THE NOVICHOK TALES, PART √-1, SECTION DUMBER

(Overheard in the Kremlin by our secret source)

Bad news Boss! Those damned Brits have figured it out.

What now?

Remember all those BSL-4 labs that Ivan Ivanovich said we should set up in public toilets all over Britain?

Yeah.

That fool thought it would be a good idea in case we wanted to whack somebody out and then remix the binary agents so we could re-package them in perfume atomisers.

Da da da. The guy with all the bright ideas, the Elon Musk of the Cheka we used to call him.

Anyway, the Brits have finally figured out that that’s where we do our preparations and they will be shutting them down all over the place. More millions wasted.

Yeah Ivan. Well, he’s going on an all expenses paid tour of the cold parts of Siberia. Won’t be seeing him around any more. But thank heavens that Durakchok can be made anywhere and Russians are naturally immune to it.

PSYCHOANALYSING NATO: GASLIGHTING

First published at Strategic Culture Foundation 17 July 2018

Picked up by Zerohedge; Internationalist 360º; Straight Line Logic; Uebersetzungen aus dem Imperium (in German); Link Zeitung;JRL/2018/138/18

NOTE: Because “NATO” these days is little more than a box of spare parts out of which Washington assembles “coalitions of the willing”, it’s easier for me to write “NATO” than “Washington plus/minus these or those minions”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has called on Russia to explain “exactly what has gone on” after two people were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent in Wiltshire. (BBC)

The Russian state could put this wrong right. They could tell us what happened. What they did. And fill in some of the significant gaps that we are trying to pursue. We have said they can come and tell us what happened. I’m waiting for the phone call from the Russian state. The offer is there. They are the ones who could fill in all the clues to keep people safe. (UK security minister Ben Wallace)

Leaving aside their egregious flouting of the elemental principle of English justice, note that they’re uttering this logical idiocy: Russia must have done it because it hasn’t proved it didn’t. Note also, in Javid’s speech, the amusing suggestion that Russia keeps changing its story; but to fit into the official British story “novichok” must be an instantly lethal slow acting poison which dissipates quickly but lasts for months.

This is an attempt to manipulate our perception of reality. In a previous essay I discussed NATO’s projection of its own actions onto Russia. In this piece I want to discuss another psychological manipulation – gaslighting

The expression comes from the movie Gaslight in which the villain manipulates her reality to convince his wife that she is insane. Doubt the official Skripal story and it is you – you “Russian troll” – who is imagining things. Only Russian trolls would question Litvinenko’s deathbed accusation written in perfect English handed to us by a Berezovskiy flunky; or the shootdown of MH17; or the invasion of Ukraine; or the cyber attack on Estonia. Only a Russian troll would observe that the fabulously expensive NATO intelligence agencies apparently get their information from Bellingcat. Argumentum ad trollem is everywhere: count the troll accusations here or admire the clever anticipatory use of the technique there.

This is classic gaslighting – I’m telling the truth, you’re the crazy one.

We may illustrate the eleven signs of “gaslighting” given in Psychiatry Today by Stephanie A. Sarkis with recent events.

They tell blatant lies.

The Skripals were poisoned by an incredibly deadly nerve agent that left them with no visible symptoms for hours but not so deadly that it killed them; at least not at Easter; nor the policeman; a nerve agent that could only have been made in Russia although its recipe was published in the open media; that poison having been administered on a doorknob that each had to have touched at the exact same minute that no one else touched; a nerve agent so deadly that they only bothered to clean up the sites 51 days later. And so on: a different story every day. But your mind must be controlled by Putin if you smell a falsehood at any point. And, now we have it all over again: apparently the fiendishly clever Russian assassins smeared the doorknob and then, rather than getting out of town ASAP, sauntered over into a park to toss the container. (Remember the fiendishly clever Russian assassins who spread polonium everywhere?)

And, speaking of proven, long term, repeating liars: remember when accusing the British government of complicity in torture renditions was a conspiracy theory? Well, it turns out the conspiracy was by the other side. “Conspiracy Theorist” is the perfect gaslighting accusation, by the way: you’re the crazy one.

They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.

The Skripal case gives a perfect illustration: here’s the UK Foreign Secretary saying Porton Down told him it was Russian (“absolutely categorical”) And here’s the UK Foreign Office disappearing the statement: We never said Porton Down confirmed the origin. It’s rare to get such a quick exposure of a lie, so it’s useful to have this example. Here is an obvious fake from Bellingcat. Already the Douma story is being re-polished now that the OPCW has said no organophosphates.

Most of the time it takes years to reveal the lie: gaslighters know the details will be forgotten while the impression remains. 64 years later we learn the “conspiracy theorists” were right about the CIA/UK involvement in the Iran coup. It’s rather amazing how many people still believe the proven liars this time around.

They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

Russians cheat at the sports you follow, scatter nerve agents and radioactive material in places you could be in, sneak into the voting booth with you, blow up airplanes you might be on and tear up the “very fabric of our democracy.” Your favourite actor tells you “we are at war with Russia“.

And the children! The boy on the beach. The boy in the ambulance. Bana from Aleppo. Miraculous recoveries. Dramatic rescues with camera! Dead children speaking. And finally, the little girl, Trump and the Time cover.

If it’s a child, they’re gaslighting you.

They wear you down over time.

Skripal story fading? How about a CW attack in Syria? No? Back to MH17: same story with one new obviously suspicious detail. Pussy Riot is forgotten and Pavlenskiy an embarrassment, but “Russian bear in Moscow World Cup parade video sparks PETA outrage“! This is what is known as a Gish Gallop: the gaslighter makes 47 assertions, while you’re thinking about the first, he makes 20 more: in former times it was recognised by the the folk saying that “a fool can ask more questions than ten wise men can answer”. But the fools quickly come up with more: dead dogs in Russia: without tuk-tuks, with tuk-tuks; your choice.

You are worn down by ten new fake outrages every month: all expressed in simplistic terms. How much context is stuffed into this imbecilic headline? The Plot Against Europe: Putin, Hungary and Russia’s New Iron Curtain. How many thousand words, how many hours to discuss it intelligently? Too late! Time for “Trump and Putin’s Too-Friendly Summit” (NYT 28 June). Forget that! “Sexism at Russia World Cup the worst in history as female fans and broadcasters are harassed“. (Telegraph 30 June). Gone! “We already gave Syria to Putin, so what’s left for Trump to say?“(WaPo 5 July) Stop wondering! “Amesbury poisoning: Here’s what we know about the novichok victims” (Sky News 6 July). No! Trumputin again! “Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?” (NY Mag 8 July). Gish Gallop. The sheer volume of easily-made accusations forces two conclusions: they’re right and you’re wrong (smoke: fire) or, more simply, eventually you – you crazy one! – give up.

Their actions do not match their words.

They bomb hospitals on purpose, we bomb them by accident. Discussed further here but the essence of the point is that

it would be physically impossible for Russia to be more destructive than NATO is.

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble.

They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.

There are direct rewards of course: cue Udo Ulfkotte; many benefits to swimming with the stream; swimming the other way, not so many. It’s only after they retire that British generals question the story, the cynic observes. German generals too. Maybe even US generals.

But for the rest of us, NATO bathes us in gush: “NATO’s Enduring Mission – Defending Values, Together”. Together, our values: we – you and I – have the good values. NATO loves to praise itself “the Alliance also contributes to peace and stability through crisis management operations and partnerships.” Remember Libya? “A model intervention” said the NATO GenSek of the time. Here is the view on the ground. Most of the “migrants” tearing Europe apart are fleeing the destruction of NATO’s wars. NATO backs (plus/minus minions) the intervention in Mali, a country destabilised by its destruction of Libya. Cue the positive reinforcement: “Projecting Stability: an agenda for action“. In NATOland the gaslight burns bright: “Nato chief: Vladimir Putin ‘weaponising’ refugee crisis to ‘break’ Europe“. NATO keeps pouring butterscotch sauce on the rubble: “NATO is based on some core values – democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty” (25 June).

All I can say, over and over again, is Libya. NATO destroyed Libya, weird as it was, killed Qaddafi, weird as he was, and smugly congratulated itself: “NATO’s Victory in Libya: The Right Way to Run an Intervention“. Ubi solitudinum faciunt pacem appelant. But should that thought occur to you, you’re part of “Russia’s secret plan to destroy EU and NATO“.

They know confusion weakens people.

Remember PropOrNot? Sites that do not agree with the Establishment are Russian bots! Authenticated experts! 100% reliable! The WaPo published the list; when under attack even from proponents of the Putindunnit hysteria, it feebly backtracked: it “does not itself vouch for the validity”. Vermont power grid hack? WaPo fell for that one too. Confusion from the endless Gish Gallop about Putin: in December 2015 I compiled a number: Aspergers, pychopath, slouching and on and on and on.

You may be confused but the gaslighter isn’t: Russia’s to blame for whatever-it-was!

They project.

NATO projects all the time and this headline from the NYT is classic: “Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression“. I discuss NATO’s projection here.

They try to align people against you.

NATO exerts a continual pressure for unanimity. Again, the Skripal story is a good example: London accused Russia and, “in solidarity“, Russian diplomats were expelled all over the world. Allies took its word for it. Now the doubts: in Germany especially. Sanctions must be imposed on Russia because we must be in solidarity with Kiev. “Solidarity” on migrants. “Solidarity” is perhaps the greatest virtue in NATOland. We will hear more pleas for solidarity as NATO dies: when mere “solidarity” is the only reason left; there’s no reason left.

They tell you or others that you are crazy.

It also must be said that when elected officials — including members of Congress — and media platforms amplify propaganda disseminated by Russian trolls, they are aiding the Russians in their efforts.

The goal is to undermine democracy. So you want America to look unstable and Americans not to trust each other.

How Russian Trolls Won American Hearts andMinds

An “existential threat posed by digitally accelerated disinformation“. So no forgiveness to you, crazy Putin trolls. And don’t dare doubt that American democracy is so feeble that it can be directed by a few Facebook ads. Never forget that NATO’s opponents are crazy: Putin is a “madman“; Qaddafi was “crazy“; Saddam Hussein “insane“; Milosevic “rabid“. Only crazy people would defend crazy people.

