Messing with the Truth: Disinformation Spread by Danny Haiphong

Messing with the Truth: Disinformation Spread by Danny Haiphong

31 October 2023
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Even more than a year and a half after the full-scale invasion and nine years of war with Russia in the West, one can hear opinions identical to Russian narratives. However, how is this possible? Do Americans really install VPNs en masse to watch news on Sputnik or Russia Today? Russian television is not the only way to spread unreliable information. Russian agendas in the West are actively promoted by bloggers and journalists. VoxCheck, in collaboration with the Center for Countering Disinformation of the National Security and Defense Council, has investigated who these people are and what narratives they most frequently propagate.

Danny Haiphong is an American journalist, co-editor of Black Agenda Report and Friends of Socialist China publications, as well as a founding member of the international campaign No Cold War. He also writes articles for the Chinese publication CGTN. He is the co-author of the books “The plot to overthrow Venezuela” and “American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News.”

Haiphong actively maintains a Twitter page and has his own YouTube channel where he collaborates with various Western experts to promote narratives in line with Russian views. He frequently produces videos with the well-known American commentator Scott Ritter. These videos have a significant reach, with translated recordings into Russian garnering over 250,000 views per month in addition to the popularity of the original content. Moreover, his statements are actively disseminated by the Russian television network Russia Today

In his statements, Haiphong promotes narratives such as “The West/USA is pursuing an aggressive policy towards Russia,” “The USA is waging a proxy war against Russia at the expense of Ukrainians,” “Military aid to Ukraine escalates the war,” and “Russia is a peacekeeping state seeking peace and stability.”

On August 17, 2023, Danny Haiphong was invited to speak at a session of the United Nations Security Council. He reported on Twitter: “Presenting at the UN Security Council on the dangers that Western arms to Ukraine poses to world peace. Wish me luck.”

Screenshot of Danny Haiphong’s message on Twitter

The American journalist began his speech with a widely circulated thesis aimed at intensifying the discussion on the advisability of supporting Ukraine among the U.S. population: “I am here too as a U.S. citizen who has witnessed tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars go to funding and arming a proxy war against Russia, while people in the U.S., ordinary people, suffer from rising levels of poverty, homelessness, suicide, and economic insecurity.”

Haiphong spreads a deceptive, hyperbolic notion that almost all the money from American taxpayers goes to Ukraine, while Americans supposedly remain neglected by their own government. Such a thesis is stated to encourage American citizens to oppose providing aid to Ukraine. In reality, the assistance to Ukrainians from the U.S. constitutes only less than 6% of the country’s defense budget and does not impact the deterioration or improvement of social conditions for the U.S. population.

Then Haiphong talks about the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Ukraine in April 2022. He interprets their words about the “U.S. being fully interested in the victory in the current struggle in Ukraine” as follows: “What they meant by this was that the U.S. was fully committed to corralling its own military arsenal and that of its NATO partners in a proxy war against Russia to the last Ukrainian.”

The American journalist also opposes supplying weapons to Ukraine, suggesting that the sale of arms itself hinders the initiation of peace talks: “Ongoing Western arms sales to Ukraine are not only a violation of the UN Charter but they also reveal the geopolitical realities that undergrid this conflict. Indeed, it would be simplistic to claim that profits alone from Western arms sales are what is driving a verge in the cause of peace.”

According to Haiphong, the true purpose of the “proxy war” is the geopolitical struggle of the U.S. for leadership and the enrichment of Western companies selling weapons. The journalist points out that their income allegedly increased due to the U.S.-provoked war of Russia against Ukraine.

