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memri
October 16, 2017 No.
7134

Popular Russian Blogger On Russia-Linked Facebook Ads: The Western Budget For Interfering In The Russian Election Will Far Surpass 150 Thousand Dollars

Ivan Danilov, an economist and author of the popular Crimson Alter blog, recently published an article, titled "Putin Has Elected Trump For 150 Thousand Dollars. When We Should Expect Retaliation," in the Russian news agency RIA. Danilov asserts the scandal of the Facebook ads linked to Russia aimed at influencing the U.S. elections is nothing but absurd. "It turned out that the 'evil Russians' had spent only about 150 thousand dollars to buy political advertisements during the elections. So, if one seriously believes the theory about Russian intervention, one must admit: this modest sum is the price for electing the U.S. president. It would make sense to assume that the establishment and the mass media would reject this version because it is patently absurd and even offensive to American society," comments Danilov.

The author further states that the story of "a mythical information campaign" that spent only 150 thousand dollars but caused "colossal damage" to the U.S. society and political system would have been amusing, had it not been used for the purpose of promoting "the thesis" about "a war" between Russia and the U.S. Danilov adds: "It is obvious that very influential groups in the American political elite are at pains to form a consensus in the American society surrounding the idea that Washington has a genuine casus belli against Moscow."

Danilov also stresses that now the U.S. establishment will want to "retaliate" against Russia for "a mythical intervention" in the American election. Therefore, Russia may remain vigilant. "One may have every confidence that our Western partners will be ready to spend much more on real interference in the Russian election than the ridiculous sum of 150 thousand dollars," concludes Danilov.

Below are excerpts from Danilov's article:[1]


Russian President Vladimir Putin meets U.S. President Donald Trump (Source: Rt.com)

'The Mythical 'Russian Hackers' And 'Putin's Trolls' Are Becoming A Key Element In The American Discourse On Foreign Policy'

"When first reports appeared that Facebook had discovered hard evidence of Russian organizations interfering in the U.S. presidential elections, the American mass media was jubilant. They decided that victory was near and the world would be shown irrefutable evidence against Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, but an unexpected problem emerged: it turned out that the 'evil Russians' had spent only about 150 thousand dollars to buy political advertisements during the elections.

"So, if one seriously believes the theory about Russian intervention, one must admit: this modest sum is the price for electing the U.S. president. It would make sense to assume that the establishment and the mass media would reject this version due to its patent absurdity and even offensiveness for American society. But the implacably anti-Trump and Russophobic establishment took a different route and elegantly wiggled out of the situation. Those 150 thousand became, in the American press' retelling, a budget for the most effective public relations campaign in the history of U.S. politics. Facebook management has already been 'called on the carpet' to the Congress [sic] and Senate Intelligence Committees.

"The theory that 'Putin's trolls', for a measly sum, plunged American society into chaos, outplayed the CIA and the FBI, and almost planted the seeds of another civil war in the U.S., is becoming practically official.

"According to the version most popular with the American press, all the heritage of the fathers of American propaganda – [Edward] Bernays, [Ivy] Lee and [Walter] Lippmann – can be thrown on the scrap-heap, since 'Putin's trolls' have simply tossed their American opponents out in modern times. Leaked documents that the Facebook management produced for the Congress and the Senate make one think of the famous episode from the [popular Soviet] comedy 'Kidnapping, Caucasian Style'; as a Russian media man I feel like asking: 'Did we destroy the chapel as well?' It turns out we did.[2] The Russians are blamed for, among other things, inflaming the Ferguson unrest, increasing the support for the anti-abortion movement in the U.S., the deterioration of the whites' attitude towards African Americans and Muslims, and promotion via social networks of the radical African American movement 'Black Lives Matter', which is actually part of Clinton's radical support. Accounts that are, according to the statement of Facebook management, 'linked to Russia', bought political ads related to all these events and topics, and sometimes intentionally selected for the promotion of their propaganda materials especially vulnerable U.S. areas and demographic groups – African Americans, women, migrants, conservatives, etc.

