War over Minds

Military hostilities used to be the last argument of sovereigns. The barrels of canons would bear the inscription ultima ratio regum (in France) or ultima ratio regis (in Prussia). This has changed a little bit. Since warfare has become a very costly venture and especially since a number of states possess nuclear weapons whose possible use might wreak unimaginable havoc and render large swathes of territory useless for the victorious power, present-day sovereigns have resorted more and more to soft tactics, which are – despite their name – as efficient or even more efficient than firearms. Did not the Soviet Union collapse due to the soft penetration, infiltration and subversion applied by the West? The collective mind of the Soviet leadership was in the cross hairs of the financial, philosophical, political and cultural impact directed against it by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and smaller players. The result was more than impressive: neither Charles XII of Sweden in the 18th century, nor Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th, nor Adolf Hitler in the 20th succeed in weakening Russia to anything remotely comparable with what happened with the Soviet Union in 1991 and thereafter. The territory of the superpower was significantly reduced, new independent states were carved out of it, and Russia herself was plunged into a decade of economic chaos and political turmoil in their magnitude surpassed only by the civil war of the early twenties of the 20th century if one only considers modern history. The battle for the minds is certainly not as spectacular as the clash between tanks or dogfights of aircraft, and it certainly is fought over a much extended period, but nonetheless its outcome is more than satisfactory.

The Chinese leadership drew its lessons from the disintegration of the Soviet Union and they have held a tight grip on the state matters before and especially since the 1989 Tiananmen Square riot. Beijing is well aware of the psychological infiltration, penetration and subversion targeting China’s population from abroad and so it has cut off the national internet from the global web and recently has cracked down on the entertainment industry, took control of the computer games and TV programmes to which the Chinese youth is exposed. That’s another instance of the battles for the minds. The European Union is not lagging behind in matters concerning psychological war.

In 2015, the EU’s East StratCom Task Force rolled out its flagship project – as they call it themselves – named EUvsDisinfo, a body that “identifies, compiles, and exposes disinformation cases originating in pro-Kremlin media that are spread across the EU and Eastern Partnership countries.” Within this project, in one of the tabs, news items originating from the sources just mentioned are quoted – white on black – and a disproof is presented: black on orange. In other places a whole analysis is offered, an analysis that devastatingly critiques a text recognised as the Kremlin’s propaganda. Surveying the hundreds of allegedly debunked pieces of information and their sources, one can see almost immediately that EUvsDisinfo has been targeting Sputnik most of the time. Anything that is written against the Post-West, the European Union, the United States, even individuals like George Soros in the media associated with Moscow or regarded as close to Russia comes under attack from EUvsDisinfo, which – naturally! – acts as an absolutely objective source of truth. Consider the following example. Continue reading

Ursula von der Leyen’s evangelism

On March 21st, President of the European Commission (read prime minister of the European Superstate Government) Ursula von der Leyen saw it fit to impress on Europeans – in a patronising, chaperon-like manner – the ugliness of racism that some of them display and indulge in. In a tweet, she is recorded to say that racism is ubiquitous, pervading our streets, and our workplaces and also penetrating institutions, which is the reason why the European Commission (government) has adopted the first ever EU Anti-Racist Action Plan. An ardent apostle of diversity, Ursula von der Leyen said that the Commission members were inspired upon seeing many Europeans taking to the street and shouting the slogan Black Lives Matter. She expressed her pride at the EU organizing the first ever European Anti-Racism Summit on 21st March and then went on to engage in threats aimed at racists all cross the Union, levelling at them (existing and not yet existing) criminal law provisions because – she explained as if in anticipation of possible accusations – racism could not be subsumed under the concept of free speech in – “our” as she put it – union. Who does she mean by our? Never mind. These anti-racist measures – continued the head of the EU – must be adopted by all the provinces (commonly referred to as member-states) because anti-racism is a founding principle of – again – our union, which is a red threat (obviously she meant thread) running through seventy years of history. Then, on a positive note (a piece of carrot after the stick) she waxed lyrical recalling the late eighties when eighty thousand young people had been asked to come up with a motto for “our” union and – surprise, surprise – they had chosen “Unity and Diversity”, surely without anybody prompting them to do so. At this point, Ursula von der Leyen spread her arms out, approvingly, as if she wanted to embrace the European Red Guards and she lavished praise on the politically savvy young people. What they had done was perfect, she said, what they had chosen reflected – as she put it – raison d’etre of the Union and its greatest aspiration: the Union’s starting point and the Union’s destination. Amen.
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Turkey: the Game Changer

The deal between Ankara and Moscow has been signed and sealed and the first shipments of the S-400 air defence system have just landed on Turkish soil, at a military airbase located at the vicinity of the country’s capital. The second-largest NATO army is acquiring weapons and materiel from a state that by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is viewed as inimical.

Turkey occupies an area which is bridging Europe with Asia and neighbouring some of the war-ridden countries like Iraq and Syria in the volatile region known as the Middle East. It is also strategically important for NATO because it controls the Straits between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and because it outflanks Russia from the south. A NATO member since 1952 Turkey – although a Third World country – wanted to remain a loyal member of the Alliance with ever closer ties to the Western world. Not only did Ankara join its troops to the NATO but also lent its territory to the pact. The reader will have remembered that it was the American missiles deployed to Turkish territory which caused anxiety at the Kremlin and induced Nikita Khrushchev to retaliate by deploying Soviet missiles to Cuba, which led to the international conflict threatening to culminate in a third world war. The strained relations between the two superpowers were only eased when both the Soviets withdrew their missiles from the largest island in the Caribic and the Americans removed theirs from Turkey.

Turkey’s membership in the Alliance has never meant that Ankara was a patsy in Washington’s hands. It skilfully guarded its sovereignty and pursued its own interests. Thus in 1974 Turkish armed forces landed in Northern Cyprus, establishing there of a separate Turkish state and a permanent – as yet – division of the island predominantly inhabited by Greeks. Thus Ankara dared to thwart the interest of another NATO member – Greece – and Athens could do nothing about it. Turkey was strategically too important and that is why it could afford to act independently of NATO’s most important allies.

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