Weaponizing Information

Cranking Up The Rhetoric

by Joyce Nelson

In mid-April, hundreds of U.S. paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived in western Ukraine to provide training for government troops. The UK had already started its troop-training mission there, sending 75 troops to Kiev in March. [1] On April 14, the Canadian government announced that Canada will send 200 soldiers to Kiev, contributing to a military build-up on Russia’s doorstep while a fragile truce is in place in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Embassy in Ottawa called the decision “counterproductive and deplorable,” stating that the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine have “called for enhanced intra-Ukrainian political dialogue,” as agreed upon in the Minsk-2 accords in February, and that it would be “much more reasonable to concentrate on diplomacy…” [2]

That viewpoint is shared by many, especially in Europe where few are eager for a “hot” war in the region. Nor are most people enamoured of the fact that more billions are being spent on a new arms-race, while “austerity” is preached by the 1 Per Cent.

But in the Anglo-American corridors of power (also called the Atlantic Alliance), such views are seen to be the result of diabolical propaganda spread through the Internet by Russia’s “secret army.” On April 15, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Ed Royce (R-Calif.), held a hearing entitled “Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information,” with Royce claiming that Russian propaganda threatens “to destabilize NATO members, impacting our security commitments.” [3]

The Committee heard from three witnesses: Elizabeth Wahl, former anchor for the news agency Russia Today (RT) who gained her moment of fame by resigning on camera in March 2014; Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute (a right-wing UK think-tank); and Helle C. Dale, Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy at The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing U.S. think-tank. [4] The Foreign Affairs Committee website contains video clips of the first two witnesses – well worth watching if you enjoy Orwellian rhetoric passionately delivered.

The day before the hearing, in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Royce wrote, “Vladimir Putin has a secret army. It’s an army of thousands of ‘trolls,’ TV anchors and others who work day and night spreading anti-American propaganda on the Internet, airwaves and newspapers throughout Russia and the world. Mr. Putin uses these misinformation warriors to destabilize his neighbors and control parts of Ukraine. This force may be more dangerous than any military, because no artillery can stop their lies from spreading and undermining U.S. security interests in Europe.” [5]

In her formal (printed) submission, Ms. Wahl referred to the Internet’s “population of paranoid skeptics” and wrote: “The paranoia extends to believing that Western media is not only complicit, but instrumental in ensuring Western dominance.”

Helle C. Dale warned of “a new kind of propaganda, aimed at sowing doubt about anything having to do with the U.S. and the West, and in a number of countries, unsophisticated audiences are eating it up.”

Peter Pomerantsev claimed that Russia’s goal is “to trash the information space with so much disinformation so that a conversation based on actual facts would become impossible.” He added, “Throughout Europe conspiracy theories are on the rise and in the US trust in the media has declined. The Kremlin may not always have initiated these phenomena, but it is fanning them…Democracies are singularly ill equipped to deal with this type of warfare. For all of its military might, NATO cannot fight an information war. The openness of democracies, the very quality that is meant to make them more competitive than authoritarian models, becomes a vulnerability.”

Chairman Royce called for “clarifying” the mission of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. federal agency whose networks include Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti). [6]

The BBG is apparently in disarray. According to Helle Dale’s submission, on March 4, 2015, Andrew Lack, the newly hired CEO of BBG’s International Broadcasting, left the position after only six weeks on the job. On April 7, the Director of Voice of America, David Ensor, announced that he was leaving.

Andrew Lack was formerly the president of NBC News. As Paul Craig Roberts has recently noted, Lack’s first official statement as CEO of the BBG “compared RT, Russia Today, the Russian-based news agency, with the Islamic State and Boko Haram. In other words, Mr. Lack brands RT as a terrorist organization. The purpose of Andrew Lack’s absurd comparison is to strike fear at RT that the news organization will be expelled from US media markets. Andrew Lack’s message to RT is: ‘lie for us or we are going to expel you from our air waves.’ The British already did this to Iran’s Press TV. In the United States the attack on Internet independent media is proceeding on several fronts.” [7]

Ironically, however, it’s likely that one of the biggest threats (especially in Europe) to Anglo-American media credibility about Ukraine and other issues is coming from a very old-fashioned medium – a book. Udo Ulfkotte’s bestseller Bought Journalists has been a sensation in Germany since its publication last autumn. The journalist and former editor of one of Germany’s largest newspapers, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, revealed that he was for years secretly on the payroll of the CIA and was spinning the news to favour U.S. interests. Moreover he alleges that some major media are nothing more than propaganda outlets for international think-tanks, intelligence agencies, and corporate high-finance. “We’re talking about puppets on a string,” he says, “journalists who write or say whatever their masters tell them to say or write. If you see how the mainstream media is reporting about the Ukraine conflict and if you know what’s really going on, you get the picture. The masters in the background are pushing for war with Russia and western journalists are putting on their helmets.” [8]

In another interview, Ulfkotte said: “The German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia. This is a point of no return, and I am going to stand up and say…it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do, and have done in the past, because they are bribed to betray the people not only in Germany, all over Europe.” [9]

With the credibility of the corporate media tanking, Eric Zuesse recently wrote, “Since Germany is central to the Western Alliance – and especially to the American aristocracy’s control over the European Union, over the IMF, over the World Bank, and over NATO – such a turn away from the American Government [narrative] threatens the dominance of America’s aristocrats (who control our Government). A breakup of America’s [Atlantic] ‘Alliance’ might be in the offing, if Germans continue to turn away from being just America’s richest ‘banana republic’.” [10]

No wonder the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on April 15 had such urgent rhetoric, especially from Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute – a London-based international think-tank whose motto is “Prosperity Through Revitalizing Capitalism and Democracy” and whose stated mission is “promoting prosperity through individual liberty, free enterprise and entrepreneurship, character and values.”

At the end of March, Conservative London mayor Boris Johnson (named as a potential successor to David Cameron) helped launch the Legatum Institute’s “Vision of Capitalism” speakers’ series, whose rallying cry is “It’s time for friends of capitalism to fight back.” [11] The sponsor of the event was the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA), whose membership comprises “more than 500 influential firms, including over 230 private equity and venture capital houses, as well as institutional investors, professional advisers, service providers and international associations.” It is not clear whether the BVCA is also sponsoring the Legatum Institute’s “Vision of Capitalism” series. [ huh? – PC]

The Legatum Institute was founded by billionaire Christopher Chandler’s Legatum Ltd. – a private investment firm headquartered in Dubai. According to The Legatum Institute’s website, its executives and fellows write for an impressive number of major media outlets, including the Washington Post, Slate, the New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, New Republic, the Daily Telegraph, The Times, the London Review of Books, the Atlantic, and the Financial Times.

Nonetheless, the Legatum Institute’s Peter Pomeranzev told the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs that “Russia has launched an information war against the West – and we are losing.”
Chairperson Ed Royce noted during the hearing that if certain things are repeated over and over, a “conspiracy theory” takes on momentum and a life of its own.

Pomeranzev said the Kremlin is “pushing out more conspiracy” and he explained, “What is conspiracy – sort of a linguistic sabotage on the infrastructure of reason. I mean you can’t have a reality-based discussion when everything becomes conspiracy. In Russia, the whole discourse is conspiracy. Everything is conspiracy.” He added, “Our global order is based on reality-based politics. If that reality base is destroyed, then you can’t have international institutions, international dialogue.” Lying, he said, “makes a reality-based politics impossible” and he called it “a very insidious trend.”

Apparently, Pomeranzev has forgotten [or ignored – PC] that important October 2004 article by Ron Suskind published in the New York Times Magazine during the second war in Iraq (which, like the first, was based on a widely disseminated lie). Suskind quoted one of George W. Bush’s aides (probably Karl Rove): “The aide said that guys like me [journalists, writers, historians] were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality…That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do’.” [12]

It’s a rather succinct description of Orwellian spin and secrecy in a media-saturated Empire, where discerning the truth becomes ever more difficult.

That is why people believe someone like Udo Ulfkotte, who is physically ill, says he has only a few years left to live, and told an interviewer, “I am very fearful of a new war in Europe, and I don’t like to have this situation again, because war is never coming from itself, there is always people who push for war, and this is not only politicians, it is journalists too…We have betrayed our readers, just to push for war…I don’t want this anymore, I’m fed up with this propaganda. We live in a banana republic and not in a democratic country where we have press freedom…” [13]

Recently, as Mike Whitney has pointed out in CounterPunch (March 10), Germany’s newsmagazine Der Spiegel dared to challenge the fabrications of NATO’s top commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, for spreading “dangerous propaganda” that is misleading the public about Russian “troop advances” and making “flat-out inaccurate statements” about Russian aggression.

Whitney asks, “Why this sudden willingness to share the truth? It’s because they no longer support Washington’s policy, that’s why. No one in Europe wants the US to arm and train the Ukrainian army. No wants them to deploy 600 paratroopers to Kiev and increase U.S. logistical support. No one wants further escalation, because no wants a war with Russia. It’s that simple.” [14] Whitney argued that “the real purpose of the Spiegel piece is to warn Washington that EU leaders will not support a policy of military confrontation with Moscow.”

So now we know the reason for the timing of the April 15 U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, “Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information.” Literally while U.S. paratroopers were en route to Kiev, the hawks in Washington (and London) knew it was time to crank up the rhetoric. The three witnesses were most eager to oblige.

Joyce Nelson is an award-winning Canadian freelance writer/researcher and the author of five books.

Notes

[1] “U.S. Military Instructors Deployed to Ukraine to Train Local Forces,” RT.com, April 17, 2015.

[2] Steven Chase, “Russian decries Ukraine training,” The Globe & Mail (April 16, 2015).

[3] http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php/sid/231982691

[4] http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/press-release/chairman-royce-announces-hearing-russia-s…

[5] Ed Royce, “Countering Putin’s Information Weapons of War,” The Wall Street Journal (April 14, 2015).

[6] http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php/sid/231982691

[7] http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/16/truth-is-our-country/print

[8] http://russia-insider.com/en/print/531

[9] http://washingtonsblog.com/2014/10/leading-german-journalist-admits-cia-bribed-l…

[10] Ibid.

[11] http://www.li.com/events/boris-johnson-launches-vision-fcapitalism-series

[12] Ron Suskind, “Without a Doubt: Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” The New York Times Magazine (Oct. 17, 2004).

[13] http://washingtonsblog.com/2014/10/leading-german-journalist-admits-cia-bribed-l…

[14] http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/10/natio-lies-and-provocations/print

Source: CounterPunch

Posted in Class War Chronicle | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

US Historian: Stalin Not Guilty of Major War Crime Blamed on Him (Katyn)

A memorial to the so-called Katyn Massacre; some ol’ bullshit.

While Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski continues to point the accusing finger at Russia, blaming it for the Katyn massacre of 1940, facts on the ground prove the opposite, an American professor revealed.

During a speech devoted to the execution of Polish officers at Katyn in 1940, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski once again slammed the Soviet Union for the massacre and even went so far as to say that “the 20th century knows no comparable crime.” But what if the crime had never taken place?

“In April 1943 Nazi German authorities claimed that they had discovered thousands of bodies of Polish officers shot by Soviet officials in 1940. These bodies were said to have been discovered near the Katyn forest near Smolensk (in Western Russia), which is why the whole affair including executions and alleged executions of Polish POWs elsewhere in the USSR came to be called the Katyn Massacre,” narrated Dr. Grover Carr Furr, an American professor, author and prominent expert in Soviet history, in his book “The ”Official” Version of the Katyn Massacre Disproven?”

Professor Grover Furr has called into question the “official” narrative that puts the blame for the Katyn massacre on the Soviet Union, in accordance with the version propagated by Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, in 1943.

The author has debunked the most common misconceptions surrounding the Katyn tragedy and highlighted that the evidentiary basis for the “official” viewpoint is astonishingly “thin.” It should be noted that many researchers usually refer to the “Closed Packet No. 1,” handed by the Yeltsin administration to Polish authorities in 1992. It contained documents which, if genuine, could prove the guilt of the USSR in the Katyn mass murder.

However, the document’s authenticity raises questions.

“In October 2010 a credible case was made that the “smoking gun documents” [“Closed Packet No. 1] are forgeries. The materials adduced by [Russia’s] Duma member Victor Iliukhin in October 2010 constitute the strongest evidence so far that these documents may well be forgeries,” Professor Furr pointed out.

Indeed, Victor Iliukhin revealed that the core document of the “Closed Packet No. 1” — Lavrentiy Beria’s note, demanding the capital punishment for 14,000 of Polish POWs and civilians, signed by Joseph Stalin in 1940 — was fabricated in late 1980s. The Duma member suggested that the prominent “Perestroika” figures such as Alexander Yakovlev, Dmitri Volkogonov, Rudolf Pikhoya and others could have been behind the falsification.

But let’s put aside the “smoking gun documents,” the professor noted, pointing to the latest discoveries made by a joint Polish-Ukrainian archaeological group in 2011-2012 in the Ukrainian town of Volodymyr-Volynskiy, directly related to the Katyn massacre incident.

The group discovered a mass grave site identified by the specialists as a typical mass grave of “German manufacture.” Citing Dr. Dominika Siemińska, the head of the Polish archeological team, Professor Furr underscored that the victims buried in the mass grave were murdered no earlier than late 1941 or 1942.

Furthermore, 98.67 percent of shells found on the site were of 1941 German manufacture, according to the Polish report. Remains of women and children had also been found in the mass grave.

But the most astonishing fact was that the Polish researchers had also unearthed the remains, metal badges, epaulettes and buttons which belonged to the Polish policemen believed to be killed in a so-called “Katyn massacre” in 1940.

It should be noted that German ammunition was found at other sites related to the Katyn case.

Remarkably, Joseph Goebbels wrote in his Diaries on May 8, 1943: “Unfortunately, German ammunition has been found in the graves at Katyn… It is essential that this incident remains top secret. If it were to come to the knowledge of the enemy the whole Katyn affair would have to be dropped.”

Professor Furr has analyzed a number of other important documents and facts, which are presented as ”ample evidence” of the Soviets’ guilt by the proponents of the “official version.” He showed that many assumptions based on these documents fall apart under careful scrutiny.

However, Professor Grover Furr stressed that it is probable that the Soviets could have executed a number of Poles for military crimes conducted by the Polish armed forces during the Russo-Polish war of 1920-21 and the Polish occupation of Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine. “Somewhere between 18,000 and 60,000 Red Army POWs had died in Polish captivity. There is good documentation that they were treated brutally, starved, frozen, and many of them murdered outright,” the professor pointed out.

Still, “there is no evidence that the 14,000+ Polish POWs who were transferred out of Soviet POW camps in April and May 1940 were in reality being sent to be shot,” the author concluded, “The discoveries in the mass graves at Volodymyr-Volynskiy constitute a lethal blow to the “official version” of the Katyn Massacre.”

“I have gone back and reviewed the evidence many times since I published that article. I am still surprised that such an important story rests on such a thin basis of evidence. The only “real” evidence is the documents from “Closed Packet No.1,” Professor Grover Furr told Russia Insider.

“In any case the finding of those Polish policemen in the mass grave at Volodymyr-Volynskiy demolishes the “official” version. And there is no other version! Therefore, the only way to “rescue” the official version is to suppress the results of the V-V [Volodymyr-Volynskiy] excavations. And the Polish and Ukrainian officials have done that. Plus, to keep pointing at the documents from “Closed Packet No. 1,” which means suppressing Viktor Iliukhin’s exposure of them,” he added.

Professor Furr bemoaned the fact that senior Russian officials and mainstream media continue to support the “official version” of the Katyn Massacre.

“Katyn is the best documented “crime of Stalinism.” If they admit that the “official version” of Katyn is a lie, what else might turn out to be false? And then, what is the ideological justification for the dissolution of the USSR?” Professor Grover Furr asked.

The Katyn Massacre story, currently being used as a propaganda tool by both Warsaw and Washington, sparks a lot of controversy in Russia and the West. Lots of questions remained unanswered and only a new comprehensive investigation into the Katyn case could finally expose the truth and restore justice.

Source: Russia Insider

Posted in Class War Chronicle | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Art as artillery: War against Nazis was also waged on canvas

Posted in Class War Chronicle | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Remembering the War: WW2’s most powerful weapons

Posted in Class War Chronicle | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Effectiveness of Soviet Interwar Foreign Policy

Originally posted on Center For Syncretic Studies:

Small Logo By: Andrew Korybko

The Effectiveness of Soviet Interwar Foreign Policy

OLDENGLIoviet foreign policy before the Cold War has contradictorily been described as either being pragmatic and realistic or ineffective and idealistic. The true nature of interwar Soviet foreign policy lies somewhere in between both extreme designations. Although the Soviet Union did bungle some foreign policy priorities as a result of ideology, in others it was more pragmatic and realistic. As with any state’s foreign policy, it sought to advance national interests in a complex international environment. Given the preponderant influence of ideology in the Soviet Union at the time, as well as the unstable international environment in which policy was created, the case can be made that Soviet foreign policy was as successful as it could be within the limits placed upon it. 

View original 1,308 more words

Posted in Class War Chronicle | Leave a comment