Friday 18th of January 2019

cultivating russophobia in germania from albionia...

horses

ERSTES PFERD: Wir können mit diesem Merc Van nicht mithalten, oder?

ZWEITES PFERD: Hey! Wir sind in zwei Tagen viermal um den Block gegangen ... Es hat sich nicht einmal in der Woche bewegt ...

ERSTES PFERD: Glaubst du, es könnte ein RT-Erfassungsgerät sein, das uns ausspioniert?

ZWEITES PFERD: Industriespionage auf ein paar alten Nörgeln? ... Es ist totes Fleisch ...

 


by Kit Klarenberg

 

On the afternoon of January 4 I was putting the finishing touches to a series of articles about the Integrity Initiative's activities in Germany, when hacking syndicate Anonymous released another tranche of files plucked from the organization's internal servers. The content was so explosive I was forced to put the multi-part project on hold.

The new trove included several highly incriminating files related to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in March 2018, which raised a number of extremely serious questions about the shadowy British state and NATO-funded ‘think tank' and its connections with the affair.

A few hours after publishing an article based on a precursory investigation of the documents, I received a curious email from political scientist Hannes Adomeit — the subject line 'Criminal Charges against Kit Klarenberg' — which made me somewhat glad I'd postponed my German series.

'Criminal Charges'

For several days, I'd been attempting to reach out to him and other individuals — prominent German politicians, businesspeople, military officials, academics and journalists — named in an ‘interim report' on the German cluster. It appeared Adomeit led the cluster, and had produced the write up for his Initiative paymasters in October 2018.

Responses to my enquiries were few, and Adomeit's email potentially shed light on why — he'd automatically moved my email to his 'trash' folder after seeing it'd been sent from an '@sputniknews.com' address.

"On second thought, however, I regretted it and asked my colleague Harold Elletson, whom you also contacted, for your address. I also retrieved it from the email you sent to Reporters without Borders board member Gemma Poerzgen. The reconsideration was spurred by your contacting other actual or potential members of the German cluster, and the point is to ask you how you succeeded in breaking into confidential communications — in this case the information that I met or was going to meet with Gemma Poerzgen in October of last year. This information was not made public in any way by either Ms. Poerzgen or me," he wrote.

1010

He went on to say that if I'd obtained this content by hacking the systems of the Institute of Statecraft — the Initiative's parent organization — I would've breached section 202a of the German criminal code, and potentially faced a three-year prison term or fine as a result.

"I am fully determined to bring criminal charges against you for having gained such unauthorized access. Should you not be the person who obtained the confidential information illegally, I insist on providing me with the information as to how and/or from whom you received it," he concluded.

As I wasn't behind the hack, I wasn't intimidated by Adomeit's threats — in fact, his ominous missive was most welcome, for it confirmed the files were legitimate, he has indeed been attempting to build a cluster in Germany, and some of his targets were apparently receptive to his advances.

Moreover, it affirmed Elletson — a long-time MI6 operative — was a "colleague" of Adomeit's. Ironically, engaging in intelligence activity for the intelligence service of a foreign power is contrary to section 99 of the German criminal code, punishable by up to five years in prison.


'Very Hard'

The Initiative's overseas clusters are comprised of individuals who "understand the threat posed to Western nations" by Russian "disinformation" and can be mobilized to influence government policy in support of the "Anglo-Saxon worldview", and a "tougher stance" towards the Russian state.

Germany is perhaps the key country of interest for the organization in this regard, and an internal ‘progress report on establishing national clusters' produced July 2018 — a month after its German cluster was founded, following a two-day meeting in London between Institute/Initiative representatives and Adomeit — makes clear why. The document's author states that due to the country's "special vulnerability to Russian influence", it's a "very hard as well as most important target".

In the aforementioned October 2018 ‘interim report' on the German cluster, in a section titled ‘Specifically German Conditions', Adomeit further elaborates on the significance of Germany to the Initiative, and why it's such a tough — and crucial — nut for the organization to crack.

"Russia is one [of], if not the most, divisive and contentious issue in German foreign policy debates…the Russian narrative on the origins of the crisis in Russia's relations with the West is widely accepted by German public opinion. Its main theses are after the end of the Cold War, the US simply replaced the Soviet Union by [sic] Russia, continued policies of containment, isolation and humiliation, [including] NATO expansion into areas considered vital to Russian interests and exerted pressure on Europe, including Germany, to tow the line of its anti-Russian policies," he writes.

As a result, there's a widespread feeling among the German population and political class the country "should not fall in line with the US approach" and "reject the demonization of Russia", which could "raise yet again the spectre of war in Europe".

German Cluster Chief Adomeit's Discussion of 'Specifically German Conditions'German Cluster Chief Adomeit's Discussion of 'Specifically German Conditions'

Deep State Connections

The June 2018 'progress report' states development of the German cluster was "based upon the work of a public relations specialist from the UK, partly resident in Berlin" — a reference to Elletson — through whom "all activities have been and will be coordinated".

