Guess What: PropOrNot was Fake News

 Kermit-Reporter-PropOrNot
PropOrNot Unmasked …

Note: If any images are hard to see, you can look here. (I’m not sure why, but these images are a tad fuzzier at ZH.)

A little over a year ago, the deep-state graced the world with Propornot. Thanks to them, 2017 became the year of fake news. Every news website and opinion column now had the potential to be linked to the Steele dossier and Trump collusion with Russia. Every journalist was either with us or against us. Every one that was against us became Russia’s trolls.

Fortunately for the free world, the anonymous group known as Propornot that tried to “out” every website as a potential Russian colluder, in the end only implicated themselves.

Turnabout is fair play and that’s always the fun part, isn’t it? With that in mind, I know the dogs are going to howl this evening over this one.

The damage Propornot did to scores of news and opinions websites in late 2016-2017provides the basis of a massive civil suit. I mean huge, as in the potential is there for a tobacco company sized class-action sized lawsuit. I can say that because I know a lot about a number of entities that are involved and the enormous amount of money behind them. How serious is this?

In 2016, a $10,000 reward was put out for the identities of Propornot  players. No one has claimed it yet, and now, I guess no one will. There are times in your life that taking a stand has a cost. To make sure the story gets out and is taken seriously, this is one of those times.

If that’s what it takes for you to understand the danger Propornot and the groups around them pose to everyone you love, if you understand it, everything will have been well worth it.

In this article, you’ll meet some of the people staffing Propornot. You’ll meet the people and publications that provide their expenses and cover the logistics.  You’ll meet a few of the deep state players. We’ll deal with them very soon. They need to see this as the warning shot over the bow and start playing nice with regular people. After that, you’ll meet the NGO’s that are funding and orchestrating all of it. How am I doing so far?

(Larger image)

The image that you see is the clincher or game winner that supplies the necessary proof up front and the direct path to Propornot. This was a passive scan of propornot.com showing the administrative dashboard belongs to the InterpreterMag.com as shown on the left of the image. On the right, it shows that uploads to Propornot.com come from InterpreterMag.com and is a product of that publication.

Now we have the first layer of Propornot, fake news, and our 1st four contestants. We havea slew of new media organizations that are influenced by, or feeding Propornot. Remember, fake news got off the ground and got its wings because of the attention this website received from the Washington Post in Dec. 2016.

At the Interpreter Mag level, here are the people:

  • Michael Weiss is the Editor-in-Chief at the InterpreterMag.com. According to his Linkd profile, he is also a National Security Analyst for CNN since Jul 2017 as well as an Investigative Reporter for International Affairs for CNN since Apr 2017. He has been a contributor there since 2015. He has been a Senior Editor at The Daily Beast since Jun 2015.

With the lengthy CNN cred’s, how much involvement does CNN have in fake news? Yes, I know, but we’re talking about Propornot.

  • James Miller’s bio at the InterpreterMag.com includes Managing Editor of The Interpreter where he reports on Russia, Ukraine, and Syria. James runs the “Under The Black Flag” column at RFE/RL which provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. He is a contributor at Reuters, The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, and other publications. He is an expert on verifying citizen journalism and has been covering developments in the Middle East, specifically Syria and Iran, since 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @MillerMENA- Miller even works for the US Embassy in Kiev “diplo-page” the Kiev Post.

The Interpreter is a product of the Atlantic Council.The Digital Forensics Research Lab has been carrying the weight in Ukrainian-Russian affairs for the Atlantic Council. Fellows working with the Atlantic Council in this area include:

  • Bellingcat- Aric Toler and Eliot Higgins- This linked article shows how an underwear salesman became one of the most important faces of the deep state. Don’t laugh, the image is really appropriate. Higgins’ insecurity runs so deep because of his failures that Higgins tries to get publications censured that question his author-i-tie.
  • Anne Applebaum
  • StopFake- Irena Chalupa- Chalupa is the sister to the same Alexandra Chalupa that brought the term Russian hacking to worldwide attention. Irena Chalupa is a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center. She is also a senior correspondent at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), where she has worked for more than twenty years. Ms. Chalupa previously served as an editor for the Atlantic Council, where she covered Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Irena Chalupa is also the news anchor for Ukraine’s propaganda channel Stopfake.org She is a Ukrainian Diaspora leader. The Chalupa’s are the 1st family of Ukrainian propaganda. She works with and for Ukrainian Intelligence through the Atlantic Council, Stopfake, and her sisters Andrea (Euromaidanpr) and Alexandra.

The strand that ties this crew together is they all work for Ukrainian Intelligence. If you hit the links, the ties are documented very clearly. We’ll get to that point again shortly, but let’s go further:

Propornot-> Atlantic Council -> Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)

Who are the BBG? According to Wikipedia- “The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is an independent agency of the United States government. According to its website, its mission is to “inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. The BBG supervised Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio y Television Marti, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.

The board of the BBG was eliminated and replaced with a single appointed chief executive officer as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which was passed in December 2016.”

On January 1, 2016, the Interpreter became a special project of RFE/RL and under the oversight of the BBG. The Secretary of State had a seat on the board of the BBG until December 2016. Why the change?

During the 2016 election, the BBG developed a major conflict of interest. At least two BBG board members worked actively for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. These government officials were working against the president-elect after the election. It looks like it didn’t go unnoticed. In the following linked article, it shows that they should be investigated for their part in an attempted coup.

From a Nov 7, 2016, article– “Karen Kornbluh is helping refine and to get Hillary Clinton’s message out. ” All of them are names to watch if Clinton wins — and key jobs at the FCC and other federal agencies are up for grabs.”

According to her bio: Karen founded the New America Foundation’s Work and Family Program and is a senior fellow for Digital Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Karen has written extensively about technology policy, women, and family policy for The AtlanticThe New York Times and The Washington PostNew York Times columnist David Brooks cited her Democracy article “Families Valued,” focused on “juggler families” as one of the best magazine articles of 2006.

Michael Kempner is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of MWW Group, a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, and may get a greater role if she is elected. Kempner is a member of the Public Relations Hall of Fame. Michael Kempner hired Anthony Weiner after the sexting scandal broke in 2011.

Jeff Shell, chairman of the BBG and Universal Filmed Entertainment is supporting a secondary role by being an honor roll donor to the Atlantic Council. While the BBG is supposed to be neutral it has continuously helped increase tensions in Eastern Europe. While giving to the Atlantic Council may not be illegal while in his position, currently, the Atlantic Council’s main effort is to ignite a war with Russia. This may set up a major conflict of interest.

According to journalist Robert Parry “The people that will be taking senior positions and especially in foreign policy believe “This consensus is driven by a broad-based backlash against a president who has repeatedly stressed the dangers of overreach and the need for restraint, especially in the Middle East.”

Parry goes on to say that at the forefront of this is the Atlantic Council, a think tank associated with NATO. Their main goal is a major confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.”

So, to make sense of all this, most of the people listed would have held cabinet positions in a Hillary Clinton presidency. If the Interpreter is a project of RFE/RL then the decision to go ahead with Propornot would have to go across their desk. That includes then Sec of State, John Kerry.

The unasked question of why would a US Government Agency do this (?) needs to be addressed. All the people listed above were actively working for Clinton to get her elected and throw Donald Trump’s campaign off the rails.

After the election, they were going to take care of Clinton’s “deplorables” by dissecting alternative media. I wrote about this before the election and I warned several major new sites what they could expect. I was right on the money. After she lost, it was already in motion. The deplorable media didn’t fall into a particular political pattern other than they did not promote Hillary Clinton.

The purpose of Propornot has been to get people to demand freedom of speech be rolled back. This was/is to be done by destroying fact-based media. If you read further, the entire plan is laid out starting from 2015 when it started coming together.

These people want reality shaped on what the perceived majority (louder) group believes to be true, regardless of what the facts are. Perception based reality is only a Facebook like away from killing one person or elevating another to hero status regardless of what they have done.That little statement about the free speech rally says it all.

It’s something that would hardly be noticed unless you were looking for it because it is part of the meta-data.

Now you can say it’s only a sentence and who cares? Nobody communicates through metadata do they? Wasn’t that what Propornot was all about? Yes, they do communicate through metadata. That’s why I look at it.