"From all the above-described, The Washington Post journalists draw the following conclusion: 'These targeted messages, along with others that have surfaced in recent days, highlight the sophistication of an influence campaign slickly crafted to mimic and infiltrate U.S. political discourse while also seeking to heighten tensions between groups already wary of one another.'[3]

"The American intelligence community could not even prove that the alleged Russian propaganda supported Trump, but that is no problem. Now, Russian propaganda can be blamed for the exacerbation of all those social, racial and economic conflicts that allowed Trump to win. But there's more to come. Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, claims that the aim of the Russian campaign was not increasing support for Trump but 'drying up voter turnout' – i.e., suppressing voting enthusiasm among potential Clinton voters. 

"Apart from purely domestic reasons for promoting the narrative about Russia's effective intervention in the American election, this farce has a foreign policy dimension. The mythical 'Russian hackers' and 'Putin's trolls' are becoming a key element in the American discourse on foreign policy, even in the situations when it is absolutely impossible to prove their activity. For example the Washington Post has found the ideal explanation as to the reasons why Russia did not interfere in the German [Bundestag] elections: It turns out that Merkel and her opponents are already working for Putin…

'Influential Groups In The U.S. Political Elite Are At Pains To Form A Consensus In The American Society Regarding The Idea That Washington Has A Real Casus Belli Against Moscow'

"The story of a mythical information campaign that spent only 150 thousand dollars but caused colossal damage to the American society and political system would have been very funny, had it not been used for the purpose of 'legalizing' – both in the media space and in the public consciousness –the thesis about a war between Russia and the U.S. It is important that the word 'information' is being consistently blotted out from the thesis and only the word 'war' is left – a real war: Facebook and Twitter posts are equated with Russia's military attack on the U.S. As a striking example of this tactic, you should read the transcript of an interview given by Times columnist Jim Rutenberg to Recode after his meeting with Dmitry Peskov.[4]

"The columnist was subjected to nothing short of an interrogation, and the interviewer did not stop until he made Rutenberg declare that there was a war on between Russia and the U.S.; what's more, no elaborations as to the fact that Peskov was talking exclusively about 'information war' interested the interviewer. He wanted to hear the word 'war', pure and simple. And it is not accidental that Morgan Freeman in his disgraceful anti-Russian video used the same military rhetoric and also spoke about a real war between Russia and the States.

 


Screenshot of Freeman video

"Does all this mean that a military confrontation with the U.S. is inevitable? Not yet, but it is obvious that very influential groups in the American political elite are at pains to form a consensus in the American society surrounding the idea that Washington has a real casus belli against Moscow, and, therefore, any aggressive actions towards Moscow are not only justified but desirable or even necessary.

"Social networks management will be pressured until they find 'proof' that it was Trump's headquarters that collaborated with 'Putin's trolls' and supplied them with, for instance, information on the best way to influence internal American conflicts. They have already obtained Mark Zuckerberg's official statement that a 'foreign state' (!) was behind the Facebook information campaign – and everybody understands which 'state' he is talking about.[5]

"So far, the situation with Twitter is more complicated: the heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee have already scolded the management of the social network for finding only 200 accounts linked to the 'Russian intervention'.

"The senators need more, although they will probably do without additional 'proof'.

"Also, American senators, congressmen and security services will certainly want to 'retaliate', and the most obvious and favorable moment to 'retaliate' for a mythical intervention in the American election will be the election campaign in Russia. One can be fully confident that our Western partners will be ready to spend much more on real interference in the Russian election than the ridiculous sum of 150 thousand dollars.

"So let's be vigilant."

 

 

[1] Ria.ru, September 29, 2017.

[2] In the movie's episode referred to, a young guy is being told what crimes and transgressions he committed while he was drunk (he doesn't remember anything). When the ancient ruins of a chapel are mentioned, he asks: "Did I destroy the chapel as well?" The phrase is often quoted in Russian in reference to situations when various crazy crimes are ascribed to people who never committed them.