Nuking Charleston

I’ll get back to my post on “Names” shortly, it’s a research effort still in progress at the moment, but I do want to recommend some background reading for those interested and I will do so in a follow on post.

But for those that might have started reading Creating Chaos, I’d like to bring up a point I discuss towards the end of that book – a point which has to do with the personal aspects of “enabling” political warfare. I mention in the book that during the last couple of years of the Obama Administration I began to receive a rapidly growing number of forwarded emails from personal friends…emails that were all pretty obviously well-crafted political messaging in the traditional style of professional disinformation – a little truth, a lot of spin and a great deal of emotional “loading”.

They were all based on purported news stories, which on even basic search and fact checking revealed them for exactly what they were – yet when I took the trouble to write back to my email friends and advise them of that (even providing factual sources) I determined that even when they agreed, they simply did not want to expose themselves by pushing back against their own email sources.

At the time I found it frustrating but assumed that the sources were political and it was ground work for the upcoming presidential elections.  It now appears that was quite naïve and chances are I was seeing some of the very first evidence of the political warfare machine that was being cranked up to fragment and create discord within the American public.

The current investigations of Russian political warfare are not going back that far so there likely won’t be any solid documentation – in Creating Chaos I begin my real studies of that interference in 2014. Still, the following article reminded me of both a personal experience and suggests that the effort was underway at least a year earlier.

My experience began with a relative, who knows I write about national security and military operations, advising me of a plot I might have missed. A plot clearly showing the depth of evil within the Obama Administration and its covert efforts to install martial law in the United States to perpetuate itself.

Now I hear some of these things every now and then (my relatives were talking about burying guns so the government would not seize them back during the Eisenhower Administration). But this was pretty ambitious, the word was that Obama had tried to stage an atomic strike as an excuse for imposing military rule over the country – or at least the southern states. Certain high ranking officers had opposed him and they had been fired as a result.

In case you didn’t hear it at the time, check the following link for details:

http://warisboring.com/did-obama-try-to-nuke-south-carolina/

As ridiculous as it might sound, some real research had gone into the story and there were facts – at least about the dismissal of the officers. Upon investigation it was easy to deconstruct (as the article above does) in a few minutes of research but it did indicate that some effort had gone into the story.  And I have to say I’m afraid the facts probably didn’t convince my relative; the key to success in such political warfare is to feed your message to a receptive audience. That makes countering it virtually impossible in most instances. You can’t easily “write over” what someone was receptive to and then actually heard in a purported news story.

In Creating Chaos I discuss how such things work and how 21st Century technology and social networking on the internet has made such long time practices far more dangerous. In doing so I provide a goodly number of examples taken from Facebook, YouTube and anonymous sites such as 4Chan – and its even more unrestrained and sensational spin offs such as 8chan. Even a limited study of online political warfare reveals that vehicles such as Twitter can be exceptionally fertile tools for information warfare in all its most nasty forms.

At this point in time we have moved into a place where the normal constraints of free speech are being tested. There is an old saying out here where I live – “Speak your piece but have a fast horse handy” – but social convention, peer pressure and other tactics don’t work that will with instantaneous (and anonymous) global communications. Sort of like deciding to yell “fire” in a crowded theater – things happen to fast, people get hurt. And of course yelling fire in a crowded theater brings to mind Alex Jones:

https://money.cnn.com/2018/08/10/media/infowars-twitter-alex-jones/index.html

We are all going to face the same personal struggles that Facebook and Twitter face in the commercial media space (which is where they are, whether Twitter admits it or not). The question you need to ask about your online and social media communications is whether you are addressing the problem or not. And as we used to say back in the 60’s, “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”.

 

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The Names

One of the constants in the discussion of the JFK assassination is the desire for names. Names of those who knew of a conspiracy before the attack, names heard afterwards, the names of the organizers, of those who went to Dallas for the ambush. And of course names have emerged over fifty plus years. Perhaps most importantly, names were even given to official bodies dealing with the assassination.

The challenges in dealing with names are many.  It’s as critical to vet the credibility of the sources as it is to explore the names themselves, not just to verify that they are of real people but to test whether they make sense in terms of an “operational context” – in other words can they be associated with each other, do their common motives make sense and in particular do they actually have any recorded history with each other or with what we have learned about the nature of the actual attack on President Kennedy in Dallas.

Most recently, during the tenure of the ARRB, a source confidentially brought names of individuals to the attention of that body – assuming that they would be investigated and certainly assuming that they (and he) would never be disclosed to the public. Those assumptions proved to be wrong, the ARRB paid virtually no attention to the names or to him as a source, and the materials he submitted were disclosed in the public release of ARRB documents.

