Censorship, fake news, perception management

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sat Jun 15, 2024 2:50 pm


When The Powerful Control Public Opinion, Elections Aren’t Real

In a capitalist system, those who control the capital control what ideas and information will be ingested by most people. In a democratic system of government - even one with a rock solid voting system and no money allowed in politics - this will always give the wealthy the ability to rig elections by manipulating public opinion using propaganda.

Caitlin Johnstone
June 13, 2024

I’ve been ignoring the US presidential race because the election is rigged.

When someone says US presidential elections are rigged, there are a number of things they could mean by that. They could be claiming votes are actively tampered with to ensure a particular outcome, as Republicans commonly claimed in the 2020 election. But that isn’t the claim I’m putting forward here — even though the US does have the most dysfunctional elections out of any liberal democracy on earth.

They could also be talking about how legalized corruption in the United States allows the wealthy to manipulate election outcomes and extract political loyalties via campaign donations. While certainly a well-established fact, that isn’t what I’m talking about here either.

They could also be talking about the fact that it doesn’t matter who wins the election since the US president is only a figurehead who pretends to run a country that is actually ruled by unelected plutocrats and empire managers in secretive government agencies. Again this is absolutely true, but that’s not what I’m talking about in this particular essay.

Actually, you could fix all the problems in the American voting system, and US presidential elections would still be rigged. You could fix campaign finance laws to the point where the wealthy are no longer able to use campaign donations to achieve desired political outcomes, and US presidential elections would still be rigged. You could give the US president all the actual government leadership powers you were led to believe he has as a schoolchild, and US presidential elections would still be rigged.

US presidential elections would still be rigged because mainstream political opinion would still be shaped by the wealthy and powerful people who control the sources from which Americans have been trained to get their information. So long as the rich and powerful can manipulate public opinion at mass scale through the corporate media, through Hollywood, and through Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation, they can rig elections however they want.

There’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that’s been going around social media for years which usually goes something like, “There will come a time when the rich own all the media, and it will be impossible for the public to make an informed opinion.” Unlike most cool quotes you’ll see attributed to Einstein on the internet, this one is based on something the renowned theoretical physicist actually did say — except he wasn’t forecasting something happening in the future, he was talking about something that had already happened when he wrote about it in 1949.

In his essay “Why Socialism?”, Einstein wrote the following for Monthly Review (emphasis added):

“The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.”

It was true when Einstein wrote it 75 years ago, and it remains true today. It remains true today because Einstein wasn’t leveling his criticisms at the individual people and events of his time, but at the overarching societal systems which are still in place now.

In a capitalist system, those who control the capital control what ideas and information will be ingested by most people. In a democratic system of government — even one with a rock solid voting system and no money allowed in politics — this will always give the wealthy the ability to rig elections by manipulating public opinion using propaganda.

And they do. In addition to buying up entire media outlets and shareholder control over them, the wealthy pour money into shoring up narrative control by other means like think tanks, online information ops such as NewsGuard and Wikipedia, and the manipulation of algorithms by online megacorporations like Google. This gives them the ability to shape the worldview of a majority of the public, thereby ensuring elections will result in outcomes that bolster the status quo upon which the wealthy have built their fortunes.

This is true throughout all US elections of significant consequence, not just presidential elections, and it is true throughout the entire western world, not just the United States. We are being psychologically manipulated at mass scale from childhood on, our minds continually shaped by people who use their wealth to dominate our shared narratives about how things are going, what’s happening in the world, and what should be done about it. We are taught about our world by deeply indoctrinated parents and deeply indoctrinated teachers who grew up in the same status quo-enforcing information environment as us, and our indoctrination continues through all the screens in our lives until our dying breath.

You can fix everything else that’s wrong with your political system, but unless you also take away the ability of the capitalist class to psychologically manipulate the public into supporting a political status quo that has been artificially shaped by the powerful for the benefit of the powerful, nothing meaningful will change. The wars will continue, the oligarchy will continue, the inequality and injustice will continue, the exploitation and extraction will continue, the ecocide will continue.

That’s why I always place emphasis on the importance of narrative control and how it’s happening — because that’s where all our other problems arise from, and because until we address that problem we won’t be able to address the others.

Luckily, it is possible to address that problem. We ordinary people are at a disadvantage in that we can’t afford to buy up all the most influential outlets and platforms in our society to impose our political preferences like the plutocrats can, but we are at an advantage in that there are a whole lot more of us than there are of them — and in that we have truth and authenticity on our side.

None of us can single-handedly stand against the imperial propaganda machine, but together we can all wage an information war with the goal of debunking imperial narratives and discrediting imperial propaganda in the eyes of the public. We can do this by using every platform and medium we can get our hands on to wake people up to the truth at every opportunity so that they can help join in the fight. The more people realize they’ve been deceived their whole lives about what’s going on in their society, the more people there are to help weaken the grip of imperial narrative control.

All positive developments in human behavior are always preceded by an expansion of consciousness, whether you’re talking about humans as individuals or as a collective. This is no different. If you can seize every opportunity to help spread awareness of the truth and open up another pair of eyes to the reality of our situation, then you are using your energy to attack the empire at its weakest point in the most efficient way possible.

Win or lose, if you dedicate your life to this fight, you can definitely say in the end that you gave it your all.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com.au/2024/06 ... rent-real/


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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sun Jun 16, 2024 7:48 pm

On the transition of Western AI systems to the full control of the military
June 16, 14:19


On the transition of Western AI systems to the full control of the military

The trend of using AI developments for military purposes, which we have identified through projects from Google ( https://t.me/rybar/56977 ) and Israeli intelligence services ( https://rybar.ru/kak-vyglyadit-testirov ... pa-skynet- na-primere-vojny-v-gaze/ ), is quickly gaining momentum.

OpenAI executives have appointed ( https://apnews.com/article/openai-nsa-d ... d1ebbd79b1 ) a former senior intelligence official ( https://apnews.com/article/technology-hacking- politics-1a15faa14ec58c1ae9f7257d57df32c8 ) USA member of the board of directors. The company said in a statement that it will help protect the company behind ChatGPT from "increasingly sophisticated bad actors."

Retired Army General Paul Nakasone was commander of U.S. Cyber ​​Command and director of the National Security Agency (NSA) before leaving office earlier this year.

He recently joined the board of directors of OpenAI. The company's board of directors is currently being actively reformed after a reshuffle last year.

Recall that the previous board of directors abruptly fired CEO Sam Altman. But Altman provided an excellent cover ( https://www.cnbc.com/2023/03/24/openai- ... mafor.html ) for major investors such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates, who were behind the creation of the company. Moreover, Altman actively promotes LGBT values ​​( https://m.economictimes.com/news/intern ... -mulherin- his-spouse/articleshow/106748178.cms#:~:text=Sam%20Altman%20marriage:%20OpenAI%20CEO,Mulherin,%20a%20Australian%20software%20engineer ). The global elites could not miss such a valuable employee, and a few days after his dismissal, he returned to his duties, and the board of directors was dismissed.

OpenAI's board of directors is technically a non-profit organization, but also manages its rapidly growing business. And so, to restore order in this rainbow company, the NSA leadership decided to send a retired intelligence general.

The consequences of this appointment will undoubtedly be the establishment of total control over all requests in ChatGPT. All users of this chatbot should now clearly understand that they are “casually chatting” with an intelligence general.

All requests are automatically processed by AI to search for suspicious patterns, keywords, connections indicating membership in cultural, ethnic, criminal, or terrorist groups. In the near future, a setup process will be carried out, using approximately the same parameters as in the Lavender system (https://rybar.ru/kak-vyglyadit-testirov ... ny-v-gaze/ ). When the system is ready, it will become one of the most effective tools for introducing social rating.

It is likely that in the near future, in the system of Anglo-Saxon law, text typed in a bot will, if necessary, be recognized as extremist and criminal and/or administrative prosecution be launched on its basis.
#globalism #weapons #USA

@rybar - zinc


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We’ve Seen This “Antisemitism Crisis On The Left” Script Before
It sure is a crazy coincidence how western politicians and media always start urgently telling us about an invisible epidemic of left wing antisemitism every time western military ties to Israel are subjected to widespread public scrutiny.

Caitlin Johnstone
June 16, 2024

It sure is a crazy coincidence how western politicians and media always start urgently telling us about an invisible epidemic of left wing antisemitism every time western military ties to Israel are subjected to widespread public scrutiny.

It’s getting bad, and it will likely get worse.

The mass media are filling up with op-eds and cable news segments about how antisemitic leftist anti-genocide protesters are becoming.

Instagram progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently hosted two virulent Zionists in a livestream where the three spent their time concern trolling about the rise of antisemitism in left-wing activist circles.

Whoever runs Joe Biden’s presidential Twitter account for him is tweeting about “horrific acts of Antisemitism” by demonstrators, citing four incidents which were demonstrably not in the least bit antisemitic.

These same false claims about antisemitic activity by protesters are being used by US officials like House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to push through the “Countering Antisemitism Act”, a bill which would give the White House new powers to “counter the spread of antisemitism online” (read: government internet censorship to promote US and Israeli information interests).

And it’s so important that people who are new to this understand we’ve already seen this “crisis of antisemitism on the left” song and dance before; they ran the exact same script a few years ago in the UK to kill the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, who supports Palestinian rights. It’s the exact same bad faith concern trolling op where the whole political-media class suddenly starts pretending to believe something that is transparently ridiculous in order to protect an agenda of the empire.

It’s also important that everyone understand that every part of this is 100 percent cynical manipulation. The people pushing this narrative are fully aware that it is false. Everyone knew Jeremy Corbyn was a lifelong anti-racist who didn’t have an antisemitic bone in his body. Everyone knew there was no crisis of antisemitism in the Labour Party. But they pretended to believe otherwise because they didn’t want to see socialism and anti-imperialism gain a political foothold in the UK. The same thing is happening in the US and throughout the west right now regarding protests against the genocide in Gaza.