They tell you everyone else is a liar

Honest people don’t have to tell you they’re trustworthy, and neither, once upon a time, did the BBC. The Atlantic Council smoothly moves from “Why Is the Kremlin So Fixated on Phantom Fascists?” in May 2017 to “Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far-Right Violence (And No, RT Didn’t Write This Headline)” in June 2018. But it still calls Russia the liar: “Why the Kremlin’s Lies Stick” (May 2018). The Atlantic Council hopes you’re dumb enough not to notice that Russia hasn’t changed its line but the gaslighters have. (Remember O’Brien and two plus two?)

Russian Federation is not the USSR

I said it the last time: the USSR did lots of things in its time – influencing, fiddling elections, fake news, gaslighting and so on. But, in those days the Communist Party was the “leading and guiding force” but today it’s the opposition. Things have changed in Moscow, but NATO rolls on.

Some hope, though

While many people are still taken in by the gaslighters, there are hopeful signs. Once upon a time Internet versions of the mass media allowed comments. Gradually, one by one, they shut down their comments sections because of “trolls”, “fake news” and offended “standards” but really because of disagreement. Perhaps the most famous case is that of the Guardian: an entire website, has been created by people whose comments were rejected because they violated “community standards”. I always read the comments in the Daily Mail, especially the best rated, and on the Skripal stories, the comments are very sceptical indeed of the official story. For example.

This is rather encouraging: for gaslighting really to work, the gaslighter either has to be in such a position of power that he can completely control the victim’s surroundings or in such a position of authority that the victim cannot imagine doubting what he says. Those days are gone.

COMMENTS FROM THE LOCKED WARD

(Miscellaneous comments from pieces dealing with Russia I’ve collected. Most of them anonymous or with pseudonyms they are chose to illustrate either rabid hostility to everything Russian or stone-dead ignorance of present reality. I post from time to time when I have enough, spelling mistakes and all.)

Putin is a sinking ship whose looking for every avenue to save face including worshipping bibi to gain sympathy and some help from America.

Russia is lucky they were able to deceive the American voters in voting for trump… If Hilary had won the story would have been different.
Even bibi would not be able to save Russia.

THE NOVICHOK TALES, PART √-1, SECTION DEUX, BIS

(Our secret source intercepted communications from Salisbury to Moscow)

OK, Boss, I’ve smeared it on the doorknob; it’s nice and thick and gooey and it won’t come off in the rain. I’m just leaving for the airport.

Not yet.

Not yet? Why?

There’s something else for you to do.

What?

Take the rest of Novichok, get back in the car and drive to the secret laboratory we set up.

OK Boss, I’m there. Now what?

Put on the protective gear and take the thick Novichok and thin it so it can work as an aerosol. Then put it in the legitimate perfume bottle you’ll find in the drawer on the counter and seal the bottle in the perfume box. Be careful; it’s very dangerous.

OK Boss, done it.

Now get back in the car and drive to the park. Drop the perfume box where somebody can pick it up.

OK Boss, done it.

And don’t forget to spray Durakchok all around to make more stupid English people.

Done it Boss, I’ve used it all up.

Well done. Now come straight home. Oh wait – I forgot – send a message to us saying “package delivered” so we know you’ve done everything.

COMMENTS FROM THE LOCKED WARD

(Miscellaneous comments from pieces dealing with Russia I’ve collected. Most of them anonymous or with pseudonyms they are chose to illustrate either rabid hostility to everything Russian or stone-dead ignorance of present reality. I post from time to time when I have enough, spelling mistakes and all.)

Tweet no doubt connected to Trumputin Derangement Syndrome

Tell all the men we lost in WW2 , fighting communism, Where McCarthy when you need him

COMMENTS FROM THE LOCKED WARD

This one is from the New York Times. Once upon a time this outlet affected a certain decorum but, driven to madness by Trumputin Derangement Syndrome, it has disappeared into its own craziness. I have embedded the video at a low resolution should the original be disappeared.

Should you, Dear Readers, have the stomach to watch all the way to the end, you will see credits. In short: the people who made this are proud of it.

 

 

PSYCHOANALYSING NATO: PROJECTION

First published at Strategic Culture Foundation 3 July 2018

Picked up by SOTT; South Front; ZeroHedge; JRL/2018/122/31; Straight Line Logic; BizNewsIndex; AstuteNews; BrasilNoMundo; Internationalist 360º

 

 

“NATO” can be a rather elusive concept: Libya was a NATO operation, even though Germany kept out of it. Somalia was not a NATO operation even though Germany was in it. Canada, a founding NATO member, was in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. Some interventions are NATO, others aren’t. But it doesn’t really mean much because NATO is only a box of spare parts out of which Washington assembles “coalitions of the willing”. So it’s easier for me to write “NATO” than “Washington plus/minus these or those minions”.