The source was Gene Wheaton, the names were those of a long time CIA paramilitary officer and a well-known anti-Castro fighter. Thanks to documents on the MFF site, a basic verification of his information was possible and in the end he was shown his own documents and asked for comments in an interview conducted by my friend William Law. After many years that interview is now on line.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DPT9Oc0lsU

I’ve written and presented at length on Wheaton and his experience with the ARRB so I won’t belabor that here. What is most significant is that the names Wheaton provided were not of the conspiracy participants themselves, but of individuals who quite confidentially discussed knowing that people they had worked with and trained had been involved in the attack on JFK. Given that the two men known to Wheaton refused to talk further, we are left with the research challenge of determining the names of individuals who would fit the profile given to us by the remarks heard by Wheaton. And that requires an in depth understanding of the assignments and activities individuals involved in anti-Castro operations during the period of 1960-1963. Initially that seemed like an impossible task, however with much plodding, grunt level work over the years – and some striking new documents finds by my friend David Boylan – we are at the point where we now have that detail.

Equally importantly, that research has disclosed that the names which surface in the Wheaton research have connections to information provided earlier to the HSCA. HSCA sources and investigators surfaced information from John Martino and Rolando Otero, both of whom held secondary knowledge about the attack in Dallas, information which they could only have obtained from individuals deep within the conspiracy. And as it turns out, our newest research discloses a number of connections between the names which emerge from all three sources – Wheaton, Martino and Otero.

Beyond the names themselves, the history of the individuals who emerge from the sources and the research reveals a level of covert operational association over several years. It shows a group of individuals involved in high risk missions involving paramilitary operations – including extremely well planned and organized sniper attacks – and the commonality of commitment and risk taking that would be necessary to a conspiracy to murder a President. And it demonstrates that those individuals could well have had the degree of mutual trust, solidarity and confidence in each other to come together in such a task. All of which is surprising because certain of their associations were completely unknown, even as recently as a couple of years ago.

Putting these connections and associations together is an ongoing task but we now have the data, organizing and presenting it in a structured form (which extensive citation) is the real challenge. And for those interested, that will first surface in my presentation at the JFK Lancer conference in November.

http://jfklancer.com/Dallas2018/index.html

I hope to see many of you there.

Creating Chaos is Here!

Well chaos has been here a for a couple of years but I’m actually talking about my book Creating Chaos / Covert Political Warfare from Truman to Putin.  And yes authors are allowed to use exclamation marks when their books actually make it into print…

I did my first interview on Creating Chaos a couple of days ago – some two hours’ worth – and immediately learned how challenging it is going to be to really present the content of a book that covers decades but which also has extensive contemporary commentary. It’s far too easy to get sucked into what is going on in the news every day and how that relates to the techniques of political warfare covered in the book, as well as the backstory of those current events.  A backstory that actually began in 2004 and evolved somewhat slowly over a full decade.

While talking about the book will no doubt be an ongoing challenge,  what I can do is give you some more detailed information about the book – now that I have the first version of the print copies in hand – and let  you get a feel for it yourselves.

First, the book is coming out in two “generations”.  The first generation, which became available in July, was direct from the publisher (OR Books).  The EBook version is $10 and a softcover print on demand (POD) book ($18).  The POD edition is about two thirds the size of a standard trade paperback that you would find in a book store or library.

http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/creating-chaos-by-larry-hancock/

This size book is really very portable and I was a bit surprised by how “readable” it was (being old and all small print is not my friend).  The print is quite a good size, the contrast on the page is good and both the end notes and the index are quite readable (which is sometimes an issue even in trade paperback and hard cover editions).

Sometime in September a second generation, press printed trade paperback will be available on Amazon and bookstores should be able to order copies through Publishers Group West. I’ve now received early copies of the press print book, which has a more polished cover, higher quality paper and is physically a bit larger. Because of the press printing the type/page contrast is sharper (OK, that’s probably “too much information” but authors obsess over such things).

https://www.amazon.com/Creating-Chaos-Covert-Political-Warfare/dp/1944869875/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Now to what is actually in the book.  First off the book itself is 393 pages, proving that I can write something at least a little shorter than 500/600 pages.  It has over 40 pages of end notes, which should be enough citations for pretty much anyone. And the index is some 17 pages, with a host of names which will be new to most readers.

