Cognitive warfare is a convergence of information warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; electronic warfare; psychological operations; and cyber operations with a digital and networked infrastructure.
Bangalore: On the occasion of our 75th anniversary of independence, Prime Minister Modi said that India is fighting both terrorism and expansionism and is also responding with firmness and restraint. India has been on the defensive and restrained all these days. Neither masterful inactivity, the Gandhian methods, nor the mother of all bombs (MOAB) will solve our problem. Democratic forces and plural societies are unable to agree on the definition of a terrorist nor to resist trade gains from trading with autocratic regimes and unfortunately follow the ancient Japanese proverb “see no evil, hear no evil. wrong, say nothing â. and accept unethical and violent behavior. Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist said: âStrategy without tactics is the slowest path to victory. Tactics without strategy is noise before defeat. Strategy is the overall plan of action to achieve a goal and involves a series of effective tactics i.e. steps, actions or maneuvers. We need unity, a clear goal, a strong collaborative strategy with innovative tactics for successful cognitive warfare.
WAR BY A THOUSAND CUPS: “Bleeding India with a thousand cuts” is Pakistan’s military doctrine. Occupy India with a thousand slices of salami and map aggression is Chinese military strategy. They are both efforts to wear down psychologically and divide a democratic and plural India, hoping that it will give in like the United States, the other great democracy, after regime change led by an electoral debacle. The insurgents and the Naxalites are trying to cut up the nation and society from within. It is high time to move from today’s “wars of attrition” to wars of cognition, to quote US Air Force General David L. Goldfein.
COGNITIVE WARFARE: Cognitive Warfare (CW) is a convergence of Information Warfare (IW), Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Electronic Warfare (EW), Psychological Operations (PSYOPS ) and cyber operations (CO) with a digital and networked infrastructure. “Beijing is using ‘cognitive warfare’ to influence Taiwanese public opinion by feeding it misinformation,” warns a report by Lawrence Chung in the South China Morning Post. Cognitive dissonance is psychological tension or arousal caused by conflicting thoughts or perceptions (cognition) (dissonance). It usually happens when attitudes, feelings, ideas, beliefs, values ââconflict with awareness of inconsistent behavior and perception (what is seen or heard). People become motivated to reduce this mental strain. Extremists offer choice clarity between black and white without any confusion about choosing moderate shades of gray. Cognitive dissonance, empathy, and collective relative deprivation are known motivations for individuals to choose jihad. Jihadist elements have long used social media and modern technology to indoctrinate and fund their efforts to violently force the entire world back to medieval times. India must identify the enemies inside and outside of our society and our nation, understand their psychology and support structure, and then proactively wage battle against them through modern cognitive warfare.
ILLUSIONS AND TROUBLES: Indoctrination and mind control by our adversaries, brainwashing of gullible people to believe they have a more important purpose in life to protect their religion or party. They don’t realize that their mind is being manipulated to serve religious cultists or a bully. Even a suicide bomber is made to believe in heavenly rewards. When religion or party becomes more important than governance, humanity suffers. A network of volunteer “White Hat” hackers can constantly monitor the net, identify the trail of digital money, the arms and narcotics trade, indoctrination websites and social media propaganda, and then hack them. and stop them. The dark web must also be watched. Total cyber warfare is needed.
IMPORTANCE OF MIDDLE CLASS AND MODERATES: India’s greatest strength has been its professional armed forces supported by all Indians, passionately defending itself through thick and thin. The moderate majority and large middle class are a great source of social stability in a very diverse country and society. Our enemies are trying to divide these moderate centrist forces into left and right extremists. âKnowledge can never imprison you, but you can be a prisoner of your ignorance,â AE Samaan said. An ongoing information and education campaign by a cross section of society will help neutralize attempts to manipulate vulnerable minds and polarize society. Even people under rogue entities need to be made aware of how they are being exploited and the options available to them. A well-planned and comprehensive information war is essential.
SELF AND OPPONENT PSYCHOLOGY: Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist, stressed: âKnow thyself, know thine enemy; a thousand battles, a thousand victories. The United States lost many asymmetric wars as its powerful army used conventional weapons and strategy against the elusive guerrilla tactics of a resilient and motivated adversary and was unable to identify with either the locals or the l objective of the whole exercise. The religious fanatics and anarchists of our West are so different from our oppressive autocrat in the North, but both possess many characteristics of the Dark Triad and seek to dominate the world. The âdark triadâ in personality psychology includes Machiavellianism (calculating and deceptive), psychopathy (manipulative, impulsive and destructive without empathy or remorse) and narcissism (vain with an exaggerated sense of self-importance but vulnerable and insecure). Machiavelli, the 16th century Italian author of “The princeAdvocated the use of power, even in unethical ways, for political ends. Psychopathy is common to hardened criminals, cruel dictators and ruthless business leaders. Narcissus was a young Greek who fell so much in love with his own reflection in the water that he drowned.
BEYOND THE ENEMY: Any dialogue or negotiation with fanatics, anarchists or a megalomaniac gives them the recognition they seek and builds their self-confidence and determination. Ignoring them and isolating them increases their insecurity and doubt. Blocking their resources and countering their religious or political doctrines, their propaganda and mind games weaken their popular support. They stage despicable acts to spread fear and gain publicity. Global media and social media, instead of publishing and sensationalizing them, should shame and mock the perpetrators so that those in their ranks who no longer have any conscience will rebel out of disgust. The media and volunteers should reach out to the oppressed and encourage them to resist and brag about the bravery of those who fight without revealing their true identity. Effective psychological warfare can demotivate the enemy and trigger a massive uprising of the repressed people that will overthrow any rogue regime or entity.
FACTORS THAT LEAD TO WORLD WAR: 1. Totalitarian government: It has unlimited power and controls virtually all aspects of public and private life: political, financial, attitudes, morals and beliefs of the people. It is led by a dictator and / or a single ruling party. Total control of the media, courts, administration, education, arts, sciences, religion is exercised by an army or secret police with suppression of all opposition and the public for fear of surveillance and serious consequences. Lord Acton, a British historian, observed that a person’s sense of morality diminishes as their power increases. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Such entities are expansionist and neo-colonists. They dream of restoring a perceived historical empire and glory.
- Nationalism: Excessive national pride seeking to avenge historical grievances and past humiliation for, for example, the Pakistani military for defeat and surrender in Bangladesh, China for humiliation at the hands of colonial, British and later powers Japanese. Fascism is totalitarianism with ultra-nationalism.
- Militarism: In their quest for world domination, power and glory, these nations launch an arms race that ultimately results in devastation, suffering and infamy.
- Alliances: when such entities find common cause with similar entities like the current Asian autocracies of the âaxis of evilâ; or the Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan axis of WWII; or the central powers of Imperial Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire of World War I; other world powers are forced to form an opposing alliance producing an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation.
- Any incident can then trigger an all-out war as when Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939; or the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, on June 27, 1914.
OUR BEST OPTION TO NEUTRALIZE OUR ENEMIES: 1. Identify the enemy. The enemy is the autocrat, not his ill-informed army or his oppressed people. Religious fanatics are the enemy and not moderates frightened to enslavement.
- Understand the psychology and mind games of the enemy. Demoralize them and beat them with psychological strategies as mentioned above. The targeted assassination of the leader could trigger violent retaliation and even war. Instead, discredit and dishonor the leader and the regime.
- Understand the aspirations of the oppressed people of the enemy. Inform them and inspire them to rebel and resist with counter-propaganda using social and digital media by a network of volunteers.
- Continuously monitor and identify the enemy network, human-financial-weapon support structure and neutralize them through cyber warfare and human and high-tech intelligence and countermeasures.
- Sustained diplomatic, trade and travel isolation will eventually lead to desperate regime’s missteps, as predicted by the ancient wisdom of ‘vinash kale viprit buddhi’, which means that when disaster approaches, the mind and soul intelligence work in a perverse way.
Dr PSVenkatesh Rao is a consultant in endocrine, breast and laparoscopic surgery; National Delegate (India) to the International Society of Surgery; President 2014-15, Indian Association of Endocrine Surgeons; former professor of endocrine surgery; former faculty CMC (Vellore), AIIMS (New Delhi), UCMS (Delhi), MSRMC (Bengaluru).