We must keep our wits about us while the Oversight Committee considers evidence on whether to impeach President Joe Biden, as the cognitive warfare warriors attempt to subvert reality, says Patrick Lawrence.
By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News
After a single day’s introductory hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives, it is already evident that the Oversight Committee’s inquiry into President Joe Biden’s potentially criminal involvement in his family’s foreign business dealings will be much more than a formal, constitutionally-mandated legal proceeding.
Viewed in the broadest terms, this is likely to prove a test of the troubled republic’s relationship with reality.
If the hearings to come conclude with a finding that the forty-sixth president is guilty of impeachable crimes, as now appears likely, they will confront Americans with an insidious, many-sided effort to subvert their public institutions and the national discourse altogether in the name of a liberal authoritarian ideology.
Not quite three years ago, NATO published the final draft of a lengthy study it titled Cognitive Warfare. This 45–page document, reported in various independent publications but in mainstream media not at all, outlined what its authors termed “the battle for the human brain.”
The brain, the study reads,
“is unable to distinct [sic] whether information is right or wrong; is led to believe statements or messages it has already heard as true, even though these may be false; accepts statements as true, if backed by evidence, with no regards to [sic] the authenticity of that evidence.”
And then it made this observation:
“At the political and strategic level, it would be wrong to underestimate the impact of emotions…. Emotions —hope, fear, humiliation — shape the world and international relations with the echo-chamber effect of social media.”
Along with others, I read this diabolic document as referring primarily to geopolitical rivalries, strategic competition, great-power maneuvering, and all manner of psyops and covert operations. It has since become clear that cognitive warfare is waged on many fronts, domestic as well as foreign.
It is, in effect, a malevolent characteristic of our time. America’s legislative and judicial processes are among these fronts. The hearings to determine whether to impeach Joe Biden are best understood as such a cognitive battleground.
The Oversight Committee will, when all evidence is considered and all witnesses heard, arrive at a formal determination as to whether the full House will vote on Articles of Impeachment. And that vote, if there is one, will decide whether to send the Articles to the Senate.
Concurrent with this visible, legal process, we are to witness a viciously pernicious campaign, waged by the nation’s Democratic elite and the media serving them, to manipulate public perceptions such that Joe Biden is, irrespective of any evidence and under any circumstance, understood to be innocent of all allegations leveled against him.
Can incessant repetition of lies and misrepresentations triumph in the American consciousness over perfectly discernible realities? I posed this question in my initial report on the House hearings. I did not then view these proceedings as a front in the wider war power wages for our minds. Nor had I allowed myself fully to consider that the answer to my question may well turn out to be yes.
It behooves those of us following the House hearings to bear these matters in mind, to equip ourselves properly to understand the proceedings, and to resist the efforts of cognitive warriors to subvert our thinking and judgments. This will require certain things of us.
One of these is memory. Even as the cognitive warriors invite us to forget, we will have to remember various events in the past that bear upon what Oversight brings forth by way of evidence against Biden and the other eight family members — yes, eight — involved in the alleged bribery and influence-peddling schemes that are at issue.
We will have to maintain a keen sense of history. We must be able to put the proceedings in the context of an indisputable written record that extends back at least nine years, when Hunter Biden was named to the board of Burisma Holdings, the controversial Ukrainian gas company, and Joe Biden, as vice-president, began intervening directly in Ukraine’s political, economic, and business affairs.
Extensive Catalogue of Evidence
The cognitive warriors in the press and among agenda-setting Democrats will urge us at every turn to assume there is no written record of events — no valid history.
Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, tried this on in his opening statement on Thursday. There is no evidence against Biden and his son, he asserted, no history to consider — this after his Republican colleagues previewed an extensive catalogue of evidence indicating the president’s guilt.
And finally, there is the not-so-simple matter of paying attention. It has been evident for many decades now that those who generate mis– and disinformation daily in matters of great political consequence depend on the somnambulant inattention and amnesia of most Americans. At this point, paying attention acquires a positive political value.
I mention these matters not to overdramatize our moment but to reflect its gravity. It will take a conscious effort to counter cognitive warfare in the course of these hearings. A single day’s proceedings are warning enough of what is to come.
Is there a partisan dimension to these proceedings? Let there be no question of this. But Republicans and Democrats stand in very different places as Oversight proceeds. The Republicans who direct the hearings, whatever their political ambitions, are working with hard evidence. Democrats appear to have nothing to counter this other than a domestic version of the cognitive warfare I invoke.
Like it or not, Republicans have the law in their favor, to put this point another way. Democrats are left with subterfuge and media manipulation. The latter present Americans with the greater danger.
Four years ago in September 2019, the transcript of a leaked telephone conversation between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky recorded Trump as he asked the Ukrainian president to help investigate the doings of Joe and Hunter Biden as these related to Burisma, where Hunter had sat lucratively on the board.
Burisma Story Turned Upside Down
By this time, it had come to light that Biden père, “the Big Guy,” had intervened to get Ukraine’s chief prosecutor fired amid his investigations into corruption at Burisma. Readers will recall that Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid if the Kiev regime did not dismiss Viktor Shokin. When Shokin got the sack, Biden famously boasted of it during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General [William Barr at this time] would be great,” Trump said over the telephone to Zelensky. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
Trump was impeached (and subsequently acquitted) for this intervention. The Democratic Party, including Biden himself, the mainstream media, elements of the Deep State, and top officials in the State Department then began a precisely calibrated, highly coordinated campaign to turn the Burisma story plumb upside down, like an hour glass: Suddenly Biden had intervened to get Shokin dismissed because it was Shokin who was corrupt. [State Dept. memos released last year and published by Just the News actually praise Shokin for his anti-corruption work.]
This story still prevails among the elements just named. The press repeats it with no apparent hesitation whenever the topic arises. The postscript is rarely, if ever mentioned: Shokin’s successor as chief prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, made motions to take up the Burisma case — and then dropped it as soon as the Klieg lights were shut off.
And now the House Oversight Committee is investigating Joseph R. Biden, Jr., on the basis of the allegations Trump was condemned for considering. This is the history we must keep with us. These are the facts we must remember.
The account of actual events surrounding Burisma, the Bidens, and Viktor Shokin is now dismissed as a conspiracy theory. This is the work of the cognitive warriors. Against this is a very considerable inventory of evidence — email trails, text messages, witness testimony (including corroborating accounts from multiple sources), bank records — that the Oversight Committee now has in its possession.
The history here is plain — as it is in numerous other cases of the Biden family’s apparent corruption. The record is plain. The evidence appears to be there. Will history prevail against deeply cynical efforts to manipulate public perceptions sufficiently to subvert reality? This is the question. Vigilance against cognitive warfare will do much to determine the answer.
Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, lecturer and author, most recently of Journalists and Their Shadows. Other books include Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored.
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