I introduced Joel Harding as Ukraine’s King Troll for a reason. He is the force behind how mainstream media around the world portray the Ukraine war and the people involved. The strategy he devised is so encompassing it is the first time an entire country is directly involved in Inform and Influence Operations (IIO).
Its because of his work American and western journalists are being targeted by the Ukrainian Government through the Information Ministry and getting on what he describes as “bad lists” around the world.
If every American were targeted and bombarded when this effort extends to every avenue you have to learn about history, politics, or current events; How long would it be before even Adolf Hitler could be branded a conservative? Let’s find out.
If we start with his definition of Propaganda. “The word is frequently used to describe any news emerging from one’s opponent.”
Used this way its only natural that all the news coming from our side is labeled “the truth” regardless of what that news actually is. Second and just as important is who is “our side.” In American democracy is there room left for dissenting opinions? Should the government be taken to task for mistakes and mismanagement due to policy moves? Are voices that ask for or demand reasonable solutions still “our side” and relevant?
What does it mean to be irrelevant? The following exchange was given at the Heritage Foundation in June 2014. The opinions of over 1 billion peaceful Muslims are deemed irrelevant. The opinions of over 8 million Muslim Americans are irrelevant because they also don’t support the agenda to change regimes in countries like Libya, Syria, Egypt, or Yemen.
I know that we portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there are 1.8 billion [followers] of Islam,” the law student, who identified herself as Saba Ahmed, began. “We have 8 million plus Muslim Americans in this country, and I don’t see them represented here. But my question is: how can we fight an ideological war with weapons? How can we ever end this war? The jihadist ideology that you talk about, it’s an ideology. How can you ever win this thing if you don’t address it ideologically?”
Terrorism expert Brigitte Gabriel, the CEO of ACT! for America responded- The peaceful majority were irrelevant. I’m glad you’re here, but where are the others speaking out? As an American citizen, you sat in this room and instead of standing up and [asking] something about our four Americans that died [in Benghazi] and what our government is doing to correct the problem, you stood there to make a point about peaceful, moderate Muslims.
Ahmed did not seem defensive or angry over Gabriel’s response, kindly responding that “as a peaceful American Muslim,” she would like to think that she is not “irrelevant.”
When it is looked at in context, it is American interventionism in the Middle East gone terribly wrong, Gabriel’s slant on the agenda is clear. The US armed Al Qaeda Libya to overthrow Quadaffi and it cost us lives in Benghazi. Revenge must be extracted, but on whom?
Gabriel- The radicals are estimated to be between 15 to 25 percent. … But when you look at 15 to 25 percent of the world Muslim population, you’re looking at 180 million to 300 million people dedicated to the destruction of western civilization.
Gabriel’s agenda is for the US to deal with 180-300 million people who in her eyes are terrorists and she’s angry because American Muslims don’t agree with that assessment.
Even more succinctly Ukraine’s King Troll defines the role of all peaceful people in American society. Both he and others in his field gravitate to large media outlets and gain positions that define the agenda of the network or news publications. They decide the truth you hear, what you see, and what makes mainstream news. They are “our side.”
Meet Joel Harding, he is the head IO working on Ukraine and his compatriots work directly in American and international media making sure the IO media effort stays in sync with the agenda.- Some say she attacked the Muslim questioner, others say she attacked her for her Muslim headress (hijab, but, then again, most are too lazy to look that up or know it). Nonsense, I say, Brigitte Gabriel was spot on. As she said, and I am paraphrasing for my purposes, the vast majority of peaceful people are irrelevant because they did not influence or stop those who committed those acts of atrocity. -Harding
He considers peaceful people irrelevant because they did not agree with “our side.” If you are living life and going about your business you too are irrelevant. How did he expect Muslims living in America to stop Benghazi from happening? Why does he expect Ahmed to support destroying 180 million people “our side” think might be terrorists?
Two of the men that died in Benghazi that Gabriel and Harding want to wreak havoc in the Middle East over were the best friends of a man I respect very much. They were the two former Navy Seals that tried to help at the embassy with no other support. Both were killed. Neither one of them were “our side.” Their friend Mikey Weinstein with MRFF defends the rights of peaceful Muslims, Christians, and Jews serving in the US military. Knowing Mikey, his friends wouldn’t give nationalists like Gabriel or Harding the time of day. They would see using their sacrifice to justify murderous hate as a denigration of their service, sacrifice, and patriotism.
What is Harding’s view on Free Speech and Press?
The free press part has already been covered. If you write or read outside agendized news, you are not “our side” anymore. The reason is that news that makes “our side” look bad or builds dissenting opinions make the work of IO/IIO professionals difficult or impossible. Its called Information Fratricide.
Information fratricide is defined as Actions, perceptions, and information from friendly forces that create improper impressions can adversely affect IO in sensitive situations.
In Ukraine he has developed Information Operations at a national level. “…As one of his other guests, a deputy from Mr Poroshenko’s party, remarked later in the show: “Today, an information war is being waged against Ukraine…Our task is to be united, to comment as one.”Information warfare, like the shooting kind, is a new art for Ukraine, and the learning curve is steep....Criticism of the government is dismissed as mudslinging by Kremlin agents. Last month authorities jailed Ruslan Kotsaba, a western Ukrainian blogger who had spoken out against mobilisation. Ukrainian authorities accused him of working in Russia’s interests; Amnesty International labeled him a prisoner of conscience… More often than not, Mr Martynenko notes, Ukrainian journalists are choosing patriotism over professional standards…At one point Mr Tsaplienko considered joining the army, but was dissuaded when soldiers told him he could do more good as a journalist. How much Ukraine’s journalists are aiding its cause by forgoing impartiality is debatable.”
Hardings view on free speech in America reflects his time working in IO, psych-warfare and work with the NSA. He expressed the limits of free speech he believes in when he helped set up Ukraine’s Ministry of Truth. The only people that will have a voice is “our side.”
The “official US government view on free speech is “It is also important that US citizens enjoy their freedom of speech and their unique ability to voice their own opinions. This portrays a vibrant democracy and further aids to combat oppressive governments.”- “About this last paragraph, this is a source of frustration for me, personally. I believe this is, perhaps, an overly altruistic statement. But this is the strategy that the BBG and the US Department of State embrace.”- Harding
Regarding journalism his view is Fox and CNN representing the Republican and Democratic view for America. Add in Al Jazeera for an oppositional view. He advises reading as many news sources as possible but every one is “our side” and that is the extent of the 4th Estate.
A “Disinformation Charter” for Media and Bloggers: Top-down censorship should be avoided. But rival media, from Al-Jazeera to the BBC, Fox and beyond, need to get together to create a charter of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Vigorous debate and disagreement is of course to be encouraged—but media organizations that practice conscious deception should be excluded from the community. A similar code can be accepted by bloggers and other online influencers.
This “Disinformation Charter” for responsible behavior (Ministry of Truth?) he describes is to fight “conscious deception” can only be weighed against how he describes Propaganda. “The word is frequently used to describe any news emerging one’s opponent.”– Harding
Journalists that need to be excluded are those “our side” label as propagandists or active measure agents.”
From his own words as well as the link giving the official Ukrainian policy he spent the last year making it illegal in Ukraine to not be “our side.” All the press and propaganda outreaches now work in sync. Western media doesn’t even need to be explored beyond the coverage they give. His colleagues in mainstream media- Fox, CNN, BBC, etc are all “our side.”
Reading carefully through his “blog” you are struck fairly quickly that he uses it for memos to peers, things to do for people that work for him in the IO and propaganda fields, and people he is working with. In a few paragraphs this will become blatantly clear regarding Ukraine.
People in the private sector that work in IO gravitate to large publication editorial boards, broadcast networks, and positions of influence in big media. Controlling information is what they do. Generally from a military or governmental background they bring a formidable network of access from military, government (NSA, DOJ, etc) backgrounds as well as peer contacts. They are “our side” in the media regardless of their politics.
Their industry associations and contacts like the Old Crows keep them tight knit and on the same agenda regardless of which “political spectrum” their home publication falls into. While they encourage intramural dissent and debate, information fratricide is forbidden.
Developing a Containment Strategy for Russian Media
“What would we do? Disrupt, deny, degrade, deceive, corrupt, usurp or destroy the information. The information, please don’t forget, is the ultimate objective of cyber. That will directly impact the decision-making process of the adversary’s leader who is the ultimate target.”– Harding
He developed a cyber containment strategy for Russian media that has to be the most effective ever mounted. Crowd the Russian media out of the world’s mainstream and keep them talking amongst themselves while social media, internet, and TV news barriers were being erected to control the news and information Ukrainians see. Because of this Russians have been kept from influencing Ukrainian media, news, or people through social media this entire time. By doing this so effectively news from Donbass for the most part only carries Kiev’s official line.
By August the Ukrainians were sufficient enough at it to post their rudimentary strategy openly in English. Now Russian media is sufficiently blocked out, an IO army has been created, mobilized and Ukraine is starting to engage the world.
Birth of the #HardingSuperTroll
“I was in a discussion today about information being used in social media as a possible weapon. The people I was talking with have a tool which scrapes social media sites, gauges their sentiment and gives the user the opportunity to automatically generate a persuasive response. Their tool is called a “Social Networking Influence Engine”. No, not related to the SMISC BAA from a few years ago. Better. ..Can this be categorized as a munition? I looked through and it does not seem to apply. The implications seem to be profound for the information environment.
The implications may have far-reaching impact beyond Department of Defense. The people who own this tool are in the civilian world and don’t even remotely touch the defense sector, so getting approval from the US Department of State might not even occur to them. If this does require ITAR approval, the corporate world that deals with information and influence will definitely be affected. ..So… my question is, who at the US Department of State must I coordinate with to get a ruling if this “Social Networking Influence Engine” must receive ITAR approval? “- Joel Harding
Remember the purpose of “Inform and Influence Operations” is not to provide a perspective, opinion, or lay out a policy. It is defined as the ability to make audiences “think and act” in a manner favorable to the mission objectives. This is done through applying perception management techniques which target the audiences emotions, motives, and reasoning.
The reason he is so happy with it is from an IIO perspective he can put his “weapon” into the hands of his i-army and increase their effectiveness exponentially. They will be using it in social media where the “Russian propagandists” are, America. In the US tools like this don’t require licensing and lesser ones are used daily by IIO, marketers, SEO, SEM, etc to form your opinion for you.
For an ex- Green Beret that helped plan the invasion of Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan how effective would it need to be for him to call it a weapon? You’ll find out soon enough. Smaller less developed versions abound in social media to grab your attention and influence you already. None of this should be legal. Private sector efforts make the NSA intrusions pale by comparison.
Right now Wikipedia, Human Rights Watch, and others are filing suit against the NSA and DOJ for privacy intrusions. The NSA monitors specific pages in Wikipedia.
What would happen if Wikipedia ( the go to encyclopedia on the internet) was used by an “our side” to change events, outcomes, history, and biography of people your own children need to write about for a school report? Former UCCA State of Arizona president George Masni sheds light on this- Wikidepea, not I, labeled Bandera’s new (post OUNb’s breakup) organization as being conservative. If by “bringing nationalism across the world”…- This same Bandera that wore a Waffen SS officer Uniform and had SS Divisions under him is now no more a nazi than John McCain.
A few years ago Harding made this observation about Wikipedia. Considering “our side” uses thousands in his profession to clean up events its worth the read.
Then I noticed that Wikipedia had already been updated with Rodney King’s date of death and a brief description of the circumstances. The speed of the update of Wikipedia is astounding.
Social media and especially Wikipedia, while often considered less than credible by conventional news sources, is often quicker to notify readers of events and often more accurate than conventional news sources. The fact I received notification via SMSbefore this was even posted to WTOP.com and not picked up at Washington Post.comor the New York Times website indicates the latest news may not come from conventional source websites. Our sources for the latest news is evolving.- Harding
From June 2014 on there was a sharp increase in the propaganda and IO use of Wikipedia regarding Ukraine. Before this look at other events, what was reported, and how they are seen now from the Middle East to Ferguson. The edit histories get interesting. IO operatives crowd the editing of a particular topic and change the events and outcome to suit “our side” or in this case their side.
It has evolved to the point where events are being written about in the Ukraine war long before any news outlet publishes a story and some have multiple edits at that point.
“…but I was having problems describing a “whole of government” approach, and I was having even more difficulty explaining how a “whole of nation” effort might be divided. We finally came up with five categories for what I might call government/corporate/private information activities.
Information Operations. The integrated employment, during military operations, of information-related capabilities in concert with other lines of operation to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp the decision-making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting..”-Harding
It will be difficult for Wiki to resolve this ongoing problem given its democratic nature. I have no doubt that it will be done. Otherwise a tool for the benefit of mankind may end up being remembered as a propaganda and information war tool.
If the mass murderer Stepan Bandera can be written in history as a hero, Adolf Hitler( a leader Bandera made nervous because of Bandera’s brutality) might be next.
Is Bandera a Hero to Americans?
In order for you, dear reader, to understand the significance of this action, you must understand how Stepan Bandera is a certified national hero of Ukriane. But the people of Ukraine are polarized between the West and the Russian perspective. Lviv and all of West Ukraine worship the ground upon which Bandera walked, …They wanted an independent Ukrainian state. Surprisingly it was the German – Soviet takeover of Poland that brought all the parts of Ukraine together. Stepan Bandera, however, had worked against Polish officials when Ukraine was a part of Poland, to expose and stop their corruption, their genocide against Ukrainian citizens and other anti-Ukrainian activites …After his death the Soviets went to great lengths to smear his name, associate him with the nazis, call him a fascist and an ultra-nationalist…You poor misinformed, overly emotional person. Bandera enabled Ukraine to be a nation, it was war, it was World War II, he did what he had to do to enbale Ukraine. This has been debated ever since 1944, don’t try it now…
…Now take your Russian comments and jam them...Bandera is widely seen as the hero of Ukraine for standing up against unspeakable repression and imprisonment, to establish an independent state of Ukraine. Bandera was hated so badly by the Soviets and posed such a symbolic threat, in fact, that the Russia KGB assassinated him in Munich, Germany, in 1959…Since his assassination, the Soviets and continued by the Russians, have continually tried to smear Bandera’s name, sully his reputation and recreate Bandera and Ukraine’s reputation in a very negative light.- Harding
According to Mr. Harding’s perspective the answer is an obvious yes, Stepan Bandera is a conservative like John McCain and must be a hero for American children to look up to. The rewriting of history is well under way at propaganda sites like euromaidanpr and maidantranslations.com.
Weaponizing the News
The whole country approach has been in use in Ukraine since the spring of 2014. If we step back to Maidan on February 8th 2014 we see the last objective statement about Ukraine. “…Russian websites outright accusing the US of supplying ammunition and other support to the rebels. I asked a friend in a position within the US, that might know more about this, he claims it is a private initiative of US citizens. This I like… “- Harding
I didn’t realize private citizens in the US (UCCA, Ukrainian and Eastern European emigres) already delivered bullets to Maidan before February 8th. I didn’t know funding coups in foreign countries was legal under US law. This detracts from the “spontaneous” revolution “our side” reported on considerably. Maidan was “staffed” with nationalists from Lvov.
The next big event that happened after Mr. Hardings involvement was the Odessa Massacre. How far along was “our side” in monolithic media presentation? By then the US was saying all the information they had was directly out of Kiev.
On May 8th Harding posted “Public relations with Western accent,” Who helps Kiev to conduct information war?”-Another important point, which involved Western hired a PR firm – an interpretation of the genocide in Odessa.“We see a very cunning, well orchestrated interpretation of Ukrainian media. Some say that the proponents of federalization burned themselves and others, that all this is organized and that the FSB Russia burned his supporters specifically to a pretext for the invasion “- says Markov. – “This is a typical conspiratorial technique, but when it is applied in a monopoly on information, it affects people.”
Coincidentally this reprint points to the very tactics IO uses and he made the staple of the Ukrainian information war.
Lastly what about flight MH17?
Mr. Harding is silent once again on his perspective about the only story making news in the time frame. The Ukrainian BUK story was taking off in international media but it took a week for this to happen. What appears to be a vague reference might like Odessa be a statement of satisfaction with the media he was shaping. “The Information War for Ukraine has taken on a whole new look. Russia, you need to go down. You need to choke on your ilk. You need to feel the pain of exceeding the limits of acceptability. You need to pay. “Suffer, Russia.- Harding
If good sources of information are taken away, knowledge fails. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world once “our side” has the only information within months you may think its a good idea to attack Texas or Canada, just because.
Email Wikipedia, politicians, and journalists. Ask them to look into these issues. Demand protections returned that are Constitutionally guaranteed. When the trolls do come regardless of whether its Ferguson or Ukraine answer them and use the hashtag #HardingSuperTroll but be judicious.
When knowledge fails, wisdom fails with it. Nationalism in any form does that to a country.