Active Measures — The collection of Russian Agitation, Disinformation, and Propaganda Methods made evident through covert or subtle Influence Campaigns applied to wrecking the political coherence and cohesion of EU/NATO for the purpose of reestablishing Political Absolutism in the same and then using the most thuggish of feudal and medieval methods to leverage loyalty and wealth from them for contribution to the Greater Imperial Glory of Moscow, the Russian “mafia state” it has come to represent, and the immense enrichment of its oligarchy.
Indeed the west, the melange of classically liberal democratic open societies built and structured around fair dealing, freedom, and integrity and related humanist and liberal ethics, principles, and values has been unprepared for covert agent provocateur, e.g., covert agitators Far Right and Far Left, disingenuous publications, false front organizations, trolls, etc.
I’ve chosen to demur from producing “long copy” and a lengthy reference section for this post. Awareness of “Active Measures” — the kernel of Russia’s covert campaign to degrade and ruin the democracies of the west — should suffice for both the interested and the unwittingly vulnerable.
Through the Cold War Era and now with Putin leading the Russian Federation, the purpose of Soviet / post-Soviet “Active Measures” has been to fragment EU/NATO for the purpose of Russian expansion and its feudal practices. A video like this one — the same as above on this page — will help a little bit with understanding the greater east-west politics and the tension between the worlds of “Absolute Power” and the open democracies of the west.
Active Measures” represents an international (RF v EU/NATO) dispute over the future, not only an American one.
If we are at one the other’s throat, Moscow will have succeeded in exploiting our natural political arguments and issues by heightening them and undermining our national political cohesion and coherence, thereby weakening our state and degrading our democracy.
Regarding “Far Out Left” and equally distant Far Right tendencies, the related foreign and disingenuous domestic manipulations of political perception targets us all.
The prompt from my conversational partner: “. . . to solve these problems, we need cooperation, not war. And the main question is why does the government not understand this?”
Paper, scissors, stone, and “paper” (money) covers and suffocates all beneath it while “liberating” those who have it and, perhaps (I don’t want to find out!), those who might believe themselves above it – or those of merely modest material ambitions.
My personal approach has been “Money Matters!” but is not everything; however, and this especially with our health care industry, there are forces producing polices I can’t field, and of course that inspires a yet impotent resentment.
Our government should be Christian, good-willed, and muscular (academic term “muscular Christianity” works in this regard), but it’s bending toward the criminals in the great mansions and penthouse suites, and I’ not talking about Bill Gates or most “plutocrats” but rather those who believe there are no boundaries between their perfect embodiment of the “isness” (I will find the word, literally) of their state and themselves. The businesses, the courts, the military and paramilitary elements, and legislatures are all theirs to exploit and manipulate on behalf of their preferred . . . associates. That’s dictatorship.
Let me see if I can find the word for existence as the authentic expression of spirit . . . .
“Esse” and “essence” were not what I was looking for but for an esoteric term having to do with the being of the thing within the thing. Believing in the singularity of person and state (as Ceausescu had; as Erdogan and Putin do) may comprise part of the messianic delusion suffered by dictators but unfortunately visited (with fist in the velvet glove, at best) on their subjected people.
I’m finding my reading of Russian history steeped in punitive control, and that doesn’t come with interest in “the masses” half so much as in the developing and sustaining of wealth beneficial to the image and power of the central figure in power.
Related, Recent, and Singular
On today’s Chinese and Russian totalitarian aggression in Global Information Space:
BackChannels maintains a brief bibliography of accessible and general volumes on Russia’s political history in the “Russian Section” of this blog. For greater insight into the authoritarian-patrimonial experience of the political culture from the 9th Century forward, I would recommend Richard Pipes’ fine history, Russia Under the Old Regime.
Punitive control: in geopolitical space and in the various ages of the “rule of the strong”, including for Russia and surrounds domination by the Mongols, the power to control space produces arrangements with in to produce wealth. Pipes’ — in the above cited volume — steps off with economic variance in the productivity of Russian land compared to soil fertility to the south to explain motivation for the social arrangements that would ensue in history and effect Russian political arrangements to this day. What Pipes appears to find essential — and what most concerns this blog — is the prince’s (or equivalent or greater in power) considering the ownership of property and persons the same thing. Worse — the test of sovereignty becomes the permit to engage in the wholesale destruction of both!
Moscow’s manipulation of “Information Space” beyond its boundaries is serious stuff, and the American public and other western democratic constituencies need to know it down to and through their grassroots.
Good examples of Russian manipulation can be seen in the Catalonian independence referendum and Brexit. Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis announced that his government had confirmed that a propaganda campaign intended to destabilize Spain came from Russia and Venezuela. They used Twitter, Facebook, and other internet sites to publicize the separatist cause and swing public opinion to support it.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified 419 accounts operating from the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) that attempted to influence British politics. Russian hackers also spread anti-Islamic sentiments in Great Britain after the recent terrorist attacks. According to The Guardian, hundreds of paid bloggers work around the clock at IRA “to flood Russian internet forums, social networks and the comments sections of western publications—sowing disinformation, praising the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, and raging at the west.” On Monday Theresa May addressed the issue in a speech, saying that Russia’s actions were “threatening the international order on which we all depend.”
Reliable, verifiable, and trusted news — “clear, accurate, and complete” — forms the very foundation of public impression and related decisionmaking, and to smear the entire industry bids only for absolute and tyrannical power. Around the world, however, what governments may withhold as secret from the press may not be known, or easily known, and from that comes a contest in democracies between governments and Real Press for general constituent and voter confidence in their elected government.
https://conflict-backchannels.com/library/russian-section/ – a backgrounder in the form of a bibliography listing the most accessible and enjoyable volumes on Cold War history and related political mafia and disinformation (and much else). Highly recommended: Disinformation by Pacepa and Rychlak and the Agnia Grigas work on Crimea.
Call BackChannels the work of an obsessive curiosity by the most accidental tourist in political science and political psychology. I’d say the editor would be a senior in high school, perhaps a junior in college, at this point . . . perhaps a little more sophisticated for breadth of awareness of related elements across regions (“culture, conflict, language, and psychology”) and ability to get the connections just about right.
The KGB and its counterparts in the countries of the Warsaw Pact kept on infiltrating neo-Nazi organisations in West Germany and some other Western countries, but then with a different aim, namely to goad them into extremist activities, only to accuse Western countries of the alleged resurgence of Nazism afterwards. One example of such initiatives was the ‘swastika graffiti operation’ devised by Soviet KGB General Ivan Agayants, who at that time headed the KGB Department D (disinformation), and carried out in 1959– 1960 in West Germany. 79 In that period, KGB agents painted swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on synagogues, tombstones and Jewish-owned shops. Jewish families received anonymous hate mail and threatening phone calls. The initial KGB operation would stir up residual anti-Semitic sentiments in the West German society and, consequently, produce a snowball effect where troublemakers would carry out anti-Semitic activities on their own.
Note: the above relayed passage was highlighted while reading and before encountering Michel Casey’s interview with the author, in which it is described as “One of the most widely cited moments in reviews on your book . . . .”
It has been BackChannels hope that readers less specialized in political history and dimensions within it will nonetheless appreciate some bridging between the world of the ambitious academic and the information bombarded generalist who may most of all appreciate a point made fast and indelibly.
As its editor and, I’m sure, it’s readers have figured out, more material of interest often winds up in reference than in the main body of the post. At near publication on this post, a quick look-up was given the terms, “Putin, political technologist” — here’s the image of first page results (Oct. 16, 2017):
Also related on BackChannels as regards the “KGB Playbook”, two posts, one related to the incubating of ISIS by Bashar al-Assad and the other the “application” of Islamic Terrorism to the development of what this blog refers to as the “Newest Nationalism”:
“Listen: we engage in foreign policy the way we engage in war, with every means, every weapon, every drop of blood. But like in war, we depend on both the strategy of the general in the High Command, and the bravery and initiative of the soldier in the trench.”
Russian former diplomat, 2017
Russia sees ‘active measures’ (aktivnye meropriyatiya) – from supporting populist parties through disinformation and espionage campaigns, all the way to incidents such as the attempted coup in Montenegro – as an essential part of its efforts to influence Europe. Along with the usual instruments of foreign influence, such as diplomacy and economic levers, Russia is especially active in using covert and non-traditional means, from intelligence operations to military pressure and even organised crime, all of which have been the foci of recent policy briefs for ECFR.3 This final publication in an informal series seeks instead to consider the extent to which these campaigns are carefully planned and coordinated – and, if so, by whom.
And much better than “Newspeak” (revisit Orwell): how dumb I / you / and we may be may be entirely up to ourselves!
