Call of Duty and Subversion

Call of Duty and Subversion

So, the teaser trailer for Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War has raised some eyebrows. Also, it has apparently infuriated some Communists. Which is all to the good. It’s essentially a series of clips from an interview with KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov in the ’80s, discussing Soviet “Active Measures,” the subversion campaign used by the KGB against the Soviet Union’s adversaries, the chief one of which was the United States. The trailer has also been censored in China, ostensibly because of Tiananmen Square footage (though one might wonder if the Chinese, who have also practiced subversion and propaganda to a greater extent than some might realize, might be censoring it for other reasons, as well). I’ve been effectively tuned out of the Call of Duty franchise for a while. I’ve heard some good things about the Modern Warfare reboot (or whatever it is) from last year, but it hasn’t been in the budget (either looking at money or disk space). This surprised me, though. (Especially after Activision/Blizzard bent the knee to the PRC last year.) That a major media company might actually be calling out Communists, and in a much more real-world context, is fascinating. The trailer provides a few

The “Fourth Balkan War” and the Real World

The “Fourth Balkan War” and the Real World

I admittedly haven’t worked out a lot of the details of the Fourth Balkan War. It’s part of the background, though largely as combat experience for a number of the veterans who form the backbone of the Triarii.   The general sweep is that it was, essentially, NATO’s last gasp, trying to defuse a powder keg situation between Kosovo and Serbia, based on news reports a couple years ago about Kosovo seeking to build it’s own army–to Belgrade’s rather strident objections.   In-universe, obviously, the powder keg was *mostly* defused. Though it was a lot nastier than most people Stateside got to see.   Yet, looking at the overall real-world situation in the Balkans right now, as Shirvan of Caspian Report outlines it, the Fourth Balkan War could very easily have turned into the flashpoint that started the Maelstrom Rising series. Not only do you have a large Muslim population–and while it seems to have been mostly supplanted by Chechnya in the popular consciousness, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been a prime recruiting ground for Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Daesh–but increasingly Russian, European, and Chinese interests have turned toward the Balkans. It is still possible that a flare-up in the Balkans now would see

On Domestic Unrest

On Domestic Unrest

I’ve written about domestic unrest before. It was a major theme of Lex Talionis. It underlies much of the situation in the Maelstrom Rising series. And here it is, raising its ugly head again. Inciting incidents are hard to pin down. Many have been lies. In some cases, an actual death was twisted to make the dead man a martyr. In this case, it appears that a genuine act of police brutality (almost universally condemned, with the accused cop having been arrested and charged, then the charges upgraded) has been used as the inciting incident. This is not a Reichstag Fire, or a Mukden Incident. A genuine crime was committed. However, while it might not have been as quick as the mob would have liked, it was being dealt with within the system. So, why the outrage? Because it is useful. It has become apparent over the last few weeks that the Minneapolis Police Department desperately needs reform. It has little to do with race; a woman was murdered by a police officer from his car while she stepped out onto her front porch in her bathrobe, after she had called 911. A quick viewing of a video of Minneapolis cops in riot

The New Cold War is Heating Up

The New Cold War is Heating Up

In the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus, the new cold war with China isn’t getting any cooler. It seems that my predictions that China was going to step up the aggression in the aftermath were pretty on. (Man, I hope I can get the Maelstrom Rising series done before things really go pear-shaped…) Hong Kong Hong Kong has been the first on the chopping block. The protests in recent months have been largely in response to the Hong Kong government’s proposal for an extradition law (that would have made Hong Kong citizens subject to extradition to the PRC for crimes under PRC law). It was taken as a sign that the HK government was increasingly subject to Beijing. The law was withdrawn after the protests, but things haven’t exactly calmed down. The PRC’s National People’s Conference recently decided to impose a National Security Law on Hong Kong. A similar law had been proposed by the HK government in 2003, but was withdrawn after protests. Now, Beijing is directly imposing it. The US has recognized this move as effectively the death of Hong Kong’s de facto independence, as announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “After careful study of developments over the

Maelstrom Rising and the Wuhan Coronavirus

Maelstrom Rising and the Wuhan Coronavirus

So, the question has come up, whither the Maelstrom Rising series in the aftermath of the Wuhan Coronavirus?  It was originally floated as question about whether people would really want to read more about the world unraveling while it appears to be doing just that in real life.  It’s since turned into a different question: Since the original backstory was written before the coronavirus outbreak, how would it effect the overall storyline?  After all, there’s no mention of a global pandemic in the backstory.  And how would the current crisis play out in such a way that the backstory remains mostly intact? I think it’s actually somewhat simpler than I might have thought. The economic fallout from all of this is going to be far worse than the death toll from the disease itself.  The global economy is taking a huge hit, that will only get worse as quarantine measures continue.  At the same time, global interdependence has also taken a blow that it might not recover from.  (There were op-eds published several weeks ago, bemoaning the fact that the coronavirus has dealt a blow to globalization that it might never recover from.) The rapid spread of the coronavirus, both due

