I have a radical idea to put forward. It is by no means fully formed, and undoubtedly there will be holes through which one might propel a WW1-era dreadnought.
Before I go any further, let me state in clear terms, that I neither encourage, support, nor condone, the use of physical violence as an offensive tactic against our political and ideological opponents. If for no other reason than that such behaviour would discredit and undermine our cause and feed the uncontested false narratives about us that already exist.
Despite some of the terms I may use in the following text, I intend such words to be interpreted in a purely non-violent manner. I will mention examples from historical armed conflict, however they are only intended to illustrate the underlying theory of my concept, and where I feel that other examples either cannot be found or would not suffice.
Let’s get down to business.
We need a new type of intelligence service: An independent, civil, non-state, intelligence entity to co-ordinate the defence of our values and institutions, and assist in degrading the ability and willingness of those who would seek to annihilate the same. For simplicity, and until a more appropriate descriptor becomes known, let’s call it a P.I.E., a Political Intelligence Entity.
It must be self-evident that such an entity is necessary.
“But wait,” I hear some of you say, “We already have a number of organisations which research and present policy options to the various levels of government.”
You are correct. However the purpose of a P.I.E. would not be to influence policy directly, but to undermine and deteriorate the ability of our enemy to do the same, by targeting its various ‘combatant’ elements.
We can debate into the night about the efficiency and level of influence right-of-centre think-tanks and policy institutes have had in guiding both public debate and legislative activity, however I believe there is little to be gained by continuing with the same tired, worn approach.
The current approach I would describe as passive or ‘soft’ persuasion. Soft persuasion only works if you already have a connection, understanding, or prior relationship with your target audience. By this I mean that with no substantial, authoritative, conservative presence in mainstream Australian political life right now, the presentation of policy alternatives as a stand-alone strategy is doomed. That may change if Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives manage to bulk-up and strike an assertive pose. However even if they do just that, the vice-like grip the forces of darkness now hold on multiple aspects of our public and private lives, will still be resoundingly strong.
A more strategic approach, parallel to any conservative political gains, is required to effect long-lasting structural change. Such change will only come about after our enemies are weakened. Hence the concept of a P.I.E. to co-ordinate such an outcome.
In 1968 during the Second Indochina War – more commonly known in the West as the Vietnam War – the South Vietnamese and their primary ally, the United States of America, attempted to consolidate a myriad of intelligence gathering and analysis entities into one ‘web.’ Intelligence from a variety of sources and agencies was to be fed into this web, analysed, and then disseminated to the various action arms such as the National Police Special Branch and Field Force, and the Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs). The South Vietnamese named their process ‘Phung Hoang’ after a mythical bird, and the Americans named their parallel but interconnected effort ‘Phoenix.’ The Phoenix Program became one of the most enduring myths of the Vietnam War, however I have no intention of discussing its merits or otherwise here. For now, however, all that is relevant is that the intention of Phung Hoang/Phoenix was to simplify the intelligence war against what was named the VCI, or Viet Cong Infrastructure. The VCI were the support elements that enabled the Viet Cong and later NVA main forces to operate militarily, and consisted of individuals who performed civil functions such as tax collecting, local law and order, and political indoctrination; as well as military support functions such as recruitment, intelligence-gathering, supply, and establishment and security of bases. Without the VCI, the guerrilla war could not have succeeded, either by itself or as an adjunct to the North Vietnamese Army’s divisions.
In theory, the Phung Hoang/Phoenix ‘web’ maintained intelligence collation centres in each of South Vietnam’s government-controlled districts and provinces. The intelligence gathered by forces in the field was supposed to be processed by each centre and then disseminated to the action arm most able to act upon it.
In practice, the relative simplicity of the Phung Hoang/Phoenix concept often fell apart for a variety of reasons, including interagency competition and distrust, poor leadership, and corruption. However, that again is a topic for another post.
As loose as this analogy is, our ideological enemies also possess an ‘infrastructure’ which supports them, though we might debate how much of that infrastructure is aware of and consciously supports the identified goals of their ‘main force.’ Similarly, we could argue that the ‘main force’ itself is by no means centrally controlled, co-operative, coherent, or even in agreement regarding strategy. Just because a threat is structured differently from historic enemies, however, does not mean that it is less capable of inflicting damage.
The point I’m trying to make is that those individuals or entities we identify as posing a danger to our way of life, only exist because underlying networks support them. The seat of a chair does not hover of its own accord: it must be supported by legs or a base in some form. Weaken or sever one or more of those legs and the seat of the chair becomes less able to perform its function. If you only attack the seat, however, and leave the legs that support it, the seat may eventually be replaced. Certainly the legs can be replaced also, but the intention is not to leave the seat, rather neutralise the legs first, so that the seat is weaker. Once the seat is weak enough, it too is targeted. No smart strategist attacks a stronger foe unless there are no other options. Weaken your target before you attack it.
We currently have no such entity or organisation dedicated to strategically defending our institutions and values. Let me reiterate that I’m not talking about policy-making. Without the means of having our policies adopted and implemented, arguing the case for such policies by themselves is a remarkable waste of time and energy. We must ‘prepare the ground’ first, by intelligently and in a co-ordinated manner, assessing what obstacles our preferred policies face, and then devising and implementing a plan to achieve the reduction of such obstacles.
Simply pointing out hypocrisy or irrationality or a lack of empirical proof has so far not worked. We need a different approach.
Hence the concept of a P.I.E., which would: 1) Search for weaknesses in the enemy. 2) Exploit those weaknesses. 3). Monitor and assess the results.
What specifically might a P.I.E. do? It might:
Undermine public and political confidence in a taxpayer-funded media organisation.
Encourage or facilitate the targeting of a specific media organisation by its competitors.
Foment or aggravate internal conflict within a political party by marginalising key identities.
Seek to re-brand so-called ‘Green’ groups, by questioning their motives and focus on the ‘corporate’ nature of their funding.
SSM, constitutional vandalism, misandry as a virtue; the potential tasks are numerous.
Two key concepts here are Delegitimisation and Destabilisation.
How might these ambitious tasks be achieved?
We might achieve these goals in part by using the tools that our ideological enemies have used for decades: Propaganda and Psychological Operations.
Needless to say, these activities will take place strictly within the boundaries of the law, however that still leaves a wide space in which to operate.
During the Second World War, psychological warfare was one of the tools used to influence the behaviour of the enemy. In the South West Pacific Area, it was the domain initially of the Australian F.E.L.O. (Far Eastern Liaison Office), and then of the U.S. Psychological Warfare Branch (though FELO continued operating in the Australian and British domains).
The two agencies mentioned utilised four types of propaganda, which were, concisely: propaganda of despair, division, subversion, and enlightenment.
There is not the space here to enlarge upon those, however while the rapid development of communications technology has rendered some of the techniques of 75 years ago obsolete, the underlying theory, based on human psychology, may still be useful.
Who might be our ‘targets?’
We might loosely categorise our targets for propaganda as Hardcore and Softcore, and tailor our methods accordingly.
Arguing about ideology with the Hardcore is unlikely to change their behaviour, as they often possess inbuilt defences against rational debate. An initial strategy for the Hardcore might be to allow or encourage them to overreach; facilitate their self-destruction. Undermining their authority or standing amongst Softcore followers may assist this end goal.
The Softcore are more susceptible to being ‘infected’ and therefore a more achievable target audience, though arguing about ideology with the Softcore may not resonate as much as practical matters, such as what affects themselves and their families. Show respect for their intentions in their beliefs, and sympathise that they have been misled, but at the same time, chisel away at their morale. Concurrently work on undermining their faith in their leaders.
The goal when working on the Softcore is to metaphorically separate the ‘head’ from the ‘body.’ The former is the decision-making, most publically visible element of the issue or cause, the latter being those who, on various levels, support or ‘prop-up’ the former, either due to a belief arising from misinformation, or the perception of a lack of a viable alternative.
The body provides nutrients to the head (the brain), without which it will eventually wither and die.
A Political Intelligence Entity would need a counter-propaganda response, as it also would a counter-intelligence element for internal security, for we know how well-funded and motivated our enemies are.
There are many questions posed by the concept of a P.I.E. Two such questions are: ‘To whom would the information gathered be disbursed?’ and ‘How and from where would funding be sourced?’
The dissemination of information could be filtered, however I’m unwilling to expand beyond that statement in a public forum, and ideally, it would be preferable for the P.I.E. to be independent.
Intelligence (information) would be gathered from both open, public sources, and also by infiltration or influence. Nothing illegal, mind you, simply ‘participative.’ How that could be achieved is also a conversation for behind closed doors.
The P.I.E. acronym has been chosen, temporarily, because of its potential absurdity. Imagine your favourite Pravda newsreader: “In breaking news, the far right has created a pie.” What the? How do give such a statement gravity? The more ambiguous or confusing the label for this project is, the better. The task of the P.I.E. is not to seek popularity or acceptance. It will operate more effectively leaning calmly against a wall, in the shadows, quietly observing. No name tag, no introductions.
As with most of the above, however, the name is not set in stone.
Another poster on here (Buddy?) has, once or twice in the past, made mention of counterinsurgency theory as a lens through which to view some of the political/social/cultural challenges that confront us. Unless I’ve missed it, he/she has not elaborated upon this, but I consider it not such a radical idea, for two reasons.
Firstly because some of those who are trying to harm us and our way of life, openly self-identify as insurgents or revolutionaries, and have published strategies to achieve the change they desire. These strategies are unashamedly destructive. The hijacked conservation movement, for example, advocate pro-poverty policies.
The feral, anti-Trump rabble in the U.S. proudly and without any acknowledgement of delusion, calls itself a ‘resistance,’ and some profoundly impaired juvendults publicly identify as ‘climate change insurgents.’
Secondly, viewing our challenge through the prism of counter-insurgency – making appropriate adjustments of course for the civil, non-violent nature of the self-proclaimed ‘insurgents’ – would force us to view our enemies as a threat, rather than a mere inconvenience or nuisance that can be safely ignored without consequence.
While I am personally opposed to labelling the challenges we face as ‘war’ – because that diminishes the risks faced by those who volunteer to put their own lives on the line in our name – we can argue semantics endlessly, to little avail. Similarly, we can spend much time and mental effort debating which individual is best qualified to drape themselves over the wheel of the sinking ship for a timeless photo opportunity, ala Turnbull/Abbott.
We need to be RUTHLESS. Ruthlessness is not a random, frenzied flailing of the limbs and rising inflections marinated in phlegm. Ruthlessness is calm, detached, evenly-paced steps to a rational, measurable outcome. For us. Cold, calculated, motivated. This is the wild. There are winners and losers.
We must be ruthless in identifying those who choose to threaten our opportunities, and equally ruthless in diminishing their opportunity to do so. Identify. Neutralise. Repeat.
There are a plethora of reasons why this complex concept may not work.
The easy option is to say “No” or “Too hard.”