Propaganda in the Economist

There is an article in this week’s Economist magazine about Russian military power.

The opening paragraph contains a phrase along the lines of “since Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine in 2014”. No such invasion has taken place. Whoever wrote this (the article is not attributed) is insane or evil. – This is really the only question worth asking about most Western journalists these days.

This is an oft-used propaganda technique. If they repeat some fiction often enough eventually they will (so the reasoning goes presumably) convince their readers – and themselves – of its truth. It is an exercise in self-hypnosis and mass mesmerisation. As to the claim – the key point here is we are in the realms of narrative journalism. This is how 99% of the Western media work. It is not about facts and reportage but about building a tale. The tale is sometimes established with reference to a few supporting facts. But when, as in this case, there are no supporting facts – they simply repeat it over and over so it becomes true. “Russia invaded Eastern Ukraine in 2014”. This is not a statement in the realm of facts – which could be contested and/or proved. Such a statement would be – “Russia has supported the rebels in Eastern Ukraine with military advice and hardware”. Little or no evidence exists for this in the public domain – but it’s entirely possible. But the Economist is not trying to assert that fact. That (possible?) fact alone would not suffice. After all; the Western countries are supplying the regime in Kiev with military advice and hardware. So just to say that Russia is too would make it look like what it is – a civil war with major powers each backing their side. Hence we have to get to the “Russia invaded” narrative. The key point here – and this is the identical propagandist line which comes out of Kiev – is to recast the rebellion in the East of Ukraine as being the result of “Russian aggression”. This in turn masks the reality of Western actions in Ukraine – supporting a coup and signing a political agreement with an unelected government for example. The fact is that the President who was disposed, Yanukovych, was a member of the Party of Regions.  The Party of Regions was strong in Eastern Ukraine. When the elected President was chased from office by a Western backed mob it is those who supported the Party of Regions who lost out. While it is true that in the West of Ukraine there is strong desire on the part of people to belong to the EU and NATO in the East the situation is entirely reversed. Gallup polling in April 2014 showed figures of 19% and 13% respectively for EU and NATO membership. [1] Thus the people in the East of Ukraine were disenfranchised by Maidan. The purpose of the “Russia invaded” narrative is to deny this reality. A civil war, triggered by a Western backed coup, has to be repackaged as an external invasion in order to deny the awkward fact that millions of Ukrainians who live in the East were in fact disenfranchised rather than liberated by Maidan. Ironic of course that the bastions of ‘democracy’ are in fact on the side of crushing democracy.

But all this lying is entirely par of the course. There is, however,  something a little surprising in the Economist article. The article weighs up in worried tones how Russia is stronger than NATO “on its borders”. The source appears to be a Western think-tank. This shows the psychopathic thinking which these people (the Western military machine and their hangers-on in various think tanks and the media) engage in. Why should Russia not be “stronger than NATO” on its own territory? To whom would this be an offence but to people contemplating an invasion of Russia? Of course; articles like this are planted in order to drum up support for more military spending – and to legitimize this when it happens. But the underlying reality is psychopathic. It is only a psychopath who has to be stronger than his foe (anyone who is not his absolutely obedient slave) on all counts and in all theatres. Contrast with Russia’s military posture – of trying to maintain a credible defence and to maintain the balance of nuclear deterrence. The West demands – like the imperialists that they are – that Russia lie on the floor in the posture of a submissive dog licking its master’s boots. Anything else is construed as aggression. This is the basis for their delusions about “Russian aggression”. It is the same, exactly the same, as how a psychopath genuinely sees his beaten wife’s slight resistance to the next blow as a sign of terrible and unforgivable aggression against him.

Insane or lying? Perhaps they are all just psychopaths.

Notes 1. http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/06/Ukraine-slide-deck.pdf 

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The daily feed of Western propaganda

Just a few tasters from 5 minutes of exposure to the “free press”.

1. The BBC News reports on some student demonstrations which are apparently taking place in Iran. They acknowledge (the first time they use it) that their video clip material is culled from “social media”. They interview two people – both of whom are apparently pro-Western commentators. They report on the “mullahs who have ruled Iran since the 1979 revolution” – with no mention of the fact that the political leadership in Iran is elected. Yes – they have elections. True – Iran has a complex constitution which includes a powerful body to which only clerics can be appointed. However to gloss over this and present it as a regime (the word is used by one of the “experts”) “ruled by mullahs” is simply a falsehood. Notice how a combination of a biased viewpoint from an “expert” who is interviewed for the programme and the script of the news anchor can be used to build up the (fake) narrative.

They report on Donald Trump’s Tweet that “The world is watching” – and they cite the response of the Iranian leadership –  that the US claims are “opportunistic and deceitful”. But we are left with the words of one of their “experts” ringing in our ears – about a “violent clampdown”. Of course all this is precisely “opportunistic and deceitful”. What would happen if student protests turned violent in the UK? Exactly the same as may be happening in Iran – there would be a forceful police response and arrests. Yet the whole slant of the BBC report is in terms of worthy protesters and a “violent clampdown” by the authorities.

It is worth remembering that if the protests are indeed in part about the poor state of the economy as the BBC reports that one reason for this is US sanctions on Iran in connection with its missile programme.

This is all sounding like a well-rehearsed regime change op. Sanctions and other external pressures lead to internal fissures. Anyone who demonstrates against the “regime” is then presented as a freedom-fighter/peace loving dentist or whatever. Police actions against them are described as a “violent crackdown”. The “regime” is portrayed as a dictatorship. And, before we know where we are, there will be an overwhelming case to launch a humanitarian intervention to defend freedom.

The BBC plays its part.

2. In the Financial Times today there is a report on a military action in Syria. This discusses a Syrian army initiative supported by Russian aviation against Al-Qaeda linked terrorists. Figures about civilian casualties are provided by the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” – a one man show run from the UK by a supporter of the Syrian opposition. (This organisation is the main “independent” source for almost the entire Western media). This “source” reports on civilian deaths allegedly caused by Russian aviation. Much of the report in the FT plays on this theme. – It may be happening but the source has no credibility being openly aligned with one side in the conflict.

The report (by someone called Erika Solomon) contains this falsehood:

The province is meant to be one four “de-escalation zones” set up by Russia and regional powers Turkey and Iran where clashes were supposed to be halted. But Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s armed forces, called this week for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to be “eliminated” as a top priority for military operations in Syria in 2018.

As the report acknowledges Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda (or simply a re-branding). And that is the point. The de-escalation zones set up by Russian, Iran and Turkey precisely envisaged a ceasefire between government forces and “rational rebels” and precisely excluded Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. What Russia is doing  therefore is precisely in line with this agreement. Yet Ms Solomon manages to present it as if Russia was acting against this agreement – “province is meant to be” … “But, Valery Gerasimov… “. It’s a lie.

Again – spot the pattern – a mix of narrative gloss and quotes from “independent (not at all) experts/sources” are used to construct the propaganda.

The Financial Times plays its part.

3. Isn’t RT awful? They publish nothing but positive stories about Russia. They stir up dissent by amplifying problems in Western countries. They openly support dissenters in the West and build them up out of all proportion. Indeed it has been scientifically proven that they are trying to undermine the trust of Western populations in their own governments. How awful.

But – look here – what is US State funded “Radio Free Europe” doing with its Russia coverageWhich is also available in Russian. Oh. Exactly the same.

4. Here is one from Channel 4 about Russian “alleged” interference in the UK’s Brexit referendum. Amusingly it is called a fact-check. It is characteristic of a certain kind of Western propaganda. Two facts do indeed emerge from a careful reading of the article. 1) There is a some evidence for very small-scale Russian activity on social media – activity which may have been sponsored by the Kremlin. Examples include social media posts mostly made after the referendum took place and re-tweeting of existing posts about Brexit on Twitter. 2) The “journalist” writing the article is desperate to tell a story about Russian interference and is hardly put off by the thinness of the evidence.

The author of the article uses narrative glosses to link and move the story along, exaggerating as he goes, before the final dramatic finale – a denial from a UKIP funder that he accepted donations from Russia – which, naturally, we are supposed to believe, is proof that he did. (Who knows – maybe he did – but why not wait for the Election Commission investigation to tell us?)

This piece is characteristic of Western media propaganda because it uses some material which is factually true. A US Senate report has indeed come to certain conclusions etc. But the actual narrative is not the conclusion that any sober-minded investigator could draw from the facts.  Rather a tale is told and the few facts are used judiciously in order to prop up the narrative.

 

What surprises this writer continually is how apparently educated people will talk about “Russian propaganda” and how terrible it is without noticing that their side is doing exactly the same. And in a way worse because it is everywhere and insidious. Whereas RT makes no bones about being funded by the Russian government.

 

 

 

 

Guardian propaganda on Gaza

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s western-backed Palestine Authority, which is controlled by Fatah, fought a war with Hamas over Gaza in 2007, which led to Hamas taking over.

The above is from this article. There is no mention of in the article that Hamas won the election in Gaza. [1] A standard piece of sheer make-belief from the system press. And they go on about RT….

 

Notes

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_legislative_election,_2006

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/jun/02/gaza-israel-flotilla-hamas  – in this Guardian opinion piece the writer acknowledges that Hamas did indeed win a “fair election”.

Propaganda by stealth

Propaganda doesn’t have to be full-on. It can be quite subtle. Here’s an example from the Guardian – that amplifier for the State Department:

It appears in a story about a British IT Security consultant being arrested by the FBI on charges related to creating hacking tools:

It [the WannaCry malware] moved particularly quickly through corporate networks thanks to its reuse of security exploit, called EternalBlue, first discovered by the NSA before being stolen and leaked by an allegedly Russian-linked hacking group called The Shadow Brokers.

A reader who was not all that tech-savvy reading the above might think that ‘EternalBlue’ was something which just exists in reality and which was (as the text says) ‘discovered’ by NSA (National Security Agency – US Intelligence). In fact: EternalBlue was one of numerous pieces of malware developed by the NSA in order to conduct espionage campaigns against third-party targets. (These targets included commercial companies as well as governments). EternalBlue was indeed ‘stolen’ (in as much as one set of criminals can steal from another) and then made publicly available.

A subtle difference? Not really: discovering an exploit is one matter. Producing a piece of malware which uses the exploit to intrude into systems is something else altogether. The NSA did the latter; not the former, as the Guardian would have you believe.

It was this malware which was obtained and then made publicly available by the ShadowBrokers. Edward Snowden, and others, believed that Russia was behind the ShadowBrokers. (The idea was that Russia, by showing that it has access to US intelligence hacking tools, was demonstrating that it could prove that the US was behind hacking attempts on third-parties). At any event – which is worse: building a tool to break into buildings or stealing that tool?

The Guardian is trying to spin this as Russia as the bad guy and the NSA as the good guys. But it’s propaganda. A little lie – swap ‘created by’ for ‘discovered by’ – and they hope that you won’t notice…

 

Tacky anti-Russia propaganda in the Telegraph

This is a typical example of the kind of low-grade anti-Russia propaganda that the free press likes to fill its pages with.

It’s a story in the Daily Telegraph about some apparent changes to the Russian tourist visa application process.

Apparently the changes include new questions about income and about the applicant’s social media accounts.

The questions are described as ‘intrusive’. The article presents this as something sinister – and uses it to paint Russia in a bad light.

The report says that they tried to contact the Foreign Office to get a list of questions that Russian visitors to the UK are asked for comparison but the Foreign Office could not supply them. This is third-rate journalism. If you want to make a comparison then you need to get the form yourself e.g. – ask a contact in Russia to make an application so you can get a form. To put your lazy and half-baked research into the article and leave it at that is shoddy journalism – the kind, one hopes, would lead to a fail in journalism school – but which is all too common in the Western press.

In reality; questions about having sufficient income are hardly unusual in Visa application forms. Russia already asks these questions for business long-stay visas and has it seems simply decided to ask them for tourist visas as well. It isn’t clear from the article but these new regulations may apply to visa applicants from countries other than Britain.

As concerns social media accounts. Russia is perhaps interested in finding out if people visiting are bloggers who plan to write hostile material about Russia and/or support terrorism. Again – these changes probably apply to people from countries other than Britain. Russia (like Britain) has a problem with terrorist supporters who are very active on social media. This is probably connected to those problems. As the article acknowledges the US asks visa applicants similar questions.

So. A complete non-story – dressed up as evil Russia behaving in a sinister fashion.

This is the kind of low-grade hate propaganda that papers like the Telegraph feeds its readers on a daily basis. Ah. The ‘free press’.

Media propaganda on Ukraine

This is just a small example. An article in the Telegraph about the recent announcement on the creation of a new ‘state’ by the DNR. [1] Just a couple of points.

i) This is an example of what this site calls ‘narrative overlay’. The Western media often reports the news in this way. They don’t just limit themselves to reporting facts – someone said this; someone else claimed that. They tell their readers what to believe. These are editorial glosses laid on top of the news to make sure everyone is on the right page. A sort of organized group think. For example;

The proposed country – which has no chance of getting off the ground – would be founded after a referendum and called Malorossiya, a tsarist-era name meaning “Little Russia” that once described most of the area covering modern-day Ukraine.

Well. In all likelihood this plan is just intended as a wind-up; perhaps part of a strategy to say to Kiev that if Kiev doesn’t start implementing the Minsk agreements soon (with regard to political autonomy for the Eastern regions) then the stakes will be raised. In all likelihood it “does have no chance of getting off the ground”. But why does the Telegraph have to tell its readers this? Why not just report the facts? These kinds of editorial glosses are about managing the narrative. In essence; telling people what to think.

ii) A second characteristic of the Western media is the way that claims are made and are treated as self-evidently true but in fact rarely evidenced.  See:

Moscow has denied the allegations despite overwhelming evidence that it has been involved in the fighting and its explicit political support for the rebels.

A good example. This works simply be repeating ‘overwhelming evidence’ enough times. In reality there has been astonishingly little credible evidence in the media to support the claim of Russian ‘involvement in the fighting’. Reuters published a story which provided some evidence (though far from conclusive) that Russia had supplied two tanks to the militias in Eastern Ukraine. [2] This report stands out as being a rare case when journalists have made a serious attempt to back up the narrative with the fruits of investigative journalism. In the main the source for the “Russia is involved in the fighting” is either the US State Department or the Ukrainian defence ministry. This isn’t to say that Russia has not been sending military support to the militias. Quite possibly they have. But there is as a matter of fact no ‘overwhelming evidence’. And ‘explicit political support’ is also a fiction. The Kremlin has studiously avoided supporting the rebels in the DNR and LPR in any demands they might have made to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. The Kremlin has been explicit that the conflict should be solved with reference to the Minsk agreements.

Why does the Western press lie so much? Because – in the end Western (mostly US) finance capital is running a racket. Bringing ‘freedom’ to the world – in reality a vulgar and crude materialist culture. And the role of the press (owned by that self-same finance capital) is to soak the masses in the myths needed to sell this horrible culture as the best thing that’s ever happened to humankind.

Notes

1. https://sputniknews.com/politics/201707181055660081-dpr-malorossiya-kremlin/

2. http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-tanks-exclusive-idUKKCN0IC1GE20141023

More untruths in the Guardian about Russia

The Guardian is lying again.

This is their recent headline about a European Court of Human Rights judgement against Russia:

Russian ‘gay propaganda’ law ruled discriminatory by European court

Law banning promotion of homosexuality breaches freedom of expression rules, says European court of human rights

There are two lies here. Firstly; the law referred to is concerned with propagandizing to minors – not universally as is said here. Secondly, the law concerned relates to “non-traditional” relations, not just homosexuality. It is the Guardian, which is obsessed with homsosexuality, which interprets it in this way.

The law in question is titled: “Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values”. 

The law was passed by the elected Russian parliament (not imposed by a repressive dictatorship) in June 2013.

This is the text of the law published by an official government Russian newspaper. (It translates well in Google Translate). The reader can see that the law is concerned with minors and with ‘non-traditional’ sexual relations in general.

This is an article on a Russian news site linked to the Orthodox Church – which provides a view from Russia on this law. After all; it is their law, their culture, their society.

The Guardian article in question admits in the text that:

The Russian law bans giving children any information about homosexuality and is widely thought to have made life harder for gay Russians, who were already battling deep social prejudices

Even this is only half-true since it still persists in the claim that the law is specifically aimed at homosexuality. (The Guardian is of course doing its own propagandizing when it refers to “information”). This is characteristic of how the Guardian does propaganda. A misleading heading is corrected in the text – so they can’t be accused of lying. But, as they know full well, many people will just see the headline.

The Guardian article also contains unsourced claims about Chechnya.

The pre-occupation of some in the West with what happens in Russia is imperialist in tone. It is rather banal to simply believe that your values (values which have only become prevalent in the West in the last 20 years) are absolute and should be imposed everywhere.

Russia has a law which permits its courts to overrule judgements of international courts when those judgements contradict the principle of the supremacy of its own constitution. So; this European Court of Human Rights ruling may not go very far. (Except perhaps to make the Russians consider their membership of that treaty).