Maidhc Ó Cathail
November 26, 2014
There was a strong whiff of hypocrisy in the Washington air on November 13 when the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) hosted a discussion of a report entitled ‘The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money’.
The Menace of Unreality is co-authored by Michael Weiss, editor-in-chief of the Interpreter, and Peter Pomerantsev, author of a forthcoming book asserting that Putin’s Russia is a post-modern dictatorship.
Introducing the discussion, NED’s Christopher Walker noted that the US Congress-funded Endowment hadn’t been involved in the production of the report but that it does have “close ties” to Weiss’s online journal and the New York-based think tank that funds it, the Institute of Modern Russia (IMR).
In the course of their report’s self-righteous criticism of the widespread “opaqueness” about who funds think tanks, Weiss and Pomerantsev disclose, in an aside, that their work is “funded by a think tank that receives support from the family of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.” Their critique of the weaponization of money, however, neglects to mention its funder’s conviction for embezzlement and money laundering.
In Washington, Weiss and Pomerantsev were joined in the discussion of their “counter-disinformation” report by an analyst from the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neoconservative advocacy group founded by Robert Kagan and William Kristol, whose earlier Project for a New American Century had played a key role in pushing the lies that led to the US invasion of Iraq.