Funny old world

It’s been a fascinating day’s reading on the information warfare front. First on my reading list was a new piece by an old friend – Canadian activist Marcus Kolga. Readers may recall that he’s the guy who called this blog a ‘Pro-Kremlin, extremist, conspiracy theory platform’ and compared it to InfoWars. A dedicated keyboard warrior in the existential battle to defend Canadian democracy, he’s been leading the charge to convince all and sundry that our 150-year old parliamentary system faces a deadly threat from Russian meddling. Something must be done, he says. As he puts it in his latest article:

Politicians, policy-makers, academics and former diplomats who speak on behalf of malign foreign regimes must face a cost for allowing themselves to be used as proxies or ‘useful idiots’ in western media and society.

I don’t know about you, but that put a little chill up my spine. Who knew that the defence of democracy requires people to pay a ‘cost’ for freely expressing their views? I’ve been far too naïve these past 53 years, it seems. I must thank Mr Kolga for enlightening me. I must also thank him for correcting me on some other matters. For instance, I had falsely believed that the ‘Immortal Regiment’ marches popular in Russia on Victory Day were meant to mark the sacrifice of those who died fighting the Nazis. Thanks to Kolga, I now understand that the Immortal Regiment is in fact a ‘neo-Stalinist rally’ and ‘annually glorifies the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe’. It’s good to know that democracy has such noble people defending us against disinformation.

Talking of sacrifice, Kolga isn’t the only one demanding that others pay a ‘price’. Take British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, for instance. Hunt is currently competing to become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a job for which he is probably the only person in Britain less suited than his competitor Boris Johnson. Keen to burnish his pro-Brexit credentials, he informed businessmen that if they went bankrupt as a result of a no-deal Brexit, they should understand that it was a sacrifice worth paying. I’m looking forward to seeing what sacrifices Hunt will be making.

Anyway, in a separate story I read that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which Hunt leads, is funding a new anti-disinformation project called the ‘Open Information Partnership’. This bears a striking resemblance to a similar project proposed by the much discredited ‘Integrity Initiative’. It envisages a network of NGOs, think tanks, fact checkers, and so on, dedicated to fighting disinformation. This include such notably unbiased and reliable sources of information as the Atlantic Council. With the likes of these determining what is true and what is false, what can possibly go wrong?

The Brits aren’t the only ones getting deeper into the counter-disinformation game. The US Development Agency (USAID) is to invest millions of dollars into a new ‘Countering Malign Kremlin Influence Development Framework’. As RT reports ‘the US will channel millions of dollars into local media to ensure they are truly “independent”.’  Again, what could possibly go wrong?

Of course, it’s wrong of me to cite RT. After all, Mr Hunt has denounced it as a ‘weapon of disinformation.’ Hunt is a fervent defender of press freedom, as shown by his government’s strong support of Julian Assange. Next week in London, Hunt and his Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland will be co-hosting the Global Conference for Media Freedom. Freeland is the stuck record of international diplomacy, endlessly repeating her commitment to the ‘rules-based international order’, while simultaneously taking the lead in undermining it through her efforts to promote regime change in Venezuela via the so-called Lima Group. She has previously shown her commitment to media freedom by barring Russian media networks RT, Sputnik, Ruptly, TASS, and RIA Novosti from attending the meeting of the Lima Group in February of this year.

Still, media freedom is a fine cause. We should congratulate Hunt and Freeland for doing so much to encourage. But, what then are we to make of this?

rt

The Global Conference for Media Freedom has refused accreditation to RT. Oh, the irony of ironies. Lord forbid that the media should be allowed to report on a conference on media freedom.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but even in the Cold War I can’t remember the Soviet media being barred from events. There have been ‘no truth in Pravda’ and ‘no news in Izvestiia’, as the saying went, but even while we mocked them we still allowed them the freedom to report. Now, things seem to have changed. Moral posturing goes hand in hand with selective sanctions (did you ever hear Ms Freeland condemn the multiple violations of press freedom in Ukraine?). The one justifies the other. In the name of defending democracy, we punish those who dare to contradict us; in the name of combatting disinformation, we spread it ourselves; and in the name of media freedom, we practice censorship. It’s a funny old world.

18 thoughts on “Funny old world”

  1. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but even in the Cold War I can’t remember the Soviet media being barred from events.”

    Actually, at least on the information front, it feels exactly like the Cold War circa 1970s-early 80s, only with east and west reversed. Like the mirror image.

    Look who is the ‘evil empire’ now…

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  2. your last paragraph really sums it up paul – “”In the name of defending democracy, we punish those who dare to contradict us; in the name of combatting disinformation, we spread it ourselves; and in the name of media freedom, we practice censorship. “”

    cbc offered up an article on july 5th which was really more of the same..it is unfortunate the writer of the article is unaware of integrity initiative or the measures the UK is going to, to propagandaize their population with the gchq looking to hire trolls and etc etc.(see craig murray article also linked to below the cbc article i mention.. https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/fake-news-disinformation-propaganda-internet-1.5196964

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/07/how-to-spot-a-twitter-troll/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny comments (now closed) “Regarding not so fake news; I enjoy RT (Russia Today) they say from the beginning that they are sponsored by the Russian government. So, you can expect a Russian skewed type of reporting which you can adapt. Have you seen their amazing documentaries?”

      CBC budget near $1.6 billion per year (+ Canada Council grants) from Government of Canada while RT’s budget is $400 million.

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  3. Reblogged this on Journalism as Art and commented:
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but even in the Cold War I can’t remember the Soviet media being barred from events. There have been ‘no truth in Pravda’ and ‘no news in Izvestia’, as the saying went, but even while we mocked them we still allowed them the freedom to report. Now, things seem to have changed. Moral posturing goes hand in hand with selective sanctions (did you ever hear Ms Freeland condemn the multiple violations of press freedom in Ukraine?). The one justifies the other. In the name of defending democracy, we punish those who dare to contradict us; in the name of combating disinformation, we spread it ourselves; and in the name of media freedom, we practice censorship. It’s a funny old world.

    Like

  4. “Thanks to Kolga, I now understand that the Immortal Regiment is in fact a ‘neo-Stalinist rally’ and ‘annually glorifies the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe’. It’s good to know that democracy has such noble people defending us against disinformation.”

    “Call the police, Kolya!”(c)

    “Of course, it’s wrong of me to cite RT. After all, Mr Hunt has denounced it as a ‘weapon of disinformation.’ Hunt is a fervent defender of press freedom, as shown by his government’s strong support of Julian Assange. Next week in London, Hunt and his Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland will be co-hosting the Global Conference for Media Freedom. “

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  5. “…shown by his government’s strong support of Julian Assange.”

    Strong indeed. If my memory serves me well, six strongmen were “supporting” the poor guy.

    Regards,

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      1. Actually, if I remember correctly Putin never “offered Snowden shelter.” On the contrary, Snowden became trapped in the transit area of the Moscow airport when the US revoked his passport. He did not have a visa to enter Russia at the time, and neither Putin nor the Russian government invited him to change planes in Moscow. Finding himself trapped there, he decided to request political asylum. Due to international agreements already in force, the Russian government had to choose between granting asylum or violating those agreements by denying asylum. Putin may never have been involved in the decisions, and certainly did not extend an invitation to Snowden.

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      2. antirepublocrat, I know, I followed matters closely. Even read Glenn Greenberg’s report. Thus yes, I am aware of the cancelled passport.

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  6. Idiot progressives and moron conservatives–each walking hand in hand towards a new corporate fascism, each screaming that the other is responsible. Would that those of use who can still use our skulls for something other than a hat rest could be rid of all of them.

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  7. Perceptive post. It seems the level of understanding in Western foreign policy sinks lower every day. Whenever you hear the words “fact check”, some Deep State propaganda will follow. I sometimes wonder if the media realize how shallow and dishonest they are?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As Patrick Armstrong has long pointed out, Western hysteria over so-called Russian disinformation demonstrates less how gullible people are and more how much credibility western elites and the western press have ceded and indeed lost. And it is quite clear that they either do not know how or worse, do not think they should even need to try. But more broadly, only those afraid of the truth or not confident in themselves try to block foreign news sources – as the Soviets did and the Chinese do.
    What the Western media and political/economic elites don’t understand, and neither did the Soviets for that matter fully, was that it was less the truth that undermined them, but the lies they themselves told. It does worry me watching this happen. Though I am young, I still grew up in a world where the BBC, and CBC were as right as right could be, where you could trust that the people at all levels were doing their utmost to get the first draft of history right. Now that is no longer the case.

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    1. “Though I am young, I still grew up in a world where the BBC, and CBC were as right as right could be”

      If you are so “young”, then how do you know that “the Soviets” were “undermined” by “lies they themselves told”? Examples, please.

      “But more broadly, only those afraid of the truth or not confident in themselves try to block foreign news sources – as the Soviets did and the Chinese do.”

      Are you saying, that the West did not block Soviet agitprop during the Cold War?

      Like

      1. “How do you know Peter the Great existed if you were not alive to experience his reign?”

        1) Answering a question with another (often – inane) question is a time honoured, traditional Jewish custom. But in ordinary, cultured polite goyim society it is considered improper and even vulgar.

        2) To answer your inane question – because of the applied scientific method and formal logic (see, e.g., the difference between the immediate sensory perception and mediated (including by own sensory perception) conceptual apparatus of a person), a human being can gain the knowledge beyond the (obviously limited) field of the data received through personal experience. That approach allows the study of the sciences and history (per example – as pertains to the times of Peter the Great).

        3) Now, after I humored you, how about answering my questions (see above which ones)?

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  9. So much time spent assessing a subpar source in Kolga. Such is the quality control. Somewhat reminded of a recent JRL/Moscow Times propping of a mediocre article on Russophobia by one of the court appointed:

    https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/07/03/the-paradox-of-american-russophobia-a66241 -JRL Promoted

    Excerpt –

    “Taking Russiagate as an example, it is not Russophobic to say that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.”

    *****

    It’s “Russophobic” to hype the claim of such Russian interference, while comparatively downplaying such a matter with some other countries – never minding the not too distant US government involved efforts in other countries including Russia.

    Excerpt –

    “The racist moment is best seen in former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s comment that ‘the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique’ and that it’s in Russian ‘genes to be opposed, diametrically opposed, to the United States and Western democracies’.”

    ****

    The “racist” moment on this particular includes the considerable lack of US establishment outrage over Clapper’s remarks, as evidenced by how CNN (where Clapper is employed) hasn’t (in their propped content) been shy in calling some others racist. This kind of hypocrisy has been evident elsewhere like The NYT, regarding Juliet Macur:

    https://www.eurasiareview.com/09022018-western-chauvinism-against-russia-gone-berserk-oped/

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