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Institute for the Study of War = Institute of Propaganda for Nato wars

The ‘Institute for the Study of War’ published this shocking propagandist Twitter thread about Russia “preparing for war” with Nato. Fomenting fear and escalating tensions that encourage leaders like little Macron to propose a declaration of war with Russia.

We publish political commentator Thomas Fazi’s analysis below, with thanks.

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This is embarrassing even for Institute for the Study of War (ISW) standards. There is literally nothing in this “report” to suggest that Russia is planning to attack NATO — as the wording implies — except for absurd deductions (“Russia is bolstering its military capabilities because it wants to attack NATO”; no it’s bolstering its military capabilities because it’s already indirectly at war with NATO in Ukraine) and unsubstantiated claims by two… NATO members.

That said, of course Russia is “preparing for a large-scale conventional conflict with NATO”, given that NATO members are engaged in massive military escalation against Russia, and are deliberately creating conditions that will inevitably lead to a conflict with Russia — as they did in Ukraine, but on continental scale. Whether this is NATO’s intended outcome or not is beyond the point at this stage (though there is reason to believe that it is).

This is clearly part of a massive Western propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the populations of NATO countries that Russia soon plans to march across Europe — an absurd claim — in order to justify open-ended military build-up (more pocket-lining for the military-industrial complex) and the wider militarisation of societies (i.e., crackdown on democracy at all levels); and when war actually breaks out, having people believe  they are the blameless victims of Russian aggression, rather than the victims of their own warmongering elites. 

It’s not surprising that the ISW is at the forefront of this propaganda campaign. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the ISW has become the mainstream media go-to think tank for information and analysis. But the ISW is far from a neutral think tank.

The president and founder of the ISW is Kimberly Kagan, a military historian who is married to Frederick Kagan, who is also a military historian and does work for the ISW. Frederick is a well-known neoconservative — though not as well-known as his brother Robert. In the 1990s, Robert Kagan, along with Bill Kristol (who is on ISW’s board), founded the Project for a New American Century, which played an important role in convincing George W. Bush to invade Iraq.

Moreover, Robert Kagan’s wife — and Kimberly Kagan’s sister-in-law — is none other than Victoria Nuland, the former US State Department official who played a crucial role in orchestrating the 2014 US-backed coup in Ukraine that led to the outbreak of the civil war and kickstarted the disastrous chain of events that led to Russia’s invasion in 2022.

So it goes without saying both Kimberly and Frederick Kagan have very cosy relations with the Pentagon and the US military-industrial complex more in general. Indeed, as Robert Wright explained in an article for Responsible Statecraft, “over the years [the ISW] has gotten funding from various corners of the arms industry — General Dynamics, Raytheon, lesser known defence contractors, and big companies, like General Motors, that aren’t known as defence contractors but do get Pentagon contracts”. And the ISW itself is staffed with neoconservative war hawks.

So go ahead and use the ISW maps, they’re great. But when it comes to their “analyses”, know that you’re reading propaganda aimed at furthering US imperial interests — which in this specific case means drawing Europe closer and closer to an apocalyptic war with Russia.