There was no English word for “disinformation” until sometime in the 1980’s, when it was derived from a Russian term meaning misinformation “intentionally disseminated in order to deceive.” It can include, “forgery, subversion and media manipulation,” and would be needed only if efforts to kill the truth at its source through the co-option of government officials and (or) persons in the media, had failed. Arnaud De Borchgrave and Robert Moss wrote a wonderful novel about the media manipulation thing back in 1980. The book’s title is “The Spike,” and it’s worth a read.
In plain English, disinformation can take many forms but basically it involves hiding facts behind a giant smokescreen, so high, wide and thick that no one can possibly see through it. The common term for it here in America is BS, although this would be BS taken to a level rarely seen in everyday life.
By one account, the Russians have been using disinformation as a weapon since the 1920’s. Under the former Soviet Union and its secret police/intelligence arm, the KGB, disinformation was developed into an art form possibly not seen since the days of master manipulator Angelo Machiavelli, which may or may not be something to be proud of, depending upon your predilection for the “art” of deception.
Any way you cut it, the KGB was said to be very good at it. Based upon current affairs, they still are, keeping in mind that those who ran the KGB, like Vlaidmir Putin, and certain other billionaire crime bosses, are now running all of Russia. That’s not to say their techniques have changed. Take for example, Donald Trump’s recent “attack” on an airbase in Syria. Talk surrounding the attack could be true, or some of it could be disinformation.
We were first told, repeatedly, by Mr. Trump himself, that he would never telegraph his intentions to an enemy, Then, in what was only his second big military decision, what did he do? He called Syria’s ally Russia, and told them of his intentions to bomb an airfield in Syria, ensuring the Syrians would be told about the attack, giving both the Russians and the Syrians ample time to get their people and equipment out of harm’s way.
According to the release from the Pentagon, “Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.”
Trump, totally telegraphed his intentions to the enemy. He phoned it in. Still, this has nothing to do with what may have been disinformation. That came later, and not from Trump, but from one of his sons, with backup from Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Pundits (and a couple of “surrogates” who will support Trump regardless of his words or actions and who should not be given access to credible news programs) had already been sending out rumblings that the airfield attack was ample evidence against any collusion between Trump and the Russians. Later, Trump’s son Eric, would parrot this same line, possibly being unintentionally dragged into a broadening ripple effect of disinformation. What the Russians would call “a useful idiot.”
Then, even as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow for talks with the Russian hierarchy, Russian President Vladimir Putin belched forth what may have been another enormous cloud of truth-hiding smoke, making the pronouncement that what the Americans were saying about the missile attack on Syria, was comparable to earlier American lies about WMD’s in Iraq.
Accuse the accuser. One of the oldest tricks in the book. But this was carrying the weight of coming from the President of Russia. Whoa. Now that’s sure to confuse the issue. If you can even remember what it was.
It’s similar to having an American president who doesn’t understand he is no longer campaigning and that his words now have a far more serious meaning to the world, except that Putin understands what he’s doing and Trump hasn’t a clue, even while he’s being heralded by his supporters for building greater credibility in the eyes of the world by launching what was essentially a phony attack against Syria. Credibility? Incredible.
Even if the bogus attack on an all but abandoned airfield wasn’t enough to prove that Trump hasn’t been colluding with the Russians, the angry Response from Mr. Putin would have to convince those few remaining doubters that no collaboration between Putin and the Trump political machine could be possible.
How’s that for disinformational smoke? Or maybe not? Can’t prove it’s there, so maybe it isn’t. Or maybe it is? Confused yet?
It’s entirely possible that Trump telegraphed his intentions on the attack to avoid hitting Russian targets and starting World War III. It’s also entirely possible that Eric Trump is right, that his father’s decision to hit the abandoned airfield was to send a message to the Syrians that they must stop using chemical weapons, and further, that Mr. Putin’s pronouncement against Trump and the United States comparing the attack to lies about WMD’s in Iraq, was made solely to bump up Putin’s standing in the Russian press.
Why are apparently official announcements about our government coming from the mouths of the President’s children? Then again, maybe everybody’s telling the truth. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it’s really about money, power and disinformation. Or perhaps Donald J. Trump is simply and hopelessly incompetent.
The thing about dealing with the Russians and their disinformation and Donald Trump, who is currently without credibility is that we really don’t know what to believe. Especially with former Exxon CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow, where there are sure to be discussions about dropping U.S. sanctions against Russia, opening up all those Exxon owned oil fields for development.
Even if Trump’s actions were heartfelt as his children claim, and the attack on the airfield was a genuine effort to deter the Syrians from using chemical weapons, and Eric Trump’s words were authentic and Putin is genuinely angry at Donald Trump, even if all this is what’s really happening, how can we tell from behind this giant cloud of smoke? Do you believe anything Putin says? How about Trump?
The FBI needs to kick its investigation into high gear while the public can still remember what they are investigating and why. One good war could make it all go away.