Review: Active Measures

Active Measures is a 2018 documentary describing Russian (derived from Soviet) techniques to undermine American democratic institutions, and those of our democratic allies. (Active measures: “A Soviet term for the actions of political warfare conducted by the Russian security services to influence the course of world events.”)

The film is now in limited theatrical release, but also available on iTunes for rental or download.

Here’s a description from the filmmakers:

ACTIVE MEASURES chronicles the most successful espionage operation in Russian history, the American presidential election of 2016. Filmmaker Jack Bryan exposes a 30-year history of covert political warfare devised by Vladimir Putin to disrupt, and ultimately control world events. In the process, the filmmakers follow a trail of money, real estate, mob connections, and on the record confessions to expose an insidious plot that leads directly back to The White House. With democracy hanging in the balance, ACTIVE MEASURES is essential viewing. Unraveling the true depth and scope of “the Russia story” as we have come to know it, this film a jarring reminder that some conspiracies hide in plain sight.

No reasonable person, committed to a democratic government for our people and others, should doubt that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a dictator, murderer, and imperialist.

There is no reason to dislike Russians; there is every reason to oppose Putin and his ilk.

Perhaps some few see opposition to Putin as a dull echo of a past conflict.  One may be sure that countless American voters, Ukrainian & Syrian citizens, and murdered Russian ex-patriots have a more contemporary – and darker – description for Putin’s depredations.

Jack Bryan directs the one-hour, forty-nine-minute film, featuring interviews with many of America’s and our allies’ leading policymakers:

Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State (2008–2013), Toomás Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia (2006–2016), Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia (2004 – 2013), the late Senator John McCain, Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senate Judiciary Committee, Congressman Eric Swalwell, House Intelligence Committee, Steven Hall, CIA Chief of Russia Operations (1985–2013), Michael McFaul, U.S. Ambassador to Russia (2012–2014), Nina Burleigh, Journalist and Newsweek Correspondent, Craig Unger, Journalist and Vanity Fair Contributing Editor, James Woosley, Director of Central Intelligence (1993–1995), John Mattes, Bernie Sanders Organizer, Investigative Journalist, Richard Fontaine, President, Center for New American Security, Michael Isikoff, Author, Russian Roulette, John Dean, White House Counsel to President Nixon (1970–1973), Dr. Herb Lin, Director Cyber Policy and Security, Stanford University, Clint Watts, Former FBI Special Agent on Joint Terrorism Task Force, Evan McMullin, U.S. 2016 Presidential Candidate, CIA Operative (1999–2010), Dr. Alina Polyakova, Brookings Institution, Foreign Policy Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe, John Podesta, Chair, Hillary for America, Founder, Center for American Progress, Jonathan Winer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Law Enforcement (1994–1999), Jeremy Bash, CIA Chief of Staff (2009–2011), Pentagon Chief of Staff (2011–2013), Ambassador Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (2005–2009), Scott Horton, International Law and Human Rights Attorney, Columbia Law School, Heather Conley, “Kremlin Playbook” Author, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Steven Pifer, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (1997–2000), U.S. Department of State (1978–2004), Asha Rangappa, FBI Special Agent on Counterintelligence (2002 – 2005), Associate Dean of Yale Law, Molly McKew, Information Warfare Expert, Alexandra Chalupa, DNC Consultant.

The documentary, carrying a PG-13 rating, and has received widespread critical praise.

I found the film (a purchased iTunes copy) disturbing, in the way any foreign attack on a free people would be.  It’s an informative, unsettling, and yet grimly motivational film.  We have much work before us, each of us in his or her own way, to bolster our institutions against foreign attack.

We are not alone in this effort.  Here and abroad, talented men and women are committed to democratic societies, with each of us, too, having a part to play.  That shared commitment requires an informed foundation, and Active Measures pours a reliable and sturdy foundation on which to stand.

Highly recommended.

See also Listen: Jack Bryan on the Strange Threats Received While Making Russia-Trump Doc ‘Active Measures’:

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