We may wish to become aware, however, of our own “dumbing down” through allocation and curriculum priorities in general education and perhaps through our own penchant for entertainment without much critical demand on our own part except to be . . . well, entertained far more than informed or otherwise intellectually engaged.
That’s okay, of course
Allowing ourselves to be entertained is part of how we retreat from other engagements and find rest and restoration for the mind.
Still, perhaps all good citizens would do well to apprise themselves of the following concepts in greater depth as we globally ride out squawking of the discreditable, dishonest, disingenuous, despicable, and entirely disreputable (scorecard: D) among the world’s politicians and their hacks.
Active Measures: from Russia with the high-handed contempt associated with imperious narcissistic state leadership personality, think of “active measures” as the full suite of assaults on the cultural and intellectual framework of the liberal democracies of the world (and nix the “illiberal democracies”, even if members of NATO, for there ain’t no such thing as an “illiberal democracy”).
Hybrid Warfare: every form of sub-nuclear and sub-conventional warfare that might be (is) launched against a target (like Ukraine) so as not to resemble “direct engagement”. From the fielding and infiltrating of agent provocateur to mixing armed men without insignia (“Little Green Men”) in with partisan recruits to denying aggression at all . . . it’s all perfectly surreal bullying and combative bullshit that must draw a firm response from the land and people (and state) so viciously assaulted.
KGB Theater: political events, especially warfare, treated as a show one may produce and control for the delectation of military and political elites and the misguidance of the masses.
Orwellian: what happens when powerful political elites rule the world so as to forestall change, manage war as if it were a fireplace, dispense with the very idea of human dignity, and wreck forever even the hope of freedom, free will, and the possession of integrity.
Perceptual Control: political rhetoric and stagecraft produced so effectively and pervasively as to channel public perception where the politician — or, perhaps tomorrow, the “political technician” or “political technologist” — may with fair predictive capability produce effects as desired.
There is as yet no primer for “Reflexive Control” as the same has been a term of military art involving getting one’s enemy / target to behave in a desired fashion.
As now often noted on BackChannels (or on Facebook), the technique has been used to amplify or reinstall the feudal mentality and related political processes in the EU / NATO states in order to produce the kind of world in which autocratic systems — flat out or my measures — may thrive. In the KGB method as perceived by BackChannels makes short work of manipulating Islamic Terrorism to produce in targeted states a “New Nationalism” (strong reflexive patriotism) suited to the political absolutism of the medieval world.
Troll Farm: Moscow-sponsored factories for financially enslaved writers.
Now who would seek to divide the American political campus against its own best interests?
The above played live on YouTube earlier today. It’s now appears or sounds like a recording. (Post-Publication Note: the YouTube poster revoked third-party replay (perhaps) because it knows its feed was designed to present Charlottesville and the United States of America as a House Mightily Divided, and while it has seemed that through the election season and this most turbulent of Administrations, we may not be so divided as confused by so much media devoted to the dramatizing of extremes. “Active Measures”? Could be. The poster, “CCW News”, boasts (boasted) some arrangement with PressTV — and, reliably (if you click over to YouTube), listen to who is talking, masking away history, and framing the present.
Here, I will leave the copy as initially published.
We are told that we are divided.
We’re “reminded” in the Jahi Issa interview that southern slavery was a colonial enterprise apparently absent of African and Arab practices in conquest and trade.
Here’s a block of URL’s on the history of the world’s most spiritually dismal industry:
Regarding the “southern” contribution, which seems archaic in this day and age: “blood and soil” and “the Jews will not replace us . . . .” — even absent of close-up evidence, the process has Moscow’s political “fingerprints” all over it.
Color codes previously noted and applied on Backchannels:
Red = Old Comrades (Soviet Era communists)
Green = Islamists (strident of Islam)
Black = Black Segregationists
“Red-Green Alliance” serves to represent the effort in the 20th Century to combine political forces to unseat the political intentions of the liberal democratic west. The “Black” component flows down, imho, from older radical politics.
“ANTIFA” is a mystery organization with a global footprint, BackChannels wonders who is behind its development, recruitments, and evidently (and ironically) uniform counter-demonstration programming.
Regarding the New Nationalism (and resurgent feudalism and embrace of the medieval mode) in Europe and North America, BackChannels has suggested that Islamic Terrorism (“Allahu Akbar Terrorism”) has been channeled to goad Americans and Europeans toward the defense of their respective homelands.