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The Atlantic Council: ‘Debates' Between People Who Hate Russia & People Who Really Hate Russia

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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.
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I Predict a 'RIOT' as Dissent in American Media Becomes Illegitimate

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Since the German Marshall Fund of the United States unveiled its “Alliance For Securing Democracy (AFSD)," I’ve resisted commenting, simply because the lobby group’s “Hamilton 68 dashboard” is too preposterous to merit serious analysis.

It has rightly been ridiculed by journalists and activists who never tire of knocking the Kremlin.

The portal purports to use “600 Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence efforts online” to prove how Moscow is trying to sow seeds of doubt in the Western political system, via the social network. However, the creators won’t reveal the users concerned, and results seem to suggest they are mostly members of the US alt-right and alt-left. Meaning this is yet another attempt to pass off American dissent as some Kremlin “Psy-op.” Which is beyond ridiculous.

Furthermore, the names behind AFSD betray the project’s real purpose: to shift blame from internal American and European factors to the convenient Russian bogeyman. Which, of course, suits its financial backers, including the State Department, NATO, and the ubiquitous weapons maker Raytheon. All of whom benefit commercially and politically from strained ties between Moscow and Washington.

To achieve these goals they’ve hired the usual roll call of reliably anti-Russia blowhards. Including Estonian-American politician Ilves Toomas and rent-a-quote talking head Michael McFaul, the 'Mother Theresa of the Russia beat.' Those two are joined by neoconservative windbag William Kristol and ex-CIA chief Michael Morell.
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The Atlantic Council: Experts on the Front Line of Disinformation

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NATO's academic wing has been warning about disinformation for years. And it's no wonder when its staff and contributors are so well-versed in the practice themselves.

The Atlantic Council is an organization dedicated to discussion between people who hate Russia and folk who really, really hate Russia. Thus, amid the current hysteria, it’s Christmas every day for its assorted staff and “fellows” or, to use a more accurate term, ‘lobbyists.’

For the uninitiated, it’s difficult to explain what exactly the Atlantic Council does. Essentially, the club exists to influence the information space to justify NATO’s continued existence. It does that by either employing Russia’s opponents directly or offering retainers to journalists and media analysts who can be relied upon to push the outfit’s anti-Russian stance. Which, of course, is its lifeblood.

While the Atlantic Council is set-up to promote antagonism toward Russia, it also needs it. Because if Russia combusted tomorrow, everyone on the payroll would be out of a job. So, it’s like the famous U2 song “I can’t live, with or without you.” But unlike the protagonist of that ditty, these guys don’t give themselves away. Instead, this NATO adjunct is lavishly funded, by a roll call of famous entities.
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‘Prague Calling, Prague Calling’ - The Alternative Reality of RFE/RL

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“Germany calling, Germany calling, Germany calling.” During the Second World War, those words meant only one thing - that William Joyce was on the radio and spewing his unique brand of anti-British bile.

Known as “Lord Haw Haw,” the American-born Joyce tried to convince the British public, in a sneering and sarcastic tone, that resistance to the Nazi military machine was futile and defeat was inevitable. From Berlin, he blasted out crude agitprop about the weakness of Britain, and its leaders, and the superiority of the German system.

Nowadays, a few hundred kilometers down the road in Prague, there’s an heir to “Lord Haw Haw’s” crown of thorns. The dubious honor belongs to Brian Whitmore of the American state-broadcaster RFE/RL, who sits in front of a wall mounted image of Moscow’s Kremlin, five days a week, and tells the world how awful the country is. The video blog, known as the “Daily Vertical” is such a laugh that I’ve been keeping an occasional eye on it since its host became embroiled in a public spat with the noted journalist Ben Aris.
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A Russian Buildup in Syria? The Propaganda Machine Strikes Again

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Somebody wants the Saudis and their Arab neighbors to believe that Russia is intensifying its presence in Syria. That possibly explains a hysterical propaganda overload this weekend.
 
They seek them here, they seek them there. According to certain elements of the US media, Russian soldiers are everywhere. At this stage, the moon is probably the only place you are safe. Then again, maybe they are readying copy which 'proves' that the Russians are hiding on the dark side. Or perhaps even they believe that such an accusation would be a bridge too far.

Russian military personnel have always been in Syria. Moscow has a base there. Furthermore, Vladimir Putin has hardly hidden the fact that his government has fulfilled defense contracts with Damascus. That would require trainers on the ground.

So why did Russia’s involvement in Syria suddenly become such massive news? Is it because relations between the Kremlin and Saudi Arabia are rapidly improving? Or maybe it's down to Washington's fears that Moscow may decide to take out ISIS, unilaterally, or with European approval, freezing America out?
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Fragile Fact-Checking: How The Media Fell in And Out of Love With The Sikorski ‘Revelations’

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What’s worse than a junior neocon? A junior neocon trying to make a name for himself. Ben Judah’s meteoric rise, aided by his staunch anti-Russian credentials in a climate of fear, has imploded as quickly as it began.


As I learnt the hard way, when you are a young man in a hurry it’s easy to trip up. The first few times you’ll, probably, be forgiven but once it becomes a trend, even the most ardent supporters will abandon you. The fewer redeeming features you possess, the faster it’ll happen. When it has the potential to create an international diplomatic crisis, I can only assume it’s fatal to that once promising career.

On Sunday, the niche US journal Politico published a piece which, briefly, rocked the Russia-related media world. In a rambling, rabble-rousing diatribe by Ben Judah came a, seemingly amazing, scoop - Vladimir Putin had allegedly proposed, in a 2008 Moscow meeting, that Russia and Poland divide Ukraine between them. The source for this, supposed, latter-day Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was given as ex-Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. Carl Bildt was also included — but the less said about him the better — in a veritable neocon tea party. After reading about the ostensible carve-up, I was wondering what century I was in.


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