Wuhan Coronavirus and IO

Wuhan Coronavirus and IO

Not being an epidemiologist, I’ve generally tried to avoid talking about the Wuhan Coronavirus (go piss up a rope, Uncle Xi).  And the current disruption has got me wondering just how I’m going to continue the Maelstrom Rising series after this, when it comes time to pick it up again.  But that’s not what this post is about.  There are far more knowledgeable people to talk about the Wuhan Coronavirus itself (and how incomplete and inconclusive much of the data is).  I’m going to talk about the comprehensive Chinese Communist Information Operations campaign related to it. The Wuhan Coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China, sometime in December, 2019.  It was not initially identified as such; there were inexplicable cases of pneumonia, and they were increasing rapidly. Communist countries being what they are, the initial response was more geared toward keeping word from getting out.  After all, everything is always perfect in the Workers’ Paradise.  So, on January 1st, the Wuhan Public Security Bureau summoned Dr. Li Wenliang and accused him of “spreading rumors.”  Dr. Li publicly repented of his “misdemeanors” and promised not to commit further crimes, presumably after being worked over a little.  He wasn’t the only one, either;

On Iran and Soleimani

On Iran and Soleimani

On January 2, 2020, Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC Qods Force since 1998, took a well-deserved dirt nap. This has triggered a wave of prognostication illustrating a blinding level of ignorance of the context of the killing, or what came before it. Soleimani joined the IRGC during or just after the original Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.  The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is one hand of the Islamic Revolution, the other being the Council of Guardians.  (More on them later.)  The IRGC is divided between the Basij (paramilitary militias raised for primarily domestic enforcement of the Revolution’s Khomeinist Shi’a ideology) and the Qods Force, which handles foreign engagement.  Which primarily consists of support, training, and direct action for terror groups, most notably Hezbollah.  The same Hezbollah responsible for the killing of 241 US Marines on October 23, 1983, in the Beirut Barracks bombing. So, what does the Qods Force and Soleimani have to do with Iraq?  A lot. The Qods Force being the primary foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolution, it was instrumental in the Shi’a insurgency in Iraq following the invasion.  The EFP (Explosively Formed Projectile) IEDs used against many coalition convoys on the MSRs in

Setting the Stage: Peter Zeihan on Economics and Demographics

Setting the Stage: Peter Zeihan on Economics and Demographics

This video came across my radar a week or so ago.  It’s a long listen, but well worth it.  Dr. Peter Zeihan goes into some of the economics and demographics of the collapse of the post-war world order.  Some of these trends have gone into the background to the Maelstrom Rising series already.  Zeihan’s talk has further fleshed some of them out. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with his entire forecast.  I think he’s overlooking a number of, shall we say, violent variables.  His outlook is almost entirely economic and demographic, leaving aside some of the potential impacts of violent ideology, desperation politics, terrorism, and “hybrid” Fourth Generation Warfare.  Many of these variables have the potential to derail the economics he’s talking about. The demographics can also lead into some of these problems.  As was mentioned in a discussion of this video, the solution to demographic problems has occasionally been “foreign adventures.” All of that said, the Maelstrom Rising series is predicated on the trends that Zeihan outlines.  The difference is, the crisis brought about by these trends leads to desperation.  And desperate governments can do things that, in the long run, are extremely destructive and stupid.  Maelstrom Rising is about the

The True Legacy of the Cold War

The True Legacy of the Cold War

A lot of people see the Cold War as distant history.  There was even one political scientist/economist who wrote a book in 1992 claiming that the end of the Cold War was “The End of History.” Obviously, that thesis didn’t age well. But even leaving aside the nonsense that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, a new age of democracy and peace had dawned, a lot of us still see a rupture between the Cold War and the present strategic situation.  There is no such rupture, though.  History doesn’t work in “eras” except in high school textbooks. Yes, this is in reference to my last post.  An expansion, if you will.  If you want to understand why we seem to be trapped in “endless war,” then you need to understand what happened since World War II, and how that has contributed to where we are now. The Cold War has been described as the multi-decade tensions between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, marked by espionage, massive conventional forces staring at each other across the Iron Curtain, and the Mutually Assured Destruction of thousands of nuclear weapons pointed in both directions.  And those were part of it.  But the Cold

On Endless War

On Endless War

A recent headline about the failure to withdraw from Afghanistan got me thinking about the “endless war” talk that’s been going on for at least the last decade.  It ties in with the “war weariness” narrative that started less than two years into the Iraq War, a war weariness felt by a population that sacrificed little or nothing.  They were just tired of seeing it on the news. But there’s something there.  The point just is not necessarily what the pundits think it is. “The Long War” as some have called it didn’t start on September 11th, 2001.  We’d been clashing with jihadi elements for a long time before that.  The Iranian Hostage Crisis began with a Shi’a jihadist revolution, that immediately targeted Americans.  It has been pointed out that the US directly supported the Shah, whose Savak secret police could rival the KGB for brutality at times, thus making the US the revolutionaries’ enemy, justifiably.  (It should be pointed out that most countries in the region have equally repressive police forces, including the “good” ones who are still our allies.) But the Islamic Revolution, like just about every other revolution in history, promptly proved itself every bit as bad, if