As to contents, here are the Chapter Titles:

Chapter One: The Games of Queens, Kings and Presidents

Chapter Two:  Going Dark

Chapter Three:  Containment

Chapter Four:  Political Action

Chapter Five:   Regime Change

Chapter Six:  Hybrid Warfare

Chapter Seven:  Active Measures

Chapter Eight:   Privatization

Chapter Nine:   Role Reversals

Chapter Ten:  Sovereignty Issues

Chapter Eleven:  Pushing Back

Chapter Twelve:  Beachheads

Chapter Thirteen:   Shaping

Chapter Fourteen:  Fragmentation

Chapter Fifteen:   Consequences

As you can see, I try to address both the tactics and practices of covert political warfare.  Along the way I present a model which addresses its scaling and evolution from one state to the next.  I’ve worked quite hard to make it a balanced presentation, beginning with the practices of the British and Russian Empires, moving through examples from the Cold War for both the United States and the Soviet Union and finally stepping into how roles have reversed in the 21st Century, probing deeply into contemporary events and the new technologies available to the old practices.

So, that’s it for now. I will move on to other subjects, hopefully returning when a few readers have delved into the book and have things to discuss.

 

Putin’s Win

We may never know about the actual content of the summit meeting, given that it was totally private, however as I predicted, it appears that the meeting itself was indeed “easy” for both parties. Apparently no specific agreements were reached, even at a tentative level. And based on comments at the following press conference, there were no confrontations over Russian election meddling (much less broader Russian political warfare against the West), the Crimea, Ukraine, or any other potentially challenging topics. If there had been such challenges they certainly were not repeated in front of the press.

There are pervasive rumors that there have already been discussions relating to some sort of agreement over Syria, if not a formal one at least a working protocol which would involve the U.S. accepting Assad in place, accepting Russian security oversight over most of western Syrian and the Jordanian border and force the Iranian presence to back to the east avoiding any direct military confrontations with Israel. Part of that agreement may well involve Russian air defenses essentially giving a pass to Israeli attacks on Iranian surrogate forces on any occasions where they provoke Israel – which is essentially the current state of affairs. For all we know this mutual understanding may already be in place.

Of course while the meeting itself may have been easy, the following press conference was most certainly not. That is a story in itself.

However, what I promised to do earlier was to rate my own predictions about what appears to have happened, so I will stick to that. Essentially my assessment was that Putin has already made great progress against his own geopolitical goals so he had no need to press for anything new, a simple acceptance of the current state of affairs, in both Eastern Europe and Syria was sufficient.

And that appears to be exactly what he accomplished. A simple acceptance of the status quo gives Putin what he needed and beyond that communicates to the former Soviet bloc nations that they are pretty much on their own.  If they didn’t already have that message before, they have it now.  Basically if there was no new American push back, no challenge to the Russian military actions and political warfare which began in 2014, Putin’s message to the former Soviet states has been confirmed by inaction.

There is little doubt that message has been received across Europe, most precisely expressed by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, “We can no longer completely rely on the White House”.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/17/politics/president-trump-vladimir-putin-summit-history/index.html

Also, as I predicted there was absolutely no evidence of Trump taking the traditional mantle as the leader of the West, this was strictly America and Russia. No issues relating to political warfare or even covert action against Britain, France, Spain or other NATO countries were raised.

I had thought that Putin might actually push for some mutual security agreements, not only to solidify positions he already holds but to give some evidence of new action – some move to mutually work to stabilize the on again off again fighting on the front lines between Ukraine and its separatist areas, perhaps a joint security effort on the Jordanian border. If anything that concrete was discussed there are no signs of it so far and as far as I can see no joint working agreement was drafted.  Not even one as slim as after the meeting with Kim and North Korea.

Another area I had speculated on was Putin’s offering up something in the way of nuclear weapons deals. That was mentioned in advance and apparently it was on the agenda for Trump. But the more I think about it, Putin can drive the U.S. into huge military programs and spending by just announcing advanced weapons and occasionally claiming success (mount a small ballistic missile on an attack jet and call it hypersonic). Actually an accord to suspend hypersonic weapons development would have been a really big deal, especially if it included an approach to China. But there is no sign Putin made any offers and now that I think about it, why would he?

The same goes for new Russian protests about NATO, given last week’s meetings why even push that issue. After last week you have statements in European capitals about not being able to rely on Washington, about the need to build a European force. Easy enough to let matters take their own course.

So, I claim victory on my Putin projections.  I predicted Putin he had to do very little and he exceeded my expectations.

Now as to Trump. There were a number of ways that he could have worked certain deals to at least give the impression that there were benefits in US/Russian partnering. And as I follow the press today, it appears that his aides were anticipating just that sort of “pivot” – a move towards new agreements that would divert attention from Russian political warfare. If that occurred in the 90 minute meeting we have little evidence; it certainly did not occur in the press conference.

