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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Weaponized immigrants and the history of America’s imperial propaganda machine

I’ve written a bit about how my fellow Soviet immigrants actively weaponize themselves on behalf of American Empire — whether as journalists, documentary filmmakers, thinktankers, party insiders, or some other kind of functionaries working inside our country’s vast imperial bureaucracy.

Of course, this weaponization goes beyond just us Soviets and encompasses immigrant groups from across the world. The regions that are most represented are the ones where the Empire continues to meet “resistance” from the natives: Iran, Iraq, China, Russia, Syria, Cuba, the two Koreas, Vietnam, Georgia, Ukraine, Venezuela…The list is long. But you get the idea.

These weaponized immigrants don’t get a lot of attention, but they are extremely important. They form the backbone of our Empire’s sprawling, multi-billion dollar soft (and not so soft) power apparatus. They inhabit everything from positions within the foreign policy structures of our government, to traditional media outlets and newspapers, to cleaned-up CIA fronts like Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia, to privatized spook ops like the National Endowment for Democracy, to all sorts of oligarch funded non-profits and smaller regime change lobbies like Free Russia and the Uyghur Congress — and all the way down to half-forgotten rebranded Vietnamese terror groups and bizarre Chinese and Iranian cults.

It’s a giant semi-privatized bureaucracy, and it’s vital to the Empire. And none of this infrastructure would have been built — nor would it continue to operate — without the intimate involvement of weaponized immigrants from across the globe.

When did this begin? When did America start deploying immigrants as tools of imperial power? Who are these people? And why do they do it?

Well, that’s what I want to get into.

I’ve been working on a couple of pieces about the history of America’s foreign propaganda apparatus but I realized that the topic is so vast and sprawling that it’s best to tell the story through an extended series, rather than few big essays and investigations.

So that’s what I’m gonna do starting next week: I’m going to start releasing a limited series about the history and origins of America’s propaganda machine — and the central role that weaponized immigrants, including people from my own Soviet Jewish community, play in it.

The series will start in the past by will eventually get to the present and catch up to current events. What kind of current events? Well, weaponized immigrants are still at the forefront of our soft power apparatus, massaging people’s minds and convincing us that imperialism for the benefit of our oligarchic class is actually altruistic and humane and good for everyone involved — and especially the natives!

There are all sorts of weaponized immigrant groups operating today. They include outfits like Falun Gong, the crazy pro-Trump Chinese cult that’s been playing a huge and successful role in whipping a “War with China” propaganda campaign in the wake of COVID-19. They’re the ones flooding people’s mailboxes with newspapers and clogging their Facebook feeds with “Wuhan virus” and “CCP virus” documentaries.

There’s been some great reporting on a few of these recent campaigns — most of it coming from my friends over at The Greyzone — but I want to dig a little deeper into the core history of these ops.

Many of the dispatches in this miniseries are going to be released to paid subscribers only. So…subscribe to support the project and to read them all.

A few stills from a forgotten 1960s documentary about Radio Liberty about the plan to weaponize the Soviet Union’s diverse ethnicities.

There are all sorts of places I can start, but I think I think the natural place to begin is with the creation of what we now know as Radio Liberty, a CIA psychological warfare project originally known as “Radio Liberation from Bolshevism.”

The Radio Station was launched right after World War II.

The CIA, along with the State Department, envisioned it as a sort of public works project for the horde of anti-communist immigrants who were bumming around Western Germany after World War II. The point of the station was to use these natives to foment unrest and revolution inside the Soviet Union — or, as a secret State Department report described it: to “utilize the forces of the Soviet emigration against the Soviet regime.” And that’s exactly what Radio Liberty did.

It was a massive broadcasting operation with offices and correspondents around the world, and it was cleverly run to maximize America’s image as a place of free speech and political openness — like when it, a CIA station, aired an interview with Martin Luther King. The station was also incredibly costly. Just the energy input into the radio’s massive transmitters could have powered a city of with a population of 150,000.

Anyway, I’m working on this installment now — focusing on some of the weaponized immigrant personalities that were central to the creation of the station. Look for it in your inbox next week.

—Yasha Levine

(This article was published on the author’s blog and has been reproduced here in full.)

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