Saturday, April 22, 2017

Putin's World: Reactive Mismeasures: The New Yorker and the "New" Cold War Propaganda (Part 3)

Reactive Mismeasures: The New Yorker and the "New" Cold War Propaganda (Part 3) Putin’s World
Thomas Riggins

This  is the third part (of 5 ) of a paragraph by paragraph commentary on a recent article posing as journalism in the March 6, 2017 issue of The New Yorker. I hope to demonstrate that this article is basically a totally mendacious concoction of cold war US propaganda constructed out of unsubstantiated opinions expressed by US government officials and various journalists and others who are hostile to the current Russian government. There are a few paragraphs exempt from this characterization and they are duly noted. I have put a link to the article itself so that my commentary can be compared, paragraph by paragraph, to the  original. However, the commentary can be read on its own. I contend it expresses the real meaning of the original paragraph  and my evaluation of that meaning. The original is there for anyone to check to see if I have distorted rather than clarified what the paragraph's actual meaning is. It is my position that this article is junk journalism which misrepresents the objective reality it purports to describe and that my commentary points out the misrepresentations and attempts to correct them. I hold that no self respecting journalist would write an article such as this New Yorker piece and palm it off on the public. My commentary is also an object lesson on how to distinguish between reportage that at least attempts to be unbiased and obvious nonobjective propaganda. You will know more about Trump, Putin and the New Cold War from the commentary than you will ever know from the original article.


Active measures were used by both sides throughout the Cold War. In the nineteen-sixties, ... Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, ...

Section 3 “Putin’s World” — This section has thirty-one paragraphs:
‘Preface’ I am basically going to list the known facts in each paragraph and mostly ignore blatant  speculation, value judgments , and  ridiculous reportage (such as Putin’s inner mental states) except to point them out. 

1. Putin was born in Leningrad in 1952. In WWII the Nazis besieged the city for 900 days and mass starvation occurred. His father was wounded during the war.  He joined the KGB when he was 23 in 1975 and ended up in the German Democratic Republic.

2. When the Wall came down in 1989 Putin was in Dresden burning documents in a Soviet compound. Russia did not intervene to save the Wall.

3. Putin went back to Russia and the Soviet Union dissolved and the eastern European socialist countries “went their own way.”

4. In August 1991 Communists loyal to the USSR attempted a coup to preserve the Soviet Union — it failed.

5.  The fall of the USSR brought new rights to masses of people, but also tens of millions of Russian Soviet citizens now found themselves outside of Russia in newly independent former Soviet republics — many were anxious about the future.

6. Putin’s speeches, etc., recall the 1990s as a period of social anarchy in which the Western powers tired to take advantage of Russia. The authors state that Putin overlooks some “stubborn facts” but only provide one, if any, and that is that Russia was allowed into the G7 which became the G8. What they don’t mention is that the US had promised not to expand NATO or try to include former Soviet allies in a new bigger NATO pressed up on the borders of Russia. The US then did just the opposite. The US and the West also connived to break up Yugoslavia and militarily attack Serbia a friend of Russia. Having incited violence in the Balkans the US then used the violence to justify Western intervention. The authors state that the expansion of NATO to the countries the US had promised not to was due to the fact that they “wanted protection.” But no one was threatening them! 

7. Strobe Talbott, President Clinton’s top advisor on Russia, justified not keeping the promise to Russia re NATO expansion on the grounds that it felt “unfair” to him not to let the former Soviet allies into NATO. Not to do so because Russia might be “frightened” by having the US push NATO right up to its borders “didn’t hold water.”

8. In 1996 while visiting Russia Clinton tells Talbott that he doesn’t regret expanding NATO and intervening in the Balkans  even though it was putting Yeltsin on the spot.

9. Frank talk from Clinton to Talbot (a direct quote): “We keep telling ol’ Boris [Yeltsin]  ‘O.K. now here’s what you’ve got to do next — here’s some more shit for your face.” It appears that the problems we have with Putin is that he won’t take our shit in his face. 

10. Earlier Yeltsin had complained to Talbott about the US’s superior attitude towards Russia. The counter-revolutionary transition from a socialist to a capitalist economy  had disrupted Russian society but Yeltsin told Talbott “Russia will rise again” and he wanted “equal treatment” from the US. [Russia has nuclear weapons but as an economic power it just isn’t equal to the US. The US has caused a lot of unnecessary problems for all concerned by rubbing Russia’s nose in this fact.]

11. The 1996 presidential election in Russia. The US imposed “shock therapy” caused millions of of people economic hardships. It looked like the Communist Party would win the election. The authors write that with the help of the newly created oligarchs [Kremlin insiders who high jacked state property during the transition and became millionaires and billionaires almost overnight] and the IMF (International Money Fund i.e., the US) Yeltsin was able “to eke out a victory.” [The authors don’t mention that during the vote count  the trend was indicating the Communists were winning and the count was stopped for 24 hours due to computer “malfunction.” When the count resumed Yeltsin was ahead. This was the Russian introduction to “democracy American style.”]

12. New Years 1996. Yeltsin resigns and apologizes for the mess the transition to capitalism has caused.

13. Yeltsin then appointed Vladimir Putin “his successor.” The people running the Russian government had decided Putin was the most capable person to handle the problems they were encountering or, in the neutral terminology of objective  New Yorker journalism, he had proved himself “loyal to his bosses.”

14. Putin, as did Ford with Nixon, arranged that Yeltsin would not be prosecuted in the future for any crimes committed while he was in office. Off to good start. Andrei Kozyrev, a representative of the kleptocracy and oligarchic takeover of the Soviet economy under Yeltsin, he was foreign minister 1990-96, says Putin finalized a reconsolidation  of the “old order.” This is nonsense as that would entail the resocialization of the economy and the Communist Party’s return to power, which was prevented by the rigging of 1996 election. Kozyrev said “the inability to complete the economic and political reforms” caused Russia to slip back “into confrontation with the West and NATO.” In other words, the breaking of the promise not to expand NATO to the Russian border wasn’t the cause of the confrontation but Putin’s stopping the virtual give away of the the economy to the oligarchs and his making economic reforms that befitted the majority of the Russian people instead of the Yeltsin clique that allied itself with the West and US “shock therapy” was the cause. It’s all Putin’s fault.

15. When Putin took over he found a “barely functional state.” He replaced Yeltsin loyalists with his own people and brought “every aspect of the country’s political life, including the media” under “the ‘Vertical of power’ that he constructed.” This is a ridiculous overstatement as there is a large and active Communist Party in Russia with its own press and there are still independent  papers and journalists at work in the Russian Federation even if television has been brought under state supervision. Putin has many authoritarian tendencies but they pale in comparison with those of some US NATO allies such as Turkey.

16. When first in office, Putin tried to be friendly with the West.

17. Bush then invaded Iraq [on  trumped up charges revealing an aggressive warlike US]. in 2007 Putin stated the US has “overstepped its national borders in every area.” He also claimed the expansion of NATO was directed at Russia. Robert Gates reported, re Putin’s claim, “people were inclined to pass it off as a one-off.” [Ignoring Russia’s concerns and not taking them seriously was bound to have negative reactions; it was the typical behavior of big power arrogance.]

18. Many speculations on Putin’s inner mental states, intentions, etc. but the facts are: In 2012 he became president for the third time. Marxism-Leninism was no longer the state doctrine. Putin began appealing to Russian nationalism, traditional patriotism, and long standing Russian moral and ethical customs some of which predated the Communists. [The authors fail to mention his promotion of the reactionary Russian Orthodox church, the seat of some horrible, backward disgusting “values” such as misogyny, intolerance, and sexual phobias]. His restrictions on gay rights was a ploy for popular support from the unenlightened masses [sadly, it was supported by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation which displayed inexcusable backwardness on this issue.] 

19. Putin has rejected as official policy the atheism of the Soviet State. He supports what he calls “Christian” values which form the basis of Western Civilization. [Whether supporting “Christian” values, Christians can’t seem to agree on what they are, is the same as being a “Christian” is questionable.]

20. A very long paragraph full of all kinds of absurd postulations, mostly about what was going on in Putin’s mind in relation to Obama’s “embrace” of the “uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.” In fact the US was a long time supporter of both dictators and was lukewarm  at best when confronted with their overthrow. Putin condemned the failure of  “his protégé” President Medvedev (Putin was PM at the time after two terms, as president, sitting out a term so he would eligible to run for a third term) for not vetoing a US UN resolution authorizing military intervention in Libya. [It does not appear that Putin was the all powerful authoritarian this article tries to portray: he can’t even get his “protégé” to follow his script!] The authors then quote an independent Russian, journalist, Mikhail  Zygar who amazingly knows what Putin “absorbed” regarding the violent end of Qaddafi. The lesson he learned was that when Qaddafi was a “pariah” (i.e., seen as anti Western) he was “safe”, but when he tried to be more accommodating to the US and its allies he was killed like a dog by a mob. We have gone from bad journalism to low fiction. Putin is not a middle eastern dictator nor is the Russian Federation Libya. Putin is not standing up to the US and NATO because he fears a howling mob of Muscovites  will drag him out of the Kremlin and  summarily dispatch him.  Neither Zygar nor the authors have any idea what Putin “absorbed” beyond a possible contempt for Western diplomatic hypocrisy which he probably had learned anyway many years ago.

21.  Another long paragraph about Putin’s reservations concerning US policies( labeled by the authors as “grievances against the West” — they often use the term “West” when they refer to US government policies. As usual the assessments of Putin’s inner mental states are provided by either anti-Putin Russians or US government officials. In this paragraph we get the opinions  of Obama’s  former national security advisor, Tom Donilon. He tells us Putin thought the anti-government demonstrations of 2011 were a prelude supported by foreigners to weaken or get rid of him. In Donilon’s opinion Putin became more actively hostile against the US and the West. This is illustrated by the  fact that Obama cancelled a summit meeting with Putin because Russia, which has no mutual extradition treaty with the US, refused to hand over Edward Snowden to the tender mercies of the the US “justice” system. In other words, if you don’t follow American demands you are “hostile.” Donilon also remarks that Putin “works with” a small group of advisors who are former intelligence officials. So what?

22. We are  told that in Russia  dissent is “marginalized,” opposition candidates are not treated fairly, and so called human-rights groups funded “from abroad” have to be registered as “foreign agents.” Russian television media [like our own] tends to reflect official government views.

23. In Putin’s Russia we find out prison camps are not filled with his enemies, but he has made a few “chilling” examples [as has the US]. Russian TV, as described in the article,  looks a lot like American TV. Comparing the description of the Russian mass media to that given by Bernie Sanders in his book “Our Revolution” one doesn’t see much difference. The ruling elites in both countries pretty much dominate what the masses watch but there are outlets for critical views on Facebook and Web sites, and oppositional magazines and books are available. 
The authors point out that “even” in the internet age more that 80% of Russians get their news from TV [the corresponding number of Americans is 90% according the Sanders]. The authors also assert that Putin’s popularity ratings are the result of “manipulation” of TV coverage (it’s a “crucial factor”). [Didn’t American TV go out of the way to give coverage to Trump to boost their ratings and profits while  basically ignoring Bernie Sanders — no manipulation of coverage there!] I’m beginning to think Rupert Murdoch is a secret partner of The New Yorkers’ parent company (Condé Nast a subsidiary of Advance Publications).

24. On Putin’s 60th birthday (2012) Russian TV ran a flattering documentary about him and a TV commentator favorably compared him to Stalin. [For reasons non-Russians in the West  don’t understand Stalin is still fairly popular with many Russians and others in the former Soviet Union and many millions of peasants and working people in the Third World]. The authors also repeat, without any evidence, the allegations made by some “well-informed critics” that Putin is worth “tens of billions of dollars.” It seems that any comment by Putin’s critics, as long as it is negative, has its place in this article. 

25. Masha Lipman, editor of “Counterpoint” criticizes Russian TV’s coverage of Putin as, in her bitter opinon,“not just the ultimate boss but the embodiment of Russian statehood.”

26. We get a few sentences from a 2015 Russian documentary about Putin where he opines sentiments similar to Mao’s political power grows from the barrel of a gun or TR’s walk softly but carry a big stick. The host of the documentary then says Putin is the leader of “the conservative part of both European and American society.” [This  really is Russian over reach as Putin represents conservative Russian nationalism; the Europeans have their own nationalisms and he certainly isn’t a leader of any group of American conservatives as both Liberals and Conservatives in the US are anti-Russian and pro Western and don’t see Russia as basically “Western.”]

27. Putin says the elites of foreign countries only like Russia when it is weak and don’t like it when “we start talking about our interests.” They don’t like feeling there is competition.

28. In February 2014 a Western supported coup drove the elected president of the Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych, from office. The authors follow the CIA line in explaining what happened next  (they quote the former deputy director Michael Morell.) The CIA is famous for wire tapping, but Morell can do better. He can tap Putin’s brain and tell us what he was thinking when Yanukovych was driven from office.  Putin was thinking “Yikes, this could happen to me! I have to crush these upstart Ukrainians.”

29. The road to Kiev lies through Damascus. This is an unimaginable paragraph once it is deconstructed. It maintains that Russia intervened in Syria not because it intended to defend its national interests (its alliance with Syria and its Mediterranean navel bases, but because Putin wanted to prevent the overthrow of “dictators.” The Russians wanted “to halt a trend which started with the invasion of Iraq and continued through the downfall of dictators in Egypt and Libya.” This is a completely imaginary trend. Iraq wasn’t invaded to get rid of a dictator but to try and get control of its oil and to  assert American imperial interests in the region and lies about its WMDs and nuclear intentions were offered as the excuse. The country was virtually destroyed and has been in a state of war and turmoil ever since due to the incompetence of the US military’s handling of the situation created by the Bush and Obama administrations. The same goes for Libya and Afghanistan. The trend is one of the US overthrowing governments and leaving anarchy and mayhem behind (the excuse in Libya was a fictional plot to massacre civilians). Egypt was an entirely different situation. A non violent uprising by the Egyptians themselves, without outside intervention, to get rid of an American supported dictator. The US did not approve and only grudgingly supported the movement after the fact. Egypt is now run by a fully supported dictator who has reimposed the previous military regime. In another case of mind reading an anonymous US official reveals that Putin thought the US was behind all the governmental changes “right through Libya” and was determined to stop this trend in Syria. Sergey Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister is quoted as saying the Russian intervention put an end to the US backing of “color revolutions.” There is no room here to go over the history of “color revolutions” but suffice it to say unlike genuine popular “revolutions” such as in Tunisia and Egypt, or wars of aggression as in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, “color revolutions” are uprisings whose success depends on outside funding and support by US imperialist interests.  The paragraph ends with some hypocritical musings about the battle to rid Aleppo of jihadists with no mention of the similar abuses of the US sponsored attempt to rid Mosul of its jihadists. One thing both battles have in common is that they are the result, in the last analysis, of US policies and interventions in the Middle East. 

30. This paragraph deals with “contentions” between the Pentagon and the White House over “what to do about Russia.” Since we are not supposed to be a military dictatorship and the President is the commander in chief, there shouldn’t be any “contentions” over in the Pentagon about how the “White House” decides to deal with Russia. The generals wanted to send “advanced weaponry” to the Ukraine and the President didn’t. Somewhere in this discussion the issue may have been what were the risks of turning the Ukraine into another Syria since Russia would certainly see to it that the Russian speaking population in the Ukraine, fighting for autonomy and the preservations of its rights that the new nationalist government in Kiev threatened, would not be out weaponed by US intervention. The issue, however, was not the well being of the Ukraine but the maintenance of US control of the “international order” and the unwritten principle that only the US  and its surrogates had the right to militarily interfere in other countries. Here is a the quote from Evelyn Farkas, the Pentagon’s “most senior policy officer for Russia,” to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: she wanted more American force in Ukraine because Russia’s behavior was “an affront to the international order that we and our allies have worked to build since the end of the Cold War.” The fact that this order is an American creation that does not benefit the vast majority of humanity [endless wars, destruction of the climate and environment, increases in military expenditures, relief and preventions of  famines and plagues as well as the aftermaths of natural disasters not adequately planned for and funded] is beside the point. Any country that resists this American order must be militarily confronted if diplomacy fails to ensure compliance. The “White House” was not necessarily questioning this doctrine, only that the timeline had not reached this point yet and that sanctions might still induce the Russians to cooperate.

31. Obama thinks, “with considerable justification,” that escalating the military conflict in Ukraine won’t make the Russians backdown and will ultimately hurt Ukraine. Farkas doesn’t agree, can’t change Obama’s mind, and resigns and joins the Clinton campaign as “a policy advisor.”  Clinton, as clueless as Farkas with regard to the likely hood of a disastrous military confrontation with Russia, “sometimes favored the use of military force when Obama did not.”  [Fresh from her success in getting a military intervention in Libya, HRC was now advocating a no-fly zone in Syria and potential conflict with the Russian air force. Happy days are here again].  Farkas liked HRC because “she got it on Russia.” [Whatever domestic disasters we may have to endure, Clinton's defeat in November may well  have saved the world a major and unthinkable  war: our election was really a choice between a rock and a hard place!]

This is the end of part three. From reading part three of The New Yorker Article you  will not have learned anything at all about whether or not the Russian government or Putin had anything to do with the "hacking" of the DNC or if they interfered with our elections.  Maybe we will learn something in part four.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

No First Attack Against North Korea

Thomas Riggins
"Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, visiting Seoul in March, said the United States would not negotiate with the North unless it first gave up both its nuclear and missile programs. That was essentially a rejection of talks, since the purpose of the negotiation would be to end those programs."-- New York Times 4-15-17 That's the position of a country that wants to go to war not a country that wants a peaceful resolution. The only out of control country that needs to be calmed down is the USA. The DPRK has always maintained it needs to build up its weapons programs because the USA refuses to abandon its "first strike" policy --i.e. the US will use a nuclear weapon first even against a non nuclear country. This is an invitation for other countries to defend themselves by building nuclear weapons and the US hasn't made a big fuss over  Pakistan's or Israel's bombs (it considers them basically as puppets, even if they are at times unruly) -- it only objects to countries it has hostile intents towards because they don't bow down to Wall Street. If the USA really believes in peace it should give up its "first strike" policy and agree not to attack countries that haven't attacked it ( Afganistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Panama, Grenada, etc.)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Reactive Mismeasures: The New Yorker and the "New" Cold War Propaganda (Part 2) Cold War 2.0


Reactive Mismeasures: The New Yorker and the "New" Cold War Propaganda (Part 2)
Cold War 2.0
Thomas Riggins

This  is the second part (of 5 ) of a paragraph by paragraph commentary on a recent article posing as journalism in the March 6, 2017 issue of The New Yorker. I hope to demonstrate that this article is basically a totally mendacious concoction of cold war US propaganda constructed out of unsubstantiated opinions expressed by US government officials and various journalists and others who are hostile to the current Russian government. There are a few paragraphs exempt from this characterization and they are duly noted. I have put a link to the article itself so that my commentary can be compared, paragraph by paragraph, to the  original. However, the commentary can be read on its own. I contend it expresses the real meaning of the original paragraph  and my evaluation of that meaning. The original is there for anyone to check to see if I have distorted rather than clarified what the paragraph's actual meaning is. It is my position that this article is junk journalism which misrepresents the objective reality it purports to describe and that my commentary points out the misrepresentations and attempts to correct them. I hold that no self respecting journalist would write an article such as this New Yorker piece and palm it off on the public. My commentary is also an object lesson on how to distinguish between reportage that at least attempts to be unbiased and obvious nonobjective propaganda. You will know more about Trump, Putin and the New Cold War from the commentary than you will ever know from the original article.


Active measures were used by both sides throughout the Cold War. In the nineteen-sixties, ... Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, ...

Section 2. "Cold War 2.0" — This section has nineteen paragraphs:

1. Obama is said not to have reacted right away after being informed of the Russian “intrusion” as he did not want to seem to be “partisan.” The authors now speak as if the hacking is a “fact” when all they have established is an unproven assertion.

2. An unnamed member of Clinton’s inner circle grouses that Obama did not make a big deal over Russia’s “attack” on the United States. If he had then a majority of the people would have “sat up an taken notice.” [This may have helped Clinton.] Unproven assertions have evolved into an “attack.” The unnamed source goes on the say, however, he thinks we can not “lay blame for the results of this election at anybody’s feet” but even so Obama should have treated the intrusion as “a five alarm fire.” [Many Clintonites are still trying, however, to blame their loss on the FBI and Putin rather than HRC’s inept campaign].

3. Benjamin Rhodes, of Obama’s circle, defends how the so called hacking was handled — all they could do was expose WikiLeaks and the Russians; they could not stop the publication “of the e-mails or the fake news.” The authors fail to remind us that none of the e-mails or information released by WikiLeaks was shown to be inaccurate or untrue. There was no “fake news” coming from WikiLeaks and the link between the Russian government, WikiLeaks, and “fake news” has yet to be established. This New Yorker article apparently has no respect for journalistic standards.

