The enemy within

In democratic countries, disagreeing with government policy is nothing unusual. But Russophobic paranoia has reached such a peak that those who dare to propose better relations with Russia are increasingly facing pressure to be silent. Even daring to suggest that Russian-Western tensions are not entirely Russia’s fault is enough to get one labelled ‘pro-Russian’ and a possible threat to national security. The struggle with the enemy without has now turned into a struggle against the ‘enemy within’.

A report published this week by the Atlantic Council entitled The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses. denounces the ‘Putinverstehern [Putin understanderers], useful idiots, agents of influence, or Trojan Horses’ who are allegedly subverting European democracy, and proposes various measures which European governments should take against them.

Russia, says the report, is aiming ‘to sow discord among European Union (EU) member states, destabilize European polities, and undermine Western liberal values—democracy, freedom of expression, and transparency’. It is doing so by building ‘networks of influence’ in European countries, ‘that support Russian economic and geopolitical interests, denounce the EU and European integration, propagate a narrative of Western decline, and vote against EU policies on Russia (most notably sanctions)—thus legitimating the Kremlin’s military interventionism in Ukraine and Syria, weakening transatlantic institutions, and undermining liberal democratic values.’

In effect, people who sympathize in some ways with the Russian position on Ukraine, and support ‘rapprochement’ or ‘appeasement of the Kremlin’, are witting or unwitting tools of Moscow. As such they pose a dangerous threat to European security.

In the United Kingdom (UK), according to the report, Russia’s ‘agents of influence’ include the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP); Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn; Corbyn advisor and Guardian journalist Seamus Milne;, Conservative MPs David Kawczynski , John Whittingdale, and Robert Halfon; ex-Labour and Respect MP George Galloway; the British National Party; and journalist John Laughland.

For Europe as a whole, the report provides this useful map:

prorussianparties

The Atlantic Council urges European governments to take action against these fifth columnists. For instance, the report says that, ‘German intelligence service should examine Russia’s funding of political groups, media outlets, and civil society organizations. … In the UK, intelligence agencies should be given a clear mandate to investigate foreign funding of political parties.’ Having the wrong political views is now, therefore, sufficient grounds for a visit from the security services.

The report also suggests that ‘Non-governmental organizations with operations in Western European countries should be required to publically report their funding sources.’ Given the outrage in the West over Russia’s law which declares certain NGOs to be ‘foreign agents’, this suggestion is more than a little ironic.

Yet having outed all these people as dangerously ‘pro-Russian’, the report admits that Russia’s ‘web of political networks is hidden and nontransparent by design, making it purposely difficult to expose. Traceable financial links would inevitably make Moscow’s enterprise less effective: … links occur through multiple degrees of separation and chains of operators across sectors.’  In other words, the report’s authors don’t actually have any firm evidence that any of these people are acting on Moscow’s orders.

In reality, they simply disagree with the dominant analysis of international affairs, and feel that their own country’s interests are not well served by confrontation with Russia. This is a perfectly reasonable point of view, and there is nothing subversive or treasonous about it at all.

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18 thoughts on “The enemy within”

  1. And it is worth noting that the ‘dominant analysis’ is so merely because it is frequently and loudly asserted by the mainstream’s favourite analysts, and for no other particular reason. Such as evidence of harmful tampering with beneficial western government policy, for example, since I cannot think of a single instance in which Russia can be clearly shown to have urged westerners to act against the advice of their governments when doing so would be to their detriment either morally or economically. In their hysteria – in which they affect to actually believe tropes for which there is no substantiation, such as that Russia shot down MH17 and tampered with the American election, and is therefore the face of modern evil – the west is determinedly and resolutely rejecting any possibility of rapprochement which might resolve the current and longstanding impasse, so that common world problems are receiving no attention or a haphazard and disunited approach.

    The greatest responsibility for this international discord is borne by the United States government and the nation which appears determined to continue serving as its proxy in Europe, the United Kingdom.

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  2. Er, who on earth are those “Atlantic Council” johnnies and who asked their opinion about anything? What a hell of nerve they have to ladle out their sage advice to other people’s governments.

    “The Atlantic Council is a think tank in the field of international affairs. Founded in 1961, it provides a forum for international political, business, and intellectual leaders. It manages ten regional centers and functional programs related to international security and global economic prosperity. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Council

    ‘Nuff said.

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      1. I think investigating foreign money and agents of influence would be a great idea. I suspect Russia wouldn’t be top of the list of countries involves in these activities.

        Amusing that supposedly two of our five main parties, commanding the votes of millions, in Britain are actually Russian fronts.

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  3. People who study cross-border party ties for a living (eg Cas Mudde) don’t think of these are principal-agent ties, as it is sometimes implied in the use of the term ‘agents of influence.’ And while a good share of ideological cross-influencing does take place this does not make these actors–the vast majority of them, anyway–“Trojan Horses”. Rather, they are rational actors who use panic-inducing images like the “Trojan Horse” to try and extract concessions in various political games they play. Dimitar Bechev has a forthcoming book “Russian influence in the Balkans” that makes this point.

