A major case of what intelligence experts call “influence operations” emanating from Moscow is this week’s “Rhodes Forum,” which is sponsored by Vladimir Putin’s close associate and former KGB official Vladimir Yakunin. The objective is to divert attention from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, blame the U.S. for global turmoil and problems, and insist on a Russian role in the Middle East and a new Europe.
Also known as the “World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations,” this year’s event is titled, “Preventing World War Through Global Solidarity. 100 Years On.” It proclaims, “the unfolding new Cold War” may give rise to “the threat of a Third World War with truly global proportions.”
Of course, none of this is blamed on the Kremlin.
The global problem for these conference participants is not Russian aggression, or what Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk calls Putin’s campaign to destroy Ukraine as a sovereign nation and reconstitute the Soviet Union. Instead, the Yakunin event proclaims that “The roots of this threat reside in the project of a ‘New World Order’ of global domination pursued by a totalizing ideology subduing the diversity of cultural traditions and of the historical ‘world pictures’ of humanity and nature.”
Translated into ordinary English, the “totalizing ideology” is what used to be called the “Free World” or global capitalism—the idea that nations should be moving toward acceptance of free enterprise and democratic forms of government.
President Obama seems to agree that this period in human history is over; he was photographed back in 2008 carrying a copy of Fareed Zakaria’s controversial book, The Post-American World. The book reinforces the anti-American views drummed into him during his growing-up years in Hawaii by his mentor, pro-Soviet Communist Frank Marshall Davis.
Zakaria is a prominent advocate of accepting a nuclear-armed Iran.
Although Yakunin is among the targets of economic sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, his extravagant conferences continue as if nothing has happened. This shows the pathetic nature of Obama’s sanctions and his inability, or unwillingness, to confront Russian aggression.
The billionaire head of the state-owned monopoly, Russia Railways, Yakunin was accused of massive corruption in connection with construction projects for the Sochi Olympics. He apparently uses some of the stolen money on elaborate propaganda conferences designed to lure foreign audiences.
His conference partners include such groups as the World Congress of Families, the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Movement for a Just World, and the Iran and Eurasia Research Center. As we have noted, Putin adviser Aleksandr Dugin is the leader of the “International Eurasia Movement,” which includes a “strategic alliance” between Iran and Russia.
Yakunin has “personally handed out awards to Putin and former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, among others, at the forum,” states a revealing article on the World Security Network Foundation website. The article examines Yakunin’s work over the years on behalf of the KGB, including at the United Nations in New York, and his close association with Putin.
The article noted his “close links to the hierarchy at the Russian Orthodox Church,” putting him “at the heart of the so-called Orthodox chekists around the president.” The term “chekist” refers to agents of the secret police.
Regarding Yakunin’s forum, blogger Richard Bartholomew notes, “For some reason, the views and analysis it promotes always seems to coincide with Russian interests.” Yakunin’s group has “Special Consultative Status” with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Interestingly, Yakunin also associates with the U.S.-based political cult headed by Lyndon LaRouche, the aging convicted felon who began his career as a Marxist, and cultivates ties with Russia and China. The LaRouche group claims to have the ear of Yakunin, and one article reports that LaRouche and his wife were speakers at the seventh annual Rhodes Forum in 2009.
In a 1976 lecture, titled, “What Only Communists Know,” LaRouche declared his desire to bring into being “a new Marxist international…” He has not veered off that course.
The destruction of the current international system, in which the U.S. plays the dominant role, is being pursued openly by the BRICS nations, referring to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. BRICS rejected sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The Russian version of a “New World Order” also includes what is called “alternative European security architecture” that involves Russia and the destruction of NATO.
Whereas the Soviets used to run influence operations through fronts such as the World Peace Council, the Yakunin World Public Forum (WPF) represents a new form of manipulation, using both “progressives” and “conservatives” as dupes in Moscow’s new propaganda offensive. The conservatives go along mainly because the Russians are cleverly portraying themselves as “family values” advocates and opponents of Islamic terrorism.
Speakers at the group’s events have included Noam Chomsky, the Marxist academic, and Don Feder, a spokesman for the conservative World Congress of Families.
Another WPF speaker, former Princeton University Professor Richard Falk, served as the U.N.’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” for the period 2008 to 2014. Falk wrote the foreword to David Ray Griffin’s 9/11 book, The New Pearl Harbor, which argues that, despite the statements of eyewitnesses, a Boeing 757 (Flight 77) did not strike the Pentagon on 9/11. Falk argues in the foreword to Griffin’s book that 9/11 gave rise to “the first borderless war, with no markers or victory or defeat,” and that the “official” account of 9/11—that America was the target of a surprise attack by Islamic terrorists—has to be seriously questioned.
