Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Modern War Institute: We Ignore the Human Domain at Our Own Peril (usma.edu)
53 points by Phithagoras 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 36 comments





I always find articles like this very interesting, because what they're talking about is manipulating the worldviews, sentiments, desires, minds of people, and therefore behaviors, which is the ultimate goal. This is very intimate, and military people discuss it matter-of-factly.

Not to demonize it. It is a fascinating topic, and one of those "genie out of the bottle" type things. The tools exist, someone is going to use them, therefore everyone has to use them.

Human minds are evolved things, we have always been subject to manipulation. But now, our minds are swimming in a dense ocean of information, awash in it, noise and wisdom alike flowing through us unimpeded, and most people don't even realize this because they don't articulate it in this way. There are no borders, there are good actors, bad actors, irresponsible self serving actors, mixes of all types masquerading as each other, and probably more I didn't think of and mixes of all of it.

In the new world, you have to think about your thinking, you have to understand metamemetics, or you're swaying in the wind generated by someone else for their own ends at all times. How many of my deeply held beliefs are there because someone wants them there? How many of my behaviors are the result of someone else's planning? How many of these beliefs and behaviors are bad for me? How might I become an actor in this realm on my own mind and reclaim my agency?


This is just extension of NGOs, NED, color revolution etc strategies. Yeah people have "right" to self determine and revolt against repressive govs that just happens to be geopolitical adversaries of west, but flip side of that is they also have right to be manipulated into thinking so, or at least past the threshold from thought to action that just happens to destabilize in ways that benefit interests of those who fund said manipulation. There's a reason why western NGO proliferated everywhere and serve as fronts for espionage / manipulation efforts. Now unrestricted internet allow nations with limited physical discourse power - those who can't afford or doesn't have cultural cachet to setup NGOs or thinktanks in territories they want to influence - to manipulate public via online influence programs that rival reach of much better funded actors.

Except, it's a story as old as time. Everybody ever has attempted to influence the beliefs of others. It's a mark of the shallowness of american military intellectual culture that they think they can slap a few new words on this then, like magic, germinate some new insights.

The problem is, convincing anybody of anything is very hard.


>Except, it's a story as old as time. Everybody ever has attempted to influence the beliefs of others.

Using ranged weapons is a tale as old as time, but the invention of the bow and arrow and the invention of the ICBM are still very different. Trying to convince people when you had to talk to them face to face is different than being able to mass print reading materials. Trying to convince people through a limited available bandwidth of a radio station is different than being able to have one of a thousand cable channels. Communicating with a mass audience is different than being able algorithmically modify your communication on a per person basis. It's a mark of the shallowness to dismiss the current information environment and its ability to manipulate mental blind spots as nothing new.


Sure, technique have advanced - but honestly, given what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US military is clearly more on the level of throwing faeces than firing arrows, let alone ICBMs.

Given the speed of their collapse, I'm willing to bet there were more people in Afghanistan who believe in lizard people than who believed in the state they built. Ditto Iraq.


Convincing people to trust you is hard. Once they trust you, they'll believe nearly anything you say.

> The problem is, convincing anybody of anything is very hard.

Convincing specific people of things is hard. Convincing a few of a very large group appears to be easy, if you don’t care which few those are.


I think the biggest problem is, once the words are out of your mouth, you lose control of the message. If you look at something like christianity, you can see there's absolutely no practical way to stop people from taking a message in any and every way possible, no matter how clear it is. Usually, the worst offenders are those who are exceptionally convinced.

> I always find articles like this very interesting, because what they're talking about is manipulating the worldviews, sentiments, desires, minds of people, and therefore behaviors, which is the ultimate goal. This is very intimate, and military people discuss it matter-of-factly.

If you look at the world, such feeling is not only prevalent, it's actually far more disturbing than you think.

For example, all ads industry is built on manipulating human emotions. And surfing the web, you are forced into so many such abusive staff every single seconds.

Look at the web content as well. When people staring at their phones, they are bring manipulated in the literal sense.

And you'll find every one of these AD's producers have a matter of factly explanation, or even glorified one.

Surprising?

Not at all. Karl Max predicted this inhumane end of the capitalism more than a century ago.