We are told – incessantly – that Putin is “Winning the Information War“, “We have no counterattack to Russia’s information warfare“. Nonsense. The real information war is being conducted by the British Army’s “77th Brigade“, the soldiers of Fort Bragg, NATO’s Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. Or by the BBC, RFE/RL, Deutsch Welle, AFP et al; each of whose budgets is many multiples of RT’s. They manipulate; they dominate; they predate; Moscow is a minor newcomer.

I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist or any other kind of psychist, but I cannot fail to notice the projection and gaslighting practised by Washington and its minions. They accuse Russia of doing things that they actually do – projection – and they manipulate our perception of reality – gaslighting. I will discuss gaslighting in the next essay.

Wikipedia defines projection as

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually intolerant may constantly accuse other people of being intolerant. It incorporates blame shifting.

Another source calls it a “defence mechanism”:

Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings.

Interference: Russia! Russia! But NATO actually does it.

Russia, we are told, interfered in the US presidential election. And Brexit, and France, and Germany, Hungary, Greece, populism, and and and. The American story has metamorphosed from its initial version which was supposed to have been an attempt to elect Trump into an attempt to sow division in US society. The NYT attempts to explain how both stories fit together. The absurdity of the charge was shown when the 3500 or so Facebook ads paid for by the so-called Internet Research Agency were revealed: they were all over the place. Even more amusingly, Mueller, who no doubt thought he was safe to indict a Russian company, is trying to get out of having to prove it now that the company’s lawyers have shown up. If the matter ever does come to trial it will likely show that the whole operation was a scam designed to create interest groups to sell advertising to. (Which would explain why the majority of the ads appeared after the election: the election was the bait to create the groups.)

This is projection at its most obvious: the USA is by far the world champion at interfering in other people’s elections. No less an Establishment outlet than the Washington Post (one of the principals in sustaining Putindunnit hysteria) listed many in: “The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere“; but piously insisted “the days of its worst behavior are long behind it”.

A quick diversion from the sordid reality of the rigged Democratic Party nomination – “don’t blame us for doing it, blame Russia for revealing it!” – attributed to Russia what it denied in itself. The actual interference, we now learn, was not by Russia on the outside but by, among others, FBI officials on the inside.

A textbook illustration of blame shifting, isn’t it?

The Russian threat NATO created

NATO expansion is all projection: NATO expands to meet the threat its expansion creates. NATO justifies itself by pretending to solve the problems it creates: Canada/Libya leads to Libya/Mali leads to Canada/Mali. When the documents about the broken expansion promise were published, we saw that NATO’s own “false memory syndrome” had been projected onto Moscow.

This NYT headline from last year perfectly shifts the blame: “Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression“.

NATO blames Russia when its fake news fails

Does anyone remember Gay Girl in Damascus tweeting about the horrors of life in Syria under Assad? Not gay, not girl, not Damascus. How about Sarah Abdallah, who, the BBC tells us is “a mysterious and possibly fictitious social media celebrity [who] tweets constant pro-Russia and pro-Assad messages“. But she actually exists. But the champion of champions is surely Bana from Aleppo whose English abilities declined so dramatically when she got out (and few wondered how, in a destroyed city, her Internet service could be so good). Aleppo has mostly disappeared from the West’s news outlets but here is AFP’s coverage a year later (a less NATOcentric view here). Even with the obligatory propaganda twists – “pro-regime residents back on the streets” – it’s obviously a better place after the “Assad regime” reclaimed it than it was when Bana wanted to start World War III. Believing Gay Girl, believing Bana, denigrating Sara is projection: because projectors live in a world of falsehood, they assume that everything they do not fake themselves must be faked by someone else.

And we’re still waiting for Kerry’s “we observed it”, a coherent Skripal story (here’s one but it’s not the authorities’), actual evidence of the Russian “invasion” and many other things that we were told were anything but “fake news”. Believing NATO’s stories requires crimestop: if you doubt 76 missiles hit this site (here’s just one), then you must be a Russian troll or a victim of Russian fake news.

Don’t look here, look there: our fakery is real, their reality is fake.

Russia challenges the ideas NATO puts in your head

The concern over Russia’s influence in the West has grown considerably in the past few years, particularly the Russian regime’s use of information technologies to malign unfriendly Western politicians and undermine the Western public’s faith in democracy.

Russian bots everywhere influencing, dividing, affecting. But the real bots are NATO’s: from Operation Mockingbird in the 1950s, through Udo Ulfkotte’s Bought Journalists to today:

The 1,200-strong psychological operations unit based at Fort Bragg turns out what its officers call ‘truthful messages’ to support the United States government’s objectives, though its commander acknowledges that those stories are one-sided and their American sponsorship is hidden. (New Yorker, December 2005).

Our vision is to be the main source of expertise in the field of cooperative cyber defence by accumulating, creating, and disseminating knowledge in related matters within NATO, NATO nations and partners. (NATO, October 2008)

A contest to re-design the USAF Cyberwarrior Badge (2010)

Three years later the accusations have not been substantiated, but they have served their purpose nonetheless: NATO dispatched cyber warfare experts to Estonia shortly after the events of 2007 and on May 14, 2008 the military bloc established what it calls the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in the nation’s capital of Tallin. (2010)

The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age. (Guardian, January 2015)

Members of the Military Information Support Task Force-Central influence and persuade targets or intended audiences within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to reject those enemy narratives and violent extremist ideologies in order to establish conditions for long-term regional stability. (CENTCOM, April 2017).

