Propaganda, the internet and the media: from CounterJihad to the Decent Left

Over at the Yorkshire Ranter, Alex Harrowell comments on the ongoing story of Glen Jenvey, who featured as an anti-terrorist 'expert' in a Sun story about threats, which it now appears he posted himself, against public figures on a Muslim web forum.

It's a very good question just how many terrorism stories (especially ones that have the "Internet" flag set – it means "stuff I don't understand" to a lot of editors) are the work of these people, whether the upscale, Decent version or Jenvey's Comedy Gladio.

That put me in mind of a quote from former Pentagon Neocon Abram Shulsky:

Soviet front groups might have been more effective, but Stalinist paranoia made impossible the operational autonomy needed to succeed. To the extent that future practitioners of this type of propaganda have learned lessons from the Soviet experience, we may expect that the nonstate groups will be controlled in a more sophisticated manner and their ties to a given state will be less obvious.

New methods of spreading propaganda (such as via Internet web sites of Non-governmental organizations [NGOs], or specialized email lists) allow a deceiver to reach target audiences via multiple channels. Many of these channels may remain relatively invisible to the public at large. (Elements of Strategic Denial and Deception by Abram Shulsky in Strategic Denial and Deception: The Twenty-First Century Challenge, edited by Roy Godson and James J. Wirtz, Transaction books, 2002, p23.)

Shulsky went on to note that "Despite the media's self-image of hardheaded cynicism, it is relatively vulnerable to this type of manipulation." (p24.)  The Sun's experience would seem to bear this out.

There are indeed some interesting connections between the kind of right-wing "CounterJihad" networks represented by Jenvey and the so-called "decent left".

For example, Glen Jenvey's ally Paul Ray AKA Lionheart was interviewed by Phyllis Chesler, who also hosted a party in New York for Democratiya editor Alan Johnson.

The notionally left-wing Democratiya recently featured an interview with Andrew Bostom, a member of the CounterJihad Europa network. This extreme right grouping was created with the help of Christine Brim, who also happens to be a senior figure in a Washington neoconservative think-tank, the Center for Security Policy.

The CSP advocates 'political warfare' against Islam, and its head, Frank Gaffney, is at the center of a number of Islamophobic networks in Europe and the US. Most recently, he hosted Geert Wilders during his recent trip to Washington. (Chesler and Bostom were in attendance on the New York leg of Wilders' US tour).

CSP legal counsel David Yerushalmi heads the Society of Americans for National Existence, which produced some of the material which ended up in Policy Exchange's controversial briefing against the Global Peace and Unity event in London.

Frank Gaffney's sister Devon Gaffney Cross runs the Policy Forum on International Security Affairs, a neocon propaganda outfit, partly funded by the Pentagon, which has targeted the European media in recent years.

In 2004, the FT's Christopher Caldwell noted that Cross planned to bring to London, "the widest possible
variety of foreign-policy voices, from Bush Republicans (she has
invited the under secretary of defence, Paul Wolfowitz, to participate)
to Clinton Democrats (such as the former CIA director James Woolsey) to
the human-rights activists of the Democratic left (who cluster around
the Freedom House Foundation and American organised labour)."

In reality, all the elements of this 'varied coalition' were identifiably neoconservative. According to the Forum's website:

"The response to our efforts, among the
media, has been both prompt and enthusiastic. Editors of The
Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The London Times, The Economist,
The Sun and The Spectator have all participated in our discussions."

I wonder whether the Policy Forum had something to do with the occasion at Annabel's recounted by Cristina Odone?

It was here that Thatcher's makeover was plotted; here that, when Paul Wolfowitz asked to meet some of Britain's leading journalists, The Observer's Nick Cohen found himself sitting next to John Lloyd and Charles Moore, drinking champagne.

I raised the same question this week over at the Next Left blog in the context of the Fabians' dispute with Nick Cohen about the best way to engage moderate Muslims. It has also been highlighted by Sunny Hundal at Pickled Politics:

Who was the “pleasant American” lady who invited [Cohen] to
meet Paul Wolfowitz at Annabel’s? (Nick Cohen, Evening Standard, 21
June 2005).

Is she by any chance related to the lady who’s been running “cozy,
off-the-record briefings by senior Pentagon officials, fellow-neo-cons
and fellow members of the Defense Policy Board (DPB) for select British
and European reporters in exclusive clubs and cafes in London and
Paris”. (






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