President Obama’s National Security Advisor and then-Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said in 2011 that Falk “endorses the slurs of conspiracy theorists who allege that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were perpetrated and then covered up by the U.S. government and media.”
At the same time as Yakunin’s influence operations go forward, the Russian Orthodox Church just hosted from September 10th to 11th what was dubbed an “international meeting of pro-family leaders” under the title of “The Large family and the Future of Humanity.” This event, run by entities associated with Yakunin’s Istoki Fund, is another installment in the campaign to present Putin as a global Christian statesman.
Patrick J. Buchanan is among those who have swallowed this line.
John-Henry Westen of Life Site News attended and covered the event, noting its proclaimed commitment to “moral standards such as Goodness, Truth, and Beauty,” without any comment at all on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Many of the presenters, he noted, were housed at the exclusive President Hotel “that is reserved for official state business.”
Somehow, in their view, Russian aggression is compatible with being “pro-family.”
However, the old communist network is still called upon to serve a useful purpose. Castro’s Cuba hosted the WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” international conference entitled “Latin America in the 21st century: Universalism and Originality.” The subject of this meeting was described as the “process of civilizational self-determination” in Latin America, a euphemism for communist regimes talking power throughout the hemisphere.
Brazil is today regarded by Russia as its main liaison with what the Russians call the “left South American bloc,” consisting of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and, of course, Cuba.
In 2010, the WPF, together with the Chinese Foundation of International Research, convened the “Dialogue of Civilizations and a Harmonious World” conference in Beijing. A “Russian-French Economic Forum” was held last year in Paris.
Today, Europe is a major Russian target, and Germany is where Russian operations are most apparent. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been functioning as a virtual agent of Putin’s Russia, but she is hardly alone. Yakunin’s group staged a “Europe: Lost in Translation” conference in Berlin in May, conducted in partnership with the German-Russian Forum and its new chairman, the former Social Democratic Party leader Matthias Platzeck.
In the U.S, as we have reported, a “U.S.-Russia Forum” is a major venue for “cooperation” with the Russian regime. The group has repeatedly taken out front-page advertisements in the conservative Washington Times newspaper to promote Moscow’s line on Ukraine and other foreign policy issues.
As AIM noted in a previous column, “Russian Disinformation for a Conservative Audience,” the campaign is being focused on conservatives, in order to confuse and mislead this important audience about the Kremlin’s intentions.
The Washington Times ad was typical of this campaign. It highlighted praise for Moscow from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), as well as Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation magazine, and proposed a new “Committee on East-West Accord” to argue for “a balanced approach to relations with Russia.” This is code for appeasement of Moscow, and turning Ukraine over to Putin.
Last Thursday’s U.S.-Russia Forum ad carried the title, “How low can the Congress go?” and attacked Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and Congress for allowing him to address them.
In that speech, he acknowledged promises of blankets and night-vision goggles from the U.S., but emphasized that “one cannot win the war with blankets. Even more, we cannot keep the peace with a blanket.”
The U.S.-Russian Forum event in Washington, D.C. in June was followed by a similar conference in Moscow.
William Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition reports that participants included Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute, and Rep. Rohrabacher.
McAdams is a frequent guest on Moscow-funded Russia Today (RT) television and, at the recent Ron Paul-sponsored Liberty Political Action Conference, insisted there had been no Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He states, “The Internet is the most fruitful source of varied opinions, but some cable channels provide alternatives to the propagandizing it has long been the purpose of the mainstream media to provide. Al Jazeera is one such choice, as is ‘Democracy Now,’ or what has become my favorite news channel, RT (or Russia Today).”
The New York Times has commented on how Rep. Rohrabacher “has had a long, strange journey from fierce Cold Warrior to apologist for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.”
In an article on his congressional website, Rep. Rohrabacher basically advocates abandoning Ukraine while making a deal to get Moscow’s help to defeat Islamic terrorism. “We must let Ukraine rest, its leaders sorting out its destiny with Moscow, while we find common but limited cause with Putin,” he says.
That may come to pass, if the experts are correct that Obama’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) is doomed to fail. Such a move could, in turn, lead to more Russian influence in the Middle East.
Once again, Obama seems to be following Moscow’s script.
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