Do you see it? No? Look again. There in the metadata, at the bottom of the image is an ad for a job. Go for it and remember to mention the header. It could just as easily be hacking instructions, or a do not disturb sign. That’s why it pays to really research carefully.

The Boston ‘Free Speech’ Rally was billed by the social networks and MSM as a fascist rally. It was really a Free Speech Rally. What they learned is that with just a little nudge, they can make you demand nationalist repression. Nice going Boston!

Hey, is this starting to sound a little conspiratorial? If it is, we need ruskie hackers with Guy Fawkes masks to make this work. They have to admit to changing international politics through hacking in 2016, belong to a foreign country, code in Russian, and use spear phishing techniques to lure people in. Let’s not forget that they also have to work for some form of Intelligence.

Most importantly, they have to work with and influence all of the people above. They will definitely impact US foreign policy toward Russia. Let’s raise the stakes even more. The hackers have to answer to whoever is funding a lot of the illegal and immoral activities.

They are not even savvy enough to stay clear of outing each other. This is the Pravy Sektor hacker RUH8. The common thread for these hackers is clear if you read the linked material on the profiles that make up these organizations.  They work for Bellingcat, Informnapalm, the Atlantic Council, Ukrainian Intel, and the Diaspora.

In a follow-up article, I have reason to ask if they were given access to United States Government Top Secret Secure Servers. I’m not kidding. In a Euromaidan Press article dated November 2nd, 2016, the hackers state enthusiastically “Ukrainian hackers have a rather high level of work. So the help of the USA… I don’t know, why would we need it? We have all the talent and special means for this. And I don’t think that the USA or any NATO country would make such sharp movements in international politics.”

And we have a winner. In 2016 the sharp movement in international politics was caused by…survey says….hacking!!!!

According to Donna Brazille, the Democratic Party servers were hacked multiple times and the hacking didn’t stop until December 2016. At this juncture, we should be able to agree that Seth Rich leaked the information to Wikileaks. But, now we are talking about other hacks.

In the above linked article, these hacker specifically say their favorite route is spear phishing email accounts. In the article, you’ll also see they work directly for Ukrainian Intel. Bellingcat works directly for Ukrainian Intel and works with them and the Atlantic Council. Stopfake is a product of Irena Chalupa who works for RFE/RL, the Atlantic Council and the Ukrainian government. Stopfake works directly with them and is a product of the Ukrainian government. Crowdstrike has an ongoing relationship with Ukrainian Intel and these particular hackers. Crowdstrike conjured up Fancy Bear. Well say, hello to the real fancy bear of 2016 (*fancybear is technically a set of tools and not people).

This means that former Secretary of State John Kerry approved of Ukrainian Intelligence hackers having access to servers inside a US Government Agency because of Propornot and the Atlantic Councils reliance on the hackers.

How are the Ukrainian hackers tied into Propornot at any level? James Miller isn’t shy about using their work. Propornot relies on the work of the Atlantic Council, Aric Toler, Aaron Weisburd, Clint Watts, and Joel Harding. The Ukrainian hackers work directly with InformNapalm and are the go-to resource for most of the people involved and all of the people just named.

Below we have assessed the details of the reports from InformNapalm, and have expanded on their investigation. — James Miller

Americans are attacking Americans for a foreign country for what amounts to pennies. We’ll deal with them again soon.

Who does the Atlantic Council work for? It’s the same people that staff RFE/RL.

“On 29 January 2016 in Washington, U.S.A., Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Eugene Czolij and Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe officially signed a Memorandum of Agreement to renew the cooperation between the UWC and the Atlantic Council, that began in September 2014.

In accordance with this Memorandum, the UWC will continue its cooperation with the Atlantic Council on implementing the “Ukraine in Europe Initiative”, which aims to galvanize international support for an independent, sovereign and territorially integral Ukraine, including Crimea. This initiative is also intended to support reforms in Ukraine and its EuroAtlantic integration, and to counter Russian disinformation.”

This one little paragraph spells out clearly what I have shown in detail throughout this article.

The Ukrainian World Congress is represented in the US Congress by the Ukrainian Caucus headed up by ISIS supporter and Nazi cheerleader Marcy Kaptur. Her Ukrainian Caucus represents people with political positions that scared Adolf Hitler in WWII.

