Neocons Claim to Fight Russian ‘Unreality’

The new “regime change” target for America’s neocons is Russia’s President Putin — as dangerous as it would be to destabilize a nuclear-armed nation. Their first step, as usual, is to begin a propaganda/disinformation war by claiming to combat propaganda and disinformation, as Maidhc Ó Cathail explains.

By Maidhc Ó Cathail

There was a strong whiff of hypocrisy in the Washington air on Nov. 13 when the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) hosted a discussion of a report entitled “The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money.”

The Menace of Unreality” is co-authored by Michael Weiss, editor-in-chief of the Interpreter, and Peter Pomerantsev, author of a forthcoming book asserting that Putin’s Russia is a post-modern dictatorship.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Introducing the discussion, NED’s Christopher Walker noted that the U.S. Congress-funded Endowment for Democracy hadn’t been involved in the production of the report but that it does have “close ties” to Weiss’s online journal and the New York-based think tank that funds it, the Institute of Modern Russia (IMR).

In the course of the report’s self-righteous criticism of the widespread “opaqueness” about who funds think tanks, Weiss and Pomerantsev disclose, in an aside, that their work is “funded by a think tank that receives support from the family of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.” Their critique of the weaponization of money, however, neglects to mention its funder’s conviction for embezzlement and money laundering in Russia.

In Washington, Weiss and Pomerantsev were joined in the discussion of their “counter-disinformation” report by an analyst from the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neoconservative advocacy group founded by Robert Kagan and William Kristol, whose earlier Project for a New American Century had played a key role in pushing the lies that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Inside the report’s cover, which features a reader oblivious to the fact that the broadsheet he’s reading is going up in flames, the Interpreter says it “aspires to dismantle the language barrier that separates journalists, Russia analysts, policymakers, diplomats and interested laymen in the English-speaking world from the debates, scandals, intrigues and political developments taking place in the Russian Federation.”

The similarity between the Interpreter’s stated aspirations and those of the pro-Israel Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) may be more than coincidental. As the liberal Jewish blogger Richard Silverstein observed about a blog in the Telegraph by the Interpreter’s editor-in-chief, “a number of Weiss’claims are based on the notoriously unreliable MEMRI,” which itself claims to bridge “the language gap between the West and the Middle East and South Asia.”

The bio that precedes that June 2011 Weiss blog describes him as “the Research Director of The Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think tank, as well as the co-chair of its Russia Studies Centre.”

In addition to a who’s who of neocon luminaries like Kagan and Kristol, the Henry Jackson Society’s international patrons include Ambassador Dore Gold, former permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations, and Natan Sharansky, chair of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Weiss’s previous employment at the UK-based, pro-Israel advocacy organization, however, is conspicuously absent from the lengthy “About the Authors” section at the end of the IMR-published, anti-Russia report. His updated bio, however, reveals that Weiss’s concerns haven’t changed much since his HJS days.

“Weiss has covered the Syrian revolution from its inception, reporting from refugee camps in southern Turkey and from the frontlines of war-torn Aleppo,” the IMR report notes.

As a profile of the neocon Henry Jackson Society observes, its members have been “active proponents of Western intervention in Syria’s civil war.” It singles out a March 2012 piece in the New York Times by Weiss advocating that the U.S. “begin marshaling a coalition for regime change in Syria consisting of countries” like “Britain, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.”

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post last year, Israel’s previous ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren admitted that Tel Aviv “always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go.”

Likewise, one suspects that Weiss’s “set of modest recommendations” on how the West should confront Russia’s supposed “weaponization of information” is motivated at least in part by the challenge Russian media such as RT poses to the monopoly over the narrative of the Syrian conflict coveted by his interventionist friends in the Western media.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely-published writer and political analyst. He is also the creator and editor of the Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the US-Israeli relationship. [This story originally appeared at RT with a disclaimer that the statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.]

17 comments for “Neocons Claim to Fight Russian ‘Unreality’

  1. Abe
    November 28, 2014 at 13:26

    The Schmittian essence of political propaganda is to automatically reject all “enemy” perspectives and evidence as “unreality,” and affirm all “friend” perspectives and “evidence” as “reality”.

    The “Russians are invading” Ukraine because Kiev, Washington, London, Paris and Berlin say so. All other views are “Kremlin propaganda” or “nutty”.

  2. mike k.
    November 28, 2014 at 03:22

    Neoconservatism is little more than proxy Zionism, and not every militarist is a ‘neocon ‘

    The neocons are right wing, Zionist Jews, and the failure to simply identify these neocons with *right wing* Jewish dual loyalists, due to the cynical semantic drift of the term “anti-Semitism,” is intellectual cowardice that can only lead to Iraq – a war, justified by lies, largely though not exclusively by right wing, Likudnik Zionist Jews eager to use American blood and treasure to advance the racist, imperialist, insane Oded Yinon plan.

    • MrK
      November 30, 2014 at 03:11

      ” treasure to advance the racist, imperialist, insane Oded Yinon plan. ”

      One has to remember though that the Yinon Plan is just an old colonial British plan. As was the 1875 purchase of the Suez Canal.

      What should worry people even more, is that the Yinon plan of expanding Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates, would require a lot of Jewish people to show up suddenly in Israel to populate the area.

      Now where could they come from? How about the Ukraine and Eastern Europe? Why would they leave there? Well what if one Victoria Nuland helped a bunch of nazis get into power, and they started a second Holocaust? Didn’t the first Holocaust create a huge flow of people into Israel too?

      I think that is the reasoning, and the only reason why I could see, that anyone would want to actively set the conditions for recreating WWII.

    • Abe
      November 30, 2014 at 14:04

      Ukraine’s 70,000-strong Jewish community, the world’s 11th-largest, is undergoing what members describe as its biggest upheaval since the Second World War. While most of the country’s Jews live in Kiev, up to a fifth reside (at least until recently) in the conflict-hit east. Convinced they would return home after the fighting ended, many now face the brutal reality of all-out war on Europe’s fringes. Some are resettling elsewhere in Ukraine, while others are immigrating to Israel (an act known as aliyah). The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) estimates that more Ukrainian Jews will make aliyah this year than in the last three years combined. Through September 1 of 2014, 3,252 Jews had relocated to Israel from Ukraine, compared with 1,982 in 2013, according to the IFCJ, which helps foot the bill for the move. In 2012, that number was 2,030. The IFCJ expects to spend some $2 million this year on securing plane tickets to Israel and predicts the number of immigrants could hit 7,000, Yechiel Eckstein, the organization’s founder, told me by telephone from Jerusalem. Under Israel’s Law of Return, any Jew in the world is entitled to Israeli citizenship.

      The war in eastern Ukraine has displaced 1 million people, the United Nations reports. Moscow claims the vast majority—some 814,000—have gone to Russia, where they have family and friends. An additional 260,000 are displaced within their own country. The consequences of this displacement, António Guterres, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, recently warned, “has the potential to destabilize the whole region.”

      The Scattering of Ukraine’s Jews:
      War threatens a community that has survived the Holocaust and the Soviet era.

  3. david thurman
    November 27, 2014 at 22:13

    Jack Kennedy would have run the Kagens out of town, as he fired Henry Kissinger, after referring to him as being “f___ing nutts.”

  4. F. G. Sanford
    November 27, 2014 at 08:45

    Abe – Maybe I’m getting too Aristotelian here, but sometimes that suffices to get the point across. An “Op” usually consists of many layers. A “leak” is intended to be interpreted on its face, and the “leaker” usually remains anonymous, creating the assumption that there were risks associated with the action of leaking. This, in turn, serves to validate the authenticity of the leaked information, which may have been spurious in the first place. The “leak” is usually leaked to a “cutout”, an unwitting link in the information chain who has no actual involvement in the “op”, but is a “useful idiot”. He or she has no role in preparing, validating or editing the leaked information, but by virtue of place in the chain of information enhances its face value. There may be more than one “cutout” involved, which further enhances the effectiveness of the “op” by adding layers of “plausible deniability”. The “op” may contain additional layers of inscrutability when the “leaked” information has been prepared by a trusted insider with dual loyalties or even triple loyalties imposed by blackmail, extortion or threat of exposure.

    “Think tanks” are made of individuals who are “credentialed” by mechanisms of consensus rather than actual merit, experience or accomplishment. This may include access to media outlets which provide opportunities to publish voluminously, academic assignments to prestigious University posts, or appointment to various UNELECTED government offices. These “experts” become sources of policy doctrine which they can manipulate from a position of detachment. They are permitted access to information and opportunity to influence without ever being scrutinized as to motive or loyalty. The assumption that they represent the best interests of a nation is rarely questioned.

    That Kimberly Kagan and her “Institute for the Study of War” represents an edifice of loyalty to American values or a reliquary of military knowledge is laughable on its face. As a “military strategist”, she might have the expertise to recognize a field dressing, given that they are almost indistinguishable from Kotex pads. Beyond that, her insertion into the strategic affairs of a Commanding General’s staff provides nothing if not an opportunity to gather sensitive information.

    In the context of conducting an “op”, the “think tankers” become primary suspects. Whether they are the “leakers”, the “useful idiots”, the “cutouts”, or the primary agents of other-nation handlers in the double or triple layered “forest of mirrors” – the UNREALITY that, after a lifetime may contribute to the insanity attributed to James Jesus Angleton’s demise – the only interpretive tool we have left is a question: “WHO BENEFITS?” Ted Cruz may be well-advised to stop quoting Cicero, lest he reveal his true role in the chain of information distortion. In my estimation, that would be “useful idiot”.

    “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”

    • Abe
      November 27, 2014 at 15:15

      You understand three corners when one is brought up, F.G.

      It is imperative to grasp the subtle differences between irrational discrimination and logical discernment, in order to accurately distinguish “who REALLY benefits” versus “who APPEARS to benefit”.

      Think tanks and media outlets are fairly easy to categorize once their patrons are identified. Leaks are a different affair.

      Assigned in 2009 to an Army unit in Iraq as an intelligence analyst, Manning had access to classified databases. In early 2010, Manning leaked information to WikiLeaks, including videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike, and the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan; 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables; and 500,000 Army reports that came to be known as the Iraq War logs and Afghan War logs. Much of the material was published by WikiLeaks or its media partners between April and November 2010. Manning’s gender dysphoria, and Assange’s narcissism, complexifies the truthiness of the Wikileaks revelations.

      A forest of mirrors, indeed.

  5. F. G. Sanford
    November 26, 2014 at 15:43

    For a truly nauseating rundown on these “think tank” perverts, please see the article at the following link:

    To quote a passage:

    “Petraeus extolled his think tank “heroes” for providing “the rationale for the additional forces that were required [and] describe[ing] how they might be used in Iraq,” claiming that their work “serendipitously” made its way into “the West Wing and ultimately even into the Oval Office. … I think it played a very significant role in helping to shape the intellectual concepts and indeed, in helping to shape the ultimate policy decision that was made.” (Petraeus offered a similar account of the “surge of ideas” several months later at the American Enterprise Institute, when he was awarded AEI’s “Irving Kristol Award” in May 2010.”

    Note that “the troops” get maimed and die, but for Petraeus, “the heroes” are the “think tankers”, among whom the Kagan and O’Hanlon factions were sponsored on “Dog and Pony” extravaganzas to the theatre of operations and given “window shielded” tours to promote their support for what ultimately proved to be a failed strategy. I am almost certain that Petraeus could have been prosecuted for “Waste, Fraud and Abuse” on that one, and unless Kimberly Kagan and her feckless accomplices with faux military expertise had security clearances, a case could probably also be made for OPSEC breaches as well.

    After WWII, the linguistic and semantic mechanisms inherent in Bernays’ propaganda methodology coupled with Goebbels’ success at perverting an entire civilized nation with those same mechanisms garnered the attention of an elite group of educators, doctors, philosophers, semanticists, linguists, anthropologists and other social scientists. They attempted to found an institution dedicated to the sane use of language to promote a better world. It didn’t last long. It was infiltrated and sold out by those most likely to be threatened by a tool capable of dismantling and revealing propaganda. One of the founders, who shall remain nameless, only referred to those early pharisees as, “The New York Faction”. Today, I’m sure he’d call them “Neocons”.

    • Abe
      November 27, 2014 at 01:49

      The article F.G. cited appeared right before the so-called Afghan War Diary documents were published by WikiLeaks on 25 July 2010.

      The alleged collection of internal U.S. military logs consisted of 91,731 documents, covering the period between January 2004 and December 2009. Most of the documents are classified secret.

      As of 28 July 2010, only 75,000 of the documents had been released to the public, a move which Wikileaks says is “part of a harm minimization process demanded by [the] source”.

      Prior to releasing the initial 75,000 documents, WikiLeaks made the logs available to The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel in its German and English online edition, which published reports per previous agreement on that same day, 25 July 2010.

      WikiLeaks says it does not know the source of the leaked data. The three outlets which had received the documents in advance, The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel, all concluded that they are genuine when compared with independent reports.

      The New York Times described the leak as “a six-year archive of classified military documents [that] offers an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war”.

      The Guardian called the material “one of the biggest leaks in U.S. military history…a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and NATO commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency”.

      The documents allege that Iranian involvement in Afghanistan steadily widened from 2004 to today and constituted armaments, money, and physical deployment of anti-NATO militants.

      The sources for the allegations against Iran were Afghan spies and paid informants,

      Iran has repeatedly denied supporting the militants.

      However, as William Engdahl wrote in 2010, “The evidence suggests […] that far from an honest leak, it is a calculated disinformation to the gain of the US and perhaps Israeli and Indian intelligence and a coverup of the US and Western role in drug trafficking out of Afghanistan.”

      The Afghan War Diary and other Wikileaks disclosures appear to be deliberate manipulations designed to create the impression of Israeli innocence and Iranian guilt.

  6. Joe Tedesky
    November 26, 2014 at 14:46

    So, tomorrow I will bow my head to give thanks that we have those on our side who will provoke World War III. If it wasn’t so real, it would be funny. Although that said, I am not laughing. Seriously, these Neocon’s need locked up. While locking them up don’t stop there. Lock up the politicians who take their AIPAC money as well. Rename Israel to Palestine, and call it all ‘a big mistake’. Finally learn to work with Russia, and the rest of the world. Make peace the goal, and start from there. Future generations deserve this, so let’s make it happen. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  7. Abe
    November 26, 2014 at 13:45

    Online propaganda organs like The Interpreter are sprouting like mushrooms.

    The Information Operations Roadmap, commissioned by the Pentagon in 2003, was personally approved by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

    Declassified in January 2006, the document describes the United States Military’s approach to Information warfare, with an emphasis on the Internet.

    The operations described in the document include a wide range of military activities: Public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks, and a major disinformation project to plant false stories in any available news media.

  8. Abe
    November 26, 2014 at 13:26

    Propaganda does exist on all sides of us, and it
    does change our mental pictures of the world. Even
    if this be unduly pessimistic—and that remains to
    be proved—the opinion reflects a tendency that is
    undoubtedly real. In fact, its use is growing as
    its efficiency in gaining public support is recognized.

    This then, evidently indicates the fact that any
    one with sufficient influence can lead sections of the
    public at least for a time and for a given purpose.
    Formerly the rulers were the leaders. They laid
    out the course of history, by the simple process of
    doing what they wanted. And if nowadays the
    successors of the rulers, those whose position or
    ability gives them power, can no longer do what
    they want without the approval of the masses,
    they find in propaganda a tool which is increasingly
    powerful in gaining that approval. Therefore, propaganda
    is here to stay.

    It was, of course, the astounding success of propaganda
    during the war that opened the eyes of
    the intelligent few in all departments of life to
    the possibilities of regimenting the public mind.
    The American government and numerous patriotic
    agencies developed a technique which, to most persons
    accustomed to bidding for public acceptance, was
    new. They not only appealed to the individual by
    means of every approach—visual, graphic, and auditory—
    to support the national endeavor, but they also
    secured the cooperation of the key men in every group
    —persons whose mere word carried authority to hundreds
    or thousands or hundreds of thousands of
    followers. They thus automatically gained the support
    of fraternal, religious, commercial, patriotic,
    social and local groups whose members took their
    opinions from their accustomed leaders and spokesmen,
    or from the periodical publications which they
    were accustomed to read and believe. At the same
    time, the manipulators of patriotic opinion made use
    of the mental cliches and the emotional habits of the
    public to produce mass reactions against the alleged
    atrocities, the terror and the tyranny of the enemy.

    – Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (1928)

  9. MrK
    November 26, 2014 at 13:18

    ” Their work is “funded by a think tank that receives support from the family of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.”

    Mikhail Khodorkovsky of Yukos is a co-investor with Lord Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild.

    (WASHINGTON TIMES) Arrested oil tycoon passed shares to banker
    The Washington Times
    Sunday, November 2, 2003

    LONDON (Agence France-Presse) — Control of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s shares in the Russian oil giant Yukos have passed to renowned banker Jacob Rothschild, under a deal they concluded prior to Mr. Khodorkovsky’s arrest, the Sunday Times reported.

    Voting rights to the shares passed to Mr. Rothschild, 67, under a “previously unknown arrangement” designed to take effect in the event that Mr. Khodorkovsky could no longer “act as a beneficiary” of the shares, it said. More…

    His son Nat, the future 5th Baron Rotschild, is close to Oleg Deripaska.

    Nat is also close with Tony Hayward of BP, who is now a co-investor with Nat in Vallares, and has become the Chairman of GlencoreXstrata.

    Today it was in the news, that there are advanced talks of merging GlencoreXstrata with old Rothschild bank owned miner Rio Tinto.

  10. Zachary Smith
    November 26, 2014 at 13:08

    I followed the first link to “The Menace of Unreality” to see what was going on, and here is what I found.

    xxxx:// — the publication “was launched in 2013, was made possible by a seed grant from the London-based Herzen Foundation and a grant from the the New York-based Institute of Modern Russia”

    Following up, “Institute of Modern Russia” — the wiki says it was founded 2010.
    “Herzen Foundation” I could find no references to this – other than the ones connected to the Interpretermag – which don’t say it went out of business in 1998.

    So what we have is comparable to what’s done in manufacturing genuine antique furniture: creating an illusion of authenticity. In this case the fakery is used to give the neocon agents of Israel a patina of scholarship and respectability.

    Unfortunately, their crap is used by the likes of the Washington Post and New York Times as a foundation to pitch whatever BS Holy Israel is currently peddling.

    IMO Maidhc Ó Cathail understates the hypocrisy and general dishonesty involved in the processes he tells us about.

    But it’s good to learn about the extent of the neocon operations.

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