The exactitudes of Elletson's MI6 career aren't clear, but it's evident prior to becoming Conservative MP for Blackpool North in 1992 (a seat he lost in 1997), he was an agency operative in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, using his work as a trade consultant as cover. His relationship with the organization didn't end after his election either, despite a long-standing convention in British politics that intelligence services not use MPs as agents — then-Prime Minister John Major waived the rule to allow him to continue his intelligence work while in parliament, which included visits to the now-former Yugoslavia during the Balkans war.

He's one of many individuals connected with the Institute and Initiative with an extensive intelligence service background — interestingly, Adomeit himself may potentially be another. In his discussion of ‘Specifically German Conditions', the political scientist dubs academic Peter W. Schulze "one of the most insidious advocates" of the idea the US has exerted pressure on Germany to "undercut its Ostpolitik".

I duly alerted Schulze — he was "not astonished" to learn of the admonition, as Adomeit "is a cold warrior of the old school, educated in many US defence and counterinsurgency institutions, like RAND, Defence College, Monterrey et al."

"I stand my ground. The change of paradigm in the EU and German politics occurred 2009/10 after Poland, the Baltics and Romania entered the EU and got support from Scandinavian countries and the UK to launch an attack on Russia, to drive the country out of Europe and the Ostpolitik of the SPD [Social Democratic Party]. Unfortunately, this move was and still is quite successful — the SPD neither understood the dimension nor consequences, or fought back. If you look at the present draft of the new SPD Ostpolitik, you'll observe a total break with the past, mainly due to a fundamental change in leadership positions to cadres which have no connection or understanding of the East," he added.

Adomeit Discusses the Nature and Membership of the German ClusterAdomeit Discusses the Nature and Membership of the German Cluster

Agents of Influence

Whatever the truth of the matter, in his capacity as cluster 'coordinator' Elletson is said to have produced a study of "Russian influence in Germany", which was "circulated in senior German political circles, including the Chancellor's office".

The document — Russlands Informationskrieg in Deutschland: Wie Moskau die Meinung der Deutschen verandert (Russia's Information War in Germany: How Moscow is Changing German Public Opinion) — expands on the 'conditions' Adomeit despairs of elsewhere, as well as discussing the "major tools" allegedly used by the Kremlin to shape German perceptions.

Reading the 'study', what's immediately and palpably clear is it's in no way an empirical examination of any of its stated research topics — it's a highly prejudiced, polemical and at-times borderline literary disquisition, rampant with barely disguised contempt for Russia and Russians.

The paper, which fittingly commences with a likely apocryphal Vladimir Lenin quote, is also rife with references to 'Russlandversteher' (literally ‘Russia understanders', perhaps better understood as 'Russia sympathizers') — people who, Elletson writes, "gush with empathy for Russia and its President Vladimir Putin on talk shows, in journals and at dinner parties", and have a "general tendency to excuse Moscow and blame the West".

He provides numerous examples of such individuals, including Gabriele Krone-Schmalz (Moscow correspondent at the ARD TV network 1987 — 1992), Klaus von Dohnanyi (SPD Mayor of Hamburg 1981 — 1988, a city he dubs a "place d'armes" for Russlandversteher), Gerhard Schroder (SPD Chancellor of Germany 1998 — 2005), Sahra Wagenknecht (Die Linke MP since 2009), Bjoern Hoecke (AFD parliamentary group chair in the Thuringia state assembly) and Eckhard Cordes (head of the Eastern Commission of German Industry, Volvo board member).

However, beyond harboring views he believes insufficiently hostile to Russia, Elletson further claims this group are in fact an all-important facet of Russia's information warfare operations in the country — and have been actively "cultivated" by the Russian state to that end.

Evidence provided for such "cultivation" is invariably thin to non-existent. Individuals who have (or had) financial interests in Russia and/or Russian businesses, or are involved in some way with businesses that trade (or once traded with) Russia, are members of a Russo-German forum (political, industrial or otherwise), have appeared in the Russian media or spoken at an event convened by a Russian organization, or are members of an organization that hosted an event at which a Russian or Russians spoke, among other trivial and supremely tenuous 'connections', are all — for Elletson — Kremlin agents of influence.

MI6 Operative Harold Elletson Names 'Russlandversteher' MI6 Operative Harold Elletson Names 'Russlandversteher' 

This paranoia even takes on a xenophobic character at points, with the MI6 operative noting certain Russlandversteher have Russian ancestry, grew up in former East Germany, or have relatives born there.

"An important factor in the dissemination of distortions and untruths has been Germany's large Russian-speaking community (almost 2.3 million, according to some estimates). They have roots in the former Soviet Union and many still watch Russian TV, listen to the radio or read newspapers. They often share stories on the Internet and, wittingly or unwittingly, help to spread Moscow's distorted versions of current events," he writes.

