Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The American Deep State Isn't Evil - Because RUSSIA!!!

technologyreview |  “The single most prevalent Russian response is to attack the critic,” he says. “They use a ‘vilify and amplify’ technique.” Critics are besmirched, sometimes in an official announcement, sometimes through proxies, sometimes through anonymous sources quoted in state media; then paid trolls and highly automated networks of bots add scale. In response, an ad hoc blend of civilians, private companies, and NGOs has evolved to cast a bright, shining light on MH17 and Russian aggression in Ukraine, Syria, and the Atlantic partnership. Exemplifying the values Italo Calvino outlined in Six Memos for the Next Millennium—lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency—their methods are in sharp contrast to the West’s generally sclerotic response to a revanchist Russia. 

Nowhere is this weakness more brutally apparent than in Russia’s use of digital technology to reinforce its greatest tool of statecraft: maskirovka. The literal translation—“little masquerade”—disguises the density and importance of this elusive concept. “Military deception” misses its deep cultural roots: maskirovka involves camouflage, denial, and a deep finesse. As James Jesus Angleton, the founding counterintelligence chief of the CIA, put it, “The myriad stratagems, deceptions, artifices, and all the other devices of disinformation … confuse and split the West [with] an ever-fluid landscape, where fact and illusion merge, a kind of wilderness of mirrors.”

The most powerful weapon in the maskirovka armory is disinformation, a word acquired in the 1950s from the Russian dezinformatsiya. A generation after the Cold War, the acknowledged masters of “deza” are deploying disinformation technology against the compromised immune system of liberal democracy. “And at this point,” says Andrew Andersen, a Russian-born security analyst at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, “the West is losing.”

“The first thing you need to understand is that this is a war,” says Andersen. “This is not a joke and not a game of any kind. It’s not ‘socializing with your friends on social networks’—it’s a real war. Even those who don’t want to take part have to behave in accordance with the laws of war,” he says, alluding to Trotsky’s notorious epigram, recalled by several of the interviewees for this story, that translates loosely as: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”