When is it time to decide one’s government is not to be trusted? For many people on the political right, that question would elicit laughter, since they are already predisposed to distrust the government. For everyone else, the answer – or one possible answer – is as follows: When government officials start openly calling on private sector companies to help them “show and demonstrate that we are more trusted,” red flags should be popping up in one’s mind. Yet that is just what one of Britain’s spy chiefs recently discussed during a BBC Radio 4 interview. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is how fascists think. In fact, it is the very foundation upon which fascist regimes are built. So, why is that relevant for Americans? Because the UK spymaster was the interviewer, in this case, and US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines, the interviewee.
Sir Jeremy Fleming is the head of Britain’s evasively named Government Communications Headquarters, more commonly known as GCHQ, which is one of the world’s leading intelligence, security, and cybersecurity agencies. Essentially, it’s the UK version of the National Security Agency (NSA). At the end of December, Fleming agreed to guest edit an episode of Radio 4’s Today and interviewed Haines for a segment of the show.
Fighting Propaganda with Propaganda?
For context, it’s worth noting that the main topic of conversation between Haines and Fleming was the propaganda war surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The back and forth went mostly in the direction one might expect; Russia used various channels, including social media, to justify its military aggression, the Western powers labeled the Russian narrative as “disinformation” and is exploring more effective ways to counter such campaigns in the future. Nothing particularly alarming or surprising about any of that. Information is power – in the 21st century that is perhaps truer than in any previous era.
The alarming – though perhaps not surprising – aspect of the interview was how casually Haines and Fleming spoke about doing exactly what they, during their talk, accused authoritarian regimes of doing. Haines at one point speaks about the “battle” between authoritarian and democratic countries over control of the information space and explained that “authoritarian states have this kind of asymmetric advantage, where they’re effectively controlling information to their populations.”
Presumably, the DNI hasn’t been reading the so-called Twitter Files, which document, very unambiguously, how Democratic Party government officials controlled – or at least attempted to control – information flowing to the US population.
Fleming concurred and took things one step further – and this is where it really gets interesting:
“… it can’t just be government and intelligence voices out there, there have got to be other voices and one of the critical things from [the Ukraine] conflict has been the way in which the private sector has played a part. Whether that’s in satellite imagery – now readily available at low cost to anyone – whether that’s big tech, some of the big companies … the role that Microsoft has played has been incredible in helping Ukraine to defend themselves. So, it seems to me there are different alliances which enable us to show and demonstrate that we are, we are more trusted because it’s not just the government voice out there.”
Behaving Like Fascists to Beat the Fascists
This is about much more than Russia. No reasonable person could resent the efforts of the Ukrainians to defend their country – or the fact that western tech companies may have aided them in those efforts. But it’s not just about military conflicts and national security, either. What is troubling about the exchange between these two spy chiefs from supposedly free countries is the idea that the public must be manipulated in order to prevent it being manipulated by adversaries. Read “adversaries” as not just hostile foreign powers but anyone who disseminates opinions and information the government of the day doesn’t want people to see.
Here’s a novel idea: Why not just tell people what is actually happening and let them decide for themselves who is right and who is wrong? Why not give them all the information (that doesn’t compromise national security) and allow them to form an opinion based on the whole picture, rather than just the portion the government wishes them to see? Winning an “information war” is impossible when people understand that both sides in that war are lying to them or keeping things from them.
What Fleming and Haines are really saying is that, in order to defeat fascists, we must become fascists. After all, the original and most accurate definition of fascism is a system in which the government forces hand-in-hand cooperation with the private sector to promote a political and economic agenda. And, to be sure, both Russia and China are fascist countries today – communism having long been discarded. Again, we are faced with the age-old problem of government: When it evolves to the point at which it convinces itself that protecting people from themselves justifies any and all methods of regulation and manipulation, it is already broken.
Do you have an opinion about this article? We’d love to hear it! If you send your comments to [email protected], we might even publish your edited remarks in our new feature, LN Readers Speak Out. Remember to include the URL of the article along with your name, city, and state.
Please respect our republishing guidelines. Republication permission does not equal site endorsement. Click here.
Liberty Nation Today:
A Sneak Peek
Biden vs. McCarthy – Bringing Down the House – LN Radio Videocast - Deal or no deal? - Watch Now!
Joe Biden’s State of the Union Malarkey - Old man screams at the sky about baggage fees. - Read Now!
Biden Bunch Boasting on Campaign Blitz - The president, vice president, and Cabinet members will crank out 30 events in two days. - Read Now!
Will Misinformation Remain a Potent Weapon for Progressives? - A mighty champion of the leftist-loving misinformation game has fallen. - Read Now!
Narratives Not Unity in Biden’s State of the Union - The president delivers a horse drawn up by committee. - Read Now!