[ Applied anthropologist are often called upon to help design programs for the organization that has hired them. This is the planning stage in program development. How can an anthropological analysis help to create a program out of the past and present elements of the organization? Whether a real program for a real organization, or a fictional story based on an anthropological perspective, it means taking historical facts and projecting alternative combinations of these facts to create a future. The following is a fictional conspiracy theory based on a structural-functional projection of historical trends that outline one possible explanation for the current American sociocultural conflict.]
We are witnessing the next stage of international warfare. The cyber manipulation of the battle field. Geography has always played a significant part in warfare. Control the battlefield and you can control the battle. Control the battle you can control the outcome of war. We, the United States, are engaged in a NEW COLD WAR.
The year is 2000. Since the end of World War III. the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West relied on the development and control of Nuclear Weapons, It has led to a stalemate. And then with the fall of Communism as a political/economic doctrine the Soviet Union broke up. It resulted in the weakening of Russia as a geographical power in Europe while China and India became the major powers in Asia. In 2000, a former KGB agent assumes power as President of the Russia Republic, what remains of the Old Soviet Union.
The Cold War was created in the disintegration of the European Colonial empires at the end of WWII and the post-war geography. It also opened up the long religious war between Zionism, and Muslim nationalism, between Muslims and Hindus in the breakup of India, between Sunni and Shiite Islam in the Middle East, It also to the form of Client struggles between capitalist and communist economic systems, e.g. North and South Korea with their threat to Japan. These territorial disputes were and are still waged in the context of the older Nuclear paradigm as well as ideological terrorism.
Meanwhile, cyber-warfare developed along side the internet evolving into the cyber-geography of global commerce. Russia, under the former intelligence office, saw the potential of cyber-power. Cyber-power could be used to become the undisputed dictator of the Russian Republic. Such an intelligence officer would be the one who knew how important "data" was and how use it to the create an "alternative cyber-reality." A cyber-reality, such as one finds in video games, could be used to create quasi-real geographical cyber-worlds that seemed real to an unsophisticated public.
Everyone agreed that the Cold War strategy of "mutually assured destruction" through nuclear war would, as its acronym said,, be MAD and produce no winners.
The cyber-skills developed by the KGB during the-Cold War era released Russia from these two great Satans that held Russian expansion back in 20th Century.The end of the Cold War presented opportunities for Russia to pursue its traditional expansionist objects. The fall of communism freed the leadership from the ideological and economic straight jacket of Marxism. Russia might achieve its destiny.
To do so, however, meant that the strategic objective was to solve the puzzle: "How to apply cyber-knowledge in a practical sense to contain and defeat the expansionism of Western Europe and the United States?" "How could it be used to achieve Russia's destiny?"
The political wars had to be made winnable. Could they be made so that they can be fought in a virtual world and have real world consequences? "Fiction" especially expressed through movies and Television has always been popular in the West for more than century. Mass media has the power to influence and control public perceptions of reality. The Canadian Media Guru, Marshall McLuhan, had said it, "The Media is the Message."
The Ex-KGB officer thought, "Why not create a virtual geography designed to elicit strong negative emotional reactions such as "doubt", "suspicion", "hatred", "tribalism,"and "partisanship." These emotions would be used to play on the natural negatives human and cultural themes of racism, classism, sexism and religious bigotry. We would fight such a war in cyber-space on the plane outlined by Orwell in his's "1984". It would attack the very creditability of the enemy's cultural assumptions. We could cause chaos through the invention of "fake news" to counter the real news."
He thought, "Isn't the capitalist system itself based on the lies, and the half truths of advertising?" "Would fake news about candidates in the democracies just be a form of 'advertising?" "Couldn't we weaponize it to achieve Russia's objectives?"An experiment might be worth a try.
2010 An experiment would be tried to influence an American political party -- the out-party -- the Republicans. The first thing we would want to do is to separate the right wing from the center right and get control of the right wing. But, how do we do that?
"First," the ex-KBG Officer thought, "We create a 'fake news' geographical map by finding some "leaders" who are so wrapped up in their own fictional world that they will act in Russia's interests even as they think it is their own."
"Second, 2010 is when the United States conducts a census and redraws its congressional districts. Let's test our strategy in those districts where we can support right wing primary candidates running for state legislatures against their center right competition. Maybe we can recruit some of the bigots who hate the idea of a black man being President; and some the greedy Plutocrats and their minions who hate taxes and the poor. These are a good target for our fake news. If we could get enough successful candidate we would: (1) redraw the districts in our favor using the time honored American political tradition of "gerrymandering; (2) remove the center right nationalists, and (3) replace or neutralize them with a more partisan ideologue."
