Is Information the Key in Hybrid Warfare?
Participants in this discussion are Andre Vltchek, a geopolitical analyst, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist, and Dr. James Corum, a retired lieutenant colonel in the 1st US Army who served in Iraq, an air power historian and a scholar of counter-insurgency.
According to Dr Corum, hybrid warfare is not anything new:
“…the American Revolution included economic warfare, diplomacy, propaganda campaigns, all the things we are talking about….so I am always cautious about buzzwords that come along as if they are something new. The Cold War was what you could say hybrid, with proxy wars, propaganda. As to whether the US is doing this or not, I wish we were getting better at it….The one thing that has changed in the last century is communications, which are now happening instantaneously, that is new.”
Andre Vltchek sees information as being incredibly important in the new 21st century weapons box:
“If you see what is happening throughout South America, you see information being used as a very powerful tool for the US to push its agenda throughout the region. People talk about left wing governments in Venezuela and Ecuador, but if you work in one of these countries you realise just how powerful the media is working against socialist reform. CNN in Spanish, for example, is being beamed right across Latin America day and night because broadcasting rights are still in private hands, they belong to private companies which belong to rich families, and they censor left wing information. You cannot listen to RT in South America in English for example; there is limited access in Spanish to left wing channels even in socialist countries.”
Dr. Corum then described socialism, be it in South America or in Russia, as being a bad thing, and made the point that only western democracy and freedom can bring wealth. This point was rejected as being too simplistic and far from the truth as many countries in the world do not want western democracy. Dr. Corum supported his arguments by quoting GDP figures, showing that production in the Baltic States is higher than in Russia. The point was made by the host that the Baltics do depend on EU support and that unemployment in these states is very high.
Andre Vltchek dismissed Dr. Corum’s points as banal examples of disinformation and propaganda. He described how in December and November of last year he was in the Central Asian countries, which have embraced western capitalism. Andre described how the standard of living is collapsing, that it simply is nonsense to say that countries which embrace the West do well. In Kyrgyzstan, Andre said “over 90% of the people that I spoke to are dreaming about the return of something like the Soviet Union. The same thing in Uzbekistan, even in Kazakhstan there is huge nostalgia for the former system….In South America, if socialism was only left alone, it has and is bringing hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty, it is creating new dynamics, but it is being hindered by direct intervention of the US…”
Dr. Corum’s reply is that Central Asian countries are bound to be impoverished because they have never known anything other than dictatorship and controlled economies: That’s why they are going to fail. It’s a cultural issue.” Dr. Cortum appeared to link western democracy with cultural issues, which evokes arguments of the ‘West is Best.’
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Andre made the point that “South America is being colonised in a brutal fashion by the new colonisers, a pattern that is happening all over the world. When people talk about ‘democracy’ they are talking about an extremely small, arrogant, selfish, bunch of people who are actually interested in colonial plunder.”