In June, when it seemed very difficult that such a result will actually happen, it did. Britain voted – with a 52% vote – to leave the European Union. It was a referendum of the British people to see where they stood on this issue.
In the run-up to the Brexit vote, some strange cast of characters were playing valuable roles.
Boris Johnson for one. He is a tantrum-throwing, vile-mouthed, juvenile politician who could say things in your face. And he connected with the most baser values of the British population. He wallowed about jobs and immigrants and everyone who was taking away the British way of life. Well, it did seem to be happening for the “jolly ole’ Brits”. So he did seem correct on that front. Except that his way was almost surely taking Britain into a turmoil that he would not be able handle. And Brits who voted for him in the hope of jobs bonanza get anything out.
Another one was Nigel Farage. He had made a career out of British nationalism and anti-EU sentiments. He was on the front-lines of the Brexit movement and was tipped to be the next UK PM. Of course, when the Brexit vote actually went along his campaign, he chickened out completely.
But there was another actor in the fray that not many know of. Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The Kremlin is actively trying to influence things; the question is how best to do that because you don’t want to do that in a way that’s obvious because it backfires,” Crawford explained to The Daily Beast.
Relations between London and Moscow are already at their lowest ebb since the Cold War, exacerbated by the findings of an official inquiry earlier this year that émigré Alexander Litvinenko had likely been assassinated with radioactive poison on the orders of the Kremlin.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Philip Hammond, the Conservative foreign secretary, have both accused Putin of advocating for Britain to leave the EU, which seemed to infuriate Russia’s embassy in London.
For a PM to accuse another head of state of meddling in his country’s democratic processes via cyberwar & propaganda campaign was unprecedented.
Finally, Theresa May became the British Prime Minister and installed Boris Johnson as the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (or as the Foreign Minister). What does that mean? Let us hear it from another Brit – John Oliver in his extremely interesting style.
The Russian government is meanwhile continuing to meddle with the internal affairs of Britain via a combination of hacking, trolling and fake news. The Times reported this week:
Russia is waging a “campaign” of propaganda and unconventional warfare against Britain, government officials have acknowledged for the first time.
Moscow is behind a concerted drive to undermine the UK through espionage, misinformation, cyberattacks and fake news, senior Whitehall figures believe.
Theresa May will chair a National Security Council session within weeks to examine Russian actions towards Britain and its allies and discuss possible responses.
It is understood that intelligence officers and senior civil servants from across government expressed concern about the growing scale of the Russian threat during a high-level meeting at the Cabinet Office two months ago.
“There was an agreement on the need to do more across Whitehall to understand and assess and formulate options on how to respond to Russian activities,”
With the British vote compromised by an external power and a model perfected and inroads made into the right power and media circles, Russia was now setting its sights onto something bigger – the US Elections. Brexit was the trial run.
What Friendship of KGB-led USSR Meant for India?
Before we proceed further, to put the so-called USSR friendship with India into perspective, let us understand how USSR subverted India.
Here in this video, Yuri Bezmenov , a Russian KGB agent who defected to USA from India discusses in detail how USSR would subvert the Indian political process. He shows, for example, how people like the “great Hindi poet” Sumitranandan Pant were developed into “intellectual prostitutes” (as he calls them) in order to spread ideas that would turn the whole society against its own good.
What the KGB’s Russian successor is now doing via cyber warfare was done in India – and other countries – by USSR long back, from the beginning of our independence.
Just that earlier they used conferences, vodkas, women, awards and positions to lure “intellectuals” and make them infiltrate the society so that they could turn people against their own country. And now they are using fake stories, misinformation and cyber-attacks.
The fundamental ways are the same – turn the society against its own good. Yuri discusses how KGB’s 85% money went into the propaganda work in a way to destabilize the society. There are steps to destabilize a nation if the correct buttons are pushed.
Any such ideological warfare consists of 4 steps, the way KGB plays it.
- Demoralize a nation (15-20 years): Expose your ideology to your nation’s “soft heads”. At the higher stage, the citizens of that country start brainwashing their own countrymen.
- Destabilization (2-5 years): does not care about your patterns. Essentials are attacked – Defense, Economy and Polity.
- Crisis (6 weeks): bring a country to crisis in such a way that violent change happens, which is followed by the next stage.
- Normalization (infinite period): This is “tongue-in-cheek” and cynical. Because Normalization means adherence of the enemy country to your own ideology. The people who were instrumental in bringing the enemy country to this stage are “lined up against the wall and shot dead”.
Of course, the use of technology and internet may have greatly shortened the whole time-frame in trying to subvert the whole society.
Russia’s Army of Online Ideological Warfare
The online ideological warfare is far more devious and destructive than the offline version of it. It doesn’t need to send any spies or have expensive resources. It just needs the online presence and an army of people online creating and sharing content that is shared with the special targets to contaminate minds in a far deeper manner than otherwise.
The process is similar. However, the idea is NOT to create gentile looking people. Rather it is about creating in-your-face-rabble rousers. And this is how the process goes:
- Identify social fissures and “Hot-spots”: Every society, no matter which, has its weaknesses which inculcate peeves and pains in the minds of many. The first point is to identify those areas.
- Prioritize Absolute ‘Hate-rousing” Issues: There are just one or two issues that raise the hatred to a whole new level. Any discussion which seems even conciliatory is considered blasphemous. Its either the “hate-way” or nothing. These become the central piece of the model.
- Accentuate Livelihood issues: It is important to use the livelihood issues as the base of the whole campaign. Keep that as the wide base of the whole movement – bringing a change for more jobs, more money etc. And in this – specially in the Western world – it is important to link it to nostalgia. The glorious past. Whether it is “manufacturing jobs” of the rust-belt or the empire’s glory and great power of “Great Britain”.
- Prop “Lightning Rods” as Leaders: It is not enough to have those pain-points identified, they need to be mined. For this you need people who are strong-headed and are willing to say and do anything for their ideological end. Even if it clearly harms the country. In such a scenario, a person who is either completely ideologically compromised (on the side of the perpetrator) or one who has no ideology and is in for money but can deliver the goods with enough careless nonchalance is made the leader.
- Technical backup of Espionage and Misinformation: It is not just pure espionage for the purpose of stealing secrets clandestinely. But to use that information along with a lot of prejudices and biases to create a web of alternative news and opinion Universe that creates an Army of polarized and passionate citizens who can simply be used very effectively in the fight to create anarchy and tear down institutions.
- Take control of the polity: Once the perpetrator (intelligence agency) has the right kind of head of state installed – who is friendly and having a formal agreement as well as malleable, then he can be used to do what the intelligence always wanted to do themselves. This can include breaking down agreements, policies, coalitions and organizations that are not liked by the attacking intelligence. NATO is one such organization that Russia would love to weaken and, if possible, tear down. Something they are well on their way to do.
The whole operations of the intelligence’s technical army is to create distractions and scale that makes every small action magnify and misinformation seem like the truth.
One can gauge the scale of cyber-warfare by the Russian technical army by how they have used fake sites and users to even earn revenue from ads that no one watched – something to the tune of $5 million a DAY!
In a twist on the peddling of fake news to real people, researchers say a Russian cyberforgery ring has created more than half a million fake internet users and 250,000 fake websites to trick advertisers into collectively paying as much as $5 million a day for video ads that are never watched.
So this kind of web of fake sites which can generate such a huge amount of money not just earns money – paying for the espionage operations but also creates the foundation for the delivery of fake news and propaganda.
White Supremacist World and Our Place in it?
We have already seen how Austrian leader, Heinz-Christian Strache; Trump’s NSA pick Michael Flynn and Vladimir Putin have come together in a ‘’”cooperation agreement”. Strache being the guy who is the head of a party started by ex-Nazi officials.
With the subversion of electoral processes in Austria, Italy, Britain and the US by Russian establishment while shepharding all of these in a White Supremacist direction – the future is pointing to a very unstable situation where colonial tendencies will swell once more. The Supremacists will aim for complete take-over and unbending control of economy and polity around the world.
For years and decades, Russia has been dictating the Indian polity via propaganda and political buy-outs. There are enough material from declassified documents (Mitrokhin Archives) on how many senior Indian leaders and politicians were on KGB payroll.
The second of the two books, The Mitrokhin Archives II: the KGB in the World by Professor Andrew and Mr. Motrokhin has chapters on India, in which they claim extensive infiltration of the KGB into government, political and media networks.
The book caused a political uproar in 2005 in India when it was published as it alleged among other things that several prominent communist and non-communist Indian leaders, including Indira Gandhi, were on the payroll of the KGB.
Influence of Russia is visible on so many Indian wars – including most critically the 1965 Indo-Pak war where Lal Bahadur Shastri was most likely assassinated in Tashkent after signing decidedly the most incredibly idiotic agreement! Read The Betrayal of Tashkent in 1965 for more details on that.
India’s Global Plan and the Russian Reprimand at CPEC
In the past few years, specially after PM Modi came in, India has hooked itself strongly with US and is also flexing its regional muscle and trying to check-mate China’s designs (which is Russia’s partner in many ways). Russia had India almost as a satellite nation for many decades with so many top leaders bought out.
Now when India wants to get out of the shadows to assert itself, Russia is obviously feeling the withdrawal pangs. So after the last few months of Modi’s prominent and bold blitzkrieg around the world, Russia after being cagey and tip-toeing around the sensitivities on India’s part is now out in the open with its plans on its relationship with India.
After it officially denied reports+ that it had shown any interest in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Moscow has not just declared strong support for the China-funded project but also announced its intention to link its own Eurasian Economic Union project with CPEC.
This hits at the very core of India’s integrity. CPEC is an affront to India’s Kashmir stance – since the entire Kashmir – PoK and J&K – is India’s territory contractually which Pakistan has taken over. Since Pakistan has handed part of that territory to China, CPEC has become a way to formalize the encroachment by China and Pakistan. That is why India has stepped into Balochistan struggle and is also working hard to develop the Chahabahar port in Iran – as a counter-weight to Gwadar.
For Russia to throw its weight behind CPEC and also extend it for a larger geo-political role is to bring Pakistan – which is being undermined by India – back into play!
But that plays into the game plan of Putin. “If you ain’t with us, you are against us”. And in any case, Russia is more interested in hegemony that spans the Soviet empire they once had.
.In the ensuing change of events that are heralding a future of aggressive and racist Western world along with flexing of muscles by them and their coalition, India is looking at some tough times. India’s democracy and the very integrity will be at stake. There may even come a time, when it would be important to debate whether democracy is indeed a good idea within India or is it going to existentially damage it. It will be ditto for US as well, although in a very different way.
Lets hope people have the sagacity to handle those times wisely.