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Fake news and its significance in US – Russia relations – Part II

Russian and American relations are being soured by fake news from each nation, both lying to their respectively uninformed audiences.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In part I of this series we looked at the advent of “fake news” as a distinctly understood entity. In particular we looked at how the fake news narrative went largely unchallenged in America about all things – both inside the country and outside – for decades, despite the advent of conservative talk radio and internet news sites like our own.

In 2016 with the candidacy and election of President Donald Trump, the media spin machine went into overdrive, to coin a phrase, “maximum overdrive“, in which the media machine was now infused with a life of its own, turning against the truth openly, deliberately and with a purpose – to block, impede, prevent and destroy the new president’s career. First it was in the election campaign with the usual political surprises (always, always reveal something sexually shocking in October before an election to throw the trust of people off, so therefore, the locker room talk recording – but wait, that didn’t work) and then the advent of the now over two-year long narrative that somehow, Donald Trump “colluded” with Russian agencies to interfere with and “steal” the election from Hillary Clinton, the anointed president-to-be.

Collusion is not even a crime, but in this regard the idea is to paint a picture of the President as some sort of KGB / FSB informant and therefore not “really” American, but acting according to the will of the puppet master, Vladimir Putin. This is a most sinister insinuation, of course, and even though there has not yet been so much as one single fact that confirms it is true (and a whole LOT of facts that show it is not), the American puppet masters know that the way to scare people or make them uncertain is to instill fear. In this case, fear of Big Bad Russia, which most Americans do not know anything about.

This is an extraordinarily successful campaign. Think about it: the mainstream media outlets like CNN and MSNBC and others are stuffed with hosts that speak very confidently about this matter as though it were true. Rush Limbaugh and others have often commented that it even appears that these anti-Trumpers actually believe what they are saying. In this, the great tactic of Joseph Goebbels has come to act on the news media itself, where the media seems to be personally hypnotized by its own creation. And there is no telling them that this is wrong; not at all.

The false narrative largely stopped President Trump’s agenda for about six or seven months, as even GOP congressional leaders did not want him to be President and were hoping for a way that he would not be. Only when it became evident that Trump was trumping the opposition and that he was not going away did they slowly begin to cooperate.

Debate will doubtlessly rage about this, but fake news comes from the Russian side as well. We reported not long ago about how the state-run news agency Vesti News took a very aggressive stance about an incident where a professional choir sang a song in St Isaac’s Cathedral in St Petersburg about attacking Washington, DC with 100 megaton nukes. The actual story did get picked up by The New York Times, Fox News and other papers and website publications.

It is really nothing short of a miracle that this event did not set off an utter firestorm in the United States, but that week was also overshadowed by other media attempts to besmirch President Trump and smear the Russians, most notably the (also) Vesti report that fantasized about how the Russian forces could deploy the new Zircon hypersonic missile to take out command and control centers in the US. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also provided unwitting shade by dragging the media to cover her amazing speculation that maybe people should not have children because of climate change.

So in this litany of largely non-news and fantasy, a potential blockbuster fake news story got passed over and dismissed by the American people. But the narrative about Russia also was strengthened a bit by anyone who cared to read the choir piece, and we have observed this directly – rank-and-file Americans are vaguely afraid of Russia, and they are afraid of President Putin. That is the mark of a successful disinformation campaign.

It does not matter what the reality is, either. It is extremely difficult to go against the narrative, and truth is all too easily pushed aside for passion.

The disinformation campaign has been answered on many levels.

It is important here to consider the nature of the information society we have now. In earlier times, “news” was what was broadcast by the major television and radio networks, and the major papers. Tabloids didn’t count, and rumor books didn’t count either. But now, social media packs in views far greater in amount than any newspaper, and if a person can make video presentations the right way, their material will be seen – AND accepted all over the world. In such an environment with no verification, anything can be reported AND accepted as truth. It is very important to consider this fact when looking at how fake news operates.

A Russian effort at fake news is shown here in this video clip.

This clip is brilliantly done and staged, and almost everything that its narrator says about the US is incorrect, sometimes catastrophically so. 

But examine the number of views it generated since its posting on February 12 of this year. One month ago, and this eleven minute homegrown effort has almost 300,000 views! We read some of the reactions that people wrote, and they say things that in English, translate like this:

“What can I say?? The country of the mentally ill. Moral freaks”

“The US is an empire of evil and absurdity. Manage this empire of non-humans. Reagan called the wrong country the evil empire.”

“You cannot ask for salt?! [Expletives], America!”

“Horrors! Alex, run from there? why else are you there?” (Alex is the name of the presenter in the video.)

“Here is a fig from me for their democracy. Yes, God forbid that I would live in such a country.”

There are also some comments that point to Russia having enough of its own problems and that comparing Russia’s problems to America’s problems is admittedly useless. However, there was not one comment seen that disputed what the narrator offers as “Ten things that are forbidden in the USA” – most of which are absolutely wrong (unless you go to very specialized places or conditions.)

While the report for many will only be “amusing propaganda from the other side,” the results here matter – just the same as with the American fake news media.

In both cases the objective is to arouse passion, usually negative and either fearful or angry, about the “other side.” In both situations, this effort of using clever props and misinformation is enormously successful. In Alexey’s case, note his setting – he is sitting in a motor home – type vehicle, wearing a bolo tie and a cowboy-styled Western shirt. He is trying to look here like a “real American” – almost like a cowboy. Were he dressed as many Russian men dress in Moscow, the effect would not be convincing enough. The background music is “Auld Lang Syne”, which is not in itself particularly American, but the country-music style in which it is played, is.

The situation regarding American and Russian relations is an absolute tragedy. It is arguable that this gentleman’s channel is one man’s reaction to his own frustration about all the lies American media tell about Russia. That the American media does lie about Russia is one of the reasons why The Duran exists – to counter that narrative with reality. But Alexey Brezhnev does not correct the problem with his own reporting – he exacerbates it. And to his credit, he is a big success – he carries his own channel on YouTube with many millions of views, from which he probably earns his living. He is a master in what he does.

But when it comes to information, his information appears to be very twisted, indeed. If this video we posted is representative of all of his work, then we can begin to see one of the causes of a growing sense of resentment in Russia towards the United States.

When this crisis started in 2014 and in the years immediately after, the Russian people’s reaction to America was a mixture of sadness and bewilderment.

Now, it appears to be drifting into resentment and anger. 

The responsibility lies with anyone who spreads information to be truthful, especially to audiences that are not likely to know the difference between truth and falsehood about any given topic.

Between our two countries there is presently an expanding gulf of very poor understanding, the blame for which lies on each side.

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john vieiraSeraphim HanischOS OSManinTheMoonTom Welsh Recent comment authors
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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“Now, it appears to be drifting into resentment and anger”.

Not a moment too soon.

ManinTheMoon
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ManinTheMoon

You can’t compare a couple of fringe Russian outlets having a joke at the USA’s expense with the wall to wall anti Russian propaganda to which w are subjected in the West. The sooner Russia gets really angry the better. The West sees conciliatory behaviour as weakness.

OS OS
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OS OS

Alex is not a virtual person, he’s a truck driver and private video blogger, living for about 20 years in Canada and persistently visiting the US as well. Most of what he tells is essentially accurate. To properly understand his speech and accents you need to better feel irony and sarcasm in Russian language.

john vieira
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Both to blame….but do think that the idiot corrupted mainstream media in the west, America in particular, is “way” advanced…

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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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