In public Trump returned to literally denying the Russian political warfare and that was that. The only Russian proposal he seemed excited about was to let the senior Russian GRU cyber officers indicted for intervening in American political affairs work with our own cyber intelligence people – potentially allowing them to determine exactly how we caught them at it. I imagine virtually everyone can see the problem with that offer from Putin – no matter how strongly Trump endorsed it.

So – when I predicted Trump would pursue agreements which would strengthen his deal making image it appears I was wrong. He remained focused on domestic American politics and it turned out not to be the politics of 2018 but the election campaign of 2016.

So, I rate myself at fifty/fifty, with that sort of record I’m off to Vegas.

UPDATE:

It appears that Trump and Putin did discuss areas of mutual security arrangements, Syria and nuclear weapons. Well at least that is what we are hearing from the Russians:
“Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a Russian military spokesman, said in a statement Tuesday – The Russian military “is ready to intensify contacts with the US colleagues in the General Staff and other available channels to discuss the extension of the START treaty, cooperation in Syria, as well as other issues of ensuring military security,” Konashenkov said.”

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/17/politics/trump-putin-russia-claim-military-agreements/index.html

Apparently the Russians have a full record of what was discussed in those agreements, whether or not the US does is an open question at present. Press inquiries to the NSC are meeting with no response.

Objectively it appears that Russia is once again demonstrating extreme skill in political warfare, raising questions within the American government about its own foreign policy and the issue of secret agreements not being shared by the American president. Combined with the President’s interview yesterday about a question in regards to actually honoring the core premise in the NATO mutual military assistance pact, this obviously further undermines confidence among America’s traditional allies. In terms of “creating chaos” it would be difficult to imagine better tactics. I should note that I detest Putin, but as a tactician he is proving amazingly successful.

An Easy Summit

 

It’s probably foolish for me to speculate about the Trump/Putin summit, historically even what appear to be highly organized and extensively prepared meetings between world leaders can take on a life of their own.  For example a series of meetings between President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev began with an effort to simply reduce fears of nuclear war and moved to the point at with Reagan himself appeared to accept the thought of total nuclear disarmament – something which both shocked and appalled most of his high level advisors.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/ronald-reagans-disarmament-dream/422244/

It appears that those same advisors were totally ignorant of the fact that only a short time before, Soviet fears of a preemptive western decapitation strike had escalated to the point where the Russian leadership was itself seriously considering its own senior military staff requests for a nuclear first strike on the United States (if that is news to you then you have not read Surprise Attack). It’s certainly not unknown to find senior staff scrabbling in trying to keep up with remarks and press statements following personal meetings between world leaders.

In regard to the Trump/Putin summit, the most recent statement from President Trump is that it will be an “easy summit” and I suspect that is quite true; there is little doubt that there is less discord between he and Putin than between he and EU and NATO leaders. Most recently he has even remarked that if NATO steps up its spending it is still a problem since that won’t necessarily help the American trade balance with Europe.  Certainly the meeting with Putin does not appear to be the traditional East/West meeting but purely a meeting in regard to mutual U.S. and Russian Federation interests.

It will also be made easier due to the fact that Putin has already accomplished most of his tactical goals in terms of fragmenting both the EU and NATO and is well underway towards significantly improving Russian political/military influence over much of Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East. The success of nationalist party success across Europe has also opened new venues for increased Russian influence, with Italy only being the most being the most visible example. Of course just to make sure Europe doesn’t forget Russia is in the room:

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/22075/russia-executes-mock-special-operations-raid-on-remote-island-off-finland

Given his success, I suspect Putin will take a very soft line, including pushing for mutual security accords to address the fighting in Syria. Russian success there has now left Russia in control of much of the southern border with Jordon and that is exactly the sort of value add that Putin would like to showcase in terms of Russian military support. He may even offer something similar in regard to the Ukraine, a security agreement which would leave the breakaway territories in place as well as the occupation of Crimea. Reduce the fighting, provide some relief to the migration of refuges – trade stability for geopolitical influence.

It’s hard to see Trump not accepting such proposals and the issue of sanctions may not even be raised, with the increase in oil prices due to the American moves again Iran, Russian revenues are bouncing back. With a pending trade war in Europe and Asia, Putin can profit by simply setting on the sidelines.

Beyond that it’s not impossible to see talk of something more spectacular, something like a joint agreement in space exploration or even a joint lunar mission. Russia would benefit in a number of ways from such an agreement and it’s one of the few areas of joint Russian/American cooperation that would be solid ground for moving forward.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/06/next-generation-russian-crew-vehicle-initial-testing/

Beyond that, Putin will register his concerns about NATO and probably repeat the Russian opposition to the American anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe.  If he does and Trump agrees, it will be a sure sign to the East that it better rebuild its political links to Moscow (actually putting the systems there was nonsense in the first place and Russia has every reason to question why they are there; they make no strategic sense and are simply an artifact of the ongoing American obsession with Iran).

Their continued existence also illustrates that all presidents can make mistakes but only some know how to clean up after their predecessors without public embarrassment.  That particular issue could have been easily resolved with Aegis anti-missile cruisers in the Mediterranean. When JFK took the IRBM’s out of Turkey in the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis, he simply moved a Polaris ICBM sub into the Mediterranean – quietly maintaining and likely improving the American nuclear strike position.

So I’ve talked at some length on Putin’s agenda, what about Trump?  Objectively I can only say his goal is to assert his own political power by meeting with Putin in a total rejection of all concerns and issues with Russian political warfare.

I would speculate he would like to be able to come away able to declare “security wins” as he did from the North Korean meeting, as well as some new items of joint Russian/American cooperation. Overall my take is that his agendas are essentially domestic and not global – while Putin’s are just the opposite. Given that, it may indeed be an “easy summit” for both leaders.

 

Summit Agendas

 

This series of posts has been longer than anticipated and there will likely be one more, rife with my personal speculation, in a few days. To set the context for that it’s important to fully appreciate the agendas of both Putin and Trump in the upcoming summit.

First, it’s important to note that Putin wants good relations with the U.S. He views the U.S, China and Russia the fundamental global super powers, the political forces that should control the security and resources of the planet. It’s even possible he would prefer stronger US / Russian relations as a balance against the Chinese – who are in direct territorial contact with the Russian Federation across all its eastern borders and who are themselves busily working to control SW Asian and African resources that the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union viewed as under their hegemony.

Second, Putin personally hates NATO and the EU and would do anything in his power to weaken those alliances with the United States, as well as to ensure that Russian energy influence over Europe is maintained. Along with those aspects of his agenda he is highly motivated to preserve Russian influence within OPEC and maintain Russian oil revenues – the key to the Russian economy and to finance his military developments (as well as Russian economic development of the Arctic; which he understands is critical to Russia given climate change – which he most certainly does recognize).

In short he would actually like a strong U.S. / Russian partnership – if it is on those terms.  To do so he is perfectly happy to court American business interests as well as its political right wing, and interestingly enough there appears a great desire to work with Russia within both those sectors.  In other words, Putin has a very solid sense of where to target Russian political appeal towards America.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/02/europe/russia-us-relations-political-will-intl/index.html

In listing his summit priorities I would project they would focus on reinforcing Trump’s own disdain and mistrust for traditional American alliances and agreements. In essence Trump’s America First political agenda is quite literally the same as Putin’s so anything Putin can do to reinforce that in regard to the EU, to BREXIT, to the WTO and most importantly towards NATO will be points Putin’s personal persuasion.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/01/politics/trump-world-trade-organization-tariffs/index.html

As to Trump’s agenda, he would very much like good relations with Russia for a number of reasons, most of all because he is personally obsessed with maintaining that Russian “meddling” had nothing to do with his winning the 2016 election and imposing his own political will in terms of his campaign statements in regard to doing business with Russia. This is a very personal issue of legitimacy and will to him – whereas Putin is driven largely by strategic national issues, Trump is in a very different and much more personal space in the talks.

Trump faces a hugely escalating budget deficit, a potential cliff in economic growth as a result of his tariff policies and a dramatically escalating military budget.  I speculated in Shadow Warfare, some four years ago now, that Putin was using the Reagan Star Wars gambit of baiting the U.S. with new weapons systems and deployments – potentially forcing the U.S. to commit to a new wave of military spending it could not afford. The downside risk was the price of oil and Russian oil revenues.

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/06/26/underwater-will-rising-debt-spark-pentagon-cutbacks/

 

Up until the election of 2016 things were looking increasingly as if Putin was indeed playing the Star Wars card effectively, forcing a huge increase in American spending – but that the falling price of oil had made the operational deployment of such weapons questionable.  However the new 2017/2018 Trump accords with Saudi Arabia, his ongoing political warfare with Iran and pending American economic sanctions against Iran’s trading partners things have dramatically changed.  Those America moves have now destabilized the world oil market to the extent that Russia is in an increasingly better position to at least sustain Putin’s projects. At this point Russia is most definitely the economic winner in terms of the new American/Saudi alliance against Iran.

American economic/budget exposure puts Trump in a position to be amenable to Putin proposals which would limit new weapons development, potentially point towards a new era of nuclear disarmament negotiations, and set the stage for deals which allow reduction or even the pulling out of American forces from Syria, potentially out of Korea and even out of Europe – blunting the resurgence of NATO and American support for the Ukraine as well as other Eastern European nations where Putin very much wants to weaken confidence in Western support and reassert Russian political control.