The Army announced on Wednesday (Nov. 29) that a team of its researchers would work alongside scientists from Ukraine and Bulgaria to ‘understand and ultimately combat disinformation attacks in cyberspace. (November, 2017)

Clearly NATO is projecting what it is actually doing onto Russia.

“Hybrid war” was invented by the Russian who’s reacting to it

In 2014 NATO worried about “hybrid war”, apparently something Russia practised. This writer tells us it is sometimes called the “Gerasimov doctrine” after an article written in 2013 (note the date) by the Chief of the Russian General Staff.

According to Gerasimov, the lessons of the Arab Spring are that if the ‘rules of war’ have changed, the consequences have not – the results of the ‘colored revolutions’ are that a ‘thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe and civil war.’

In short the theoretical foundation of this supposedly amazing, tricky, sinister and almost invisible Russian way of waging war originates in a paper written about Western-inspired “colour revolutions”. Like the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia (ten years before Gerasimov’s paper), the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine (nine), the 2005 Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (eight). Once upon a time to get rid of a ruler you didn’t like, you invaded his country and, months later, fished him out of a hole and hanged him. But it’s much cheaper to invest money ($5 billion in Ukraine we are told) to organise protests and overthrow him. And, as we have seen in Ukraine, sometimes it becomes a real shooting war, with real dead bodies and entrails. Sometimes the one thing, sometimes the other; but it’s all conflict, and it’s all “hybrid”. It’s “hybrid” because it uses many methods to bring about the desired regime change: propaganda, manipulation, protest and, occasionally, a little judicious bombing or sniping.

So how ironic – how “hybrid” – to accuse Gerasimov of inventing something that began years earlier. His so-called textbook of Russian “hybrid war” is actually a response to the real “hybrid war” that Washington practises.

Projection: accusing Russia of doing what you are actually doing.

We bomb hospitals by mistake, Putin does it on purpose

Putin and Assad mercilessly bombed Aleppowe heard about it for months. “Carpet bombing“. “War crimes“. The boy in the ambulance. Humanitarian convoys intentionally hit (although Bellingcat has become sloppy with his faked evidence). The implication was that Russia just threw lots of bombs around while NATO was precise, surgical.

We heard rather less about Mosul or Raqqa. Although that may change: even the managed Western media/human rights apparat has noticed the stunning, indiscriminate destruction.

Islamic State fighters have now essentially been defeated in Mosul after a nine-month, US-backed campaign that destroyed significant parts of Iraq’s second largest city, killing up to 40,000 civilians and forcing as many as one million more people from their homes.

In Raqqa: 20,000 bombs, 30,000 artillery rounds, altogether, about one per five pre-war occupants! Amnesty International condemned the NATO bombing of Raqqa: “we witnessed a level of destruction comparable to anything we’ve seen“.

But, as “The Persistent Myth of US Precision Bombing” shows, the US military has always pretended “surgical precision” while scattering prodigious numbers of bombs. “America has no idea how many innocent people it’s killing in the Middle East” said the Independent in 2017. Even the Establishment-friendly NYT concluded that the US military greatly understated the number of civilians it kills – reporting maybe as few as 4%! At least eight wedding parties. But the quantity of bombs dropped makes a mockery of “precision”: by its own count 114,000 weapons since 2013 on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Who can believe there are a hundred thousand pinpoint targets in those countries? “The detonation of the bombs as they hit the ground appears to be pretty huge.” In Afghanistan the USAF is now bombing to “shape the terrain” – geological bombing.

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble.

A tour through the rubble in Mosul.

To say nothing of the sustained destruction of a clearly marked and identified hospital in Afghanistan. (A mistake, for which no one was punished.)

Projection again: don’t look here, look over there.

Russian Federation is not the USSR

The USSR did lots of things in its time – influencing, fiddling elections, regime changes, fake news, projection and so on. But the Communist Party was the “leading and guiding force” in those days; today it’s the opposition; the Comintern is gone but Mockingbird is not. Things have changed in Moscow, but NATO rolls on.

Which, when you think of it, is the problem.

If NATO accuses Russia of something, NATO is actually doing it

I leave you with this simple rule of thumb:

Every time NATO accuses Russia of doing something

you know it’s doing it itself.

And reflect on this: NATO and its propaganda minions are so unimaginative that they cannot imagine Russia doing anything but what they are doing. That’s why they are surprised all the time.

THE NOVICHOK TALES, PART √-1, SECTION DEUX

(Overheard in the Kremlin by our secret source)

World Cup’s going well, Boss. Good one!

Yeah, but it makes me nervous when the Western media says good things about us. Doesn’t feel right.

Well, we could get them back to normal, Boss.

How?

Let’s do the novichok thing again. I know we got the formula wrong the last time but I just got the book from Amazon so we can make it properly this time.

What do you mean?

Well, we could put some in a syringe or something and drop it in the park and maybe someone would find it. Then they’d have to stop talking about what a great World Cup we put on and how everybody’s telling their friends how great Russia is.

