Thought for the Day

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." - Confucius

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How Russia Is Revolutionizing Information Warfare

I would call this political and unconventional warfare.   Actions speak louder than words and the Russian use of propaganda is backed by action.

But this is an interesting idea - Russian reinvents reality. we have seen this before so I think Putin may be a student of Mein Kampf and the big lie:

All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
—Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X

But I think the discussion of Putin and Greenwald and his "anti-establishment drive" in this conclusion is very interesting as well.


The pressure on reality from capitalism and Capitol Hill coincides with an anti-establishment drive in the U.S. that likewise claims that all truth is relative. In a Prospect magazine review of Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide, for instance, George Packer writes, “Greenwald has no use for the norms of journalism. He rejects objectivity, as a reality and an ideal.” (Similarly, RT’s managing director once told me that “there is no such thing as objective reporting.”) Examining the sins of omission, biased value judgments, and half-truths in Greenwald’s book, Packer concludes that “they reveal a mind that has liberated itself from the basic claims of fairness. Once the norms of journalism are dismissed, a number of constraints and assumptions fall away.” The ties that bind Greenwald and the Kremlin consist of more than a shared desire to ensure Edward Snowden’s safety. In some dark, ideological wood, Putin the authoritarian gay-basher and Greenwald the gay, leftist-libertarian meet and agree. And as the consensus for reality-based politics fractures, that space becomes ripe for exploitation. It’s precisely this trend that the Kremlin hopes to exploit.
Ultimately, many people in Russia and around the world understand that Russian political parties are hollow and Russian news outlets are churning out fantasies. But insisting on the lie, the Kremlin intimidates others by showing that it is in control of defining ‘reality.’ This is why it’s so important for Moscow to do away with truth. If nothing is true, then anything is possible. We are left with the sense that we don’t know what Putin will do next—that he’s unpredictable and thus dangerous. We’re rendered stunned, spun, and flummoxed by the Kremlin’s weaponization of absurdity and unreality.




How Russia Is Revolutionizing Information Warfare


At the NATO summit in Wales last week, General Philip Breedlove, the military alliance’s top commander, made a bold declaration. Russia, he said, is waging “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg we have ever seen in the history of information warfare.”
It was something of an underestimation. The new Russia doesn’t just deal in the petty disinformation, forgeries, lies, leaks, and cyber-sabotage usually associated with information warfare. It reinvents reality, creating mass hallucinations that then translate into political action. Take Novorossiya, the name Vladimir Putin has given to the huge wedge of southeastern Ukraine he might, or might not, consider annexing. The term is plucked from tsarist history, when it represented a different geographical space. Nobody who lives in that part of the world today ever thought of themselves as living in Novorossiya and bearing allegiance to it—at least until several months ago. Now, Novorossiya is being imagined into being: Russian media are showing maps of its ‘geography,’ while Kremlin-backed politicians are writing its ‘history’ into school textbooks. There’s a flag and even a news agency (in English and Russian). There are several Twitter feeds. It’s like something out of a Borges story—except for the very real casualties of the war conducted in its name.
 

AUTHOR

Peter Pomerantsev is a TV producer based in London. He is the author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible, a forthcoming book about working inside Vladimir Putin’s postmodern dictatorship. Full Bio
The invention of Novorossiya is a sign of Russia’s domestic system of information manipulation going global. Today’s Russia has been shaped by political technologists—the viziers of the system who, like so many post-modern Prosperos, conjure up puppet political parties and the simulacra of civic movements to keep the nation distracted as Putin’s clique consolidates power. In the philosophy of these political technologists, information precedes essence. “I remember creating the idea of the ‘Putin majority’ and hey, presto, it appeared in real life,” Gleb Pavlovsky, a political technologist who worked on Putin’s election campaigns but has since left the Kremlin, told me recently. “Or the idea that ‘there is no alternative to Putin.’ We invented that. And suddenly there really was no alternative.”
“If previous authoritarian regimes were three parts violence and one part propaganda,” argues Igor Yakovenko, a professor of journalism at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, “this one is virtually all propaganda and relatively little violence. Putin only needs to make a few arrests—and then amplify the message through his total control of television.”
We saw a similar dynamic at work on the international stage in the final days of August, when an apparent Russian military incursion into Ukraine—and a relatively minor one at that—was made to feel momentously threatening. Putin invoked the need for talks on the statehood of southeastern Ukraine (with language that seemed almost purposefully ambiguous), leaving NATO stunned and Kiev intimidated enough to agree to a ceasefire. Once again, the term ‘Novorossiya’ made its way into Putin’s remarks, creating the sense that large territories were ready to secede from Ukraine when, in reality, the insurgents hold only a sliver of land. (For an earlier example of these geopolitical tricks, see Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency from 2008 to 2012, when Russia’s decoy leader inspired American faith in the possibility of a westward-facing Russia while giving the Kremlin time to cement power at home and entrench its networks abroad.)
* * *
The belief in the absolute power of propaganda has roots in Soviet thinking. Jacques Ellul, in his classic 1965 study of the subject, wrote, “The Communists, who do not believe in human nature but only in the human condition, believe that propaganda is all-powerful, legitimate (whenever they employ it), and instrumental in creating a new type of man.”
But there is one great difference between Soviet propaganda and the latest Russian variety. For the Soviets, the idea of truth was important—even when they were lying. Soviet propaganda went to great lengths to ‘prove’ that the Kremlin’s theories or bits of disinformation were fact. When the U.S.government accused the Soviets of spreading disinformation—such as the story that the CIA invented AIDS as a weapon—it would cause howls of outrage from top Russian figures, including General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
(Continued at the link below)

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