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How the West was Lost

September 18, 2014

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The KyivPost Paywall announcement

Russia is widely regarded as the world’s best country that does Information Warfare.

I won’t even guess who is #2, it certainly is not the United States.

It certainly is not Ukraine, either, and let me tell you why I believe such a statement is true.  This clearly flies in the face of a very large effort by a large number of people in Ukraine and supporters around the world.

KyivPost.com is behind a paywall.

Shortly after then-President Yanukovych quit and fled to Russia, at the end of February, Kyivpost.com put up a paywall on many of the articles dealing with Russia and Ukraine.

I recently corresponded with Brian Bonner, Kyiv Post Chief Editor.  He said:

Regrettably, much of the Kremlin media are state funded. We don’t have such vast resources. We are a private newspaper with an affiliated nongovernmental organization.
To survive, we need to sell advertising and subscriptions — simple as that — and those include online subscriptions, like many other newspapers.
This makes sense, plain and simple.  The KyivPost has to pay reporters, editors, webpage gurus – everything and everybody that is needed to run a newspaper as well as online content.
Except this is the central source for news for Ukraine, who happens to have been in the first real information war (plus now a conventional war) in the world. Here we had a war of words, where the reality on the ground was not the reality in the Russian media. We had Russia attempting to manipulate Ukraine in the Maidan using GRU and Spetsnaz and a corrupt government.  We had “polite green men” in Crimea, we had the occupation of Crimea by what turned out to be Russian Naval Infantry.  We had Russia protecting the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine. We had Russian “volunteers” occupying governmental buildings in East Ukraine, to protect ethnic Russians. We have Ukrainians labeled punishers, Neo-Nazis, fascists. Ukrainians are accused of horrendous violations of human rights, atrocities, war crimes and even shooting down a passenger jet – by the Russian media. Every bit of Russian news about Ukraine seems to be saturated, just dripping, with very strongly biased anti-Ukraine pieces.  …and KyivPost.com puts up a paywall.
Truth be told, another quote from Brian Bonner: “a good share of our content remains free — opinions, special-projects stories, multimedia, etc.”
So why didn’t the government of Ukraine think about subsidizing the KyivPost.com?  Ukraine’s number one newspaper, the place where the world is going to look for information first, and the world is barred from reading the truth?
If that is not bad enough, why isn’t the US government helping the KyivPost?  It’s a pittance, compared with what is spent fighting ISIS, the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.
So, now I ask, why is it the same for the Washington Post and  The New York Times?  At those two newspapers, online, we can get 10 free articles, but anyone tracking the situation in Ukraine is going to read at least one article every day in the Washington Post, so at least 15 articles are not going to be read by the average user after they reach that 10 article limit. That is a failure on the part of the US government to encourage an information flow to interested readers.  That is, in part, why the US is losing the information war.  Please don’t forget that information is one of the four elements of national power, as taught at every senior service school in the US.
President Obama, why don’t you donate the cost of one vacation to Ukraine and ensure KyivPost.com is available to everyone? Cut out one F-35 and you can subsidize the KyivPost for a decade, maybe two. Cut out the farmer’s subsidy for hemp production and you can pay for the KyivPost for even longer.
And while you’re at it, let’s write a national information strategy.
ps. About the title, most of you are way too young to remember the movie “How the West was Won“, referring to the 1962 movie.  In this case I am not referring to the American West but the West as Russia sees the world. To wit: “Battle Against West Gives Russia New Purpose“.

Russians Suppress Paratrooper Death Reports, Beat BBC Reporters

September 18, 2014

Russia is giving in to desperate measures to keept the story of Russian paratroopers killed in Ukraine under wraps.

A BBC cameraman was knocked to the ground and beaten, his camera was smashed on the ground and taken by the three attackers. The BBC team escaped and spent four hours explaining the situation to the police, a hard drive on a computer was wiped clean “at the police station“.

The BBC has lodged a formal protest with the Russian authorities.

According to the BBC, this was

clearly part of a coordinated attempt to stop accredited news journalists reporting a legitimate news story.

Russian Disinformation Continues

September 18, 2014

Thank you to my friend, Niels Groeneveld, for chasing down an original pic just now.

Here is the what Niels first shared with me: 

Then he  found and shared the original. 

Here is where the story gets…  flaky.  These pictures come from vKontakt, the Russian ‘Facebook’, so there aren’t any good explanations.

The person who posted this said they were “Mujahideen-salofity “Righteous sector””.  Mujahedeen, I understand. Salafi, too. Right Sector, too. Putting them all together makes my head spin.

Bottom line, Someone is trying to label a private Ukrainian Army unit as muslim extremists, radical right, too.

That’s stretching the imagination too far, even for Russia.

Russia – fail.

Islamic State Video Is Latest in Worldwide Propaganda Wars

September 18, 2014

Is the US and the West equipped to handle this global propaganda war? I don’t think so.

Originally posted at https://news.vice.com/article/islamic-state-video-is-latest-in-worldwide-propaganda-wars

By Olivia Crellin

September 17, 2014 | 1:40 pm

The Islamic State’s media machine took to the web again on Tuesday with the release of a high-production Hollywood-style trailer for an upcoming movie entitled Flames of War.

The 52-second clip was issued in response to President Barack Obama’s vow to “degrade and ultimately destroy [the Islamic State],” and shows flames engulfing footage of the White House and Obama, as well as images of US forces in Iraq — despite Obama ruling out putting “boots on the ground” last week.

The video, produced by Al Hayat Media, the English-language media arm of the Islamic State, was originally posted to the internet archiving site Archive.org and boasts high-quality images, advanced filming techniques, and a slow motion sequence of a tank blowing up. The only words spoken in the video come from Obama himself saying, “Combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq.”

At the end of the video the words “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun” flashes on the screen, before it ends with the phrase “Coming Soon.” The style is consistent with other high production videos produced by Al Hayat. Its use of English and similar digital effects to those used in video games and action movies seem designed specifically to appeal to potential young recruits in the Western world.

There are no clues within the video as to why it has been released now, but it was issued just hours after Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he would advise Obama to redeploy US combat troops in Iraq if airstrikes didn’t succeed in rolling back the Islamist insurgents.

This comment came even despite Obama’s promises not to “get dragged into a ground war”last week, and the White House later called the idea of US troops in battle a “purely hypothetical scenario.” Obama will deliver a primetime speech Wednesday night outlining his plan to combat the Islamic State, but already rejected claims that morning that Islamic State terrorists may be trying to enter the United States via the Mexico border.

While the US remained reticent about military involvement, Iraqi forces launched an intense military operation against insurgents in Ramadi, Falluja, and Haditha in central Iraq.

Engaging in a Propaganda War 
While the president still seems unsure as to whether the US will send ground troops to Iraq, the US State Department is wholeheartedly engaging in the social media war against the terrorists.

The State Department’s project Think Again Turn Away has its own Twitter handle, Tumblr, Facebook page, and satire video.

Posted to YouTube on July 23, the State Department video is ironically called Welcome to Islamic State land (ISIS/ISIL) and shows graphic scenes of crucifixions, beheadings, and suicide bombings with English title cards in an attempt to deter US nationals and Western Muslims from joining the Islamic State’s ranks.

Islamic State steps up anti-US propaganda with calls to attack Times Square

September 18, 2014

ISIL brings the propaganda war into the US

Originally posted at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11101361/Islamic-State-steps-up-anti-US-propaganda-with-calls-to-attack-Times-Square.html

Online propaganda videos and messages posted by Isil supporters encourage “lone wolf” attacks against numerous US tourist destinations and details how to make homemade pipe bombs

The Isil post encourages would-be attackers to target Times Square in New York Photo: Alamy

The Islamic State (Isil) has encouraged “lone wolf” attacks by extremists equipped with homemade pipe bombs on Times Square and other high-profile US tourist destinations, according to reports.

A message posted on an Isil forum entitled “To the Lone Wolves in America: How to Make a Bomb in Your Kitchen, to Create Scenes of Horror in Tourist Spots and Other Targets” surfaced in the last 24 hours.

