- Date published:
11:54 am, April 30th, 2018 - 13 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, Dirty Politics, International, journalism, Media, Politics, Propaganda, Spying, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: history, perspective, propaganda
Let me try and compile a short list of alleged “Russian interference”.
There have obviously been the various claims made around the US election. There have been “bot” accusations made in regard to the Scottish independence referendum. Apparently Catalonia was a “Russian target” too. Wasn’t there something about Germany? France too. Oh, and the Brexit vote and something about European elections. Then there is Italy’s “Five Star Movement”. In all, according to this piece in the Washington Post from January, we’re looking at “mounting evidence of Russian interference in at least 19 European nations.”
I guess we ought to throw in some Latin American targets too. I’m sure I read something about Mexico a while back.
But setting aside whatever thoughts around both the veracity and effectiveness of various phishing attacks, and facebook posts, bot accounts and what not other claims, the following caught my eye in terms of lending context to some of the apparently calamitous and dangerous interactions or alleged interactions with “things Russian”.
As stated in the summary of this post, claims have been made that Russian bots backed UK Labour in the 2017 election. Labour’s Shadow chancellor McDonnell’s response to those allegations offers us a reference we might measure current levels of hysteria against.
He points to 1992 and similar “Russia!” smears being pushed at the then UK Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
Shortly before the 1992 General Election, the paper [The Times] splashed its front page with a story about conversations between Neil Kinnock, the then Labour leader, and Soviet diplomats in London. The article consisted of accounts of meetings between Viktor Popov, the Soviet ambassador, and Kinnock during the miners’ strike and cruise missile controversy.
The reality is that there was nothing peculiar in a Labour leader speaking with the Soviet ambassador and the story was quickly dismissed as a pre- election smear.
That excerpt is from a 1995 piece in The Independent that’s titled “The Sorry Tale of Agent Boot“. The principle focus of the piece is around allegations of connections between the then USSR and Michael Foot (another former leader of the Labour Party).
As with today’s sources on collaboration and dirty dealings between prospective political leaders and Russian connections, the source for the Michael Foot allegations was”an extremely reliable source[…] always accurate to an almost pedantic degree”,[…]: “There was never any serious doubt that what he was telling us was true, but it had to be substantiated.” (emphasis added)
It’s that last bit seems to have been exorcised from the world of journalism these days. Was there any attempt to substantiate claims by Steele that formed the basis of a dossier the Intelligence Community produced and that the media ran with? If there was, I certainly missed it. Basically, it seems free reign has been given to intelligence agencies wishing to extend their world view and opinions beyond the confines and machinations of their respective agencies.
And as Mikhail Lyubimov, ex-press attach to the Soviet Embassy in London noted in that 1995 piece from “The Independent”
“Gordievsky (the impeccable source back then) is not telling lies. He merely reflects all the ridiculous fuss inside the KGB kitchen and makes it sound very serious. Inside the secret services, and not just the KGB, there is always a lot of fantasy.”
With that in mind, how is it not the beginning of dangerous times when unelected and more or less unaccountable centres of power get to spread their preferred message via uncritical media, and when anyone standing up and saying “Hey! Just a second.” gets labeled, and instantly lumped in with the Intelligence Community’s “ennemi du juor”?
Maybe it’s not so unreasonable, possibly even helpful, to view it all as some Whaleoil construct on steroids – y’know, same basic dynamics but much, much more powerful. (And with a lot more “buy in”)
(Image “Hysteria”by Cleon Peterson)