I’m reading Disinformation by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa–well, that was his title when he was head of the Romanian Secret Police behind the Iron Curtain. Now he’s an American, and in protective custody. His first book, Red Horizons, is believed to have been instrumental in the defeat of the Soviet Union. Really, Time magazine showed Red Horizons on President George Herbert Walker Bush’s desk (p.32) and Reagan found it helpful!
Now, Pacepa’s new book tells us the secret history of Russian dominance and foreign affairs from his experience as head of the Romanian secret service and his collaborations with the Russian FSB (i.e., KGB). The word “Disinformation” comes from Russia, though Russia developed disinformation saying the word originated in France. “Disinformation” wasn’t even a word in the Webster dictionary in 1986. This Russian strategy of disinformation as public policy is designed to offer a kernel of truth alongside a blatant lie, or pretext, in order to accomplish, essentially, authoritarian foreign policy. Pacepa reasons why, with evidence, Putin is creating an information dictatorship, and not a democracy.
As Ukraine came to light, I started reflecting on what I had been reading. Putin was arguing that Khrushchev gave away Crimea but that almost all Crimeans are Russians. Putin was not sending in troops, then his troops were seizing Ukrainian space. The Ukrainians in Crimea would vote, but the vote choice was to (1) leave Ukraine as an independent nation, or (2) join Russia. Isn’t this the essence of “disinformation?” Doesn’t Putin’s take over of Ukraine fit with Pacepa’s experience?
So I attended a panel discussion at Wayne State which featured Volodymyr Dubovyk–from Ukraine–on Ukraine. And once I heard the essence of his speech, I was chilled:
The numbers for various regions of those in favor of joining Russia just prior to the Russian invasion in Crimea (reliable sociology here by “Democratic initiatives” and Kyiv International Institute of Sociology): Crimea – 41%, Donetsk – 33%, Odessa – 24% (others – lower). There has not been very reliable polling since the invasion but some polls suggest that the number of those in favor of Ukraine joining NATO has spiked up to 70% (throughout the country).
So there are a lot of people with Russian heritage speaking Russian in Ukraine, but a majority of the Ukrainian people (including these Russians)–before Putin’s intervention–did not favor joining Russia in all regions.
As I visit RT, or Russian Television, I am flabbergasted by Pacepa’s acumen. Didn’t you know, the whole fascist thing has been integral in the Russian “disinformation campaign” since World War II–when the Catholics opposed Russian authoritarianism; and they were labeled fascists by Russian disinformation!
Ukraine, right now, matters to the future of the world. If the west succumbs to Russian disinformation, peace will not be present.
There is a silver lining. Pacepa says that Russia honestly believes that World War III will not be a war with weapons; rather, disinformation. The public policy implications are immense, and Obama and the G8 made the right call to credibly commit to defunding authoritarians who promote disinformation in order to cause chaos to sovereign people in sovereign states. It appears that we can win this war without weapons too–just a lot of information, facts, and collaboration.
By the way, Khrushchev didn’t give Crimea to Ukraine without getting something to his greater advantage. I implore the reader to find out what it was that Khrushchev got, because otherwise you may still just “believe in disinformation.”
The truth? Many people in Crimea are from Russian heritage and there are plenty of schools in Crimea and Ukraine that teach in Russian today, for example, with Russian as an official language. There is no “real” fascist threat other than the fear of fascism promoted by a disinformation campaign by the Russians designed to cause instability so that authoritarian public policy change may occur.
Otto Neurath said, “In science there are no ‘depths’; there is surface everywhere: all experience forms a complex network, which cannot always be surveyed and can often be grasped only in parts” (1929). Political science has come a long way since 1929, and we must look into the depths of this “disinformation campaign” on the part of Russia.
Liberalism is fighting authoritarianism and vice-versa. Liberals (practice capitalism and representative democracy) should enable new pathways for development in Ukraine. After all, we spent $87 Billion on Iraq Reconstruction funding from 2004-2006; of which 79 percent went to multi-national corporations and 17% was unaccounted for… perhaps today we can account for how Americans invest in trading with Ukraine–or the additional response of Ukraine joining NATO just in case we are feeling like appeasement.
A right of a sovereign and democratic nation is to be defended. I can only conclude as Pacepa did in Disinformation (355):
Let us, once and for all, also reject Marxism’s “science” of disinformation, its glasnost, and its political necrophagy that has been used so destructively over the years to squash freedom and bankrupt countries. Let us recognize them for what they are–and expose them with all our might–when such deceitful campaigns rear their ugly heads. Let us return to our own American exceptionalism and its traditions of patriotism, honesty and fairness. The United States of America is the greatest country on earth. Let us keep it that way for future generations.
The root of our ideology is freedom from domination, and Putin’s disinformation goes against all our principles of freedom.
Now that we have an empirical theory for disinformation; let us continue to monitor this said war.