The obvious takeaway is that a lawsuit is a bare minimum that needs to happen. People need to be investigated for crimes against the state. When we take a closer look at who had potential access to top-secret servers, that will become painfully obvious.

These people have tried and are trying to rip the fabric of society in pieces. At the very least, they have earned a good tarring…and feathering. When you look at the financial end of this a lawsuit in the billions would barely touch it.

Just one company the Ukrainian Diaspora started for this is valued over 100 million dollars. This will need to be a class action suit with a cease and desist to the BBG.

In early 2015, almost 2 years before most people took the idea of censorship seriously, I documented its inception. In the same way, it happens with many of the biggest stories of our times, I stumbled onto it by accident. In early March 2015, Ukrainian Information Policy designer Joel Harding laid out what to expect going forward in the following statements: “In military IIO operations center on the ability to influence foreign audiences, US, and global audiences, and adversely affect enemy decision making through an integrated approach. Even current event news is released in this fashion. Each portal is given messages that follow the same themes because it is an across the board mainstream effort that fills the information space entirely when it is working correctly.

The purpose of “Inform and Influence Operations” is not to provide a perspective, opinion, or lay out a policy. It is defined as the ability to make audiences “think and act” in a manner favorable to the mission objectives. This is done through applying perception management techniques which target the audiences emotions, motives, and reasoning.

These techniques are not geared for debate. It is to overwhelm and change the target psyche.

Using these techniques information sources can be manipulated and those that write, speak, or think counter to the objective are relegated as propaganda, ill-informed, or irrelevant.”- Harding

While the above sounds gloriously overoptimistic, Harding, along with his little band of Kremlin Troll hunters personally started developing the idea of organizations capable of blackballing journalists and publications in a way that could not be construed as censorship.

From another March 2015 article– A “Disinformation Charter” for Media and BloggersTop-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 qre ,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.

This “Disinformation Charter” for responsible behavior (Ministry of Truth?) he describes is to fight “conscious deception” can only be weighed against how he describes Propaganda. “The word is frequently used to describe any news emerging one’s opponent.”– Harding

Journalists that need to be excluded are those “our side” label as propagandists or active measure agents.”

Harding’s connections in media are very large. Through his friend Mathew Armstrong, Harding had access to and the ear of the board of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The BBG board is staffed by the who’s who of network and radio broadcast, print media and shortwave CEO’s and heavy hitters. They are behind RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty).

On the other end of this in 2015, Joel Harding was assembling a group of miscreants to attack the social networks of different journalist and publications. The crude logic behind a direct assault was that by developing, training, and overseeing vast troll networks they could speak over their opposition (people that their employers wanted to be silenced) and subdue dissident online conversation and control the information.

Where this wasn’t feasible, they set up hack and harass attacks at various publication to get them to stop publishing hard-hitting journalists. This still hasn’t been effective because it caused publishers to dig in and harden their internet properties instead.

The softer more indirect approach Harding pushed in March 2015 quickly developed into the unified media strategy he wanted for the US and Europe. Control the information and don’t allow contradicting information or news into the media stream. When it does get in, call it propaganda.

Enter Propornot.

Read More: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-01-25/propornot-unmasked

Pentagon study declares American empire is ‘collapsing’

bird-of-prey

By Nafeez Ahmed

An extraordinary new Pentagon study has concluded that the U.S.-backed international order established after World War 2 is “fraying” and may even be “collapsing”, leading the United States to lose its position of “primacy” in world affairs.

The solution proposed to protect U.S. power in this new “post-primacy” environment is, however, more of the same: more surveillance, more propaganda (“strategic manipulation of perceptions”) and more military expansionism.

The document concludes that the world has entered a fundamentally new phase of transformation in which U.S. power is in decline, international order is unravelling, and the authority of governments everywhere is crumbling.

Having lost its past status of “pre-eminence”, the U.S. now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable “post-primacy” world, whose defining feature is “resistance to authority”.

