TWITTER SCANDAL: Moscow mules: the left’s long romance with Russia.

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(Above: Corbyn and his spin doctor Seumas Milne share a sceptical view of Nato)

TWITTER SCANDAL: Moscow mules: the left’s long romance with Russia.

[Posted by Lara Keller 10/5/18]

[Original Source = https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/moscow-mules-the-lefts-long-romance-with-russia-brqp5cw2v]

[Start Article]

By Tim Shipman, Political Editor, The Sunday Times, April 29 2018, 12:01am.

Jeremy Corbyn and his closest aide Seumas Milne have a long history of taking a more positive approach to Russia than have any other mainstream political figures.

The two share a passion for anti-colonial foreign policy stances, which has seen them explain away Russian aggression while denouncing the activities of the US, Israel and Britain.

Corbyn was a regular on RT, the Russian state-funded television channel, before he became leader. His shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has since said Labour MPs should not appear on the propaganda station, but Corbyn has refused to issue such an order.

He has also repeatedly criticised Nato, branding it “the father of the Cold War” and suggesting it should have “shut up shop” in 1990.

After the Salisbury nerve agent attack in March, Corbyn received security briefings from the government but refused to say unequivocally that Russia was behind the attempted murders and called for “dialogue with Russia”.

In the Commons, he preferred to attack the Tory party for taking donations from Russians — a move many of his MPs saw as ill-judged. Russian state media reported his comments approvingly.

In a briefing for journalists, Milne, Corbyn’s communications director, repeatedly suggested alternatives to the government’s explanation that the Russian state was responsible, including that the nerve gas attack was ordered by another former Soviet state or mafia gang.

He questioned the reliability of information from Britain’s intelligence agencies and implied that Putin was being framed.

In October 2014, just a year before he became Corbyn’s spin doctor, Milne was pictured shaking hands with Vladimir Putin at a conference in Sochi, Russia, after his invasion of Ukraine. In March 2015, Milne wrote in The Guardian that “Putin has now become a cartoon villain” in the West and blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Nato’s “anti-Russian incitement”. He later said Russia’s annexation of Crimea was “clearly defensive”.

The alliance, by embracing the Baltic nations and Ukraine, was guilty of having “marched relentlessly eastwards”, ignoring the fact that the Baltic countries joined Nato of their own freewill having spent 50 years under the Soviet yoke.

Labour MPs believe Corbyn’s approach is a legacy of Moscow’s opposition to the US in the Cold War and has led to residual support for Putin’s regime even though it is no longer communist but an authoritarian kleptocracy.

Milne wrote in 2006 that the USSR “encompassed genuine idealism”, and “helped to drive up welfare standards in the West”.

His view was shared by Corbyn, who said in 1991 that he was “concerned at the break-up of the Soviet Union” and suggested, in 2015, that the build-up of Nato forces had given Russia “more of an excuse” for its aggression in Ukraine.

Ben Nimmo, of the Atlantic Council’s digital forensic research lab, said: “The Kremlin likes politicians who are not going to be too critical of Russia.”

[End Article]

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Exposed: Russian Twitter bots tried to swing general election for Jeremy Corbyn.

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INSIGHT INVESTIGATION: Exposed: Russian Twitter bots tried to swing general election for Jeremy Corbyn (Robot accounts rooted for Labour and attacked Tories).

[Posted by Lara Keller, 7/5/18]

[Original Sourcehttps://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/exposed-russian-twitter-bots-tried-to-swing-general-election-for-jeremy-corbyn-zffv8652x]

[Note= The Sunday Times is a conservative UK newspaper, and like the rest of the right wing press in the UK it does consistently and strongly criticize the radical left Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (or indeed any Labour leader). There is a history of press attacks on the Labour party going back to the infamous “Zinoviev Letter” and the “Daily Mail” in 1924. A politically tribal response to rejecting all attacks on Corbyn by the right wing press is irresponsible. Corbyn appears to have spent decades attacking Nato and promoting polices favorable to nominally left-wing dictatorships abroad. This gives Putin a strong incentive to encourage a Corbyn lead Labour Government in the UK. Any information about this will inevitably only appear in the right wing press. Clement Atlee lead a transformative Labour Government in the UK in 1945, but he also ensured the UK responded to the hostile threat of the Soviet Union. There are good reasons to question Jeremy Corbyn’s motives and backers. This article may help, and so it is available here. LK 7/5/18]

[Start Article]

Jeremy Corbyn saw support for the Labour Party rise from 25% of the electorate to 40% over the course of last year’s election campaign. “Insight,” April 29 2018, 12:01am, The Sunday Times.

The first evidence of Russian attempts to influence the result of the general election by promoting the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has emerged in a ground-breaking investigation into social media by this newspaper.

Our research, in conjunction with Swansea University, discovered that 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts rallied behind Labour in the weeks before last year’s election, helping supportive messages to reach millions of voters and denigrating its Conservative rivals.

Many of the Russian accounts can clearly be identified as internet robots — known as bots — that masqueraded under female English names but were in fact mass-produced to bombard the public with orchestrated political messages.

Academics say the fake accounts identified by this newspaper are just the tip of the iceberg and called on Twitter to investigate fully the true scale of Russian meddling in British politics.

Our investigation found overwhelming support for Corbyn and Labour from the Russian social media accounts with nine out of 10 messages about the party promoting its campaign. Conversely, nine out of 10 tweets about the Conservatives were hostile.

We found that 80% of the automated accounts had been created in the weeks before the vote on June 8 and swung into action at key points during the campaign. There was evidence that Russian social media accounts:

• Piled in with retweets praising Labour and deriding the Conservatives in equal measure on May 18 — the day Theresa May launched her party’s manifesto

• Retweeted publicity and support for Corbyn’s rallies around the country which became a phenomenon of the campaign, drawing unusually large crowds

• Helped Corbyn turn the Manchester Arena bombing into a campaigning point by amplifying tweets criticising May for cutting police numbers while she had been home secretary

• Retweeted attacks on May for her refusal to engage in television debates with Corbyn, while criticising the media for being too harsh on the Labour leader

• Brought their campaign to a climax on polling day — when the UK media is not allowed to report — with a series of messages urging Labour supporters to vote.

The election proved to be an extraordinary success personally for Corbyn, who saw his party’s support rise from 25% to 40% over the course of the campaign — the largest surge in support during a modern election.

Matt Hancock, the digital and culture secretary, called on Twitter to reveal the scale of the problem and act to prevent it from happening again. “These new revelations are extremely concerning,” he said. “It is absolutely unacceptable for any nation to attempt to interfere in the democratic elections of another country. The social media companies need to act to safeguard our democratic discourse and reveal what they know.”

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Russia has already been accused of using such tactics to back Donald Trump in the 2016 American presidential election. This is the first time, however, that such Russian cyber-tactics have been documented in the 2017 UK general election, which saw Corbyn defy all predictions.

The Labour leader has faced repeated criticism for his reluctance to strongly condemn Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, over the Salisbury nerve agent attacks last month.

Our team of researchers found 16,000 Russian bots had been tweeting on British politics since April last year. We narrowed our study, however, to a sample of 20,000 tweets from Russia collected by Swansea University and posted in the four weeks before the general election so that we could assess each individual message’s political slant.

The academics from Swansea say the sample reflected only a fraction of social media content on the election and therefore believe the stark findings are evidence of an attempt to influence British politics on a grander scale.

Professor Oleksandr Talavera, the Swansea University economist who collected the data, said: “The samples provide evidence that Russian-language bots were used deliberately to try to influence the election in favour of Labour and against the Conservatives.

“The data represents just a small random sample and therefore the Russian-language automated bot behaviour we have observed is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg of their general election operation.”

Our researchers were able to establish that the messages were broadcast by thousands of automated bot accounts created in the months before the election.

Hundreds of the Twitter accounts were created simultaneously and displayed clear identifying factors. One of the most common was the use of 15-character alphanumeric user names with a false western woman’s name attached — even though they listed their first language as Russian.

At times, they tweeted the same messages in unison. Many were retweets from Labour Twitter accounts including Corbyn’s own and those of Labour-supporting unions and the grassroots campaign group Momentum in an apparent attempt to amplify the party’s message.

The bots were quick to leap to Corbyn’s defence when needed. When Corbyn was criticised in the campaign for failing to know the cost of one of his key policies, a gang of 34 accounts masquerading as women retweeted the same message simultaneously saying the media should respect the Labour leader.

Damian Collins, the Conservative MP who chairs the culture, media and sport select committee, said he would challenge Twitter on the findings as part of his committee’s inquiry into social media disinformation.

“Any Russian interference in the politics of the UK is a breach of our election law and something we’ve got to act to stop,” he said.

In response to our story, the Labour Party suggested that the Russian government had supported the Conservative Party during the election. A spokesman said: “Labour’s proposed crackdown on tax dodging, failed privatisation and corrupt oligarchs is opposed by both May and Putin’s conservative philosophy and their super-rich supporters.

“The Labour Party’s people-powered election campaign attracted huge levels of public support online. We were not aware of any from automated bots, categorically did not pay for any and are not aware of any of our supporters doing so.”

Twitter said its work to fight malicious bots “goes beyond any one specific election, event, or time period”. It had spent years working to identify and remove such accounts and was continuing the improvement of its internal systems “to detect and prevent new forms of spam and malicious automation”.

[End Article]

How Russian bots invaded Twitter to fight in Jeremy Corbyn’s army.

corbynGoodResultsElction2017 - Copy

INSIGHT INVESTIGATION: How Russian bots invaded Twitter to fight in Jeremy Corbyn’s army.

[Posted by Lara Keller, 7/5/18]
[Original Source = https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/invasion-of-the-russian-twitter-bots-to-fight-in-jeremy-corbyns-army-78966pjrk]

[Note= The Sunday Times is a conservative UK newspaper, and like the rest of the right wing press in the UK it does consistently and strongly criticize the radical left Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (or indeed any Labour leader). There is a history of press attacks on the Labour party going back to the infamous “Zinoviev Letter” and the “Daily Mail” in 1924. A politically tribal response to rejecting all attacks on Corbyn by the right wing press is irresponsible. Corbyn appears to have spent decades attacking Nato and promoting polices favorable to nominally left-wing dictatorships abroad. This gives Putin a strong incentive to encourage a Corbyn lead Labour Government in the UK. Any information about this will inevitably only appear in the right wing press. Clement Atlee lead a transformative Labour Government in the UK in 1945, but he also ensured the UK responded to the hostile threat of the Soviet Union. There are good reasons to question Jeremy Corbyn’s motives and backers. This article may help, and so it is available here. LK 7/5/18]

[Start Article]

It was a stunning election comeback by Labour — but there were Russians in its ranks, reports “Insight”, April 29 2018, 12:01am, The Sunday Times.

It was the moment that brought a tear to the eye of the prime minister. At 10pm on June 8, 2017, a shock exit poll revealed that Theresa May’s seemingly well-judged gamble of bolstering her majority with a snap general election had backfired.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had defied expectations. When the campaign began there had been a widespread belief that he was unelectable and his demise would be swift following the inevitable Conservative landslide.

But the campaign changed that: Corbyn lifted Labour support from 25% to 40%. The party’s gains cemented the most unlikely political transformation in decades, elevating Corbyn to a serious contender whose name would be sung with cult-like reverence when he appeared on stage at the Glastonbury festival a fortnight later.

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The causes of the result are still being debated. Was it the galvanisation of the youth vote, did May run a lacklustre campaign or were the polls wrong from the beginning?

One question has been largely overlooked, until now. Did Moscow attempt to influence the British general election by using social media in the same way that it tried to boost the fortunes of Donald Trump during the 2016 American elections?

A ground-breaking investigation by The Sunday Times in conjunction with Swansea University has found the first strong evidence that large numbers of mechanised Russian social media accounts attempted to influence the result during the seven-week campaign.

Our research suggests there was an orchestrated attempt to propel Corbyn into Downing Street by bombarding the public with positive messages in support of Labour, using Twitter accounts that were mostly created after the election was suggested early last year.

At the same time, the Russian accounts identified in our research disseminated a deluge of negative propaganda against Labour’s main rival, the Conservatives. Comments such as “The Tories are literally killing our children” were retweeted by mechanised Russian accounts using fake English-sounding women’s names.

Professor Oleksandr Talavera, the Swansea University economist who collected the data, said: “The samples provide evidence that Russian language bots were used deliberately to try to influence the election in favour of Labour and against the Conservatives.

“The data represents just a small random sample and therefore the Russian-language automated bot behaviour we have observed is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg of their general election operation.”

Our research centred on millions of election tweets collected by Swansea University during the campaign. We narrowed them down to a sample of 20,000 tweets from accounts using Russian language or Russian place names that were posted in the four weeks leading up to the election. We employed a team of researchers to read each one to assess whether they were positive or negative for the main political parties.

We discovered that many of the messages were retweets sent by thousands of mechanised Twitter accounts — commonly known as bots. Most of the 6,500 Russian accounts supporting Labour were bots. They were typically created in huge batches at similar times in the lead-up to the election and were later suspended by Twitter’s moderators or shut themselves down.

These accounts were often easy for our researchers to identify because they frequently hid behind 15-character user names that contained a mixture of numbers and letters in upper and lower case. On some occasions they retweeted the same message of support within seconds of each other.

The results were stark. Nine out of 10 of the messages that expressed an opinion on Labour were positive and conversely nine out of 10 which mentioned the Conservatives were negative. The interest in the other main political parties appeared minor.

The story of the Russian attempt to influence the election begins on March 6 last year, when William Hague, the former foreign secretary, set a hare running in the Conservative Party by suggesting that the prime minister should take advantage of Corbyn’s dwindling support by calling an early general election.

Over the next 24 hours an army of Russian bot accounts was created. They were uniformly western women’s names accompanied by alphanumeric usernames and, although the principal language for the accounts was Russian, many claimed they were in the Pacific time zone. They would later take an unusual interest in the British general election.

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The next month, after the prime minister stood outside Downing Street to announce the election, there was a series of new spikes in the creation of bot accounts identified by our researchers.

Many older accounts were also reinvigorated. Two days after the election announcement, Nikola from Moscow retweeted Corbyn: “They’ve broken their promises for seven years. How can we believe a word they say over the next seven weeks?” And AlecMoooody from the US retweeted a message railing against Corbyn’s alleged censorship by the BBC using the hashtag “Corbyn4PM”.

In evidence to the US Congress, Twitter would later identify both those accounts as creations of the Internet Research Agency, a shadowy company in St Petersburg that employs hundreds of “trolls” to post Kremlin propaganda on social media. During the American elections the agency waged a campaign of messages supporting Donald Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton.

The Russian bots identified by our researchers followed a similar pattern in the UK election. Over and over again, they amplified tweets that supported Labour and those that attacked the Conservatives, helping the spread of the messages to hundreds, thousands and possibly millions of people. Much of the propaganda centred on key events in the election. At the times when the bots spread positivity for Labour, they would also spread almost equal amounts of negativity for the Conservatives.

So when the Conservatives launched their election manifesto on May 18 the bots stepped up the output of pro-Labour tweets and were withering about the Tories. For example, “Gabrielle Wilson” retweeted a message criticising Theresa May because that “manifesto abandons older people & will do nothing to address inequality”.

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On closer inspection, Wilson’s first language was Russian and her account had an alphanumeric Twitter username of 15 characters, @NR2AtERXvfDy0Nx, which was the hallmark of many of the bots identified in our research. Her account has been suspended by Twitter.

The Manchester terrorist attack four days later was another opportunity for the bots to engage in British politics. They retweeted Corbyn’s condolences to the victims’ families and in the following days, one, entitled simply “Denis”, repeated the Labour leader’s calls for May to resign over cuts in police numbers.

The Denis account was curious. It was written in Russian Cyrillic characters and while the name was a man’s, the main photo was of a blonde woman. It also contained several pornographic images and positive messages about Trump — again a common feature linking some of the bot networks.

As the campaign developed, so did the growing cult of personality surrounding Corbyn. Rallies around the country would see unusual surges of support as social media came alive with the news that the Labour leader was in town.

Labour claimed this support was “organic”. The more the public saw the man and heard his message, they argued, the more they liked him. That may well have been true but our research also shows he was given significant assistance by the bots from Russia.

They avidly retweeted his personal Twitter account and broadcast his movements around the UK. In early June, “Lillian Morgan” retweeted a message from the pro-Kremlin broadcaster Russia Today inviting people to watch Corbyn’s speech in Reading. The event drew comment in the newspapers because a surprisingly large crowd attended during a workday lunchtime.

On closer inspection, Morgan’s username was @sMzNFVr7wWkTW04, her account was created in Russian and it was suspended at some point after she had tweeted. She was a bot.

The same family of bots were quick to defend the Labour leader whenever he found himself in hot water. The day before the Reading rally, Corbyn was pilloried for a disastrous interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour when he appeared unsure about the cost of his plans to provide free childcare.

Within hours, the bots started to weigh in heavily on Corbyn’s behalf. “JeremyCorbyn deserves the #respect of the #media and fellow #politicians,” retweeted “Heather”, “Hayley” and “Noelle” a few hours later at exactly the same time.

In fact, in our sample there were 34 accounts with similar-sounding English female names who retweeted this identical message that day in two batches less than 10 minutes apart. All the women were Russian speakers and their accounts had come into existence over the course of two days in the fourth week of the election campaign. They also all contained the familiar 15-character alphanumeric username and would later vanish from the Twittersphere.

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By election day, the bots were again engaged imploring Labour supporters to get out and vote. “Jessica Langdon” was up early retweeting a message from the Corbyn-supporting journalist Owen Jones that said: “The Tories think they’re going to win big. Ring your friends, talk to your workmates, talk to younger voters. Tick tock.”

Ben Nimmo, of the Atlantic Council’s digital forensic research lab, told this newspaper that the evidence suggested the bots has been used in “a dedicated effort” to influence the election.

“If you compare the rhetoric on Russia from Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May it’s pretty obvious which one’s the Kremlin’s going to prefer,” he said.

He added, however, that the effectiveness of the bots and the precise role, if any, of President Vladimir Putin’s government in this attempt were questions that remained. The election did, however, provide the most extraordinary result. Written off at the outset, Corbyn defied his doubters and increased Labour’s share of the vote by more than any other Labour leader since 1945.

Election surprises

  • Labour won the social media war because more people shared its posts even though the Tories outspent them on Facebook adverts
  • When terrorists struck in Manchester and London Bridge, it was assumed Theresa May would benefit but Jeremy Corbyn gained support by focusing on police cuts
  • Corbyn made rallies a campaign priority — and gathered crowds of 1,000 people with a few tweets
  • Student turnout helped Labour win key seats such as Canterbury

“INSIGHT” RESEARCH TEAM: George Arbuthnott, Jonathan Calvert, Krystina Shveda, Louis Goddard, Mary O’Connor, Katie Weston, Malik Ouzia, Rebecca Gualandi, Rosie Bradbury

[End Article]

The far-right influence in pro-Kremlin media and political networks.

The far-right influence in pro-Kremlin media and political networks. Alexander Reid Ross. 8/2/2018

[Source= https://louisproyect.org/2018/03/19/the-far-right-influence-in-pro-kremlin-media-and-political-networks/ ]

In an editorial published on Monday, January 15, Russia Insider, one of the most important pro-Russia news and analysis hubs in the West, declared, “hostility to Putin’s Russia is largely a Jewish phenomenon.”

Penned by founding editor, Charles Bausman, the 5,000-word editorial drew positive responses from a number of important sources. Alt-Right.com announced “Russia Insider Decides to Go Alt-Right,” while Unz.com proclaimed that Bausman had “named the Jews” and far-right Congressional hopeful Paul Nehlen called it an “excellent article” and “a useful jumping off point for the ‘discussion’ we must have[.] The ensuing attention and compliments indicate the prevalence of far-right politics amid pro-Kremlin media and political networks.

Bausman’s antisemitic screed first lists well-worn euphemisms used by antisemites in lieu of naming Jews, including ‘Zionists’, ‘elites’, ‘global elites’, ‘globalists’, ‘neocons’, ‘liberal interventionists’, ‘the war party’, ‘the Israel lobby’, ‘the deep state’, ‘bankers’ and ‘new world order’. [see Note 1]

Indulging his theory, Bausman blames Jews for the Bolshevik terror, remarking that “much of the Bolshevik leadership was Jewish, in particular, Trotsky,” along with members of the secret police. He claims “cursory evidence” supports this theory, adding that “Henry Ford was heavily influenced by this view,” and “the German National Socialist movement became radically more antisemitic in reaction to this interpretation.” [see Note 2]

The antisemitic conspiracy theory alleging that Jews used the Soviet Union to undermine the Russian “ethnos” is prominent among so-called “National Bolsheviks” — fascists who insist that an ultranationalist version of the Soviet Union would restore ethnic Russianness through a return to traditional society. Leading “National Bolshevik,” Aleksandr Dugin, has spearheaded influential initiatives to support Kremlin-centered “geopolitics” oriented toward a “Eurasian” spiritual empire stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Dugin has featured as a prominent figure among the pro-Kremlin far-right, including the alt-right, as well as news sites like Fort-Russ, RT, and Russia Insider.

Continuing in this vein, the editor of Russia Insider declares, “We follow the Alt-Right media and republish the occasional article, and they are invariably very popular on Russia Insider — largely, I think, because they are offering a fresh point of view, and talking about vitally important issues others refuse to address.” Bausman praises, in particular, racist alt-right podcasts like “Fash the Nation” and Richard Spencer’s “Alt Right Politics.”

Bausman’s editorial prompted a cautiously complimentary letter-to-the-editor from Gilbert Doctorow, a retired Brussels-based businessman who writes for Consortium News and cofounded the revived American Committee for East-West Accord (ACEWA).

Doctorow has been featured as a writer for Russia Insider since the site’s early days in 2014, penning such articles as “Twilight of the Gods: George Soros in Brussels,” and Bausman’s antisemitic editorial clearly reflected on Doctorow’s own career. In response, Doctorow wrote to Russia Insider, “for the sake of argument I will concede to you [Bausman] the point that Jewish controlled media have been a big factor in the hate-Russia mania that sweeps America today.”

“The overriding point that I wish to make here is that the anti-Russian rant from Jewish politicians and media moguls are only one of several contributing factors to the Russia-bashing that is going on,” Doctorow continued.

Arguing that Jews abandoning the Soviet Union in the late-19th Century and again in the 1970s held a grudge against Russia for their own inability to climb the financial ladder in the U.S., Doctorow’s letter proceeds, “In the big picture, the Jews are only one of several ethnic-religious groups or nationalities who left what was the Russian Empire or the Soviet Empire, and have been making trouble for Russia ever since. Therein lies the problem.” Doctorow’s letter concludes, “I stress that the issues raised in your [Bausman’s] editorial essay are serious and demand multi-disciplinary and multi-sided examination.”

The American committee.

In 2014, Doctorow agreed to help jump-start the long-dormant American Committee for East-West Accord (ACEWA) with original member, NYU and Princeton University professor emeritus and contributing editor of The Nation, Stephen F. Cohen. Originally a group of academics, leftists, politicians and business leaders supporting Nixon’s policies of détente with Russia, the ACEWA’s new manifestation currently includes on its board such prestigious figures as Chuck Hagel, former ambassadors Jack Matlock and William vanden Heuvel, and Senator Bill Bradley.

From the start, the ACEWA afforded Doctorow the pretext to bring far-right and left-wing politicians together for public gatherings. On December 2, 2014, Doctorow launched the European branch of the ACEWA at the Brussels Press Club with a Round Table that included two left-wing members of the European Parliament and far-right Front National MEP Aymeric Chauprade
[better alt link= Aymeric Chauprade].

Then Marine Le Pen’s advisor on international relations, Chauprade had recently returned from Crimea where he served as an election “observer” for the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections led by Belgian fascist Luc Michel and joined by fascists Enrique Ravello and Valerio Cignetti. Far-right monitoring group Berliner Osteuropa-Experten called the ACEWA’s European launch, “a little Querfront
[better alt links= Berliner Osteuropa-Experten and Querfront].

Registering as an ACEWA lobbyist in the European Union on March 1, 2015, Doctorow hosted another Brussels Round Table the next day featuring co-author of the controversial text, The Israel Lobby, John Mearsheimer, as well as editor and publisher of The Nation, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and her husband Dr. Cohen. [see Note 3]

The YouTube video of Mearsheimer’s speech appeared with a bullet-point summary on Russia Insider, which declared, “We owe a special thanks to Gilbert Doctorow, our invaluable RI [Russia Insider] contributor and moderator of this round table, for providing us with the video material.”

Two weeks later, Doctorow flew to Washington, D.C., for the U.S.-Russia Forum as a representative of the ACEWA. There, in the Central Hearing Facility (Room 216) of the Hart Senate Office Building, immediately following a speech from Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Doctorow appeared on a panel with Cohen and Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to decry anti-Putin sentiment.

After a short coffee break, the audience returned to the illustrious room to see Katrina vanden Heuvel moderate a panel on alternative media featuring the late Robert Parry of Consortium News, which is apparently Russia Insider’s fiscal sponsor. In the next time slot, Bausman took to the podium to give a presentation boasting of Russia Insider’s three million views per month during its first six months of existence. Today, both the homepage and the speakers’ page of the Russia Forum’s website feature Basuman’s photo in the banner image.

That September, Doctorow was back in Belgium, where he chaired another ACEWA Round Table featuring contributions from EU politicians and such academics as Richard Sakawa, a participant in Russia’s elite Valdai Discussion Club, and The Israel Lobby’s other co-author Stephen Walt. [see again Note 3]

As the U.S. presidential campaign of 2016 heated up, the ACEWA argued that Trump proposed a “new détente-like relationship” with Putin’s Russia, while deriding Clinton’s platform. On July 12, Doctorow’s branch of the ACEWA screened a film against the anti-corruption Magnitsky Act at the Brussels Press Club featuring a Q&A with the film’s director, Andrei Nekrasov, as advertised on the ACEWA website.

Following Trump’s election, Doctorow’s signature appeared on a letter published in TheNation with Noam Chomsky, whom he had criticized in a 2014 Nation article for being too slow to embrace Putin’s Russia, and four prestigious members of the European political community calling for a new détente in Europe. Doctorow left the ACEWA around March, 2017 to pursue other interests. He has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Ongoing relationships.

Until January 19, 2018, the ACEWA’s website carried some 66 articles by Doctorow crossposted from websites like Consortium News and the Washington Times. The most recent piece from Doctorow was posted at ACEWA less than a month before time of writing. As of January 19, 2018, however, Doctorow’s content appears to have been scrubbed. Nevertheless, the overlap between articles posted by ACEWA and Russia Insider remains significant, and Consortium News remains one of the 14 sites shortlisted under the ACEW’s “additional resources.”

In a phone conversation with Hatewatch, Cohen said that he “kept up a personal correspondence with [Doctorow] about things that interest both of us, mainly Russia,” and that Doctorow resigned from the ACEWA “because he found it constraining,” not due to any “specific policy disagreement” or “anything personal.” According to Cohen, antisemitism never arose as an issue in his experience with Doctorow or in Doctorow’s role regarding the ACEWA.

However, along with his confab with Chauprade at the ACEWA’s launch in Brussels, Doctorow’s writings while representing the ACEWA indicate that his relationship to the far-right remained relatively consistent, insofar as he supported neo-Eurasianist geopolitical strategy against the North Atlantic as a ballast of national interest against the “tyranny” of “universal values.”

Doctorow’s piece published at Consortium News on June 3, 2016, for instance, lauds a former-member of Poland’s fascist Association for Tradition and Culture “Niklot” named Mateusz Piskorski as “an outstanding spokesman of the minority view and founder of the Zmiana (or Change) party.” According to researcher of far-right networks, Anton Shekhovtsov, Zmiana is an attempt to “combine Polish right-wing and left-wing extremists,” and one of its leaders, Bartosz Bekier, also heads up Poland’s fascist Falanga.

Also a veteran of the far-right Self-Defence party, Piskorski’s European Center for Geopolitical Analysis is connected to Dugin’s Eurasian Youth Union, a relationship consummated as early as 2004 during Piskorski’s efforts to “oversee” elections throughout Eastern Europe. More recently, he joined Chauprade in Michel’s fascist-laden, Russia-funded Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections, overseeing the illegal Crimean “referendum.”

James Carden, editor of the ACEWA’s website, stated by email, “The ACEWA, its website, and Stephen F. Cohen have had no direct relationship with Russia Insider and/or with Charles Bausman.” However, Doctorow’s relationship with Russia Insider while operating as ACEWA’s European coordinator belies this denial, as exhibited by the video that appeared on Russia Insider of ACEWA’s Round Table with special thanks to Doctorow.

Far-right and pro-Putin networks.

As the diagram below shows, when the site metrics search engine Alexa runs an audience overlap comparison using only Russia Insider, their apparent fiscal sponsor at Consortium News, Bausman’s friend at pro-Russia site, The Saker, and ACEWA-linked magazine, The Nation, three different audience clusters emerge: (1) a largely direct Russian propaganda cluster; (2) a mostly U.S.-based cluster of conspiracist sites and syncretic left-right geopolitics sites; (3) a more mainstream cluster of sites thought to be far more credible than the latter two.

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Doctorow’s activity as a writer and political operative indicate a capacity to triangulate a syncretic left-right movement against liberalism based on trans-national connections between media and politics. However, he, Consortium, and Russia Insider intimate the broader problem that the conduits of “geopolitical” ideology from Russian media to pro-Russian sites and the U.S. mainstream can serve as a Trojan horse for fascist tendencies and sympathies.

