Project Veritas. Alabama robocalls. The CNN Donald Trump Jr.-WikiLeaks story? Is the era of ‘conservative active measures’ on the media upon us? I dare say so. Gird yourself for a wild ride, as it can only get worse with nobody doing anything about it in the government.
Russian active measures, or активные мероприятия; are a form of political warfare waged by Russian (or Marxist-Leninist) intelligence services (therefore often Russian-affiliated). These measures seek to promote Russia’s objectives and insidiously undermine their adversary’s society. They are generally composed of a physical component (eg some terrible disaster of one kind or another) and then a psychological component (generally a combination of diplomatic and propaganda/disinformation activity which capitalizes on the disaster). It’s quite stimulus-response, and a bit Pavlovian — make condition, use condition.
From Wikipedia: ‘Retired KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin described active measures as “the heart and soul of Soviet intelligence”: “Not intelligence collection, but subversion: active measures to weaken the West, to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people of Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare ground in case the war really occurs.”
Well-known and accepted examples of Active Measures from the Cold War era as revealed in the Mitrokhin Archive are for example: Russia promoted a belief the CIA was associated with the JFK assassination, that the US Army had created AIDS, or that the USA was a Capitalist-imperialist war monger (via the Communist Party’s role as the principal backer of the Vietnam-era peace movement).
While there is quite a bit of evidence connecting Russia to the JFK assassination by way of Cuban intelligence and Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in Russia; as well as connecting the ‘World Peace Council’ to the KGB, there is no public evidence of any sort that Russia ‘planted’ AIDS and then blamed it on the US. So I want to be clear; but it is a famous example of disinformation and active measures worth mentioning and not entirely implausible to wonder if there is a connection to the Soviets and the epidemic. (Nearly transparent efforts by the KGB to brand the CIA as a drug distributor to black communities or to portray that AIDS is some kind of US government plot against blacks seem to be parallel, and also mirror communist efforts to drive wedges between the US government and black communities since at least the 1930’s.)
Vladimir Putin’s rise to power since 1999 has been associated with the continued use of Active Measures. His campaigns of “Blowing Up Russia” in the 1999 Russian terror attacks, annexing Crimea, and influencing the 2016 US election are already classic examples. Putin is himself a successful political product of active measures, which had been pioneered by his mentor, Yuri Andropov.
Clearly despite being opportunistic propagandists around disasters, there is evidence the Russians have directly engineered at least some of these atrocities and not simply been opportunistic. They then sought to pin the blame for the atrocity on their “main enemy”, the USA, in ways which undermine the enemy’s society. (See equating Osama Bin Laden with Chechens in 1999, relaying him as perpetrator of 9/11 to Bush in 2001, to now claiming that groups like Al Qaeda are US created, when the evidence is quite to the contrary and may even implicate Russia as Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s sponsor. This kind of narrative reinforces the “inside job” / “false flag 9/11” narrative, which is connected to proven Russian influence agents from 2016.)
It is quite economical politically. It is clear that despite being “liars”, the Russians feel the ends justify the means because the outcome of these Active Measures will create conditions in which the target population’s biases and beliefs are confirmed, it will degrade their enemy, and ultimately create momentum/fertile ground for the next “attack”.
It seems to be the case today in the conservative movement’s stated war on “Main Stream Media” (MSM) that they are also willing to not only fabricate the evidence for their claims, but use that fabricated evidence to “prove their point” on their political views. It is eerily similar to the Russian active measures, but seems to be independent of Russian influence.
It is clear some conservative operatives are glad to fake the evidence as it will help them win elections and the ends justify the means. One need only look to the self-professed Leninist Steve Bannon or the apparent internet troll-turned political consultant James O’Keefe. Consider examples like “Pizzagate” (Bannon-amplified), the recent anti-Semitic Alabama robocalls tarnishing the Washington Post (*unattributed), or the false Roy Moore accuser (attributed O’Keefe’s Project Veritas).
It is all political warfare. They can’t find legitimate evidence for their beliefs in ‘reality’ so they create it in reality. A ‘false, self-fulfilling prophecy’. Collateral damage to society be damned as the revolution needs blood to lubricate itself. It is ‘Marxist-Leninist’ political warfare plain and simple – subvert and destroy your enemy and other’s opinion of them in a way which confirms your own follower’s beliefs.
From that end, we should be very suspect about who shopped the story to CNN about the connection between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks in this era of ‘conservative active measures’. There’s no proof yet, but it fits the modus operandi of so-far proven “O’keefian” conservative political warfare which seems to be increasingly prevalent. No Russians required.