Could be good for a laugh I suppose. You know, it’s really tiring organising elections around the world as well as writing all the scripts for the nightly news at home; I could use a good laugh. Always wanted to see Boris Johnson with his hair on fire. Do it.

OK Boss. Consider it done. And it’s a great distraction from the real plot.

Yes it is and isn’t that going well? What a brilliant idea to invent Durakchok and spray it around Western government offices. They’re getting stupider by the minute. And, in the long run, stupid loses.

YES, PUTIN ONCE DREAMED THE AMERICAN DREAM

The other day, reading another extrusion of anti-Russia propaganda (here’s the first example that comes to hand) telling us that Putin and those misguided Russians who support him are wholly and obdurately opposed to America and All It Stands For, I was reminded of Charles Heberle’s contrary experience with Putin and Russia two decades ago.

I met Charles nine years ago in Washington on a trip Sharon Tennison organised. Charles wrote up the following account for Sharon’s website Russia, Other Points of View and I referred to it in my Sitrep 20100506. ROPV is now defunct but Charles still had a copy and I asked him for it so as to reprint it on my site to keep it on the record.

In essence, he was invited to teach Russians how to do it the American way and his program was fully supported by Putin (who had just become President); he believes, and the evidence indicates, that the whole idea might have originated with Putin. It is distressing how much has changed in the 18 years since his story begins.

In short, 18 years ago Putin thought so highly of American democracy in theory and in practice that he supported an American program to teach Russians how to be American-style democrats. From Putin’s perspective, the years since 2000 have seen NATO expansions, broken promises, regime change operations, wars, sanctions, accusations and propaganda, none of which well illustrate the program’s citizenship skills. I rather doubt that he would be so confident today that the American Revolution had succeeded but maybe I’m assuming too much. At any rate, Charles assures me that the program is still being practised in Russia and still has official support.

If you watch his video interview, you will see that the program, while undeniably grounded in the US Constitution, is not exclusively American: it is applicable to most societies. It is a training process, a drill – Charles was in the US Army – that generates situations that force the participants to speak and think for themselves, but (this is the kicker) not in some vapid and complacent “self-esteem” way, but with a humble understanding of their imperfections, The program makes them cooperate with others in a spirit of respect and understanding in order to get the job done. Which, when you think about it, are the requirements for a real democracy to work.

But the main point of my reprinting this is to show that Putin, rather than being the fundamentalist anti-American that the anti-Russia camp tells us that he is, started out supporting the inculcation of what he saw as American virtues (values, if you will: “subjects becoming citizens”) into Russia.

I reprint Charles Heberle’s account as he sent it to me.

**************************

Transforming Subjects into Citizens – an Experiment in Russia by Charles Heberle

Many people, when they hear that I have been working in Russia for 9 years, have asked me about the intentions of the Russians. Are they going back to Communism? Do they hate us? Why are they going back to dictatorship? Of course I have no way of knowing the real intention of the Russians, but I get glimpses of it from my experience there. I am writing this article to outline my personal experiences in Russia to help shed some light on these questions.

It started with an email out of the blue in January 2000. It said, “Hello I represent the non-governmental organizations of Northwest Russia. We are unhappy with what your government calls democracy. Our analysis over the past nine years shows us that it will just trade one elite for another. We have had quite enough of this. We want to be country of, by, and for the people. Can you help us?” I was floored. I spent the next 4 months in negotiations with this mystery person, ending with trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. When I arrived I had no idea what I was in for. I quickly learned, however, that Russians don’t do things by halves. The organization consisted of some of the leading intellectual lights of St. Petersburg. They had set up a front organization, researched every web site in the world to find those that purported to teach democracy, invited them to St. Petersburg, and set up a rigorous testing process to make sure they knew what they were doing and that what they were doing would work. I was immediately put through a test where I had complete run of a Russian school for a week and the director did anything I said. I already had developed and copyrighted a civic education program for schools in the USA, so I simply copied the training. This process continued for a year. During that time I spent about 8 weeks in St. Petersburg attending conferences, undergoing a thesis type defense where I was grilled by 5 professors for about two hours, and then more demonstrations in different types of schools. I passed.

They then gave me my mission statement. It was “To help us build a training program that will distill the attitudes, understandings, and skills learned by the American colonists from 1620 to 1775 that made the American Revolution successful where others failed.” They said they wanted to inculcate those values and understandings and skills in their people too so that democracy could flourish in Russia. They felt that until the populace at large was trained no democracy was possible. They feared that simply creating a democratic form of government and some NGOs to work in the field would lead to a “velvet oligarchy”, or worse. They wanted to be a “normal”, that is western, nation of, by, and for the people but could not afford to wait 150 years for their people to understand the process. They wanted me to help them build a training system that could change the mindset of the entire Russian populace from being “subjects” to becoming “citizens” in a generation.