Beware of Trolls

One can spot a "cultivated" Russlandversteher, Elletson suggests, when they make statements in accordance with one the Kremlin's 21 alleged "key messages". These include: "Germany and Russia had a 'special relationship' and should return to it; Russia has legitimate interests and the West should respect them; the West deceived Russia over NATO expansion; 'Wikileaks' and Snowden show the West has not been open in its dealings with Germany; the Georgian crisis was the result of Georgian aggression; Russia has a legitimate claim to Crimea; the Ukrainian revolution was actually a coup d'etat; sanctions against Russia are counter-productive and will damage the German economy; the Syrian crisis cannot be solved without Russian support, which has been instrumental in stopping the spread of ISIS* [Daesh]."

In essence, any German who's remotely critical of NATO, the West, or prevailing Western global political narratives, or indeed government policy anywhere in the world negatively impacting Russia in any way — or who simply doesn't view Russia as invariably villainous — is a stooge of Putin. That these views may be an individual's legitimate opinions, or indeed may potentially have some value, is completely out of the question.  

Cluster Coordinator Harold Elletson Outlines Alleged Kremlin 'Key Messages'Cluster Coordinator Harold Elletson Outlines Alleged Kremlin 'Key Messages'

Elletson claims these "key messages" also inexorably emanate from a vast army of "pro-Kremlin trolls" and "directed robot-profiles" (bots) on various social networks. However, despite stating "the extent of Russian efforts to influence opinion in Europe" via "false accounts on Facebook and Twitter" has been well-documented, he offers no evidence of any such ‘operations' social media, in Germany or elsewhere, instead merely invoking the allegations of a handful of sources to that effect.

For instance, he quotes Ingo Mannteufel, German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle ‘Head of Department' for Russia as saying "with the help of social 'bots', false news and internet memes are spread…the flooding of reader forums on international media sites with pro-Kremlin comment is part of this." In support of the statements, Elletson notes the news outlet's Russian-language Facebook pages "have been repeatedly attacked" with posts by Russian-language accounts. Whether these accounts were automated, let alone government-run, isn't stated.  

Likewise, remarks made by journalist Adrian Chen in his 2015 profile of the Internet Research Agency make an appearance — "Russia's information war might be thought of as the biggest trolling operation in history, and its target is nothing less than the utility of the Internet as a democratic space," he wrote.

Elletson's referencing of Chen's incendiary comments is curious, given he's rowed back significantly on this stance in recent years. For example, in February 2018, when allegations of Russian state-backed social media interference in the 2016 US Presidential election were reaching fever-pitch, he appeared on MSNBC to pour cold water on the idea such efforts had any impact whatsoever on the vote's outcome.

"It isn't all that effective…it's essentially a social media marketing campaign…run by people who [barely] grasp the English language, [without] a full understanding of who they're targeting and what they're targeting. The paranoia aspect, the idea there's this all-powerful propaganda machine, that anyone who's tweeting something you don't like or is causing trouble on the internet can be chalked up to Russia…is increasing in a worrying way. There's not a lot of people saying 'let's hold back, it's not that big of a deal'," he cautioned.

Elletson does concede such tactics are "not new" and Russia isn't unique in deploying them, noting "the Israelis developed a sophisticated operation, using trolls, to counter pro-Palestinian coverage in European media" — although the question of which other states are attempting to influence debate in Germany and elsewhere via online activities, and how, is left unasked and unanswered.

Nonetheless, despite this glaring evidentiary deficit, the MI6 operative feels confident concluding "false or distorted stories [in Russian] media, helpful comments, speeches and articles by well-placed 'Putin-versteher' and blogs, tweets or comments on the internet all help to create the Kremlin's 'information noise' and undermine arguments for German solidarity with NATO and the EU."

Elletson Smears Rossotrudnichestvo and its StaffElletson Smears Rossotrudnichestvo and its Staff

That a paper of such dubious content, authored by an individual with no relevant academic credentials of any kind and a professional history involving espionage operations of an indeterminate nature directed against the very country he's writing about, was apparently circulated among "senior German political circles — including the Chancellor's office" — and in the process may have influenced powerful individuals, if not state policy itself, is troubling in the absolute extreme.

Still, the ‘report' is highly illuminating, for it demonstrates just how desperate the Initiative is to damage Russo-German relations. As Elletson himself acknowledges, the consequences of a "special relationship" between Russia and Germany would be "very serious", raising the possibility of "an end to Germany's ‘Westbindung', a severe blow to NATO and the transformation of the European Union into an eastward, as opposed to westward, leaning bloc".

These are prospects the organization — and by extension, the British government and NATO — cannot abide, so in order to degrade the deep and cohering bond between Russia and Germany, it intends to fight an "information war" of its own in the country, and has sought to enlist a number of influential figures in Germany for the purpose. In my next article, I'll discuss who they are, and why they were such attractive targets for cluster enlistment — although key questions I and many others have about the Initiative are likely to remain unresolved for the foreseeable future. Namely, why is a government-funded 'think tank' in the UK staffed overwhelmingly by individuals with backgrounds in military intelligence seeking to meddle in the affairs of a foreign democracy, and what possible right does it have to do so? 

