"… It all comes down to properly assessing the reliability of a source, that analysts are given the time necessary for that and that reality is being taken into account. I think the inherent problem of such situations as we saw in Jugoslavia, Iraq, with Syria policy and now in Ukraine, is that there is a strong political impetus that wants a particular policy that heavily favours friendly news. We have a 24h news cycle now, and that means that the political side tries to put out stories in support of political objectives as soon as they bcome available and still have news value to shape the narrative. This is propaganda pure and simple. It has nothing to do with reality. The idea may be summed up as move fast, pick the stories you want, be first, and no more questions please. In essence, policy moves faster than the understanding of the situation, and the decision makers are so cocksure of themselves that they don't bother operating in the fog. Brandon O'Neill has called these people ahistorical and I concur. They don't know history, and they don't care. What I marvel at is the degree of decentralised harmonisation that one can see at play in western and in partuicular in US media in such circumstances. Either they play along willingly and tacitly, or they are out of their depth and simply overwhelmed with events they have no time (or inclination or knowledge) to think through. Or is it just an elite consensus of an old boys and gals crowd, some sort of DC insisder intellectual incest? I can't otherwise explain the piss poor performance we see with the hair-dos on tv and in the severely skewed reporting one can read in the newspapers. The problem inherent in that is that not just the public but in particular the political sides is never fully or orperly informed, and thus prone fall prey to believing their own propaganda. And these people are necessarily mislading their publics as much as their enemies. Regime change ops like this require secrecy and, more importantly, it inevitably requires domestic propaganda (something putatively prohibited in the US). It's a small step from staying on message to believe all that crap yourself. It probably is one way to calm the inevitable dissonance arising from knowing better and selling something else in full knowledge it is wrong. Believing that wrong is right must be tempting then, even kore so among true believers who want to be good, want to do good. It is small comfort that, of all things, they would find their redemtrion in self delusion. And of course, all of it flies on the face of parliementary oversight (and in the US, the odds are the overseers are fully on board wih any of this) and government transparency. The intel people then must be the perpetual skunks at the picknick, whose views endanger the policy – dangerous people who must be reigned in and watched with suspicion. It is worse, however, when the Intel people want to be team players and drink the proverbial kool aid. A thankless job. Afterthought: In a sense, the intelligence apparatus was rid of a conflict of interest when it was to drop the subversive mission and when Reagan outsourced it to bodies like NED. The underlying propblem however wasn't not one of the intelligence services but one of the US government wanting policies regardles of facts on the ground. That problem persists regardles of reorganisation. It is as curent now as it was in 2003 or during Iran-Contra." Confused Ponderer
CP is a German friend who studies world affairs and in particular the United States. The link below might assist the discussion. pl
It is undoubtedly true that they are lying, air-headed, chicken hawk no-good hair-dos on legs.
But are they actually convincing the public?
I think the last poll stated that those favouring intervention in The Ukraine was somewhere in the low tens.
Neville Chamberlain ran into the same problems in the late 30’s. The British press proprietors were foursquare behind Old Umbrella and his canny policy of appeasement. Editorial after editorial thundered their applause. Harold Nicolson was ruthlessly banned from the BBC.
But everyone was seeing through the press. It was baloney. When asked to vote on it in the Bridgwater bye election of November 1938, they voted overwhelmingly against it.
Its the same now. Ordinary people can sense bullshit.
I recall, during the Kosovo War, the repeated EU claims of 3000 Kosovars murdered by Serbs.
After the war, no evidence was found supporting that claim.
It was war propaganda.
Are they convincing the public? The answer is no. Hilary Clinton was at some event last night and mentioned Putin behaving like Hitler. (I believe I saw the clip on Charlie Rose’s show on Bloomberg.) Charlie of course pointed out the problem was not her thinking, but ‘the public’ because it was ‘unscripted. Right. I also think the world is on our fourth or fifth Hitler:
Syrian President Assad – of course he is – Hitler
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – Hitler
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Hitler
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein – Hitler
Did I miss one, other than the actual Hitler? Doesn’t anyone recognize that trap to one’s own thinking?
Of course the great news in Detroit Michigan is that the city is not getting bailed out; the pensions are getting cut just like the wages were. Obama’s former fund raiser did manage to find close to a quarter billion in revenue to give to Oligarch, ah ‘billionaire’ Mike Illych to build a new hockey arena – in which he will control all use and revenue. Meanwhile foreign citizens in Ukraine will get a billion dollars with which to pay back loans made by Russian owned banks, because surely Ukrainians are more deserving of bailouts that American citizens who earned pensions after a lifetime of work. You won’t hear that on the news, you will get treated to soon to be millionaire reporter who quite RT television. That is certainly more important than in depth reporting on why the United States needs to commit financial and military power in a former Soviet republic on the other side of planet Earth.
I’m sure the Ukrainians will great us as liberators, at least the ones we bribed.
Col: “Or is it just an elite consensus of an old boys and gals crowd, some sort of DC insisder intellectual incest? I can’t otherwise explain the piss poor performance we see with the hair-dos on tv and in the severely skewed reporting one can read in the newspapers.”
When the reporters are married to the policy makers (Mitchell-Greenspan, Amanpour-Rubin, etc), should we be surprised that government policy is reflected in the broadcast media?
We’ve created our own Ox-bridge closed intellectual loop.
This Ashton tape that b highlights is rather striking. I recommend his post to anyone.
CP! Your post hits the nail on the head! I could not agree more with it. There are estimates floating around that 70% of the entire IC budget goes out to contractors and one might ask how reliable is that source? I understand most of these contracts are sole source.
My expertise from a life long career in Emergency Management [defined in my website at http://www.vacationlanegrp.com] has little or nothing to do with the subject of this blog and its comments but I try!
One very very basic principle of EM [the first principle is that the Constitution is not waivable in any crisis or emergency] is that Public Affairs in the US governments organizations is usually propaganda or counter-propaganda [the analytic framework of William Greener who at one-time headed DoD Public Affairs]! An entirely different construct is Emergency Public Information which is a highly technical art or science that includes such things as issuance of PARs [PAR= Protective Action Recommendation (example being shelter-in-place or evacuate]!
Unfortunately we have the recent Administrations being unable to avoid the distinction I have made so that e.g. Jay Carney believes he is in control of information on domestic disasters and crises when in fact he is not! Storm Sandy is an example! Federal relief for that storm largely rewarded negligent or gross negligence in governance circles in NY, NYC, AND NJ for years of unwise development in hazardous area. Congress helped!
A WH unable to understand the distinction I have made will end up killing people. I am sure the dreamers in this and other Administrations have killed many for their failure to understand the points made in this post by CP!
Again I recommend the Masterpiece Contemporary Theater show “PAGE EIGHT”! It effectively makes CP point. Perhaps Alan Farrell can review it?
I guess when they were being paid before this event, it was OK but now they want to be drama artists:
This kind of unsupported claim has been made repeatedly as propaganda meme. Examples extend back to VN and continue up through the wild claims of mass graves in Iraq. These claims were in the main shown to be of casualties of the Iran-Iraq War. pl
“70% of the entire IC budget goes out to contractors and one might ask how reliable is that source?” you have said this before and I disagree with your point. In fact, the IC cannot afford the downstream costs of non-contractor employees that are needed given the present excessive workload. as for the reliability of the workers, most are former full time IC people. If you are thinking of snowden, there have been defectors from the full time work force, many defectors. he joined the IC work force with the intention of defecting. pl
It is all “incest.” I suggest that the term CPMC is a fitting response to the ancient meme MIC. pl
Col PL, Have you ever been contacted by State?
Not since I retired from government they consider me to be toxic. I do role playing in national war games but, there, the government wants a foil. pl
Are there German equivalents to the NED? pl
also Stockholm Syndrome.
seemed more like a tactical career move.
CorpsMedia pulls the plug and unpersons people who attempt conspicuous displays of principle or deviate from the official version of how-things-are.
I think that a truly revolutionary change is the fact that comments can be posted on reports in newspapers. This is a quite recent development, but seems to me already in the process of changing the political landscape.
Here, the similarities and differences between what happened in Britain in 1938-9 and the present may be worth reflection.
From the time of Hitler’s rise, there had been influential voices – an example being the great American foreign correspondent Edgar Ansel Mowrer, whose polemic ‘Germany Puts the Clock Back’ was first published in January 1933, just as Hitler was taking power – arguing against ‘appeasement’.
What happened in the months following Munich – and particularly after the German occupation of the unambiguously non-German rump of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 – was that an already elaborated point of view, which had hitherto been widely regarded with scepticism, came to be generally seen as vindicated by events.
At the moment, what is striking is the extent to which radical criticisms of the directions in which U.S., and more generally Western, foreign policy have developed since the end of the Cold War continue to be marginalised in the mainstream media. The lack of substantive disagreement with the approaches taken by the U.S. and E.U. on the Ukraine is, frankly, remarkable.
What is also however remarkable is the degree of scepticism among the general public which is revealed in the comments on articles in the MSM in Britain, right across the political spectrum.
