This weekend’s death of 32-year-old protester, Heather Heyer, in Charlottesville, Va. plays into Vladimir Putin’s plan to sow chaos in the U.S.
“Chaos, isn’t a pit” says Littlefinger in Game of Thrones. “Chaos is a ladder.”
“Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions”.
“Only the ladder is real,” Littlefinger says. “The climb is all there is.”
Game of Thrones is more than just a brilliant masterpiece of modern-day literature and television, it is an allegory for our times. In the same way winter came to the seven kingdoms, so we are facing the winter of our civilization.
For decades, the West has ignored the rise of despots cloaked in shields of traditional values, nationalism, guns and violence. We’ve welcomed their blood money, and allowed them to seep into our institutions. And now that they’ve gained a foothold, they are sowing chaos.
It’s no coincidence then, that our winter approaches from Russia, a country whose geographic fate has sentenced her people to the harshest season and to generations of monstrous leaders. The latest is Vladimir Putin, who views sowing chaos in enemy states as a viable tactic to gain power, to climb the ladder of global power.
This weekend, a white nationalist careened his car into a crowd of counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Va. killing 32-year-old para-legal, Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others. As the tragedy unfolded on live TV, one man was seeing the fruits of his labor. That man is Vladimir Putin.
For Putin, chaos is a ladder.
The Russian President is not shy about his intentions to sow chaos, he openly declares it.
In the guiding strategic document of Putin’s regime, the Gerasimov Doctrine, Russia’s General Valery Gerasimov outlines a new type of war – a “hybrid war” where information and protests are weaponized to greater effect than tanks, guns and nuclear weapons. “Non-military means of achieving political and strategic goals … have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness,” Gerasimov concludes.
Russia’s Chief of the General Staff goes on to outline “the use of special-operations forces and internal opposition to create a permanently operating front through the entire territory of the enemy state, as well as informational actions, devices and means that are constantly being perfected.” In other words, use propaganda and protests to polarize a population and sow chaos behind enemy lines.
This is how Russia was able to pulverize the Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, how they helped Turkish dictator Recep Erdogan come to power, how they stoked ISIS and helped Bashar al-Assad and how they support extremists on the right and left in Germany, France and the U.S. The Kremlin bolsters the fringes to polarize an enemy’s population and weaken the middle. And while the enemy is in chaos, Russia climbs the ladder.
What do these ‘active measures’ look like in the U.S.?
- Russia openly supported the National Rifle Association (NRA), the first major endorsement for the Donald J. Trump and a major donor to his campaign. The NRA used to be a fighter for second amendment rights but now creates ads inciting anarchy, a war against Muslims and calls on North Korea to bomb California with nuclear weapons.
- The Kremlin fostered allies in the so-called alt-right and white supremacists like Richard Spencer, David Duke and Jared Taylor. The very same activists who found a home in Stephen Bannon’s Breitbart.
- Moscow fueled the flames of discord by gaming Google and Facebook’s algorithms to boost alt-right sites like Breitbart and Infowars and Russian propaganda outlets like Sputnik and RT using Russian bots and private data stolen from hacked voters rolls. Using micro-targeting, they preyed on the fears about gun confiscation, gay marriage and Sharia Law by delivering fake and hyped news to social media news feeds.
- The Russians actively groomed Donald J. Trump, a candidate with deep ties to Russian money and money-laundering, surrounding him with Russian operatives like Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.
- Together with President Trump, the Kremlin is now sowing doubts in the institutions which have made America a shiny beacon on the hill like democracy, an independent judiciary, the FBI and the media.
- Moscow supports the regime of Kim Jong-Un with trade and nuclear arms to raise fears in the U.S. and could even start a distracting war, conveniently on their border.
The end result is chaos and now the death of a 32-year-old protester in Charlottesville. Would we have an emboldened Nazi movement in the U.S. if it weren’t for Russia’s “active measures” and Donald Trump? It’s unlikely. Is Russia also fomenting the far left? Absolutely. From Jill Stein to California’s odd secessionist movement, the Kremlin’s pernicious puppetry is visible. Russia’s goal is not ideological (although the Kremlin is more successful with right-wing groups aligned to Russia’s own despotic policies). Putin’s goal is chaos.
Why chaos? It’s a ladder. It’s designed to distract the U.S., so Russia can continue its global misadventures and regain a global footing. Don’t take my word for it, take Putin’s Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, General Valery Gerasimov:
“A perfectly thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention, and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe, and civil war.”
It’s those last two words, civil war, which should worry sober-minded Americans of all political persuasions. Now is not the time to feed into the hysteria, it’s time to coalesce and fight the winter invaders. As Cersai Lannister says in another episode of Game of Thrones, “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”