Danger comes not just from great power rivals like Russia and China, both portrayed as rapidly growing threats to American interests, but also from the increasing risk of “Arab Spring”-style events. These will erupt not just in the Middle East, but all over the world, potentially undermining trust in incumbent governments for the foreseeable future.

The report, based on a year-long intensive research process involving consultation with key agencies across the Department of Defense and U.S. Army, calls for the U.S. government to invest in more surveillance, better propaganda through “strategic manipulation” of public opinion, and a “wider and more flexible” U.S. military.

The report was published in June by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute to evaluate the DoD’s approach to risk assessment at all levels of Pentagon policy planning. The study was supported and sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate; the Joint Staff, J5 (Strategy and Policy Branch); the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Develop­ment; and the Army Study Program Management Office.

Collapse

“While the United States remains a global political, economic, and military giant, it no longer enjoys an unassailable position versus state competitors,” the report laments.

“In brief, the sta­tus quo that was hatched and nurtured by U.S. strategists after World War II and has for decades been the principal ‘beat’ for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing.”

The study describes the essentially imperial nature of this order as being underpinned by American dominance, with the U.S. and its allies literally “dictating” its terms to further their own interests:

“The order and its constituent parts, first emerged from World War II, were transformed to a unipolar sys­tem with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and have by-and-large been dominated by the United States and its major Western and Asian allies since. Status quo forces collectively are comfortable with their dominant role in dictating the terms of international security outcomes and resist the emergence of rival centers of power and authority.”

But this era when the U.S. and its allies could simply get their way is over. Observing that U.S. officials “naturally feel an obligation to preserve the U.S. global position within a favorable international order,” the report concludes that this “rules-based global order that the United States built and sustained for 7 decades is under enormous stress.”

The report provides a detailed breakdown of how the DoD perceives this order to be rapidly unravelling, with the Pentagon being increasingly outpaced by world events. Warning that “global events will happen faster than DoD is currently equipped to handle”, the study concludes that the U.S. “can no longer count on the unassailable position of dominance, supremacy, or pre-eminence it enjoyed for the 20-plus years after the fall of the Soviet Union.”

So weakened is U.S. power, that it can no longer even “automatically generate consistent and sustained local military superiority at range.”

It’s not just U.S. power that is in decline. The U.S. Army War College study concludes that:

“[A]ll states and traditional political authority structures are under increasing pressure from endogenous and exogenous forces… The fracturing of the post-Cold War global system is accompanied by the in­ternal fraying in the political, social, and economic fabric of practically all states.”

But, the document says, this should not be seen as defeatism, but rather a “wakeup call”. If nothing is done to adapt to this “post-primacy” environment, the complexity and speed of world events will “increasingly defy [DoD’s] current strategy, planning, and risk assessment conventions and biases.”

Defending the “status quo”

Top on the list of forces that have knocked the U.S. off its position of global “pre-eminence”, says the report, are the role of competing powers — major rivals like Russia and China, as well as smaller players like Iran and North Korea.

The document is particularly candid in setting out why the U.S. sees these countries as threats — not so much because of tangible military or security issues, but mainly because their pursuit of their own legitimate national interests is, in itself, seen as undermining American dominance.

Russia and China are described as “revisionist forces” who benefit from the U.S.-dominated international order, but who dare to “seek a new distribution of power and authority commensurate with their emergence as legitimate rivals to U.S. dominance.” Russia and China, the analysts say, “are engaged in a deliberate program to demonstrate the limits of U.S. authority, will, reach, influence, and impact.”

The premise of this conclusion is that the U.S.-backed “status quo” international order is fundamentally “favorable” for the interests of the U.S. and its allies. Any effort to make global order also work “favorably” for anyone else is automatically seen as a threat to U.S. power and interests.

Thus, Russia and China “seek to reorder their position in the existing status quo in ways that — at a minimum — create more favorable circumstances for pursuit of their core objectives.” At first glance there seems nothing particularly wrong about this. So the analysts emphasize that “a more maximalist perspective sees them pursuing advantage at the direct expense of the United States and its principal Western and Asian allies.”

Most conspicuous of all, there is little substantiation in the document of how Russia and China pose a meaningful threat to American national security.

The chief challenge is that they “are bent on revising the contemporary status quo” through the use of “gray zone” techniques, involving “means and methods falling far short of unambiguous or open provocation and conflict”.

Such “murkier, less obvious forms of state-based aggression”, despite falling short of actual violence, are condemned — but then, losing any sense of moral high-ground, the Pentagon study advocates that the U.S. itself should “go gray or go home” to ensure U.S. influence.

The document also sets out the real reasons that the U.S. is hostile to “revolutionary forces” like Iran and North Korea: they pose fundamental obstacles to U.S. imperial influence in those regions. They are:

“… neither the products of, nor are they satisfied with, the contemporary order… At a minimum, they intend to destroy the reach of the U.S.-led order into what they perceive to be their legitimate sphere of influence. They are also resolved to replace that order locally with a new rule set dictated by them.”

Far from insisting, as the U.S. government does officially, that Iran and North Korea pose as nuclear threats, the document instead insists they are considered problematic for the expansion of the “U.S.-led order.”

Losing the propaganda war

Amidst the challenge posed by these competing powers, the Pentagon study emphasizes the threat from non-state forces undermining the “U.S.-led order” in different ways, primarily through information.

The “hyper-connectivity and weaponization of information, disinformation, and dis­affection”, the study team observes, is leading to the uncontrolled spread of information. The upshot is that the Pentagon faces the “inevitable elimination of secrecy and operational security”.

“Wide uncontrolled access to technology that most now take for granted is rapidly undermining prior advantages of discrete, secret, or covert intentions, actions, or operations… In the end, senior defense leaders should assume that all defense-related activity from minor tactical movements to major military operations would occur completely in the open from this point forward.”

This information revolution, in turn, is leading to the “generalized disintegra­tion of traditional authority structures… fueled, and/or accelerated by hyperconnectivity and the obvious decay and potential failure of the post-Cold War status quo.”

Civil unrest

Highlighting the threat posed by groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, the study also points to “leaderless instability (e.g., Arab Spring)” as a major driver of “a generalized erosion or dissolution of traditional authority structures.”

The document hints that such populist civil unrest is likely to become prominent in Western homelands, including inside the United States.

“To date, U.S. strategists have been fixated on this trend in the greater Middle East. However, the same forces at work there are similarly eroding the reach and authority of governments worldwide… it would be unwise not to recognize that they will mutate, metastasize, and manifest differently over time.”

The U.S. homeland is flagged-up as being especially vulnerable to the breakdown of “traditional authority structures”:

“The United States and its population are increasingly exposed to substantial harm and an erosion of security from individuals and small groups of motivated actors, leveraging the conflu­ence of hyperconnectivity, fear, and increased vulner­ability to sow disorder and uncertainty. This intensely disorienting and dislocating form of resistance to author­ity arrives via physical, virtual, and psychological vio­lence and can create effects that appear substantially out of proportion to the origin and physical size or scale of the proximate hazard or threat.”

There is little reflection, however, on the role of the US government itself in fomenting such endemic distrust, through its own policies.

Bad facts

Among the most dangerous drivers of this risk of civil unrest and mass destabilization, the document asserts, are different categories of fact. Apart from the obvious “fact-free”, defined as information that undermines “objective truth”, the other categories include actual truths that, however, are damaging to America’s global reputation.

“Fact-inconvenient” information consists of the exposure of “details that, by implication, un­dermine legitimate authority and erode the relationships between governments and the governed” — facts, for instance, that reveal how government policy is corrupt, incompetent or undemocratic.

“Fact-perilous” information refers basically to national security leaks from whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, “exposing highly clas­sified, sensitive, or proprietary information that can be used to accelerate a real loss of tactical, operational, or strategic advantage.”

“Fact-toxic” information pertains to actual truths which, the document complains, are “exposed in the absence of context”, and therefore poison “important political discourse.” Such information is seen as being most potent in triggering outbreaks of civil unrest, because it:

“… fatally weakens foundational security at an international, regional, national, or personal level. Indeedfact-toxicexposures are those likeliest to trigger viral or contagious insecurity across or within borders and between or among peoples.”

In short, the U.S. Army War College study team believe that the spread of ‘facts’ challenging the legitimacy of American empire is a major driver of its decline: not the actual behavior of the empire which such facts point to.

