"NATO" can be a rather elusive concept: Libya was a NATO operation, even though Germany kept out of it. Somalia was not a NATO operation even though Germany was in it. Canada, a founding NATO member, was in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. Some interventions are NATO, others aren't. But it doesn't really mean much because NATO is only a box of spare parts out of which Washington assembles "coalitions of the willing". So it's easier for me to write "NATO" than "Washington plus/minus these or those minions".
We are told - incessantly - that Putin is "Winning the Information War", "We have no counterattack to Russia's information warfare". Nonsense. The real information war is being conducted by the British Army's "77th Brigade", the soldiers of Fort Bragg, NATO's Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. Or by the BBC, RFE/RL, Deutsch Welle, AFP et al; each of whose budgets is many multiples of RT's. They manipulate; they dominate; they predate; Moscow is a minor newcomer.
I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist or any other kind of psychist, but I cannot fail to notice the projection and gaslighting practised by Washington and its minions. They accuse Russia of doing things that they actually do - projection - and they manipulate our perception of reality - gaslighting. I will discuss gaslighting in the next essay.
Wikipedia defines projection as
Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually intolerant may constantly accuse other people of being intolerant. It incorporates blame shifting.Another source calls it a "defence mechanism":
Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings.
Russia, we are told, interfered in the US presidential election. And Brexit, and France, and Germany, Hungary, Greece, populism, and and and. The American story has metamorphosed from its initial version which was supposed to have been an attempt to elect Trump into an attempt to sow division in US society. The NYT attempts to explain how both stories fit together. The absurdity of the charge was shown when the 3500 or so Facebook ads paid for by the so-called Internet Research Agency were revealed: they were all over the place. Even more amusingly, Mueller, who no doubt thought he was safe to indict a Russian company, is trying to get out of having to prove it now that the company's lawyers have shown up. If the matter ever does come to trial it will likely show that the whole operation was a scam designed to create interest groups to sell advertising to. (Which would explain why the majority of the ads appeared after the election: the election was the bait to create the groups.)
This is projection at its most obvious: the USA is by far the world champion at interfering in other people's elections. No less an Establishment outlet than the Washington Post (one of the principals in sustaining Putindunnit hysteria) listed many in: "The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere"; but piously insisted "the days of its worst behavior are long behind it".
A quick diversion from the sordid reality of the rigged Democratic Party nomination - "don't blame us for doing it, blame Russia for revealing it!" - attributed to Russia what it denied in itself. The actual interference, we now learn, was not by Russia on the outside but by, among others, FBI officials on the inside.
A textbook illustration of blame shifting, isn't it?
NATO justifies itself by pretending to solve the problems it creates: Canada/Libya leads to Libya/Mali leads to Canada/Mali. When the documents about the broken expansion promise were published, we saw that NATO's own "false memory syndrome" had been projected onto Moscow.
This NYT headline from last year perfectly shifts the blame: "Russia's Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression".
Does anyone remember Gay Girl in Damascus tweeting about the horrors of life in Syria under Assad? Not gay, not girl, not Damascus. How about Sarah Abdallah, who, the BBC tells us is "a mysterious and possibly fictitious social media celebrity [who] tweets constant pro-Russia and pro-Assad messages". But she actually exists. But the champion of champions is surely Bana from Aleppo whose English abilities declined so dramatically when she got out (and few wondered how, in a destroyed city, her Internet service could be so good). Aleppo has mostly disappeared from the West's news outlets but here is AFP's coverage a year later (a less NATOcentric view here). Even with the obligatory propaganda twists - "pro-regime residents back on the streets" - it's obviously a better place after the "Assad regime" reclaimed it than it was when Bana wanted to start World War III. Believing Gay Girl, believing Bana, denigrating Sara is projection: because projectors live in a world of falsehood, they assume that everything they do not fake themselves must be faked by someone else.
And we're still waiting for Kerry's "we observed it", a coherent Skripal story (here's one but it's not the authorities'), actual evidence of the Russian "invasion" and many other things that we were told were anything but "fake news". Believing NATO's stories requires crimestop: if you doubt 76 missiles hit this site (here's just one), then you must be a Russian troll or a victim of Russian fake news.
Don't look here, look there: our fakery is real, their reality is fake.
The concern over Russia's influence in the West has grown considerably in the past few years, particularly the Russian regime's use of information technologies to malign unfriendly Western politicians and undermine the Western public's faith in democracy.
Operation Mockingbird in the 1950s, through Udo Ulfkotte's Bought Journalists to today:
The 1,200-strong psychological operations unit based at Fort Bragg turns out what its officers call 'truthful messages' to support the United States government's objectives, though its commander acknowledges that those stories are one-sided and their American sponsorship is hidden. (New Yorker, December 2005).Clearly NATO is projecting what it is actually doing onto Russia.
