The lengths that Western intelligence agencies, media and their allies will go to, to deliberately deceive their domestic populations.
In these modern times, where the majority of our formation of knowledge takes place in digital spaces, truth feels like it has become liquid and the world is dissolving around us. To survive and thrive in the midst of this overwhelming flood of information it has become important to develop skills that allow us to not only discover what is false information, but also to develop meaningful knowledge about the nature of our interconnected hypercomplex world.
For nearly a year there has been a deluge of media articles telling us that Russia is trying to propagandise us. Some of these articles have raised a lot of awareness around rhetorical techniques that can be used to manipulate public opinion. This has been a great catalyst for a public surge in media literacy, however this progress seems to have stalled a long way from fully exploring the topic. The majority of the reporting has been on the concept of fake news, and primarily focusing on the use of dishonest claims about events that did not happen. In response to this there has been a big focus on factual reporting. Which ensure that reports of events are supported by publicly verifiable evidence, so that public knows that the reported event was not a fabricated reality.
The world we live in is complex and interconnected, and having a bunch of facts alone is often of very little practical use. It is only when facts are seen in context that we can discover the cause and effect and hence find meaning from them. This second stage of interpreting facts is where meaning making takes place.
Facts and Context
Lets explore this with a quick example. We will start with facts then continue to add context and see if our interpretation of meaning changes.
We find a person dead from a gunshot wound. The Victim.
We find the a gun with finger prints on it. The Weapon.
We identify the person whose finger prints it was. The Aggressor.
Now we add context.
In our first scenario the Victim is a soldier in a war-zone.
In our second scenario the Victim is a soldier in a war-zone who had just shot a child.
In our third scenario the Victim was robbed and shot by a criminal.
In our fourth scenario the Victim was a criminal who was attacking the Aggressor and the Aggressor killed the criminal in self defence.
In our fifth scenario the fingerprints are of the Victim, so it looks like a case of suicide, but later a security camera shows that an Aggressor shot the Victim then manipulated the evidence to appear as a suicide attempt.
From this simple exercise we can easily see how context can massively change the meaning of a few data points. We can also see how as we continue to add context our interpretation of meaning can change. In our fifth example it initially appeared as if it was a suicide attempt, but then a secondary source of evidence showed that that was in fact a manipulation of evidence designed to create a false impression.
A factual example
A modern political example of this is the death of dissident Russian Journalist Arkady Babchenko.
We have evidence of his dead body in a pool of blood. The victim was a well known critic of the Russian Government. There has been a lot of reports in Western Media that current Russian government assassinates people who criticise them.
Then we have the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs publicly confirm that Arkady’s death factually happened.
So this should be enough facts and context to make a conclusion about this event. We should be able to create some meaning from these facts and context and then take some action based upon this knowledge. Boris has done just this. He has created meaning and has called for action. ‘To defend freedom, and to hold those responsible to account.’
So now we have facts that the death was faked, that the facts were manufactured, and that they were confirmed by international media and national officials. What would have happened if he did not come out and announce that his death was faked? It would be accepted a fact because it had been confirmed by international media and national officials. More than this, the British Foreign Minister, called for Russia to be held to account.
What happened the last time that Boris Johnson called for Russia or a Russian ally to be held to account?
When accusations of a chemical weapons attack were reported in Syria, by the White Helmets, Boris Johnson authorised a joint missile strike with Washington and France. These attacks were authorised before the expert fact finding mission from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived to confirm that the attack had actually happened or discovered who was responsible. After the investigators and journalists arrived a few days later, large amounts of evidence were found that the facts of the reported chemical weapons attack were faked, likely in order to provide a pretext for western missile attacks to help the jihadi’s who were about to be defeated and driven out of their strategically important stronghold in Syria’s capital.
Only a month before this Boris Johnson accused Russia of attempting to assassinate Sergei and Yulia Skripal. He went on to claim that Russia was responsible and initiated actions that lead to 28 countries expelling Russian Diplomats based on the facts that Boris Johnson and the UK foreign office had.
“There can be no doubt what was used and there remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible — only Russia has the means, motive and record.”
Then in yet another case of national governments taking action before evidence was confirmed, it turns out that the UK had no solid evidence that Russia was responsible and the foreign office deleted its statements claiming that it had evidence that Russia was responsible.
Then despite the claims that a military grade nerve agent was used. The victims were alive and well and were release from hospital on the eve of the Royal Wedding while the attention of the world was distracted.
It is at this point that it is important to look at the context. We have three alleged criminal acts, by Russia or its allies. One in Britain one in Syria and one in the Ukraine. Russia is currently involved in proxy war in both Syria and Ukraine and Britain is heavily involved in at least the Syrian Conflict in that the UK Foreign Office funds the White Helmets who produced the chemical weapons report that was pretext for the missile strikes. The United State is also involved in Syria and currently occupies one third of Syria with its proxy forces.
When looking at the context that links these circumstances, the proxy wars in Ukraine and Syria seem particularly significant. So lets look at what facts we can find about proxy wars.
Proxy Wars and Propaganda
Thanks to Wikileaks we can read this US Military Training Manual on the topic of proxy wars. US Multi-Service Concept for Irregular Warfare. Please note that this is also releasable to the Government of the UK.
Let take a look at some of the most relevant parts. In this manual the term Irregular Warfare (IW) is used to describe proxy wars.
Given that we have here publicly available facts that the US and allies will closely coordinate to fight this “information battle across all fronts” (p14 ) and that “popular support comes first and last in an IW conflict” (p14), we can then look these Irregular Wars that are talking place in Ukraine and Syria and see if facts from these conflicts align with the methods and goals of the US and allied strategy for Irregular Warfare. We will take in to account that this “Comprehensive approach applies all of the instruments of national power — diplomatic, economic, informational, financial…” (p6), and that these information campaigns require “intimate collaboration between… military and civilian” (p6), and that the tactics used include “discrediting and delegitimising an enemy,” or “frightening a population into inactivity.” (p14.)
So we have the British Foreign Office, making these statements. They are an example of the use of diplomatic instruments of power. There are extensive economic sanctions against Russia and Syria are examples of the economic instrument of power. We have just examined some elements of the informational campaign. Then we can look at the US and British media for the last year there has been an extensive media campaign labelling Russia as attacking western democracy with propaganda. This campaign has been heated and it achieves two of these goals of “winning the battle of local, US and world public opinion” (p 13). Firstly it attempts to discredit and delegitimise Russia and secondly it attempts to frighten a population into inactivity.
The populations that they appear to be aiming to frighten into inactivity here are the US and world. It is also worth noting the writing on pages 14 and 15 which explain the character of their information operations. Specifically that they must “acquire a BBC-like reputation for honesty” and that “Towards this end campaign designers must develop informational contingency plans to serve as templates” in order to quickly respond to events.
Respectable Factual Propaganda
In the context of these statements it is interesting to note that is has been the British Foreign Office that has been the public face that is calling for Russia and its allies to be held to account. Given the US president’s lack of reputation for presenting respectable facts, the decision to use the British Foreign Office as mouth piece aligns well with this strategy. Is also very interesting to look at articles like this and this. In these articles we see that they are characterised by being full of entirely true and provable factual claims, they are clearly aiming for a “BBC-like reputation for honesty”. While focusing solely on “delegitimising or discrediting an enemy.”
The fact that these article and outlets are only reporting on areas of propaganda and media literacy that do not discredit Washington or its allies, shows that these anti Russia publications are not actually focused on promoting media literacy or an informed citizenry in the US and Western Nations. They are instead primarily focused on keeping their citizens misinformed about domestic failures and problems.
False Flags and the Art of Deception
In addition to this and going a step further these documents released by The Intercept, show some of the deliberately manipulative methods that are used by Washington and London to manipulate their citizens sense making ability. They themselves describe some of their actions as False Flag Operations.
To return to the start of this article, merely reporting one collection of facts does not mean that you are not committing an act of propaganda. It is the context in which the facts exist and the interpretation of their meaning which are also equally important. It is also essential to watch out for efforts to manipulate where a demographic’s attention is drawn, and attempts to hack their perception and sensemaking abilities.
When ever you see a large amount of reporting on one subject and a large lack or reporting on other areas that show evidence of problems, then it is likely that there is some kind of information operation taking place, in which a certain population demographic is not supposed to think about that thing because it will cause a loss of reputation and credibility for the Western intelligence agencies or the power blocks which the intelligence agencies are allied with or control.
The American Free Press
Let us now examine this video of the former Editor of Time Magazine, who was before this an important State Department Official. In the video linked below he describes this position as being known as the Chief Propagandist Job, he goes on to say that in this position he created meta-narratives for the American national identity. He then goes on to say that this called writing history.
Pause and reflect
Please really stop to consider the ramifications of this. The self proclaimed lead propagandist of the US state department said his job was creating meta-narratives for the identity of America as a nation. He said that this is also called history.
What does this mean?
We have the government chief propagandist admitting that the public understanding of US history is in fact a propaganda construct.
Next we can see how this is made possible. The fact that he moved from being the self confessed chief propagandist of the State Department, then he moved to become editor of Time Magazine, show how intimate the relationship between Government and supposedly free press is in America. He then goes on the say that the existence of media cartels is not a problem for America.
Jimmy Dore breaks down the video and highlights key points in it.
Or you can watch the original video here:
It is the revolving door between the government propaganda department and these supposedly free press media cartels, that allows the state department to write the history of the USA as a construct of propaganda. The fact that the vast majority of all influential media in America and most of the west is controlled by a handful of media cartels makes it very easy to control and influence the media as a unified bloc.
This document US Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare, FM3–05.130, 30 Sep 2008 explains this as the use of the Informational Instrument of United States national Power.
- The western governments actively engage in manipulating the perception of their populations and world to create a fictional history and meta-narrative for their national identity that does not match reality.
- The United States Government considers the “free” American press to be an instrument of its National Power, and that it can be used to manipulate public opinion, and create fictional histories to make the USA and it’s allies look good.
- A key reason that the United States Government and its allies use disinformation is to manufacture public support for its ongoing conventional and unconventional wars.
- The forces of the United States Government and its allies are trained in the use of False Flag attacks.
- No one can trust the United States or UK Government, The publicly believed history of the United States or any reporting that it gives on what is happening in the foreign invasions, be they conventional or unconventional.
- This leaves people in a situation where all established authorities are suspect and people need to develop tools to collect and assess new knowledge. To faithfully trust an established authority is extremely likely to result in you being decieved.
- If a person reading this experiences strong emotions, and a strong urge to ignore or discredit the information presented it is likely the result of their sense of personal identity being based upon a manufactured meta-narrative. If this meta-narrative shatters then the person’s sense of identity can also shatter leaving them in a state of trauma, the human body will often respond to this as if it is a physical attack, and will attempt to reject escape or deny the attacks on the foundations of their sense of self.