So when you see people aggressively rejecting the concern trolls on this issue, that’s why. They’ve seen this schtick before, and they know how politically devastating it can be. They’ve seen how it can be used to suck all the oxygen away from real discourse about real things and funnel it all into this insanely vapid, idiotic conversation about a problem that exists nowhere outside the imaginations of the people talking about it. It’s a deeply evil, disgusting thing to do, especially now in 2024 when it’s being done to facilitate an active genocide.

There is no crisis of antisemitism on the left. It is not happening. The people pushing this narrative know it is not happening. Even the claim that anti-semitic incidents overall are on the rise is highly dubious, given that the figure everyone always cites for this claim comes from the Anti-Defamation League, who after October 7 began categorizing pro-Palestine rallies as antisemitic incidents — including rallies organized and attended by Jewish groups.

People get into left-wing politics exactly because they oppose racism and injustice. Nobody who actually understands the pro-Palestine movement sincerely believes all these peaceniks and commies have suddenly morphed into Jew-hating Nazis in contradiction of their entire worldview. They might pretend to believe this is a real thing that is actually happening in order to advance a political agenda, but they won’t actually believe it.

There’s plenty of hatred for Jews to be found on the extreme right, where the ideological inability to acknowledge capitalism and western imperialism as the source of today’s ills leaves a void for blame that will be filled by anything from Jews to immigrants to Satanic pedophile cabals to drag queens. But it’s always the lefties who get the overwhelming brunt of the antisemitism accusations, because their pro-peace, pro-justice, anti-colonialist, anti-racist activism makes them an obstacle to the information interests of Israel and the murderous empire which supports it.

We saw it with Corbyn, and we’re seeing it again today.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com.au/2024/06 ... pt-before/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Mon Jun 17, 2024 2:31 pm

On controlling the past…

Stephen Karganovic

June 17, 2024

Artificial intelligence has rightfully become the subject of great controversy, even though it is still early to fully assess its impact.

George Orwell was spot on when he wrote that “who controls the past controls the future.” The remarkable advances of Artificial Intelligence technology appear to bear him out. But they confirm also the correctness of the rest of his prescient remark, which is cited less often, that “who controls the present controls the past.” That also seems confirmed, as we shall see presently.

Artificial intelligence has rightfully become the subject of great controversy, even though it is still early to fully assess its impact. Yet with each passing day the problematic, and some would even say nefarious, aspects of its uses are becoming increasingly evident.

One of the chief concerns regarding Artificial Intelligence is its pretension to supersede and consign to a state of permanent subservience its human counterpart. Another is the danger it poses to workmen. Their jobs will become largely obsolete and incomes will diminish or disappear once employers discover that the operations human workers were performing for a salary can be done at minimum or no expense by the entity we are becoming accustomed to call Artificial Intelligence, or AI.

Clearly, the uncontrolled spread of AI is taking humanity to uncharted waters. A bizarre illustration is the recent candidacy of an AI entity for mayor of Cheyenne in the U.S. state of Wyoming. Good luck to the good and supposedly conservative people of Cheyenne if they do not have a qualified human candidate amongst them to vote for

. This is just one of the levels where common sense should dictate extreme caution before uncritically engaging some of the potential AI applications. There is however another and more ominous application that is proliferating on the internet. Unlike the previous example, it is not in the least entertaining but should cause alarm and intense unease.

That is the emergence of “deep fakes,” masterful distortions of reality so convincingly executed that even the most advanced forensic tools, let alone the unaided human faculties, would find it nearly impossible to detect the deception.

Within the genus of what has come to be known as deep fakes a specific and sinister class has emerged that is saturating the internet. It does not aim to inflict the usual annoyances such as altering an individual’s appearance, making him do or say things that in real life he never would, or depicting him credibly in a compromising situation for the purpose of discreditation. Instead of generating banal personal fakes, it does something that causes incomparably more harm. It deliberately falsifies the historical record by erasing the distinction between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood. It misleads the uninformed and the gullible by manufacturing events that theoretically could have, but never did happen.

The phony “October 1963” CBS news report about the supposed outbreak of the German civil war is a case in point. Everything about it is impressively realistic but it is false history, a fabrication cut from whole cloth. The underlying message of the “news broadcast” read by legendary CBS announcer Walter Cronkite is that Germany was not defeated in World War II but achieved its major war aims, including control of Europe, substantial conquests in the East, and the restoration of its African colonies. According to this false scenario in World War II it is Russia that was defeated and compelled to withdraw to the east, perhaps to the other side of the Urals since Moscow is mentioned as a district under German rule. After Hitler’s death, presumably of natural causes, a power struggle ensues amongst his lieutenants. The “victorious” Germany is portrayed as a robust nuclear power that even the United States fears to antagonise.

Adding an intriguingly realistic touch to this fabricated scenario, as the leader of Germany Hitler dies in the early 1960s, at roughly the time that he should have died in exile in South America if one of the versions of his escape were to be believed. For the historically challenged, further details about the fictitious 1964 German civil war are provided here.

This writer recalls CBS news broadcasts from the 1960s when Walter Cronkite was at the height of his influence as the “most trusted journalist” in America. In addition to having a solid knowledge of contemporary history, I also recall Cronkite’s appearance and delivery style, as well as the distinct timbre of his voice. In all those respects, this fake video clip is unnervingly realistic. The flaws it and others similar to it might still have will be successfully resolved by further improvements in Artificial Intelligence technology.

But how many 20 year-olds today would be able to recognise the fake, based on their knowledge of historical facts? Or even adults, for that matter? In viewer comments, there are quite a few who admit being impressed by the fake “newscast” and who even claim to remember having watched it when supposedly many decades ago it was originally emitted. But all that is, of course, complete nonsense. It is groupthink false memory. Mass formation is what Belgian psychologist Mattias Desmet calls it. They could not possibly have watched this in the 1960s. The events that Artificial Intelligence makes Cronkite appear to announce never actually took place and he in fact never reported them.

Expanding on the themes established in the previous fake report, the false Cronkite generated by AI reports in another phony “newscast” that defeated Russian forces have rallied back under the leadership of a fictional general and are invading German held territory. Film footage shows the resurgent Russian army of the sinister-sounding “National Reclamation Government,” equipped with nuclear weapons, attempting to occupy territories to the West claimed by Russia. A Russia laid low but regaining its former strength under a revanchist new government and reclaiming its assets to the west – could this be a predictive programming allusion to some current events?

In this instance also the ridiculousness of this fictitious scenario was not immediately recognised by all the viewers. Apparently it again jarred some false memories. A viewer wrote: “I remember where I was when this happened. It was right before I graduated from high school. It was a scary time. Glad it’s over.”

But this is rubbish of course. He could not have remembered it because it never happened.

Germany and Russia are by no means the sole subjects of this rampant fakery. The reach of maliciously recomposed history is sweeping and it ruthlessly distorts and falsifies everything in its path. Here Field Marshal Montgomery is poignantly announcing the surrender of the Allied Powers to the Axis at the end of World War II, President Reagan is dissolving the United States, and even the Italo-Turkish war is featured in these historical travesties.

To dismiss such realistic falsifications of the historical record as harmless entertainment would be a grave mistake. It is an attack on the integrity of the human mind. This brutal recomposition of the past serves to reconfigure the awareness and to reorient the perceptions of those living in the present.

The ranks of the older generation, who might be capable of detecting these falsehoods either from direct experience or with the help of the solid education that they were fortunate to receive, are thinning rapidly. Traditional mechanisms of cultural transmission to the successor generation are effectively blocked. Few resources are at hand today to counterbalance the vacuity and intellectual impotence of the manipulable progeny, raised purposefully to be uneducated, ignorant, and dangerously vulnerable to this or any other rubbish to which they happen to be exposed.

Would any of these pathetically lost young people, whose natural milieu are not books but video games and iPhones, ever manage to marshal the necessary facts and arguments to detect and counter the lies, including history crudely rewritten, that the unseen masters of Artificial Intelligence have decided to distract and enslave them with?

https://strategic-culture.su/news/2024/ ... -the-past/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Tue Jun 18, 2024 1:53 pm

Couldn't Such Fake News Start Wars?

Stephen Byren asks in Asia Times:

Why is NATO expanding its nuclear force?

That is a rather weird question. NATO is a consulting mechanism. It does not have tanks, guns or nuclear forces. All such tangible things are owned and controlled by this or that member country.

NATO does not have a nuclear force and currently neither NATO nor those member countries which have nuclear forces are interested in expanding them. The question states as a fact that NATO is expanding something. It is not doing that.

Byren writes:

Jens Stoltenberg, the 13th secretary general of NATO, says that the alliance is in talks to deploy more nuclear weapons and modernize their delivery systems. Stoltenberg told the Telegraph in the UK: “I won’t go into operational details about how many nuclear warheads should be operational and which should be stored, but we need to consult on these issues. That’s exactly what we’re doing.” Stoltenberg emphasized that NATO is a “nuclear alliance.”

The Telegraph piece on the Stoltenberg interview is a write-up, not a transcript. It is inaccurate. Here is what it says:

Nato is in talks to deploy more nuclear weapons in the face of a growing threat from Russia and China, the head of the alliance has said.
Jens Stoltenberg added that the bloc must show its nuclear arsenal to the world to send a direct message to its foes in an interview with The Telegraph.

He revealed there were live consultations between members on taking missiles out of storage and placing them on standby as he called for transparency to be used as a deterrent.

Mr Stoltenberg said: “I won’t go into operational details about how many nuclear warheads should be operational and which should be stored, but we need to consult on these issues.

“That’s exactly what we’re doing at Nato, for instance at meetings in Nato, a nuclear planning group as we had during the defence ministerial meeting this [last] week.”

The above sounds as if Stoltenberg was actively doing something. But that is simply not what he said:

Matthew Harries @harries_matthew - 19:38 UTC · Jun 17, 2024
Here is a transcript of what Stoltenberg actually said. As suspected, I think there has been too much parsing of his words.

The “operational” vs storage thing was introduced by the interviewer. And “transparency” was in the context of openness about exercises.

As the audio of the interview provides, the whole issue was prompted by a misleading remark by one of the interviewers, not by Stoltenberg himself:

]Telegraph: Do you think European allies should follow the lead of the United States by putting more warheads on standby rather than having them in storage?

Britain, which is the country the Telegraph is asking about, usually has one nuclear submarine on patrol and ready to use with a number of others in training or revamp. Only the submarine on patrol will carry nuclear warheads. The ones for the other submarines are usually in storage. To put more of them on 'standby', whatever that may otherwise mean, would not provide a ready way to launch them. It would thus be useless.

The interviewers question to Stoltenberg is answered by him with generalizations and a hint to the ever 'ongoing consulting' on the issue.


The misleading question and mealy mouth answer provide for great irritation but don't really mean anything. And certainly not anything new.

(((James Acton))) @james_acton32 - 21:48 UTC · Jun 17, 2024

Based on this transcript, the @Telegraph article by @Barnes_Joe is journalist malpractice. It is a wholly misleading account of Stoltenberg's comments, which were boilerplate.

In times of heightened tensions media are taking a lot of liberty in 'interpreting' things officials say. This does have consequences and those could become lethal:

Kremlin views NATO’s rhetoric on putting nukes on alert as escalation

MOSCOW, June 17. /TASS/. The recent remark by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that the bloc’s allied members are discussing putting their nuclear arsenals on alert is another bout of tensions, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"This is nothing else but an escalation," Peskov said.

But in fact, Stoltenberg did not say anything to that effect.

Consider also this fake Ukranews item which was published two days ago:

Giorgia Meloni says that russia would be forced to surrender if it did not agree to a peaceful settlement

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said that russia would be forced to surrender if it did not agree to the terms of a peace settlement.
Meloni made a corresponding statement at the Global Peace Summit in Switzerland, her words are quoted by the UNIAN news agency.

According to her, protecting Ukraine means protecting the system of international rules. Therefore, it is important to join forces to protect Ukraine.

"If russia does not agree to the terms, we will force them to surrender," Meloni said.

That quote was immediately suspicious. Neither Meloni nor anyone else has the means to force Russia to surrender.

A few hours after the above was publish corrections came in:

Many comments and consternation were caused by the post of Ukrainian politician Anton Gerashchenko regarding the statement of the Italian Prime Minister during the peace summit that took place last weekend in Switzerland.
Gerashchenko quoted Giorgia Meloni on his profile on platform X, who supposedly said: "If Russia does not agree to the terms, we will force them to surrender."

Platform X included a contextual note under the Ukrainian politician's post. From it and the official text of the Italian Prime Minister's speech, it is clear that the words quoted by Gerashchenko were not said during the conference.

Meloni stood by Ukraine, directing strong words towards Russia, but the meaning was somewhat different.

Meloni never said anything about Russia surrendering but a Ukrainian politician, and a lousy news agency which quoted him without checking, planted the false quote.

These are good reminders to check, and double-check, everything one reads about hot conflicts.

Posted by b on June 18, 2024 at 12:10 UTC | Permalink

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2024/06/c ... -wars.html
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Wed Jun 19, 2024 2:39 pm

USAID translates U.S. national security and foreign policy goals into Agency priorities

Richard Hubert Barton

June 18, 2024

While a great deal of controversies have arisen in the world-wide activities of USAID it may be worthwhile to explore its attempts of preventing individuals from finding information that challenges official narratives.


The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was created by the U.S. president John Fitzgerald Kennedy on 3 November 1961. The justification for its creation was his firm belief that the U.S. hegemonic position in the world could not be maintained just through the use of military means but had to be supplemented by economic assistance as well. After more than 60 years of its existence, USAID is active in over 30 countries with its annual budget of over $30 billion and it employs over 11 thousand people while its goals have not changed. [John Norris, The Enduring Struggle The History of The U.S. Agency for International Development and America’s Uneasy Transformation of The World, Rowman & Littlefield, New York, 2021, 1-27]

In August 2022 the present day administrator of USAID, Samantha Power told the House Foreign Affairs Committee the following: “An international order that values democracy and human rights and respects international borders is not given. Indeed, authoritarian actors are challenging and aiming to reshape it. We have to invest in the stable and more humane world that we need.”

On 17 May 2023 senator Michael McCaul while attending a session of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, insisted that the U.S. Agency for International Development didn’t go far enough in addressing the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. He even went further by stating the need to project U.S. global leadership around the world.

While a great deal of controversies have arisen in the world-wide activities of USAID it may be worthwhile to focus on and to explore its attempts of preventing individuals from finding information that challenges official narratives, of using misinformation, disinformation and fake news. Some ideas on those aspects were provided by Alan MacLeod of Mint Press News who dealt with global censorship in the name of democracy.

Is USAID a purely humanitarian foreign aid organization?

It may be enough to read depictions of many projects by USAID and have an overwhelming impression, especially in education and healthcare that the purpose of them is to improve people’s lot of those in poverty stricken areas in developing countries. For this purpose it may be handy to elaborate on the educational input by USAID. The prime example of it could be PROGRESS REPORT 2018–2021. Indeed, it is hard not to be impressed with the data and the achievements presented in the report.

Let’s be brief about them. Since 2018, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked in more than 80 countries, as the report emphasizes to ensure that children and youth have access to the education and skills they need to become productive members of society. In fiscal year 2020 USAID’s global education programs achieved: over 24 million learners reached across the spectrum of pre-primary through higher education, over 580 higher education institutions (HEIs) provided with capacity development support, 300,000 educators, administrators and officials trained and over 93,000 public and private schools assisted at the pre-primary, primary and secondary levels.

One may wonder on the impact of such activities on the recipients of aid. Surely, most of the young ones know little about the USA and its policies in the world and U.S. promoted education may be viewed with great admiration as the only tangible experience. On the basis of this, they have every reason to think Americans are generous people who care about children and youth in foreign countries not expecting anything in return. One can imagine that when they receive parcels and boxes of books and teaching materials marked “From the American People” the students are filled with enthusiasm and their eyes are about to spark. Under such circumstances some aid recipients and their families may find it difficult to persist with some negative perceptions about America that they had come across earlier.

In fact, one may claim that many, if not most of such programs have no other aim than education but are they for nothing in return? After all, they create and spread a positive image about the U.S. For those standing seemingly idly at the side (the State Dept. and the CIA) consider it the first, initial stage for further penetration if needed.

Are there for instance, among the countries that were included in the above project or similar projects cases that had its citizens possibly disinformed? One of the cases coming to mind is that of Kyrgyzstan.

According to the Kyrgyz foreign minister Temir Sariyev the U.S. Agency for international Development would lose its privileged status over an award conferred on a jailed dissident. The award of a U.S. State Department human rights prize bestowed on Azimjon Askarov, a journalist and activist who is serving a life sentence on charges of inciting ethnic hatred in this Central Asian nation. It is an obvious interference into internal affairs of Kyrgyzstan in terms of legal system, ethnic affairs and possibly spreading disinformation.

Stakes are much higher in USAID involvement in Uganda. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, in 2023 signed into law a bill that could lead to the death penalty for people found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality,” defined as same-sex acts involving people living with HIV or minors, among others.

As a result the World Bank and USAID will review their work in Uganda, adding their voices to protests over Uganda’s anti-gay bill, which could jeopardize billions of dollars in funding the two institutions spend in the East African country. The measures are undoubtedly harsh but it is a conflict of cultures and values.

By actively participating in Ugandan politics associated with opposing Uganda’s anti-gay bill USAID is promoting western and not African values. Making arguments that challenges official government narrative so far came to nothing.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power rushed to reiterate USAID support for LGBTQI+ rights President Biden heavily criticized Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) depicting it is a tragic violation of universal human rights—one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country. How does president Biden know that such regulations are not worthy the Ugandan people? Perhaps the Ugandan people think that they are worthy of such a piece of legislation and think that the American people are not worthy LGBTQI+ rights.

By taking part vigorously in Ugandan politics related to LGBTQI+ USAID cast doubts on the explanations provided by most Ugandan parliamentarians. This is the case when USAID promoting western and not African values.

By actively participating in Ugandan politics associated with opposing Uganda’s anti-gay bill USAID is promoting western and not African values. Making arguments that challenges official government narrative so far came to nothing.

Such a stand aims and may lead to increased questioning of the Ugandan political system. So far, to USAID disappointment it hasn’t eventuated – Ugandan society seem to support the government anti-LGBTQI+ approach.

Biden vows to counter democratic backsliding by imposing costs for coups in Africa. Is it the case of hooha?

In views of Nigerien Presidential Guard Commander General Tchiani the “continuing degradation of the security situation and poor economic and social governance” justified his July 2023 deposing of president Bazoum. Yet, some observers argue that his real motivation was fear of being replaced.

The effectiveness of regional mechanisms has also decreased. ECOWAS failed to marshal a consensus for military action against the Niger coup. It was further weakened by Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso’s withdrawal in January 2024, aimed at reducing regional pressure on the juntas to return to constitutional rule and hold elections. This tactic seems to have worked as ECOWAS’ fear of fragmentation and loss of relevance has compelled it to re-open dialogue with the juntas and lift most of its sanctions on Niger.

How frequent are coup d’états in Africa? Most briefly, there have been 18 military coups on the continent since 2020. nly half of the were successful ones. As all centered on a group of Francophone states commentators have coined a new term “a Sahelian coup belt.”

To deal with the scourge of coups which had been apparent decades earlier (there was an average of four coup attempts a year in Africa between 1960 and 2000). Africa had seemingly established an anti-coup norm after the Lomé Declaration of 2000, which mandated immediate suspension from the Organization of African Unity (now African Union or AU) for illegal seizures of power. Up to 2017 the coups were reduced by half.

The U.S. attempted to apply particularly tough measures against the putschist leaders in Niger, At first, they organized an armed intervention by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and they failed. Then Victoria Nuland threatened with the cancellation of the United States aid package to Niger.

What about the role of USAID in Niger? It did with Banyan Global in partners a gender analysis for 2022-2027. Little if anything has been done to curb 7 children plus highest fertility rates in the world. In 1960 the population of Niger was 3.5 million and by 2017 it reached nearly 20 million. If nothing is done about it, the population is set to double in 17 years! However, a lot of things were done in other areas.

Some of the main efforts were directed toward strengthening Democratic Institutions and Providing For Free And Fair Elections.

Ahead of the 2020-2021 local, parliamentary, and presidential elections, USAID supported preparations for a peaceful and credible democratic transition, including political dialogue, drafting a revised electoral code and electoral procedures, capacity building of political parties, voter registration and education, and prevention of electoral violence.

Unlike in educational nearly world-wide programs with children and youth USAID officials gained direct access to the Nigerien political elite. It will be enough to say USAID trained a total of 71 newly elected members of parliament (MPs), including every woman MP (52 women), on their roles, the national budget, and legislative and regulatory drafting techniques. USAID declared in advance that would be preparing to support additional electoral system reforms ahead of the 2025 national elections.

Not long ago, President Joe Biden vowed that the U.S. would “counter democratic backsliding by imposing costs for coups” in Africa. But three weeks after a military mutiny in Africa involving U.S.-trained officers, the Pentagon refuses to call the takeover in Niger a coup d’etat. Not only that contacts established by USAID with Nigerien parliamentarian turned out useless but the rapport with the military brass failed to restore the pre-coup state of affairs.

There was no chance of drawing the political elite to contradict General Tchiani narrative of the event by USAID. Following Biden they all lied claiming that the latest Nigerien coup was just an attempted coup.

If one takes into account a 20 years long period of U.S. military presence and huge military spending (over $500 million) and wrong “expertly” assessments it was a terrible fiasco. As if it wasn’t enough Americans have a new worry: they are busy monitoring the purchases of Nigerien uranium by Iran.

When preventing individuals from finding information challenging official narratives may not be part of USAID job

Using as the background of this section one has to mention at least briefly some horrible things – genocide in Gaza and Israel.

It is commonly known an not contested that as of 21 May 2024, over 37,000 people (35,562 Palestinian and 1,478 Israelis) have been reported as killed in the Israel–Hamas war. Israeli civilians were murdered by Hamas mostly in the beginning of the conflict in October last year, while most of Palestinians were killed as a result of indiscriminate bombing, artillery shelling as well as a result of dehydration and lack of food. The genocide of Palestinians continues.

There are other shocking developments that have a great impact on the flow of information and the media. Namely, since Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza was launched, 80 journalists have been arrested from Gaza and the West Bank, while over 170 others were killed. The numbers of killed Palestinian journalists surpasses drastically the numbers of journalists killed in the six years of WWII (68) and the number of journalists that got killed during the 20 years of the Vietnam War (69).

What’s the purpose of deliberately targeting Palestinian journalists? The Gaza Government Media Office gives a straightforward answer: to obscure the Palestinian narrative, distort the facts and prevent journalists from documenting the crimes of the Israeli occupation forces to the public.

Consequently, the brutal killings and detention of Palestinian journalists by the Israeli Government and its Army deprived USAID some of its typical jobs done by it. In this war scenario there is hardly possible for anyone to listen any question the Palestinian narrative. The Palestinian journalists are either killed or in hiding.

Nevertheless, it seems to be only half of the story.

USAID Officials at the United States Agency for International Development sent in April this year a confidential memo to Secretary of State Antony Blinken claiming that Israel is violating a White House directive by blocking humanitarian aid from entering the besieged Gaza Strip during its ongoing genocidal assault on the Palestinian enclave.

What’s more we learn that Devex’s Lynch reported in a confidential communication— entitled Famine Inevitable, Changes Could Reduce But Not Stop Widespread Civilian Deaths — that USAID “assesses the government of Israel (GOI) does not currently demonstrate necessary compliance” with a February 8 White House memo requiring the secretary of state to obtain assurances from governments receiving U.S. military aid that such assistance is used in compliance with human rights law.

The document was approved by 10 USAID officials, underscoring its widespread backing of the findings. Sonali Korde, the agency’s deputy assistant administrator and head of the Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs, signed off on the document with the phrase INFO, bureaucratic shorthand for passing it up the chain of command without committing to its conclusions.

So now it seems to be clear that at least as far as human rights are concerned, USAID is not to challenge the Palestinian narrative but the narrative of Israeli government.

The dark day in the history of U.S. assistance to Georgia

Analysis of recent political situation provide a fairly rich ground for better understanding of the role assigned to USAID. It is so, as in the Georgian political context USAID in its actions went beyond disinformation, misinformation, fake news and undermining official narratives of the Georgian government and the democratic system of Georgia. Also, the declarations of the government and the opposition were numerous, loud and clearly formulated. So the grasp of the situation is clear.

The Georgian parliament passed a law with 84 deputies for and 30 against on foreign agents. It obliges about 10 thousand existing in Georgia NGOs and the media register and fill out declarations on an annual basis. Any insubordination will be punishable with fines or a jail term of up to 5 years.

Worth mentioning, NGOs and Media that received money were in a position to influence public opinion or decision-making processes in public life. Those in opposition made ridiculous claims about the law as standing in the way of Georgian integration with Europe. In response, the supporters of the law reminded that such legal regulations existed in the USA, Spain, Australia and in the European Union it is being considered. Puzzlingly, among those calling to vote against the law were not only the U.S., the EC but also the UN, the NATO as well as the Council of Europe. 16 How hypocritical can you get!

In the background of the heated debate about foreign agents there was an ongoing struggle to weaken if not to destroy the fragile Georgian democracy. The Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili went back to 2020 when there was an attempt to discredit the key election watchdog ISFED that would undermine the electoral results of the Georgian Dream Party. Involved in that was USAID which claimed that ISFFED “spread false results of the parallel count” something that ISFED itself repeatedly denied. Despite this USAID officials kept on spreading false electoral results. Papuashvili emphasized that USAID hasn’t responded to those claims and their silence serves as an affirmative answer.

The scope of illegitimate activities in Georgia by USAID in 2023 went much further.

On October 2,the Georgian security service SSSG revealed to the public that three Serbian trainers (Siniša Šikman, Jelena Stojšić, and Slobodan Djinovic) affiliated with the civil society organization CANVAS, were brought to Georgia to participate in a civil society engagement program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and sought actively recruitment of activists with the intent of orchestrating the violent overthrow of Georgia’s lawfully elected government.

CANVAS, the U.S. Embassy, and the U.S. State Department have strongly denied the charge as “false” and “mischaracterizing the nature of assistance” by the United States government.

On October 11 and 12, the State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) summoned Natalia Vatsadze, an actress, and Vakho Kareli, a photographer, all this, in a follow-up to the so-called “training plot” allegations.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said that it has become clear that “foreign countries are actively involved” in these “revolutionary” activities with the arrival of citizens from abroad to conduct training sessions “disguised as training for individuals in the field of art and culture,” but really aimed at giving “instructions” on how to incite a revolution and overthrow the government by force.

On October 26 2023, Ambassador Erin Elizabeth McKee, USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia, refuted allegations by the ruling Georgian Dream party that USAID is “funding extremists” in Georgia through Georgian NGO projects as below.

“First and foremost, USAID works with a variety of civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations to help strengthen and improve the democratic process,” Ambassador McKee stated, saying that the objective of their work with civil society is “to ensure that every citizen’s voice is heard, [which] is fundamental to a thriving democracy.” In addition, she stressed: “Any claims that the United States through USAID is supporting revolution are patently false and, frankly, disinformation.”

In response GD Chair Kobakhidze argued that even though this training was purportedly about non-violent activism, in reality, it trained individuals “precisely in violent activism.” He stated that the goal was one: “chaos, revolution, and the ultimate goal, we all know what it is, the opening of the second front for Russia, which has not been achieved since 2022 when the war in Ukraine began.”

Summing up the illegitimate activities in Georgia GD Chair Kobakhidze couldn’t stop himself from saying that USAID which supposed helping Georgia is in fact funding “extremist activities.” He insisted on the need of clarifications by USAID “as to why such training, the direct purpose of which was to prepare for a revolution in Georgia, was funded by the USAID.”

Ending his remarks Kobakhidze argued that even though this training was purportedly about non-violent activism, in reality, it trained individuals “precisely in violent activism.” He stated that the goal was one: “chaos, revolution, and the ultimate goal, we all know what it is, the opening of the second front, which has not been achieved since 2022 when the war in Ukraine began.”

PM Irakli Garibashvili pronouncements were in a similar vein. He stated: “the only desire of the “destructive forces” is “to violently overthrow the government and open a second front [of the Russo-Ukrainian war – eds.] in the country. We remember the March demonstrations [in support of the EU and against the Russian law to restrict CSOs and independent media – eds.], how the students were used and then abandoned, how they were instructed to throw Molotov cocktails. These are their dirty, anti-national, anti-state plans."

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Jun 20, 2024 1:41 pm

About Microsoft's access to any information on your PC
June 19, 2024

Microsoft experts decided to take user control to a whole new level. The capabilities of AI in conjunction with cloud servers now make it possible to do this.

Constant monitoring of user activity is planned through the new Recall function , the introduction of which was announced at the Surface event , organized by Microsoft.

Recall takes thousands of screenshots every hour. The images are analyzed using AI, which allows you to customize the search algorithm for text and images. It is this functionality that Microsoft representatives call “photographic memory” for your PC.

Despite criticism from cybersecurity experts, the launch of new functionality is planned in the coming days in parallel with the start of sales of the Copilot+ PC.

Recall is one of several AI features coming exclusively to Copilot+ computers. These devices, which include Microsoft's new Surface Laptop 7 , require a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU) to perform AI tasks.

Representatives of Samsung, Dell, Asus and other computer manufacturers have already promised to release Copilot+ computers.

The UK's data protection watchdog has already confirmed it is investigating Microsoft, while billionaire SpaceX chief Elon Musk has warned millions of subscribers on the X website to opt out of the feature, likening it to an episode of the hit TV series Black Mirror .

