Situation Report: The Prelude to War
Russia Declares “War in Cyberspace” Has Begun
Today I’m publishing on Saturday as yesterday I recorded and released an excellent podcast episode with guest Christine Arena on the psychological operations conducted by the oil industry. More on that below.
In the meantime, Russia this week declared that “full scale military activities” have unfolded in cyberspace and that “the media rightly says that this is a third world war.” I’m disinclined to lend Russia’s sabre rattling credence by taking it strictly at face value, nor am I inclined to dismiss their words. We are already seeing various operations underway meant to confuse and distract, and an extremely ubiquitous cyber attack in the form of the recent log4j vulnerability. Discerning what’s naturally occurring from what’s part of any kind of offensive operation is difficult to do in realtime.
What’s Happening Now
We are awash in still more cryptocurrency and NFT noise. This week Melania Trump made headlines by launching a new NFT project that she says is powered in part by the Mercer-backed Parler platform, as well as the Solana cryptocurrency. Because this construct allows for a 10% flow-back to the creator, washout transactions between parties could help generate laundered funds.
Meanwhile, Thiel ally Garry Kasparov has launched his own NFT project with the promise of sharing “special moments” from his life’s history. It’s hard to see these as anything but reality-warping efforts to assault the financial system by way of driving network effects towards adoption of cryptocurrencies. Russia has said it will outlaw cryptocurrencies—which of course means that only those with Putin’s personal permission may trade them. It is sensible to assume that any and all amplification of cryptocurrencies serves Russia’s interest in their “cyber assault” against the west.
Kanye West and Brandon Straka revealed as GOP plants. I’ve been following these two and their networks for several years. Kanye West, who ran for president in 2020, has been cavorting with the likes of Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk, Elon Musk, and Don Jr. Brandon Straka, a former hairdresser from Nebraska, founded the #WalkAway movement in 2018, encouraging Democrats to leave the party. This week, the Daily Beast reported that West used a bevy of GOP consultants for his abortive campaign. And Politico reported that Straka had provided “material information” regarding the January 6th attacks. He was one of two speakers criminally charged; the government says that the information he provided may impact their sentencing recommendation and they have asked for 30 days to fully evaluate that information.
In my own research I found Straka to be tied to the Schlafly Eagles/CNP/Ed Martin organization, and that he had previously been involved in a bizarre concert called “RESIST: A Rock Revolution” in late 2017, before launching #WalkAway in mid-2018. And Kanye met with Peter Thiel around April 2018, and was among the first to join Parler in October 2018.
Mike Pence may be the Koch pick for 2024… but pay attention to what’s happening in the states. Last week Mike Pence keynoted an event in New Hampshire held by Heritage Action, the Koch-backed PAC. This would suggest that Pence is grooming himself to become a top pick for the GOP in 2024, as a less unstable, more compliant option than Trump. However, as we are still three years out and anything could happen, best not to focus on the personalities. As Anne Nelson said on our podcast episode this week, focus instead on the changes being implemented at the state level that may allow legislatures to send their own electors. The Senate failed to pass either the pending voting rights legislation, or the Build Back Better plan. Both are tabled until next year.
Debt ceiling raised successfully, putting off drama until 2023. In one bit of very good news, the Senate and the House both successfully passed the debt ceiling limit increase this week, extending further discussion of the matter past the 2022 midterm elections. If the GOP is planning to engineer an economic shock, their current opportunities to do that are in mid-February, when the prospect of a government shutdown will arise again, and via cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile the dollar has risen to 1-year highs.
Cryptocurrencies and oil are inextricably linked, continue leading attack on reality. The Guardian published a piece about how the oil industry is partnering with crypto miners to use waste gases to power mining hardware. This further cements the various ties that exist between the energy industry and this emergent technology. Meanwhile the Bank of England has warned against cryptocurrencies, and that they may cause global instability, while Australia also made similar comments. And as mentioned, Russia has said it plans to outlaw cryptocurrencies (for all except Putin’s besties, of course.) The FBI is investigating Bitcoin payments of $500,000 to members of alt-right groups.