Mass surveillance and psychological warfare

The Pentagon study therefore comes up with two solutions to the information threat.

The first is to make better use of U.S. mass surveillance capabilities, which are described as “the largest and most sophisticated and inte­grated intelligence complex in world.” The U.S. can “generate insight faster and more reliably than its competitors can, if it chooses to do so”. Combined with its “military forward presence and power projection”, the U.S. is in “an enviable position of strength.”

Supposedly, though, the problem is that the U.S. does not make full use of this potential strength:

“That strength, however, is only as durable as the United States’ willingness to see and employ it to its advantage. To the extent that the United States and its defense enterprise are seen to lead, others will follow…”

The document also criticizes U.S. strategies for focusing too much on trying to defend against foreign efforts to penetrate or disrupt U.S. intelligence, at the expense of “the purposeful exploitation of the same architecture for the strategic manipulation of perceptions and its attendant influence on political and security outcomes.”

Pentagon officials need to simply accept, therefore, that:

“… the U.S. homeland, individual American citizens, and U.S. public opinion and perceptions will increasingly become battlefields.”

Military supremacy

Having mourned the loss of U.S. primacy, the Pentagon report sees expanding the U.S. military as the only option.

The bipartisan consensus on military supremacism, however, is not enough. The document demands a military force so powerful it can preserve “maximum freedom of action”, and allow the U.S. to “dictate or hold significant sway over outcomes in international disputes.”

One would be hard-pressed to find a clearer statement of imperial intent in any U.S. Army document:

“While as a rule, U.S. leaders of both political parties have consistently committed to the maintenance of U.S. military superiority over all potential state rivals, the post-primacy reality demands a wider and more flexible military force that can generate ad­vantage and options across the broadest possible range of military demands. To U.S. political leadership, maintenance of military advantage preserves maximum freedom of action… Finally, it allows U.S. decision-makers the opportunity to dictate or hold significant sway over outcomes in international disputes in the shadow of significant U.S. military capability and the implied promise of unac­ceptable consequences in the event that capability is unleashed.”

Once again, military power is essentially depicted as a tool for the U.S. to force, threaten and cajole other countries into submission to U.S. demands.

The very concept of ‘defence’ is thus re-framed as the capacity to use overwhelming military might to get one’s way — anything which undermines this capacity ends up automatically appearing as a threat that deserves to be attacked.

Empire of capital

Accordingly, a core goal of this military expansionism is ensuring that the United States and its international partners have “unimpeded access to air, sea, space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum in order to underwrite their security and prosperity”.

This also means that the U.S. must retain the ability to physically access any region it wants, whenever it wants:

“Failure of or limitations on the ability of the United States to enter and operate within key regions of the world, for example, undermine both U.S. and partner security.”

The U.S. thus must try to minimize any “purposeful, malevolent, or incidental interruption of access to the commons, as well as critical regions, resources, and markets.”

Without ever referring directly to ‘capitalism’, the document eliminates any ambiguity about how the Pentagon sees this new era of “Persistent Conflict 2.0”:

“… some are fighting globalization and globalization is also actively fighting back. Combined, all of these forces are rending at the fabric of security and stable governance that all states aspire to and rely on for survival.”

This is a war, then, between US-led capitalist globalization, and anyone who resists it.

And to win it, the document puts forward a combination of strategies: consolidating the U.S. intelligence complex and using it more ruthlessly; intensifying mass surveillance and propaganda to manipulate popular opinion; expanding U.S. military clout to ensure access to “strategic regions, markets, and resources”.

Even so, the overarching goal is somewhat more modest — to prevent the U.S.-led order from collapsing further:

“…. while the favorable U.S.-dominated status quo is under significant internal and external pressure, adapted American power can help to forestall or even reverse outright failure in the most critical regions”.

The hope is that the U.S. will be able to fashion “a remodeled but nonetheless still favorable post-primacy international order.”

Narcissism

Like all U.S. Army War College publications, the document states that it does not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Army or DoD. While this caveat means that its findings cannot be taken to formally represent the U.S. government, the document does also admit that it represents “the collective wisdom” of the numerous officials consulted.

In that sense, the document is a uniquely insightful window into the mind of the Pentagon, and how embarrassingly limited its cognitive scope really is.

And this in turn reveals not only why the Pentagon’s approach is bound to make things worse, but also what an alternative more productive approach might look like.

Launched in June 2016 and completed in April 2017, the U.S. Army War College research project involved extensive consultation with officials across the Pentagon, including representatives of the joint and service staffs, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM); U.S. Forces, Japan (USFJ), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Intelligence Council, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), and U.S. Army Pacific [US­ARPAC] and Pacific Fleet [PACFLT]).

The study team also consulted with a handful of American think-tanks of a somewhat neoconservative persuasion: the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the RAND Corporation, and the Institute for the Study of War.

No wonder, then, that its findings are so myopic.

But what else would you expect from a research process so deeply narcissistic, that it involves little more than talking to yourself? Is it any wonder that the solutions offered represent an echo chamber calling to amplify precisely the same policies that have contributed to the destabilization of U.S. power?

The research methodology manages to systematically ignore the most critical evidence surrounding the drivers undermining U.S. primacy: such as, the biophysical processes of climate, energy and food disruption behind the Arab Spring; the confluence of military violence, fossil fuel interests and geopolitical alliances behind the rise of ISIS; or the fundamental grievances that have driven a breakdown in trust with governments since the 2008 financial collapse and the ensuing ongoing period of neoliberal economic failure.

 A large body of data demonstrates that the escalating risks to U.S. power have come not from outside U.S. power, but from the very manner in which U.S. power has operated. The breakdown of the U.S.-led international order, from this perspective, is happening as a direct consequence of deep-seated flaws in the structure, values and vision of that order.
In this context, the study’s conclusions are less a reflection of the actual state of the world, than of the way the Pentagon sees itself and the world.
Indeed, most telling of all is the document’s utter inability to recognize the role of the Pentagon itself in systematically pursuing a wide range of policies over the last several decades which have contributed directly to the very instability it now wants to defend against.
The Pentagon frames itself as existing outside the Hobbesian turmoil that it conveniently projects onto the world — the result is a monumental and convenient rejection of any sense of responsibility for what happens in the world.
In this sense, the document is a powerful illustration of the self-limiting failure of conventional risk-assessment approaches. What is needed instead is a systems-oriented approach based on evaluating not just the Pentagon’s internal beliefs about the drivers of risk — but engaging with independent scientific evidence about those drivers to test the extent to which those beliefs withstand rigorous scrutiny.
Such an approach could open the door to a very different scenario to the one recommended by this document — one based on a willingness to actually look in the mirror. And that in turn might open up the opportunity for Pentagon officials to imagine alternative policies with a real chance of actually working, rather than reinforcing the same stale failed strategies of the past.
It is no surprise then that even the Pentagon’s apparent conviction in the inexorable decline of U.S. power could well be overblown.
According to Dr Sean Starrs of MIT’s Center for International Studies, a true picture of U.S. power cannot be determined solely from national accounts. We have to look at the accounts of transnational corporations.
Starrs shows that American transnational corporations are vastly more powerful than their competitors. His data suggests that American economic supremacism remains at an all-time high, and still unchallenged even by an economic powerhouse like China.
This does not necessarily discredit the Pentagon’s emerging recognition that U.S. imperial power faces a new era of decline and unprecedented volatility.
But it does suggest that the Pentagon’s sense of U.S. global pre-eminence is very much bound up with its capacity to project American capitalism globally.
As geopolitical rivals agitate against U.S. economic reach, and as new movements emerge hoping to undermine American “unimpeded access” to global resources and markets, what’s clear is that DoD officials see anything which competes with or undermines American capitalism as a clear and present danger.
But nothing put forward in this document will actually contribute to slowing the decline of U.S. power.
On the contrary, the Pentagon study’s recommendations call for an intensification of the very imperial policies that futurist Professor Johan Galtung, who accurately forecasted the demise of the USSR, predicts will accelerate the “collapse of the U.S. empire” by around 2020.
As we move deeper into the “post-primacy” era, the more meaningful question for people, governments, civil society and industry is this: as the empire falls, lashing out in its death throes, what comes after?