Neocon Anne Applebaum: Give Me Money To Fight ‘Russian Disinformation’! – OpEd

Neocon Anne Applebaum has never seen a bed she did not expect to find an evil Russian lurking beneath. More than a quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, she cannot let go of that hysterical feeling that, “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!” In screeching screed after screeching screech, Applebaum is, like most neocons, a one trick pony: the US government needs to spend more money to counter the threat of the month. Usually it’s Russia or Putin. But it can also be China, Iran, Assad, Gaddafi, Saddam, etc.

There is no doubt that Applebaum is a true believer that Putin wants to destroy our democratic institutions, but there is also a more pedestrian way to understand her endless obsession: it pays well to hype up big threats. In fact, according to a mandatory Polish government disclosure (her husband was Polish defense and foreign minister before being forced out in disgrace after an eavesdropping scandal), Applebaum has made out like a bandit for a humble journalist and think-tanker.

As I wrote when her scandal broke:

Interestingly, Applebaum demands transparency for everyone else while rejecting it for herself. A recent mandatory income declaration of her husband to the Polish government shows that her income has skyrocketed from $20,000 in 2011 to more than $800,000 in 2013. No explanation was given for this massive influx of cash, though several ventures in which she has a part are tied to CIA and National Endowment for Democracy-affiliated organizations. Could Applebaum be one of those well-paid propagandists about whom she complains so violently?

Applebaum’s latest Washington Post column is about…you guessed it: the danger of Russian disinformation! Here is a synopsis of Applebaum’s latest Cold War 2.0 propaganda piece from this weekend:

1) The mainstream media has taken a beating. The old business model is no longer working. There are too many new sources of information available, which makes it harder for people to judge the accuracy of what they read.

My comment: Indeed, the US mainstream media no longer controls what we see, read, and think. Applebaum cannot stand that there are websites challenging the central neoconservative foreign policy paradigm. She hates organizations like the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity (she even blocked us on Twitter!).

She longs for the days when you could only pick up a Washington Post or a New York Times and had no chance of discovering opposing opinions.

In other words, Anne Applebaum misses the Soviet-style monochrome media that she pretends to despise so much.

2) As a result of mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post losing their monopoly over shaping foreign policy opinion, as she writes: “authoritarian regimes, led by Russia but closely followed by China, have begun investing heavily in the production of alternatives.”

My comment: Applebaum is saying here that it’s all our fault that the Russians are coming because as soon as the Internet and alternative news and analysis sites offered a point of view different from Applebaum’s neocons, we played into the hands of the Russians by ignoring the Washington Post and turning to alternatives. If we had only kept our faith in the neocon worldview, the Russians would not be set to take us over.

3) This new Cold War is even worse than the old Cold War! Unlike back then, in the new Cold War, as Applebaum writes, “Russia does not seek to promote itself, but rather to undermine the institutions of the West, often using discordant messages.”

My comment: Anne Applebaum offers no evidence or even clues to back her claim. But what she is saying is that by allowing voices to be heard that run counter to the Washington Post and neocon foreign policy paradigm, Russian-funded outlets like RT are seeking to sow “confusion” among Western listeners and viewers. Applebaum does not want us to be “confused” by messages that run counter to the neocon view of a US empire fighting endless wars against manufactured enemies. We would be far less “confused” if we would all just read Anne Applebaum and stop questioning the neocons!

4) Don’t worry, this effort to sow confusion is being countered.

Applebaum writes:

Some countries are waking up to this, especially those that have been hardest hit. The invasion, occupation and dismemberment of Ukraine in 2014 was preceded by a highly effective propaganda blitz that fomented confusion in Russian-speaking areas and blinded both Ukrainians and Westerners to what was really going on. In response, Ukrainian organizations such as StopFake began to expose and ridicule Russian propaganda.

My comment: She does not explain exactly what that “propaganda blitz” looked like. Was it the release of the tape of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland plotting the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Kiev? Well, according to Applebaum, at least the noble, independent NGOs are spontaneously springing up across Europe to counter this Russian propaganda blitz!

Except for one problem: The “StopFake” organization that she praises is not a grassroots Ukrainian organization as she would have us believe. In fact it’s a George Soros astroturf organization, funded by his International Renaissance Foundation. In other words, “StopFake” is fake.

5) In fact, when it comes to funding, Anne Applebaum knows which side of her bread is buttered. As the Washington Post notes in the article’s byline: “Anne Applebaum, a Post columnist, and Edward Lucas, a senior editor at the Economist, are this week launching a counter-disinformation initiative at the Center for European Policy Analysis, where they are, respectively, senior vice president and senior adjunct fellow.”

My comment: Who funds the (Washington, D.C.-based) Center for European Policy Analysis? The United States Department of Defense and a handful of US defense contractors!

From their own website:

Recent donors to CEPA include:

Bell Helicopter
Boeing
Chevron Corporation
FireEye
Lockheed Martin Corporation
New Vista Partners
Raytheon Company
Sikorsky Aircraft
Textron Systems
The East Tennessee Foundation
The Hirsch Family Foundation
The Hungarian Initiatives Foundation
The International Visegrad Fund
The Poses Family Foundation
The Smith Richardson Foundation
U.S. Department of Defense

There are one or two surprises on the above list. The Hungarian government of Viktor Orban has been quite cautious about following the neocon line that any resistance to massive refugee inflows from the Middle East are signs of unforgivable xenophobia and that Russia and Putin must be resisted at all costs. In fact, Orban’s opposition in Hungary is furious that he is not following the Russia-bashing neocon line. So why is the Hungarian government-funded Hungarian Initiatives Foundation backing Anne Applebaum’s neocon initiative to demonize Russia? Good question. Maybe Fidesz supporters will want to ask their government why their tax money is going to such a worthless, anti-Fidesz cause.

6) And again on funding, we come to the crux of Anne Applebaum’s problem: the US government does not spend nearly enough money creating its own propaganda to counter what she claims is Russian propaganda. They are outspending us and outmaneuvering us!

She writes:

There is no modern equivalent to the U.S. Information Agency, an organization dedicated to coping with Soviet propaganda and disinformation during the Cold War. Although there has been some extra funding for U.S.-backed foreign broadcasters such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty , they cannot provide a complete response.

My comment: But that’s not really true, is it? The idea that the US government is pinching propaganda pennies while the Russians are going in for the whole fake news hog is not backed up by those pernicious little things called facts. In fact, the Russian government spent around $300 million on RT in 2016. Compare that with the US propaganda arm, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, whose 2017 budget runs to $777.8 million dollars, or more than two and a half that of RT. And Congress just gave the green light to another $100 million to “counter Russian influence” in its stop-gap omnibus budget. We are out-spending them three-to-one. So why are we still “losing”?

Anne Applebaum is a bitter neocon. She is furious that people no longer read the Washington Post as the authoritative voice of US foreign policy. She has apparently made a tidy fortune warning us that the Russians are coming, but she wants even more. The Washington Post still views her as an expert, but the American people, as she herself complains, are no longer interested in her worn-out fantasies. She is buried in defense industry funded think tanks and she does the bidding of her masters. Every intelligent American reader should ridicule her as the propagandist she is.

As for Russian “propaganda,” like everything else in that vast cornucopia now thankfully available for our consumption, we should read all we can while keeping our wits about us. There is no one authoritative, unbiased source of information. That we do know. But we also know that we are far more able to think for ourselves now that the neocon gatekeepers like Anne Applebaum have been defeated in the marketplace of ideas.

This article was published by RonPaul Institute.


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