Our vision is to be the main source of expertise in the field of cooperative cyber defence by accumulating, creating, and disseminating knowledge in related matters within NATO, NATO nations and partners. (NATO, October 2008)
A contest to re-design the USAF Cyberwarrior Badge (2010)
Three years later the accusations have not been substantiated, but they have served their purpose nonetheless: NATO dispatched cyber warfare experts to Estonia shortly after the events of 2007 and on May 14, 2008 the military bloc established what it calls the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in the nation's capital of Tallin. (2010)
The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age. (Guardian, January 2015)
Members of the Military Information Support Task Force-Central influence and persuade targets or intended audiences within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to reject those enemy narratives and violent extremist ideologies in order to establish conditions for long-term regional stability. (CENTCOM, April 2017).
The Army announced on Wednesday (Nov. 29) that a team of its researchers would work alongside scientists from Ukraine and Bulgaria to 'understand and ultimately combat disinformation attacks in cyberspace. (November, 2017)
NATO worried about "hybrid war", apparently something Russia practised. This writer tells us it is sometimes called the "Gerasimov doctrine" after an article written in 2013 (note the date) by the Chief of the Russian General Staff.
According to Gerasimov, the lessons of the Arab Spring are that if the 'rules of war' have changed, the consequences have not - the results of the 'colored revolutions' are that a 'thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe and civil war.'
In short the theoretical foundation of this supposedly amazing, tricky, sinister and almost invisible Russian way of waging war originates in a paper written about Western-inspired "colour revolutions". Like the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia (ten years before Gerasimov's paper), the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine (nine), the 2005 Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (eight). Once upon a time to get rid of a ruler you didn't like, you invaded his country and, months later, fished him out of a hole and hanged him. But it's much cheaper to invest money ($5 billion in Ukraine we are told) to organise protests and overthrow him. And, as we have seen in Ukraine, sometimes it becomes a real shooting war, with real dead bodies and entrails. Sometimes the one thing, sometimes the other; but it's all conflict, and it's all "hybrid". It's "hybrid" because it uses many methods to bring about the desired regime change: propaganda, manipulation, protest and, occasionally, a little judicious bombing or sniping.
So how ironic - how "hybrid" - to accuse Gerasimov of inventing something that began years earlier. His so-called textbook of Russian "hybrid war" is actually a response to the real "hybrid war" that Washington practises.
Projection: accusing Russia of doing what you are actually doing.
mercilessly bombed - we heard about it for months. "Carpet bombing". "War crimes". The boy in the ambulance. Humanitarian convoys intentionally hit (although Bellingcat has become sloppy with his faked evidence). The implication was that Russia just threw lots of bombs around while NATO was precise, surgical.
We heard rather less about Mosul or Raqqa. Although that may change: even the managed Western media/human rights apparat has noticed the stunning, indiscriminate destruction.
Islamic State fighters have now essentially been defeated in Mosul after a nine-month, US-backed campaign that destroyed significant parts of Iraq's second largest city, killing up to 40,000 civilians and forcing as many as one million more people from their homes.20,000 bombs, 30,000 artillery rounds, altogether, about one per five pre-war occupants! Amnesty International condemned the NATO bombing of Raqqa: "we witnessed a level of destruction comparable to anything we've seen".
But, as "The Persistent Myth of US Precision Bombing" shows, the US military has always pretended "surgical precision" while scattering prodigious numbers of bombs. "America has no idea how many innocent people it's killing in the Middle East" said the Independent in 2017. Even the Establishment-friendly NYT concluded that the US military greatly understated the number of civilians it kills - reporting maybe as few as 4%! At least eight wedding parties. But the quantity of bombs dropped makes a mockery of "precision": by its own count 114,000 weapons since 2013 on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Who can believe there are a hundred thousand pinpoint targets in those countries? "The detonation of the bombs as they hit the ground appears to be pretty huge." In Afghanistan the USAF is now bombing to "shape the terrain" - geological bombing.
If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble.
A tour through the rubble in Mosul.
To say nothing of the sustained destruction of a clearly marked and identified hospital in Afghanistan. (A mistake, for which no one was punished.)
Projection again: don't look here, look over there.
The USSR did lots of things in its time - influencing, fiddling elections, regime changes, fake news, projection and so on. But the Communist Party was the "leading and guiding force" in those days; today it's the opposition; the Comintern is gone but Mockingbird is not. Things have changed in Moscow, but NATO rolls on.
Which, when you think of it, is the problem.
I leave you with this simple rule of thumb:
Every time NATO accuses Russia of doing something
you know it's doing it itself.
And reflect on this: NATO and its propaganda minions are so unimaginative that they cannot imagine Russia doing anything but what they are doing. That's why they are surprised all the time.
About the author: Patrick Armstrong was an analyst in the Canadian Department of National Defence specialising in the USSR/Russia from 1984 and a Counsellor in the Canadian Embassy in Moscow in 1993-1996. He retired in 2008 and has been writing on Russia and related subjects on the Net ever since.