“Whataboutism” is the word of the day.
I’ve also seen it called “mommy mommy-ism” as in “Mommy! Mommy! They did it first!” By either name it’s some combination of straw man and “look! A squirrel!”
[…W]hen you look at it as a civilian operation to attract social media followers to sock puppet accounts with the goal of selling promoted posts for profit, it makes perfect sense.
It’s not an either/or situation either. For instance, what the “Internet Research Agency” may well have been doing is market research: trying out various strategies for gaining followers to see how well they work.
Or, if you insist on pointing to electoral implications, perhaps they were researching the difference between current Russian voters and American voters, as a way of gaining advance skills with Russian voters as they become more like American voters.
There is currently no evidence that the Russian government interfered in the US election.
Yes, and this points up another plausible scenario: perhaps they (Prigozhin) were simply trying to impress Mr. Putin with their “patriotic” efforts, not caring whether those efforts worked, only that their effort would (hopefully) impress with their “patriotism”.
It amazes me that more people aren’t willing to call this like it is. No, it would not be wrong for Russia to interfere in America’s elections. Yes, what America did to Russia absolutely would make a proportionate retaliation okay. Of course it would.
If Americans don’t like election meddling, they need to demand that their government stops doing it. As long as it remains the very worst offender in that department, the US is entitled to nothing other than the entire world meddling in its elections.
In fact, contra the “tit for tat” argument, everybody in the world actually has more right to meddle in US elections than the US does in theirs: consider that the US is the preeminent power in the world, both militarily and economically…
So what it does, or can do, or doesn’t do, represents an existential threat to everybody else in the world. Every single person and polity in the world had a stake in the 2016 US elections. So morally, every single person and polity in the world had a right to try to influence the US electorate for their own safety, much less welfare.
It doesn’t really work that way the other way around.
But that certainly doesn’t justify identity theft.