Those magnificent men and their lying machines

Those magnificent men and their lying machines

by Don Hank

Stratfor, a web site that purports to be a tool for strategic forecasting, generally presents a viewpoint and focus that have been identified as Neoconservative and pro-Establishment. Back in 2014, I commented here on Stratfor when I noticed that some of my friends had mistaken it for a reliable information source instead of the propaganda tool that it actually is. Since the Pentagon and State Department are apparently the target clients, the reporting a part of the strategy itself, with a view to influencing rather than informing. This makes Stratfor part of the msm and the Establishment, which Americans increasingly, justifiably, mistrust.

Stratfor’s latest effort, titled “Those who are (and are not) sheltered from the Panama Papers,” looks on the surface to be an objective overview of the different world leaders who were reportedly “exposed” in the Panama Papers.

Almost as soon as the Panama Papers “scandal” broke, I immediately realized that this was timed by the global elites to embarrass Putin so that he would get the minimum amount of credit for routing ISIS in their important Syrian strongholds. He wasn’t supposed to be there but here he was making the Pentagon and State Department look like the phonies they were. Anyone with half a brain knew all along that the elites were only pretending to fight ISIS, which was, after all, birthed and nourished as a joint venture between Washington and Riyadh, as revealed here

and here, for example, as well as in scores of other venues. It’s never been a secret for anyone who knows how to use Google. In response, I wrote this analysis on April 4.

Other keen analysts also saw through the scheme, eg, as expressed in this commentary. By now anyone who can read can easily see that the Panama Papers report is a scam. In fact, none of the reports on this topic even state that the law firm of Mossack and Fonseca has ever done anything illegal. Offshore accounts have been around forever and no one has ever seriously tried before to make the case that they are illegal. Until now. Because the elites think they have caught a big fish in their dragnet and can bring down the regime of the man who dared to protect the Christians and minorities in Syria.

I saw through Stratfor’s little game immediately when I started scanning his article and I wrote the following to him by clicking on the link he helpfully provided for that purpose.
My response to his article:

 

Dear Stratfor,

You dedicate 5 paragraphs to Russia, more than any other region or country. Yet your story on Putin is the only one on a national leader in which neither the leader himself nor his family was involved in offshore dealings. I think this is part of the Western spin that Russians are complaining about [the article had mentioned this—Don]. Further, offshore companies are not illegal and do not necessarily imply corruption on the part of people who use them. However, how could you blame a Russian leader for hiding funds from US scrutiny? Several Russian nationals’ bank accounts were seized by the US government in response to the Crimeans’ free choice to accede to Russia, and not one of these Russian depositors was found guilty of any wrongdoing. The illegal act was perpetrated not by the Russian nationals but by the US Justice Department. The US is becoming increasingly arbitrary in seizing and freezing other people’s money and is focused on Russia because that country refuses to kowtow to Washington. BTW, I see that Stratfor is a corporation, whereas it is really owned and operated essentially only by one man, you. Aren’t corporations often used to hide income?

BTW, I bet most of my readers have heard that Putin is sitting on at least a $40 billion fortune. This myth is masterfully put to rest by Alexander Mercouris, who writes (all emphasis mine):

The first time I heard allegations that Putin was a billionaire was in 2006 when they were made by an individual called Stanislav Belkovsky.

Belkovsky was an associate of the exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky.  He was one of Russia’s original “political technologists” (ie. spin-doctors) whose heyday was in the 1990s.  Belkovsky was also the first person to put a figure on Putin’s billions.  He said Putin was worth $40 billion and was the richest man in Europe.

Belkovsky has at various times put Putin’s wealth even higher.  On occasion he has put it as high as $70 billion and occasionally figures as high as $200 billion get quoted.

The figure of $40 billion however appears to have stuck and this is the most commonly cited figure for Putin’s wealth amongst those who believe the allegations against him are true.

Belkovsky’s claims centred on a company called Gunvor, a major international commodities trader dealing mainly in oil products which is registered in Switzerland.  

Belkovsky claimed that Putin owned a large share of Gunvor and that Gennady Timchenko – a Russian businessman who was one of Gunvor’s co-founders and co-owners – was in reality Putin’s front man.

This claim is nonsense. 

Mercouris then says that the US Treasury started to regurgitate this lie and use it against Putin and other prominent Russians. Later, he says that The Economist, a notorious anti-Russian rag with a glossy reputation that it does not deserve, inserted this myth in the pages of one of its editions. The article goes on:

In 2009 the allegations that Putin owned an interest in Gunvor became the subject of a libel action between Gunvor and The Economist which in an article it published in November 2008 appeared to lend weight to Belkovsky’s allegations.

The libel action ending with The Economist publishing an apology and retraction in which it admitted that Putin has no interest in Gunvor.  The Economist’s statement of retractionreads as follows:

“In a section of our special report on Russia entitled “Grease my palm” (29 November 2008) we referred to Gunvor and its co-founder, Gennady Timchenko. 

We are happy to make it clear that when we referred to the “new corruption” in today’s Russia, we did not intend to suggest that either Gunvor or Mr Timchenko obtained their Russian oil business as a result of payment by them of bribes or like corrupt inducements. 

Rosneft sells only 30-40% of its oil through Gunvor rather than the “bulk” of Rosneft’s oil (as we described it). 

We accept Gunvor’s assurances that neither Vladimir Putin nor other senior Russian political figures have any ownership interest in Gunvor. We regret if any contrary impression was given.”

 Mercouris goes on to report that this libel suit did not put an end to the $40 billion myth and that both the US government and the Neocon press continued to perpetuate it. The article is full of details on other anti-Russian myths that were similarly discredited but continue to circulate because of the disgraceful disdain that Western elites have for the truth.