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Are False Stories About Russia/Afghanistan Pushing for War?

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Independent investigative reporter Gareth Porter just published the piece “How the Pentagon failed to sell Afghan government’s bunk ‘Bountygate’ story to U.S. intelligence agencies” at The Grayzone, which summarizes his findings thus: “Another New York Times Russiagate bombshell turns out to be a dud, as dodgy stories spun out by Afghan intelligence and exploited by the Pentagon ultimately failed to convince U.S. intelligence agencies.” [Also see 2017 article — “Should Media Expose Sources Who Lied to Them?” — by Sam Husseini for the media watch group FAIR.]

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh at riseup.net
Hoh resigned in protest from his State Department position in Afghanistan in 2009 over the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama administration; he also served in Iraq with the Marines. He has recently been featured on two accuracy.org news release: “Is Big Media Echoing Accusations to Demonize Russia and Continue Afghan War?” and “Inconvenient Facts: U.S. Killed Russians in Syria and Afghanistan.”

Hoh said today: “I think it is all more of the same: anonymous, unverifiable and evidence free accusations that have blatant domestic political beneficiaries, breathlessly exclaimed by a press which cheerleads constantly for U.S. foreign policy, as well as U.S. intelligence and military agencies, without regard for or acknowledgment of the vast catalogue of lying by those same intelligence and military agencies for political and institutional purposes. The question that should be asked by everyone is why should any of these institutions or individuals be believed.

“If these accusations of Russian bounties are true, than rather than reporting and responding to them as a chain of Russian conspiracies in Afghanistan against a benevolent and passive United States they should be understood for what they are: the consequences of U.S. war in Afghanistan, not only for the last 19 years, but the last 40 years, as well as the eternal consequences of waging these unending wars in the Muslim world.

“These too are the consequences warned of in the 1990s as the United States and NATO expanded its military presence eastward towards the Russian border. The Doomsday Clock is now at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to midnight since its inception in 1947. The people of the world are trapped in-between the 6,000 active and armed nuclear weapons of the United States and Russia, and further surrounded by climate change, pandemic, and exploitative neo-liberal economic policies. Meanwhile, both U.S. political parties utilize these accusations, and resulting tensions with Russia, for their own political benefit, while politicians, retired generals, the weapons industry and other elements of the $1.2 trillion annual war machine are using these well timed accusations to destroy peace attempts in and U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as justify $15 billion aircraft carriers, $2 billion bombers and $10 million tanks, along with a plan to spend $1.5 trillion on new nuclear weapons, resume nuclear testing and put weapons in space.”

Is Big Media Echoing Accusations to Demonize Russia and Continue Afghan War?

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The New York Times on Friday published a piece titled: “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”

The following analysts are scrutinizing this story:

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh at riseup.net
Hoh resigned in protest from his State Department position in Afghanistan in 2009 over the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama administration; he also served in Iraq with the Marines.

He said today: “This is not the first time Russia has been accused of trying to harm U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. In 2017 and 2018 accusations were that Russia was supplying weapons to the Taliban were loudly repeated by the U.S. press, however, when put on record about such accusations, senior U.S., Afghan and NATO officials admitted there was no evidence to back such claims. In fact, the only confirmation of Russian involvement militarily in Afghanistan was the provision of 10,000 weapons to the Afghan government in 2016 by the Russians.

“This is more a story of the abdication of journalistic standards and critical practice than it really is about the war in Afghanistan. That nearly all corporate-owned media in the U.S. are simply repeating the claims of anonymous officials, claims that are made without any evidence, just demonstrates U.S. corporate media has become a public relations tool of the U.S. government. After corporate media’s willingness to repeat the baseless and unfounded claims, lies really, made by the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump in justifying U.S. war in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and now throughout Africa, it is no surprise they would go along, willingly and enthusiastically, with anonymous statements made without evidence, once again, in order to justify war in the Muslim world, to increase tensions with Russia, and to stoke Pentagon and military industry budgets. It should be noted nearly all the experts quoted in print or appearing on television/radio to speak about these claims are retired generals who are on the boards of military companies or residents of think tanks that receive funding from the U.S. government and/or the military industry.

“This has always been the nature of U.S. war in its imperial form, with false accusations supported by an excited media to create the domestic political support for war, or continued war. This is true of U.S. wars in Vietnam, Central America, the Spanish American War, the acquisition of Hawaii, the Mexican American War, U.S. support for the British Opium Wars, and, for hundreds of years, wars of genocide against the Indigenous people of this land.

“Of course, these dangerous accusations come at a time when peace efforts have reached a point in Afghanistan not seen since the early 1990s. Such an attempt to stop efforts to end a war with a continued value to the U.S. military industry, and elements within the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, should be expected.”

Hoh, a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy, who is also a 100 percent disabled veteran, has written extensively about U.S. wars for the last decade and has conducted hundreds of media interviews. See an appearance on CSPAN last year discussing the war in Afghanistan. His pieces include “Authorizations for Madness; The Effects and Consequences of Congress’ Endless Permissions for War,” “And the Armies That Remained Suffer’d: Veterans, Moral Injury and Suicide” and “Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies.”

SCOTT HORTON, via ed at scotthorton.org, @scotthortonshow
Horton is author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editorial director of Antiwar.com. He said of the recent reports: “The NYTWSJ and Washington Post stories all rely only on anonymous officials’ claims. These sources did not even describe the nature of the supposed intelligence to the reporters, much less prove their case. The journalists who wrote the articles have all cited each other as ‘confirming’ their stories on Twitter, when they all are still only repeating the same hearsay. (In a later follow-up, the Times added a few details, but still no reason to believe.)

“The timing is of course very suspicious due to impending negotiations with the Taliban and current negotiations with Russia, on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and nuclear arms.

“After the intelligence agencies lied directly to the American people about Iraq’s unconventional weapons, Libya’s impending genocide, Syria’s ‘moderate rebel’ terrorists and especially the late-Russiagate hoax, every claim they make should be considered an outright lie until proven otherwise.

“Russia has supported U.S. efforts in Afghanistan since 2001. If they are now trying to give our government an excuse to stay bogged down in that no-win quagmire, then what does that say about our current occupation there in the first place?

“In 2017, the army admitted that there was no evidence for claims by officials to the media, such as CNN, that Russia was supplying weapons to the Taliban. War veteran journalists at Task and Purpose handily debunked those claims as well.

“There is no reason at all to believe the current accusations are any more credible.”

Others critics cited examples of U.S. policy killing or targeting Russians in Syria and in Afghanistan.