The plan worked and the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives. In addition a new crop of "Tea Party" activists controlled the Republican caucus.
2014 Mitch McConnell came on the scene to wrest the leadership of the Senate from the Democrats. It was seen as a Republican victory but really it might have been a Russian victory. McConnell single handily stopped Obama from appointing federal judges especially for the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was the least visible branch of government yet controlling it was critical to gain and retaining the support of the extremist right wing. McConnell held out the hope of reversing important federal laws affecting abortion (Roe v.Wade), gun control (2nd Amendment rights), laws calling for immigration reform and the loosen environmental controls, etc. etc.
"Using these issues" said the Ex-KBG Officer, "We would use the time between elections to feed the racial hate and religious bigotry among the people. We would play on the economic dislocations that global trade and innovation were introducing into the economy, We could play upon the general fatigue of endless war, and the shock of 911 and the Arab Spring. Our goal would be to question the whole premise of an American dream, And, we could support the extreme right to took over one of the two major U S political parties."
The Plan worked. Judgeships were held-up; fake-news for national cable networks were designed to attract and fed negative messages into the cyber-sphere featuring stories of ethnic crimes and violence. Social networks were hacked using cyber-weaponry to plant trolls who expounded themes of racial, regional, and ideological hatreds.
"2016 is an election year for the Presidency," the Officer declared. "It is an open election.We could finish the job in 2016 by picking the winner of the Republican nomination." But in order to win we must find a candidate who can be seduced into promoting our plan." the Ex-KBG Officer said.
"How?" asked his cyber-warriors.
"In two stages," he answered.
"First, we must destroying the most creditable and viable Republican candidates one at a time. We would use the debates to supply and spread fake news and rumors about the target to the less viable candidates. They will use and to gang-up on the more viable ones. We would start with someone like Jeb Bush, who represents the center right and is probably the most qualified. We will encourage the weak to attack the center and working to eliminate the most acceptable candidate to the general public." We would encourage our "man" to point to the next target and then step back while the others do the dirty work. Finally, our preferred prospect stands out as the "savior" for values of the right wing and win the nomination."
"Meanwhile, we will encourage leaders of the Senate and House to put fear into any remaining center right Congressional members by threatening to challenge them in their districts or States. We would support "primary" challenges that we would fund through shell accounts if they don't tow the line. And this way we would have captured the party and we would control the congress and promote our candidate. "
"Who would that person be?" The Cyber-Hackers asked.
"We need to find someone who egotistical in public but very insecure in private. Someone who can spread 'fake news" without questions and who can sell it to an uninformed, disinterested, and angry public or to a group of passionate partisans who are looking for a leader they think can solve their issues."
"Of course we want to be able to control this person. It would be someone who has had a long a relationship with Russia. Someone who identifies with and is debt to the our Oligarchs. He was be a puppy dog to us and a bull dog to his domestic opponents. He will reflect the irrational and hypocritical that only he call solve the problems that our fake news has been spreading for years. The right type of person would be willing to accept the help of anyone who would feed his ego", explained the Ex-KGB Officer.
"In 2017, our next step would be to take over the government of the USA as a whole. This would then enable us to change American policy causing chaos in the Western alliances."
"How to do we take over the government of a foreign country?" the Cyber-Hackers asked.
"The same way we used to take over and control our allies in the Cold War days, bribery, threats, and manipulating the legal system to our advantage," said the Officer
"We would use the electoral college. In 2010, there was a census, People did not pay to much attention to it. But, that census, led to redistricting of the electorate and the reassignment of the House of Representatives. That was why we wanted to gain control of the local legislatures. This we did with the 2010 census."
"Gerrymandering is an old and proven practice in American politics. Win the State Legislature and you control the redistricting process. Gerrymandering is quite simple. It has two goals: (1) to create a majority of your voters in a district and (2) breaking up any concentration of your opponent's supporter by cutting up their district. Our goal is to create a majority for our party in the electoral college. If we win that, the popular vote doesn't matter."
" We will create a candidate, through "our" surrogates who now control the Republicans party. He will promote our anti-constitutional policy. The partisan battle that should follow, suits our and our candidate's plan. With Russian's backing, like the old post-colonial days, we will use the party as an offensive weapon to win the NEW Cold WAR. It will be much better to steal America's assets than destroying them with Nuclear Weapons," said the Officer.
"Not a bad deal. Just like taking the Queen early in the Chess Game.You destroy the centrists leadership of the Party, and neutralize the country's leadership -- then turn a nation's security issue and policy into a mere partisan dispute." smiled the Cyber-Hackers. "Let's get to work!!"
(written as a speculation during the impeachment trial as an explanation for the Senate's refusal to accept the obvious)