Russia propaganda is designed to divide the US

Commentary

Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist
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Disinformation has been a key weapon in Vladimir Putin’s arsenal against the West for quite some time. Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and cyberattacks on the Colonial Pipeline led President Biden to press Putin to put an end to the tactics. Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan says Moscow’s cyber warfare isn’t going anywhere. He says Russia propaganda attacks are designed to attack and divide the U.S.

Excerpted from Peter’s Sept. 14 “Zeihan on Politics” newsletter:

Bernie Sanders has long been my least favorite personality in the American political world. Not because he’s an idiot (although he is) or because his ideology is historically, morally and economically blind (although it is all those things), but because he has long been an enthusiastically active and willing stooge for Moscow’s propaganda in the United States. Jill Stein regularly makes my bottom five for similar reasons. But times change. Apparently, the mass murder of Ukrainians in the tens of thousands did something in Sanders’ mind that Moscow’s pointing of thousands of nuclear weapons at his constituents did not. No worries for the Kremlin. There are others in the Western world willing to prostrate themselves to Vladimir Putin. Their reasons vary (greatly) but to a person they are among the greatest threats to the American experiment and way of life. I’m not going to dive into their rationales. That’s a task for people with far greater interest in the Thunderdome of American politics than I have ever possessed. But I can and will outline the whys of Russian propaganda. It didn’t come out of the blue. Its very existence is wrapped up in how Moscow has ruled its territories going back to the beginning.

Hi, everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from the shores of Red Devil Lake in southern Yosemite. And on the topic of red devils, I thought now would be a great time to talk about Russian disinformation, its impact, and ultimately its causes. So, it’s difficult to know where to begin. First of all, Russian disinformation has been picking up steadily during the Putin government, which you know, is 22 years now. But it really wasn’t until just before the election of Barack Obama that it really started getting big and that we started seeing things like the bot farm come into play. 

Now, the bot farm is designed to basically seek out issues that will cause angst among Americans, and then try to drive wedges on social issues that will turn us against each other. So give you an example of some of their bigger successes until recently. If you go pre pre-2021…pre 2020, let’s start there.

Probably the biggest ones were trying to take issues such as Black Lives Matter and coordinate action with groups that were opposed to Blacks Lives Matter. So for example, if you were attending a BLM event and you discovered that there was a Blue Lives Matter event very close by that was probably arranged by Russian agitation and propaganda. Similar issues have happened on both sides of the abortion issue. Similar issues have happened more recently on COVID. If you believe that COVID will make you magnetic, or if you believe that the Veritas database is a hit list, you have fallen prey to Russian propaganda. This is not limited to the right by any stretch of the imagination. Putin himself has led the propaganda effort against say, frack natural gas and oil. Pretty much every claim out there from the fact that the fracking fluid is cancer-causing to that it’s going to ruin water supplies… those all originated in Russian propaganda. In fact, in many ways the modern environmental movement has some of its roots, not all, but some of them in Russian propaganda that dates back to the late 1960s. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, when the United States had just used two Japanese cities and was in the process of building out a nuclear attack fleet and building civilian nuclear power reactors, the 1950s and early 1960s Americans were broadly okay with all of this. But, Russian propaganda then Soviet propaganda started agitating and gave some of the founding roots to what we now know as the environmental movement. Now it’s obviously taken on its own life since then. But the Russians have never stopped trying to malign Western oil, natural gas production in order to give them more leverage. And it’s worked very, very well in Europe where we’ve seen an almost collapse in the ability of any of the mainland states in Europe to produce natural gas and oil at all because of public opposition that is rooted in Russian propaganda. And no place has been this been more true and more dramatic and have a bigger impact on policy and strategy than in Germany where you know, Germany 20 years ago was still producing almost half of the natural gas that it used.

Now it’s less than I believe 5% today. And most of the methods that were used to produce that gas in Germany in the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties, are now actually illegal in Germany. So if you wanna talk about the two biggest successes that the Russians have experienced with the propaganda in recent decades, number one is in Germany with energy policy. And number two is in the United States with the vaccine policy, because we have over a million dead Americans because of COVID. And the Russians are literally celebrating, because they’ve never been able to kill that many Americans, and certainly without generating a lot of retaliation from the White House. 

Okay. Now at the moment, a lot of Russian… excuse me…at the moment, a lot of Russian propaganda is in abeyance because as soon as the Ukraine War started, a lot of Western institutions, whether intelligence or security or regulation, shut down a lot of the avenues that the Russians have for pushing disinformation into Western societies.

That’s great. I saw <laugh>…I saw that on my own feed where probably half of the shit-posting that was hitting my feed on Twitter disappeared in a matter of like four days. Since then they’ve had to become more direct and working through a series of shills that they literally pay. There is any number of those that are opportunities and some of these people are actually in public office. The two that are of course, most note are Victor Orbin, who is the prime minister of Hungary. He’s just a Russian stooge at this point. And Josh Hawley, the Republican senator from Missouri is, if not on the payroll, really, really dumb and falling for everything that they tell him. Oh, and by the way, by the way, by the way, people do not email me things about COVID or about environmental issues that I’m gonna be talking about here proving that I’m on the wrong side of things. Because nine times out of 10, what you send me is a word for word syntax paste from Russian disinformation. I mean, honestly, just go on and Google any phrase that sounds a little off and you will find hits for it in Russian media. 

I know it hurts. Nobody wants to be told that they’ve fallen for something and that’s part of the power of propaganda is once you’ve fallen for it, you have a vested personal ego interest in following through. But it honestly is just leading you to make worse and worse and worse decisions. Okay. So why do the Russians do this?

In part it’s from a position of weakness. The Russians now know without a doubt that they can’t face American forces on the battlefield. The Ukraine War has proven that, but part of it is rooted in what they know and what they’re capable of.

Hang on, I gotta switch hands. This is the long one…we’re already at six minutes. 

Russian territory is not like the west. It’s not like the United States in specific. So here in the United States, the land is great and there’s a lot of natural buffers between American population centers and other population centers. So our government has always been able to take a bit of a back seat. That’s one of the reasons it’s just so painfully incompetent in so many things. It’s never had to be good. That’s not how it works in Russia. Russia is a cold-tempered territory with fickle precipitation. The land quality is abysmal. Population density is low. There are no internal barriers to movement. So when the Russian ethnicity settled in the area of what is today Moscow, you know, centuries ago, they discovered that the only way that they could even theoretically secure themselves was to expand and to turn all of their neighbors into buffer states.

And then all of the neighbors around that into buffer states and slowly genocide out the ones that were closer while you absorbed even more. And what used to be a single principality within just a few dozen miles of Moscow got bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, and eventually became the biggest country on earth. But that means that Russia’s not a country or a state in the way we think of the terms. It’s a multi-ethnic empire. And because of that, it has large populations, roughly a quarter to the population today might be up to 30% today because of the Russian demographic bomb…let’s call it 30% that are not Russian, that don’t see themselves as Russian. And so what the Russians have to do is shoot through those people with as much intelligence penetration as they possibly can so that if there’s ever a hint of dissent, they can then rub it out.

The military is needed on the frontier. It can’t do that in a way that say, the Iranians do, so it has to be the Intel services. And the Intel services are always going to be operating at a…disadvantage to the occupied populations. Ergo propaganda. 

So any propaganda misinformation that we are seeing in the United States or in the Western general or the wider world, is nothing compared to the general operating principles that the Russians operate at home. Yes, they need this in order to make sure that the Russian population doesn’t rebel. Russia’s not a great place to live. But it’s absolutely essential that they have it for all of their occupied territories. And remember the Russians see their territories indefensible. That’s why they have to expand. They hope to reach a series of choke points of gateways, places like the Polish plain, the Bessarabian Gap, the Alta Gap, things like that.

But the further out you go from Moscow, the more likely that it is non-Russians occupying in the territory. So if you had a rebellion in some of these territories on the fringe that are not ethnic Russian… Woohoo, the entire thing falls apart at once. So the Russians have had to become very, very good at this particular tool set and that tool set has other applications. And that’s what we’re seeing in the west now. Okay. That is it from me. I think we’re gonna talk about environmental issues tomorrow. I’m not quite sure. We’ll see what we do. I’m going completely off trail for the next few days. So hopefully you’ll hear from me soon. Take care. Bye.


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