As the world fully enters the 21st century, the social and political landscape of America has undergone a profound shift. Republican lawmakers have praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for exposing what can be at best described as a lack of ethics in the Democratic party, and at worst, outright corruption. The Republican president-elect has hailed Wikileaks, an organization whose nearly sole purpose is the exposure of U.S. national security secrets. The party that once called the USSR the evil empire has undergone a complete reversal in terms of how it regards Russia.

The reasons for these shifts are numerous, and cannot be attributed to one or two factors alone. But the question arises as to what role covert Russian influence has played in shaping American perspectives about the Russian government.

“Like the invisible jet streams in the skies that determine the course of a storm, these hidden currents shape our lives, yet their influence is only beginning to be identified,” wrote anthropologist E. T. Hall. “It stands to reason, therefore, that whoever has greater awareness of these ‘jet streams’ and is able to influence the form that they take will have a very powerful tool in his hands indeed.”

To what extent these invisible jet streams have been guided by a hidden hand is something that has gone largely unexamined within defense policy circles and political discourse—until now.