This Street Prophets Coffee Hour is brought to you by Professor Joseph S Nye. Today’s article, Soft Warfare Theory, is part 13 of 15 in a series about figuring out just what is going on in American politics. It will be about how we got to where we are now. And hopefully present a story of where we should be going. Along the way we will take a look at Russia, the U.S. 2016 Presidential election, Memes and Fiction, Network Propaganda, soft warfare, and cyberwarfare.
This is an Open Thread and all topics of conversation are welcome. What is for dinner? How are you doing? What is on your mind. If you are new to Street Prophets please introduce yourself below in a comment.
The thesis of this series is simple: A number of American Religions have become weaponized and are moving American politics towards totalitarianism. To fight this trend this series has been looking at the available literature that describes the phenomenon in the hope that understanding it better will help us counteract this trend.
Russia is leading the way in weaponizing Religion and it is an example of what America needs to avoid. Russia has fully bought and paid for a national Religion, The Russian Orthodox Church, that has become an instrument of the state to control the citizens of Russia. Noted historian Timothy Snyder, mentioned frequently in the this series, states that Americans can see our potential future by observing what is occurring in Russia today.
Snyder sees Trump as very much a junior partner in a larger Russian project, less a cause, more an effect. He worries, too, that slowly before Trump—and rapidly after Trump—America is becoming like Russia: a country on a path to economic oligarchy and distorted information. Trump’s attitude to truth again and again reminds Snyder of the Russian ruling elite: The Russian television network RT “wished to convey that all media lied, but that only RT was honest by not pretending to be truthful.”
The Atlantic: The Great Russian Disinformation Campaign
Professor Joseph S Nye is credited for introducing the concept of “soft power” and as a member of the Foreign Affairs Policy Board and the Defense Policy Board during the Obama Administration he was able to influence American foreign policy.
Joseph Samuel Nye Jr. (born January 19, 1937) is an American political scientist. He is the co-founder, along with Robert Keohane, of the international relations theory of neoliberalism, developed in their 1977 book Power and Interdependence. Together with Keohane, he developed the concepts of asymmetrical and complex interdependence. They also explored transnational relations and world politics in an edited volume in the 1970s. More recently, he explained the distinction between hard power and soft power, and pioneered the theory of soft power. His notion of "smart power" ("the ability to combine hard and soft power into a successful strategy") became popular with the use of this phrase by members of the Clinton Administration, and more recently the Obama Administration.
Wikipedia: Joseph Nye
I find it a bit ironic that the best summary of “Soft Warfare Theory” I could find for this series was in the Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research. It was authored by Seyyed Ali Mortazavi Emami, Seyed Javad Emamjomehzadeh, Hosein Harsij and Hosein Masoudnia. All members of the Department of Political Science, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran. Unfortunately the document is not licensed under a creative commons license so beyond the fold I can only quote three long excerpts. Click here for PDF of Soft Warfare Theory.
I brought Joseph Nye into the conversation because the authors of “Soft Warfare Theory” credit him for the basis of the theories they present on soft warfare. If ever there is a “slippery slope” the transition from hard power to soft power and on to soft warfare is a downward side the world is caught up in.
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Soft Warfare Theory
Absolutely central to this series is the brilliant article by fellow Kos Member ursulafaw called Mike Pence Is A Theocrat. His Christian Supremacist Followers Seek To Take Over America. Seriously. This article published on Monday January 02, 2017 clearly details the threat of weaponized Religion in the United States.
Pence's start in radio came when he lost a second Congressional race in 1988 and was commiserating in his law office when he got a call from a Rushville, Indiana woman, Sharon Disinger, who made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Disinger wanted Pence to host a talk show on her small radio station in Rush County. Disinger told Pence that his hero, Ronald Reagan got his start in radio; and it goes without saying that Pence had other heros, notably Rush Limbaugh, whose fame on the airwaves Pence openly aspired to.
