Wednesday September 27, 2017
Welcome to the Atlantic Council. A think tank which isn't given to introspection and which ultimately amounts to NATO's propaganda arm. This week, I endured an Atlantic Council echo-chamber to spare you the bother.
The list of lobbyists retained by the club (who prefer to call each other 'fellows') reads like a veritable who's who of professional Russia bashers. From Eliot Higgins to Anders Aslund and Michael Weiss to Dmitri Alperovitch. And its main financial backers include Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, the Ukrainian World Congress and the United States Department of State. All entities for whom promoting the "Russian threat" is a profitable, and essential, enterprise.
On Tuesday, the pressure group held a sort of social day for its staffers and admirers. The event was billed as "The First Transatlantic Forum on Strategic Communications and Digital Disinformation in Washington, DC." And it certainly seemed to feature a lot of trans-continental flights as the diaspora flocked back to the mothership for the festivities.
There were three main forums on the day and, as the final one concerned ISIS, I decided to suffer the first two only. Here is what I experienced.
Panel One - "Transatlantic Response to Disinformation: Paving a Way Forward" (all times EDT)
10:12 AM: Your correspondent joins 36 other YouTube viewers for the opening salvos. Five men, all in navy suits, sit down. They are Daniel Fried (an Atlantic Council employee and former US ambassador), Tacan Ildem (a Turkish diplomat until last year, now at NATO), Nils Svartz (a Swedish civil defense director) and Jakub Durr (the Deputy Foreign Minister ofCzechia, incidentally lazily described as the "Czech Republic" by the organizers). The moderator, Jim Sciutto, introduces himself as the “bad news correspondent of CNN.” Immediately I start thinking that if all 37 viewers paid €25 a piece each for access, it’d barely cover a return flight from Istanbul to DC. But, luckily, today's nod-fest is directly supported by NATO and a few other vested interests.