If you can predict the death of something with no time constraint, I suppose you'll be right 100% of the time. That being said, capitalism isn't dead. Meanwhile communism has died several times over in that time frame.

What gibberish you are spuing here?!

I was talking about the ridiculousness of people taking abuses without much care. To OP's point that someone discussing manipulation matter-of-factly.

Capitalism death? Capitalism is the strongest it ever is.

HN now are a playground of people whose attention span cannot be maintained more than 5 minutes, and jump onto stimulation without a strain of sensibility.


You have to simplify or you get lost.

Military are the ranchers and rest of us are the cattle. Making us believe they work for us is the wisest thing they did. As soon as government stops being able to gather taxes to pay military what it wants, ugly truth comes out.

At least in the US, military officers don't make a lot of money relative to similar positions in private industry. Their total compensation is often underestimated as it includes healthcare for life, a housing stipend while on active duty, and a pension in retirement, but you might make more as an entry-level software developer than e.g. an Army colonel with 20+ years of service:

https://www.federalpay.org/military/army/colonel

The real money in the military-industrial complex is made by defense contractors, spefically the executives and shareholders of companies like Raytheon, BAE, and Lockheed Martin. Corruption in the upper echelons of US military itself, while far from unheard of, is vigorously investigated and prosecuted by bodies like NCIS. "Fat Leonard"-scale scandals do happen, but are rare:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Leonard_scandal


There's plenty of taxpayer money distrbuted to various military actors overtly and as bribes. To see who gets the most benefits you'd have to wait and see who steps in when US government looses ability to tax people or tries to enact something that reduces money stream into military complex significantly.

It's way more educational to look at countries where it already happened at least once.

Sometimes military removes government, sometimes it sides with government and kills enough people to quench the unrest.


The military in the US is a great opportunity for young people (just out of high school) who can't afford college. They identify and promote talent. I know several ex Army guys who served and they are top notch people to work with. The Army paid for them to get masters and phd degrees. They also turned them into great managers who get things done. If you are young and poor but have ambition and drive, the US Army is a great choice.

I also admire the overall benefits program. Great health care, pensions and perks such as USAA memberships are really valuable. So it's difficult to put a number on their total compensation. It's much more than it seems and passes down (somewhat) to future generations. For example, my children can be USAA members because my father was in the Army in Vietnam (50 years ago).


I think you’d be surprised.

E4 enlisted make $27k per year. Crap right? But their housing and food is paid for. That $27k is entirely discretionary.

If you’re serving in Atlanta Georgia, take home is $22k per year. So about $1,900 a month, after housing and food.

That’s why so many enlisted buy motorcycles and new Camerons. It’s a good chunk of money when your 22.


Are defense contractors not supposed to make a lot of money, especially if the military-industrial complex will exist in one form or another?

This is probably a good time to endorse the work of the World Beyond War.

https://worldbeyondwar.org/

And to remind everyone that militarism is a major public health threat, a significant cause of death, injury, homelessness, and disease, a completely preventable epidemic that consists of the large-scale killing, wounding, impoverishing, making homeless, orphaning, and traumatizing of people.

We need to get past the mentality of trying to DOMINATE every domain in the pursuit of the disease of nationalism.


> This is probably a good time to endorse the work of the World Beyond War.

That's an interesting website. Take a look at this, it's literally the first link in the "News From the Antiwar Movement" section of their home page right now [1]:

https://worldbeyondwar.org/audio-david-swanson-on-russia-ukr...

> AUDIO: David Swanson on Russia, Ukraine, and War Madness

> By Sputnik, January 13, 2022

> John and Michelle catch up with David Swanson, executive director of World BEYOND War, to talk about the latest developments with NATO and conflict zones around the world. John points out that the direct link between EU membership and increased well-being for the population is questionable. Hungary joined the EU, and that isn’t what happened.

David Swanson is the Executive Director of World Beyond War [2], and that podcast is hosted by Sputnik [3], which is part of the foreign propaganda arm of Russia, which has 100k troops massing along the border of Ukraine and is threatening war [4] (after already invading part of it less than a decade ago).

So, is "World Beyond War" serving as a "human domain" weapon aimed at Western nations, in the service of war?

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20220113142642/https://worldbeyo...

[2] https://worldbeyondwar.org/who/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Per...

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/01/07/world/europe/...


Making that assessment based on one appearance on a podcast is a pretty weak conclusion.

David Swanson has taken several openly anti-Russian positions:

https://davidswanson.org/why-russia-is-crazy/


> David Swanson has taken several openly anti-Russian positions:

> https://davidswanson.org/why-russia-is-crazy/

How could you not notice the obvious sarcasm that drips from every sentence in that article? Those aren't anti-Russian positions, they're pro-Russian positions.


The "chinese concept on information war" link leads to a laughable US army presentation from the early 2000s that includes such nonsense as

"Secondary sound waves in the 3- 17hz range will be the super killers in future wars. It may be possible to use them in intercontinental conflict.

Special human abilities (telepathy, etc.) and mind control. "

as well as mentioning stuff that is basically conspiricy theories like "virus 666".


Make them think we are nuts. Psyops. I guess some of us actually are nuts, though.

I wonder how much of our shared and limited resources is humanity going to waste on preventing war and violence with war and violence before coming to its collective sense? How much richer could we all be without this amazing waste, or how much less pollution there'd be?

Perhaps we should let the machines take over soon.


I get the feeling that this was written by somebody frustrated that psyops isnt a separate branch of the military with it's own command structure, and is instead run haphazardly across all branches headed up by people who understand missiles, ships and planes better than people.

This article makes it seem like the DoD is unaware of the work of the CIA. As it probably should be in most cases.

"Further, where DoD and the US government have to compete in the human domain without sacrificing key values or crossing ethical lines, our adversaries often show no such constraint, as evidenced by the growing number of examples of their efforts to destabilize and paralyze free societies"

Right there, hypocrite. If you want to prevail in the human domain, prosecute your war criminals, beginning with Dubya, Clinton, Obama, Trump and Biden.

You've already lost.


>> "Further, where DoD and the US government have to compete in the human domain without sacrificing key values or crossing ethical lines, our adversaries often show no such constraint, as evidenced by the growing number of examples of their efforts to destabilize and paralyze free societies"

> Right there, hypocrite. If you want to prevail in the human domain, prosecute your war criminals, beginning with Dubya, Clinton, Obama, Trump and Biden.

> You've already lost.

This is a really interesting comment, because it basically sets up a system where only nasty authoritarians can win.

Maybe it's a memetic weapon, or the result of one.


This applies to all leaders of all countries. As they say don't hate the player, hate the game. The player is the politician, or the party. The game is Capitalism and international tax law:

Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_Islands

^^ hardly any developed country comes off as good in this book and what brought us here is how we've been distributing wealth since the industrialization.

Everyone's a hypocrite because it's the number #1 rule of "human-club". The more power one has, the more they'll be forced to square that circle.

I still agree that anyone who has power should be put under more pressure than the rest, so punching the US (as a country not its people) is justified, but don't forget about countries like Germany, France, Russia, China, UK when dishing out accusations about hypocriticism.

"The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology." -- Edward O. Wilson, 1929


has there ever been a leader that has prosecuted a war that isn't named as a "war criminal" ?

Not trying to diminish your statement, but what defines a war criminal? If anything can then the term has no meaning, it turns any act of war into a criminal act.

How do we make that term actually MEAN something again? Do they all have to be "Hitlers" or "Pol Pot's" ? surely not...


On the face of it, making all people who wage offensive war criminal seems like a good idea. Do you have an objection to the idea?

There is only shaky moral ground for the US to stand on here, they've been the major force of war and destruction in the world for the last 50 years. No question in my mind that the individuals involved are monsters, but there is a good argument that maybe all the alternative systems are worse.


only that it takes a term that once meant "Hitler/Pol Pot" etc. Monsters on truly large and horrifying scales... into something that is watered down to, well, the politics of war.

Much like the word Terrorism. Its an almost worthless term.



yup, and can you name or give examples of a single act of war since those were defined and outlined that hasn't breached them?

It's actually pretty well defined, the issue is that the winners rarely see a reason to hold themselves accountable.

https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/war-crimes.shtml

The US agreed to this definition, it's pretty broad. Perhaps too broad, but I mean, look at the examples...




Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: