd propose one more step. If we have proof that it was the Russians that did it and can tie it to the Russian government, then I think it's time for some heavy-duty international sanctions against them, and a lot of hardware in Europe.

 

The only chance we have of improving life for people is the validity of the electoral system and the law. Even the SCOTUS ruling on Gore/Bush was within the purview of the law, much as I disliked it. If a foreign power can fraudulently change the result of our election, that's an act of war.

 

(And we really ought to disallow foreign electoral contributions, and get rid of Citizens United ruling. But one thing at a time.)

 

To answer your questions, if a hack that overturns a Clinton victory is discovered and certain, hopefully it will be discovered prior to Trump taking office. Then an emergency SCOTUS hearing could do for Clinton what they did for Bush. And I think that really would be an emergency.

 

I believe Clinton would not fade away if fraud were apparent, and if it demonstrably came from Russia.

 

If Trump was in on it, there could be other consequences.

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I believe the hacking done so far is one of many provocations designed to revive the cold war, bring Russian military preparedness back to Soviet era levels and cement domestic, political power for Putin. The hacking of the DNC, DCCC, state elections and think tanks were not serious efforts. If the Russians were in earnest about changing the results of the election, they would have done it by a sneak electronic attack, instead of giving us ample warning.

 

Putin is playing games with us, designed to increase his popularity and power in his own homeland. Why should we be manipulated into helping him? Why play into his hands by a show of force that will accomplish no one's objectives but Putin's?

 

To me an act of war involves the killing of American citizens, invasion, and/or very large-scale destruction of property and facilities. What needs to be done to frustrate Putin is make our national computer systems as hack proof as possible. We need not seek to escalate by an expensive and fruitless (for us) show of force that the whole world will recognize as a dangerous bluff.

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I believe the hacking done so far is one of many provocations designed to revive the cold war, bring Russian military preparedness back to Soviet era levels and cement domestic, political power for Putin.

I hope so, and if that's true, then you're right about what we should do.

 

But the premise, in the question, is what should we do if Russian hackers change the election result to give the presidency fraudulently to Trump. Is this not an act of war, a coup by a foreign power?

 

It's only hypothetical, but since hacking has already occurred, it's worth exploring.

 

Now, your idea that they allowed us to discover it as part of a plan rather than through an inability to mask the intrusion: that may be overestimating their abilities and underestimating ours.

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But the premise, in the question, is what should we do if Russian hackers change the election result to give the presidency fraudulently to Trump. Is this not an act of war, a coup by a foreign power?

 

It's only hypothetical, but since hacking has already occurred, it's worth exploring.

 

As a practical matter, the question is entirely hypothetical because Trump is friendly with fellow sociopath, Putin and would be the benefactor of the election Fraud. Going to war to right that wrong would probably be even crazier than what Trump is capable of.

 

In my estimation this would not rise nearly to the level of a coup. It would be tampering with US internal affairs, by a foreign power.

 

coup
ko͞o/
noun
noun: coup; plural noun: coups; noun: coup d'état; plural noun: coups d'état; plural noun: coup d'états
1.
a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.
"he was overthrown in an army coup"

synonyms:

seizure of power, coup d'état, putsch, overthrow, takeover, deposition

 

Considered by itself; independent of current realities .... Tampering to change the result of an American election while a serious offense, is not a violent one. It could be interpreted as an act of war to those looking for an excuse. We are powerful enough, militarily, to say a few harsh words, on the world stage, and fix the technical problems that allowed the tampering in the first place.

 

Before satellite spying, we used to regularly fly U2 aircraft over the Soviet Union in violation of their air space. IIRC, they shot one or two down and made hay over the publicized photos. But wisely, they went no further. Those incidents are similar to a hypothetical hack of a US election because we used our superior technology to humiliate them and violate their sovereign territory. It could easily have had political repercussions within the USSR. We not only gathered photographic information, but made them look like fools. But war was averted.

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Good points, but I wasn't suggesting that we wage war. I suggested international sanctions, and hardware in Europe. I guess that last one could be interpeted as war, but I meant beefing up NATO.

 

I agree that we don't want a hot war.

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The way I see it, every escalation is a step closer to hot war. What would threats and bluffing accomplish but more escalation? Each side afraid of being seen to back down. And once the escalation starts, the side that appears to get the worst of it looks to get even (e.g. hacking). It's a totally senseless game for everyone but the big brass, the politicians and the top execs of the Military-Industrial Complex.

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DonJoe, I'm still asking the questions I asked. I know you gave the answer you wanted to give, but it wasn't to what I asked.

 

What I asked are hard questions, and someone may eventually have to answer them. I hope not, but you never know. So I threw it out for discussion. Changing the subject and saying "why bother?" is discussion, and youre perfectly free to discuss (obviously) but it isn't an answer to the questions.

 

 

 

...

Your questions:

 

  1. They succeeded in hacking but the hacks did not change the ultimate outcome.
  2. They succeeded in hacking but the hacks changed the ultimate outcome from Clinton to Trump.
  3. They succeeded in hacking but the hacks changed the ultimate outcome from Trump to Clinton.

In each of these cases, if we find out immediately after the election, what should the country do?

 

My original answer was essentially this happened before and no one acted to to stop the election fraud so I doubt anyone would act to stop or overturn any of those actions.

 

But your question was what should the country do. I suggest if some foreign group was found guilty of hacking our elections, that severe diplomatic actions should occur swiftly. If the ultimate outcome is switched, it should be corrected. Some might call for an immediate war like response, but I think that is going to far.

 

I suggest these actions for more than just hacking but for bribery to candidates, and other fraudulent means as well. I think these questions should be addressed because there has been so much election fraud that should be addressed. I don't think these questions are that hard. The harder part would be the exact nature of the diplomatic response.

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Here is Putin denying any Russian involvement:

 

Putin says DNC hack was public service, Russia didn't do it

Chicago Tribune - ‎2 hours ago‎
Vladimir Putin said the hacking of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails and documents was a service to the public, but denied U.S.
Probably a blatant lie. But maybe not. Is is wise to apply sanctions or mount a show of force on an educated guess? Is it prudent to use our military at all in this situation? We need to stop flexing our muscles so much and start using diplomacy more.
We got hacked. It was a wakeup call. The damage was minimal. No one was hurt or died. No property was damaged. It is up to the US to fix its system to prevent hacking. It is our responsibility and we shouldn't be looking to find blame elsewhere. Even if we think we know who it is.
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Probably a blatant lie. But maybe not.

 

Probably a lie, with plausible deniability for those that want to see that.

 

It is up to the US to fix its system to prevent hacking.

Agreed 100%. However, it is also 100% impossible to prevent all hacking, just like it's 100% impossible to prevent all violent crime. Peace and security depend on goodwill as much as defense. (Which supports your call for diplomacy.)

 

It is our responsibility and we shouldn't be looking to find blame elsewhere. Even if we think we know who it is.

It is still a hostile act, against the electoral system, a fundamental pillar of our way of life.

 

I blame a murderer for a murder, and I don't blame the victim for not carrying a gun in self defense. Likewise, I blame the hackers who did this and whoever sponsored them to do it.

 

Our people are saying it has the markings of Russian hackers. I believe that. I don't want a hot war because of it, but I don't want to thank Putin for it either.

 

There's no question that hacking is a weapon of war. You can hack a power grid, and people will die. You can hack defense infrastructure, and people will die. You can hack satellite communications and people will die. This, the west, is a hyper-connected world society, and interruptions to that can be deadly in many ways.

 

You can't protect everything, and I don't blame the victim.

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I blame a murderer for a murder, and I don't blame the victim for not carrying a gun in self defense. Likewise, I blame the hackers who did this and whoever sponsored them to do it.

 

 

Association by comparison does not make the seriousness of two entirely dissimilar wrongs equal. No murder was committed. Far from it. Power grids, defense infrastructure or communications satellites were not hacked .... Fact not fiction. No one got hurt. No one died.

