What you aren’t told about the new cold war with Russia

Summary: Every day brings another propaganda barrage to start a new cold war. The mainstream media uncritically broadcasts the government’s messages. Only fringe sources reveal the rest of the story. Like the information given here.

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Russian accounts fuel French outrage online

By Rhys Blakely in the London Times, 8 December 2018.

“Hundreds of social media accounts linked to Russia have sought to amplify the street protests that have rocked France, according to analysis seen by The Times.

“The network of accounts has circulated messages on Twitter that focus on the violence and chaos of the yellow vest or gilet jauneriots. As the unrest began last month, a group of about 200 monitored accounts was churning out approximately 1,600 tweets and retweets a day. A large proportion of the accounts appear to be so-called “sock puppets”, which purport to be run by westerners.

“According to an analysis by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company, the accounts have spread disinformation, using photographs of injured protesters from other events to bolster a narrative of brutality by French police. …”

They’re allegedly doing 1600 tweets per day. There are almost 14 million tweets containing the phrase “gilet jaune.” Plus uncounted millions more discussing the “gilet jeaun” movement without mentioning the name. Carefully avoiding this information flags this London Times article as propaganda. This is the same fraud that US intel agencies ran about the 2016 election.

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There Is No “Russian Disinformation” to Counter

By David Macilwain at the American Herald Tribune, 13 December 2018.
Posted under their Creative Commons license.

An article published in the London Times has claimed that the “Gilets Jaunes” protests in France are being stoked by “the Kremlin”, citing researches by “New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company in the US”. This might be expected from the right-wing Murdoch tabloid, no stranger to such anti-Russian propaganda. And seeing as the report is behind a paywall, our curiosity to know more is conveniently limited.

But we hardly need to consider anymore the possible role of “Russian misinformation” in fueling protests which so evidently gathered wide support and from different sections of the community. The fledgling “Yellow Vests” movement put out some sort of platform statement, of 25 “propositions to end the crisis”, which clearly represents a variety of viewpoints – and though it has an overall socialist and social justice slant, its focus is on long-standing gripes of the working class and “peripherique”. In a sea of opinion and speculation, the founding editor of the American Conservative Scott McConnell has this useful analysis of the movement, with a conclusion worth quoting:

“It’s far from obvious that the Macron government has the fiscal strength to pursue both the pro-capitalist economic reform it seeks and placate the Gilet Jaunes. France is now a country both mobilized and tired of disruption at the same time, and many disparate social forces are in fierce contention. The one thing that feels certain is that the economic and social model that has reigned in France and throughout much of Europe for the past generation, under the twin pillars of neoliberal economics and high rates of immigration, is under unprecedented duress. It is being attacked at once by a nationalist and sovereigntist right, a multicultural left, and an older left still comfortable with class warfare language. What model will emerge to replace it?”

Some of the more radical demands of the Gilets Jaunes extend beyond domestic and social policies, protesting against France’s role in NATO and in “FranceAfrique.” And it’s evident here that if the Kremlin was really busy stirring up the protests in its own interests, it doesn’t appear to have had much success – there is no specific mention of France’s involvement in Syria, Yemen or Ukraine. Given that France has recently played a positive role at the Istanbul meeting on Syria, as well as previously in the Minsk agreements, this could actually be a sign of genuine enlightenment in the ranks of the protestors. None of this, however, seems to concern the “analysts” who advise the “EU vs Disinfo” network, which tweeted the Times report approvingly under its “EU Mythbusters” label, saying …

“Worship chaos! Super active Twitter accounts spread false narratives on violence during Gilets Jaunes protests… links of 200 profiles to Russia”

Commenters on the twitter post seem unconvinced, and resort to posting photo-shopped images showing Putin amongst the crowds on the Champs Elysee. But sadly this rather misses the point, as the Atlantic Council’s latest effort to protect their European friends from Russia’s media is much cleverer and much more devious than that. It is the threat from this NATO cyber-warfare against Russia which now merits our attention, and alarm.

Rather than claim the Kremlin is trying to dupe people into supporting Russia’s viewpoint, the object of the EU vs Disinfo project, and its related site the Disinfo Portal, is to build a picture of Russia as a destabilizing and destructive “pariah state”.

As it ambiguously describes itself, this site is a doorway into an Alice in Wonderland world of Disinformation, collecting reports from a whole network of similar NGOs, think tanks and “experts”, such as Bret Schafer, “social media analyst” and Communications officer for the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Schafer’s paper, supported by the German Marshall Fund of the US – “Strengthening Transatlantic cooperation”, reviews the research on Russia’s Twitter operations in the US, and concludes that …

“Analysis of Russia’s ongoing social media operations reveals that efforts to interfere in elections are but one tactical objective in a long-term strategy to increase polarization and destabilize society, and to undermine faith in democratic institutions.”

Schafer elaborates further.

“Part of the problem is framing. Much of the conversation around the Russian government’s online information operations has focused on its hand in the creation or promotion of demonstrably false information. The tendency to associate information operations with falsehoods or wild conspiracy theories misses an important point: the vast majority of content promoted by Russian linked networks is not, strictly speaking, ‘fake news.’

“Instead, it is a mixture of half-truths and selected truths, often filtered through a deeply cynical and conspiratorial worldview. For this reason, the term “information manipulation” — a phrase popularized in the excellent French report by the same name, is a more accurate description of Russian efforts to shape the information space, as it is not limited by the definitional constraints of terms like disinformation or propaganda.”

Other reports presented through the Disinfo Portal – whose focus is almost entirely on Russia – reveal a whole network of organizations in the US and Europe working on similar fronts, and with teams of experts and advisers to provide appropriate background and research information. That the fibers in this disinformation web mostly lead back to the same spider is no surprise, but no help either; the spider has laid its eggs at every intersection of this net.

Here, for instance, are details of a research project to see how social media is influencing 18 – 24 year-olds in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

“‘From Online Battlefield to Loss of Trust?‘ sheds further light on young people’s consumption of information and disinformation. The report is based on research conducted among 18-24 year olds residing in Central and Southeastern Europe for the purposes of Countering Disinformation in the V4 Region: Mapping Needs, Building Capacity and Generating Civic Activism, a project that’s financially supported by the US Department of State.”

The report is attributed to the “Globsec Policy Institute” based in Bratislava. Globsec – “Ideas Shaping the World” – is a Strategic Communications project of the US State Dept. No doubt the US also supports the partner NGOs involved in this project to “generate Civic Activism” in the targeted countries …

“Partners include the “Euro-Atlantic council of Macedonia” (whose logo is like NATO’s), the International and Security Affairs Centre in Serbia, and the Center for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis in Poland.”

Exploring this mirrored catacomb it becomes hard to remember just who is the target, and who is doing the targeting in “countering disinformation”; imagining that this is a battle between two competing viewpoints and ideologies is one trap that skeptics of the Atlantic viewpoint might well fall into.

But it is a trap; there is no “Russian disinformation” to counter. Like a “straw-man” argument, these networks have created the disinformation they now pretend to counter.

Although some activities – like talking to young people about social topics – may seem benign, the motives of those behind this global campaign are anything but. This becomes clear when we look at the activities of another “partner” organization – the “Integrity Initiative.

Brought to light by Anonymous in November, the Integrity Initiative is yet another Atlantic Council related “initiative” to disseminate misleading stories about Russia and support “special initiatives” in the propaganda war against her leadership and media. At the top of the list of such initiatives must be the Skripal operation, and the group’s lead author Dan Kaszeta has a series of articles aimed at countering the exposure of this criminal fraud. This one contains a wealth of plausible misinformation aimed at explaining the impossible contradictions in the story of the world’s deadliest yet most innocuous poison.

Kaszeta claims a background in chemical weapons technology, and evidently has inside information on its home in the UK at Porton Down. This article is a cleverly composed defense of the apparent control room for the Salisbury Novichok operation, which resembles the very sort of misinformation described by Bret Schafer, quoted above. By holding up and then demolishing “absurd Kremlin theories” about Porton Down that the Russian Foreign Ministry never put forward, Kaszeta dodges the actual challenge – explaining how Novichok from Porton Down came to be in the OPCW samples.

While that article was written back in July, the recent appearance of the BBC Panorama “Inside Story” of the Salisbury Nerve Agent attack was evidently cooked up in the same Disinfo Lab.

It can be seen that these networks, devised and funded primarily by the US and UK governments, have overwhelmed the “information space” already dominated by Western media in a way that alternative opinion and truth – “Russian disinformation” – simply cannot rival. And unlike the relatively independent and non-commercial state-supported media of RT and Sputnik, their agenda is both political and malignant.

Unlike the claims against Russia of sowing disunity and confusion, NATO’s disinformation networks are coordinated and targeted, and effective in pursuit of their governments’ strategic agenda. This last article link completes the picture, detailing the successful sabotaging of the democratic process by the Integrity Initiative’s “Spanish Cluster”. It is reassuring that at least one MP finds this intolerable!

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About the author

David Macilwain writes a lot. His articles appear in many forums. A quick check found no biographical details or reviews of his work.