I’ll get down to more specific speculation on deals in my final pre-summit post, but my view of the overall summit context is that  Putin will be suggesting deals to Trump that Trump will be very much driven by his own personal agenda and his America First political promises to accept.

Summit Backstory

In this series of posts I’ve been discussing the backstory to   the upcoming Trump/Putin summit meeting.  That meeting was first suggested by Putin and now Trump’s own national security advisor John Bolton (who himself is historically not a fan of Putin) is off to Moscow to follow up on Putin’s proposal.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/21/john-bolton-to-moscow-kremlin-661516

Given the state of chaos in American politics at present, it’s hard to understand why Trump would pursue a meeting which would appear to have the bad “optics” so hated by contemporary politicians. On the other hand, it is hard to overestimate the personal connection that exists between the two men and Trump’s admiration for Putin, who exemplifies the type of tough leadership Trump strives to practice.

Beyond that personal equation, there is also a fundamental agreement in both men’s views on tactics – and tactics are incredibly important to the two, especially since Putin has demonstrated his ability to actually turn around his own popularity and re-establish himself as the single dominant political force in Russia, all within an amazingly brief span of time.

No more than a decade ago, Putin and his supporters reached the conclusion that Russia was under direct political attack by the west, carried out through the actions of various non-government agencies (NGO’s) who had inserted themselves into elections in nations throughout the former Soviet domains and who were increasingly involved inside Russia itself. The history of those democracy initiatives goes back decades, with a resurgence during the post 9/11 Bush Administration.

It involves both federally funded American organizations and privately funded open democracy activist groups. Beginning in 2004, it became increasingly clear that their activities, and those of similar groups from the European Union, were successfully destabilizing elections and established regimes across Eastern Europe. By 2008 Putin and his associates were openly stating that they would either reassert control during the upcoming Russian elections or literally lose the soul of the nation to foreign influence.

Of course, without being too conspiratorial, it’s simply true that open elections and multi-party governments are inherently destabilizing, somewhat chaotic and much less “efficient” than single party regimes. Governments led by long time Soviet era figures would hardly be expected to have welcomed the chaos of fully open democracy and contentious elections under any circumstance. Not surprisingly the Putin establishment responded to political change in Georgia, the Ukraine, and within the Russian Federation itself as foreign “meddling” and increasingly sought to oppose what they considered foreign intervention.

Open democracy does fragment national politics and can become the bane of central control, efforts to spread it can be a seen threat. Throughout the Cold War, America repeatedly intervened to support pro-American regimes that were facing populist, open democracy movements. Stu Wexler and I tell that story in Shadow Warfare and I go much further in exploring it in Creating Chaos. In the 21st Century Putin has responded to the decade of political chaos in Eastern Europe and the Baltic from 2004-2014 in much the same fashion, and arguably, much more efficiently.

Beginning in 2008 Putin began a series of initiatives to oppose the influence of open democracy initiatives inside Russia by rebuilding  a centralized power structure, with a great deal of focus on attacking and deconstructing what had become a relatively open media following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He coined the term “fake news”, he began encouraging his oligarchic supporters to buy into control of various media groups and himself reasserting centralized government media control over state owned radio and television networks.

By 2014 that initiative had proved increasingly successful, as had been a complimentary effort to emphasize and differentiate Russian culture, Russian heritage and Russian values from the West. Putin was quite open about his agenda and his views, asserting in speeches that the West – especially America – did not understand the fact that Russia was inherently different and needed to be treated accordingly.

Putin repeatedly and publicly made it clear that Russia deserved the sort of international status and dominion that it had held for centuries under first the Russian empire and later the Soviet Union.  The west needed to look back within itself, worry about its own problems and cease interference in the territories that Russia had controlled over the centuries.

In pursuit of that worldview Putin moved to weaponize the type of political chaos that he felt had been directed towards Russia from the West, directing it back towards them. In doing so he encouraged both domestic and foreign activities which have not only fully restored his own power inside Russia but which have created a level of political chaos on his borders, within the NATO nations and inside the United States which could hardly have been imagined only a decade ago.

While those actions have provoked strong response in Europe, the American reaction has been much more mixed. A series of sanctions have created difficulties for certain Russian oligarchs and companies, yet at a less visible level, Russian government activities within the United States and with certain American political figures remain unaffected – and largely unpublicized.

http://uawire.org/russian-minister-of-internal-affairs-says-he-received-us-visa-without-problems-despite-sanctions

https://www.rferl.org/a/republican-lawmakers-seek-putin-visit-during-russia-trip/29314372.html

In summary, as the move to a July summit between Trump and Putin proceeds, Putin has placed himself in a position of strategic influence which is actually not justified by either his economy, his military or his alliances. In a classic sense he has gained that position by playing not on his strengths but his opponent’s weaknesses.

