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The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think-tank that has been praised by such figureheads as John McCain and Hillary Clinton (that right there should give you indigestion), has published a suggested list of policies to help the EU and US combat Russia, some of which we’ve provided below. The list of policies originally came from the report, “The Kremlin Playbook,” written by Heather Conley, Ruslan Stefanov, and Martin Vladmirov, and was also published through the CSIS.
The Kremlin Playbook—regardless of your stance on Russia—drips with hypocrisy from an American standpoint, accompanied with small undertones of obvious propaganda, but before we jump into it, let’s quickly take a closer look at CSIS. John Hamre, who was US Deputy Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, has held the position as President and CEO of CSIS since 2000. In college, Hamre was a “Rockefeller Fellow” at the Harvard Divinity School, and has since held a multitude of government positions from the defense sector, to the aerospace industry, (source).
Heather Conley, the main author of The Kremlin Playbook, is also Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic and director of the Europe Program at CSIS. Like Hamre, she’s held quite a few government positions, and began her career in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the US Department of State. Both Hamre and Conley have a special interest in US military, defense, and intelligence, and knowing this immediately sets the tone of Conley’s report.
According to the excerpt from The Kremlin Playbook titled, “Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe,” (source provided above), different countries located within Central and Eastern Europe have “experienced a steady decline in democratic standards and governance practices at the same time that Russia’s economic engagement with the region expanded significantly,” (guess they forgot to mention the US’s military presence in the area too). While it’s not a defense for Russia or the political movements that have occurred in the region; the same could be said of the US’s involvement in the Middle East, as well as actions that are taking place on US soil. The fact that America’s democratic standards have been slipping has been a major topic of discussion in the States.
The report continues, “Regional political movements and figures have increasingly sought to align themselves with the Kremlin and with illiberalism. Central European governments have adopted ambiguous—if not outright pro-Russian—policy stances that have raised questions about their transatlantic orientation and produced tensions within Western institutions.”
“Illiberalism”? That’s some fancy word-play—Americans don’t like “ills,” especially when they’re connected to “liberty.” So who came up with that bullshit?
Ah, here it is; CNN host and columnist for The Washington Post and Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria, came up with the term “illiberal democracy” in the magazine, Foreign Affairs (published by the Council on Foreign Relations), to describe “racists, fascists, [and] separatists, who are publicly opposed to [peace and reintegration].” Sort of like the US backed neo-Nazis who were running amuck in Kiev a couple years ago, or… Trump-supporters. It can sometimes be tricky making heads or tails of propaganda.
Conley’s report then goes on to urge members of NATO and the EU to collectively recognize Russian influence as a threat to national security, and it’s on that note that we’ll provide some of the following policies that were listed:
- Elevate and design a specific, high-level task force within the US Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) that focuses solely on tracing and prosecuting illicit Russian-linked financial flows if they interact with the US financial system.
Fair enough—seems logical a nation wouldn’t want illicit financial flows to interact with their financial system, especially when you’ve already got a financial system as corrupt as America’s.
- Encourage NATO and EU members to task their own financial intelligence units (FIUs) with developing dedicated units that track illicit Russian transactions.
We’ll get to FIUs next.
- Prioritize enhanced EU-US financial intelligence cooperation.
(See The Egmont Group). As of 2015, the Egmont Group had 151 member FIUs. According to the Egmont Group’s website:
The Egmont Group has evolved over the years and is currently (2015) comprised of 151 member FIUs. The 2012 FATF Recommendations expect that FIUs apply for membership with the Egmont Group, therefore, the Egmont network of FIUs is expected to grow even further in the coming years.
It later continues:
The goal of the Egmont Group is to provide a forum for FIUs around the world to improve cooperation in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism and to foster the implementation of domestic programs in this field. This support includes:
- Expanding and systematizing international cooperation in the reciprocal exchange of information;
- Increasing the effectiveness of FIUs by offering training and promoting personnel exchanges to improve the expertise and capabilities of personnel employed by FIUs;
- Fostering better and secure communication among FIUs through the application of technology, such as the Egmont Secure Web (ESW);
- Fostering increased coordination and support among the operational divisions of member FIUs;
- Promoting the operational autonomy of FIUs; and
- Promoting the establishment of FIUs in conjunction with jurisdictions with an AML/CFT program in place, or in areas with a program in the early stages of development.
In looking further into AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism) programs to get a better understanding, we came across the Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FSVC) whose claimed initiative is to help “emerging market countries combat money laundering and terrorist financing so that their economies may grow…” However their listed accomplishments tend to focus heavily on strengthening FIUs in the hosting country to ensure their financial sector is in compliance with AML/CFT laws, as well as creating transparency in the hosting country’s banking sector.
These things sound okay, sort of, however their terms are broad, and one can’t help but wonder exactly how far these programs go to regulate other country’s financial sectors, or exactly what all is entailed by the word “transparency.” Yet another thing to consider in the FSVC’s case are the countries focused on themselves, such as Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Uganda, among others. When the topic of combating terrorism comes up, these countries are far from the forefront of the conversation, nor are they known as potential money-laundering havens, but we digress.
- Elevate anticorruption by strengthening institutions as an element of NATO’s Readiness Action Plan. Combating Russian influence should be a prioritized program under the new NATO-EU framework agreement.
Under NATO’s Readiness Action Plan, both NATO’s and the US’s presence already increased tremendously in Central and Eastern Europe, with the specification that they can stay “as long as necessary.” This came with an increase in equipment, training, exercises, troop rotations, and air and naval patrols.
- US government assistance to Central and Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans must be completely revamped to prioritize combating Russian influence and strengthening governance.
This one sort of goes with the last.
- Under the direction of the US State Department, issue an annual analysis of European states at the highest risk of Russian influence.
Yes, let’s respectfully leave the US government to pick their targets in peace.
- Focus aid programs on maintaining and strengthening investigative journalism and independence of the media environment.
We’re assuming that’s a little joke the author slipped in.
- Provide intelligence when appropriate and financial support to national anticorruption and auditing offices that enable independent investigations of complex and cross-border corruption cases.
Okay, this one has to be a joke. The definition of independent investigation is that it’s free from any form of control or judgement, and is not reliant on support, especially financial support. If the US government is providing intelligence and financial support to offices that enable independent investigations, well then they aren’t exactly independent anymore.
Click here to read the rest of the CSIS’s suggested list of policies.
The purpose of the policies seem clear; increasing the US’s presence even further in Central and Eastern Europe, and then countering Russia’s influence in the region by forcing US influence down everyone’s throats, while tightly monitoring their finances and destroying their national security to supposedly protect our own.
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