"Apparently, the sweaty masses of the West need to be told what to think and what to believe because we are simply too stupid to figure it out for ourselves."
We are certainly living in unique times when it comes to propaganda, or as it is more recently termed, "fake news". Since the end of the Cold War nearly three decades ago, I'm not aware of a period of time when the Western media has done what it can to propagate the narrative that all things Russian are bad and, by extension, all things American must, therefore, be good.
In other words, whatever Russia says about any given issue must be propaganda and whatever the West says must be the truth. In fact, we don't have to look to far to see how the "Russian threat" has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by politicians from many Western nations, Hollywood and the television networks and the print media. There is one organization and individual that has put "pen to paper" and outlined exactly why we should be so afraid of Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, the very embodiment of evil and how their influence on our core beliefs should be reined in.
While you may never have heard of the Atlantic Council, it is an allegedly non-partisan think tank that was recently hired by Facebook to help ensure that there is never a repetition of the 2016 U.S. presidential election that saw Donald Trump prevail over the Deep State's preferred candidate. If you are interested, you can read more about the Atlantic Council in this posting.
One of the Atlantic Council's Non-Resident Senior Fellows, Elisabeth Braw, recently contributed a commentary to Defense One entitled "We Need a NATO for Infowar". In her commentary which also appeared in Defense One, she examines the Russian use of "propaganda" and laments how the Western media is impotent to address Russia's deliberate program of disinformation. She raises this potentially dangerous and highly unlikely scenario to justify her thesis:
"What if Russia suddenly announced that its Baltic Fleet had dispatched an armada towards Britain? Would most people greet the news with steely resolve in the knowledge that their governments would know what to do, or would constant Kremlin-influenced reports about the incompetence of British institutions make them conclude that any resistance was pointless?"
Yes indeed, what if Russian disinformation could convince us that, like Star Trek's Borg, "resistance was futile, you will be assimilated" but, in this case, by the Russians?
Here are some of the specific examples of Russian propaganda that concern Ms. Braw:
"It was Sweden that manufactured the nerve gas that nearly killed Russian double-agent Sergey Skripal in Salisbury in March. Or the Czechs. Or in fact the UK itself. Russian media deliver a dizzying range of exaggerations and falsehoods about our countries, while we usually opt for the high road of near-silence. But truth won’t prevail on its own. We need a robust defense not just of our borders but of our free and open societies: in other words, a Communications NATO for information warfare.
Following last month’s chemical attack in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced reports of it as fabrications. A Russian military spokesman insisted that the UK had been involved, an allegation that Britain’s UN ambassador Karen Pierce dismissed as a “grotesque, blatant lie” and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called “demented.”"
Here is one of her concerns:
"Fending off disinformation will get even harder when a new Russian news outlet launches in the United States this month. Going by the unwieldy name of “USA Really. Wake Up Americans,” this private counterpart to the Russian government’s RT is owned by the media company RIA FAN, which previously resided at the St. Petersburg “troll factory” the Internet Research Agency."
And, what is her answer to Russia's deliberate misleading of the West?
"NATO has proven that a defense alliance can withstand severe military threats, but because today’s national security threats no longer involve only armed forces, our defense most be more wide-ranging too. Indeed, earlier this year Sweden announced that it will establish an Agency for Psychological Defense.
What we need now is a cross-border defense alliance against disinformation — call it Communications NATO. Such an alliance is, in fact, nearly as important as its military counterpart. (And militarily non-aligned countries such as Sweden and Finland could join too.)...A Communications NATO would immediately and jointly be able to respond disinformation directed at our countries."
There we go, a new NATO for the new "Information War" with Russia. Apparently, the sweaty masses of the West need to be told what to think and what to believe because we are simply too stupid to figure it out for ourselves.
Let's close this by looking at the most recent version of the World Press Freedom Index. Here are the top fifty nations in order of most press freedom to least press freedom:
Note that both the United Kingdom (in 40th place) and the United States (in 45th place) fall well behind nations that aren't considered particularly "advanced". Perhaps part of the issue with the American press and its lack of freedom is related to the fact that almost all of the United States media (and by extension, press/news) comes from the same six sources:
1.) General Electric - Comcast, NBC, Universal Pictures, Focus Features
2.) NewsCorp - Fox, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, The Sun (U.K.), The Australian
3.) Disney - ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Miramax, Marvel Studios
4.) Viacom - MTV, Mick Jr, BET, CMT, Paramount Pictures
5.) Time Warner - CNN, HBO, Time, Warner Bros.
6.) CBS - Showtime, Smithsonian Channel, 60 minutes
As well, billionaires (i.e. oligarchs) like Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Iran Roberts, John Henry, Sheldon Adelson , Warren Buffett and Mortimer Zuckerman control major purveyors of U.S. news including U.S. News and World Report, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post among others. Basically, the news that we either listen to or read on a daily basis passes through an oligarchy that has more-or-less complete control over the narrative. Furthermore, the international and influential Reuters news agency, a division of Thomson Reuters is chaired by Canadian David Thomson, the Third Baron Thomson of Fleet, worth $24.6 billion according to Forbes. We truly do live in an era of "fake news".
The greatest danger with Russian propaganda is that, when Washington (or London et al) decide that it's time to go to war with Russia, voters may not back their own government because they have informed themselves on both sides of the issue. After all, given the false rationale given for the massively failed War on Terror, we may understandably be more than a bit hesitant when it comes to funding another lost cause that will cost the lives of thousands of our peers.
Source: Viable Opposition