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In Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power, Josef Pieper made the following observation:

  • It is entirely possible that the true and authentic reality is being drowned out by the countless superficial information bits noisily and breathlessly presented in propaganda fashion. Consequently, one may be entirely knowledgeable about a thousand details and nevertheless, because of ignorance regarding the core of the matter, remain without basic insight . . .  Arnold Gehlen labeled it “a fundamental ignorance, created by technology and nourished by information.”  But, I wanted to say, something far more discouraging is readily conceivable as well:  the place of authentic reality is taken over by fictitious reality; my perception is indeed still directed toward an object, but now it is psuedoreality, deceptively appearing as being real, so much so that it becomes almost impossible any more to discern the truth.

In a 1984 interview, “Deception was My Job,” Soviet PGU KGB asset Yuri Bezmenov spoke of the demoralization phase of subversion operations along lines that resonate with Pieper’s observations:

  • A person who was demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him. Even if I shower him with information with the authentic proof, with documents, with pictures, even if I take him by force to the Soviet Union and show him concentration camp, he will refuse to believe it until he is going to receive a kick in his fat When a military boot crushes his balls, then he will understand. But not before that, that's the tragic (sic. tragedy) of the situation of demoralization. So, basically, America is stuck with demoralization and unless, even if you start right now, here, this minute, you start educating new generation of Americans, it will still take you 15 to 20 years to turn the tide of ideological perception of reality back to normalcy and patriotism. The next stage is destabilization.

In a 1983 interview, “Psychological Warfare Subversion & Control of Western Society,” Bezmenov explained subversion:

  • What subversion is. Basically, it consists of four periods timewise. If we start from here . . . the first stage of subversion is the process which is called basically demoralization. It says for itself what it is . . . So, the moment you bring a country to the point of almost total demoralization, when nothing works anymore, when you are not sure that it's right or wrong, good and bad, where there is no division between evil and good . . .

In the lectures, the point was made that terrorism is often a component of a larger insurgency and generally serves to instantiate established narratives. For example:

  • It was noted that the Special Operations Research Office’s “Insurgency Pyramid” identifies terrorism as a component of insurgency just before covert operations transition to overt – late in the process.
  • The discussion on “Splinter Movement Theory” from Lecture 4 noted how terrorism serves as the violent splinter to the non-violent main actor to position the main actor as moderate.

Using Jonathan R. Whites’ Terrorism and Homeland Security as a point of contrast, the lectures have suggested that the opportunity cost of orienting on narratives on terrorism comes at the price of not undertaking a threat assessment of self-identified threats that self-identify the doctrinal basis they use to justify their actions.

In light of these pointers, does the reliance on such narratives shift a target audience from a reality-based understanding of events to a pseudo-reality-based notion of the same events? Can this suggest a subversion of a counter-terror effort focused on demoralizing not only the counter-terror force but the national will in advance of destabilization efforts, as Bezmenov stated? For professionals involved in the counter-terror effort with a preference for narrative-driven assessments, could this put them at variance with the duty to be competent because they violate the duty to know? Can this put them in violation of Article VI of the Constitution to “support and defend against all enemies”?

On these questions, you are free to take any position you like but are urged to be rigorous and honest with your answers –

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