Daily Kos article by ursulafaw: Mike Pence Is A Theocrat. His Christian Supremacist Followers Seek To Take Over America. Seriously.
Network Propaganda, the Harvard / Oxford study covered last week in part 12, touched upon the importance of the creation of the economic base that Religious TV shows and Right wing radio played in building the base of cult members for Fox News to conscript as as armaments in the Republican war on the Constitution of the United States. The study also identified Fox News as the principal vector of this encroachment on democracy. And I would say “Life Itself.” (More on this in the closing part 16 of this series called, The Politics of Structural Stability.)
Below is the abstract of “Soft Warfare Theory” and think about how the Republicans have used all the techniques identified in this document.
Abstract: The upheavals resulting from softwarfare are calm, mental, gradual and soft warfare. This war is along with calmness and without physical methods and is imposed using lobbying and persuasion under accepted laws without agitating and producing sensitivity. Propaganda, media, parties, NGOs, cultural, artistic and educational centers and … are tools of imposing this kind of war. The designers of soft war are acting in three social, cultural and political fields. Utilizing its indirect pattern and geopolitical environments which is more in regions of the Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Central Europe is considered as the signs of soft warfare in strategic behavior. Civil disobediences and color revolutions are the most important approaches of soft warfare. The quiddity and quality of soft warfare and the investigation of its feature, approaches and indices are the most important objectives of the present study.
Soft Warfare Theory: Click here for PDF of Soft Warfare Theory.
Liberty University is an example of a brainwashing and recruitment softwarfare army basic training camp. And the Seven Mountains Doctrine of the Dominion Theology movement take the three fields mentioned above and expands it to seven: Religion, Family,Education, Government, Media, Arts & Entertainment and Business. See this Daily Kos article by Daily Kos member jamess: Dominionism Theology: "Be Fruitful, and Take Over the Seven Mountains of Society ..."
Soft warfare can be known like any other phenomenon in three dimensions:
- The internal nature and logic of soft power which refers to any effort to influence "fundamental beliefs and values" accepted by the target country.
- The intention and application of this influencing, "transformation of cultural identity" and" destruction of political pattern".
- Tools of imposing will and advancing objectives in the war of "soft power" of the opponent and hostile country.
From this brief discussion, it can be concluded that soft warfare covers phenomena such as "cultural invasion", psychological operations", civil disturbances", "globalization of culture" and so on. From these definitions it can be obtained that:
- Soft warfare is a deliberate and pre-established action.
- It includes different territories such as cultural, political, economic and social ones.
- The main intention of the actors of soft warfare is "changes in cultural identity" and "destruction of present political patterns", which is fulfilled by influencing basic beliefs and vies in the long term.
- The range of soft warfare does not limit only to people but it target statesmen and elites.
- Finally, soft warfare depends on the resources of "soft power", "non-violent methods" and "persuasive and accompanying power"
Soft Warfare Theory: Click here for PDF of Soft Warfare Theory.
While the document in today’s discussion, Soft Warfare Theory, was principally about the “color Revolutions” every point discussed in it can be applied to the situation we find ourselves in today here in the united states. And note that the Oxford / Harvard study, Network Propaganda, came conclusion that the the greatest threat to America is domestic.
One recalls Adolph Hitler and the rise of German Fascism. Hitler started out preaching his form of political gospel in the beer halls of Germany, where he frequently got a standing ovation. He honed his message there. Word of Hitler's speaking came to the ears of Dietrich Eckart, who was a famous German playwright and political activist, specifically the founder of the German Workers' Party. Eckhart was also an occultist and the occult society that he belonged to had predicted the coming of a "German Messiah" who would lead the workers forward. Think of Eckhart as Morpheus and Hitler as Neo from "The Matrix" and you have the concept. So Eckhart, mesmerized by Hitler and wealthy and influential, convinced his equally wealthy and influential friends to embrace Hitler as "the One" and they did; and put their bank accounts behind Hitler and got him onto the radio and into the newsreels as well. Hitler and his followers took Eckhart's Workers' Party and morphed it into the Nazi Party.
In parallel fashion, Mike Pence and the Republicans took the party of conservatism and morphed it into the party of nationalism, i.e., white supremacy. Groups which were previously "fringe" in the Republican Party, to wit the Nazis and the KKK, heretofore languishing and diminishing in numbers, found themselves in 2016 flourishing in a way unprecedented in this century and most of the last. There is a thread of commonality shared by the Nazis and the KKK, which is of course, white supremacy. The white supremacy theme is amplified and echoed by the Christian Supremacists, (or “evangelicals”) who also see the “traditional” white race, people of Northern European descent and with a bible in hand, as God’s Chosen People.
Lastly, I want to reflect on my personal experience in Berkeley, during the Peoples Park protests in 1969. This was during the national guard occupation ordered by Ronald Regan. I was in the streets and tear gassed. I can still hear helicopters overhead. And feel the helplessness of the moment. The chaos of the crowds confronting officers in full was a nightmare. You have to live through something like that to understand the power of civil disturbances. My life was effected to this day.
Civil Disturbances and Soft Warfare: When is "disturbances" considered as "soft warfare"? Some authors and researchers are to answer this question; in their opinions, civil disturbances against the governor's oppression is a kind of threat and war. They, to confirm their claim, emphasize some particular points. First that, any kind of disturbance results in the violation of governing norms and discipline. Second, people, by participating in complaining gatherings because of factors such as "losing personal identity", responsibility", anonymousness" and stimulating impulses" are not capable to control damaging actions and irritating behaviors. Hence, they violate laws obviously, destruct public properties, fight with state officials and invade the basic values of the society. The third is that many of parties and groups involved in the process of civil disturbances are opponents of the system governing on their society and are to accompany people with them and make the government retreat step by step. The fourth is that there are evidences that indicate that many of the actions are managed. Therefore, the consideration of civil disturbance as civil warfare seems a true one; but this consideration can be considered as a method of soft warfare for overthrowing a political system. In other words, this consideration of soft warfare is limited to political dimension and does not cover other dimensions of soft warfare.
Soft Warfare Theory: Click here for PDF of Soft Warfare Theory.
I had the opportunity to attend the NN14 in Detroit and went out to participate in the staged march for water rights. The whole time the march was occurring all I could think of was my Berkeley experience. When I was charged by the National Guard lobbing tear gas at me I escaped up Channing Street, just off of Telegraph Ave., and found my self at the door of a shop keeper. For some reason the door opened and me and my friends were let in to hide in the shop.
When things calmed down we retreated up to the coffee house on Bowditch that I worked at on the weekends. George the manager of the Lutheran Student Center that hosted the coffee shop was busy running a pepper spray clean up service. We got cleaned up and stayed to help others.
This was a turning point for me. I’m sorry to say I became disillusion with politics and government and up until the Netroots march in Detroit I had been subconsciously avoiding marches and protests. Yes I went to many, but always as an observer. I’m into video and I always maintained a distance from the crowd with a wary eye out for trouble. At the Netroots march I was on the sidelines shooting video.
Maybe I’m changing a bit. I attended a March for Native American Rights in San Francisco with Meteor Blades, jpmassar, navajo , and citisven. And I did march a bit. But again I held back and played cameraman until about half way through the short march. There was something reassuring about marching with Meteor Blades. But make no mistake I would not have marched if the police were not so professional and out in full force. See my diary on the march: San Francisco March for Native American Rights - March 10, 2017 (Photos & Personal Reflections).
I would say the People Park protests and the reaction of Ronald Reagan qualifies as an example of soft warfare as defined above. Maybe I’m wrong if so everyone is welcome to point that out in the comments below. My only redemption is my current activism on Daily Kos over the last 12 years.