 

 

No one suggested thanking Putin in any way, shape or form. And asserting it is the responsibility of the US to make its computer systems hack proof as possible is not blaming the victim. It is rather, the only effective measure available.

 

 

There's no question that hacking is a weapon of war.

 

So is spying. And the NATO allies spy on each other all the time. As does Israel spy on the US. And vice-versa. Not saying it's right, but there are certain unavoidable realities of national identity.

 

Here's a thought if prolonged diplomacy fails to work. Instead of a military muscle-flexing contest or sanctions, why not enlist the experts at Silicon Valley to hack the crap out of the Russians. And deny it gleefully, saying it was beneficial to all concerned. But only after proof that they hacked us.

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Should we ask the same questions if we had evidence it was the GOP who did the election fraud?

 

What should the US do when it is discovered the GOP repeatedly engaged in election fraud?

That one is easy, because there's no threat of war.

 

If the GOP commits election fraud, then a case must be made in court, if there's evidence. When (if) proven, the responsible parties should be incarcerated in accordance with law.

 

The only reason Nixon escaped that is that Ford pardoned him. Unfortunately, in accordance with law.

 

What happened with Bush v Gore, was also, unfortunately, in accordance with law.

 

Reagan won fair and square, again unfortunately.

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Association by comparison does not make the seriousness of two entirely dissimilar wrongs equal.

 

< ..snip.. >

 

So is spying. And the NATO allies spy on each other all the time. As does Israel spy on the US. And vice-versa. Not saying it's right, but there are certain unavoidable realities of national identity.

Correct on both counts. Hacking to gain information is one thing, a variety of spying.

 

On the other hand, hacking to change the result of an election is a completely different and much more serious thing. As you say,"Association by comparison does not make the seriousness of two entirely dissimilar wrongs equal."

 

The seriousness of changing an election result is much greater than mere spying. Except for the lack of violence, it's like a bloodless coup. A coup by subterfuge, rather than violence.

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Spying to gain information of, for instance, how nuclear, biological, chemical weapons are made and deployed can rival in seriousness, attempts to influence the outcomes of elections. And they are more dangerous to the survival of mankind, as a species. Yet, Western countries, friendly to each other, usually ignore it. Although it may be serious, the hacking does not amount to any kind of coup.

coup d'état (redirected from Bloodless coup)
Also found in: Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
coup d'é·tat (ko͞o′ dā-tä′)
n. pl. coups d'état (ko͞o′) or coup d'états (dā-täz′)
The sudden overthrow of a government by a usually small group of persons in or previously in positions of authority.
[French : coup, blow, stroke + de, of + état, state.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
coup d'état (ˈkuː deɪˈtɑː; French ku deta)
n, pl coups d'état (ˈkuːz deɪˈtɑː; French ku deta)
(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a sudden violent or illegal seizure of government
[French, literally: stroke of state]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
coup d'état
A French phrase meaning blow of state, used to mean a sudden overthrow of a government.
Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words by Diagram Group Copyright © 2008 by Diagram Visual Information Limited

 

Further; These hacking attempts were not meant to overthrow the government, which is the definition of a coup. They were meant to help Donald Trump illicitly prevail.

 

And the Donald could have been complicit. He certainly was not shy in voicing his approval afterwards:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/07/28/russian-hacking-what-we-know-and-trump-doesnt/?utm_term=.7461d1e38553

Trump not only invited more Russian espionage and suggested Russia might get to keep Crimea but also demonstrated his utter unfamiliarity with the issue and his desire to buddy up to Putin

 

So, if we're going to punish Russia; Should we not also investigate Trump? Just for shooting off his mouth? No one is even suggesting it.

 

As far as we know, these attempts to sway election results didn't even come close to success. By contrast, the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center, in 2001, achieved their goal. Many, including myself, felt it should have been treated as a mass murder, instead of an act of war. And that the perpetrators should have been hunted down and tried in the World Court at The Hague.

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Further; These hacking attempts were not meant to overthrow the government, which is the definition of a coup. They were meant to help Donald Trump illicitly prevail.

If the result of the election is changed by hacking so that Trump appears to win illegitimately (which was the hypothetical premise), that would be the moral equivalent of a coup. In some ways, it would be worse, because it depended on subterfuge.

 

Anyway, whether we want to call it a coup or not is immaterial. A turd by any other name would stink as foul. It's hypothetical, but if it happens and is proven true, it would be a subversion of a basic pillar of our society. It would be a very bad thing.

 

So, if we're going to punish Russia; Should we not also investigate Trump? Just for shooting off his mouth? No one is even suggesting it.

Not for shooting of his mouth, of course not. But if he was complicit in illegally changing election results he should be tried for that.

 

As far as we know, these attempts to sway election results didn't even come close to success.

These attempts aren't what we've been discussing for quite a few posts now; but rather a hypothetical and successful changing of the election result by Russia, for the benefit of Russia.

 

By contrast, the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center, in 2001, achieved their goal. Many, including myself, felt it should have been treated as a mass murder, instead of an act of war. And that the perpetrators should have been hunted down and tried in the World Court at The Hague.

The main perpetrator, Osama bin Laden might have been captured and tried. However, that might also have put more people at risk. I'm satisfied that his killing by American military was a just result. I do however feel he should have been caught earlier, in Afghanistan. I think the Bush administration dropped the ball on that.

 

I was and still am ok with the incursion into Afghanistan. It should have resulted in the capture of bin Laden and many co-conspirators, and ended there. And invading Iraq should never have been considered.

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I am a military and political non-interventionist. South of the Rio Grande alone, but also in many other parts of the world, we have a history of interference so egregious as to be criminal. The CIA has often been the vehicle of assassination, mass murder and violent overthrow of governments.

 

If our history in Central and South America was not so brutal and tragic, it would almost be comical that we yell so loudly when another government dares to interfere, in a much milder way, in OUR internal politics.

 

Just a few examples:

http://listverse.com/2009/07/11/10-cases-of-american-intervention-in-latin-america/

Chile and Pinochet 1973

Though there is controversy surrounding the 1973 Chilean coup even today, there is certainly evidence of communication between the CIA and the coup instigators led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Salvador Allende was a democratically-elected president with ties to Cuba’s Fidel Castro. In September 1973, he was overthrown by a military junta. The CIA was aware of the coup as many as two days in advance. Following the event, in a conference with President Nixon, National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger stated that “the Chilean thing is getting consolidated and of course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.” Pinochet’s regime went on to become one of the most oppressive and brutal

organizations of the 20th Century.

 

 

Operation PBSUCCESS 1953-54

In the early 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) organized a coup against democratically-elected President Arbenz in Guatemala. Arbenz had instituted sweeping land reforms to benefit the country’s vast impoverished populace. This antagonized the powerful United Fruit Company, a multi-national conglomerate (of which CIA director Allen Dulles was a stockholer) that lobbied the US government for intervention. The moves were also deemed communist in nature by the Eisenhower administration and the US government began to supply anti-Arbenz forces with weapons and training. Arbenz was overthrown, and military dictatorship followed for the next four decades. During this time, it is estimated that nearly a quarter million Guatemalans were killed or “disappeared.”

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/17/opinion/americas-role-in-argentinas-dirty-war.html?_r=0

US Role In Argentina's Dirty War

When President Obama visits Argentina next week during the 40th anniversary of the coup, he should make a pledge that Washington will more fully reveal its role in a dark chapter of Argentine history. Military officials abducted thousands of civilians during this period. Hundreds of babies, stolen from Argentines who were arbitrarily detained, were raised by military families.

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The wrong done by American governments doesn't increase the virtue of foreign governments. And also, since it's not relevant, bringing it up doesn't bolster your argument.

 

I asked a simple question for the sake of discussion. A hard question, but a simple one. Hard questions are the ones worth thinking about.

 

There were a few of answers. Mine was sanctions plus an increased presence in Europe (which is a good idea given Ukraine and Georgia). At first you mistook my answer to mean war, which was not my meaning. Your answer was diplomacy. We can discuss the relative merits of those answers; I doubt Putin finds diplomacy as convincing as Polonium.

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