Sunday, June 16, 2024
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They have ways of making you think . . .


RISHI Sunak’s plans to reintroduce national service for 18-year-olds raised some interesting issues around how we actually conceptualise conflict in an age of ‘fifth generation warfare’ (FGW). For anyone unfamiliar with this term it refers to the control and domination of the mind as opposed to the domination of physical territory. In March this year Armin Krishnan, an Associate Professor and Director of Security Studies at East Carolina University and author of Military Neuroscience and the Coming Age of Neurowarfare (2016) published his latest book Fifth Generation Warfare: Dominating the Human Domain.

He believes that ‘more traditional ideas of war have become too costly and too destructive as a reasonable mechanism for settling disputes between sovereign states’; that whilst conflicts of scale still occur of course (notably in the Ukraine and the Middle East) they are clearly more complex than the international-relations-focused media coverage suggests; and that sovereign aggression is both morally and legally more challenging in the context of today’s international political environment and the emphasis on social justice.  

He identifies a number of trends which suggest that the turn of the decade provided the perfect storm for the global roll-out of a different kind of warfare from that we had been conditioned to believe in, characterised by:

  • The use of propaganda as a direct cultural tool to destabilise and divide populations by inverting previously held truths.
  • The incorporation of AI in mass censorship, disinformation, misinformation and mass surveillance.
  • The disruption, or threatened disruption, of critical supply chains, direct manipulation of markets, cyber-attacks and geo-engineering of the weather.
  • Government policy rollouts under the rubric of ‘science’, rebranding the role of the state to prioritise public health, climate and environmental emergencies.
  • A global revisionism of existing legal frameworks around the status and role of human rights.
  • The scaling back, dismantling and rebranding of welfare services, health and state service provision.
  • The eradication of national borders and easing of immigration restrictions.
  • Increased toxins in food, water and environment. 
  • Increased deployment and political unanimity around lockdowns, travel restrictions, citizen curfews and vaccine passports
  • Targeted control and elimination of the global population through the mass rollout of mRNA vaccines.
  • The centralisation of banking and financial services and the incremental evolution of a social credit system.

Central to this diversification and the modus operandi of ‘softer conflict’, Krishnan argues, is an understanding of the mind, consciousness and the ways in which these can be changed or manipulated. Whilst aggressors throughout history have always sought out different ways of gaining an edge in conflict (MKUltra for example), military strategists are now able to draw on a level of sophistication and understanding of ‘how the world works’ which was not available to previous generations. As well as having access to cutting-edge research on the human mind, architects of modern warfare can also utilise the biological and environmental sciences in ways which fly under the radar of awareness. It is now possible to isolate the wants, needs and desires of human populations, and to engineer specific outcomes, without the majority even being aware of ulterior motives. 

During 2020’s near-global lockdown for example, the targeting of specific emotions such as fear, anger and anxiety were evoked in relentless policy and media campaigns designed to persuade or even make people self-limit their freedoms. Similar emotional triggers have been targeted by the social justice movement, specifically the curtailing of free speech first through the promotion of political correctness and the ‘culture wars’ and later by designating appropriate speech and legislating against other speech.  

Under the guise of a ‘public health intervention’, the vaccinations arguably filled the role of direct physical conflict, particularly as the evidence of the harms these are causing unfolds. The same logic applies to the care-home deaths in 2020, when many died awaiting medical treatment in a roll-out of what effectively came to be euthanasia programmes.

The biggest advantage of the perpetrators of these new methods of engagement used in FGW is that they are not consciously perceived as acts of violence by the majority. Most people do not seem to know, recognise, or acknowledge that they are under attack from motivated and highly organised aggressors – including domestic ones – who have been able to sidestep the battlefield. They have been able to move directly from the violent engagement used in historical warfare and domestic political oppression to what has always been the main objective in any conflict – the manipulation of the enemy (by whatever means necessary) to carry out an imposed will. The current war we are engaged in operates in the background of daily life.

Many willingly took part in the vaccination programmes, complied with house arrests, stopped associating with significant others and readily conformed with social distancing, without questioning the master narrative. Without having mobilising armies, hardware, and expensive weaponry, the protagonists of this agenda were able to present a more convincing and emotive reality – one which most felt compelled to follow and comply with.  

The sophistication of this level of warfare is of course difficult to prove in a material sense. There are no demolished cities, no burning buildings and no mass graves to mark the numbers of the dead. There is also no visible enemy, of course. Politicians hide from view those influencing their agendas, the supranational organisations they help finance, who run global programmes.  

To present the idea that we are at war in this moment, the majority would respond with indignation. They would laugh at the suggestion that national governments, in tandem with global institutions, and elite technocrats, are transforming the world for their own nefarious ends. The association of ‘war’ with more traditional black-and-white means of conflict has meant that the majority will claim they have been acting from their own free will.

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Dr Shane Fudge
Dr Shane Fudge
Dr Shane Fudge has been an academic in the field of environment for 20 years.

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