They then sent me to a province near St. Petersburg where we could develop this program without great publicity and opposition and where it could be tested and tried before taking it nationwide. I spent two years there in the capital city giving classes to teachers and monitoring the development of the lesson plans which at that point were all for schools. They gave me the head teacher of the province as my team leader and we rapidly developed a volunteer corps of 200+ teachers who helped develop the program. The program was enthusiastically received and fully supported by the Minister of Education whom I briefed regularly on its progress. Then an election was held in 2003 and the Governor of the province was re-elected. The Minister called us in the next week and the teachers were asked why they supported our program. They said, “Because it is simple, but wise”. The Minister said, “Fine, you are no longer experimental, have a 5 year plan on my desk by Monday.” It was Friday. This resulted in the approval of an official far reaching plan that went way beyond schools and was to end up training the whole population.

The next year our city had a forum, sponsored by the Russian Foreign Ministry, to explore ways that democracy could be furthered through people to people contacts. I was a featured speaker and the Russian NGO that we had helped form was in charge of a sub-forum on civic education. The next day, at that sub-forum, we had a large number of people. I was asking my staff where they were all from and they pointed out all of the visitors from Russia and other countries, except one. I said, “Who is he, a new teacher here?” My team leader, with a look of concern on her face, said “We don’t know.” Having learned that, in Russia, everything is known, I was a little concerned too. At lunch I approached the man and, in my halting Russian, thanked him for coming. He replied in fluent English and said he was President Putin’s personal advisor on civic education. We then had lunch together and I explained what we were doing, that I was here at the invitation of Russia and if he had any suggestions or wanted us to do anything differently to please speak up. He said he was very pleased with what he was seeing and that it was exactly what Russia needed. We then talked about things military and it became clear that he had a lot of high level and formerly top-secret information about the breakup of the Soviet Union. Without talking about things that were Top Secret on our side when I learned them, I can only say that his knowledge was far above that of a foot soldier. I have no doubt that he had good connections within the Kremlin at some time or another. He closed the conversation by asking if I would like to meet then-President Putin’s close associate Sergei Ivanov some time, as he would be glad to arrange a meeting. I said thank you, no as I felt sure Mr. Ivanov had better things to do. At the end of the day he came up to me again and gave me his personal email and telephone number in Moscow and said to come and see him anytime and to call him if we ran into any trouble.

I visited him in Moscow later and asked why they could not fund me directly if they were pleased with the program. He said that Mr. Putin’s team was performing a delicate balancing act between competing factions in the Kremlin and that they had to appear scrupulously neutral. Any outright support of a program run by an American would be seized upon as favoring one side over the other, and so, while they appreciated my work, they could not be seen to support it outright. I said that if they could at least give us a small amount of support to show the locals, some of whom thought of the program as “American”, that it was approved. Within a month we got a call directly from the President’s office to tell us we had been awarded a small grant to promote civil discourse and improve race relations in the province. It came down through channels signed, V. Putin. There has never been any political opposition to the program since.

These specific events and the fact that there has been strong and continuing official support of the program from the start have convinced me that the Russians do want to become a democracy. They also want to do it the Russian way, which is to say plan it thoroughly, follow the plan, and do it on a large scale. Nowhere have I seen them deviate from this in action. Maybe their words are confusing sometimes, and no doubt aimed at a particular audience, but their actions over time are entirely consistent with the goal stated to me in St. Petersburg in 2000.

In retrospect it has become clear that the Russian group was started at the request of Mr. Putin, who had just become President. This accounts for the complete and continuing support of the Russian governments at all levels which is key to its success there and why it delivers so much value for dollar. We were able to train a whole province for one-fifth of what USAID spent on one city in southern Russia. The fact that our program was born out of frustration with the USA’s then and current methods of teaching democracy, which had failed for them, accounts for the fact that it has a completely different basis from the current approved USA methods of teaching democracy – one that is much more useful and effective because it is designed by a first world, highly educated, group of former dictatorial subjects who know their problems in achieving and see this as the best way to solve them.

This makes it extremely difficult to get our part of it funded by the bureaucracy here in the United States. Our goal now is to get additional seed funding from this Administration and/or private foundations to help the Russians expand the program to about 40 million people in NW Russia over 5 years, which would then solidify it. It would also give us a tried and true and extremely well-planned and documented program to use in other former dictatorships. As it were, our program (and Putin’s too, as I have learned) is an attempt to “reset” Russians so that, rather than being resentful subjects of an inimical power, they become participating citizens of a res publica. They all need this before they can become true democratic republics.

All these experiences and watching the Russian hierarchy from the inside convince me that they are serious about becoming a normal western country and have a long term plan for doing so. Thus the current reforms come as no surprise. If my experience is any guide, the Putin/Medvedev efforts are part of a continuum. Maybe someday it will be Russia that teaches the world how to build a democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NO, YOUR INTELLIGENCE IS ACTUALLY BAD. VERY BAD.