Appeasing the bear isn’t a good idea, but some want to do it anyway. There is increasing chatter in Washington around appeasing Putin in his demands around NATO. This is regrettable and a bad idea (Kennan was right; containment, not rollback, is the answer). In the meantime Russia and China have teamed up to provide some kind of replacement for SWIFT, if Russia were to be excised from it—considered something of a ‘nuclear option’ in the realm of sanctions. If this is a real alternative, we could expect other rogue and client states (Iran, Venezuela, North Korea) may sign on to it. Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas warned that Putin “is trying to present himself as a solution to this problem that he has created himself. And I think we shouldn’t fall into that trap.” Agreed. This piece by Keir Giles also offers key insights on deterrence.
The US should join the UK in opposition to the European Union… come again? Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt made the unusual plea this week in arguing that Brexit is a war (against Europe?) and that the US should join her old ally in this war. This was seen as laughably inscrutable by many observers, but to anyone paying attention to the arc of the last five years, this is a key feature of Aleksandr Dugin’s post-Brexit plan: place the UK and US into a bilateral alliance against Europe, while Russia and Berlin form an axis of control centered around energy interests (Nordstream 2). This plan is advancing like clockwork, if Mordaunt’s pleas are heard and acted on. More people in the UK need to get up to speed on Dugin’s plan (Foundations of Geopolitics) and the hardcore libertarian (Sovereign Individual) politics that led to Brexit. People have no idea what’s going on. Here’s my take from five years ago.
Omicron is coming in hot. Indicators are that while Omicron is itself “milder” than previous variants, the rate of transmission is much higher. I have heard values ranging from 4 to 18. These are so wildly divergent as to be unreliable, so rather than speculate we can suffice to say that transmission rates are VERY high and that communities are experiencing rapid explosions of cases (Cornell, London, NYC). SNL has announced they will have no live audience for tonight’s show. With this kind of rapid spread we could over the next 3 weeks see a spike unlike any we have had, and then relative calm… or we may develop more variants. Obviously vaccinated people are much less likely to get sick or require hospitalization, but we are still entering a new, dangerous, and different phase. We should protect the vulnerable and keep medical resources available for those that absolutely need them. Meanwhile researchers are reporting that China’s “Sinovac” vaccine seems to be significantly less effective against the Omicron variant.
New audio content available! This week I interviewed Anne Nelson, author of the book “Shadow Network” about the connections between the oil and gas industry and the Council for National Policy, on which she is an expert. We discussed gold, cryptocurrency, and their ongoing disinformation efforts. Then on Friday I interviewed PR pro, climate activist, and filmmaker Christine Arena about the ongoing “climate obstruction” efforts by the oil and gas industry. These are fascinating conversations and you won’t want to miss them—part of my series “Oil, Gold, Crypto, Fascism.”
What May Happen Next
As we head into the holidays, events are accelerating. However, we can expect a slowdown as news cycles lengthen in the coming few weeks. But cyber activity may continue apace. We can expect more revelations, a lot more noise around cryptocurrency and monetary policy, and increasing sabre-rattling from Putin as he signals demands of NATO and unwillingness to be contained. As we continue into what will be a totally different kind of conflict (forget sending troops to fight a war — instead the war will come to you through your TV, the internet, and in the streets), be prepared to deal with imaginative new cognitive attacks and novel situations. Get sleep, stay calm, and let’s try to keep the doors welded on a few more weeks. We can get past this but it will require a lot of patience and situational awareness not to become over-reactive. Breathe.
We’re interested in the major historical trends that shape current events. Tips? Ideas? Drop us a line via email or Twitter DM. Please note: this analysis is historical and political in nature; it is not intended as financial advice and should not be taken as such. If you enjoy my work, please consider making a donation to World Central Kitchen, to support their work feeding people in times of need.
For an even deeper dive, check out my series, The Big History Behind January 6th and my audio series Oil, Gold, Crypto, and Fascism: How We Got Here and How to Fix It.