Cold Wars and Profit 163


The Guardian carried a very strange piece yesterday under the heading “Stamps celebrating Ukrainian resistance in pictures”. This was the first image shown:

The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was, without any shadow of a doubt, responsible for the slaughter of at least 200,000 Polish civilians; they liquidated whole Polish communities in Volhynia and Galicia, including the women and children. The current Polish government, which is as anti-Russian and pro-NATO as they come, nevertheless has declared this a genocide. It certainly was an extremely brutal ethnic cleansing. There is no doubt either that at times between 1942 and 1944 the UPA collaborated with the Nazis and collaborated in the destruction of Jews and Gypsies. It is simplistic to describe the UPA as fascist or an extension of the Nazi regime; at times they fought the Nazis, though they collaborated more often. There is a real sense in which they operated at the level of medieval peasants, simply seizing local opportunities to exterminate rural populations and seize their land and assets, be they Polish, Jew or Gypsy. But on balance any reasonable person would have to conclude that the UPA was an utterly deplorable phenomenon. To publish a celebration of it, disguised as a graphic art piece, without any of this context, is no more defensible than a display of Nazi art with no context.

In fact the Guardian’s very brief text is still worse than no context.

Ukrainian photographer Oleksandr Kosmach collects 20th-century stamps issued by Ukrainian groups in exile during the Soviet era.

Artists and exiles around the world would use stamps to communicate the horrors of Soviet oppression. “These stamps show us the ideas and values of these people, who they really were and what they were fighting for,” Kosmach says.

That is so misleadingly partial as a description of the art glorifying the UPA movement as to be deeply reprehensible. It does however fit with the anything goes stoking of Russophobia, which is the mainstay of government and media discourse at the moment. Even at the height of the Cold War, we never saw such a barrage of unprovable accusations leveled at Russia through the media by “security service sources”.

A whole slew of these were rehearsed by Andrew Marr on his flagship BBC1 morning show. The latest is the accusation that Russia is responsible for a cyber attack on Covid-19 vaccination research. This is another totally evidence free accusation. But it misses the point anyway. The alleged cyber attack, if it happened, was a hack not an attack – the allegation is that there was an effort to obtain the results of research, not to disrupt research. It is appalling that the UK is trying to keep its research results secret rather than share them freely with the world scientific community. As I have reported before, the UK and the USA have been preventing the WHO from implementing a common research and common vaccine solution for Covid-19, insisting instead on a profit driven approach to benefit the big pharmaceutical companies (and disadvantage the global poor).

What makes the accusation that Russia tried to hack the research even more dubious is the fact that Russia had just bought the very research specified. You don’t steal things you already own.

If anybody had indeed hacked the research, we all know it is impossible to trace with certainty the whereabouts of hackers. My VPN’s are habitually set to India, Australia or South Africa depending on where I am trying to watch the cricket, dodging broadcasting restrictions. More pertinently, Wikileaks Vault 7 release of CIA material showed the specific programmes for the CIA in how to leave clues to make a leak look like it came from Russia. This irrefutable evidence that the CIA do computer hacks with apparent Russian “fingerprints” deliberately left, like little bits of Cyrillic script, is an absolutely classic example of a fact that everybody working in the mainstream media knows to be true, but which they all contrive never to mention.

Thus when last week’s “Russian hacking” story was briefed by the security services, that Jeremy Corbyn deployed secret documents on UK/US trade talks which had been posted on Reddit, after being stolen by an evil Russian who left his name of Grigor in his Reddit handle, there was no questioning in the media of this narrative. Instead, we had another round of McCarthyite witch-hunt aimed at the rather tired looking Jeremy Corbyn.

Personally, if the Russians had been responsible for revealing that the Tories are prepared to open up the NHS “market” to big American companies, including ending or raising caps on pharmaceutical prices, I should be very grateful to the Russians for telling us. Just as the world would owe the Russians a favour if it were indeed them who leaked just how systematically the DNC rigged the 2016 primaries against Bernie Sanders. But as it happens, it was not the Russians. The latter case was a leak by a disgusted insider, and I very much suspect the NHS US trade deal link was also from a disgusted insider.

When governments do appalling things, very often somebody manages to blow the whistle.

If you can delay even the most startling truth for several years, it loses much of its political bite. If you can announce it during a health crisis, it loses still more. The world therefore did not shudder to a halt when the CEO of Crowdstrike admitted there had never been any evidence of a Russian hack of the DNC servers.

You will recall the near incredible fact that, even through the Mueller investigation, the FBI never inspected the DNC servers themselves but simply relied on a technical report from Crowdstrike, the Clinton related IT security consultant for the DNC. And now know for sure that Crowdstrike had been peddling fake news for Hillary. In fact Crowdstrike had no record of any internet hack at all. There was no evidence of the email material being exported over the internet. What they claimed did exist was evidence that the files had been organised preparatory to export.

Remember the entire “Russian hacking” story was based ONLY on Crowdstrike’s say so. There is literally no other evidence of Russian involvement in the DNC emails, which is unsurprising as I have been telling you for four years from my own direct sources that Russia was not involved. Yet finally declassified Congressional testimony revealed that Shawn Henry stated on oath that “we did not have concrete evidence” and “There’s circumstantial evidence , but no evidence they were actually exfiltrated.”

This testimony fits with what I was told by Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), who told me that it was impossible that any large amount of data should be moved across the internet from the USA, without the NSA both seeing it happen in real time and recording it. If there really had been a Russian hack, the NSA would have been able to give the time of it to a millisecond. That the NSA did not have that information was proof the transfer had never happened, according to Binney. What had happened, Binney deduced, was that the files had been downloaded locally, probably to a thumb drive.

So arguably the biggest news story of the past four years, the claim that Putin effectively interfered to have Trump elected, turns out indeed to be utterly baseless. Has the mainstream media, acting on security service behest, done anything to row back from the false impression it created? No it has doubled down.

The “Russian hacking” theme keeps being brought back related to whatever is the big story of the day.
Brexit? Russian hacking.
UK General election 2019? Russian hacking
Covid-19 vaccine? Russian hacking.

Then we have those continual security service briefings. Two weeks ago we had unnamed security service sources telling the New York Times that Russia had offered the Taliban a bounty for killing American soldiers. This information had allegedly come from interrogation of captured Taliban in Afghanistan, which would almost certainly mean was obtained under torture.

It is a wildly improbable tale. The Afghans have never needed that kind of incentivisation to kill foreign invaders on their soil. It is also a fascinating throwback of an accusation – the British did indeed offer Afghans money for, quite literally, the heads of Afghan resistance leaders during the first Afghan War in 1841, as I detail in my book Sikunder Burnes.

You do not have to look back that far to realise the gross hypocrisy of the accusation. In the 1980’s the West was quite openly paying, arming and training the Taliban -including Osama Bin Laden – to kill Russian and other Soviet conscripts in their thousands. That is just one example of the hypocrisy. The US and UK security services both cultivate and bribe senior political and other figures abroad in order to influence policy all of the time. We work to manipulate the result of elections – I have done it personally in my role as a UK diplomat. A great deal of the behaviour over which western governments and media are creating this new McCarthyite anti-Russian witch hunt, is standard diplomatic practice.

My own view is that there are malign Russian forces attempting to act on government in the UK and the USA, but they are not nearly as powerful as the malign British and American forces acting on their own governments. The truth is that the world is under the increasing control of a global elite of billionaires, to whom nationality is irrelevant and national governments are tools to be manipulated. Russia is not attempting to buy corrupt political influence on behalf of the Russian people, who are decent folk every bit as exploited by the ultra wealthy as you or I. Russian billionaires are, just like billionaires everywhere, attempting to game global political, commercial and social structures in their personal interest.

The other extreme point of hypocrisy lies in human rights. So many western media commentators are suddenly interested in China and the Uighurs or in restrictions on the LBGT community in Russia, yet turn a completely blind eye to the abuse in western “allies” such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. As somebody who was campaigning about the human rights of both the Uighurs and of gay people in Russia a good decade before it became fashionable, I am disgusted by how the term “human rights” has become weaponised for deployment only against those countries designated as enemy by the western elite.

Finally, do not forget that there is a massive armaments industry and a massive security industry all dependent on having an “enemy”. Powerful people make money from this Russophobia. Expect much more of it. There is money in a Cold War.

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163 thoughts on “Cold Wars and Profit

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  • Roddy Finnie

    It is a breath of fresh air to read ‘honesty’ via your media, if I can use that term, as for years, albeit on my own personal way, I have defended the Russian people or the country itself against anyone of these phoney accusations and will continue to do so.
    Cheers

  • Charles Hedges

    Putin is a nasty anti Semitic bully, sustained by the bigotry of the Russian Orthodox Church among other reactionary forces. Nor are the anti Semitic Polish and Hungarian governments any better even if all of them have public support. Sadly the European Union is unable to pass any sanctions on Poland or Hungary.

    • Xavi

      Guardian liberals would tell you this Ukrainian Peasant Army they’re celebrating came into being primarily to combat antisemitism.

    • Stevie Boy

      Give it a rest Charley boy with your faux anti semitic BS. Putin has a long history of actually interacting with all nations, even the one’s he may not like, rather than bombing and sanctioning them like the leaders of the ‘free world’. Sure Putin is not perfect and no saint but who are you holding up as a standard of a great leader for him to emulate – Trump, Johnson, Netanyahu, Mohammad Bin Salman ?
      The real anti Semites and enemies of the Jews are the Israeli Zionists.

  • David Otness

    I can’t thank you enough for such clarity in this now interminable battle of deconstructing these propaganda battles of our time.
    You remain amongst my top heroes of these blighted and benighted times of the true sowers of discord and disinformation.
    Best wishes for your continued efforts to enlighten us all.

  • Adrian Kent

    I’m a member of a US FB group associated with a legal podcast over there (Openning Arguments) which is full of US Liberals who seem to pride themselves on their rational scepticism. It’s amazing how hugely defensive and/or abusive they are when I post the odd thing about Russiagate – The Crowdstrike testimony was ignored, Gareth Porter’s recent Grayzone piece on the dubious nature of the RussianBounty nonsense was removed as a ‘conspiracy theory’ (even though it’s subsequently been confirmed by NBC news), Craig’s ‘Pure Skripal’ piece was derided too – FBI misconduct (in FISA applications & the Flynn case) is just waved away and Julian Assange deservess what he’s getting.

    I am, needless to say, according them a Russian bot.

    On that subject have you noticed that people appear to have identified Christopher Steele’s Primary SubSource? Check out @ClimateAudit (Stephen McIntyre) for details.

    • David Otness

      It’s a relentless uphill struggle trying to break through the *left*-lite’s self-generated wall of willful ignorance, Adrian. It’s the Sisyphean struggle of our times. Best to you in our mutual struggle.

  • Mary

    Julian’s name has just been heard on the BBC in connection with this protest by Vivienne Westwood. A first.

    ‘The British fashion designer will be suspended in a 10ft high bird cage outside the Old Bailey to protest against the US extradition of Julian Assange. Speaking to ITV Good Morning Britain, Dame Vivienne Westwood claimed the Wikileaks founder has been “trapped” by the CIA.’ D Express.

    • N_

      The things some royal-decorated fashion designers who were pro-situationist 45 years ago and who sent their offspring they had with Malcom Maclaren to private school will do to advertise their brand. First she thought she was the new Andre Breton. Now it seems she wants to be the new Boris Johnson. Will she be waving a Union Jack? Perhaps she’s got a new line of expensive rubbish clothes out.

    • Mary

      Vivienne Westwood is now being interviewed live by Victoria Derbyshire on the BBC. The latter is putting the establishment case.

    • Kempe

      Crude publicity stunt. If she cares so much about human rights she could take better care of her employees and stop hiring interns.

  • N_

    The Tories say in their media such as the BBC and the Daily Express that the Russians are coming, with their funny back to front orthography and barbarian inhumanity etc., while the royal family hobnobs with Russian-area crime lords (once called “oligarchs”, now called “billionaires”), and while almost every ambitious local or central government official and representative, lawyer or medic, is in seventh heaven if they’re “cultivated”. Imagine the British press calling Russia a mafia state. What, no monarchy? How uncouth! Makes you want to defecate. Oh and the SNP and Scottish administration are up to their thieving necks in crime too. It’s about time radical critics stopped criticising the crime state in exclusively liberal, journalistic, intellectual, democratic terms. They won’t, though.

  • Stevie Boy

    Pure speculation, I know, but I always wondered who could be the prime proxy agents for the dark forces in the Skripal episode. Ukraine was at the top of the list.
    I also wonder why, at this time, an underage child is raising a legal action against the Russian state for complicity in the death of her mother, Dawn Sturgess ?
    Interesting times …

  • Glasshopper

    The “weaponisation” of human rights is indeed cringeworthy. But it’s still better than no human rights coverage at all. And to be fair, Saudi has also been on the HR radar lately too.

    Would Mr Murray be happier if the Xinjiang situation was swept under the carpet?

    • David Otness

      What say you to at one time (recently too) that 60% of ISIS fighters trapped in Idlib were / are Uighurs? The CIA, GCHQ et al along with their msm bedmates at the ‘majors,’ along with BBC, NPR, CBC have your mind apparently trapped inside the box they devised for it.
      “The Xinjiang situation” indeed.

      • Kempe

        The Syrian government put the number of Uighurs fighting in Syria at 4-5,000 but what has this to do with their persecution in China? Are you suggesting that the entire race deserve to be punished because of the actions of a few? So far about a thousand British Asians are known to have gone to fight with ISIS, is that justification to imprison and ‘re-educate’ all of them?