First published https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/05/02/no-your-intelligence-is-actually-bad-very-bad.html

Picked up by https://russia-insider.com/en/us-thinks-it-knows-russia-keeps-getting-surprised-it/ri23357

JRL 2018-#79/4

About a year ago, one Evelyn Farkas boasted “we have good intelligence on Russia…“. She was an important functionary on Russian matters in the Obama Administration and was, therefore, much involved in “intelligence on Russia”. My immediate reaction when I read it was: No, you do not have good intelligence on Russia; if you did, you wouldn’t be surprised all the time and your boss wouldn’t be saying such silly things. In March 2015 I enumerated some of the delusions. Vide this famous quotation from a 2014 interview:

But I do think it’s important to keep perspective. Russia doesn’t make anything. Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking. And so we have to respond with resolve in what are effectively regional challenges that Russia presents.

Obama was surely repeating what Farkas and others told him. Wrong on all three counts: Russia makes many things; it is the second immigrant destination on the planet; and its life expectancy and population are growing. This was not hermetic knowledge, available only to the Illuminati; these facts were easily discovered by any competent intelligence agency. That is not good intelligence. He liked to tell us that “Russia is isolated” or that “its economy [is] in tatters.” Wrong again.

The Duke of Wellington once observed:

All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don’t know by what you do; that’s what I called ‘guessing what was at the other side of the hill.’

That is a concise description of intelligence. When done right, intelligence minimises surprise: it gives an idea of what is on the other side so that when it does come over the hill, you’re prepared. You can imagine anything you like, of course, but when it does come over the hill, you find out. Which made it all the more amusing to watch Obama when it did come over the hill: by two years later reality was making him admit that Russia was no declining regional challenge but

an important country. It is a military superpower. It has influence in the region and it has influence around the world. And in order for us to solve many big problems around the world, it is in our interest to work with Russia and obtain their cooperation.

Today Obama’s political party thinks Russia so powerful that it is suing it because “Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign.” Deep persistent ignorance: the opposite of “good intelligence”.

Washington was not prepared for Russia’s action in Crimea. It was so sure that it had the naval base there that the US Navy was soliciting bids on a real estate development in Sevastopol. But really… who thought that Moscow would acquiesce to the snatching of a territory that had been part of Russia before the USA existed and a part of the Byzantine-Russian space half a millennium before Columbus? Moscow moved and moved quickly and Washington was left inventing humanitarian crises in Crimea. Intentions and capabilities: the very stuff of intelligence. Both wrong.

Nor did they learn from their mistakes: Moscow had moved quickly after Saakashvili attacked South Ossetia and again Washington had had to explain it away with silly theories that Russia tricked him into attacking. Better intelligence would have considered that Moscow might react to its soldiers being killed and might have the capability to do so. Intentions and capabilities again.

In 2015 I speculated on the reasons why Moscow ran rings around Washington all the time:

So it’s not that complicated: competency, attention to first principles, reality, planning, consistency of purpose and unity of execution beats incompetency, interfering in everything everywhere, illusion, sloppy assumptions, confusion and disunity.

Syria was the next to show that American intelligence hadn’t seen over the hill. Some of the surprises.

  1. Relatively insignificant boats in the Caspian Sea with a thousand kilometre punch.
  2. The high sortie rate of Russian aircraft.
  3. “Dumb bombs” turned into “smart bombs”.
  4. Russian EW capabilities.
  5. The S-300/400/500 series, a major off-stage frightener.
  6. Impressive stunts like the “White Swan” strike from the Kola Peninsula, or the Kalibr cruise missile strikes from the super-silent Varshavyanka submarines were another unexpected display of capability.
  7. And, of course, the speed and decisiveness with which Moscow moved.

And the surprises keep coming. Whether the Syrian air defence (with, no doubt, Russian help) really did shoot down 70% of the missiles in the latest FUKUS strike as the Russian MoD claims, there is no doubt that FUKUS is hiding something (unless you believe their absurd claim that 76 missiles hit this site). An American general complains that

Right now in Syria we are operating in the most aggressive EW environment on the planet from our adversaries. They are testing us everyday, knocking our communications down, disabling our EC-130s, etcetera.

Another surprise from the country “that doesn’t make anything”. Today the US Defense Secretary talks of “the erosion of U.S. military advantage in relation to China and Russia.

So, in short, bad intelligence. Wrong on the significance of Russia; wrong on its capability; wrong on its determination; wrong on its military sophistication. Wrong too on the effect of sanctions.

‘It seems that the people working on this lost their way a bit,’ said a former Treasury official who was involved in drafting the sanctions imposed in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. ‘The bottom line is that the US government has a very shallow bench on Russia. And so they end up acting more-or-less at random.’

“Shallow bench”? More of an echo chamber in which people at the top expect to hear what they want to hear and are told it; reinforced by a news media full of people paid to believe what they believe to be paid. The only challenge to this bubble of complacent idiocy is the difficulty of inventing excuses for failure: Putin tricked Saakashvili, Ukraine would be rich if Putin hadn’t “invaded”, Crimeans are suffering, Russia’s not really fighting ISIS, Putin hacked our elections, the Russian economy trembles, Putin is about to fall (here’s the latest in the long series).

We do know what we’re doing; tomorrow will prove us right; we’ll shout louder.

All this would be harmless and amusing if it were about Ruritania and the Duchy of Strackenz. But this complacent bubble of idiocy directs and informs the behaviour of the “world’s indispensable power” in its undeclared war against a power with enough nuclear weapons to obliterate it.