System vulnerabilities
Cybersecurity expert and former Microsoft employee Kevin Beaumont discovered that Recall stores data in the database in plain text, without encryption. A hacker can easily obtain data about everything you did on your computer.

Screenshots are automatically recognized by Azure AI running on your device and written to an SQLite database in the user's folder. This database file keeps a plain text record of everything you've ever viewed on your computer.

The analysis is based on the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) algorithm. This is an algorithm for digitizing images of typed, handwritten or printed text. Microsoft uses AI to transcribe text from web pages, Word documents, PDFs, handwritten notes, and anything else that appears on your computer screen so it can all be found instantly.

Beaumont called the feature a "disaster ," warning that "stealing everything you've ever typed or viewed on your Windows PC is now possible with a couple of lines of code."

What should we do about it?
Most PCs in government organizations in the Russian Federation still run on Windows of various versions. The vulnerabilities described above do not mean that all data can become available to our adversary, since constant scanning of the PC requires a more powerful processor and NPU.

However, the work of Microsoft specialists in this direction allows us to conclude that potentially all Windows PCs can cause information leaks .

We cannot completely exclude the possibility that such functionality, to a limited extent, will not be integrated into the next updates of the Windows operating system of various versions.

Such a serious problem requires prompt analysis by specialized Russian cybersecurity enterprises. Among a number of preventive measures, probably the least expensive would be a ban on updating the operating system and refusal to use a PC with Copilot+ functionality. And ideally, to speed up the transition of at least all government organizations to domestic software.


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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sun Jun 23, 2024 4:22 pm


Our Rulers Are Literally Driving Us Crazy
Our minds are being squeezed and squeezed harder and harder by the people who rule over us, our consciousness punched and kicked this way and that by a nonstop barrage of manipulation and abuse, and it’s costing us everything, and it’s costing them nothing. In fact, they actually benefit from our becoming more crazy.

Caitlin Johnstone
June 23, 2024

It’s probably worth noting that the empire doesn’t actually lose anything from our society’s increasing mental health problems, and in fact actually benefits from them. Which is probably why everything in this dystopia is pointed at making everyone crazier and crazier.

In a society that is guided not by the pursuit of human thriving but by the pursuit of profit, there is no downside to all the underlings being depressed, anxious and overwhelmed all the time, so long as they’re still showing up to work and still consuming products. As long as the gears of capitalism are still being turned, it doesn’t matter whether the people turning them are enjoying their lives.

As luck would have it, it turns out that their depression and anxiety are themselves actually wonderful sources of profit. If the pressures of life in this dystopia make people miserable, you can load them up with lucrative products from the pharmaceutical industry to get them just functional enough to return to the office. Additionally, miserable people are reliably the best consumers, because their discontent drives them to spend their lives trying to feed the hungry ghosts inside themselves with an endless river of products.

We see this dynamic playing out in real time in the so-called “psychedelic renaissance”, with billionaires working to get psychedelic substances legalized not so that human consciousness can be liberated from its illusions and allow us to achieve our full potential, but so that compounds can be patented and prescribed for mental disorders in the same way as other substances in the pharmaceutical industry. The push is to use these drugs to treat ailments like depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder so that people can become functioning cogs in the capitalism machine again, not so they can become self-actualized or realize that everything they’ve been taught about the world is a lie.

That’s just one example of a dynamic that’s ongoing throughout our entire society due to the way all our systems are set up so that human behavior will be driven by the pursuit of profit rather than happiness and health. Literally everywhere we’ve seen the interests of psychological wellbeing come into conflict with the interests of profit, profit has won out every time.

We see it in the way advertising for the beauty and fashion industries is geared to erode women’s self-image so they’ll buy products and services in order to feel adequate. We see it in the way social media apps are designed to be as addictive as possible in order to commodify their users’ attention and consciousness. We see it in the way the entirety of advertising is structured around artificially inflating demand by psychologically manipulating people into believing they have lack and deficiencies they never knew they had, and creating cravings they’d never previously experienced.

The entire profit-seeking structure of this civilization is stacked against mental health — and that’s before you add in the psychologically devastating effects of domestic propaganda.

There are no studies in academia on these effects, since the demonstrable fact that western consciousness is continuously attacked by domestic propaganda remains unacknowledged by mainstream institutions — but there’s no way those effects aren’t there. There’s no way people’s sense of reality can continually be assaulted and twisted in the way that it is without having a psychologically destructive effect. Constantly being manipulated and gaslighted into accepting obvious absurdities like “slaughtering people at mass scale is normal and acceptable,” “Israel’s actions in Gaza are perfectly reasonable,” and “the system is working fine; if you can’t handle it there’s something wrong with you” will stretch the human mind to the breaking point.

So our minds are being constantly accosted by advertising and propaganda that’s making us crazier and crazier, all while living in a society that’s getting more and more inherently stressful to survive in. Technological innovations could have been used to liberate people from the need to work and given us an abundance of leisure time, and instead they’re being used to turn millionaires into billionaires and billionaires into trillionaires while everyone else scrapes and struggles to get by. We’re being encouraged to take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to survive in this kind of society, when really the best anti-depressant and anti-anxiety prescription a doctor could write for most people would be a giant pile of cash and more free time.

Our minds are being squeezed and squeezed harder and harder by the people who rule over us, our consciousness punched and kicked this way and that by a nonstop barrage of manipulation and abuse, and it’s costing us everything, and it’s costing them nothing. In fact, they actually benefit from our becoming more crazy.

A stressed out and depressed person who’s struggling to get by isn’t going to have the time and energy to research the abusive nature of the systems they live under and form a revolutionary worldview. If they do somehow find the time and energy, they’re not going to have the inner clarity necessary to sort out fact from fiction, and often stumble into rabbit holes of conspiratorial power-serving propaganda operations like QAnon and Russiagate which appeal to their cortisol-soaked consciousness without ever actually challenging status quo politics or ruling power structures.

The more crazy and confused we are, the less clarity we have, and the less clarity we have the less likely we are to notice how badly we’re being screwed over by our rulers. The ruling class gains everything by circulating crazymaking advertising and propaganda while perpetuating the crazymaking exploitation of workers, consumers and rent-payers, and it loses absolutely nothing by doing so.

That’s why everything’s getting more and more stressful and maddening in this dystopia. It’s because it directly benefits the people who rule over us whose decisions shape our lives.

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Jun 27, 2024 4:12 pm

Assange Is Free, But US Spite Will Chill Reporting for Years
WikiLeaks director Julian Assange pleaded guilty “to a charge of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information” (CBS, 6/25/24).
In some ways, the nightmare for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is coming to an end. After taking refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, he was arrested in 2019 by Britain, who have since been trying to extradite him to the United States on charges that by publishing official secrets he violated the Espionage Act (FAIR.org, 12/13/20; BBC, 6/25/24). Once he enters a guilty plea, he will be sentenced to time served and walk away a free man (CBS, 6/25/24).

Assange’s case has attracted the attention of critics of US foreign policy, and those who value free speech and a free press. His family has rightly contended that his treatment in prison was atrocious (France24, 11/1/19; Independent, 2/20/24). A group of doctors said he was a victim of “torture” tactics (Lancet, 6/25/20). In 2017, Yahoo! News (9/26/21) reported that the “CIA plotted to kidnap the WikiLeaks founder, spurring heated debate among Trump administration officials over the legality and practicality of such an operation” and that CIA and Trump administration insiders “even discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request ‘sketches’ or ‘options’ for how to assassinate him.”

His supporters noted that the charges against him came after he harmed the US imperial project, particularly by leaking a video showing US troops killing Reuters journalists in Iraq (New York Times, 4/5/10). Under his watch, WikiLeaks also leaked a trove of diplomatic cables that the New York Times (11/28/10) described as an “unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders, and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.”

Press freedom and human rights groups like the International Federation of Journalists and Amnesty International had long called for his release. Several major news outlets from the US and Europe—the New York Times, Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País—signed a letter calling for his release (New York Times, 11/28/22). They said his “indictment sets a dangerous precedent and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

Hostility toward press freedom
Assange will owe the Australian government half a million US dollars for his flight home from imprisonment (Guardian, 6/25/24).
Assange’s loved ones and supporters are certainly glad to see him come home (Guardian, 6/25/24). But let’s be perfectly clear-eyed: The entire ordeal and his plea deal are proof of a hostile climate toward a free press in the United States and the wider world, and its chilling effect on investigative journalism could substantially worsen.

Assange’s deal has echoes of the end of the West Memphis Three case, where three Arkansas men were wrongfully convicted as teenagers of a heinous triple homicide in 1993 (Innocence Project, 8/19/11). The three re-entered guilty pleas in exchange for time served. They won their freedom, but their names were still attached to a terrible crime, and the state of Arkansas was able to close the case, ensuring the real killer or killers would never be held accountable. It was an imperfect resolution, but no one could blame the victims of a gross injustice for taking the freedom grudgingly offered.

Something similar is happening with Assange. It compounds the persecution already inflicted on him to force him to declare that exposing US government misdeeds was itself a high crime.

“On a human level, we’re thrilled that he’s out of prison, including the time in the embassy,” said Chuck Zlatkin, a founding member of NYC Free Assange, a group that has held regular protests calling for his release. “We’re thrilled for him personally.”

But the deal shows how eager the US government is to both save face and remain a threatening force against investigative reporters.

‘Criminalization of routine journalistic conduct’
Freedom of the Press Foundation (6/24/24): “Under the legal theory used in the indictment, any journalist could be convicted of violating the Espionage Act for obtaining national defense information from a source, communicating with a source to encourage them to provide national defense information, or publishing national defense information.”
As Seth Stern, the director of advocacy at the Freedom of the Press Foundation (6/24/24), said in a statement:

It’s good news that the DoJ is putting an end to this embarrassing saga. But it’s alarming that the Biden administration felt the need to extract a guilty plea for the purported crime of obtaining and publishing government secrets. That’s what investigative journalists do every day.

The plea deal won’t have the precedential effect of a court ruling, but it will still hang over the heads of national security reporters for years to come. The deal doesn’t add any more prison time or punishment for Assange. It’s purely symbolic. The administration could’ve easily just dropped the case, but chose to instead legitimize the criminalization of routine journalistic conduct and encourage future administrations to follow suit. And they made that choice knowing that Donald Trump would love nothing more than to find a way to throw journalists in jail.

And that is all happening while threats against leakers and journalists remain. Edward Snowden, the source in the Guardian’s investigation (6/11/13) into National Security Agency surveillance, still resides in Russia in order to evade arrest. I recently wrote about the excessive sentencing of the man who leaked tax documents to ProPublica and the New York Times showing how lopsided the tax system is in favor of the rich (FAIR.org, 2/2/24). NSA contractor Reality Winner was sentenced to five years in prison for leaking documents to the Intercept on the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 US election (Vanity Fair, 10/12/23).

Laura Poitras, one of the journalists who brought Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance to light, said that Assange’s conviction could silence reporters doing investigative reporting on the US government (New York Times, 12/21/20). Chelsea Manning, Assange’s source for these investigations, spent only seven years in prison out of the 35 years of her sentence thanks to presidential clemency, but that is still a harrowing experience (NPR, 5/17/17).

‘Not transparency’ but ‘sabotage’
The New York Post (6/25/24) predicted that Assange’s release would be cheered by “anarchists and America-haters.”
Worse, some in the so-called free press have rallied behind the government. The Wall Street Journal editorial board (4/11/19) cheered the legal crusade against Assange, arguing that the leaks harmed national security. “Assange has never been a hero of transparency or democratic accountability,” the Murdoch-owned broadsheet proclaimed.

The neoconservative journal Commentary (4/12/19) dismissed the free press defenders of Assange, saying of Wikileaks’ investigations into US power: “This was not transparency. It was sabotage.”

And the British Economist (4/17/19) said, in support of Assange’s extradition to the US:

WikiLeaks did some good in its early years, exposing political corruption, financial malfeasance and military wrongdoing. But the decision to publish over 250,000 diplomatic cables in 2010 was malicious. The vast majority of messages revealed no illegality or misdeeds. Mr. Assange’s reckless publication of the unredacted versions of those cables the following year harmed America’s interests by putting its diplomatic sources at risk of reprisals, persecution or worse.

Unsurprisingly, Murdoch outlets gave the plea deal a thumbs down. “Don’t fall for the idea that Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is a persecuted ‘publisher,’” the Wall Street Journal editorial board (6/25/24) warned.

The New York Post editorial board (6/25/24) disparaged Assange’s motives, saying he “wasn’t interested in justice or exposing true abuse; he simply relished obtaining and releasing any secret government or political material, particularly if US-based.” Alleging that the documents he published were sensitive, the paper argued in favor of government secrecy: “Uncle Sam needs to keep some critical secrets, especially when lives are on the line.”

In reality, US intelligence and military officials have never been able to trace any deaths to WikiLeaks‘ revelations (BBC, 12/1/10; Guardian, 7/31/13; NPR, 4/12/19)—and certainly have never identified any damage anywhere nearly as serious as the very real harms it exposed. (NPR did quote a former State Department lawyer who complained that WikiLeaks‘ exposes “can really chill the ability of those American personnel to build those sorts of relationships and have frank conversations with their contacts.”) Alas, some publications side with state power even if journalistic freedom is at stake (FAIR.org, 4/18/19).

‘Punished for telling the truth’
The vindictive plea bargain the Biden administration forced on Assange might provide Donald Trump in a potential second term with tools he could use to put establishment journalists in prison (CNN, 12/7/23).
Assange’s case is over, but he walks away a battered man as a result of the legal struggle. And that serves as a warning to other journalists who rely on brave people in high levels of power to disclose injustices. Stern is right: Another Trump administration would be horrendous for journalists. But the current situation with the Democratic administration is already chilling.

“All he was being punished for was telling the truth about war crimes committed by this country,” Zlatkin told FAIR.

And without a real change in how the Espionage Act is used against journalists, the ability to tell the truth to the rest of the world is at risk.

“We’re still not in a situation where we as a general population are getting the truth of what’s being done in our name,” Zlatkin said. “So the struggle continues."

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Mon Jul 01, 2024 1:21 pm


On The Rewriting of History
by H. Bruce Franklin
(Nov 01, 1982)

Bruce Franklin’s November 1982 article in Monthly Review “On the Rewriting of History” is one of the classic works in the exposure of the workings of imperial ideology. It examined the changes made in 1979 to the Encyclopedia Britannica’s twenty-six-page article “Colonialism (c. 1450–c. 1970)” as compared to the 1974 edition. The first and shorter part of the original 1974 article, ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763, and was written by Charles E. Nowell, emeritus professor of history at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The second part, covering more than two hundred years up to 1970, including the Vietnam War, had been written by Harry Magdoff, coeditor of Monthly Review and author of The Age of Imperialism (1969). Franklin discovered that in the 1979 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Magdoff portion of the article had been lopped off beginning in 1919, and the later parts of his historical analysis were replaced by a piece by University of California Berkeley professor Richard Webster. Seeking to dispel any sense of U.S. imperialism, Webster, in what Encyclopedia Britannica said was meant to update Magdoff’s contribution, excluded the U.S. War in Vietnam altogether, ending the entry with the French Defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954! Franklin’s devastating analysis of these and other changes in the key article on colonialism/imperialism in what was then the premier English-language encyclopedia is reproduced in its entirety here. It is worth careful study for those concerned with similar manipulations occurring today.

—The Editors

Bruce Franklin teaches English literature at Rutgers University.

The current edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (the fifteenth) appeared in 1974. Its form has been mildly controversial, being divided into a ten-volume “Micropedia” of short reference articles and a nineteen-volume “Macropedia” of in-depth discussions of important topics. Its content of course is not so obvious. However, the intellectual renaissance of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which had challenged the crippling anti­Communist dogmatism of the late 1940s and 1950s, did exert some influence on major articles in many fields of the 1974 edition.

One interesting example is the 26-page article in the Macropedia: “Colonialism (c. 1450–c. 1970).” The first section, written by Charles E. Nowell, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana, author of The Great Discoveries and the First Colonial Empires, leads up to the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which ratified the global pre-eminence of the British Empire. The second and much longer section, chronicling and analyzing the subsequent rise and fall of colonialism through 1973, was authored by Harry Magdoff and is reproduced as the lead essay in his book Imperialism: From the Colonial Age to the Present (Monthly Review Press). The entire article achieves an admirable fusion of fact and analysis, providing an exceptionally useful tool for many purposes of reference and education.

In preparing my course “Literature of the Third World,” I found myself often consulting Magdoff’s section, which concisely and lucidly synthesizes the modern history of colonialism. One day about a year ago I was in a local library, doing some research for an article. To check my chronology I casually turned to the “Colonialism” article. Something seemed wrong. Was my memory playing tricks? Where was the discussion of neocolonialism? Of United States imperialism after the Second World War? Of the Vietnam war? And I hadn’t recalled Harry Magdoff writing an anti-Soviet diatribe in which the main effect of the Russian Revolution was portrayed as reestablishing the colonial empire of the tsars.

Looking more closely solved part of the mystery. The Encyclopedia Britannica in the library had been printed in 1979, and Magdoff’s section had been lopped off at 1914, with the period from the First World War to the present now being covered by Richard Webster, a Berkeley professor specializing in modern Italian history. This raised some new questions: What had led to the decision to scrap Magdoff’s discussion of events after 1914? When did this happen? What were the differences in content between Magdoff’s original piece and Webster’s substitute?

I raised the first two questions in a letter to the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Here is their response, printed in full:

Dear Professor Franklin:

This is in reply to your letter of October 19. By the mid-1970s the article in question was somewhat out-of-date; the title itself, “Colonialism” (c. 1450-c. 1970), dated it. In late 1976, Professor Webster was asked to rewrite the final section of the article for publication in the 1978 printing of Britannica.

It is true, of course, that more was involved than simply datedness. The article had been criticized in the press for bias. One point raised was the total omission of information on Soviet colonialism.

The article was subsequently reviewed by our own advisers and judged to be not up to the standard of Britannica objectivity; it was thus recommissioned.

This letter speaks volumes.

I thought that a detailed comparison of the two articles should provide a laboratory test of this “standard of Britannica objectivity,” useful in comprehending the ideological content of this most respected Anglo-American reference work. What I discovered was a stunning display of the crucial differences between the two main competing methods of historical analysis in today’s world.

Magdoff’s article allows us to grasp the overall history of modern colonialism. We see the conflicts of the colonial powers over the division of the world leading to the First World War, which in turn helps to precipitate the Russian Revolution and to stimulate national independence movements. The complex interplay between socialist revolution and anti-colonialist struggle is then traced through the Second World War to the main battlegrounds of the early 1970s. In the postwar period of decolonization, we see why outright colonialism is replaced by neocolonialism, with the role of the old European empires being assumed by the United States, whose economic hegemony is enforced by a worldwide network of military bases and whose struggle against national liberation movements merges with its anti-Communist crusade. This process is brought into especially sharp focus by such events as the U.S. overthrow of the governments of Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954), the landing of U.S. marines in Lebanon (1958) and the Dominican Republic (1965), and most dramatically by the U.S. war in Indochina.

Webster’s analysis is ostensibly liberal “objectivity.” In other words, it pretends to be empirical, with an eclectic organization which on the surface indicates no fundamental organizing theory. The causes of events are typically lists, with no apparent connection among the three or four items listed. (When Magdoff uses lists, it is to display the interrelations among the listed events or forces.) Slightly below the surface, however, one can easily detect an undercurrent of anti-Soviet and anti-Communist messages that join to define the main purposes of Webster’s article. The United States now appears not as a neocolonialist power, but primarily as a fighter against colonialism, whether European or Soviet. In fact, the main form of “colonialism”—from 1917 right on to the present—now seems to be that of the Soviet Union. Close inspection reveals that Webster has actually rewritten Magdoff s article, leaving in many of the main facts, while liquidating the analysis, expunging almost every reference to U.S. colonialism and neocolonialism, and cleverly inserting his own partially concealed anti-Communist thesis.

Crucial to this methodology and typical of liberal “objectivity” is the pretense of no methodology at all, as though facts were merely being recorded and ordered in an ideological vacuum. For example, Magdoff readily acknowledges that the term and concept of neocolonialism are both “highly controversial,” conventionally rejected in the United States and Western Europe, readily assumed and discussed in the former colonized world. Webster disposes of this critical term and concept by omitting them entirely from his discussion.

There are very few examples of updating in Webster’s piece, although this was ostensibly the main reason the article was rewritten. Even here, differences between the two versions of history are quite striking. For instance, Magdoff had discussed “the nationalist guerrilla forces” that “have long been actively fighting for liberation” in the Portuguese colonies in Africa, and noted that “to counter these revolutionary activities, Portugal, the military resources of which are bolstered by its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO], has sent large armies to its colonies.” Writing after these African forces had won their independence, Webster mentions their struggle only in these terms: “Portugal found itself mired in a series of colonial wars.” Then he attributes the independence of Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Angola not to anything done by the peoples of these nations but entirely to events in Portugal: “In 1974, the armed forces overthrew the successors to Salazar, and in the unstable political situation it became clear that Portugal would cut its ties to Africa.”

To focus most sharply on the ideological and methodological differences, let us look at two key events, one at the beginning of the period, the other at the end: the Russian Revolution and the Vietnam war.

Magdoff assesses the Russian Revolution in the context of the rise of independence movements stemming from the First World War:

Another major war-related stimulus to the new surge of nationalism was the Russian Revolution of 1917, which fired the imagination of the colonial masses, especially in Asia, for it showed the common people that they could rebel and manage their own affairs despite the opposition of the imperialist powers. Also of major significance was the fact that the Soviet Union declared itself to be anti-imperialist, renounced imperialist privileges, and opened up the tsarist archives to reveal the secret processes of imperialist negotiations. In the 1919 Karakhan Manifesto to the Chinese People the Bolsheviks offered to return territory taken from China by the tsarist regime, to renounce outstanding claims to the indemnity for the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and to give up extraterritorial rights.

If anything, Magdoff seems to be understating the case or, more probably, alluding to events he cannot discuss more fully for lack of space. The well-informed reader, or the reader investigating more deeply, would comprehend his references to the invasion of the Soviet Union by the imperialist powers (including Japan and the United States, as well as Western Europe and England), the May 4th Movement in China, and the successful Communist revolution in Mongolia, not to mention the unleashing of the national liberation movements in Indochina, led by Ho Chi Minh.

Webster ignores all of this, treating the Russian Revolution in a section entitled “The United States and the Soviet Union.” In a phony pretense to balance, he begins this section by pointing out that the United States “acquired no new colonies” after its purchase of the Virgin Islands in 1917. He continues by explaining that the older policy of establishing U.S. “protectorates” in Latin America was “reversed under Hoover and Roosevelt, particularly under the latter’s Good Neighbor Policy.” Then immediately comes his assessment of the Russian Revolution:

The new Soviet Russian regime succeeded, after years of civil and foreign war, in regaining the Asian possessions of its tsarist predecessor. The Caucasus was repossessed step by step between 1919 and 1921; after the mountain areas and Azerbaijan were brought back under Soviet control, Armenia was partitioned between Russia and Turkey. Then Georgia, an independent parliamentary republic, was overrun by the Red Army. Russian Turkistan was subdued by 1922, and the khanates of Khiva and Bukhara were suppressed. By 1922, Outer Mongolia was also solidly linked to the Soviet state. Nevertheless, the Russian revolutionary government was ideologically opposed to colonialism, especially where it had no colonial interests that it cared to defend.

Thus the magic wand of liberal “objectivity” transmutes the invasion of the Soviet Union by the colonial powers into a colonial invasion by Russia of the rest of the Soviet Union, not to mention its ally Mongolia.

Webster’s distortions of the history of the Vietnamese struggle are just as radical and just as misleading. Here we may draw some valuable lessons about the hidden content of form: how apparently neutral principles of organization may shape meaning. Magdoff approaches the Vietnamese struggle for socialism and national independence within the context of the revolutionary movements in Asia, thus allowing us to comprehend the dialectical interrelations among forces and events. Webster breaks the Asian revolution into little pieces, distributed (almost like colonies) among sections organized from the point of view of the colonial powers: “British decolonization, 1945-56”; “Wars in Overseas France, 1945-56”; “British decolonization after 1956”; “Dutch, Belgian, and Portuguese decolonization”; etc. Thus, the Vietnamese struggle is reduced to an incident within the history of French decolonization. The Chinese revolution is thereby further reduced to an incident significant only in relation to the Vietnamese defeat of France. And the role of the United States in Vietnam can thus be omitted entirely, without even a single mention throughout the article!

Before I comment further, I should like to present for the reader’s own analysis the complete treatment of the Vietnamese struggle by the two authors (whose respective identities I shall also leave to the reader):

Revolution and warfare dominated the nationalist developments in the rest of Asia. With the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, after many years of civil war and war against the Japanese invasion, all vestiges of imperialism were eliminated from that country except for the British colony of Hong Kong, the Portuguese colony of Macao, and the United States sphere of influence in Taiwan. The Netherlands, with the aid of British troops, tried to reoccupy Indonesia when the Japanese left but was unable to do so in four years of war against the Republic of Indonesia, which finally became fully independent in 1949. The French were also unsuccessful in trying to reconquer Indochina. The war against the Japanese had produced a strong national army and liberation movement in Indochina, which, in addition to independence, aimed for basic social and economic changes. After nine years of intense, large-scale war, the French Army, massively aided economically and morally by the United States, suffered major defeat, notably at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. At a 1954 international peace conference in Geneva, an agreement was reached to recognize the independence of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. As for Vietnam, a military demarcation line was drawn at approximately the 17th parallel to facilitate the truce and pave the way for elections under the supervision of an international commission to unite the Northern and Southern zones. South Vietnam, where U.S. influence became paramount, decided not to go along with the unification elections scheduled for July 1956 by the Geneva Agreement. This was followed by rebellion in South Vietnam, U.S. military support of the South Vietnamese government, and massive air attacks on North Vietnam, until a cease-fire was reached in 1973.

Wars in overseas France, 1945-56. The constitution of the French Fourth Republic provided for token decentralization of colonial rule, and cycles of revolt and repression marked French history for 15 years after the end of the Second World War. The first focus of colonial war was Indochina, where a power vacuum, caused by Japan’s removal after wartime occupation, gave a unique opportunity to the Communist Viet Minh. When in 1946 the French Army tried to regain the colony, the Communists, proclaiming a republic, resorted to the political and military strategies of Mao Tse-tung to wear down and eventually defeat France. All chances for maintaining a semi-colonial administration in Indochina ended when the Communists won the civil war in China (1949). Eventually, in 1954, when the French engaged the Communist armies in a pitched battle at Dien Bien Phu, the Communists won with the help of new heavy guns supplied by the Chinese. The Fourth Republic left Indochina under the terms of the Geneva Accords (1954), which set up two independent regimes.*

We might think that Webster’s grotesque misrepresentations of history came from mere ignorance, if it were not for the fact that he is obviously rewriting Magdoff. It is also worth noting that Magdoff’s account continues into 1973, whereas Webster’s “update” breaks off with its false characterization of the events of 1954.

The full implications of this kind of blatant rewriting of history in the late 1970s are ominous indeed. Tens of millions of people in the United States were awakened into consciousness by the events of the 1960s and early 1970s. A massive assault on this consciousness has been underway for several years now, marked by quite successful attempts to gain total control of the media, book publishing, and education. Integral to this offensive is the rewriting of history to conform to the interests of neo-colonialism, which is constantly assuming new shapes and disguises. One of these disguises in fact is the cloak of phony “objectivity,” which is used to cover up the vital knowledge we won and need to reclaim.

* For the record it seems worthwhile to record that Article 6 of the Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference, July 21, 1954, states: “The Conference recognizes that the essential purpose of the agreement relating to Vietnam is to settle military questions with a view to ending hostilities and that the military declaration is provisional and should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary.” —The Editors

1982, Volume 34, Number 06 (November 1982)

https://monthlyreview.org/1982/11/01/on ... f-history/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sun Jul 07, 2024 5:24 pm

Spook Scholarship: A Prominent Former CIA Analyst and Project Ukraine Backer Moonlights as a Collegiate Textbook Coauthor
Posted on July 7, 2024 by Conor Gallagher

I was recently looking for a bad book to read – preferably in the disconnected-from-reality US foreign policy section while waiting for Anne Applebaum’s forthcoming Autocracy, Inc.: The Dictators Who Want to Run the World. During my perusing I came across the fact that Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former CIA analyst, anti-Putin fanatic and supporting actor in the first impeachment of President Trump, co-authors collegiate textbooks, including the 2020 Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes. The text is described as a “broad, accessible overview of the key institutions and political dynamics in democracies and dictatorships, enabling students to assess the benefits and risks associated with democracy, and the growing challenges to it.” Sold.

Kendall-Taylor’s writing team often consists of Erica Frantz, an associate professor of political science at Michigan State University, and Joseph Wright, professor of political science at Penn State. Their disclosure statements on a recent article reveal that Frantz receives funding from USAID, the Pierre Omidyar-funded Luminate Foundation, and the Charles Koch Foundation. Wright receives funding from the Luminate Foundation, Charles Koch Foundation, and the Department of Defense’s Minerva Research Initiative. Doubly sold.


Kendall-Taylor also co-authored the 2015 textbook Development and the State in the 21st Century: Tackling the Challenges facing the Developing World and the forthcoming book, The Origins of Elected Strongmen: How Personalist Parties Destroy Democracy from Within.

