Sputnik: What is your reaction to the leaked documents detailing the Integrity Initiative project to "counteract Russian propaganda?"
William Mallinson: Well firstly, Long Live Anonymous! I hope they don't find out who their leader is, because he might suffer the fate of Assange. Second, I think that what we're seeing is the same old propagandistic techniques returning simply in new colours.
Let's not forget that from the British side, we had Information Research Department (IRD) set up in the Foreign Office as a secret department in 1947. I know a great deal about it because when I was a diplomat in The Hague I used to put a document in a brown envelope and deliver it to certain people in the Dutch government; it was meant to be unattributable, but everyone knew who the source was. It was a form of soft propaganda, grey propaganda. It didn't have direct lies.
What can I say? The idea seems to me to maintain tension in order to justify the further expansion of NATO, in order to demonize Russia. It's all very childish. It's rather like the late 40s and the 50s coming back with a vengeance, paradoxically, as Russia is proving to be the main stable force in world politics. And the more successful the slow, thoughtful, chess-like Russian approach is, the more hysterical become the certain forces in NATO and the military industrial complex.
Sputnik: What was it that you found so astounding about the leak? We kind of assumed that all governments have these sort of projects, both to counter other nations' propaganda and to conduct their own propaganda.
William Mallinson: Of course they do, but it's a question of degree. I mean the Vatican has one of the best systems in the world. It actually set up the College of Propaganda in the 17th century when propaganda was not yet a dirty word and simply meant propagating information. This has all been sullied and dirtied by tactical emission, humour, obfuscation and exaggeration…
We're seeing a great deal of grey propaganda. We're seeing also a great worry about the possibility of more European defence cooperation, which could well lead to the ending of NATO as a viable organization (which I think it should). We're seeing above all the United Kingdom's position as a poodle (I'm sad to say, and to use such strong words) and a butler of the lobbying interests in Washington as well.
Sputnik: What position is the UK in here, considering that it is now at the forefront of accusing Russia of being involved in interference in other nations' affairs?
William Mallinson: Just as Britain was at the forefront in 1945-1947 when it virtually single-handedly, oddly enough under a Labour government, persuaded Truman, who was frankly a war criminal, to turn against Russia in the aftermath of the very sad death of Franklin Roosevelt. We're seeing the same thing happening now. But it's almost as if the shoe is on the other foot now; now it's Washington telling us to do what we did in 1945-47 and to be their 'European headquarters', and in a sense also to half disguise what the Trump administration is doing, to detract from the American fanaticism against Russia by using Britain to make what the Americans are doing look more reasonable.
This is reflected I think in the propaganda techniques used. The Russians will be slower, more thoughtful, they will see things that are so inaccurate that they'll have to respond, and that's what they're doing. Of course the Russians will have their own information network, and I'm sure that they have a very good one, and I think they're entitled to it.
Sputnik: How does the UK profit by inflaming Russian-Western tensions? Is this all just about the military industrial complex?
The other as I've said is the illusion of being a great power and indulging in what [former British Prime Minister] Edward Heath called 'slipstream politics', where we go into the slipstream of the US, and therefore appear to have more influence in Europe than we do in reality. But that's going now. Britain's a wonderful country, but it's got its international relations in a bit of a mess, and there's too much emotion and too much propaganda among ordinary people…Nationalism is used, and this nationalism comes, I have to say, far more from the West than from Russia. They're stirring up national hatreds in populations; very dangerous. That's what precedes serious wars sometimes.
Listen to Dr. Mallinson's complete interview with Sputnik below.
Dr. William Mallinson is a former British diplomat, author, commentator and professor of politics at Guglielmo Marconi University in Rome, Italy. The views expressed by Dr. Mallinson are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.