Foreign Policy Via Fake News and Propaganda

Let this one sink in for a moment: last week the President of the United States posted a fake news story on his Facebook account.

At 12:25 p.m. on February 2, President Trump posted a story on his official Facebook page which contended that Kuwait issued a visa ban for five Muslim-majority countries…

It has some 250,000 likes,over 68,000 shares, and was picked up by Breitbart and Infowars. But there’s one problem: Kuwait denies that anything of this sort ever took place.

You would think that a POTUS would have access to information preventing him from posting fake news about a foreign country. But I suppose that would require running things by people in places like the State Department or this country’s intelligence services. Why bother with that when a fake news site posted something that supports your recent visa ban?

But the issue is actually more serious than that. It appears as though the people surrounding Trump join him in buying into fake news as propaganda.

In reporting on what Trump’s foreign policy might be beyond walls and bans, Julie Pace got a scoop on something Josh Marshall described as “deeply disturbing.”

According to one U.S. official, national security aides have sought information about Polish incursions in Belarus, an eyebrow-raising request because little evidence of such activities appears to exist. Poland is among the Eastern European nations worried about Trump’s friendlier tone on Russia.

When Pace says that “little evidence of such activities appears to exist,” I think she actually means that no evidence exists. Even worse, as Marshall says, “It is…the kind of thing you would expect to hear from Russian propaganda sources, a hostile Poland menacing its neighbors to the east.”

In a tweet about that revelation, Pace goes further and suggests that it is “senior aides requesting info on Polish excursions into Belarus” – pointing the finger at the possibility that the requests are coming from national security adviser Michael Flynn. That is not surprising given his cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin and his affection for conspiracy theories.

I agree with Steve Benen on this one.

There’s quite a bit about the new administration that worries me, but I’ll confess it’s stuff like this that causes me the most unease.

For years, Trump has demonstrated an affinity for bizarre conspiracy theories and a capacity to believe transparent nonsense for no particular reason. Michael Flynn, Trump’s principal source for information related to national security, is every bit as odd in his embrace of baseless, oftentimes ridiculous, ideas.

We all witnessed Trump’s affinity for conspiracy theories during the presidential campaign. It now appears that Moscow might be feeding them to his administration in an attempt to de-stabilize the situation in Eastern Europe.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .