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Opinion: West gunning for Russian media ban


Posters for the RT “Second opinion” advertising campaign in New Yprk City.

Finian Cunningham writes in the Strategic Culture Foundation online journal:

It would be monumental, but Western states seem to be moving, ineluctably, towards banning Russian news media channels from satellite platforms and the internet. That outcome – albeit with enormous ethical and political implications – seems to be a logical conclusion of the increasingly frenzied transatlantic campaign to demonize Russia.

Washington, London and Paris appear to be coordinating an unprecedented media onslaught that is vilifying Russia for almost every conceivable malfeasance, from alleged war crimes in Syria to threatening the security of Europe, to shooting down civilian airliners, to subverting American presidential elections. And that’s only a sample.

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson declared this week that Russia is in danger of becoming a «pariah state». Ironically, that fate has less to do with Russia’s actual conduct and more to do with the desired objective driving Western policy towards Moscow – to isolate and portray Russia as an international reprobate.

If Russia can be sufficiently demonized in the eyes of the Western public by their governments, then the political context is created for drastic measures, which would otherwise be seen as unacceptable infringements of democratic rights. Measures that go way beyond economic sanctions and into the realm of media censorship. How weird is that? The «free world» which deplores «Russian authoritarianism» moving towards media censorship and policing what it deems as «thought-crime».

European parliamentarians this week voted for a resolution calling for greater «institutional capacities to counter Kremlin-inspired propaganda». The vote was passed by the EU’s foreign affairs committee and will go before the full parliament next month. If it is voted through then, the next step would be institutional mechanisms to block Russian media access.

The hostility towards Russia, as conveyed by the wording in this week’s EU resolution, can only be described as rabid, if not bordering on paranoid. The Russian government was accused of aggressively employing a «disinformation campaign», of «targeting EU politicians and journalists», and of «disrupting democratic values across Europe». In short, Moscow was accused of plotting the downfall of the European bloc.

Of particularly sinister note, the EU foreign affairs committee gave special attention to Russia’s «wide range of tools and instruments such as multi-lingual TV stations and pseudo news agencies to divide Europe».

So, not only is the Russian government being recklessly accused of harboring subversive, destructive designs on European states, its professional news media channels are conflated with an alleged Russian agenda of hybrid warfare. The Russian state is demonized as a foreign enemy, and its news media are part of the hybrid warfare arsenal. In other words, legitimate Russian public information services are in effect being delegitimized by the European parliament.

Astoundingly, professional media channels like RT and Sputnik are actually being referred to as «pseudo news agencies» and «tools of Kremlin propaganda».

The oft-cited issue of these Russian channels being «state-owned» and government-funded is irrelevant. So too are Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, BBC, France 24 and Deutsche Welle, to name a few of the Western state-owned broadcasters. Indeed, aggregate Western government funding for news publishing is many multiples that of Russia’s budget.

The Western drumbeat to delegitimize Russia’s popular news media has escalated in recent months. Last month, for example, the US-led NATO military alliance issued yet another report warning: ‘West Losing Information War Against Russia’.

It is a fair question to ask, what has a supposed military-security organization got to do with espousing on matters of journalism and public information services?

A Voice of America report added: «The West must step up its efforts to combat and counter the information war being waged by its opponents, according to NATO officials. They warn that countries like Russia are exploiting the freedom of the press in Western media to spread disinformation».

Note how it is alleged that Russia is somehow underhandedly «exploiting» Western media freedom. The implication here is that counter-sanctions on Russian media would therefore be justified because of alleged transgressions.

Meanwhile, also last month, the Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper Jr reportedly briefed members of Congress on Russian «information warfare». He singled out RT and Sputnik as media weapons for Russian «information warfare». Their purpose, according to Clapper, was subverting Western societies by tapping into radical groups and sowing public confusion.

This marks a dramatic deterioration in West-Russia relations, whereby Russia’s mass news media are tarred as enemy weapons. Such thinking also betrays how degenerate Western political leaders have sunk into Cold War stereotypes; and how willing they are prepared to go to further antagonize Russia.

Ever since the much-vaunted «reset» friendlier policy towards Russia under US President Barack Obama was abandoned during his first administration, circa 2011, Washington’s hostility and that of its European allies has crescendoed to current levels of apparent hysteria.

Probably the key factor in why Washington jettisoned its reset policy was that it realized Russian President Vladimir Putin was not going to be a pushover like his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, who cravenly submitted to American hegemony, whether on matters of geopolitical interests, global finance, or overseas resource-wars. Putin was having none of it. Russia would not be an American vassal state, as European Union states all-too evidently are.