Pro-Putin networks like RT and Sputnik, which have played host to far-right commentators like Dugin, Richard Spencer and German neo-Eurasianist Manuel Ochsenreiter serve as vehicles for far-right ideologies laundered into US news and commentary sites under the auspices of geopolitical commentary. Unfortunately, the Left has not launched a serious effort to disconnect from collaborations with far-right groups in the context of networks that support and are often supported by Putin’s Russia. This situation has caused influential bodies like the ACEWA to facilitate the growth of transnational, far-right politics and, more specifically, the fascist neo-Eurasianist movement.

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End Article
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Note 1
The author is quoting directly from Charles Bausman’s article. It is true as the author states that “antisemities” use “Zionists” and “Israel Lobby” to mean “Jews”.

It should be noted there are at least four ways the terms “Zionism” and “Israel Lobby” are used and abused:

1. There are then many far-right groups who use “Zionist” and “Israel Lobby” to mean “Jews”, and then make wild Anti-Zionist statements because they are basically Anti-Semitic and cannot directly abuse Jewish people. [This is the way Charles Bausman is using these terms.]

2. Many Zionist groups state wildly that “Zionism” and “Israel Lobby” are only ever used to mean “Jews” and being Anti-Zionist means being Anti-Semitic, which is mostly mere rhetoric to divert attention from Israeli oppression of Palestinians. [Assume this is NOT the opinion of the author.]

3. Pro-Palestinian groups use “Zionism” and “Israel Lobby” to describe real entities, which they have legitimate reasons to accuse of being racist.

4. There are other far-right groups who are pro-Zionist and are uncritical of “Zionism” and the “Israel lobby”, because they are Islamophobic and approve of Israel as a powerful modern country implementing racist policies.

Any article that appears to be pro-Zionist and that is also critical of the racism of far-right groups will be seen as contradictory. Any such article can then be too easily and wrongly dismissed as pro-Zionist hyperbole. [LK 16/4/18]

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Note 2
The author does not give a direct link to the article in russia-insider.com. This article is repeated on many other far-right website and blogs. The “It’s Time to Drop the Jewish Taboo” by Charles Bausman article starts with a plea against political correctness and quickly moves on to an insane highly selective diatribe against a phantom all powerful “Jewish Lobby” that it claims wants to destroy Russia and the World. Here are some of the links to this article:
https://russia-insider.com/en/its-time-drop-jew-taboo/ri22186
https://www.veteranstoday.com/2018/01/18/its-time-to-drop-the-jew-taboo/
https://www.defendevropa.org/2018/other-news/time-drop-jew-taboo/
http://themillenniumreport.com/2018/01/its-time-to-drop-the-jew-taboo/
https://www.theburningplatform.com/2018/01/18/its-time-to-drop-the-jew-taboo/
[LK 16/4/18]

——

Note 3
Unsure what the author is saying about Professor John Mearsheimer and Professor Stephen Walt 2006 book “The Israel Lobby”. This appears a measured academic work that presents the “Israel lobby” in the US and elsewhere as a powerful interest group, rather than some all powerful conspiracy. On the other hand John Mearsheimer has given limited praise to Gilad Atzmon’s book “The Wandering Who” as “fascinating and provocative”. Unsure if John Mearsheimer is comparable to the extremist self-hating antisemitic Gilad Atzmon. Professor Stephen Walt has expressed reasonable criticism of Israel. He has however written a puff piece about Gaddafi’s Libya, and promotes non intervention in Syria. Both these academics belong to the so called “realist” amoral school of international relations. The author describes Doctorow as creating a “Querfront” (cross extreme right-left political front). Doctorow’s ACEWA front appears to be pulling in US academics and journalists on the political edges of the mainstream rather than extremists as such.
[LK 16/4/18]

The Internet Research Agency: behind the shadowy network that meddled in the 2016 Elections

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The Internet Research Agency: behind the shadowy network that meddled in the 2016 Elections

Date: February 21, 2018 Author: Alexander Reid Ross

[Source = https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/21/internet-research-agency-behind-shadowy-network-meddled-2016-elections]
[Web Archive = https://web.archive.org/web/20180312114400/https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/21/internet-research-agency-behind-shadowy-network-meddled-2016-elections]

Special counsel Robert Mueller, Jr., indicted 13 agents from the Saint Petersburg based Internet Research Agency last Friday, but the shadowy figures behind the organization remain obscure.

Tracing those involved leads to an intriguing web of far-right paramilitary groups, think tanks and institutes directed by a trans-national, far right network of oligarchs, politicians and media figures.

The Internet Research Agency was founded and led by Evgeny Prigozhin, a catering industry mogul known by some as “Putin’s chef.” Prigozhin met Putin as his financial success through the St. Petersburg gambling business brought increased influence and lucrative state contracts. Two years after conceiving of the Internet Research Agency during the protests of 2011, Prigozhin opened the “Kharkiv news agency” in opposition to the 2013 Euromaidan movement.

Prigozhin is also tied to the conception and funding of a semi-private military company called “Wagner” known to have operated both in Ukraine and Syria under Dmitry Utkin, a man notorious for his “adherence to the aesthetics and ideology of the Third Reich.” Wagner Private Military Company is said to be co-sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Defense and to have participated in the military occupation of Crimea. The U.S. sanctioned Prigozhin in 2014, stating, “a company with significant ties to him holds a contract to build a military base near the Russian Federation border with Ukraine.”

Analysis by U.S. Strategic Command from 2015, revealed that Prigozhin’s Internet Research Agency was an important site in a larger network. Its $1.25 million per month budget and some 80 employees helped its “Translator Project” act as a force multiplier for a host of pro-Kremlin sites, articles, and people linked to syncretic think tanks and institutes bridging far-right interests from Russia to the U.S. as an extension of “hybrid warfare.”

Perhaps most interestingly, the Translator Project allegedly set up fake far-right and left-wing groups like “Secured Borders,” “Blacktivist,” “United Muslims of America” and “Heart of Texas,” advertised them, and deceived hundreds of thousands of people into joining them. In one astonishing case, unwitting members of a Russian troll page were led to stage an armed, Islamophobic protest in Houston.

The strategy: managed nationalism and hybrid warfare

A clue as to the strategy of the Internet Research Agency can be found among the leading members under indictment. Around the time their employee Anna Bogacheva allegedly visited the U.S. in 2014 to gather intelligence, she registered a PR firm called IT Debugger with Mikhail Potepkin, a former leader of the violent, far-right youth brigade, Nashi.

Developed along with several other youth brigades linked to the Kremlin during a short period between 2004 and 2005, Nashi formed part of what then-First Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration Vladislav Surkov called “managed nationalism.” Concerned about a possible “Color Revolution” in Russia, Surkov hoped to simulate an opposition movement and keep the public under the Kremlin’s control.

“Managed nationalism” and Surkov’s analysis of “network structures” paved the way for a strategy penned in 2013 by Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of the Armed Forces of Russia. Now known as the Gerasimov Doctrine, The New York Times called it “RT, Sputnik, and Russia’s new theory of war.” In Gerasimov’s words, “The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures—applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population.”

By the time Hillary Clinton received the official nomination of her party, strategy papers produced by the Kremlin-linked think tank Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) had specifically called on the Kremlin to dedicate such “applied methods” to “a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama,” according to Reuters.

An Elite Club”

Longtime political operator in the Russian far-right, Aleksander Dugin, has worked for most of the past three decades to develop syncretic, left-right cooperation among anti-liberal opposition groups throughout the world. His influence on, and involvement in, “managed nationalism” and the Gerasimov Doctrine is consistent with his agency in the network that influenced the 2016 elections.

Shortly after Gerasimov published his doctrine, Dugin’s efforts came to a head. He sent his associate Georgiy Gavrish a memo listing a number of pro-Russia political leaders on the European far right and left. Intent on making Moscow the “New Rome” of a spiritual empire of federated ethnostates from Dublin to Vladivastok and stretching south to the Indian Ocean, Dugin’s main aspiration lay in consolidating support networks for the Kremlin and developing ideological unity for his “Eurasianist” geopolitics.

Dugin’s efforts produced a “think tank” called Katehon with influential board members including a senior member of Putin’s Yedinaya Rossiya party and Leonid Reshetnikov, then the leader of the RISS. Reshetnikov is infamous for complaining in February 2016 that WWII was “orchestrated” by “the upper crust of the Anglo-Saxon elite” and is believed by officials to have sponsored a coup attempt that October to prevent Montenegro from joining NATO.

Another member of Katehon’s board, Lyndon LaRouche associate Sergei Glazyev, co-founded the far-right Rodina (Motherland) Party with Dugin, which in 2014 to 2015 led conferences and coordinating groups including members of the racist “alt-right” and the U.S. left that helped prepare the networks Dugin sought.

At the helm of Katehon’s board sits Dugin’s associate Konstantin Malofeev. Known as the “Orthodox Oligarch” for his far-right political positions and proximity to the Russian Orthodox Church, Malofeev was sanctioned by the U.S. for allegedly bankrolling the pro-Russia separatists in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea where Wagner Company operated. Aleksandr Borodai, the first prime minister of the Donetsk Republic, and Igor Strelkov, its first minister of defense, served as Malofeev’s former PR man and security chief, respectively.

The U.S. connection

Many of the crucial connections between the Katehon network and the Western far-right can be found through their mutual commitments to the anti-LGBQT hate group, World Congress of Families. When Stephen Bannon delivered a speech on the merits of Dugin and fascist occultist Julius Evola in June 2014 to high-level members of the World Congress of Families in the Vatican, he effectively endorsed the guiding “Eurasianist” spirit behind Katehon.

Bannon’s speech came in the middle of a four-year period during which Robert Mercer paid him to work for an anti-Clinton group. Also the primary funder of Breitbart News, Mercer was a member of the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP), which supported Trump staunchly during the 2016 elections and is heavily involved in the World Congress of Families.

The CNP has a long history of bridging U.S. and Russian far-right interests, dating back to when its founder Paul Weyrich and executive committee member Robert Kriebel helped launch the career of pro-Russia lobbyist Edward Lozansky — a man who would take a leading role in feeding the troll armies of the far right nearly 30 years later.

Deeply connected to the U.S. far-right, Lozansky founded a dubious think tank eventually named the American University in Moscow “on the same floor as the Heritage Foundation.” Through his organizations, Lozansky has hosted conferences and an annual event known as the World Russia Forum. Featuring speakers like Chuck Grassley, Jeff Sessions and Dana Rohrabacher, the World Russia Forum and Lozansky’s Russia House enjoy a high profile inside the Beltway of Washington, DC. However, there is a more obscure side to the Russia Forum and its related American University in Moscow.

Lozansky’s syncretic fellows

Lozansky’s American University in Moscow has become a crucial hub for the cultivation of editors and journalists behind key “fake news” sites propagated by the “Translation Project.” The list of “Fellows” at his institution is a rogues gallery of syncretic pro-Kremlin spin doctors:

Other pro-Kremlin Fellows listed by Lozansky’s American University in Moscow, Darren Spinck, James Jatras and Anthony Salvia are partners in pro-Kremlin groups like the American Institute in Ukraine and the PR group, Global Strategic Communications Group, which sold its services to Rodina during a period when Rodina’s deputies signed a petition to ban Jews from Russia and the party was proscribed from the Duma elections for virulently racist campaign ads.

Aside from contributing to Global Independent Analytics with Armstrong, Jatras also served as a witness for the defense at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic and is featured on a number of YouTube videos posted by Katehon.

The red-brown creep

Lozansky has a long and extensive relationship with Dugin, hosting him at influential conferences in 2004 and 2005, along with red-brown propagandist Aleksandr Prokhanov, Rodina leader Dmitri Rogozin, and other éminences grises of the U.S. and Russian far-right.

In September 2008, Lozansky joined Dugin for a conference with far-right figures such as fascist creator of the European New Right Alain de Benoist, Duginist Israeli far-right leader Avigdor Eskin and Israel Shamir, a holocaust denying antisemite who would later become the Russian emissary for Wikileaks. Within a few weeks, Dugin and Lozansky appeared together on the TV program “Three Corners” for a discussion on the merits of “soft power.”

“In our world (we are talking about the information space) ideas can also play a bigger role,” Lozansky cautioned, “even more important than guns and missiles.”

A week after the Crimea crisis touched off in April 2014, Lozansky’s heavy frame was hunched over a long conference table across from Dugin in a cramped, stuffy conference room. They were discussing the role of media in the “New Cold War.”

The next September, Lozansky moderated a roundtable discussion at the World Russia Forum to consider a “Proposal to Establish ‘Committee for East – West Accord.’” Co-moderated by American University in Moscow Fellow Gilbert Doctorow, the roundtable featured leading Duginist Andrew Korybko, as well as a number of professors from U.S. and Russian institutions. The U.S. side of the Committee would be spearheaded by professor and contributing editor of The Nation, Stephen F. Cohen, along with an influential board including former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former ambassadors William vanden Heuvel and Jack Matlock.

That month, Cohen’s associate Doctorow helped editor Charles Bausman create the antisemitic website Russia Insider. Soon after, Doctorow joined alternative journalism site Consortium News, which accepts tax-deductible donations for Russia Insider as a fiscal sponsor. Doctorow and Lozansky went on to write three articles together in the Washington Times. Russia Insider features a contact form to get in touch with Lozansky through their website. However, when Hatewatch wrote to Lozansky using Russia Insider’s contact form, we received no response. Within 24 hours, Lozansky’s website, RussiaHouse.org, mysteriously went dark.

An information shell game

While the Kremlin’s propagandists disseminate half-truths, distortions and lies, they rely on sites like Consortium News, Russia Insider, Global Independent Analytics and The Duran to adopt their narratives and “launder” them so that “the original source… is either forgotten or impossible to determine,” according to expert on the far right Anton Shekhovtsov’s latest book, Russia and the Western Far Right. This project utilizes what national security site War on the Rocks calls “‘gray’ measures, which employ less overt outlets controlled by Russia, as well as so-called useful idiots that regurgitate Russian themes and ‘facts’ without necessarily taking direction from Russia or collaborating in a fully informed manner.”

By election season, the network of “less overt” sites had developed behavior patterns and positions spurred on by the troll factory: they supported the illegal Crimea referendum, denied the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and denigrated Syria’s humanitarian White Helmets. They also often operated as connectors to far-right sites like Breitbart News and conspiracy-theory site, Infowars, which crossposted more than 1,000 RT articles between 2014 and 2017 and published two interviews with Dugin last year.

Such apparent unity of action and intent may have also occurred because the “fake news” sites boosted by the Translation Project have significant audience overlap, as well as institutional crossover. For example, the syncretic site 21stCenturyWire crossposts stories from Consortium News and features interviews with its founder, the late Robert Parry. Created by former Infowars associate editor, Patrick Henningsen, 21stCenturyWire’s archived stories trade in antisemitic Soros and Rothschild conspiracy theories and a battery of Kremlin-supported stories maligning the White Helmets in Syria.

Regarding 21stCenturyWire’s stories, analytics engines found “evidence of coordination of timing and messaging around significant events in the news cycle” among “many known pro-Kremlin troll accounts, some of which were closed down as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the US election.” Given its Kremlin support, it is unsurprising that 21stCenturyWire hosts an alt-right podcast called Boiler Room, as well as an interview with Dugin, himself, while publishing Korybko as a “special contributor.”

There are many more similar sites on the web and, despite the indictments of 13 members of the Internet Research Agency, the echo chamber of cutouts, fake profiles, front groups and conspiracy sites that duped hundreds of thousands of people across the political spectrum shows no sign of relenting. In the 48 hours before time of writing, Russia Insider, 21stCenturyWire and Duginist site Fort-Russ were all trending domains and URLs on the Russian “botnet.” Only an informed public will be able to take down the crisis of “fake news” and its illiberal progenitors.

Alexander Reid Ross is a Lecturer in geography at Portland State University. His latest book Against the Fascist Creep was named one of the Portland Mercury’s best books of 2017.

Patrick Simpson and Grant Stern contributed research for this article.

Good Advice to UK’s Jeremy Corbyn on Antisemitism Controversy.

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Good advice to UK’s Jeremy Corbyn on antisemitism controversy.
[Posted by Lara Keller 1/4/18]

Good advice to UK’s Jeremy Corbyn on antisemitism controversy…… “As corollary to the above, Vagabond emphasizes the importance of opposing both ‘the nationalist and colonialist ideology of Zionism’ and the racist ideology of antisemitism – including hatred and scapegoating of Jews that is presented in the name of anti-Zionism.” [https://threewayfight.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/major-report-on-red-brown-alliances.html]

The situation is complicated as there are people who would smear the majority genuine anti-racist Anti-Zionism as antisemitism. The problem is some of them are Zionist propagandists and some of them are racist Anti-Semites. Israel commits an oppressive massacre. The genuine Anti-Zionists report the truth of the event and say “see how hateful the Israeli Zionist regime is”. The Zionist propagandists respond by saying “see how they hate us, they only use this to hate all of us.” The racist Anti-Semites respond by saying “see how hateful they are, what we say about the rest of them is true”. Both the response of the Zionists propagandists and the racist Anti-Semites are lies. Each lie from these extremists justifies the other lie. The phantom of the lie of global antisemitism gives rise to violent responses and the creation of powerful support networks, which gives power to the phantom of the lie than Jewish people are different and a threat.

This cannot be escaped as the UK BBC does by ignoring the truth, but can be outmaneuvered by doing what Vagabond says by positively opposing Antisemitism and Zionism, and ignoring the Extremists.

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Eternal Russian Essence Of Empire

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Eternal Russian Essence Of Empire

[Posted by Lara Keller 22/3/18]

Extract from: “OFF CENTRE: Will the Russian bear roar again?”, Charles Clover, 2/12/2000
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“Russia’s main military diplomat, General Leonid Ivashov, the head of the international department at Russia’s Ministry of Defence, and the mastermind of Russia’s takeover of the Pristina airport in Kosovo last year, is one of the converts.

‘The science of geopolitics has flourished in the post-communist period, and this is a natural, healthy, objective response to circumstances,’ he says.

Ivashov’s book on the subject, Russia and the World in the new Millennium, borrows heavily from Dugin’s work. He writes: ‘The experience of geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the west is not limited to the seven decades of the Soviet Union, but has a centuries-long tradition.’

‘Russia cannot exist outside of its essence as an empire, by its geographical situation, historical path and fate of the state.’

Says Ivashov: ‘The first democratic government of Russia looked at the US as something like a donor, or as a strategic partner. This is a huge misconception. Look at the actions behind the facade of public statements. Read (Henry) Kissinger, read (Zbigniew) Brzezinski, you come to the conclusion that, yes in some ways we are partners, but really we are geopolitical rivals.’ ”
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Source:
“OFF CENTRE: Will the Russian bear roar again?”
Charles Clover traces the growing influence of the right theories of Alexander Dugin
Financial Times, December 2, 2000
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While Russia bans books, the useful idiot Corbyn swallows its lies whole. By Anne Applebaum 2015.

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“While Russia bans books, the useful idiot Corbyn swallows its lies whole.”
By Anne Applebaum, The Sunday Times, August 9 2015

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Start Article
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[ Source=The Sunday Times, 9/8/15, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/while-russia-bans-books-the-useful-idiot-corbyn-swallows-its-lies-whole-dwq6c2gg75j ]

IN THE year 1968 the brief “thaw” was over in the USSR. President Leonid Brezhnev was consolidating his power. Demonstrators were chanting communist slogans in Paris; in Berkeley they were putting up posters of Mao and Che. Meanwhile, Robert Conquest was methodically collecting memoirs, letters and articles written by people who had actually experienced communist terror, served in communist prisons and witnessed communist show trials.

For it was in 1968 that Conquest, who died last week aged 98, published his seminal book The Great Terror. A history of Stalin’s purges in 1937-38, The Great Terror appeared at a moment when the subject matter was remarkably unpopular not only in the USSR but in the West.

It was also a moment when the subject matter was remarkably hard to research. Soviet archives were unavailable; the only “official” sources peddled the regime’s propaganda. But Conquest, who first visited the USSR as a young communist in 1937, knew the difference between propaganda and reality. Having served as a British intelligence officer in Bulgaria during the war, he also understood very well how much violence and terror had been required to achieve the Sovietisation of central Europe, and the Stalinisation of Russia before that.

Perhaps because he was a poet as well as a historian — among other things a composer of witty limericks — Conquest was always interested in the human costs of that violence, too.

So he read and quoted witnesses such as the Poles who had escaped Stalin’s camps during the war, the Ukrainians who fled the USSR in 1945, and former communists such as Alexander Orlov, an NKVD officer in Spain who defected when he realised all of his colleagues had been arrested.

Orlov’s own book, The Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes, was considered dubious at the time. But as Conquest observed: “Just because a source may be erroneous or unreliable on certain points does not invalidate all its evidence.” Edward Gibbon himself had, he noted, argued that “imperfect and partial” evidence may contribute to a broader story.

At the time, Conquest’s own book was considered somewhat dubious by more fashionable historians. But it gained a following, as well as many famous readers, among them Margaret Thatcher. And, of course, it was smuggled into the Soviet Union and translated into Russian, where it was read avidly by a generation of people who knew the official version of history was fake and were desperate to learn more.

Not all of them were dissidents either. Some 40 years ago, the KGB searched a Moscow apartment belonging to a Russian friend of mine. They rifled through his possessions, tipped over a desk or two and finally picked up one of the books in triumph.

It was his contraband copy of The Great Terror, by Robert Conquest. “Now we’ll get to read it,” they told him.

In the 1990s, after the Soviet Union finally collapsed, archives proved Conquest right, not only about the terror of 1937-38 but also the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 — the subject of his book The Harvest of Sorrow — the camps of Kolyma and much else.

Documents have helped us to be more precise about dates, numbers, decisions and motives in Stalin’s USSR. But the outline of the story has not changed. As it turned out, the witnesses were largely right — and the western fellow travellers were as wrong as their Soviet counterparts.

The trajectory of Conquest’s career is worth remembering right now, particularly as the Russian government returns, once again, to the time-honoured practice of banning books. Not long ago, the school district of Yekaterinburg decided to take a stand against “Nazism”. In order to do so, the authorities instructed school libraries to ban not the works of Hitler or Joseph Goebbels, but the works of Antony Beevor and John Keegan. Both are British military historians who have written objectively, and not always flatteringly, about the Red Army and especially the campaign of rape and terror that it carried out during the conquest of Berlin.

And just now, as Russia is gearing up its propaganda machine, which is far more sophisticated than the Soviet version ever was, to attack the “Nazis” in Ukraine and the threat from a “Nazi revival” in the West, anything that contains too many facts about what actually happened during the Second World War is going to be suspect.

If Russia’s urge to reshape its history is back, so is the old-fashioned western admiration for brutal regimes, and on all sides of the political spectrum. Just as some on the far left once sought to excuse and explain Stalinism, a range of people on both the modern far left and far right now seek not only to excuse and explain Putinism, but to support the official Russian state version of its own history, as well as the history of recent events in Ukraine.

Jeremy Corbyn, would-be leader of the Labour party, is the latest in a long line of useful idiots. Corbyn has recommended that his Twitter followers watch the Russian propaganda channel, Russia Today, which he has described as “more objective” than other channels. Never mind that Russia Today interviews actors who claim to be “witnesses” and invents stories — for example, that a Russian-speaking child was crucified by a Ukrainian.

Corbyn is also one of many on the European far left as well as the far right who appears to have swallowed wholesale Russia’s lie that war in Ukraine has been created by Nato, rather than by the “separatists” who have invaded eastern Ukraine and are paid, trained and organised by Russia itself. Or maybe they have pretended to swallow the lie because it suits their own anti-American or anti-democratic agendas.

In some cases it even suits their own financial interests. Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, has been lent millions of euros by a Russian bank. With so much money at stake, it’s not surprising she isn’t bothered by the deaths of more than 6,000 people in a totally unnecessary war. National Front leaders regularly visit Moscow. One of Le Pen’s advisers went to Crimea during the “referendum” there last year, to serve as one of the election observers who came to rubber-stamp the process.

Conquest would have known what to say about this — and in fact he did say it, writing in The Spectator in 1961: “There is something particularly unpleasant about those who, living in a political democracy, comfortably condone terror elsewhere.”

He would also have known what to do about it: go back to the sources, listen to people, find out what really happened, write the truth and then act accordingly. “In a jungle full of totalitarian monsters,” he wrote in that same article, “liberal democracy needs teeth.” More than half a century later, that’s still sage advice.

Anne Applebaum is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Gulag: A History

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End Article
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Notes:

  1. This 2015 article questions the specific claim that Corbyn recommends RT “Russia Today” Applebaum vs Corbyn – Spinning History (See http://gashead.net/applebaum-vs-corbyn-spinning-history/ ).
  2. Another 2015 article on the subject of Jeremy Corbyn, Putin, “Useful idiot” theme. Is Jeremy Corbyn Putin’s latest ‘useful idiot’ in Europe? ( https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/jeremy-corbyn-putins-latest-useful-idiot-europe-1515028 ).
  3. A left-wing case against Jeremy Corbyn. 2015. James Bloodworth: A left-wing case against Comrade Jeremy Corbyn.https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/james-bloodworth-left-wing-case-against-comrade-jeremy-corbyn-1513969 ).
  4. Totally neutral image: holyCorbyn - Copy

The multipolar spin how fascists operationalize left wing resentment.

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The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment.

(This article was originally posted on Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog but was taken down after threat of litigation by Max Blumenthal. It is reproduced here in full. Source= Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist, The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment, from removed SPLC post. March 15,  2018)

During his recent tour of Europe, disgraced former Trump strategist Steve Bannon declared “Italy is in the lead.”

Amid the historic resurgence of the Italian far right that returned right-wing populist Silvio Berlusconi to prominence, Bannon fantasized about “the ultimate dream” of unifying the anti-establishment Five Star Movement with the far-right League (formerly the Northern League) through a populist movement. Bannon’s international vision of nationalist populist movements is locked into the Kremlin’s geopolitical ideology of a “multipolar world.”

The League is tied through a cooperation pact to Putin’s Russia, and its deputy in charge of relations with foreign parties, Claudio D’Amico, explicitly called for a “multipolar world” in Katehon, a think tank created by fascist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin. Following the ideological line Dugin put forward in his text, Foundations of Geopolitics, Katehon calls for uniting a “Eurasian” bloc in constant struggle against “Atlanticist” countries. For Dugin, the “21st century gamble” is to create a “multipolar” confederation of “Traditionalist” regional empires united under Russian sovereignty that will overthrow the “unipolar” empire of “postmodern” democracies.

Shortly after Putin’s election in 2000, the Kremlin released a set of foreign policy guidelines calling for a “multipolar world order” against the “strengthening tendency towards the formation of a unipolar world under financial and military domination by the United States.” Escalating with the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004, the Kremlin’s production of soft-power networks throughout Europe and the United States involves- think tanksloansforumspropaganda outlets and cooperation agreements with far-right parties like the Austrian Freedom Party and the League. From Russia to Iran to Western Europe and the U.S., this international movement uses conspiracy theories and “gray material” to warp the political spectrum into a populist referendum along “geopolitical” terms set by fascist engagées.

Red and brown polarities

As a recent major report on syncretic networks exposed, the modern fascist movement’s obsession with geopolitics emerged in force amid the post-Cold War antiglobalization movement. In 2002, a front group formed out of the U.S.-based Workers’ World Party known as the International Action Center joined forces with the Assisi-based “Campo Antimperialista.” As Duginists infiltrated the Campo, opening a journal called Eurasia that garnered the influential involvement of Campo participant Costanza Preve, the International Action Center continued their cooperation.

Soon, a similar Russian group called the Anti-Globalist Resistance began to repost the Campo’s dispatches. Sharing support for Milosevic with the Campo and the International Action Center, the Anti-Globalist Resistance emerged simultaneously with the same tendency to fight globalization by linking far-right to hard-left. In 2008, they brought the Campo to Moscow for the third “All-Russia Anti-Globalist Forum,” introduced by long-time U.S. fascist Lyndon LaRouche. The next year’s conference included Duginist leaders like Leonid Savin and retired General Leonid Ivashov, along with LaRouche and Holocaust denier Israel Shamir.

As their work continued, the Campo and Anti-Globalist Resistance drew more anti-globalization activists into their syncretic orbit. In 2012, a group came together at a Campo Antimperialista event in Assisi and developed what would become the Syria Solidarity Movement. The movement’s steering committee came to include top figures from groups from the U.S. hard left, including the Workers World Party, its affiliate, ANSWER and a spinoff of the latter group called the Party of Socialism and Liberation.

After changing their name to the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, the group drew people from the Syria Solidarity Movement’s network to a conference called the “Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and Building a Multipolar World” in 2014. A delegate from the International Action Center attended, along with delegates from another Workers World Party front group called United Anti-War Coalition, including an editor with the Black Agenda Report named Margaret Kimberly. Among the conference’s other attendees were Michael Hill of the neo-Confederate League of the South and the Texas Nationalist Movement, as well as the far-right Republika of Srpska and National Bolshevik Italian Communitarian Party.

The following year, the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia met with a purported Cherokee Nation elder named “Mashu White Feather” and a representative of the Uhuru Movement, also connected to the Black Agenda Report. They then organized a state-funded conference that drew members of the fascist Italian group Millenium, Mutti’s associate Antonio Grego, and a leading member of the far-right Rodina party, as well as representatives of separatist groups like the Texas Nationalist Movement and the Catalan Solidarity for Independence party. The now-notorious troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, would later invite the Texas Nationalist Movement to join an armed, Islamophobic protest launched by the fake “Heart of Texas,” while also inciting counter-protestors.

This network map shows the flow of movement building from parties to front groups to participation in and creation of syncretic coalitions.

The Syria connection

The Syria Solidarity Movement lists on its steering committee a host of syncretic figures like DuginistNavid Nasr and an Australian representative of the fascist-modeled Syrian Social Nationalist Party affiliateMussalaha. Before a report revealed her associations with Global ResearchRon Paul and the right-wing British Constitution Party, conspiracy theorist Vanessa Beeley held a position on the steering committee as well.

As an editor at the alt-right-associated conspiracy theory site,21stCenturyWire, Beeley’s repeated conspiracy articles attempting to link the White Helmets to al Qaeda and George Soros earned her a visit with Assad in Damascus and senior Russian officials in Moscow; however, they have been thoroughly debunked. A defender of right-wing Hungarian president Viktor Orban, Beeley promotesantisemites like Gilad Atzmon and Dieudonné, even speaking at a conference hosted by the latter in partnership with notorious Holocaust denier Laurent Louis. Regardless, the Syrian Solidarity Movement and the associated Hands Off Syria Coalition recommend Beeley’s work.

Along with members of the Syria Solidarity Movement, delegates who attended the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia’s “Multipolar World” conference sit on the Hands off Syria Coalition’s steering committee. Showing its commitments and affinities, in January 2016, the Hands Off Syria Coalition published a “Multipolar World Against War” statement signed by the leader of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Alexander Ionov.

Similarly, the Hands Off Syria Coalition website publicizes self-described Marxist, Tim Anderson, who has an interesting record of attending far-right conferences. In 2015, Anderson attended the far-right Brandherd Syrien Congress, and the next year he was at Defend Our Heritage’s Leura Forum, chaired by a leader of far-right party Alternative for Germany. Following that, Anderson’s pet project, Center of Counter Hegemonic Studies, convened a conference that brought in Paul Antonopoulos, an editor for the Duginist website Fort Russ.

The Hands Off Syria Coalition advertises Anderson’s book, The Dirty War on Syria, which is published by syncretic conspiracist site Global Research. Multiple “Research Associates” of Global Research sit on the “scientific committee” of the Campo-linked Duginist journal Geopolitica, and the site lists as its “partner media group” the Voltaire Network. Publishing LaRouchite and Duginist articles, the Voltaire Network boasts the Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs as its Vice President. One of the Voltaire Network’s leading contributors is Mikhail Leontyev, an associate of Dugin who has moved from prominent media personality to the role of spokesman for Russian state oil company, Rosneft. The Syria Solidarity Movement publishes Voltaire Network articles by founder Thierry Meyssan, a contributor to Campo-linked journal Eurasia who associates with Holocaust deniers and open fascists, among others.

Hands Off Syria Coalition steering committee member Issa Chaer joined Meyssan on a panel at the Second New Horizons conference in Iran in 2012. Conference speakers that year included World Workers Party member Caleb Maupin, Alt Right journalist Tim Pool, Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett, and Duginists like Voltaire Network associate Mateusz Piskorski, German editor Manuel Ochsenreiter, Leonid Savin, and Claudio Mutti the leading fascist infiltrator of the Campo Antimperialista. The banner image for last year’s New Horizon features Aleksandr Dugin.

Multipolar propaganda

According to the metrics search engine BuzzSumo, most of the leading articles with the terms “multipolar world” and “multi-polar world” in the title come from an interconnected network of sites, including Global Research, The Duran and Sign of the Times. With an estimated six million unique daily views per month, the biggest and most influential in this network is the Russian state-run media site Sputnik News.

Billing itself as pointing “the way to a multipolar world that respects every country’s national interests, culture, history and traditions,” Sputnik frequently publishes PiskorskiOchsenreiter, Mutti’s fellow Campo infiltrator Tiberio Graziani, commentator Andrew Korybkoand Fort Russ editor Joaquin Flores. Furthermore, Sputnik has joined RT in consistently using dubious sources affiliated with the Syria Solidarity Network to attack the White Helmets and throw doubt on the Assad regime’s war crimes, for instance its use of chemical weapons.

A syncretic hub on Sputnik, anti-imperialist John Wight’s podcast, “Hard Facts,” promotes the same figures associated with the pro-Assad network in the West, including Beeley, Anderson, and Nasr. Perhaps most interestingly, Wight also hosted trans-national far-right figure, Edward Lozansky during the 2016 election and again early the next year.

With more than 30 years of involvement in the U.S. and Russian far right, Lozansky is perhaps most known as the creator of the American University in Moscow. Boasting a number of Fellows involved in pro-Kremlin media outlets like The Duran, RT and Russia Insider, the American University in Moscow appears to be an ideological center in the concerted social media campaign associated with the Internet Research Agency to boost anti-Clinton, pro-Kremlin propaganda in the U.S. Lozansky also hosts conferences with known fascist ideologues and an annual “Russia Forum” featuring far-right politicians and left-wing media operators from Russia and the U.S.

During both of his pro-Putin, pro-Trump interviews with Lozansky on “Hard Facts,” Wight advocated “a multipolar alternative to the unipolar world,” insisting, “we’re talking about a struggle for a multipolar world to replace the unipolarity that has wreaked so much havoc since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.”

The most important anti-imperialist hub on Sputnik, however, is hosted by Brian Becker, whose fellow party member and brother sits on the steering committee for the Syria Solidarity Movement. The leader of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Becker regularly hosts Fellows of the American University in Moscow on his Sputnik podcast, “Loud & Clear.”

“Loud & Clear”‘s Lozansky-affiliated guests include far-right PR man Jim Jatras, Mark Sleboda of the Dugin-founded Center for Conservative Studies, the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams and Alexander Mercouris of the syncretic conspiracist site, The Duran. The program also provides a platform to a variety of explicitly far-right guests, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, antisemite Alberto Garcia Watson, alt-right figure Cassandra Fairbanks and militia movement leader Larry Pratt.

Aside from marginal guests, Loud & Clear can bring on some heavy hitters. During his two appearances on “Loud & Clear” in late 2017, bestselling author Max Blumenthal called the red-brown radio show “the finest public affairs programming” and declared, “I am increasingly turning to RT America for sanity.” No stranger to Sputnik, Blumenthal also went on “Hard Facts” that August, claiming that notorious ISIS militant Mohammed Emwazi was ushered into the Syria conflict by the CIA via a “rat line” from Saudi Arabia.

This Venn diagram suggests that certain syncretic groups exist as containers for the intersection of right and left wing groups, ideologies.

Highway to the Grayzone

Around the same time he went on “Loud & Clear,” Blumenthal appeared on Tucker Carlson‘s FOX News show to defend RT — his second time on the far-right show that year. Blumenthal’s RT appearances have been praised by white nationalists like Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., who murdered three people outside of a Jewish Community Center in 2014, so his courting of the right on FOX drew considerable backlash.

Two months later, Blumenthal offered up a staunch defense of “Russia’s position in the world” to author Robert Wright in an interview on bloggingheads. Admitting that Putin’s Russia remains far from left-wing, Blumenthal justified support for the country’s authoritarian conservative government as “part of the multipolar world.”

“If you believe in a multipolar world,” Blumenthal told Wright, “you believe in détente, you believe in diplomacy.” He specifically mentioned Becker’s Party for Socialism and Liberation and groups like it, arguing that they “tend to get all the major issues right regardless of their ideology or agenda.”

Blumenthal was not as clear of a spokesperson for Kremlin geopolitics before he appeared at the same RT gala as disgraced former National Security advisor Michael Flynn and the Green Party’s Jill Stein in December 2015. During that occasion, he joined a panel called “Infowar: Will there be a winner” alongside Alt Right anti-Semite Charles Bausman of Russia Insider. A month later, Blumenthal’s pro-Kremlin position crystalized with the founding of the Grayzone Project.

Grayzone is a collaborative project also featuring journalist Benjamin Norton, who cosigned the Hands Off Syria Coalition’s points of unity statement along with Beeley and others. After going on “Loud & Clear” with Duginist Mark Sleboda and Infowars regularRay McGovern, Norton plugged the Party for Socialism and Liberation on a podcast episode titled “Hands off Syria.” With other Grayzone contributors, Norton has been criticized for downplaying war crimes and helping publicize false theories about rebels contaminating Damascus’s water supply.

When reached for comment by email, Norton retorted, “I know your goal is to outlandishly smear anyone who opposes US imperialism and is to the left of the Clintons as a ‘crypto-fascist,’ while NATO supports actual fascists whom you care little about.”

Grayzone is perhaps best known for Blumenthal’s controversial two-part article attacking the White Helmets, which brought accusations of plagiarism from Beeley. Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek had, Beeley insisted, “pumped me for information on the [White Helmets] and then Max wrote the article.”

While Blumenthal may have repeated some of Beeley’s theories, Beeley cannot be seen as a credible source. Regardless, Khalek has since used a questionable interview sourced from Beeley as evidence that the White Helmets “were deeply embedded in al Qaeda.”

Grayzone recently announced their move from independent news site AlterNet to The Real News Network, a left-wing site with a penchant for 9/11 truther inquiries. Neither Blumenthal nor Khalek responded to efforts to reach them for comment.

Right uses left

Through its amplification of an interlinked, multi-centered network organized around institutions like Lozansky’s American University in Moscow and the Voltaire Network and conferences like Moscow’s “Multi-Polar World” and Tehran’s “New Horizons,” syncretic networks associated with Dugin’s Eurasianist ideology have combined distortions and ambiguities into a geopolitical narrative meant to confuse audiences and promote authoritarian populist opposition to liberalism.

The “gray measures” used to deny the Kremlin’s influence operations may seem dubious when delivered through channels like Sputnik that are, themselves, political technologies of far-right political influence. When cycled through “narrative laundering” of secondary and tertiary networks enhanced by trolls and coordinated influence operations, however, propaganda is “graywashed” of its dubious sources and presented as cutting-edge journalism.

As shown with Figure 3, think tanks like Katehon and connected Russian Institute for Strategic Studies develop strategies for media spin and online promotion through influence groups and botnets. These think tanks engage in feedback loops with Russian state media channels and linked syncretic news sites, amplified through social media with the help of botnets, and eventually reaching more legitimate sources often freed of their dubious sourcing. The results are explored by a recent study from Data and Society called Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online: “Online communities are increasingly turning to conspiracy-driven news sources, whose sensationalist claims are then covered by the mainstream media, which exposes more of the public to these ideas, and so on.”

A conceptual model made in Vensim intended to present the workings of “Graywashing.”

The problem with multipolarism, aside from assuming polarity as a useful prescription, may be that it supports not the emergence of Russia as a world power but the rise of the Kremlin’s authoritarian conservative political ideology. In this, multipolarists tend to support other authoritarian regimes and movements from Iran to Syria to Italy. Although anti-imperialists may believe that these measures land them on the right side of history, taking stock of the fascist movement suggests that the strategy of opposing a liberal order through red-brown populist collaboration makes the left a willing accomplice.

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The Church of England Vicar and the Enthusiastic Public Relations Spokesman for Assad’s Syrian Genocide.

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The Church of England Vicar and the Enthusiastic Public Relations Spokesman for Assad’s Syrian Genocide.

[Posted by Lara Keller 7/2/18]

We all should all know and care, and mostly don’t, that since 2011 the Assad regime in Syria has responded to demands by the Syrian people for an end to brutal exploitative dictatorship by committing genocide. Indeed not knowing and not caring has enabled him to do this with Russian backing. This is industrial scale oppression, with the Assad regime responsible for around 95% of the causalities. The regime has murdered at least 200,000 Syrians, 10,000s of men, women and children have been tortured to death, and millions have been impoverished, besieged and often starved.

The regime even before 2011 had a reputation in the region for the most oppressive security system in the Middle East, which is cursed by self-serving dictatorships. Hafez Assad took advantage of a turbulent era in Syrian history to launch a military coup in 1970. He had a clear plan to setup an elitist dictatorship built on a large security apparatus that systematically used the threat of torture to control Syrians. His inspiration was Ceaușescu’s infamous Romanian regime. Naturally Hafez passed the private estate previously known as Syria to his son Bashar in 2000, and nothing really changed in the core values of the regime.

The reaction of progressives in the West has often angered and sometimes utterly disgusted me. A small army of apologists have emerged to support Assad. Not all of them from the usual candidates for dictator-philia from the far right and the far left. In the UK for example there are people from the Anti-War movement, Pro-Palestinian groups, the Green Party, the dominant Corbyn wing of the Labour Party, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, a handful of journalists and even clergy from the Church of England. Some of this can be explained by casual ignorance. Some by wilful ignorance, based on supporting “issues” that feel right and so avoiding problems outside of core concerns.

The attitudes of many Anti-War and Pro-Palestinian groups has become a damaging bitter mockery. At an anti-war demonstration against Western intervention in Syria I saw a banner from an English group from safest Dorset with “Everybody Deserves Love” splashed on it. It is impossible to support pacifism in the face of a regime run by criminal thugs who have no concept of shame. Pacifism does not work when children are tortured to death in front of their parents, when hospitals are double tapped by Russian jets and Sarin is used to paralyse the lungs of civilians. Indifference is not love. Zionists are killing and oppressing ordinary Palestinians, while Assad’s militias are killing ordinary Syrians. Both groups are mostly Sunni Muslim Arabs. What exactly is the difference between Zionism and Assadism?

There is a secondary line of defence when the apologists claim that the Western media is lying. All the evidence of the Assad holocaust of many types and thousands of sources is just denied as one great incredible conspiracy. There are even widely circulated crudely absurdist claims that the buildings in the blitzed opposition areas where blown up by the opposition, or that the White Helmets rescue works are evil murderers.

There is the more subtle argument that the regime is not responsible for Sarin gas attacks, because it is winning and does not need to use methods which might provoke hostile Western intervention. The reality is that foreign Shia militias and Russian military are winning against an isolated armed Syrian opposition abandoned by the West. Assad struggles to get Syrians to fight for him, but needs to show his military are a strong force capable of perpetuating Assad clique control. Hence his testing of the international reaction to the use of Sarin in reconquering Idlib province.

There is the argument that the opposition to Assad is and has always been composed of Fundamentalist Islamists. Armed groups run by extremists (like HTS, formerly al-Nusra) have become powerful, because the regime used military force to crush an initially peaceful protest against dictatorship, while the West gave very limited supplies to the moderate armed opposition. The extremists – well-financed by other Middle East dictatorships like the Saudis – were allowed to fill the vacuum, as occurred in post-Gaddafi Libya. Leaflets and speeches do not stop modern weaponry.

This leaves the apologists who are not ideological cranks and who do have a detailed knowledge of Syria. A good example is the Reverend Andrew Ashdown, a vicar in the Church of England. He has been organising tours of the Holy Land for thirty years, and has often visited Syria before 2011 and since. He enthusiastically pushes in lectures, articles, broadcasts and social media, the key points of the Assad regime PR campaign:

(i) Assad regime is popular with the vast majority of Syrians.
(ii) Opposition to the Assad regime is confined to fundamentalist terrorists.
(iii) Evidence that the regime is responsible for mass murder and mass torture is fabricated. The Assad Holocaust does not exist.
(iv) Assad’s Syria is not a kleptomaniac brutal police state.
(v) Assad is the protector of minorities in Syria. In particular Christians.

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The Church of England is perceived as a morally concerned organisation that can be trusted but is rather spineless. Ashdown uses the appearance of a vicar to give his Assad PR credibility. The church has been contacted many times, and has done very little to stop this abuse of its reputation. He is no longer a parish vicar, but still has the permission of his bishop to conduct Anglican services. He still lives in a comfortable house provided by the church. His wife the Reverend Victoria Ashdown is a vicar of the parish of North Baddesley (between Southampton and Romsey in Hampshire, UK) and publically supports his stance on the Assad regime. She reposts his social media statements, and has even posed in front of the two star Syrian flag (used exclusively by the regime) for her parish Facebook Account.

There are many Christians in the Church of England who are rightly concerned about the survival of Christian communities in the Middle East against attacks by fundamentalist islamists. They mostly know very little about the Assad regime and make the mistake of believing Assad PR and reluctantly supporting the regime. It obviously helps in the deception that a knowledgeable Church of England vicar like Andrew Ashdown is doing the PR. Andrew Ashdown has detailed knowledge of the regime, and so has no reasonable excuse of ignorance.

Where is Christian love in the Assad regime and its holocaust? Christianity is not tribal. God is not a Christian. In Assad’s Syria the leaders of minorities (including Christians) are approved and effectively appointed by the regime, owe their privileges to it, and in return police their communities. The regime even uses housing policy to segrate and divide Syrian society. Christians are used rather than protected. The perception – supplied by people like Ashdown – that Christians support dictatorships in the region gives fuel to the anti-Christian bigotry of the fundamentalist islamists.

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God gives us spiritual life, despite our religion or lack of it. Respect for that life in others is the obvious root of Christian love. The Assad regime is the absolute reality of total contempt for this. Anglicans Priests are prevented from joining far right organisations like in the UK like the British National Party and the National Front. Why is Ashdown allowed to do PR for a brutal dictatorship responsible for genocide? The church can and should stop him and his wife “officiating at services” and enjoying the financial and accommodation support of the church, until they are able to completely and publically repudiate their belief and support for the Assad regime. Why is the Church of England vicar and the enthusiastic Public Relations spokesman for Assad’s Syrian Genocide the same person?


Here is a sample of his grossly deceptive self-promotion used in a recent lecture tour of Scotland:

“Rev Andrew Ashdown is an Anglican priest. He has been travelling and leading groups to the Middle East for over 30 years. For years he has engaged with Christians, Muslims and Jews in Israel-Palestine conflict and he has met with many religious and political leaders in Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria……….”

Typical Andrew Ashdown Facebook Post: Andrew Ashdown, September 5, 2017

“A year ago today I had the privilege of meeting President Assad. It was an in-depth two hour open and honest meeting where many challenging subjects were discussed, and we were met with great courtesy. But, we were vilified for meeting him. BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 News all slated us. The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Times all criticised us for meeting a ‘monster’. I was slated in the Church Times. And ever since, I have been put very much at arm’s length by the Church hierarchy and by my own Bishop. The fact that we met and brought messages from many religious leaders in Syria was ignored. But I have no regrets. And I make no apology to anyone for meeting the President. I am glad we did so. One year on, even Syria’s enemies are acknowledging that the President will stay, and are ending their support for the western-backed multiple Al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups who have brought such death, destruction and havoc to the country, and who are being defeated on all fronts by the Syrian Army with the help of Russia and Hezbollah. And wherever they are being defeated, a semblance of ‘normal’ life is returning to communities – and people are returning too. The progress in Aleppo particularly in the past months has been immense, and its citizens are clearly delighted and relieved to be free of the groups (that the west supported) that terrorised the city for so long. President Assad’s personal popularity with a large majority of the Syrian people is immense. I hope and pray that a peace will be achieved soon. Peace has been so elusive partly because of the international community’s refusal to put aside their own agendas, to listen to the Syrian people, to stop fuelling the violence, and to engage the people who actually have power in the country. Healing will take much longer. But the will and the resilience of the Syrian people does make it possible. It is not up to us to dictate Syria’s future, and violence achieves nothing. If only we could accept that, and encourage a genuine process of dialogue, peace and reconciliation for the sake of the Syrian people. History has always proven that the path of peace has been achieved by talking, not by bombing! It is a shame that we have been vilified for talking – whilst other Church leaders and politicians have openly supported the path of bombing.”