Rigged offers a convincing analysis of what changed in the three decades since the cold war and with the arrival in the Kremlin of Vladimir Putin. It says the modern CIA has basically given up on covert electoral interference. The US still promotes democracy, but openly, via not-for-profit organisations. In 2004, George W Bush contemplated meddling in Iraq’s post-Saddam poll but didn’t follow through.
Putin, by contrast, has gone back to cold war practices. More than any other nation, Russia has taken advantage of the digital world to disrupt other people’s elections – new, cheap warfare, as Shimer puts it... c. Democracy looks fragile; the US, Shimer argues, has become a “corrupt version of itself”. And Putin has succeeded where his Soviet predecessors failed: adroitly exploiting American divisions to pull off one of the most spectacular operations in modern espionage. Moscow’s candidate sits in the White House and you imagine Putin will try and keep him there.