Of particular interest has been the treatment both by the MSM and by commenters of the bugged conversation between the Estonian Foreign Minister and the E.U. ‘High Representative’, Baroness Ashton. It is clear from the comments that the story has gone viral on the internet.
The ‘Guardian’ did report it, but opened by suggesting that:
‘A leaked phone call between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet has revealed that the two discussed a conspiracy theory that blamed the killing of civilian protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on the opposition rather than the ousted government.’
That this report was tendentious in the extreme was immediately pointed out in the comments. The oldest comment, with 200 recommendations, reads ‘Conspiracy theory LOL’; to which another commenter responded ‘more like conspiracy fact this time’ – securing 530 recommendations.
(See http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/05/ukraine-bugged-call-catherine-ashton-urmas-paet )
Across the political spectrum, the ‘best rated’ comment on an article by the paper’s chief political correspondent seems worth reproducing in full:
‘Do we want a war with Russia? This bear bating is frankly absurd.
‘1). We rake Russia over the coals over the issue of gay rights while cosying up to Islamic regimes that hang people for sodomy.
‘2). We hope and pray for the Sochi games to be a disaster and pout when they are not.
‘3). We organize rent-a-mob to depose the elected president of Ukraine and replace him with a man of our choosing. Our friends appear to have shot at the protesters in order to dial up the temperature.
‘We then scream about Russian interference in a sovereign state. Of course, the independence of other countries is sacrosanct to the EU and US.
‘My God the homosexual lobby are powerful these days. We’ll support Al-Qaeda in Syria and murderers in Ukraine just to blow a raspberry at Putin.
(See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/10679121/Ukraine-crisis-We-confront-Vladimir-Putin-now-yet-appeased-him-before.html )
On the previous thread, Babak Makkinejad referred to an FT editorial on the Ukraine, and the comments upon it. Although the gulf between the ‘party line’ and the readership is nothing like as strong among readers of the FT as it is among readers of the ‘Telegraph’, even here there is no longer anything like a clear majority in support of the paper’s editorial line.
Did the readers of signs pick up on this oracular utterance late last year …
German eh? I thought the “Jugoslavia” was a typo until I read that. A hold over into English from his German.
I agree with your observations.
I would submit to you all of this embodies a kind of institutional madness ( characterized by corrupt and incompetent elites with a need for a constant war/crisis footing ) this is common in the death spiral of most empires. America’s just differs a bit,because the now frenetic pace of technological change is time compressing everything….And all of those damn atom bombs laying about all over the planet.
As we say in the aviation business,” strap in tightly folks, cause it’s going to be a bumpy ride back to planet earth”. Or alternatively, “why are the little houses turning into big houses so quickly?”
PL! Respectfully disagree with your analysis! The CIA e.g. has a pension system more generous than either the Armed Forces pension system or Civil Service!
And the stress of IC work so great many seek second careers as contractors to the IC?
These people are still repeating the story, and are still looking for mass graves.
Of course, they are calling those who are still looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq nuts.
Money is money and we/they can collect both. Additionally, a lot of people really like the work. pl
This is an excellent post and I agree. Something changed in the 21st Century.
The world is run by a very few people; maybe 2,000, and they are very rich and live in a world separate from the rest of us. Wealth in the West that comes from making and selling mass market items is in decline due to lower incomes. Western corporate growth is now driven by war, regime change and looting distressed societies; Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Iran, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. Unrest has spread across the world from Nigeria through Thailand to Venezuela.
Since blow back is inevitable, reality is hidden behind propaganda. Intelligence is stove piped. Leaders hear what they want to hear. Incompetence is rewarded. The only way to get the Western economies growing again is to end the wars of aggression, break up the too big to fail banks, and provide jobs for anyone who is unemployed. The wealthy do not want to pay for this.
Great addendum about “liberators” point: nobody seems to remember that the same lot of Ukrainians (well, their grandfathers) did greet the Nazis as liberators in 1941 (and there are plenty of pictures on the internet, at least for now).
I don’t want to begrudge the russophobic subset of the Ukrainians: that they don’t like the Russians is a fact, based on undeniable history. (although I do find it ironic that the most russophobic of the Ukrainians, the Galicians, were NOT victims of Holodomor, as they were part of Poland at the time. But then, most Jewish victims of the Nazis were not Zionists, but assimilated Jews in their respective countries, notwithstanding the Zionist appropriation of their memory.) In the end, however, gratitude of some Ukrainians is no consolation for the instability that the whole mess is creating and the amount of resources that will be taken away from the needs of the American people to deal with it…
It is not “incompetent elites”, rather hubristic elites that have brought NATO and Russia to this juncture; in my opinion.