All of which leads us to the question of what his agenda in the upcoming summit meeting will be, and how that could be translated to match that of Trump’s own needs. I’ll speculate a bit on that in my final post on contemporary Russian/American relations.

Common Ground

Common Ground

The stated issue in the pending summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump will be nuclear weapons. Given that Putin has already proposed nuclear weapons as the topic for the meeting that seems like a safe projection. The context of the talk will be that of security guarantees, guarantees which will allow Russia to feel comfortable with pulling back on the actual construction of at least some of the aggressive new designs which they have under development. That would include Russia’s ongoing development of a nuclear powered cruise missile – a weapon system the U.S. began at the height of the Cold War and determined to be so insane that it cancelled the project, Project Pluto.

https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/putins-nuclear-powered-cruise-missile-is-a-rehash-of-an-1823588286

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a13978519/slam-cruise-missile-nuclear-thermonuclear/

Why Russia would be developing a weapon of this at this date is virtually impossible to fathom in light of any external threat to itself. The same can be said for their work on a megaton class atomic torpedo:

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/just-how-much-threat-russias-status-6-nuclear-torpedo-24094

While we are not sure about the torpedo, there are definite signs the atomic cruise missile is real and has been in testing, creating nuclear contamination in the process.

Of course what both nations have now begun much more broadly is a total update their ICBM systems and even the re-introduction of tactical nuclear weapons. It is a very real and horrendously expensive effort, so here would be much to be gained politically (at least in American politics) by reducing that budgeted spending. The carrot and the stick are both plainly in view in a Putin/Trump summit meeting. Doing a deal would indeed be largely painless since nobody really needs the new weapons or the budget drain.

Which brings us to the motivation for the new Russian atomic weapons and a bit closer to something else that Putin will want, most likely unstated, in any such deal. And that will be quite simple, he will want assurances that America will focus internally, that it will cease funding all its democratic initiative programs and that it will make an effort to curtail the democracy initiatives carried out by those non-governmental entities that it can overtly or covertly control. Putin’s view is that those actions were conscious American meddling, a threat to Russian sovereignty which has to stop –  that is no real secret since it is exactly how he responds to questions about Russian meddling in the American political process.

Putin himself is convinced that the last four American administrations, over some thirty years, waged democracy initiative programs which not only created the color revolutions in the former Russian dominated eastern European nations but across North Africa and into the Middle East – all areas which had historically seen heavy Russian economic and political influence (from Libya through Egypt up into Syria and across into Iran and Iraq). And he wants that stopped. He wants America focused internally, the NATO nations dealing with internal problems and the opportunity to reassert Russian economic and political influence.  Beyond that in certain border areas (Novorossiya), he wants to reassert basic Russian cultural control and political dominance

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Novorossiya

What will make the proposed meeting between the two Presidents’ most interesting is that it appears the American President largely agrees with the Russian President’s world views on American global meddling. And that brings us to the subject of “synchronicity”, the topic for the next post in this series.

 

Putin Prognostication

 

Since I research and write on what I have begun to think of as  “Deep History”, I normally don’t get involved with the temptation of predicting the future.  However Creating Chaos (now available for preorder on both Amazon and at OR Books) led me much further into contemporary events and those events are playing out in such an obvious fashion that I can no longer help myself.

There is going to be a Trump/Putin Summit meeting in the near future, Putin has already proposed it and Trump will follow up on it before the upcoming American elections. The primary discussion at the meeting will be moves to address the dramatic “rebuild” of the Russian and American nuclear arsenals, not just in regard to megaton class weapons systems but the rebirth of the type of tactical nuclear weapons which had essentially been taken off the table during the first Bush presidency and seemed about to totally be eliminated under Obama.

If you have been following my blog posts you know that during the last three to four years, Putin has returned tactical nukes to the forefront of Russian weapons development (announcing hyper-sonic delivery systems and most recently displaying an aircraft carried, long range atomic cruise missile).  Russian Federation military doctrines have also begun to publicly tout the use of tactical nukes in a number of scenarios.

While most of Putin’s military announcements have been in regard to weapons of mass destruction – new ground and mobile ICBMS, new Russian ballistic missile subs and ICBM’s, an atomic powered global cruise missile and even “continent” killer fusion torpedoes – his touting of the unique unstoppable, inter-continental cruise missiles is something else entirely, suggesting Russia can remotely intervene anywhere on the globe it chooses. It is actually quite reminiscent of Nikita Khrushchev’s initial announcement of Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

All this nuclear sword waving is rather different than the current Chinese military initiatives which are very much focused on the China Sea resources and its land route into Africa.  China clearly has strategic resource control as its primary strategy, and its growing military presence in Africa reflects that.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/03/10/china-builds-ambitiously-africa-us-sounds-alarm.html

Putin’s tactical goals are something else entirely. Given that Russia’s financial resources are actually far more limited than China’s, his tactical moves and successes suggest that he is actually both highly focused and amazingly skilled (or lucky, either counts).  There is simply no way that Russia’s economy will support the large scale deployment of the advanced weapons he is developing and touting – even given his immense success in working with OPEC in raising the price of oil over the last few months, oil prices being his greatest political exposure.

However in working with OPEC and by making what was actually a very modest investment in aircraft and manpower in Syria, he reinserted Russia’s role in the Middle East with minimal expense (although the cost in Russian military contract employees was considerable, such shadow warfare is generally a low risk political gambit and the Russians have always been better at it than the U.S.).  The following story gives a bit more detail on what Russia can and cannot afford in the terms of real world military force projection:

http://warisboring.com/coming-soon-containerized-missiles-on-russian-warships/

So…Putin has proposed a nuclear summit to Trump and I predict it will happen. And as with Putin’s proposal some months ago that the best way to engage with North Korea would be to suspend U.S. / South Korean military exercises, I suspect Putin is already floating some very attractive “deals”.  Deals which will in truth give up nothing (since Russia can’t afford to build all the highly advanced weapons Putin has been showcasing) but will give Putin more of what he truly wants.  Which will be the subject of Part 2 of this series of posts.

Mind Control

 

The anniversary of the RFK assassination is bringing forth a host of articles related to Sirhan Sirhan and a great many of them are revisiting a conspiracy theme that has been present for some decades – a theme based in Sirhan’s claim that he had no memory at all of events around the time of the shooting in the Ambassador Hotel.  It was a claim which led to a rather strange legal defense, not terribly unlike that which at one point was offered for Jack Ruby in the shooting of Lee Oswald. Of course when you are captured at the scene of the crime with a gun in your hand and numerous witnesses to your firing it, legal defenses do have to get creative.

Sirhan’s initial court room defense did not introduce the idea of conspiracy at all – which it certainly would have had to if he had been positioned as some sort of patsy. However in more recent years Sirhan himself has moved to towards that position, speculating that he might have somehow been manipulated by the infamous (and indeed very suspicious) “polka dot dress girl”, who he now suspects might have put something in his drink.

The view taken in most of the conspiracy writing related to that girl connects to something far more complex and far darker, the possibility that Sirhan was under some sort of mind control, functioning as a totally automated assassin. To a large extent, that view has been fostered by the fact that Sirhan himself has been shown to be easily hypnotized, giving every sign that at some point before the shooting he had previously been the subject of hypnotic practices.

That fact has led to wide ranging speculation that Sirhan was not simply conditioned though hypnosis but indeed had been developed as the type of mind controlled assassin envisioned in one aspect of the CIA’s MK/ULTRA project. Of course MK/ULTRA had many elements, including the use of drugs for interrogation, assassination and in support of psychiatric conditioning.  Indeed drugs, extensive psychiatric conditioning in controlled environments and hypnosis were all elements of the program over a period of years. Good overviews of the total program may be found at these links:

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/search/site/mk%2520ultra

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKUltra

A more in depth, contemporary article related to the subject of mind control may be found here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4196540/

I explored the issue of the polka dot dress girl and Sirhan’s own history with hypnosis – including his self-practice of auto-suggestion – in my essays on the RFK assassination which are available on the Mary Ferrell Foundation web site:

https://www.maryferrell.org/pages/Essay_-_Incomplete_Justice_-_At_the_Ambassador_Hotel.html

My conclusions were that there is extensive evidence that the polka dot dress girl and her associates were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate RFK and the attack at the Ambassador was simply the final effort in a series of attempts which had gone on for some weeks. Beyond that there is every reason to feel that hypnosis was involved in conditioning Sirhan, but very likely not in the form of a sophisticated mind control program. Given Sirhan’s own political views targeting him on RFK was rather easy. There is also considerable reason, based in extensive taped interviews following his arrest, to be skeptical about Sirhan’s own claims to have no recollection of the events at the hotel or during the immediate period after the shooting.

That’s all in the essays and I’m always happy to discuss those. In terms of the RFK conspiracy itself I remain very much interested and involved in investigating it – more on that in a following post.