*Daesh (aka Islamic state/ISIL/ISIS/IS) is a terrorist organization banned in Russia

in der Übersetzung verloren...

FIRST HORSE: We can't compete with this Merc Van, can we?

SECOND HORSE: Hey! We went round the block four times in two days... It hasn't moved once in a week... 

FIRST HORSE: Do you think it could be an RT news gathering device spying on us?

SECOND HORSE: Industrial espionage on a couple of nags?... It's dead meat...

 

 

Picture at top by Gus Leonisky. 

Diese Täuschung wird von den westlichen Medien ignoriet...

Despite being ignored by Western media, leaks from Integrity Initiative have paralyzed the operations of this UK-funded covert influence network, and could lead to its dismantling, says a leading British academic.

“This has made a mess of [Integrity Initiative’s] operations, they are spending most of their time now trying to fire-fight on the coverage this is getting. And they are not doing essentially what they are being paid to do, which is to counter the Russians,” David Miller, Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol School for Policy Studies, told RT.

“The British government is getting bad value for money, if it was ever getting better value.”

As part of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, which studies Western attempts to control media coverage of key international events, Miller has played a crucial role in studying the four tranches of data anonymously uploaded and sourced from the previously little-known group, which has been backed by the UK Foreign Office, NATO and Facebook, to the tune of over £1 million per year.

The documents, whose authenticity has not been denied, contain details of psyops operations against public figures, of the manipulation of media coverage in leading Western outlets, and have also revealed worldwide networks of prominent journalists and academics, secretly engaged to discredit, at every turn, pro-Moscow points of view and political developments.

Despite the refusal by all of those named either to either admit their connection or to say that there was nothing untoward in their activities, Miller believes that getting rumbled has made it more difficult for them to push and publish anti-Russian content.

“Most of the people named are trying to pretend that this is not all of great significance, but the revelation of the involvement of the government in manipulating other countries, and the political process in the UK, is extremely damaging for them,” he said, via video link.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/news/448325-integrity-initiative-shut-down-leaks/

 

 

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This deception is ignored by the Western media...

boom-de-boom goes boom...

 

End of the Boom


Germany Prepares for an Economic Downturn


Clouds are gathering on the horizon of the global economy and the risk of a recession is growing. Many experts believe that the international banking system is unprepared and Germany has begun getting ready for the worst.

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is something like a global weather station for the economy, carefully registering even the tiniest of disruptions to the world economic stage. And in the past week, IMF analysts have concluded that a storm is brewing on the horizon.

Its experts carefully register every impulse, and in the past week they've concluded that the forecast is looking increasingly dark. "I see storm clouds building," David Lipton, the IMF's first deputy managing director, recently said in London, adding that the global banking system isn't ready for another downturn. "The work on crisis prevention is incomplete," he said.

The economic outlook is worsening almost by the week. A general consensus among economy experts has emerged that 2019 will be worse for all large national economies than last year. Stock exchanges already began dropping last year, with Germany's blue-chip index DAX losing almost 20 percent of its value in 2018 while the Dow Jones also showed losses. 

The risks for the global economy, the eurozone and Germany have increased significantly in recent months. The U.S.'s stricter monetary policy, with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates again shortly before Christmas, is creating a predicament for emerging economies given their considerable debts, especially those in dollars. As interest rates rise, so too does the amount they must earmark for servicing their debts. The trade conflicts incited by U.S. President Donald Trump aren't helping the economic climate either. 

In Europe, several crises could flare up simultaneously in 2019 and further burden economic development. It's still unclear if Brexit will take place in an orderly or chaotic fashion, but it will certainly be a burden for the British and European economies, destroying established production structures, requiring costly adaptation measures by companies and fostering consumer uncertainty. Then there's the Italian government's rather adventurous approach to economic policy, which could trigger a new euro crisis.

 

Read more:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/germany-prepares-for-an-eco...

 

Meanwhile the Donald, still after his Mexican wall, has added 1.5 trillion deficit to the US markets, for the US banks to play with ("responsibly" — ahah)... 

after the yellow vests come the red pens...

Teachers too are angry and want to let it know. After #pasdevagues [#no-waves], a movement born in October 2018 to denounce the lack of support of their superiors in the face of school violence following the assault of a female professor attacked during class, here are the "red pens". Launched mid-December by six teachers on Facebook, this group has grown rapidly during the Christmas holidays. Wednesday, January 9, the movement has now reached 60,000 members.

If the "red pens" claim a continuity with the phenomenon #pasdewaves, they remind us of other dissatisfied: the "yellow vests". A symbolic object, a color and the spontaneity of the playing field, that's what brings the two movements together. They have only the name as a close relationship, according to the founders of the "red pens", but these would probably not have emerged without the crisis of "yellow vests". On December 10, it is to these that Emmanuel Macron addressed his rhetoric in favor of boosting purchasing power of the "base". In this televised address, the president did not mention the conditions of teachers ... The "red pens" are born of this "forgetfulness". "We wanted to create a Facebook group to find out if others were as unhappy as we are," says Jennifer (all of whom requested anonymity), a 34-year-old schoolteacher who is one of six founders. In a few days, we have been joined by more than 10,000. "


change of the critical point


Who makes up this online community which now representing nearly 7% of the 880 000 teachers of the national education? Their profiles are as diverse as the teaching staff itself: first- and second-degree teachers, but also CPEs and psychologists, union members, non-union members, young and older teachers....

 

Translation by Jules Letambour

 

Read more:

https://www.lemonde.fr/education/article/2019/01/09/les-stylos-rouges-au...

a hired gun for american imperialism ....

Why is Britain spending billions of dollars on two new super aircraft carriers? That’s the question the state-owned BBC asks. However, don’t expect the British Bullsh**t Corporation to provide any insightful answers.

The two ships in question – now coming into service – are HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, lovingly named after the British monarchy. The total cost for building these “leviathans” is around £6 billion ($8bn), according to the BBC. But when fully fitted out with new warplanes, the cost will soar to multiples of that figure.

At a time when poverty is hitting record levels in Britain and the country is facing an economic meltdown over its Brexit divorce from the European Union, it is certainly pertinent to question the seemingly twisted priorities of British state planners in putting these mega warships into service.

You have to appreciate the scale of these vessels. HMS Queen Elizabeth is 280 meters in length, longer that the iconic Houses of Parliament building in London. It can host up to 60 aircraft on its deck. 

 

The BBC calls the two new super carriers “gunboat diplomacy on steroids”. They are bigger than any other previous British-made aircraft carrier, all which have been decommissioned through old age. 

The US navy currently has 10 such vessels. China, France and Russia have one each. With two aircraft carriers, Britain is thus showing “global ambitions”. But what are those ambitions?

Significantly, both of these British warships are reportedly designed to be compatible with US counterparts. Britain has ordered 48 American-made Lockheed Martin F-35B stealth fighter jets, specifically for deployment on its new carriers. It is planning to buy a total of 138 F-35s to complete the battle group. 

Each F-35 warplane has a price tag of around $100 million. So, for the total package of 138 planes for the two carriers, the final cost could be near $18 billion. That’s on top of the $8bn building budget. 

Again, this is a bewildering extravagance with British taxpayers’ money at a time when the country is suffering from massive poverty and its public health services – once the envy of the world – are in abject deterioration. 

READ MORE: No Longer 'Master of the Seven Seas': Has the Royal Navy Ever Been This Tiny?

The design of Britain’s new carriers – in particular the compatibility with US navy and air force – is perhaps the key to what British “global ambitions” are really about. 

Britain is positioning itself as a hired gun for American imperialism in the 21st century. Think about it. Why would Britain build these giant warships to be of such service to US warplanes, instead of British-European counterparts like the EuroTyphoon fighter? 

The function of Britain as a military accomplice of the US is nothing new of course. All during the Cold War decades, British forces were a reliable partner in American overseas interventions. The henchman role played by Britain was euphemistically called the “special relationship”.

After the Cold War, the “special relationship” continued with Britain joining in American wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. The British not only provided important firepower and boots on the ground to terrorize occupied populations on behalf of the Americans, the accomplice role also provided an important veneer of “multilateralism” and, therefore, legal cover for what was otherwise blatant criminal aggression. 

Looking ahead, Washington’s imperial planners are fixated on the return of “great power rivalry”. China and Russia are explicitly fingered as the targets. As American economic power diminishes, the role of its military is assigned more purpose to offset this weakness with regard to exerting US global power.

But American military power is also limited by historic economic demise. With a national debt of $22 trillion – and counting – the outlook for US militarism is one of inevitable constraints. 

 

This is where Washington’s partner in militarism – Britain – is finding a new assignment. Namely, to share the military burden of “securing” the globe in the 21st century for Anglo-American capitalism.

Britain’s two new super carriers fit this arrangement. Admittedly, construction of the vessels was initiated 10 years ago. But we are talking about strategic planning here, and how American and British planners anticipate trends of geopolitics. 

What is of concern is how British political and military leaders, as well as state propaganda outlets (like the BBC and think-tanks like the Integrity Initiative), have been zealously ramping up Russophobia in recent years. 

The alleged poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in England last year is a case in point. The British political and media establishment have been banging war drums over that dubious incident with accusations that the Russian government ordered “an assassination on the streets of Britain” – an “act of war” no less, it is claimed. 

READ MORE: Captain of UK's Most Powerful Ship Wants 10,000 More Sailors in Royal Navy

Britain’s warmongering against Russia is also demonstrated by its increased “interception” of Russian warplanes and warships in international waters; its unprecedented deployment of troops to the Arctic and Baltic (including Prince Harry!) – “to send a signal to Moscow”; and recently the dispatch of a British warship to the Black Sea to support the Neo-Nazi regime in Kiev which, British defense minister Gavin Williamson claims, is “facing Russian aggression”.

British delusions of grandeur as a former imperial power are pathetic. But these delusions are also dangerous when Britain is being given a new role as America’s imperialist henchman for the 21st century. And in a bid to try to prove its “worth”, Britain is becoming more belligerent towards Russia. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Read more:

 

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201901081071310653-why-uk-aggresses/

 

 

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stratcom-ii is ignored by the aussie media...

 

Dad’s Army’s cover blown

 

A formidable and secret UK government-funded anti-Russian StratCom (strategic communication) enterprise, its cover having recently been embarrassingly blown, now presents itself as a bumbling Dad’s Army outfit. But don’t be fooled: this pussycat is a tiger.

By Tony Kevin

 

This published-sources-based story has been around for a few weeks but has so far gone completely unreported in Australian media: which is odd, because it is in my opinion quite an important foreign affairs story for Australia.

A lengthy set of files, made up of downloaded (or hacked) Integrity Initiative and Institute for Statecraft papers, was published online in late November by British contrarian writer Tim Hayward, as a ‘working file in progress’, under the title ‘Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative’, with authors Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, and Piers Robinson (who call themselves the ‘Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media’). The URL is here.

The authors introduce their set of papers as follows:

A close examination of past and present posts held by individuals associated with the Integrity Initiative indicates that [TK- British] specialists in military intelligence and other senior military personnel with responsibility for StratCom (strategic communication) operations are closely involved in the programme.

The activities of the Integrity Initiative include:

  • setting up covert networks (“clusters”) of journalists, academics and military/foreign service StratCom practitioners in each country including the UK: “The programme has begun to create a critical mass of individuals from across society (think tanks, academia, politics, the media, government and the military) whose work is proving to be mutually reinforcing.”
  • covert manipulation of the public sphere, including campaigns to smear and suppress dissenters and block their appointment to public office. The “silencing of pro-Kremlin voices on Serbian TV” is listed as an “achievement”.
  • overt attacks on British politicians, academics and other critics of UK government policies, most notably on the Leader of the Opposition [TK – Jeremy Corbyn] and his staff.
  • in the Baltic states and Ukraine, working closely with organizations and governments that foment hatred of ethnic Russian minorities and encourage Holocaust revisionism.
  • promotion of a hate campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church in the Balkans.’

In response to these published leaked documents, Chris Donnelly, a senior staffer in the Institute for Statecraft, produced in December a fascinating seven-minute Youtube video, professionally filmed in a cosy kitchen in a house or flat (possibly his own) in London. Here is the URL

 

I have transcribed Mr Donnelly’s talk and will send this by following email. Here are the sections that were of most interest to me:

We have across Europe ‘networks’ – we call them ‘clusters’ – of people who understand the issue, and have agreed voluntarily to band themselves together in order to tackle the issue in their own country, and to share information between each country, on the problems, on how to tackle them, and on how to improve their own governmental capacity to deal with them. The Integrity Initiative program is really important right at this moment, because the threat from disinformation and malign influence is increasing, whether that comes from Russia, or from jihadist organisations, like Daesh, targeting specific elements of the population in different European countries.

To understand why disinformation is such a big issue nowadays, we have to understand that the whole nature of conflict in the 21st century is changing. Whereas if you think of the 20th century, the main form of combat, of conflict, that we are aware of, was world war. During the current situation, it’s a new kind of warfare, a new kind of conflict, a new kind of competition, in which everything becomes a weapon: information, energy supplies, cyber-attack which everyone is aware of, corruption itself, financial investment – all of these things are now weapons in modern conflict between states, and between states and sub-state actors like Daesh. And disinformation is the issue which unites all the other weapons of this conflict and which gives them a third dimension.

… 

Over the last month or so, we have had a serious problem. We have been hacked, attacked, by organisations which have exposed a lot of our emails and papers onto the Web. And we have been wondering of course why this is, and the answer seems to me to be clear. It is because we have been being so effective with our Integrity Initiative program, exposing disinformation, so we have become a threat to someone’s operation against democracy, and they are trying to take us down. And we have simply not got to let that happen. We have got to fight back. We have to win this one, because if we don’t, democracy will be undermined. And we can win this by upping our game, by strengthening our efforts, by getting more support, to tackle the problem in all those countries of Europe where disinformation is a growing threat to democracy. This is not a problem that’s going to go away. This is an issue which is going to become more and more important, more and more of a threat, as the 21st century moves on, and it’s for that reason that we have to develop what we are doing, we have to grow it, we have to educate people to understand it, to understand the significance of disinformation and of the attack on our democratic institutions, the efforts to undermine our very concept of democracy, to undermine the very understanding of truth, to undermine our values. Only if we can educate people in this, only if we can expose the attacks on us, can we enable our societies, our democracies, to fight back, to defend themselves, and to prevail.

As NATO Honorary Colonel Donnelly, a retired senior intelligence officer, bumbles around in his little kitchen, a modest wine rack on the wall behind him, he offers to viewers a mild, cuddly George Smiley sort of image. But the fierce glint in his eye and the passion of his words I have selected above shows he is anything but mild. He is a dedicated ideological crusader with a keen professional expertise in strategic communication tradecraft (Stratcom). The Institute’s and the Initiative’s cover having been blown, it is the best possible defence to try to de-fang them: to make them look as familiar and unthreatening as possible, a sort of quaint Dad’s Army operation. But it would be a mistake to underestimate their dedication, expertise or influence, as a reading of the contents of the ‘Briefing Note on the Integrity Initiative’ will show. This is a big story.

The authors of the ‘Briefing Note’ estimate an overt 2018/19 budget of about £2.6 million, of which £1.96 million comes from the UK Foreign Office and the rest from other NATO government agencies and commercial donors like Facebook. Most of the Foreign Office funding comes from the Conflict Security and Stability Fund’s ‘Russian Language Programme’, now merged with a secret ‘Counter Disinformation and Media Programme’. Office space in central London (undeclared) and most of the staff salaries appear to be provided as covert benefits in kind. I would estimate these separately budgeted items to be worth an additional £2 million, making a total 2018/19 annual budget in the vicinity of £4 to £5 million.

The key point which makes this newsworthy – or it should, if we still had serious investigative journalism in Australia – is that we now know that there is a concerted international effort by large numbers of experienced former British StratCom intelligence professionals, and their many and diverse contacts in the Foreign Office and in British media and abroad, that is putting out a steadily directed and prioritised flow of anti-Russian disinformation. All the time. And they do it well, as we have seen on the Skripals, on Ukraine, and on Syria. These men and women are professionals in the manipulation of disinformation online, using networks and clusters of key people strategically to drive desired discussion themes in major public fora, in mainstream media, and even in online comment sites. It is no accident that various Anglosphere disinformation offensives sometimes look disciplined and centrally guided. Because they are.

Chris Donnelly may think of these activities as countering Russian disinformation: to me, they are simply in themselves expert disinformation practice. We need to know this as we read Anglosphere foreign affairs published content or listen to talks. We need to ask ourselves critical questions like: Where is this originating? With what objectives?

I think this is all disturbing and newsworthy, but I have yet to persuade anybody in Australian media that it is.

Tony Kevin, a former Australian senior diplomat, is an independent non-fiction author. His most recent book is ‘Return to Moscow’, a literary travel memoir published by UWA Publishing in 2017.

 

 

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https://off-guardian.org/2019/01/08/dads-armys-cover-blown/

 

 

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fondly remembering terrorism...

 

From CJ Hopkins

Remember when the War on Terror ended and the War on Populism began? That’s OK, no one else does.

It happened in the Summer of 2016, also known as “the Summer of Fear.” The War on Terror was going splendidly. There had been a series of “terrorist attacks,” in Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, each of them perpetrated by suddenly “self-radicalized” “lone wolf terrorists” (or “non-terrorist terrorists“) who had absolutely no connection to any type of organized terrorist groups prior to suddenly “self- radicalizing” themselves by consuming “terrorist content” on the Internet. It seemed we were entering a new and even more terrifying phase of the Global War on Terror, a phase in which anyone could be a “terrorist” and “terrorism” could mean almost anything.

This broadening of the already virtually meaningless definition of “terrorism” was transpiring just in time for Obama to hand off the reins to Hillary Clinton, who everyone knew was going to be the next president, and who was going to have to bomb the crap out of Syria in response to the non-terrorist terrorist threat. The War on Terror (or, rather, “the series of persistent targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” as Obama rebranded it) was going to continue, probably forever. The Brexit referendum had just taken place, but no one had really digested that yet … and then Trump won the nomination.

Like that scene in Orwell’s 1984 where the Party switches official enemies right in the middle of the Hate Week rally, the War on Terror was officially canceled and replaced by the War on Populism. Or … all right, it wasn’t quite that abrupt. But seriously, go back and scan the news. Note how the “Islamic terrorist threat” we had been conditioned to live in fear of on a daily basis since 2001 seemed to just vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the “existential threat” we were facing was “neo-nationalism,” “illiberalism,” or the pejorative designator du jour, “populism.”

Here we are, two and a half years later, and “democracy” is under constant attack by a host of malevolent “populist” forces …. Russo-fascist Black vote suppressorsdebaucherous eau de Novichok assassinsBernie Sanders, the yellow-vested Frenchemboldened non-exploding mail bomb bombersJeremy Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult, and brain-devouring Russian-Cubano crickets. The President of the United States is apparently both a Russian intelligence operative and literally the resurrection of Hitler. NBC and MSNBC have been officially merged with the CIA. The Guardian has dispensed with any pretense of journalism and is just making stories up out of whole cloth. Anyone who has ever visited Russia, or met with a Russian, or read a Russian novel, is on an “Enemies of Democracy” watch list (as is anyone refusing to vacation in Israel, which the Senate is now in the process of making mandatory for all U.S. citizens). Meanwhile, the “terrorists” are nowhere to be found, except for the terrorists we’ve been using to attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad, the sadistic nerve-gassing Monster of Syria, who illegally invaded and conquered his own country in defiance of the “international community.”

All this madness has something to do with “populism,” although it isn’t clear what. The leading theory is that the Russians are behind it. They’ve got some sort of hypno-technology (not to be confused with those brain-eating crickets) capable of manipulating the minds of … well, Black people, mostly, but not just Black people. Obviously, they are also controlling the French, who they have transformed into “racist, hate-filled liars” who are “attacking elected representatives, journalists, Jews, foreigners, and homosexuals,” according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the anointed “Golden Boy of Europe.” More terrifying still, Putin is now able to project words out of Trump’s mouth in real-time, literally using Trump’s head as a puppet, or like one of those Mission Impossible masks. (Rachel Maddow conclusively proved this by spending a couple of hours on Google comparing the words coming out of Trump’s mouth to words that had come out of Russian mouths, but had never come out of American mouths, which they turned out to be the exact same words, or pretty close to the exact same words!) Apparently, Putin’s master plan for Total Populist World Domination and Establishment of the Thousand Year Duginist Reich was to provoke the global capitalist ruling classes, the corporate media, and their credulous disciples into devolving into stark raving lunatics, or blithering idiots, or a combination of both.

But, seriously, all that actually happened back in the Summer of 2016 was the global capitalist ruling classes recognized that they had a problem. The problem that they recognized they had (and continue to have, and are now acutely aware of) is that no one is enjoying global capitalism … except the global capitalist ruling classes. The whole smiley-happy, supranational, neo-feudal corporate empire concept is not going over very well with the masses, or at least not with the unwashed masses. People started voting for right-wing parties, and Brexit, and other “populist” measures (not because they had suddenly transformed into Nazis, but because the Right was acknowledging and exploiting their anger with the advance of global neoliberalism, while liberals and the Identity Politics Left were slow jamming the TPP with Obama and babbling about transgender bathrooms, and such).

The global capitalist ruling classes needed to put a stop to that (i.e, the “populist” revolt, not the bathroom debate). So they suspended the Global War on Terror and launched the War on Populism. It was originally only meant to last until Hillary Clinton’s coronation, or the second Brexit referendum, then switch back to the War on Terror, but … well, weird things happen, and here we are.

We’ll get back to the War on Terror, eventually … as the War on Populism is essentially just a temporary rebranding of it. In the end, it’s all the same counter-insurgency. When a system is globally hegemonic, as our current model of capitalism is, every war is a counter-insurgency (i.e., a campaign waged against an internal enemy), as there are no external enemies to fight. The “character” of the internal enemies might change (e.g., “Islamic terrorism,” “extremism,” “fascism,” “populism,” “Trumpism,” “Corbynism,” et cetera) but they are all insurgencies against the hegemonic system … which, in our case, is global capitalism, not the United States of America.

The way I see it, the global capitalist ruling classes now have less than two years to put down this current “populist” insurgency. First and foremost, they need to get rid of Trump, who despite his bombastic nativist rhetoric is clearly no “hero of the common people,” nor any real threat to global capitalism, but who has become an anti-establishment symbol, like a walking, talking “fuck you” to both the American and global neoliberal elites. Then, they need to get a handle on Europe, which isn’t going to be particularly easy. What happens next in France will be telling, as will whatever becomes of Brexit … which I continue to believe will never actually happen, except perhaps in some purely nominal sense.

And then there’s the battle for hearts and minds, which they’ve been furiously waging for the last two years, and which is only going to intensify. If you think things are batshit crazy now (which, clearly, they are), strap yourself in. What is coming is going to make COINTELPRO look like the work of some amateur meme-freak. The neoliberal corporate media, psy-ops like Integrity Initiative, Internet-censoring apps like NewsGuard, ShareBlue and other David Brock outfits, and a legion of mass hysteria generators will be relentlessly barraging our brains with absurdity, disinformation, and just outright lies (as will their counterparts on the Right, of course, in case you thought that they were any alternative). It’s going to get extremely zany.

The good news is, by the time it’s all over and Trump has been dealt with, and normality restored, and the working classes put back in their places, we probably won’t remember that any of this happened. We’ll finally be able to sort out those bathrooms, and get back to paying the interest on our debts, and to living in more or less constant fear of an imminent devastating terrorist attack … and won’t that be an enormous relief?

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2019/01/14/the-war-on-populism/

 

 

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