Among the protagonists of this drama only Putin has – distantly – some military background and experience. The US and EU elected leaders have none.
A friend of mine explained it to me like this: “You either have $ 100 million dollars or you are a nobody.”
There are six federally funded ‘Parteinahe Stiftungen’:
Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (CDU, non-profit association)
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (SPD, non-profit association)
Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit (FDP; foundation)
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (Greens, non-profit association)
Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung (CSU, non-profit association)
Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (Die Linke, non-profit association)
From what I read, NED-world was very loosely modelled after them.
I think in comparison with the US spin-offs the German foundations are generally more benign.
They do consultation on legislation, good governance, hold seminars, give stipends to students foreign and domestic, build relations and do generally helpful stuff like that. They also do studies from the respective organisations political POV.
So, they are similar structurally, but not necessarily in terms of their actual activities or the scope and extent of their activities.
That said, that was when I last looked.
They may have changed towards more American lines of operation, or NED world may have farmed out part of their activities to them (with Germany being eager to help in order to improve relations). That would be a distinct possibility.
In the Cold War the major ones they must have been also involved heavily in activities that culminated in the Helsinki Accords.
Anyway, the German foundations did a lot of work in the transition period in ‘New Europe’ and South Africa. And I think they largely did good work.
As a result of such consultation, a surprising number of the former Warsaw Pact states states largely adopted at least in part German constitutional and administrative law.
We have drawn some relevant lessons from communist and authoritarian rule, and I think that they could have done worse than to copy. I was told by a participant in these consultations that the countries explicitly rejected the US model of constitutional law for its weaknesses.
Iirc the Hungarians had basically a copy of our Grundgesetz until Orban had it revised for not being Hungarian enough (and incidentally too restrictive towards his ambitions of perpetual Fidecz rule).
But I digress.
The Chassidic Communities of Eastern Europe bore the brunt of the Shoah as they were too poor to flee. They were also staunch opponents to Zionism.
PL! Assuming this comment might have been headed in my direction why did they retire?
A contractor treats its employees better than the government ad you can collect both pays. pl
VietNam Vet! Good comment! Some individuals more astute than me believe that off the book financial instruments are at the root of the problem and the fact that capital flows in bites and bits cannot be regulated.
Some of these individuals tell me Snowden’s theft was designed to be fully disclosed to the MSM and public at some point in time. They state most of the theft occurring in the virtual world of bites and bits, even if discovered, will not be disclosed by the perps or those victimized for perhaps obvious reasons.
As you have state technology run rampant. Perhaps the LUDDITES had some merit in their beliefs.
Extract from wiki:
The Luddites were 19th-century English textile artisans who protested against newly developed labour-saving machinery from 1811 to 1817. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.
Although the origin of the name Luddite (/ˈlʌd.aɪt/) is uncertain, a popular theory is that the movement was named after Ned Ludd, a youth who allegedly smashed two stocking frames in 1779, and whose name had become emblematic of machine destroyers. The name evolved into the imaginary General Ludd or King Ludd, a figure who, like Robin Hood, was reputed to live in Sherwood Forest.
The Chinese penetration of S.America larger that pre-WWII German penetration. The Monroe Doctrine dead long ago because US unable to enforce it. IMO of course!
PL! So is anything going on in the IC inherently governmental?
You have seen too many movies. IC contractors are supplements to the IC agencies’ work force. they work under IC agency supervision. People leave the IC and armed forces because they can and because they can do better outside military or civil service status. Duty or work on the IC is not fun. These agencies hire or seek the assignment of intelligent, well educated people and then they treat them poorly. These agencies are run on the basis of: patronage, cliques, affirmative action foolishness and a general indifference to the people. Personnel are required to fly tens of thousands of miles in economy class arriving as physical wrecks required to work immediately in complex tasks. TDY vouchers are closely scrutinized to find errors that can require re-imbursement of the government. Cheap hotels are a rule. Is it surprising that good people seek better treatment and income? After I left the government with 34 years service I never rode in economy class again. I was well paid. I did not have to disclose my total assets to some bureaucrat and I became accustomed to staying in five star hotels. what is it that you want? Is it that the government make slaves out of its people , reject their service as annuitants or that pimply faced snotty little pricks like Snowden and Chelsea Manning be taken on? pl
PS: I seem to recall that Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung staff was being expelled from Egypt, notably together with people from NED, among others.
That may be an indicator that the German Parteinahe Stiftungen have taken up the sort of work NED is doing.
PL! Thanks for the from your head and heart response. Unlike you as a second generation civil servant I expected little in monetary awards or rewards or otherwise but was content to perform faithful service on behalf of the other taxpayers and citizens and residents of the USA!
I decided in my teens that MAMMON was not to be worshiped!
I did hope to attend the US Naval Academy but at age 12 eyesight needed correction. The standard for the Academy in my time was 20-20 without correction. The US Army trained me as a Forward OBSERVER–go figure. I shot Expert in basic training in torrential rain with eyeglasses. Much to the surprise of my DI and Range Safety Officer.
My. My. Bless you. we are not all such saints. My family has served in the US Army sine the WBS. We reserve the right to bitch about the system. pl
Not because we are militarily unable, but because as a culture/people,we have lost the will.
Not to mention the small fact that our cultural,political,business elites at the helm couldn’t find their own butts with a road map. Much less could they do something manly (oh My god! I’m sexist)like defend our key interests.
Colonel, Sir – of course you and your blog and most of the commenters are ‘toxic’.(and followed by NSA?) I thoroughly enjoyed the contribution of Confused Ponderer and the comment of Viet Vet.
Finally I read a clearly stated observations of the remarkable conformity of media in the West, as if manipulated from behind by an ‘invisible hand’. The nearly ‘unisono’ timing of the news and commentaries is uncanny. I believe that the higher managements of all media are reading the same ‘user manual’ – and they enforce the guidelines with great precision. Anyone below them is watched for toeing the line, here in the West as well as all over the world. The high managerial positions in the media are of course political assignments and the people in power decide who is going to get those jobs. This is evident when reading the press or watching Western TV – with very sporadic exceptions and fig-leaf midnight programs. The recent ‘eclat’ about resignations of Russian TV anchorwoman makes the ‘freedom of media in the West’ more transparent – that resignation ‘on air’ has never been seen in the West until the Russian TV case. It seems that there is less freedom of expression for those working in the Western media – for fear of reprisal or being dismissed. There are cases of people quietly resigning from responsible positions in order not to be ‘blacklisted’ in future job search. (cases in point – several prominent anchor-people leaving mass media and joining the Al Jazeera America channel, or Gen. Shinseki – although this is a different story). An old joke from the good old Soviet time era comes to mind: An American and a Soviet try to compare their freedoms – the American says – I can go in front of the White House and scream ‘you Eisenhower, you scum you, SOB ‘ and nothing will happen to me. The Soviet says – ‘ we have the same freedom, we can go in front of Kremlin and scream ‘ you Eisenhower, you SOB”. Now – ironically, a person in the RT-TV in the USA can go and pronounce on –air how bad the Russian leadership is.
After all – it is ‘economy stupid’ for the lower echelons in the media, those who are not independently wealthy and can do without that job, it is a hard choice – if they lose the job and become boycotted, their career is in jeopardy, their family, their standard of living can be immediately negatively affected, and they have no choice but to stay in the West, because the alternative is not available, unless they would ‘vote with their feet’ and emigrate to the ‘opposite camp’ (i.e. Russia, China, or –tongue in cheek, Saudi Arabia). After all “life is better here” that is why so much conformity. Until the standard of living will be nearly equalized and the language barriers will be less important – the West has an advantage. Very few Americans would want to emigrate to countries where they would need to learn a foreign language (some GI’s did do that during the Vietnam War and fled to Sweden and learned Swedish, most recent example may be Snowden who probably is adapting to life in Russia ).
SST is widely read in the government. NSA does not need to do anything. they are probably more interested in the rest of my commo suite. pl
Perhaps Mr. Putin could follow the Chinese example and get the neocons’ attention by knocking off a couple of our oligarchs. I don’t hear any outrage over the dead Chinese ones (see the links below) nor can I imagine the followers ot St. Steve Jobs – the guy who made a few billion of those economic slaves in China – would be out in the street if one of the Koch brothers or Ms. Huffington met with an ‘accident’.
“– if they lose the job and become boycotted, their career is in jeopardy, their family, their standard of living can be immediately negatively affected…”
That is in fact what happened to Phil Donahue:
“Soon after the show’s cancellation, an internal MSNBC memo was leaked to the press stating that Donahue should be fired because he opposed the imminent U.S. invasion of Iraq and that he would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.” Donahue commented in 2007 that the management of MSNBC, owned by General Electric and Microsoft, required that “we have two conservative (guests) for every liberal. I was counted as two liberals.””
As am I. Please sir, may I have your archives after you die?
Oh I remember. They murdered all of my uncles family with the exception of my uncle who walked from Lvov to Vienna.
Western Ukrainians have a deep streak of anti-semitism through them. Its the heartland of the pogram. I love the irony of Merkel giving them her full hearted support.
The EU and the Neocons have behaved despicably. Lets hope they don’t manage to kill us all.