In an article published last week titled “US working with ‘Five Eyes’ nations, Japan on information warfare,” a publication on military intelligence and communications technology called C4ISRNET reports that the US and its allies are collaborating “to share and sharpen information-warfare techniques in the Indo-Pacific” with the goal of “countering” the “increasingly aggressive China.”
Here’s an excerpt:
Dialogues and exchanges of best practices are ongoing with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and other countries including Japan, according to Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, commander of Naval Information Forces.
“I want to say we have at least a dozen countries or so that are either establishing information warfare programs, or are interested in partnering further in the information warfare realm,” she said Feb. 15 at the West 2023 conference in San Diego. “We are leaning in there, we are focused.”
Japan, specifically, has expressed significant interest in information warfare, “in a really positive way,” Aeschbach told C4ISRNET. Japan and Australia, among others, are considered critical U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific, a region national security officials are invested in as they seek to counter an increasingly aggressive China.
Libertarian Institute’s Kyle Anzalone and Connor Freeman have a good write-up on this latest revelation in which they explain that information warfare is “a broad swath of military operations a country can use to disrupt another” which “can include spreading disinformation or preventing the spread of information.”
As Anzalone and Freeman note, one significant recent instance of the US government’s acknowledged use of information warfare was when US officials told NBC News that the US government has been deliberately circulating unsubstantiated information to western news media “as part of an information war against Russia.”
Which is to say, they lied. When you do things like telling New York Times reporters that “Russia asked China to give it military equipment and support for the war in Ukraine after President Vladimir V. Putin began a full-scale invasion last month,” only to have NBC report that you knew this claim “lacked hard evidence,” you lied. You used your country’s mass media institutions to circulate disinformation.
Which is of course standard operating procedure for the US empire; the mass media have always been propaganda institutions used to manufacture consent for the economic and geopolitical status quo upon which the media-owning class has built its empire. Propaganda is nothing new, including propaganda against China. The difference now is that empire managers are getting increasingly comfortable with publicly acknowledging this fact, probably because the notion that the west needs to fight its own “information war” against its enemies has been gaining increasingly widespread traction since 2016.
And as I keep reiterating, the bizarre thing about this belief is that the propaganda from empire-targeted governments has virtually zero existence in the western world, while western propaganda dominates our information ecosystem. Before RT was shut down it was drawing just 0.04 percent of the UK’s total TV audience. The much-touted Russian election interference campaign on Facebook was mostly unrelated to the election and affected “approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content” according to Facebook, while research by New York University into Russian trolling behavior on Twitter in the lead-up to the 2016 election found “no evidence of a meaningful relationship between exposure to the Russian foreign influence campaign and changes in attitudes, polarization, or voting behavior.” A study by the University of Adelaide found that despite all the warnings of Russian bots and trolls following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the overwhelming majority of inauthentic behavior on Twitter during that time was anti-Russian in nature.
So we can expect to see a multinational coordinated propaganda campaign against China, which could easily eclipse the anti-China propaganda campaign we’ve seen thus far, and could easily end up making the one against Russia look like child’s play.
It should infuriate everyone that our rulers are now flagrantly admitting that they manipulate our information environment to advance their own strategic interests. The only reason it doesn’t is because westerners are already so propagandized to the gills that the notion that our rulers should lie to us for our own good has gained so much traction that the empire can now openly imprison journalists for trying to tell us the truth.
In writing this practice is called “lampshading”, where you defuse any objection your audience might have to a glaring plot hole in your narrative by simply acknowledging that it’s there and then moving on. In this case the audience is every news-consuming person in the western world, and the narrative is the story the west has about itself.
Everything the western empire accuses its enemies of doing, it itself does far more egregiously. Westerners think of people in China as brainwashed victims of propaganda and censorship living in a power-serving homogenized information bubble, but that’s exactly what’s happening in our own society. And what’s worse, most westerners don’t even know it. And what’s even worse, they have the temerity to feel self-righteous about what free-thinking and free-speaking individualists they are compared to people in China.