US war planners are suggesting that the US should widely expand its own psychological operations against Beijing. A new report by the Financial Times details how high officials in Washington are developing strategies for a new Cold War with China. Military analyst David Maxwell called for a generalised cultural warfare that would include the Pentagon commissioning novels aiming to demonise China and demoralise its citizens, arguing that Washington should bomb the Chinese with stories of wartime deaths of their only children and, therefore, their bloodlines.
US African Command (AFRICOM), in charge of hunting terrorists in Africa, seems more interested instead in waging psychological operations aimed at the US public, the Pentagon and the White House. AFRICOM recently focused its efforts in using friendly journalists, media leaks and statements in social media to lobby Washington for more power, influence and money, publishing a series of tweets accusing Russia of sending warplanes to Libya. Its commander general Charles Townsend said that “they had seen how Russia flew fourth-generation warplanes to Libya”, but no evidence was offered. Russian officials have dismissed this claim as ridiculous. Among explosive tweets, anonymous insinuations to friendly conservative reporters and leaks to liberals, the image that is emerging is one of AFRICOM carrying out a psychological (psychopathic) operation, a propaganda war against US public.
The deployment of Russian warplanes in Libya has been confirmed by multiple sources. According to Bloomberg news agency, their presence was first reported by Fathi Bashagha, the security chief in Tripoli, who said at least six MiG 29s and two Sukhoi 24s had flown into the east from the Russian-controlled Hmeimim Air Base in Syria, escorted by two Su-35 Russian air force jets. This was later confirmed by satellite images (see here and here), by images of the aircraft taken by the US Air Force, and indirectly by Saqr al-Jaroushi, the head of the air force of Russia’s backed Libyan National Army (LNA), who on May 20 boasted that his forces were about to launch “the largest aerial campaign in Libyan history”.
Further information on the deployment of the aircraft emerged afterwards. This is happening after the Russia-backed LNA was forced to retreat from the airbase of al-Watiyah and Wagner fighters were allegedly expelled from a location in southern Tripoli in the previous days, which points to a Russian escalation in support of LNA through an increase of air power to compensate those losses.
As POLYGRAPH.info notes, the presence of Russian fighter jets in Libya has been confirmed by multiple "[i]ndependent sources, including those critical of the the US." Most of these reports predate the AFRICOM press release (26 May).
By denying this deployment and calling it instead “an AFRICOM psy-op”, Russia is resorting to a recurrent disinformation narrative aiming to portray itself as a blameless victim of Western machinations, innocent of any misdeed. You can see other examples in our database, such as claims about NATO military exercises as acts of war against Russia; alleged plans to encircle Russia or to wage war against it; the supposed anti-Russian bias of international institutions - be it the OPCW, the World Anti-Doping Agency or the United Nations - which always falsely accuse Russia; the alleged Russophobia of the EU; the affirmation that it is NATO and not the Kremlin who is involved in the Donbas conflict; or denials that Russia had any role in the poisoning of Sergey Skripal or the downing of MH17, that it interfered in other countries’ elections or that it is waging a disinformation campaign on COVID-19.