Dominating the Information Space: The Narrative Floats Into Fantasy

Mass-data cloud analysis has become the new type modus operandi, vice basing forecasts on a psychological profiling of others’ innate natures.

What we have been witnessing began on 3 December 2021 when the Washington Post signalled a massing of Russian troops for an invasion of Ukraine. The Post reinforced its case by showcasing big numbers of Russian troops.

Biden duly played the part of ‘true believer’ (it is possible that he is), ordering the recent evacuations from embassies in Ukraine and Belarus. He told President Zelensky in late January that Kiev would almost certainly be ‘sacked’ and that many would die; “brace for impact” sometime soon, probably in February, he warned.

Then came the unexpected jolt: The Ukrainian President – America’s man; America’s ally – said: ‘Cut it out. It’s not true’. You’re panicking people. At that moment, the Biden invasion narrative wobbled, and might have crashed. Kiev was playing it super cool, whilst Washington and London were still in a frenzy.

The Biden Team felt that Zelensky had flubbed his performance; he appeared to be unaware of his proper role. “We’re his most important ally and he’s poking us in the eye – and creating daylight between Washington and Kyiv”, said a senior administration official. “It’s self-sabotage more than anything else”.

What is more surprising is that the Biden Team was so shocked. Biden had already ruled: ‘No American boots on the ground’. Kiev Embassies were being emptied and moved to Lviv near the Polish border – leaving the unmistakeable image of an Ukraine officially abandoned by the West. Jake Sullivan then doubled-down, doing the Sunday TV talk-shows, saying the invasion could happen at any moment.

What was expected from Zelensky? To order the armed forces to prepare to fight the Russian army, as western officials, soldiers, and businessmen all fled? Actually, apart from oligarchs fleeing in their private jets, Ukraine is remarkably quiet; there is unease, yes, but Kiev restaurants are full.

So, why this insistence that Russia definitely would invade, especially when Moscow repeated ad infinitum that there was no such plan, and there were indeed sound reasons to believe Moscow (100,000 troops might be enough to invade a country; it is not nearly enough numbers subsequently to occupy it)?

Did the U.S. truly have secret intelligence to support the invasion meme; or alternatively, was there some intelligence fabricator out there somewhere, doing a Curveball? (Agent ‘Curveball’ fabricated reports of Saddam Hussein’s mobile bio-labs producing weapons of mass destruction in the lead up to the 2006 Iraq war and we’ve seen that has happened since in Iraq … ).

The Anglo-sphere ‘came-on strongly’: On 11 February, Sullivan said the U.S. was ‘seeing signs’ of Russian escalation and that there was a “credible prospect” of immediate military action. Other officials said the announcement was prompted by new intelligence that signaled an invasion could begin as soon as Wednesday 16 February. Boris Johnson jumped on the bandwagon, too. And Blinken is still at it.

But this invasion prediction, American officials said, was very different from others. Washington’s claims about Russia’s troop buildup had been confirmed by commercial satellite imagery of a quality previously unavailable. The details of Moscow’s secret disinformation plots, it was alleged, were in line with the Kremlin’s propaganda campaigns that play out on social media platforms – and had been tracked by independent researchers.

“We have learned a lot, especially since 2014, about how Russia uses the information space as part of its overall security and military apparatus,” said Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the NSC. “And we have learned a lot about how to deny them impact in that space.” “I think it is great,” added Beth Sanner, a former top intelligence official who regularly briefed President Trump. “My guess is that these disclosures are freaking the Kremlin and the security services out”.

Really? From what we know, they seem to be jesting at Western hysteria in the Kremlin, more than ‘freaking-out’. But haven’t we heard this “this time it’s different” story before? Is this not Afghanistan reprised? Recall that Afghanistan was turned into a testbed for every single innovation in technocratic project management, with each innovation heralded as precursor to our wider future. Big data, AI and the utilization of ever expanding sets of technical and statistical metrics, were to topple old ‘stodgy’ assessment. Military sociology and other innovative creations were unleashed to bring order to chaos.

Well, we know how that big data-AI intelligence approach ended. It folded in days, in a huge débacle. And now we are told Ukraine’s mooted invasion analysis derives from commercial imagery and AI-led multiple-variable analysis of the Russian use of the ‘information space’. “An even more important lesson, according to former officials, was Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election”.

Is the U.S. really interpreting Moscow’s present intentions towards Ukraine from this old de-bunked 2016 chestnut? (Shades of the ‘Team B’ intelligence team scam, during the Dick Cheney years in which it was claimed that understanding the deep nature implanted in Russians, displaced the need for evidential intelligence).

How come this shift to mass data, cloud computing (apart from fashion, that is)? Maybe it is linked to the following (per NYT):

“U.S. counterintelligence officials warned [in October] every C.I.A. station and base around the world, about troubling numbers of informants recruited to spy for the United States being captured or killed … C.I.A.’s counterintelligence mission center had looked at dozens of cases in the last several years … The cable highlighted the struggle the spy agency is having as it works to recruit spies around the world in difficult operating environments. In recent years, adversarial intelligence services in countries such as RussiaChinaIran and Pakistan have been hunting down the C.I.A.’s sources and in some cases turning them into double agents” (Emphasis added).

“To understand the Biden Team thinking on Ukraine [however], we must go back to April”, Professor David Hendrickson argues. “When the first great U.S. scare about a Russian invasion occurred – in the the preceding year, significantly, Azerbaijan had demonstrated in its conflict with Armenia, that Turkish and Israeli drones could smash entrenched positions and rout the defenders. The Atlantic Council, the eyrie of Washington’s Ukraine hawks, immediately noted the relevance of this demonstrated new capability – to the frozen conflict in the Donbas”.

“The recent conflict in the South Caucasus was a clash between Azerbaijan’s twenty-first century tactics and Armenia’s twentieth century military. The result was a rout. NATO member Turkey’s superior military training and equipment gave Azerbaijan a decisive edge and completely overwhelmed Armenian forces with their Russian training and supplies”, the Atlantic piece argued.

“The new team at the White House, closely following a script announced by the Atlantic Council, declared that Crimea and the Donbas must be put back on the table. That meant, as explained by a Biden official, a “very extensive and almost constant focus on Ukraine – from day one.”

Is this Atlantic Council notion – that the Azeri-Armenian conflict provides a blueprint for Ukraine to use Turkish drones to defeat the Donbas forces – at the root of today’s invasion fantasy? Notably, on 3 April 2021, Ukraine’s military announced on Facebook that military exercises would be conducted with five NATO powers in Ukraine’s eastern regions later in the year: “In particular,” it said, “defensive actions will be worked out, in order to restore the state border …”.

(Professor Hendrickson again): “Russia’s callup of reserves – which both now and in April, was interpreted by U.S. intelligence as reflecting plans for a gigantic invasion – [which was said to be] in direct response to these three important developments: a ‘startling new demonstration’ of the effectiveness of drone-led offensive operations, a new U.S. posture toward Ukraine-related issues that was far more aggressive than Trump’s, and the declaration by Ukraine’s military that they were working on a plan to drive the Russians out of the occupied territories”.

However, “when Biden said in December that the United States would not commit forces to Ukraine in the event of a war, he cut the legs from under this plan”.

“The United States now vehemently denies that there was any idea of retaking the Donbas by force, and that this is an invention of Russian propagandists … [However] It is obvious that Ukraine’s military has sought an Azerbaijani-like capability in the past year, and little doubt that the United States has facilitated the acquisition of it. But it is equally obvious that no such plan can be put in motion, if the U.S. attitude is what Biden and Blinken said it was in December” – no U.S. boots on the ground.

“The Ukrainians had been optimistic about getting such a pledge from the Americans during the previous year – that is, getting an American backstop if they sought to regain their lost territories by force, replaying the Georgia option of 2008; but this time with American guarantees. Their hopes were now deflated. Hence Zelensky’s taunt: just tell straight out that we cannot join NATO: That is, that you intend to leave us in the lurch with regard to our lost territories”.

With the passing – peacefully – of the 16 February date for the mooted Russian invasion, it seems Biden was wrong and Zelensky was right, though Biden – and Blinken this Thursday at the UN Security Council – doubled down again, even to the extent of raising the hoary old spectre of a false-flag use of chemical weapons. There will be no Russian invasion of Ukraine, although the situation is sufficiently fraught that clashes within Ukraine between the parties could easily precipitate a wider crisis in which Russia would support Donbas, but not through invasion.

One question lingers: What was this ‘imminent invasion’ really about? Did Jake Sullivan et al believe in their data-driven invasion narrative (absent more solid foundations), or was that all that it was: the crafting a meme to dominate the information space – to the advantage of Biden and his poll ratings – and to distract from his domestic shortcomings?

That indeed, is exactly what Nancy Pelosi is saying:

Well, I think we have to be prepared for it. And that is what the president is — yes, I do believe that he is prepared for an invasion. I also understand why the President of Ukraine wants to keep people calm and that he wants his economy not to suffer. But, on the other hand, if we were not threatening the sanctions, and the rest, it would guarantee that Putin would invade. Let’s hope that diplomacy works.

It’s about diplomacy deterrence. Diplomacy deterrence. And the president’s made it very clear. There’s a big price to pay for Russia to go there. So, if Russia doesn’t invade, it’s not that he never intended to. It’s just that the sanctions worked” … “I’m very proud of the work that the president has done”.

Possibly, the answer is even more banal: The Biden Team is desperate for a foreign policy ‘win’. They have, however, not shown themselves adept in the foreign policy field. Maybe initially, they toyed a while with the Atlantic Council fantasy, but Moscow’s almost unbelievably slick overnight response to the attempted coup in Kazakhstan should have convinced Team Biden that the former was indeed pure fantasy. Maybe then, they decided to go with fantasy alone. (There was not much else to leverage).

And this Kazakhstan wobble (after the Zelensky “Cut it out” retort) seems to have caused Team Biden to embrace two oppositional poles, at the same time: One, pointing toward a posture of total hostility and suspicion towards Putin, including personally; and a second one – super-cautious, stopping so far short of war that the Ukrainians feel abandoned. This approach is not working well for the Ukrainians – nor for an increasingly sceptical Europe.

By any yardstick, this has not been a felicitous piece of work. Team Biden will likely stick with trying to dominate the information space with its invasion meme and will continue to claim that any non-invasion proves how they successfully deterred Putin.

The moral of this episode was encapsulated by an insightful American professor who told me some years ago that the U.S. leadership had almost entirely lost the capacity for empathy. ‘Otherness’ had become ‘a closed book’. Russia, China and Iran were incomprehensible absent any empathy, but America’s élites had come to believe that simply if they collected enough mass-data points, they could compensate for this lack of empathy, and would be able to predict and forecast Russian or Iranian intentions. In other words, mass-data cloud analysis has become the new ‘Team B’ type modus operandi, vice basing forecasts on a psychological profiling of others’ innate natures .

Dominating the Information Space: The Narrative Floats Into Fantasy

0 thoughts on “Dominating the Information Space: The Narrative Floats Into Fantasy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *