The objective of Military Leadership Psychology is Victory

Throughout history, leadership has held significant importance in the military. Therefore, it is critical to comprehend military psychology, which is exclusively focused on achieving victory.

Military psychology is strategically structured to ensure victory through optimising performance, resilience, and mental health of service members.

By enhancing training, fostering resilience, and addressing mental health needs, it aims to bolster readiness and effectiveness.

Additionally, it analyses enemy behaviour, supports leadership, and contributes to psychological operations to gain strategic advantage.

In essence, military psychology’s multifaceted approach is geared towards maximising psychological readiness and operational success in the complex and demanding environments of modern warfare

Leaders, Leadership and Victory

A leader is tasked with motivating and reassuring soldiers of the value of the causes they are tasked with defending, as well as furnishing them with the necessary psychological and tactical fortitude to achieve victory in combat.

Political, social, and cultural connections have been leveraged to establish the psychological structure required for military leadership ever since the ancient Greek era.

Despite the emergence of psychology as a recognised scientific discipline in the late nineteenth century, the psychological dimension of warfare continued to be vital.

Military science is founded upon the principles of strategy, tactics, and operations.

Military psychology can be readily incorporated into the broader parent sciences, specifically their applied branches, which encompass topics that extend beyond processes directly related to conflict.

The post–World War II era witnessed the emergence of a greater number of terms than the Iraq War in 1991.

These terms exhibit resemblances to the term “psychological war” or possess semantic components associated with psychological warfare.

Technological, economic, and political developments that gained momentum concurrently with the institutionalisation of psychology would increase its role in recruiting, educating, and preparing soldiers for military service and combat as the twentieth century progressed.

The terms emerged from the discernment of military analysts, who considered contemporary geopolitical events and trends, the rapid advancements in technology and the military sector, and the determination to discontinue the exclusive reliance on nuclear weapons to establish dominance.

I will define the following terms for you:

1. In its broadest definition, “special war”:

Is an alternative term for psychological warfare. Mostly utilised by Eastern Bloc countries. Evidently, Russia considers the conflict with Ukraine to be a Special Operation, given the current context.

2. Low-intensity conflict;

Refers to activities in which complete dominion over the political, economic, and social dynamics of a country is pursued by employing various clandestine methods, while abstaining from the utilisation of physical aggression.

3. Operations:

That employ deceitful methods to counterbalance the advantages of the more powerful side are referred to as asymmetric threats. Their fundamental tactic is to prolong contact with the enemy and deplete his resources; ideology triumphs over technology at all times.

As a result, their objective is not territorial conquest or sovereignty threats; rather, it is to undermine adversaries’ resolve and capability to employ superior conventional military capabilities and to intervene effectively in protracted regional conflicts.

4. Public diplomacy:

During periods of peace, the term “public diplomacy” is employed to denote the concept of psychological warfare, which is different in practice during times of conflict.

Public diplomacy, an emerging concept in the field of international relations, operates under the premise that the application of “soft powers” may yield greater results than resorting to force or engaging in conflict.

Public diplomacy pertains to the conduct of an independent nation with regard to the citizens of other countries, with the intention of influencing their perspectives and gaining support for its own national goals or interests on the international stage.

By means of expert exchanges, public relations firms, the media, non-governmental organisations, and public opinion research agencies, this can be accomplished with the ultimate objective of “convincing” other nations to take actions and make decisions that are detrimental to their own interests.

5. Hybrid warfare:

The objective of this form of conflict is to modify the regime, political system, and/or state order of the targeted nations.

Various stakeholders, including media outlets, humanitarian organisations, religious groups, peacemakers, and mediators, are engaged in such conflicts.

The term “hybrid warfare” delineates the subsequent components as fundamental components:

  • The utilisation of both conventional and unconventional methods of warfare;
  • Both overt and covert forms of security threats
  • A wide range of manifestations
  • Intenseness, spontaneity, adaptability, obscurity, ambiguity, or concealment of the source and instigator of the incident
  • Cyber attacks
  • Economic sanctions, blockades, and boycotts
  • Denial of involvement in the events
  • Subversive weaponry
  • Absence of action when the perpetrators are concealed among the civilian population

6. The term “unlimited war”

Denotes the Chinese perspective on modern warfare.

The forms of interminable warfare include nuclear, diplomatic, financial, commercial, biochemical, intelligence, resource, ecological, space, regulation-based, electronic, smuggling, and sanction-based conflicts.

Additionally, humanitarian, and ecological conflicts are included in this category.

The governing principles of strategizing and executing unlimited warfare are comprehensiveness, compliance, limited objectives, unlimited measures (any procedures and measures may be selected to achieve the specified goals), asymmetry, minimal consumption, multidimensional coordination, adjustment, and control.

7. The use of cyber space:

Information, and information resources to wage international conflicts constitutes cyberwar. It manifests itself partially or entirely through the medium of the Internet or cyber space.

Cyber space encompasses an assortment of electronic media that produce, transfer, interchange, or store data that is subject to scrutiny by the media or specialists, whether in a public or private capacity.

Participants in cyberspace-based communication may also obstruct, eliminate, or otherwise modify information that is broadcast there.

Cyber space extends beyond the confines of the Internet to incorporate non-integrated information networks as well.

It occurs near cybercrime and espionage, from which it differs primarily in the objective pursued by the assailant, rather than in the instruments, techniques, or tactics employed.

The absence of international legal regulations and a universally accepted definition of cybe rwarfare is notable.

In this context, it is also possible to address several additional cyber threats: clandestine or overt information operations designed to sway public opinion for political gain; opposition protests instigated and disseminated; and unofficial social group organisation with the intention of overthrowing established governments or subverting the state and social order.

Psychological Warfare and Doctrine in 21st Century

In the intricate landscape of modern conflict, battles are not solely waged on physical battlegrounds. Enter the realm of psychological warfare – a covert arena where minds are the primary target, and manipulation is the weapon of choice. Psychological warfare, often overlooked but profoundly influential, encompasses a spectrum of tactics aimed at shaping perceptions, beliefs, and behaviours to gain strategic advantage.

From propaganda and misinformation to fear-inducing tactics and cognitive manipulation, its impact extends far beyond the battlefield, permeating societies, politics, and even the digital realm.

In this article, we delve into the depths of psychological warfare, uncovering its nuances, historical significance, and contemporary relevance. As we navigate through the shadows of psychological manipulation, we unveil the importance of understanding these tactics in today’s world, where information is power, and perception is reality.

Join me on a journey to unravel the complexities of psychological warfare and discover its profound implications on individuals, societies, and global affairs.

Is there an individual in the twenty-first century who is unaware of at least one conflict occurring in some location?

Sadly, conflicts continue to have a substantial impact on our past and present.

Almost every nation and country was directly or indirectly involved in a conflict during the 20th Century.

Despite the fact that military conflict constitutes the fundamental component of war, there exist latent forms of conflict including but not limited to political, social-economic, psychological, and ethical disputes.

All of these conflict types intersect and contribute to the universal character of war.

The progression of modern armament and technologies has altered the overall perception of the significance of psychological warfare. However, this also presents prospects for the implementation and development of novel psychological warfare methodologies.

An unprecedented innovation emerged with the advent of social networks, which are notable for their exponential expansion, widespread availability, intuitive interfaces, and diverse formats.

Unavoidably, these developments have an effect on the social structure of nations, the geopolitical environment, the global economy, and the definition and perception of warfare terminology and strategies, in addition to the meaning of the term itself within military psychology.

Throughout my military school and academy education, I was consistently exposed to lessons and instruction that detailed the practical implementation of psychological warfare against the enemy’s military and economic establishment.

The Psychological War Doctrine

The initial rise in prominence of psychological warfare occurred in the East.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War examines the psychological dimensions of war as a social phenomenon and proposes optimal psychological preparation strategies to achieve victory over the adversary in an ideal conflict.

Psychological warfare, which is conducted through the dissemination of disinformation rather than the use of physical weapons, analysing and bolstering the weaknesses of one’s opponent while concentrating on improving one’s own, avoiding direct conflict whenever possible, employing cunning, utilising spies, and so forth, are examples of such tactics.

When examining the concept of “Psychological War,” one may characterise it as a form of specialised warfare designed to generate psychological effects for the benefit of the individual.

It is a military and political strategy that aims to undermine the adversary’s strength, resistance, and determination to fight, while fortifying one’s own forces and amassing the support of a wide network of allies.

The Cold War, which raged between the United States and the Soviet Union, stands as the most widely recognised example of psychological warfare.

In contrast to armed conflict, psychological warfare can be conducted during times of peace by gradually dismantling societal structures or eroding their defences in preparation for an impending armed assault.

Culture and society

In times of armed conflict, psychological warfare functions in conjunction with military operations to achieve the cessation of hostilities.

Psychological warfare is distinguished by the utilisation of distinctive strategies by paramilitary or military special forces (trained, equipped, and formed for these purposes) to accomplish political, economic, military, or psychological goals during times of peace or conflict.

These objectives may be pursued independently or in conjunction with conventional military force, on one’s own, enemy, neutral, or rebel territory, and may even involve socially and politically sensitive issues.

These strategies may be implemented overtly or clandestinely, which necessitates the authorisation, consent, and oversight of specific power structures.

Consequently, the formidable capabilities of military technology are combined with the immense potential of modern “technology of manipulating people,” or distinctive warfare strategies that achieve the desired psychological effects.

What are the intended mental repercussions?

Initially, the leader of the psychological conflict endeavours to impose his or hers political system, philosophy, and way of thinking.

In order to accomplish this, he encourages the internal adversaries of the attacking system to sow discord, fear, and uncertainty, promote internal strife, and sow distrust and doubt among the defenders in an effort to undermine and demolish the attacked side’s defence.

It is employed in the dissemination of deceit, empty assurances, and illusions.

Due to the fact that conflicts and armies have always existed, psychological warfare also possesses its constituent elements.

Consequently, the objective of psychological warfare is to subjugate and control the actions of the targeted party’s members without their knowledge by manipulating their attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviour.

A variety of psychological warfare techniques and pressures are employed to achieve the objective of imposing a specific value system, reliance, and dominance.

Psychological warfare targets more than just the adversary.
Additionally, they may encompass the following:

  • Domestic subjects (e.g., publicly defending the war)
  • Domestic armed forces (boosting morale during combat)
  • Neutral and allied nations (gaining international support and influence)
  • The inhabitants of temporarily occupied territories (pacification, subjugation, and “re-education” of the populace).

Aspects that define psychological warfare

In contrast to alternative modes of conflict, psychological warfare possesses several notable benefits.

Although collaborative and coordinated endeavours undoubtedly produce optimal outcomes, psychological warfare stands as the most pragmatic approach when it comes to extensive spatial and temporal implementation.

If its effects are recognised and comprehended, psychological warfare enables one to preserve cohesion, coherence, and a unified viewpoint among one’s own people through the direct action of both enemy and internal forces.

This increases the populace’s desire to struggle and resist during both times of peace and conflict.

For those unaware, I participated in direct combat operations during the war in Croatia from 1991 to 1996. One of my responsibilities was state security, and I worked with planners and experts to develop the most effective psychological warfare operation against the enemy as either a member of the team or a security detachment.

One of those operations involved the strategic use of daily newspapers and images portraying “fake” rocket launchers and MLRS launchers in large quantities, with the knowledge that the United Nations force would directly inform our adversary.

While the majority of those high-tech weapons were dummy constructs, the enemy calculated them to be real. It goes without saying that during the initial hours of operation “Flash” in May 1995, the enemy anticipated heavy artillery and rocket barrage due to their belief in the news articles, which proved to be unfounded.

This occurs both on the front lines and in the background, and it is a direct consequence of the adversary employing unanticipated new forces, assets, and resources.

This phenomenon not only leads to monetary, human, and material detriment, but also generates additional attention and ensures ongoing coverage throughout the crisis. envisioned and strategized matters in a “blitzkrieg” fashion.

This is especially evident in instances of annexation and after the conquest of regions inhabited by hostile peoples, as a territory is deemed vanquished solely when its inhabitants submit to the authority of the conqueror.

By utilising insights from the social sciences, psychological warfare strategies enable a systematic, organised, and scientific approach to the general public in an effort to manipulate, control, and oversee their psychological characteristics, states, and behaviours.

This, in conjunction with modern social networks and mass media, enables incredibly rapid and effortless access to psychological warfare.

Presently, there is a reduction in the magnitude of financial, infrastructure, economic, and population losses due to the pervasive and uncomplicated availability of communication tools and the regulation of psychological warfare strategies.

Money would be directly invested in the preservation of these resources should the adversary acquire control of the population and territory while they are still intact, which is an extremely unlikely occurrence.

Combat morale-wise, it is inherently advantageous for the opposing side to have a bewildered enemy soldier as opposed to a deceased one, given that the former inspires dread and retaliation is invariably required for the families of wounded, captured, and deceased soldiers.

Psychological warfare frequently enables the state engaged in hostile activities to evade legal repercussions, reputational damage, and risks associated with certain operations.

Additionally it:

  • Safeguards the invested capital of foreign corporations against destruction—as we all know, capital and money are the foundation of everything
  • Prevents potential harm to individuals and destruction of property
  • Enables a greater level of confidentiality to prevent internal repercussions, such as power loss and public opposition to the government or prominent individuals
  • In addition to external repercussions—including sanctions and other war-related repercussions that have an adverse impact on the nation and its inhabitants.

Financial risks, such as the profitability of the action’s implementation, are also facilitated, along with the sustainability and reputation of domestic businesses operating in the countries where the actions are conducted, and on a global scale.

Others believe that psychological warfare constitutes half the battle gained, whereas some believe that it is considerably less effective than the players would like.

What are your opinions regarding this?

Between Protection and Radicalism: Exploring the Spectrum of Eco-Terrorism

In an era when environmental degradation has become a global crisis, the distinction between defending our planet and resorting to extremes is becoming increasingly blurry.

As eco-conscious people work to oppose the exploitation and destruction of the natural world, a contentious argument arises: where does environmental activism end and eco-terrorism begin?

This enquiry aims to elucidate the complex contrast between environmental protection activities and radical actions labelled as eco-terrorism, offering insight on the reasons, repercussions, and ethical quandaries that surround this difficult issue.

The rise of eco-terrorism: a response to global environmental degradation

The late twentieth century was a watershed point in the environmental movement, with the rise of radical environmentalists and animal rights campaigners. Disillusioned by the perceived ineffectiveness of traditional environmental organisations, these groups took up more aggressive tactics in their fight against global corporations, government regulations, and the overarching capitalist framework that, in their opinion, sanctioned the relentless exploitation of nature.

Historical context and escalation
Eco-terrorism has its beginnings in the early 1980s, when former members of conventional environmental groups such as Greenpeace became frustrated. Dissatisfied with the slow pace of change and the ongoing damage of the environment, many people turned to direct action. Their techniques, which included sabotage and property destruction, were intended to inflict economic damage on entities believed responsible for environmental devastation rather than causing personal injury.

As an example, consider the Persian Gulf oil spill.

One of the most prominent acts of environmental terrorism was the Iraqi army’s deliberate oil pollution of the Persian Gulf, which demonstrated how environmental resources may be used as weapons in battles. This act, together with a boom in violent activities by environmental organisations since the 1990s, brought environmental terrorism to the forefront, sparking a global debate over the validity and ethics of such attacks.

Defining Ecoterrorism

Eco-terrorism, a word that both fascinates and confounds, refers to acts of violence committed under the cover of environmental advocacy.

The FBI defines it as the use or threat of violence by environmental groups for political purposes, frequently targeting symbolic entities. This term, however, sparks disagreement among some who regard eco-terrorism as a valid form of protest polluters and exploiters of the natural world.

The paradox of eco-terrorism
The underlying paradox in eco-terrorism stems from its dual nature: it tries to defend the environment while adopting tactics typically associated with violence and devastation. This duality creates serious concerns about the ethical and moral limitations of activism, prompting the public to reconsider their notion of environmental protection.

The range of targets and tactics
Eco-terrorists target a wide range of targets, including the timber sector, medical facilities, big polluters, and government entities. Their tactics vary, ranging from vandalism and sabotage to more serious activities such as arson and the discharge of hazardous substances, all with the goal of disrupting and drawing attention to environmental issues.

Agroterrorism: A Case In Point
Agroterrorism, which targets the agricultural sector, shows the multifaceted nature of eco-terrorism. The World Health Organisation defines agroterrorism as the purposeful contamination of food supply to cause injury. It emphasises the vulnerability of natural resources and the possibility that these acts would affect civilian populations, blurring the borders between activism and terrorism.

The ideological foundation of eco-terrorism

At its foundation, eco-terrorism is motivated by a deep dissatisfaction with the capitalism system and its environmental consequences.

Radical environmentalists think that strong actions are required to offset nature’s degradation, calling for a re-evaluation of humanity’s connection with the environment.

The Ethics Conundrum
This radical approach to ecology sets up a Pandora’s box of ethical quandaries. While some regard eco-terrorism as a necessary evil in the fight against environmental degradation, others see it as a foolish and dangerous deviation from the norms of nonviolent activism. The argument focuses on the justification of violence for environmental causes, as well as the repercussions of legitimising such actions.

Navigating the Debate- Towards a Balanced Perspective
The debate over eco-terrorism is contentious, reflecting broader social disagreements about environmental policy, corporate responsibility, and the role of activism in influencing change. To negotiate this challenging terrain, a sophisticated knowledge of the motivations driving eco-terrorism, combined with a dedication to constructive discussion, is required.

Balancing Environmental Protection with Ethical Activism
The difficulty is to reconcile the urgent necessity for environmental protection with the ethical imperatives of action. This includes carefully considering the tactics used in the name of ecology, with the goal of striking a balance that respects both the holiness of natural resources and the principles of nonviolence.

The Path Forward

As the globe grapples with an escalating environmental crisis, the phenomena of eco-terrorism prompt us to consider the nature of activism and the extent people would go to safeguard the earth.

To understand and confront the core causes of eco-terrorism, we must also have a broader discussion about environmental justice, corporate accountability, and our common obligation to protect our world for future generations.

From Monk to Question Mark: Unravelling Jay Shetty’s Public Persona

In recent days, the spotlight has unexpectedly shifted towards Jay Shetty, a name synonymous with wisdom, inspiration, and purpose-driven content.

However, the attention he’s garnered is not for the reasons one might expect from someone often viewed as a contemporary guru.

Instead, Shetty finds himself embroiled in controversy, accused by some of being nothing more than an online fraudster.

This narrative does not aim to pass judgment or tarnish the reputation of a single individual.

Rather, it is an exploration of the facts that have emerged, primarily through an investigation published by The Guardian, casting a shadow over Shetty’s meticulously crafted public persona.

How Much is Worth Self-Help Industry?!

On 30th November 2023, “Custom Marketing Insight” predicted that the global self-improvement market would experience substantial expansion between 2023 and 2032, propelled by the growing emphasis on individual growth, psychological wellness, and continuous education.

It is anticipated that the market will expand at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of roughly 8% throughout this time frame. The market is anticipated to increase in value from US$41.2 billion in 2023 to US$81.6 billion by 2032.

Perhaps this explains why businesses and life coaching are the most profitable businesses.

The Historical Shadows of Coaching Fraud

Notably, Dan Lok, a self-proclaimed entrepreneur and business coach, has faced criticism for his high-ticket sales classes, which some former students believe give little value.

Similarly, Rachel Hollis, a motivational speaker and author, received criticism for plagiarizing quotes and misrepresenting her personal background, casting doubt on her authenticity.

The wellness business has not been immune to these debates. Belle Gibson, an Australian wellness guru, admitted to inventing her cancer diagnosis, casting doubt on the reliability of her health advice and recipes.

Additionally, Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, was charged with huge fraud for misleading investors and the public about her company’s technological capabilities.

These examples serve as cautionary stories, underlining the importance of alertness and due diligence while analysing the claims of internet personas. They emphasise a growing worry over influencers’ lack of transparency and accountability, emphasising the necessity of legitimate credentials and ethical behavior in the digital era.

Jay Shetty: Monk or Moneymaker?

To the uninitiated, Shetty presents a compelling figure. He is celebrated globally as a best-selling author, the charismatic host of the “On Purpose” podcast, and a former monk turned purpose-driven entrepreneur.

With an impressive following of more than 50 million across various social media platforms, Shetty has successfully translated ancient wisdom into practical, accessible knowledge, profoundly impacting countless lives worldwide.

Yet, the foundation of Shetty’s narrative begins to wobble under scrutiny.

Born in London in 1987, his journey from the classrooms of Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet to the esteemed halls of Cass Business School at the City University of London seems straightforward enough. However, the authenticity of the story Shetty shares on tours, podcasts, and chat shows has come into question.

Shetty’s tale of transformation from a wayward youth in North London’s Wood Green, marked by drug use and binge drinking, to a seeker of spiritual truths under the tutelage of a monk, is indeed captivating.

He claims his life was forever changed after attending a lecture by a monk named Gauranga Das, leading him to spend significant time in an ashram in Mumbai, training to become a monk himself.

However, The Guardian’s investigation suggests a different narrative. It accuses Shetty of fabricating significant elements of his life story, plagiarizing content from lesser-known creators, and making grand promises of prosperity with little to back them up.

A Closer Look at the Controversy

Shetty’s influence and reach are undeniable. His discussions on the benefits of meditation, the power of visualisation, and the importance of mindfulness resonate with millions.

He has attracted the attention of celebrities, politicians, and sports figures alike, interviewing notable personalities such as Michelle Obama, Kim Kardashian, and the late Kobe Bryant.

Despite his success, Shetty’s rise has not been without criticism.

Allegations of content theft and doubts about the veracity of his monastic life have raised questions about the integrity of his advice and teachings. In 2019, he faced backlash for purportedly using content without attribution, helping him build his vast social media empire.

Moreover, The Guardian’s investigation challenges the narrative that Shetty lived as a monk in India for four years, revealing discrepancies in his story.

Friends and acquaintances suggest that Shetty was more focused on creating social media content than on monastic practices during his time in India.

These revelations prompt a reassessment of Shetty’s work and the broader implications for social media influencers.

As Shetty’s brand teeters on the brink of capitalism and spirituality, it reflects a larger trend of oversimplifying complex concepts for marketing purposes.

Reflecting on Influence and Authenticity

The saga surrounding Shetty underscores the delicate balance between influence and authenticity in the digital age.

It raises pertinent questions about the sources of our inspiration and the criteria we use to select the voices we allow into our lives.

As consumers of digital content, our choices reflect our values and the type of world we wish to create.

The controversy also highlights a broader societal issue: the erosion of critical thinking in the face of appealing narratives.

In an era where quick fixes and soundbites dominate, the allure of simple solutions can often overshadow the need for substantiated claims and genuine expertise.

As the story unfolds, the absence of a response from Shetty or his celebrity acquaintances leaves the public in limbo, waiting for clarity.

The silence is telling, prompting reflection on the nature of celebrity endorsements and the responsibility of influencers to their audiences.

Moving Forward: A Call for Discernment

Shetty’s journey, from his rapid ascent to fame to the current scrutiny, serves as a case study in the complexities of digital influence.

It invites us to reconsider our engagement with online content and the figures who populate our social media feeds.

As we navigate the vast landscape of information and entertainment, the importance of discernment and critical thinking cannot be overstated.

The digital age presents unparalleled opportunities for learning and connection, but it also demands a higher standard of accountability from both content creators and consumers. In the pursuit of wisdom and authenticity, we must be vigilant, questioning, and, above all, discerning in our choices.

As we await further developments in Shetty’s story, the controversy serves as a reminder of the imperatives of integrity and truth in the quest for meaningful influence.

In a world saturated with voices clamoring for our attention, the challenge is not only to find those who speak truth but also to cultivate the wisdom to listen discerningly.

Conquering the Internal Battlefield: A Journey of Fear and Courage

In the arena of human endeavour, confronting one’s concerns demonstrates the strength of the human spirit. This difficult challenge is both universal and distinctive to everyone.

My life, which has included almost 1800 continuous days of conflict, positions in intelligence operations, and innumerable personal struggles, provides as the backdrop for a profound analysis of fear and courage.

A life in the shadow of Danger

Conflict and Survival: My journey began during war 1991-1996, where survival was uncertain and had to be snatched day by day.

War is a relentless educator of dread. It does more than just introduce you to dread; it causes you to become intimately acquainted with it.

Amidst this ongoing threat, a paradox emerges: as your knowledge of fear grows, so does your grasp of resilience. This persistent dance with danger sharpens instincts and reveals a store of strength within.

Intelligence Work: The transfer from the open battlegrounds of war to the secret corridors of intelligence did not represent an escape from fear, but rather a reacquaintance with it under a different disguise.

The foe may be unseen in the shadowy realms of intellect, but the stakes are still huge.

This arena put my resilience to the test, pushing not just my physical ability but also the boundaries of my mental endurance.

Battles Beyond the Battlefield: The conflicts moved beyond these spectacular settings and into the realm of daily life.

Here, I fought relentlessly for basic requirements, recognition, and love, with each battle serving as a microcosm of the larger internal conflict. These events reinforced a critical lesson: the most powerful conflicts are fought within one’s own head.

The Internal Arena: Confronting Self

The realisation that the final conflict is within oneself is both liberating and intimidating. This internal conflict is characterised by a range of feelings, including fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.

However, the most formidable opponent in this volatile mix is frequently oneself.

Recognising that we are our own worst enemy reveals the true essence of courage: the ability to face not just outward adversity but also the shadows within.

Strategies for Facing Fear

Facing fear is both an art and a science, requiring a combination of recognition, preparation, and, unexpectedly, a dose of delight.

Recognising that fear is universal is the first step towards defeating it.

Fear is not a sign of weakness, but rather a common human feeling. This realisation was essential for me, as it transformed dread from a looming opponent to a trusted friend on my journey.

Preparation is essential, whether for a covert operation or for everyday life’s fights. In the quiet times of planning and scheming, we gain the strength to face our concerns directly.

This preparation is not only physical, but also fundamentally psychological, giving us the strength to face what comes ahead.

Objective Clarity understanding one’s aims is critical for navigating the landscape of dread.

This sense of purpose has been my guiding light, illuminating the route through the darkest times. This persistent concentration on the goal converts enormous hurdles into manageable barriers.

Finding Joy in the Battle -one of the most unexpected strategies for dealing with fear is to find joy in the conflict. Embracing the conflict with enthusiasm and excitement alters the path, transforming fear into a catalyst for growth and discovery.

Lessons Learned and Forward momentum

The journey overcoming fear is one of continuous development and empowerment.

Each conflict, whether in the real trenches of war or the metaphorical theatre of personal suffering, teaches lessons about resilience, self-discovery, and the tenacious human spirit.

This route, paved with wins and disappointments, reveals the essence of courage: the bravery to face the unknown, the resilience to persevere, and the knowledge to learn from each experience.

Reflecting on this journey reveals a clear message: addressing our anxieties, particularly those that lurk within, is a great act of courage.

This clash reveals our inner strength, teaching us that the biggest battles are conducted not against external forces, but against the shadows within.

Accepting this challenge is more than just a survival tactic; it demonstrates the enduring ability of the human spirit to overcome, thrive, and triumph.

They operate worldwide and are unstoppable

With today’s mostly networked world, which includes 4G and 5G signals, optical connections, and a variety of satellites ranging from GPS to digital TV signals, gathering data of all types has become the major task of all intelligence services and organisations throughout the world.

Though agents from various services are often portrayed as “superheroes” in Hollywood films and television shows, they are actually data analysts, IT specialists, and frequently psychologists who assess the behaviour of adversarial nations and their leaders—and, on occasion, ordinary citizens.

Chinese Intelligence Services

“They have mobilised literally everyone; even if someone doesn’t want to, they have to.”

China’s intelligence services operate internationally. China’s intelligence agencies maintain a tight eye on the United States, Australia and Europe.

The Norwegian government has issued a warning about the security threat posed by Chinese espionage networks in Europe, according to its annual security report.

According to the findings, China leverages cyber space as its principal gateway for political and industrial espionage.

The Netherlands, a separate NATO member, stated in its assessment that state-sponsored Chinese hackers installed dangerous malware on the Dutch military computer network the previous year.

Botnet

The US FBI has stated that it has shut down a “botnet,” which was set up by Beijing-approved hackers to conceal reports that they were planning to assault “critical infrastructure.”

The phrase “botnet” is a play on the words “robot” and “network,” and it refers to a group of computers infected with malicious software and controlled by a malevolent actor.

Duty to help authorities

The heads of intelligence in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have issued warnings, alleging that Beijing is stealing intellectual property on an unprecedented scale.

China’s intelligence agencies use a variety of widely available tools and digital infrastructure to mask their operations while conducting business all over the world.

It is stated that civilian actors such as “diplomats, tour operators, private individuals, companies, and various interest groups” assist them in carrying out their responsibilities.

It is also worth noting that these intelligence services rely on their close relationships to Chinese corporate companies and that Chinese enterprises and nationals are legally compelled to comply with their government’s intelligence-collecting activities when requested.

According to a NATO ally assessment, given the involvement of China, Russia, and other Iranian-sponsored militant groups such as Hamas, the West faces a “more dangerous security situation” than it did a year earlier.

Value Chain Issues

According to the article, these states have a “revisionist agenda of undermining Western influence and establishing an international order in which liberal values such as democracy and freedom of speech do not determine direction”.

Aside from intelligence gathering, the report highlighted concern about China’s and its allies’ reliance on supply networks and value chains that are disproportionately dominated by a few individuals. China’s impact on mineral beneficiation technologies was cited as an example.

Norway’s intelligence service has identified China as a prominent participant in the context of Western sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. China has the “ability and will” to use these dependencies to apply political pressure.

A prudent choice

In recent years, US authorities have discovered 100 Chinese individuals who approached military sites and other sensitive locations, including a missile launch site in Florida, under the guise of being tourists.

Most certainly, testing US security standards is at stake.

Military and security professionals see it as a concerning and growing trend.

Some attempted to gain access to a missile facility in New Mexico, while others were seen diving and recording near a missile complex in Key West, Florida.

Numerous people have been apprehended while attempting to breach military locations.

Certain incidents are harmless, such as the Chinese visitors who claimed to have found the nearest Burger King or McDonald’s using Google Maps, only to realize that it was next to a military station.

Some cases are more severe. In one occasion, a group of Chinese nationals pretended to be tourists and sought to evade security at Fort Wainwright in Alaska by claiming they had arrangements for a hotel stay on a military base. That installation is home to the United States Army’s 11th Airborne Division.

Some in the United States have expressed concern that Beijing is gathering intelligence in nontraditional ways, such as near bases or using commercially available Chinese-made equipment that could be spied on.

The Pentagon stated that it has conducted repeated security examinations of military locations since 2018.

Every day, about 10,000 people are turned away from military facilities. These are usually drivers who are unclear about their location, and they are safely returned.

Nevertheless, there are some serious cases

Chinese people are routinely spotted at the US military training facilities.

Assume they visit White Sands National Park, go sledding down sand dunes, and then travel to an area where people shoot rockets.

Chinese nationals have occasionally been seen filming with drones.

The People’s Republic of China has a “bigger hacking program than any other major nation”.

This gives China considerable power, in addition to traditional espionage and trade secret theft from private companies and research institutions.

China is considerably supporting Russia’s war machine as the stalemate with Ukraine enters its third year.

This support does not consist of ready-to-use weapons, as North Korea and Iran are accused of providing, but rather of a large number of vehicles, other machinery, parts, and electronic components.

Influencers in the Service of War

The FBI reported a fatal fall by a person of influence, Christina.

Being an influencer, these days is straight-forward, and anyone who works a little harder may be able to acquire that position, assuming it exists at all.

Influencers in The Service of World War Two vs Now

To mobilise popular support, promote morale, and disseminate propaganda, influencers in the Second World War were mostly political leaders, military personalities, and state-propagandized media such as newspapers, radio broadcasts, and film reels.

On the other hand, modern influencers largely function online, influencing everything from politics and social concerns to style and lifestyle via channels such as social media, blogs, and video-sharing websites.

Modern influencers shape public opinion and trends in a decentralized, frequently more personal way through peer-to-peer interchange, in contrast to WWII influencers who used top-down communication channels controlled by governments and institutions.

What exactly does the term “influencer” mean?

An influencer is someone who, by their position, authority, skill, or connection to their audience, can influence other people’s decisions.
It is critical to remember that these people function as both social and marketing tools, allowing for the achievement of extra goals.
Over the last decade, social media has risen in popularity.

According to the most recent forecasts, the number of social media users worldwide is likely to exceed 5.00 billion by 2024 in contrast to that there are 64 million Instagram influencers in 2023.

Social media influencers are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and experience in each field.

They routinely post on the subject on their preferred social media platforms, attracting a large number of devoted, engaged followers who pay close attention to their viewpoints.

But what if the story goes the other way?

Kristina Puzyreva, a 32-year-old Russian Canadian Instagram influencer and traveller, pleaded guilty to conspiring to carry unmanned aerial vehicle and guided missile system components from the United States to Russia.

Who is Kristina Puzyreva?

There is little data available on social media.

Kristina is a young, stylish woman who adores fashion and travel. She speaks three languages and has lived in Canada for more than half of her life.

She also states that she is a businesswoman.

However, the history of this case adds to its intrigue.

Puzyreva pleaded guilty to money laundering two days ago as part of a multimillion-dollar plan that involved sending millions of dollars worth of US electronic components to Russia for drones and missiles.

She is suspected of money laundering on behalf of numerous Brooklyn-based shell corporations that export US-made equipment to Russian groups.

The US Department of Justice’s KleptoCapture Task Force was formed to implement export controls, sanctions, and other measures in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022. This is only one of many cases that have come to light because of this initiative.

Excellent work in the US

Puzireva was charged with smuggling, violating sanctions, and committing fraud at the end of October last year.

Kristina Puzireva and her co-defendants are accused of purchasing and transporting millions of dollars in technology from the United States to facilitate Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.

Her money laundering scam was directly linked to the transportation of 298 $7 million in prohibited technologies to the Russian military.

Semiconductors are the cornerstone of the world, and American companies produce a big number of the best. Any nation’s military requires chips, and Russia has spent a significant percentage of its supply on missiles, drones, and other weaponry in its fight with Ukraine.

Moscow launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022, prompting Washington and the rest of the West to tighten sanctions on Russia.

Despite the trade sanctions, recently developed American semiconductors were nonetheless employed in Russian armaments in Ukraine.

It is obvious that trade takes all possible forms, and financial flows are unaffected by war.

The lawsuit filed against Puzireva and her friends reveals how some electrical components ended up in other nations.

Puzireva and her husband Nikolai Goltsev, both Canadian-Russian citizens, did business with Salimdzhon Nasriddinov, a Russian-Tajik citizen based in Brooklyn.

According to the story, the two would fly from Canada to New York, buy devices from shady businesses, and then carry them to Russia.

Naturally, serial numbers were affixed to many of the goods carried, making it easy to link the shipments and parts to the scheming three.

The three were hauled into jail in late October of last year.

Puzireva and her husband gained a lot of money by transferring electronics to Russia, according to FBI agents.

According to court documents, she once complained that she needed to open 80 different accounts to hold $3 million for an accomplice.

As the rockets descended on Mykolaiv, she posed

The agents tracked their correspondence to determine where they were.

Agents seized $20,000 in cash during a search of her hotel room in New York.

She built an image of a couple enjoying the life of an influencer, travelling the world and making a lot of money while protecting Russia from sanctions in the weeks leading up to her arrest on October 21, last year.

Despite her guilty plea, Puzireva has not yet been punished. Nasriddinov and her husband are still awaiting trial.

Have we really reached our limit when we try every possible way to earn money?

Is there humanity, or is it all about money?

Where is the world heading now, and most importantly, do you use influencers to represent your business, product, or service?!

These are questions that everyone should think about.

Embracing Life’s Shake-ups: The Christmas Snowball, Overcoming Fear, and the Boxing Ring

During the height of the holiday season, the Christmas Snowball assumes the significance of a profound metaphor for existence, in addition to being a beloved adornment.

The glass dome encloses a tranquil and exquisitely beautiful realm, which stands in striking contrast to the turbulent and uncertain conditions that permeate the outside world.

The emblematic image, characterised by its tranquil, snow-covered surroundings, functions as a setting for my personal account—a contemplation of the tribulations encountered in life, the anxieties we confront, and the struggles I confront within the realm of boxing.

By examining the Christmas Snowball, I delve into the paradoxical nature of desiring solace in an apparently flawless world while simultaneously embracing the trials and realities that arise from directly facing our fears.

As we traverse the intricacies of existence, drawing parallels between the tranquil realm encapsulated in the snow globe and our personal apprehensions can illuminate avenues towards development, fortitude, and happiness.

Comfort Zones and Contained Worlds

A snow globe is an ethereal representation of perfection frozen in time, embodying an entire universe. It represents the comfort zones into which we frequently retreat, regions characterised by the avoidance of risks and resistance to change, which are dictated by the subterranean currents of dread.

This succinct scene reflects the mindset of an individual prior to facing a substantial obstacle, analogous to a combatant preparing for a bout.

The implementation of strategies, mental preparation, and training establishes a consistent and secure environment, comparable to residing in the immutable terrain of a snow globe.

However, existence is anything but static due to its inherent dynamism. The allure of predictability and the evasion of risk entail substantial drawbacks, constraining our capacity for development and the range of experiences at our disposal.

As I prepared for my boxing match, where the stability of training had to collide with the unpredictability of the fight, this realisation occurred to me.

Life’s expansive, unrestricted experiences represented a transition from the confined realm of the snow globe to the tangible confrontation that ensued.

Not shaken, but shaken

When agitated, a snow globe reveals its true enchantment.

Dancing in a whirlwind of disorder and beauty, the snowflakes illuminate the world with a beauty that is radically different from its static perfection.

This disruption can be interpreted as a metaphor for facing our anxieties head-on—the unsettling tremor that is indispensable in unveiling the genuine magnificence of existence.

Each strike, block, moment of evasion and confrontation within the boxing ring shakes the snow globe of our existence.

These instances of susceptibility and disorder demonstrate that facing fear does not destroy us; rather, it reveals our ability to bounce back and demonstrates that adversity presents potential for development, knowledge acquisition, and personal change.

My struggle served as evidence of this. Every round and interaction with my opponent constituted a conscious departure from my comfort zone, a perturbation of the snow globe. Constant was the apprehension of physical suffering and defeat.

However, it was during these instances of extreme susceptibility that the struggle evolved from a superficial physical confrontation to a profound process of introspection and development.

Connection versus Isolation

The majesty of a snow globe, despite being enshrined in a glass dome, can unite individuals, and evoke a sense of collective admiration.

A similar way, dread can be a source of isolation in real life, separating us from those around us by erecting barriers. It may appear that the boxing arena is an absolute wasteland, with a solitary fighter pitted against another.

However, it serves as a hub of interconnection: not only between the fighter and their instructor, but also among opponents and the spectators.

Fear-erecting barriers are dissipated by the warmth provided by these connections, which are founded on shared experiences and reciprocal understanding.

They serve as a reminder of the happiness and connection that await us beyond our fears.

The forces of encouragement from my coach, admiration for my opponent, and enthusiasm from the spectators were instrumental in dispelling the sense of isolation that dread had engendered during my bout.

They served as a reminder that the capacity to surmount dread frequently stems from extending one’s hand and accepting the perspective and assistance of others.

Time-frozen but Brimming with Potential

The reassuring serenity of a snow globe obscures the capacity for transformation that is intrinsic to existence. Fear, in its diverse manifestations, possesses the capacity to immobilise individuals, impeding their progress and development.

Conversely, like how a mild shake revitalises a snow globe, a similar action can rouse the latent potential that resides within us. Exploring uncharted territories, embracing uncertainty, and undertaking ventures into peril can profoundly alter the course of our lives.

The conflict was an immobilised instant that possessed immense potential. As the bell tolled, I progressively distanced myself from the individual I had become with each subsequent round. This experience taught me that, like the snow globe, our lives contain unrealised capabilities that are merely awaiting the fortitude to confront our fears to be released.

The Appeal of Being Vulnerable

Like confronting our anxieties, the fragility of a snow globe possesses a delicate beauty. Demonstrating resilience entails confronting the unknown, recognising our anxieties, and making the deliberate decision to proceed despite these obstacles.

Akin to the snowflakes that transform into unique configurations with each tremor of the Earth, embracing vulnerability enables us to investigate unanticipated avenues and configurations of existence that are more opulent and exquisite.

To conclude,

The ethereal beauty and serene atmosphere of the Christmas snowball function as a profound metaphor for our expedition through the depths of dread.

This passage serves as a reminder that while life is frequently fraught with difficulties and unpredictability, it is also rich in instances of aesthetic appreciation, development, and interpersonal bonding.

An instance such as my boxing match occurred—a disturbance that unveiled resilience, exposed the allure of openness, and emphasised the profound impact that can result from venturing outside our comfort zones.

Accepting the changes that occur in life does not imply ignoring anxiety; rather, it entails acknowledging its existence and proceeding with bravery.

Like a prized Christmas snowball, human existence is fragile and limited in duration, yet it is still capable of enduring turbulence and converting it into instances of captivating splendour and profound meaning.

Girl on Fire: Ruja Ignatova the CryptoQueen at large

“She appears to be a girl, but she is actually a flame. “She’s so bright, she can burn your eyes, so look the other way.”

It was June 2016, and bitcoin was a big issue, with investors scurrying for profits.

Ruja Ignatova took the stage in a flowing burgundy gown adorned with black sequins, with beams of light falling on her and Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” playing over the speakers.

“She looks like a girl, but she’s actually a flame.

“So bright, she can burn your eyes – better look the other way,” the speakers yelled in the background as she grinned and thanked the audience at London’s Wembley Arena.

Ignatova nicknamed herself Cryptoqueen and sold her enterprise, OneCoin, as prosperous.

“What a terrific occasion! Over 11,500 people showed up! “You are all amazing!” Ruja Ignatova stated that “in two years no one will be talking about Bitcoin anymore” as investors clapped enthusiastically.

Ignatova vanished from sight sixteen months later, when she boarded a flight from Sofia, Bulgaria to Athens. Since then, no one has seen her.

Ruja Ignatova: Who is she?

Bulgarian-born Ruja Ignatova was born in 1980. She was reared in Germany, where her mother is a teacher and her father is an engineer.

Her family relocated to Germany when she was a small girl, and Ignatova excelled academically and spent her free time studying and playing chess. Her peers described her as reclusive, smart, and ambitious.

Ignatova vanished from sight sixteen months later, when she boarded a flight in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since then, no one has seen her.

Ignatova attended the University of Konstanz in Germany on a scholarship and married a fellow law student there.

There have been allegations that she attended Oxford University in England, but no information on the institution, course, or admittance date has been provided. She received her PhD in private international law from the German University of Konstanz in 2005. It is also stated that she worked for McKinsey & Company.

“She desperately wanted to be rich”

She told people she wanted to be a millionaire by the time she was thirty, and she read money-making books from early in the morning.

After studying European law at Oxford University, Ignatova worked in Sofia as a consultant for the multinational management consulting firm McKinsey&Company.

Her clients respected her and associated with her rise from humble beginnings and strong desire for money. Her fluency in Bulgarian, German, English, and Russian was incredibly useful.

Ignatova placed high importance on appearances, usually attending events in evening gowns, bright red lipstick, and diamond jewelry.

Everything was glamorous and successful. She was obsessed with looks and elegance.

The ten FBI fugitives that are most wanted

Ruja Ignatova is the only woman among the FBI’s top ten most wanted fugitives, which also includes murderers and gang leaders.

She is one of just 11 women on the FBI’s list of 529 fugitives, which has been released since 1950.

Ignatova and her associates duped victims into parting with billions of dollars by falsely claiming that OneCoin would become the “killer of Bitcoin.”

OneCoins were, in fact, useless. Their lies are manufactured with the sole purpose of duping ordinary people across the world into giving them their hard-earned money.

Ignatova vanished in October 2017, but her image has appeared in worldwide media and on the FBI website ever since. Additionally, she is one of Europe’s most sought fugitives.

“Ignatova is believed to be travelling with armed guards and/or associates,” the warrant states toward the bottom. Ignatova may have changed her appearance in some way, such as through plastic surgery.

The FBI categorizes fugitives based on the gravity of their offences and the level of threat.

The cryptocurrency OneCoin was designed mainly to defraud investors.

However, court records show an astonishing story of how Ignatova and Karl Sebastian Greenwood, one of OneCoin’s co-founders, allegedly knew from the start that their ambitious idea was a Ponzi scheme.

According to FBI agents, the OneCoin cryptocurrency was designed to defraud investors.

Greenwood and Ignatova referred to the OneCoin idea as a “nonsense coin” in emails while developing it.

According to the records, in an email to Ruja’s brother Konstantin Ignatov, who also engaged in the scheme and took over OneCoin after his sister went missing, Greenwood referred to his investors as “idiots” and “lunatics.”

In a 2014 letter to Greenwood, Ignatova remarked, “Maybe not perfectly clean or something to be proud of (except with you alone when we make money),” In a 2014 email to Greenwood, she also advised them on how to exit the company if it fails, suggesting that they should “take the money and run and blame this on somebody else.”

I’ve already written more about cryptocurrencies, but to summarize, digital assets such as Bitcoin are governed by a global, decentralized computer network rather than a bank or government. For example, expert crypto miners use data centre servers to generate Bitcoin.

The cryptocurrency market is a volatile and mostly unregulated industry, with experts having conflicting views on its viability.

Future economies, according to Bitcoin proponents, would be constructed on digital currencies valued by user communities rather than central banks. Critics dismiss them as a hoax or, at the very least, highly risky investments.

She carefully prepared and carried out her approach

Ignatova and Greenwood began presenting OneCoin to bankers in New York, Europe, and other regions in 2014. Regarding the accusation, they organised virtual conferences and webinars, asking prospective investors to fund an account that would facilitate the purchase of OneCoin bundles.

According to US prosecutors, OneCoin operated as a multi-level marketing network, with investors earning commissions for referring others to buy Bitcoin bundles. Packages generated income levels ranging from “beginner” to “tycoon trader”.

According to prosecution documents, Ignatova and her accomplices promised buyers a five- to ten-fold return on their investment.

There was frenzied shopping. Investors contributed approximately four billion dollars to OneCoin between the fourth quarters of 2014 and 2016.

According to court papers, US investors donated approximately $50 million.

Ignatova took full advantage of the wild speculation that followed the early days of cryptocurrencies by timing her strategy perfectly.

Unlike other cryptocurrencies, OneCoin was not mined. OneCoin was produced using software rather than a large number of powerful servers.

Prosecutors have obtained an email exchange between Ignatova and Greenwood from August 2014 in which she remarked, “We don’t actually mine, we just tell people shit.”

The value of OneCoin, like that of other cryptocurrencies, was wholly controlled by the firm and was not determined by open market supply and demand.

The concerns initially appeared in 2016

When investors were unable to sell their OneCoins in order to recoup their initial investments, the façade began to crumble in 2016. On the Internet, word spread that the deal was a scam.

The press began to investigate.

Federal investigators from the United States and other countries became engaged.

It’s unclear what happened to Ignatova’s marriage.

However, the FBI claimed that she discovered OneCoin was under investigation after bugging her American boyfriend’s residence and discovering he was assisting a federal probe into her company’s business activities.

The person you trust the most usually betrays you

In October 2017, the US Department of Justice brought charges against Ignatova. The allegations are for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.

Each of these offences has a maximum punishment of 20 years in jail.

She was also charged with securities fraud, which carries a possible five-year prison sentence.

A federal judge in New York has issued a warrant for her arrest.

2017: All traces of her disappeared

On October 25, 2017, she took a commercial trip from Sofia to Athens. After that, she vanished, putting her business associates in charge of the collapsing corporation.

According to the FBI, she left Athens on a German passport and may have gone to Germany, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Eastern Europe, or even back to Bulgaria.

A $100,000 reward is being offered by the FBI for information that results in her arrest.

Ruja made off with a sizable sum of money. I suppose she’s taking advantage of the fact that you can make a lot of friends with money.

Her partners were arrested

Not so fortunate were her partners. After being detained in July 2018 at his Koh Samui, Thailand, home, Greenwood was extradited to the United States.

He entered a guilty plea to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering in December of that same year. He is being held and could spend twenty years in prison on each of the three charges.

Konstantin Ignatov, Ignatov’s brother, was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport in March 2019. He was on a business trip to the US and was getting ready to take a plane back to Bulgaria.

Subsequently, akin to a scene from a movie, he was shackled by five large guys dressed in suits and led to an interrogation room where he was repeatedly questioned about his sister’s disappearance.

Ignatov entered a guilty plea, and the punishment ought to be given.

OneCoin is no longer in operation, and its website has been taken down.

However, its creator, a long-dressed woman adorned with dazzling jewels, managed to get away from the law.

The location of the crypto queen is still unknown more than five years after she disembarked from a plane in Greece.

“The 50 Cent Army: Unveiling China’s Digital Influence Operations”

China’s Strategy for Global Digital Dominance.

“Public opinion warfare,” “psychological warfare,” and “information warfare” are all terms that describe the same overarching strategy that the 50 Cent Army represents: the attempt to influence online discourse and perception.

China is not alone in using this tactic; several international organisations and governments have faced accusations of such tactics, albeit to varying degrees.

I know you are singing “Candy Shop” to yourself and immediately thinking about American rapper 50 Cent. You already know that Nutella is the best, and while I adore music and candy, this is a story about much more essential things.

I believe Generation Z understands trolling, but for those of us who are older, please allow me to define the phrase. and especially in relation to social media.

Trolls

The term “trolls,” derived from a fishing strategy used by cyber thieves to identify victims, refers to those who use their freedom of expression online.

Trolling is the deliberate upsetting of others through online posts or comments.

It also refers to the act of purposefully insulting someone by making a disparaging remark online.

Trolling is a sort of cyber bullying in which someone posts unpleasant or harassing comments on social media with the purpose of dehumanising or degrading the target.

Trolling has a significant influence on victims’ mental health, with worry and despair being some of the results.

Trolls thrive on attention.

What if the government employs trolls?

I believe you have already seen or received several GIFs or personal comments on social media.

They usually go by pseudonyms like “tz_briley_554”, “leonid142908,” or “truth-seeker54,” but if you look closely, they don’t have any followers.

However, with closer examination and more enquiry, you will discover that this question is not that harmless.

This tale is about “trolls” from China

Internet trolls from China are a more powerful force than most people realise, and they continue to play an important role in the CCP’s aim of acquiring influence in global discourse.

The “50 Cent Army” is a group of state-sponsored Internet pundits believed to number between 500,000 and two million.

The story behind the moniker, which claims that the government donates 50 renminbi cents for every pro-China post, has long been debunked.

The Chinese national army is summoned to take part in endless parades and public celebrations at every major public event in China. I believe you have witnessed at least one Chinese military march.

However, there is another type of army operating on the internet.

Wu mao, which translates to “50 cents” in Chinese, is a common slur online, and official state media has recognised the existence of government operatives posing as ordinary, patriotic internet users.

Every year, Chinese authorities publish 448 million fraudulent comments on social media.

They are not the only ones dealing with it, either.

It has long been suspected that the Chinese government employs up to two million people to covertly insert a significant number of false texts, including pseudonyms, into a steady stream of social media posts, making them look to be the true ideas of ordinary people.

Let us be clear from the start: the “50 cent army” is not, as the stereotype suggests, a group of young Chinese people typing furiously in their parents’ rooms and basements; rather, it is a group of government bureaucrats who work long hours to fill positions purportedly held by regular citizens in unrelated fields such as taxation or sports management.

These state-paid operatives usually work full-time, participate in ongoing debates and initiate new ones, write articles and posts to influence public opinion, and receive daily instructions from authorities. They may arrive before the news is released and, on occasion, respond to the occurrence.

These are not the typical trolls.

They mostly fill the internet with reasonably hopeful posts, rather than discussing imprisoned dissidents or maritime disputes.

According to the analysis, there are very few positions held by members of the 50c party in the Chinese government that are subject to criticism or debate.

According to the study’s authors, the enormous clandestine operation’s purpose is to continually redirect public attention, alter topics, and encourage the public to support the incumbent government.

Similar tactics for manipulating public opinion are used in Russia, and American officials are also familiar with them. In the United States, presidential candidates routinely accuse one another of utilising online troll armies throughout the campaign.

Hillary Clinton fans openly boasted about their admiration for social media pundits who would ‘quickly reply to severe criticisms and phoney stories’ with $1 million.

Public opinion redirected

Public opinion shift is not a fresh notion. It is a public policy that is implemented by other countries in addition to China.

In truth, 50 Cent’s army is just a platoon of a much larger propaganda machine.

All those encouraging posts reflect the milieu that bans most Chinese citizens from legally accessing social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as news organisations like Bloomberg and The New York Times.

While pro-government posts from 50 Centres may divert viewers’ attention, other sections of the Propaganda Department work hard to filter out content that some find objectionable or contains specific keywords.

When the “50 Cent Army” initially formed in the early 2000s, it dominated online debate in chat rooms, message boards, and comment areas beneath articles.

Their techniques may appear out of date, given that many millennials are continuously connected to the Internet via their watches and phones.

Weibo, a popular Chinese social media tool, has enabled everyone to converse online in real-time.

Disinformation and influence campaigns

Currently, the bulk of observers regard the “50 cent army” as an oddity on the Chinese Internet, more entertaining than useful.

However, as the CCP continues to aggressively spread propaganda on foreign social networks, its trolls pose a severe threat to global political stability, economic security, and personal safety.

The truth is that party-affiliated trolls are no longer just an irritant, and their attacks are likely to grow in size and frequency.

Understanding their size, strategy, and goals will be critical to creating a successful response as the CCP expands its public opinion campaign to encompass overseas audiences.

First, contrary to popular thought, the CCP is significantly more involved in shaping Chinese public opinion online.

The CCP has assembled an army of over twenty million part-time “network civilisation volunteers” as well as two million paid commentators, with the objective of amplifying content that supports its rule.

The majority of the volunteers are college students who were assigned by the censorship bureau to oppose “negative” information in their spare time, such as reporting on human rights violations, the COVID-19 pandemic, and feminist activism.

They are young but educated, with an average age of only nineteen, and are willing to defend the party’s doctrine against those who disagree with it.

China’s “50 Cent Army” spent the first ten years of its existence primarily attempting to influence how the general population perceived social and political concerns specific to China.

Social media platforms continue to be their primary source of information in China

However, in recent years, the CCP has begun to rely on its army of trolls to launch consumer boycotts of international corporations doing business in China, as well as harassment campaigns against foreign researchers.

Finally, trolls are just one component of the CCP’s wider propaganda machine, which is being built to expand China’s influence in global discourse.

Chinese trolls have recently appeared on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, even though early interviews with the so-called “50 Cent Army” indicated that they were rarely, if ever, published on international social media platforms.

They have begun scaling the significant Wall more frequently with Beijing’s permission, speaking out on issues of significant importance to the Chinese government.

Their specific purpose is to influence foreigners’ attitudes on topics such as COVID-19 history, politics, and economics.

After hearing this story, do you have a different take on social media comments?

Do you feel Facebook is more than just sharing stories with family and friends, Instagram is more than just beautiful images, YouTube is more than just interesting videos, and Twitter is more than just news and its accuracy?