About the American Herald Tribune

I don’t trust the Media Bias Fact Check, but their review of the AHT seems plausible. They mention that it prints much controversial material, some of which is provably false. Typical of what’s found on the political fringes. They also say.

“In review, the American Herald Tribune features a wide variety of writers from diverse backgrounds. The main theme of the website is human rights. Most articles do not utilize loaded language and many are sourced properly.”

For More Information

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If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Julian Assangeabout RussiaGate, about propaganda, and especially these…

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Propaganda rule America! Read all about it!

Propaganda by Edward Bernays (1936). “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda by Noam Chomsky (2002). “Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

"Propaganda" by Edward Bernays.
Available at Amazon.
"Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda" by Noam Chomsky.
Available at Amazon.

4 thoughts on “What you aren’t told about the new cold war with Russia

  1. Kaszeta dodges the actual challenge – explaining how Novichok from Porton Down came to be in the OPCW samples.

    What is the evidence showing that this happened?

    1. henrik,

      Almost all the evidence comes from statements by government officials. What’s odd is that their statements “evolve”, and often make little sense.

    2. There are many aspects of this, the two mentioned below are both related to the “extreme purity” as emphasized in the OPCW lab reports:

      (i) This Novichok (A-234) is listed as binary agent; this concept is used mainly for two purposes: the original components are much less toxic and the resulting agent (synthesist of the two components) may not be stable enough for storage. Therefore, to achieve this extreme purity, the two ingredients would have to be reacted in extremely controlled environment (elite lab, such as in Porton Down and a few others throughout the world).
      Any highly active chemical would show signs of decomposition = impurities in a very few days (e.g. VX is one of the most persistent nerve agents yet still exhibits decay within a couple of days from application), let alone more than two weeks (17 days when the OPCW personnel took the “samples”). Make your own conclusion…

      (ii) Extreme purity of a chemical also means — it is untraceable. Therefore pointing to Russia as a certain source is a nonsense sell-able only to unknowing audience and, again, there are still fewer labs (among them in Sweden, former Czechoslovakia, all four labs involved in testing of the Salisbury samples and a few more; and surely the mentioned Porton Down) capable of producing anything in the recognized purity.

      As said, there are many disturbing aspects of the whole affair, but the most important part of it was achieved: Propaganda!

  2. Bottom line: that it came from Porton is just an unevidenced assertion. JaKo also makes a number of unevidenced assertions about the nature of the substance. If the events were as described by the British authorities, none of that can be true. It must have had long life.

    In the end we on the outside have to pick between two versions. One is the one which the British authorities have stated. In this version two GRU operatives make a flying visit to the UK, they take two train trips to Salisbury and on the last one they plant the substance and throw away the perfume bottle still containing some, where it is then found and causes the death of a woman who sprays it on herself. In this story there’s documentary evidence of flight plans, travel documents, CTV footage, and evidence linking the two to GRU facilities. The evidence of site contamination is partly analysis, partly from examination of the victims, including one of the attending police officers.

    In the other version, MI5 decides to mount a propaganda coup. It gets some of the material from Porton Down, smears it on the doorknob. Or in some of the wilder theories, it doesn’t even do that, the illness and the screening off and decontamination of the area are all a show. I don’t know how the theories account for the finding of the spray container. Perhaps they knew the guy looked in dumpsters and carefully planted it for him to find? Perhaps this too was faked and the guy who is supposed to have found it was a co-conspirator. Perhaps his partner is not dead at all, but has been given a new identity?

    The two Russians were on this account genuine tourists on a flying two day trip to see the famous Salisbury cathedral in which they had developed a deep interest. The documents linking them to the GRU were faked. The Skripals? Well, they most likely were necessary casualties or their illnesses were faked too with the collaboration of the local hospital. The Russians’ hotel rooms either never had traces of the substance, or it was planted.

    Take your choice. In JaKo’s account the Russian denials are entirely trustworthy, an estimable and truthful regime falsely accused by a rogue intelligence service, or maybe an intelligence service instructed by a rogue government, seeking to reignite the Cold War.

    In the authorities’ account, an authoritarian state with an intolerance for dissent decides to take out a defector in one of a sequence of cases involving rather odd choices of poison, the most recent similar one being the polonium poisoning. In JaKo’s version, this too would have been a massive fake.

    I know where I think the balance of probability and credibility lies, and ts not with Russia. I do not think our governments and agencies are paragons of virtue. But they are a lot better than the Russian ones, and given the two opposing accounts, its pretty obvious which is the most credible.

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