4. At the G-20 Summit last September Obama told Putin to “cut out” the hacking and interference in our elections, otherwise “serious consequences” would result. Putin ignored the threat and the accusations but did remind Obama that the US has a record of meddling in the internal affairs of Russia. 

5. In October, we are informed, “evidence of Russian meddling mounted” — but evidently the “evidence” did not mount to the level of proof as the Administration only stated that “it was confident” the DNC had been hacked by the Russians. Can you imagine FDR telling the American people he was “confident” the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor? Anyway, downloading information and revealing it, whoever did it, is not “hacking” in the strong sense of breaking into a system to tamper with it and alter it. This word is just tossed about to create a negative opinion (fake news if you like) rather than factually inform anyone.

6. An unnamed “national security official” reports there was no evidence the Russians “crossed the line”  from “covert influence” to “adversely affecting the vote count.” This was before the election and Clinton was leading. She actually “won” the election — it was the Electoral College that put Trump in office. [It seems difficult to know what did or did not affect the vote count before the vote count, but  it seems it was not the Russians!]

7. Obama nixed Kerry’s idea to start an independent investigation of Russian election tampering, according to “two senior officials.” “This would  have gotten the ball rolling,” as one aide said, as Trump would hesitate to shut it down. It would be harder to set up under Trump.

8. We are here told that all sorts of  talk was going on during the transition period from Obama to Trump and that there were all sorts of contacts and potential compromising behaviors between Trump’s people and the Russians. To what did this amount? “No conclusive evidence” regarding Trump. Nothing that showed any aiding or abetting the [alleged] “interference” with the election. A senior Obama Administration official (unnamed) said he was unaware of any “clear information of collusion.” Nevertheless, this story is kept alive by the mass media and the Democrats.

9. Here we are told “evidence” of a “wide-scale”  Russian “operation” has resulted in multiple investigations. The “evidence” is classified. Three weeks after the election Sen. Wyden (D. Oregon) of the Intelligence Committee asked FBI Director Comey if he would release the classified information with the proof of Russian tampering to the American people. Comey said “I can’t talk about it.” The authors conclude, “Wyden’s questioning had served its purpose.” Well, since Obama could have ordered this “evidence” made public, and didn’t, the purpose must have been just to keep this apparent conspiracy theory alive. It’s been going on for months now and the public knows virtually nothing about what really happened — just speculation and assumptions, and this article doesn’t add anything to this speculation except poor journalism. 

10. About the classified material, Sen Wyden remarked that he was worried about using the “classified” designation more for political reasons than for national security. Sen. Warner (D. Virginia) reviewed the classified material and appears to be convinced by it. Unfortunately,  the rest of us still have to take it on faith that the government really has proof. My objection to this article, and type of journalism, is that it ignores the real story — the keeping of the proof, or lack thereof, from the American people and instead implies that the government’s position is correct anyway. How does this differ from state controlled propaganda?

11. This a long paragraph with a lot of speculation and comments about ex-UK intelligence official Christopher Steele’s charges about Trump and the Russians: the authors admit it’s a “dossier of unverified allegations.” It has that in common with all the other information they present in the article with reference to Russian meddling. Again, if the Russians are anything like the US, then they probably meddle around when they get the chance, but to write a big long speculative proof less  article about “what some officials  believe” is just propaganda not journalism.

12. Trump calls the dossier “fake,” the Russians call it “pulp fiction,” McCain gave  it to the FBI and some “of his colleagues” want it investigated. All well and good. But we don’t know if it’s pulp fiction or not, yet many of its more salacious allegations have already become part of pop culture re Trump and are a staple of late night TV comedians such as Colbert and others: the “Golden Shower”, etc.

13. A revealing paragraph that may expose the real motives behind this witch hunt.
Many in the intelligence community are worried about Putin’s long term game plan, as they see it, i.e. to disrupt America’s world domination that “has shaped the postwar [WWII] world.” The alleged hacking is a way to create hostility towards Putin, Russia, and WikiLeaks (which has revealed many of the criminal dirty secrets of the US and its allies).

14. This paragraph summarizes the White House consensus of what Putin is doing.
He has started an “offensive” outside of what he considers “his sphere of influence.” By the way, the US sees the entire world as its sphere of influence either actually or potentially so conflict is inevitable. He wants to, according to this view, break up the EU and NATO (both of whom, by the way, expanded into the traditional Russian “sphere of influence”) and he wants to “unnerve” the US. Most importantly he wants to change the world system set up by the US  and that we have “benefitted (sic) from for seven decades” (Samantha Powers). Well, we replaced the socialist USSR, which didn’t compete with us for markets, with the capitalist Russian Federation and now there is an equally greedy class of Russian capitalists out to win markets and influence away from our capitalists. What did the US expect.

15. The relations with Russia were not reset properly — with the US dominant and calling the shots — and so many on both sides are talking about “the second Cold War.” [Putin and Russia (being both economically and militarily weaker) have tried to avoid a new Cold War but the US and NATO have ridden rough shod over Russian interests and evidently left Russians thinking they have no choice but to push back.]

16. NATO says Russia is being aggressive because it has called the NATO build up on its borders “provocative” and because it objected to the US installed new ground based missiles in Romania. [Russia also pushed back in Ukraine against   the US/NATO backed coup against the pro-Russian president and has supported the Syrian government against US support of attempts to overthrow it. Every “aggressive” Russian action seems to have been in response to a US “poke.”]

17. This paragraph describes the world according to Robert Gates, former secretary of war, I mean ‘defense,’ under Bush 43 and Obama. Relations between Obama and Putin were “poisonous” (partially due to Obama’s needless belittling of Russian self esteem). Trump has to improve relations without  giving in to Putin’s aggression (push backs) and “thuggery.” This has to be done without giving Putin a big victory. A tall order as any “victory” for Putin is considered unacceptable. By the way, a compromise where the US has to also give up something as well as the Russians, is considered a Putin victory!

18. Dmitry Trenin (Carnegie Moscow Center) reports that “the Kremlin” expected that if HRC won the election she would militarily intervene in Syria perhaps setting up no fly zones. Trump won and the fear of a Russian-US military “collision” has diminished. [Trump is unpredictable, so don’t be too sure! He has recently bombed Syria, perhaps to quell speculation he is too friendly with Putin.]

19. Sergie Rogov (Institute for US and Canadian Studies, Moscow) says US relations with Russia are the worse they have been in a generation: it’s 1983 all over again. 


This is the end of part two. From reading part two of The New Yorker Article you  will not have learned anything at all about whether or not the Russian government or Putin had anything to do with the "hacking" of the DNC or if they interfered with our elections.  Maybe we will learn something in part three.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Reactive Mismeasures: The New Yorker and the "New" Cold War Propaganda (Part 1)

Thomas Riggins

This  is the first part (of 5 ) of a paragraph by paragraph commentary on a recent article posing as journalism in the March 6, 2017 issue of The New Yorker. I hope to demonstrate that this article is basically a totally mendacious concoction of cold war US propaganda constructed out of unsubstantiated opinions expressed by US government officials and various journalists and others who are hostile to the current Russian government. There are a few paragraphs exempt from this characterization and they are duly noted. I have put a link to the article itself so that my commentary can be compared, paragraph by paragraph, to the  original. However, the commentary can be read on its own. I contend it expresses the real meaning of the original paragraph  and my evaluation of that meaning. The original is there for anyone to check to see if I have distorted rather than clarified what the paragraph's actual meaning is. It is my position that this article is junk journalism which misrepresents the objective reality it purports to describe and that my commentary points out the misrepresentations and attempts to correct them. I hold that no self respecting journalist would write an article such as this New Yorker piece and palm it off on the public. My commentary is also an object lesson on how to distinguish between reportage that at least attempts to be unbiased and obvious nonobjective propaganda. You will know more about Trump, Putin and the New Cold War from the commentary than you will ever know from the original article.


Active measures were used by both sides throughout the Cold War. In the nineteen-sixties, ... Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, ...

We begin with section 1. "Soft Targets" composed of thirteen paragraphs.

1.This paragraph alleges that Yuri Andropov, the KGB leader in 1982, tried to negatively influence the election of Reagan (would that he had succeeded)  by having his operatives  infiltrate  the DNC and RNC. The only "evidence" provided is some notes provided by a KGB defector to Great Britain. The notes were his own, hand written and typed,  not original nor photo copies and there is controversy over their authenticity. [It maybe true but unproven.]

2. This paragraph mentions that both the Soviets and the US were engaged in activities against each other including subversive work in other countries: typical cold war activities. After the end of the Soviet Union the CIA requested that Russia quit spreading around fake news about the US and the Russians agreed. No mention of a quid pro quo was made. In 2000 another Russian defector told the US the Russians didn't keep their word -- that nothing changed. [Probably goes for both sides but unproven]

3.  Here we are told Putin often points out the interference of the US in other countries and accuses it of  "hypocrisy." Putin also believes the US has been behind the overthrow of the governments in some former soviet republics. The US has also funded Russian dissident groups and supported antigovernment demonstrations in Russia. The article doesn't provide any proof either way. The article lists "nongovernmental" agencies that Putin says are used on behalf of fomenting "regime change." The nongovernmental "agencies" mentioned are: The National Endowment for Democracy (funded by the US government), Human Rights Watch (independently funded but with many former US officials working for it), Amnesty International (independently funded but with some former US government officials working for it) and Golos (Russian independent election monitoring organization with some US government funding). [Falsely suggests nongovernmental "agency" is not government  sponsored].

4. This paragraph tells us that some US government officials reject Putin's criticism and don't agree with his implication of moral equivalence. It's true that the US has been so much more interventionist and ruthless in its foreign policy than anything the Russians have done since the collapse of the Soviet Union that it's an insult to Russia to compare it morally to the US. [Falsely suggests US more moral than Russia.]

5. This next paragraph is just empty propaganda having nothing to do with the 2016 election. It uses loaded terms and tells us what Putin's inner mental states were: he "loathed" Obama, Obama has an "Administration", Putin has "cronies",  there was an "invasion" of eastern Ukraine rather than an "uprising" in eastern Ukraine (these are all loaded terms to subliminally nudge the reader towards the US point of view -- it's an excellent propaganda technique used throughout the article). The rest of the paragraph tells us Trump said nice things about Putin in 2007 and 2013, and in 2016 he said Putin was a more effective leader (for Russia) than Obama was (for the US) -- probably true: he put his man in place and then came back to power and Obama left behind Trump. [Empty propaganda]

6. Neither the RNC nor the DNC had proper security measures on their computers but John Podesta, HRC's campaign chairman, should have known better. [True]

7. Quotes from Podesta on how his team goofed and outsiders got into his email. [True]

8. This is a description of the current political divisions in the US and how they provide fertile ground for disinformation (they use the Russian word to seed the coming argument.) The "fractured media environment" seemed ripe for conspiracy theories; climate change = Chinese hoax, Obama's fake birth certificate; they left out the one about Putin hacking the DNC and our elections. The first two are pretty lame but the author's seem to favor the last one.

9. Some quotes from Oleg Kalugin a retired KGB general living in the US who wrote two books about Soviet spying and with William Colby, former director of the CIA, created a computer game Spycraft. He said Russia tries to take advantage of American weaknesses. No doubt and vice versa. 

10. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, released a report in early January claiming Putin ordered an operation to support Trump, undermine HRC, and cast doubt on the US democratic process. The authors admit the report is "more assertion than evidence." 

11. This paragraph informs us that re the Iraq War the US intelligence agencies put forth assertions that were untrue but they argued over the extent of the untruth. This time they all agreed with the same assertion. This is supposed to make it more credible  but it's still, so far,  just an assertion.

12. Clapper makes his assertions to Congress about Putin and adds that WikiLeaks was in on it spreading "fake news" [i.e., willfully spreading known falsehoods in order to deceive]  and pro Trump "messages.'' [ No proof of any of this was given, nor any information on WikiLeaks shown to be false. The authors fail to draw the obvious conclusion that publishing the truth about the DNC and HRC  does not amount to being pro Trump!]

13. A long paragraph revealing that Trump first rejected  Clappers' unfounded assertions but later "grudgingly accepted " them adding that the Russians had no effect on the election's outcome. Then quotes are offered by an anti-Putin Russian journalist (Yevgenia Albats) about what Putin "probably" does or doesn't believe, what he's interested in and what he "wanted." Such telepathic transmissions, are, however, even less evidentiary than Clapper's assertions. 


This is the end of part one. From reading part one of The New Yorker Article you  will not have learned anything at all about whether or not the Russian government or Putin had anything to do with the "hacking" of the DNC or if they interfered with our elections.  Maybe we will learn something in part two.