    That all being said, I think there is nothing wrong with Western think tanks closely monitoring what the Kremlin does, ideologically and otherwise, w/ pol parties and other pol actors in Europe. Certainly, there are many such thinks tanks, and some produce better (ie. less biased etc) analyses than others.

    P.S. The Economist loves the term Trojan Horse–I think it started using it in this context following Bulgarian accession to NATO (Bulgarian intelligence is heavily infiltrated by Russia!).

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    1. ‘I think there is nothing wrong with Western think tanks closely monitoring what the Kremlin does’ – Fair enough. I don’t disagree. The problem comes when you start calling people (some of whom have no connection at all with the Kremlin) ‘Trojan horses’, and so imply that they are working, wittingly or unwittingly, for foreign interests, and as such are threats to national security. Add to that recommendations that such people be subjected to investigation by the security services, etc, and you are in dodgy territory.

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  4. Everyone is heavily infiltrated by Russia!

    Lets just take you Paul, a simple analysis of your first name “Paul” already reveals that 50% of the letters that make up your name are also found in the word Russia! Whats more, if one would read your name from a Russian pov, it could be seen as “Raul”, since P=R in that evil intentionally confusing language with that completely made up Alphatbet which was clearly just a KGB ploy to confuse freedom loving think thank fact checkers!

    This means that 3 out of 4 latters that make up your name are actually Russian! And the “l” is just a stand-in for your origin, secret Lublyanka-clone labs!

    And then your claims to have been working for British military intelligence? We all know that no such thing could possible exist, as this is clearly an even more oxymoronic oxymoron! Clearly, the entire thing is just a clever Russian setup! And they arent even trying! I mean, MI5, MI6? Sounds like some outdated Russian attack helicoptor variants to me! Uncreative Sovok mentality could not even come up with something new!

    Break, I am out of beer now. As soon as I get a new one, I will continue expounding on this analysis that is just as factual, hard hitting and real (while also being much more amusing, at least I hope so) then whatever comes out of the Atlantic Council.

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    1. It is “worse” when you realise that the Atlantic Council’s premises only need a few extra things like padded walls, special patient gowns with wraparound sleeves that can be tied at the ends and a full medical / nursing staff on call 24/7.

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      1. Indeed they need.
        But the “worse” I meant is that from pointing out “Kremlin’s Trojan Horses” things may get to prosecuting them at some point. It’s not so far fetched I’m afraid.

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      2. Well, prosecutions is just one way to deal with it; I imagine it’s already costs people their careers. I think I saw somewhere Stephen Cohen encouraging young analysts to resist the pressure and be prepared to make sacrifices; how many will persevere? So, the fix is on, incentives are set…

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  5. “In democratic countries, disagreeing with government policy is nothing unusual. But Russophobic paranoia has reached such a peak that those who dare to propose better relations with Russia are increasingly facing pressure to be silent”

    [Cue long, long hysterical laughter]

    Yeah, rrright… “Democratic countries” – a good one!

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  6. Follow the money. Who owns the western propaganda machine called the media? A handful of people and their corporations own most of it whether it is radio, television, cable networks, movie studios, video games, newspapers, magazines and social networks. When people pick up a newspaper, listen to a radio station or watch a particular channel the propaganda comes from the same corporation.

    When anyone resists this nonsense of consumption at any cost they are labeled an outsider. You may have noticed the media is now calling Syria a Russian problem. It must be collective amnesia. Convenient to forget a US-led NATO began bombing Syria in 2011. The only country in the middle-east the US and it’s NATO cronies support is Israel. Most other countries are crawling out of the rubble because the US is bringing them “democracy”.

    Meanwhile they are robbed or all their resources including ancient artifacts sold to private companies and individuals. The western media is so laden with fat they have misunderstood the support Russia has world-wide. NATO held it’s war games 88 kilometers from the Russian border without any fanfare. Russia sails 2 ships 200 kilometers from England and the headline reads “Russia Getting Ready for Invasion”.

    I have a map showing the 695 US military bases world-wide. We could put together a map showing the 2 Russian bases. While the US war machine eats up trillions of dollars it needs a highly paid propaganda machine to cover the money trail.

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  7. New McCarthyism, updated to conform to modern times and modern mass media pervasiveness and penetration.

    What I find pretty funny is that the Atlantic Council’s proposed ways of fighting this hypothetical 5th Column are very similar to what the Russian Federation is already doing (for example in regard to NGOs funding), something that the Mainstream Media usually condemn as the product of the illiberal attitude of an authoritarian State.

    This New Cold War is exposing all the hypocrisy that permeates the establishment and its related think tanks.

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