In his speech at the United Nations Security Council session, Haiphong attempts to accuse the West of violating the organization’s charter and calls on its members to take active measures to restrain the “violators”: “Peace and stability is not possible so long as the West pursues a foreign policy of unilateral interventionism in Ukraine to fulfill a larger goal – a larger geopolitical goal of unipolarity. This policy runs completely counter to the principles of the UN Charter: the continued flow of arms to Ukraine is a violation of Article 2, Section 3 of this Charter, requiring member states to resolve conflict in a peaceful manner, and these arms only prolong the conflict with devastating consequences. The United States and its Western partners and whoever goes along with it must learn to operate within the framework of international law, just like all other member states or the world will face the continued constant threat of instability and war, no matter the efforts of the this Security Council and other United Nations bodies.”

At the same time, he overlooks the obvious fact: the provision of weapons is a response to unprovoked military aggression by Russia. This weaponry is necessary to defend the sovereignty of Ukraine.

On August 23, in an interview for the YouTube channel Moats with British left-wing political activist George Galloway, Danny Haiphong continued the discussion on the United Nations Security Council and its members: “In effect, this is a losing battle that the United States and NATO are engaged in. And that is in the interest really of everyone to stop. And it’s only Russia, and China also, that are calling for as permanent members of the Security Council a real negotiated settlement to this conflict.”

Screenshot of a conversation between Danny Haiphong and George Galloway

In this way, the journalist asserts that the true peacemakers seeking dialogue to end the war with Russia against Ukraine are primarily Russia, the country whose troops are engaged in combat on the territory of a neighboring sovereign nation, and China.

Haiphong also promotes a narrative aligned with the Russian perspective regarding Western aggression towards Russia: “They all couldn’t stop promoting a Cold War talking points against Russia, politicizing the conflict, politicizing the UN Security Council, and making it all about how Russia not only needs to stop the so-called invasion but really, how Russia needs to be destroyed. This is the way they talk about this conflict. And it just goes to show which side they really are on — they are on the side of permanent war.

The journalist contends that Western countries will only demand the destruction of Russia once it ceases its war against Ukraine. This assertion is also frequently echoed by Russian officials and Kremlin journalists. In this way, they typically seek to justify Russia’s unprovoked aggression by claiming that Russian forces have nowhere to retreat. By attacking the civilian population of Ukraine, Russia purportedly fights for its territorial integrity.

To advance all the narratives mentioned above, Haiphong resorts to simplification. Particularly, when urging Americans to refrain from supplying weapons to Ukraine, he justifies it by suggesting that as long as Ukraine possesses weapons, it can resist Russia. Therefore, according to his argument, peace will come sooner if there is no weaponry involved.

However, upon closer examination, it becomes evident that in the absence of means for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to resist aggression, Russia, firstly, will consolidate its presence in already occupied Ukrainian territories. Secondly, it will continue to annex new territories, as Russian officials have repeatedly indicated. Moreover, a strong Russia poses a threat to Europe. There is no guarantee that Kremlin ambitions will subside over time and Russia will refrain from further expansionist wars in Europe.

Additionally, Haiphong often resorts to concept substitution. According to the journalist, Russia is fighting for its existence, not waging a war to expand its territories. Another tactic employed by the author is omission. He consistently portrays Russia as a country that does not seek war, contrasting it with the “aggressively inclined NATO.” However, there is no mention that Russia initiated this war by invading a neighboring sovereign state.

The journalist also discredits, and at times demonizes, the armed forces of Ukraine to evoke a negative attitude from the reader. In doing so, he once again fails to mention the war crimes committed by Russian military forces in Ukraine. Moreover, the entrenched Russian narrative about fascists and Nazis in Ukraine is also present in Haiphong’s rhetoric.

He presents untrue information as a fact that does not require verification. For instance, he consistently refers to the Revolution of Dignity as a state coup. A reader who did not follow the events in Ukraine in 2014 may indeed perceive this as an unquestionable truth.

To make the audience believe in the truthfulness of these reports and adopt these ideas, the journalist tirelessly repeats the same narratives on various platforms, using different information triggers. Whether it’s in preparation for a counteroffensive, the visit of Volodymyr Zelenskyi to the United States, or the G20 summit.

For more details on the narratives spread by Danny Haiphong, watch the video:

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