In it, supporters of the extremist organisation are told to plant explosives in busy public locations in New York, Las Vegas and Texas, and at metro stations across the US.

It comes as Isil released a slickly-produced propaganda video in response to President Barack Obama’s pledge to “degrade and destroy” the organisation.

The video includes shaky-footage of the White House that appears to have been filmed from a moving car, and include extracts of President Obama’s statement on the US response to Isil this week.

Released by the Islamic State’s propaganda wing, al-Hayat Media Centre, the 52-second clip is similar to previous Isil videos in its high-production values and threats to attack various US targets.

But, according to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, “this is the first time Isil has used this medium to inspire a “lone wolf” type attack”.

“We are quite concerned, as you would expect, with the capabilities of Isil, much more so than al-Qaeda, to use social media to try and spread their recruitment efforts and try to inspire,” he said.

““We have been focused on it and I believe we are as prepared as any entity can be to deal with the threats. But the reality is that we are living in a new era of potential terrorism. That is the reality.”

Lavrov Accuses NATO of “Destructive Behavior” over Ukraine

September 18, 2014

In one of the biggest whoppers by a Russian official yet, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov actually accused NATO of destructive behavior over Ukraine.

We cannot overlook NATO’s destructive role throughout the Ukrainian crisis. In particular, the alliance has taken the course on building up Ukraine’s military potential, which is used [by Kiev] against civilians.

NATO leadership supports plans of member countries to expand supplying Ukraine with special means and military equipment that could be used by Ukrainian authorities for internal repressions. Therefore, they are practically pushing Kiev to forcible resolution of the conflict

Notice Lavrov uses the word repressions, which is a negative term implying Ukraine is suppressing or repressing Ukrainian citizens.

The entire quote flies in the face of any sort of credibility.  Russia has long accused Ukraine of genocide in East Ukraine, although there is nothing of the sort. Russia has accused Ukraine of being “punishers” and committing war crimes, although the Russians appear to be the ones guilty of those charges.

Lavrov seems to flinging manure against a wall and seeing what sticks.

“Russia Sees Need to Protect Russian Speakers in NATO Baltic States”

September 18, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, some truths are stranger than fiction.

This headline for the Moscow Times: “Russia Sees Need to Protect Russian Speakers in NATO Baltic States“. Oh really?

They even admit using this before Crimea.

Here is a teaser, I invite you to go to the web page and read the rest.  If you aren’t shaking your head after reading this, I can’t explain your perspective.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says there are “whole segments of the Russian world” that may require Moscow’s protection, and has singled out Baltic states by saying that Russia will not tolerate an “offensive” against its language there.

If this sounds reminiscent of the rhetoric that accompanied Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, the Foreign Ministry made no secret of the intended parallel. The ministry’s chief monitor of human rights overseas, Konstantin Dolgov, cited the policies of Ukraine’s government in Kiev as an example of a rise of “xenophobia” in Europe, according to a transcript of a speech published by the ministry Monday.

But Ukraine is not the only place whose policies need correction, Dolgov said in his remarks, delivered over the weekend during a meeting with ethnic Russians in Latvia’s capital, Riga.

“It has to be stated with sadness that a huge number of our compatriots abroad, whole segments of the Russian world, continue to face serious problems in securing their rights and lawful interests,” he said. “One of the obvious and, perhaps, key reasons for this state of affairs is the unrelenting growth of xenophobic and neo-Nazi sentiments in the world.”

“Neo-Nazi” was also a term that Moscow used to describe its opponents in Ukraine earlier in the crisis.

“We will not tolerate the creeping offensive against the Russian language that we are seeing in the Baltics,” Dolgov said.

Continued at http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/russia-sees-need-to-protect-russian-speakers-in-nato-baltic-states/507188.html

Incidentally,

  • Latvia is 26% Russian, or 520,136/2,001,468
  • Lithuania is 5.8% Russian, or 176,913/3,043,429
  • Estonia is 25.2%, or 332,816/1,294,455

It is not complimentary when I say “Konstantin Dolgov and Vladimir Putin, you have big balls.”

Okay, enough joking. Putin is insane if he intends to invade a NATO state.

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