Spooks already move into roles (that we know about) as news pundits, politicians, and think tank staff. Maybe some readers from academia can comment on how common it is that they become professors and write textbooks in addition to their memoirs:

A Democracy Expert Who Despises Democracy

Andrea Kendall-Taylor is currently a senior fellow and director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a bipartisan (think Hillary Clinton and John Bolton) neocon-liberal think tank from which Vice President Kamala Harris drew heavily from to fill the ranks of her foreign policy advisors. Here’s more of Kendall-Taylor’s bio:

Prior to joining CNAS, Kendall-Taylor served for eight years as a senior intelligence officer. From 2015 to 2018, she was deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council (NIC) in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). In this role, Kendall-Taylor led the U.S. intelligence community’s (IC) strategic analysis on Russia, represented the IC in interagency policy meetings, provided analysis to the National Security Council, and briefed the DNI and other senior staff for White House and international meetings. Prior to joining the NIC, Kendall-Taylor was a senior analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency where she worked on Russia and Eurasia, the political dynamics of autocracies, and democratic decline.

Outside CNAS, Kendall-Taylor has been a CNN national security analyst. She is also a Distinguished Practitioner in Grand Strategy at Yale University’s Jackson School of Global Affairs and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Kendall-Taylor is one of many mainstream Russian “experts” in the US who describe Putin as a corrupt dictator presiding over a failed country. She’s a prototypical Blob creature working to organize the world the way they see fit, which typically ends up killing a lot of people but benefits American capital.

Kendall-Taylor also embodies the existential crisis facing many Blob creatures after the election of Trump, which has only been compounded by their inability to inflict defeat on Putin and Russia.

In response, she has taken refuge in the citadel of quack scholarship on democracy and “personalist parties.” Unsurprisingly, fear of the people pervades much of the work that Kendall-Taylor co-writes. A recent piece on why Trump is a danger to democracy includes all the usual history-started-in-2016 complaints that lack any self-reflection on the part of people like Kendall-Taylor. When you completely ignore all the elite decisions in recent decades that have been a disaster for a majority of the population, it’s easier to make her argument that those very same elite should continue to have a monopoly on decisions, and that is the primary complaint – that Trump has disrupted that to a small degree:

Traditional parties, including the pre-Trump Republican Party, offer voters a bundle of policy positions hashed out among multiple elite factions of the party.

The implication is obviously that voters should be happy with whatever crumbs are thrown their way after elites get done hashing things out.

It is unsurprising that individuals like Kendall-Taylor would feel this way about the people; after all if the people were given more say and real choices, they might decide that individuals like Kendall-Taylor should be stripped of all their titles and influence. It’s no surprise then that she was colleague and mentor to the CIA whistleblower that helped lead to the first impeachment of Trump, and she’s engaged in efforts to define dangers to democracy with statements like this:

We have found that what matters for democracy is not so much the ambitions of power-hungry leaders, but rather whether those in their support group will tame them…Long-standing and wealthy democracies, like the U.S., are remarkably resilient to the challenges that confront them. But ruling party personalism helps elected leaders undercut these protective guardrails. Because the Republican Party has taken a personalist turn under Trump’s spell, democracy in the U.S. would suffer should Trump win a second term.

Taken with the above statement, it is clear that democracy “experts” like Kendall-Taylor and her co-authors believe that voters are the real danger, and that in a proper democracy decision-making power is reserved for the “elite factions” and leaders’ “support group.”

Kendall-Taylor also compares Trump to various heads of state, such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Again, this is unsurprising, as members of the US privileged class increasingly direct their dangerous foreign policy practices inwards in order to make sure their will is not challenged.

Meanwhile, they are doubling down abroad. Their failure to bring about the economic collapse of Russia or the downfall of Putin has only added to their sense of vulnerability. Kendall-Taylor is rabidly anti-Putin. Here she is in The National Interest arguing that the US should send confiscated Iranian weapons to Ukraine, and here she is making the case for endless support for Kiev:

Negotiations? Also “unproductive”

2/3 pic.twitter.com/8V4mM1JNEH

— Matt Orfalea (@0rf) February 21, 2024

While the scholarly link Kendall-Taylor pushes between systems of governance under Trump, Putin, Chavez, Erdogan, etc, is questionable at best, the threats they pose for Kendall-Taylor and her benefactors are more clear.

Anyone who poses a hint of a threat to a clique of US oligarchs and their courtesans their rule and profits is therefore an enemy of democracy – or their definition of it.

Kendall-Taylor’s real niche is “personalist parties” and how they supposedly destroy democracies from within. That’s how she links Trump to Putin with statements like this:

“The U.S. election [of Trump] has led political observers to question whether the United States is also ripe for personalization of its political system.”

And so business, tech firms, civil society institutions, the media, politicians, and government must work in concert to protect against the “personalization” threat to their democracy – at home or abroad.

Kendall-Taylor is but one cog in this machine, but by presenting this worldview as impartial scholarly work in textbook form has the ability to have outsized influence.

So How’s the Book?

Fortunately, I could only access the first 35 pages (of 356) of Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes in Google Reader, and I think that was probably enough to see that it was going to be a rehash of the greatest hits from all the anti-populist, Russophobic content that has been pumped out of US think tanks year in recent years.

Right off the bat, the book goes after Putin and Xi as the main enemies of democracy. Notably, the text already needs an update as Poland and the Philippines are lumped into the anti-democratic group, but they have since become “democratic” again after switching to rulers friendly to the US elite even if the practices under the new government remain largely the same.


Kendall-Taylor and her co-authors warn of the dangers posed by their definition of populism:


Kendall-Taylor and company (or better yet, students) really should read Thomas Frank’s The People, No. If they did, they would learn that their definition of populism is ahistorical; populists did not exclude minority groups. It was a movement and party based on class solidarity and viewed divisions based on race as traps. The one group the populists did want to take power away from was the plutocrats, which is of course what Kendall-Taylor and her ilk seek to prevent from happening by redefining such an inspiring movement as racist, backwards, and antithetical to democracy.

Here’s the book on the threat from within (notice the assumption that all those cherished values were safe pre-Brexit and pre-Trump and the lack of agency for the “factors” leading to the belief that “the political establishment no longer works”):


And of course, on the importance of “norms”:


I was unable to track down how widely the book is used in collegiate courses, and maybe it’s pretty standard material these days. I suppose it should not come as much of a surprise that individuals like Kendall-Taylor are helping to write textbooks now. Spooks and war criminals already serve as professors, frequent American news programs where they are presented as impartial experts on a range of topics, and help steer our politics. So why wouldn’t they further help mold young minds in the classroom by authoring textbooks as well?

Are CIA-authored textbooks the logical conclusion to the neoliberal and national security transformation of campuses, as described here by Forrest Hylton, an ethnohistorian of Latin America and the Caribbean who has taught at Harvard and Northwestern:

In the mid-1970s, Republicans identified public universities as a crucial source of anti-authoritarian sentiment and demanded a complete institutional overhaul. The subsequent process of privatization, which has made tuition prohibitive for most prospective in-state students, has been catastrophic for democratic principles and practices. With massive, untaxed endowments running into the tens of billions, universities have slowly morphed into public-private police-carceral states, catering to ‘customers’ and answering to benefactors and politicians, not students or faculty.

…It was the aftermath of 9/11, however, that brought the neoliberal university deeper into the embrace of the national security state. In the run-up to the second invasion of Iraq, campuses saw a new wave of political organizing spanning students and faculty, including the formation of groups like Historians Against the War (which remains activetoday). The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign was founded in 2005 and took wing at the end of Bush’s second term, attracting the ire of university administrations. At the same time, radical academics faced greater scrutiny and often direct surveillance. Alan Dershowitz, having been exposed as a plagiarist by Norman Finkelstein, used his connections to get Finkelstein’s tenure at DePaul denied. Finkelstein never found academic work again. Aijaz Ahmed, a leading critic of US empire, was fired from York University in Toronto for his writings on Palestine. Perhaps the most emblematic case was that of Sami Al-Arian, a professor of computer science at the University of South Florida who worked in the Clinton White House, and who came under federal surveillance because of his advocacy. In 2003 he was falsely accused of providing ‘material support’ to Islamic Jihad ‘terrorists’, fired from his job, held in solitary confinement for three years and hounded through the courts. Federal prosecutors failed to convict him on a single count. The only evidence they presented was Al-Arian’s public statements and writings on Palestinian liberation. In 2014 the government dropped all charges, and he was deported to Turkey the following year.

After the 2008 financial crash, austerity became the order of the day for everyone except bankers, big tech and investors, and public universities were starved of funding. Anti-imperial scholarship and activism generally receded, even as Obama ramped up drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan while opening new fronts in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. His presidency was crucial in consolidating the relationship between the higher education sector and the Democratic establishment. In 2012, his leading campaign donors were faculty, staff, students, alumni and administrators at UC Berkeley, with Harvard and Stanford not far behind.

The Twitter files helped bring that point home with universities playing a major role in the “anti-disinformation” sphere. As Matt Taibbi writes:

The Twitter Files gave us names like Renee DiResta of Stanford, Kate Starbird of the University of Washington, Darren Linvill of Clemson, Joan Donovan* at Harvard, Caroline Orr of the University of Maryland, and perhaps two dozen other key figures, many of whom move freely from academia to officialdom to the private sector and back. Someone who was senior official at a federal agency like CISA ten minutes ago might now be Director of Information Integrity at Microsoft or a Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Reading these emails, the lines between enforcement agencies, publicly funded university research outlets, and the internal trust and safety departments of private platforms seem blurred beyond recognition. It’s a blob.

A blob coming to a textbook near you, apparently.

It seems like a lot of effort to go through to disseminate such propaganda when the state department is just going to label as they wish any government opposing US interests. I suppose this is a more subtle, lasting con that can produce true believers. It’s a sobering reminder that even once the Blinkens and Nulands of the world recede from the scene, there will be plenty more clueless psychopaths to take their place.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2024/07 ... uthor.html
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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