        • Glasshopper

          Kempe

          They are the “wrong” kind of Muslims for the loony left bigots because they undermine the narrative that all the world’s ills are the result of evil Westerners.

          In truth, they are not even Chinese, but Turkic people who have been colonised by people from thousands of miles away who covet their natural resources.

          • glenn_uk

            Which “loony left bigots” would these be?

            I ask because we were discussing logical fallacies on the next page, and you appear to have provided a classic example of a ‘straw man argument’.

    • Kempe

      China has never denied detaining Uighurs en-masse it just claims the camps are educational establishments where these people are taught a trade.

      The Nazis tried to spread similar fairy stories about Dachau.

  • Antiwar7

    This whole article is brilliant. Kudos, Craig!

    So many interesting parts:
    — Destruction of the Russian hacking narrative.
    — Pointing out the uses made by the authorities of the Russian hacking narrative.
    — Destruction of the Russian bounty narrative.
    — Pointing out the very selective concern for human rights as shown by “the West”.

  • Mike Billington

    Regarding your reference to Bill Binney/Crowdstrike, the entire “Russia interfered in the US election” hoax — the Schiller Institute is sponsoring an international press conference with Bill tomorrow, Thursday July 23, at 11:00 AM Washington DC time. The link is in the press release below. He will review his proof of “no hack of the DNC”, and focus on the fact that he briefed Pompeo, at Trump’s request, while Pompeo was CIA Director, but Pompeo sat on it — in fact, he endorsed the fake “intelligence report” by Clapper/Brennan et al.
    Here is the link;
    https://schillerinstitute.com/blog/2020/07/20/william-binney-makes-his-case-to-the-world-there-was-no-russian-hack/
    Now Christopher Steele, exposed as a liar on behalf of British intelligence in the coup attempt against Trump, has been dragged out as an “expert” by the Parliamentary committee report (along with the Integrity Initiative crew) claiming Russia stole the Scottish election and the Brexit election. Incredible, but par for the course.

  • Gerald

    I saw this article or photo essay in The Guardian, couldn’t believe my eyes! The Grauniad publishing far right/Nazi linked propaganda! Who’d have thunk it. You will see if you look at the article in question the symbols of Ukrainian nazis, which The Right Sector paramilitary and Svoboda party use to this day. Just another example to me of how appalling standards of journalism are at the Graun these days, the fact that they didn’t even recognise the symbols and their present day assossiations (or did recognise them but allowed their rabid Russophobia to get the better of them) But then why should they, they don’t care and with the British national policy being to support the Nazis in Kiev via our special forces and arms sales and assistance, maybe they just think it’s ok to support genuine no holds barred Nazis and bone fide war criminals who still shell civilian areas in Eastern Ukraine to this day. What an utter cesspit the Govt in this country and their tame pets in the press have become.

    • Mr B

      The news (Wed 22nd) was heavily pushing the point made by the Russia Report’s authors that government never asked the intelligence services to look for Russian meddling. For their part, apparently the intelligence services thought it best not to look for fear of treading on political toes…..eh???? WHAT UTTER TWADDLE!! Are we seriously expected to believe that the intelligence community just didn’t bother to look despite the near constant news stories circulating regarding Russian hacking scandals. It’s obvious that they deliberately didn’t look and were never going to be asked to look as both parties (Intelligence / govt) knew they would find little or perhaps even nothing! Perhaps if they looked they might find evidence of hacking from outside Russia?!

  • John Gilberts

    And speaking of Ukro-Nazis, this latest from Canada on the latest ‘hate-crime’. Someone painted ‘Nazi war monument’ on an stone cenotaph to the SS Galician…

    Graffiti on Monument commemorating Nazi SS Division Being Investigated as a Hate Crime by Police
    https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/graffiti-on-monument-commemorating-nazi-ss-division-being-investigated-as-a-hate-crime-by-police

    And with continuing Canadian help it seems, ‘their truth goes marching on.’
    https://twitter.com/kooleksiy/status/1235485554517560

  • Robert Monks

    A very good piece. As you mention the West is very selective in it’s sense of social justice. Saudia Arabia and it’s brutal suppression of it’s own people is acceptable, as long as they supply oil. (As well, of course, US supplying arms to Saudis. They were able to use the latest on the market I assume in their brutal attacks on people in Yemen . British arms deals with customers such as Bolsonaro.)
    Meanwhile the liberal so called left focus on identity essentialism against a background of job cuts and diminishing expectations. This apply to Australia my home too. China is convenient to have as a target.

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