It is because of Russia’s independence and boldness on speaking out against American caprice towards international law, for example in its conduct of illegal wars and regime change machinations in the Middle East, North Africa and Ukraine, that Washington finds such attitude so intolerable.

When asked recently by German media why the West is so hostile towards him, Putin reportedly responded with one word: «Fear».

By that, the Russian leader did not mean that the West was afraid of Russia attacking militarily. He meant that the fear was due to his power of demonstration. A strong counter-weight to US-led imperialistic conduct is a powerful negation of presumed American unipolar supremacy over the world. It means that the world is not a doormat for American subjugation. Russia’s defiance of US hegemony is a harbinger of a multipolar world, one in which America and its European subsidiaries must begin working with other nations as equals and within the mutual confines of international law, not as renegades above the law.

Syria is a classic illustration. Washington and its British and French allies, along with regional client states, presumed that they could pull off another illegal regime-change operation in that Arab country, as they had done previously in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia’s military intervention in support of its Syrian ally was a stark demonstration that the Western regime-change playbook was no longer permitted. Furthermore, Russia’s intervention also exposed the covert criminal involvement of Washington and its partners in using terrorist proxies for regime change.

The same can be said about Ukraine, where Russia’s political support for ethnic Russian separatists has prevented Washington’s coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 turning the entire country into a US puppet-regime.

This is why Washington fears Russia under Putin. It is an obstacle to its full-spectrum global dominance, as envisaged by American imperialist ideologues following the collapse of the Soviet Union. […]


  1. Seamus Padraig says

    “When exposing a crime is treated as a crime, you are being ruled by criminals.” – Edward Snowden

  2. Truth is of a contextual sanity and relational honesty – Truth is Alive from which to know and be.

    Narrative control is the idea of independent self control – or determining truth – which is the idea of power struggle. The false god-idea of narrative control operates both sides of every conflict because it is the idea OF oppositional will or conflict.

    While truth is unconflicted in its wholeness, narrative identity is inherently conflicting – asserting and believing ‘what you want to be true’ and seeking validation and reinforcement for it.
    A fear of loss of support and allegiance to such identity, generates a tyrannous directive to conform or if truth is welcomed, to the release of a false sense of self.

    Using ‘truth’ as a weapon is losing a felt quality of being for a narrative struggle. Truth and trust in truth is sacred because without a true foundation, false currency corrupts and destroys all that is truly worthy of living and sharing in- from false roots or foundations that call for the sacrifice of all that is true to the compulsions and demands of that which is not.

    A contextual sanity embraces a diversity of perspectives without coercive interference – but in the undoing of the false, our fearful or negative beliefs come up to be acknowledged and released from identification and so there needs be a re-purposing of control to the role of checking and limiting harm to oneself and others, while allowing a movement of life in which a natural responsibility within consciousness and relation awakens to a true appreciation of being, that automatically re-purposes the perceptions and behaviours that HAD been aligned fearfully in identity within conflict to an integrative and joyful purpose.

    The disallowing or subverting of any movement of life that is deemed threat is defense in fear of invalidation – but when the FORM of a movement of life masks itself deceitfully, it embodies the intent to invalidate or undermine and disempower so as to prevail or predate over. Such deceit must be denied access if we value sanity. But any genuine communication can be honoured with genuine response.
    The defence against the movement of Life that is communication – it its fuller sense – is death or stasis. Opening to receive is an essential context for then accepting and going forth from a new perspective. The primary desire needs to be the opening in honesty for truth – in place of asserted power-agenda that already presumes to know.

    The belief we already know is a blindness by which we are unknowingly deceived and manipulated or used.

  3. deschutes says

    A shrill, bold sub-head at Voice of America warns ‘The West is under attack’!–
    With amazing hypocrisy and dishonesty the above linked VOA article portrays the USA as a poor victim of an information war by Russia, and that the ‘West not focused on this type of warfare’. LOL! The VOA article by Henry Ridgewell (above linked) reads like shrill 1950s McCarthy era Commie witch hunt propaganda. That said, I seriously doubt the USA would actually block RT from the internet and TV broadcast networks in USA/Europe; but if they do it will be a big problem as it violates the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of ‘freedom of the press’. So its a lose-lose situation for USA on this one.

    • Never expect uncle Sam to play by the rules, for starters. That’s that gangster’s rule.

      This is interesting stuff, from a psychological point of view. I’ve thought about it for a long time. I can’t fully articulate my observations, but it does occur to me that those who own and rule the world, in the US, have so much power and ‘control’ via corporate owned media, a number of interesting things flow from that. They kind of take it for granted. The people who are paid to churn out the government line and the spin are happy and their paymasters are happy and not too concerned, especially when they can just do a Stasi and clamp down on media that opposes, rather than channels, them. (That’s been accomplished simply via the power of money, which the Right and the fake Left (, has in spades. But it’s being accomplished in different ways. Chomsky warned years ago that they’d target areas where free speech is still free, namely the internet. (It’s targetted in different ways. It’s targetted through fascist legislation and technologically.) And there are other factors. With the kind of power and control they have, It’s just too tempting for those a holes to not ‘play’ with our media. (Haven’t you noticed that the 1% and their tools, besides having no shame, just don’t care what they show us and what we think about it? The system is large. Individuals, and individual organizations, aren’t going to bother with reacting to some angst or outrage by the people by attempting to adjust the messaging departments across the country. They just let them operate, which isn’t to say that that operation isn’t responsive according to the parameters it is designed to work within. Chomsky’s examination of those features of the propaganda system is brilliant. See his coauthored book, “Manufacturing Consent.”) I sometimes wonder why they would bother to churn out some stuff, namely stuff that is so blatantly propaganda. And it can be awful – even from their standpoint. They are sometimes simply gazing at their beautiful reflection in a mirror. You are looking at them looking at themselves. If you are aware of that, it can be revealing.

  4. Matt says

    I think we all have an idea of how closely all our communications and internet behaviour is monitored,

    the digital STASI in the West is mining and analysing the data, I’d love more of an insight into the results,

    they may well be getting jittery!

    even as far back as the 1st gulf War I remember a friend having satellite TV and showing me all the different European news channels that, although we couldn’t understand the language, were showing radically different imagery than the BBC,

    that war built CNN as people sought additional perspectives, then Al Jazeera arose, then RT, the internet hasn’t so much as opened the information doors, it’s literally blown them off the hinges,

    today when I review my bookmarks and regular browsing it’s evident I have little time for mainstream western news sources,

    I use BBC R4 and the Grauniad as a default benchmark and then use insights garnered from across the web to extrapolate a broader overview of events and developments,

    I moved house over a year ago and still haven’t unpacked and set up the TV,

    if the West does erect an Information Iron Curtain it will be an act of final desperation and an admission of defeat!

    when the media is widely distrusted and news travels in the form of rumour and gossip, events can unravel at an astonishing speed…șescu#Timi.C8.99oara

    • Kathleen Lowrey says

      It’s funny that you should post a link about post-1989 Romania. I recently read a piece that described the dynamics there & then of right becoming left and left becoming right, and it felt incredibly familiar. How is it that someone like Nigel Farage is delivering a more effective critique of the contemporary world order than the Guardian? How is that that 2/3 of the writers (and friends) I always thought of as “fellow travellers” are ferocious partisans of Hillary Clinton? I find myself regularly wishing dead commentators like Alexander Cockburn were still with us, because no one writing on the (Old Left and New Left are already used for other purposes, so maybe: Familiar Left?) seems to be making much sense anymore.

      • Seamus Padraig says

        Kathleen, you are so dead-on. I feel exactly the same way. Suddenly now, it seems to be the parties on the right that stand for a sane world order, while so many on the ‘left’ are supporting perma-war, censorship and mass surveillance. Even the likes of the Alex Jones creeps me out less than the Clintons!

  5. Here in far away NZ, the establishment press are just as zombiefied.
    Our ex Banker PM decided to take a mindless pot shot at Putin.
    Probably just because its the fashion in Washington.

    For the Russian response see the latest at JohnHelmer dot Net
    [ Aka How to cost your exporters millions with no effort at all ]
    And not a word from our fourth estate.

    We are a nation of 20 million sheep and 4 million people
    Sometimes its hard to spot the difference 🙂

    • Brian Harry, Australia says

      Ha! Australia’s Prime Minister(at the time)Tony Abbott(Nicknamed “The Mad Monk” for his religiosity) actually ‘threatened’ to “Shirt-front” Putin when they met “Shirtfront is an Australian football word, which, translated for New Zealanders means a “Maori sidestep”(Whereby a giant All Black simply runs over his opponent, like a speeding car goes over a speed hump, without slowing down).
      Sadly for Abbott(but to the joy of the Australian people) Abbott is in the trash-can of history, and Putin, still standing tall, apparently dismissed him for the idiot that he is/was………

  6. Well RT constantly makes US spokespersons look increasingly stupid not knowing how to respond to tough truthful questions with constant Oomms and Ums! Making there lies so blatant to see! So just ban this threat! How democratic is that! Zero democracy in west you vote for handpicked puppets by the powers that be!

    • There’s nothing democratic about agreeing with others on the rules and then breaking them for advantage, which uncle Sam, in his bid for unopposed domination (which he calls ‘leadership’) is all about. (How terrifying is that? The world’s most powerful superpower simply doesn’t play by the rules. Is it any wonder the Bible depicts the US as a false prophet and a beast possessing two horns like an inoffensive lamb – the huddling with us to come up with good rules for defending and protecting world peace and security – but has a mouth like a dragon – which you see when this false prophet of democracy and righteousness ignores the rules it agrees to when it attacks the weak, just because.) But remember (if it’s possible for anyone who is conscious to forget) that uncle Sam, like those who follow him (partly out of fear, which you would expect in a gangster corporatocracy in which mobster political entities will turn on each other in a heartbeat), advertizes to all that he is all about ‘law & order’. In other words, We should hammer him here. We are confronted with the (very un Christian) spectacle of lawless law & order governments. Something to throw in the faces of the Christian fascists in the US (and elsewhere), therefore, would be Jesus warning to ‘his’ followers. He told them ‘In that day they will say to me, ‘Lord, Did we not prophesy in your name and expel demons in your name’ and then I will confess to them “Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness, for I do not know you”‘ (Matthew 7:22,23) Excuse the weird punctuation. I haven’t the time to figure it out. (I am a Christian by the way. Most Christians, because they are part of a system of global organized religion that is part of the greater corporatocracy system, would say that I’m not.)

  7. damien says

    On Oct 30 2014 Michael Weiss, Guardian contributor on Russia and Eastern European affairs, attended a conference run by the Legatum Institute, a Right wing London-based think-tank focused on Russian regime change, held in association with the NATO-aligned Atlantic Council. The conference theme was “The Menace of Unreality: Combatting Russian Disinformation in the 21st Century.”

    The participants included: Geoffrey Pyatt, US Ambassador to Kiev, active supporter of the 2014 Ukraine coup; Oleksander Scherba, Ambassador-at-Large for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Michael Weiss, Editor-in-Chief, The Interpreter; Peter Pomerantsev, author of Revolutionary Tactics: Insights from Police and Justice Reform in Georgia; and John Herbst, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Centre. The moderator was Anne Applebaum, journalist and former board member of The Washington Post (who has called for nuclear attacks against Russia), and author of ‘Gulag’ and ‘Iron Curtain; The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56’.

    The event was sponsored by the US State Department.

    The Guardian publishes Michael Weiss at its New Eastern Network. And we are expected to accept this as ‘independent’ journalism.

    • damien says

      And just so people don’t think we are just dealing with a few rabid neocon think tanks ponder on this…

      John Herbst, an attendee at the Legatum conference of Oct 2014 dealing with Russian “disinformation”, is also a senior member of the Atlantic Council, NATOs — supposedly civilian — think tank.

      On Feb 1 2015, Herbst was a co-author of an article published at the Brookings Institute on “Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression: What the United States and NATO Must Do”.

      The coauthors included –Strobe Talbott (Hilary Clinton’s likely choice for US Sec.State), John Herbst (former Ambassador to Ukraine), Jan Lodal (former US National Security Council official, former head of the Atlantic Council), Admiral James Stavridis (NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander 2009-2013) and General Charles Wald ( former Deputy Commander of United States European Command).

      In effect, that’s the full NATO and US military establishment backing limits on Russia. And it was that John Herbst attending a Legatum conference calling for an official Western policy of censorship on political views originating in or sympathetic to Russia.

    • Thanks for this info Damien, its important. And now Greece has been blessed with Geoffrey “regime change” Pyatt as ambassador, fresh from Ukraine. What is in the works now for our poor country?

  8. damien says

    This push to ban Russian media has its origins in just a few people, backed by NATO. Journalist James Carden has written an incredible piece entitled “Neo-McCarthyism and the US Media -The crusade to ban Russia policy critics”.

    He provides detailed commentary on an article published at The Interpreter which would have us believe that Russian “disinformation” ranks among the gravest threats to the West. Titled “The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money,” it was co-written by the journalists Michael Weiss and Peter Pomerantsev.

    “According to Weiss and Pomerantsev, the most severe threat is the one posed by RT, a network to which they impute vast powers. They are hardly alone. In January, Andrew Lack, then chief executive of the Broadcasting Board of Governors—the federal agency that oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and other US-funded media outlets—likened RT’s threat to those posed by “the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram.” [Lack was recently named chairman of NBC News.] “

    There’s a lot more by James Carden, all of it outstanding, including ties to neocon think tanks Legatum and the Henry Jackson Society.

    Henry Jackson Society figures have also been active proponents of western intervention in Syria’s civil war. In March 2012, its communications director Michael Weiss wrote a blog post for the New York Times advocating that the United States “begin marshaling a coalition for regime change in Syria consisting of countries” like “Britain, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.”

    Get the picture. This is all about regime change — Syria, Russia, Iran — and key think tanks have been funded and backed by the US, UK and NATO leadership in order to shape public opinion.

    • damien says

      In order to counter what Weiss termed this “Russian weaponized information” he advocated a western media toolkit:

      (1) The creation of an NGO that would create an internationally recognized ratings system for disinformation and provide analytical tools with which to define forms of communication.

      (2) A “Disinformation Charter” for Media and Bloggers: Top-down censorship should be avoided. But rival media, from Al-Jazeera to the BBC, Fox and beyond, need to get together to create a charter of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Vigorous debate and disagreement is of course to be encouraged — but media organizations that practice conscious deception should be excluded from the community. A similar code can be accepted by bloggers and other online influencers.

      (3) “Counter-propaganda editors” would pick apart what might be called all the news unfit to print by traditional journalists. A handful of analysts armed with YouTube, Google Maps, Instagram, or foreign company registration websites can generate headlines.

      This is the operational plan. Michael Weiss, and his friends in NATO, the US State Department and the Ukraine Ministry of Truth, are planning a censorship role in reporting on world affairs.

      • I’d have to see information to the effect that Al Jazeera has cleaned up before I would ever trust it. My understanding is that AJ US started out ‘infected’. See the Electronic Intifada article by Ali Abunimah titled “Al Jazeera roiled by US manager’s decision to censor Joseph Massad’s article” ( I was also not impressed when this AJ, seeking to exploit Wikileaks’s success by encouraging others to leak to it, although it’s ability to safeguard leakers was nil.

      • Ever since the RT US chief was mysteriously murdered (unsolved crime) in the US RT has been softening the news.

  9. Brian Harry, Australia says

    If anyone who still believes that we in the ‘West” are free and democratic, and our media compete with each other to bring us the “News”, think again. The “news” we receive basically amounts to Pentagon/Whitehall ‘Press releases'(propaganda), and the ‘pretty blonde’s and the ‘hunky dudes’ who ‘present’ the news to us are ‘presstitutes’.
    Just having alternative news sources like RT and Press TV allows us to get a balanced view of what is actually happening, and quite frankly the Western Press do not measure up well at all.
    One of the great things I(used to) enjoy reading the Guardian, were the clever, intelligent comments made by commenters, which allowed one to get a better view of what was actually happening in the World. Sadly, the Guardian has ‘gone down the toilet’………..flushed with failure.

    • rtj1211 says

      Like all things in life, you have to move with the times to find semi-reliable sources of facts. The key aim of all organs of propaganda is selecting just those facts which fit the desired narrative. The value of multiple sources resides solely in the ability to source a greater diversity of facts to put scenarios into proper context.

      The danger in life is vesting uncritical trust anywhere, even if for a short time it may be worthy of it. Uncritical trust is for the under fives, who are healthiest if their parents are worthy of it.

  10. No problems. If we can apparently hack just about anything and anyone in Caliphate of Chaos and Kingdom of Genocides and the rest of their imaginary “western world” then I guess we will just have to hack BBC and CNN and present our news as theirs. Hello! Do you know it is year 2016 (almost 2017). NOBODY can block anything these days. It will go through one way or the other. Don’t push it or you will be sorry and confused (oh well, most of the “west” seems to be pretty confused already but it can always get worse).

  11. Paul Watts says

    I’m sure that the USA and its European client states would love to block RT but its not likely to happen. When my own government, the UK, blocked the Iranian satellite channel Press TV on the orders of its US masters the Iranians had little choice but to fight a rear guard action using the internet. Russia however has the technology and assets to move their own TV satellites to cover Europe and the Americas. These could be jammed by the USA and its vassals but that in itself would be seen as an act of war which would at the least cause the collapse of international treaties covering telecommunications.

  12. The American “free press” isn’t. It costs to keep truth silenced. Putin may be short but he kicks ass! And as for Clapper …… Tubularsock believes that you can get shots from you doctor to cure THAT!

  13. The interim period before great change is always fraught with difficulties. We can only hope that we get through the interregnum without wholesale destruction. If we do, the World will be a much better place with a multipolar focus, than with American full spectrum dominance, much, much better! The truth is that no one trusts the American elites that have led the World down the path to perdition. When you listen to Congressmen, do you believe them to actually be intelligent? Tell the truth now. How many of them are constantly calling for blood and more blood? Just listen to White House speakers from the President on down. They consistently lie through their teeth! I wouldn’t trust them to run the country let alone the World!

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole