Creating Mindsets

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Untitled Inspired by the style of Picasso, an image expressing suspicion, conspiracy, struggle and power. — Bill Hertha, 2022

One always needs to be cautious about what they read in news reports. In a recent article, “China’s War Against Taiwan has Already Started” in The Atlantic Magazine, author and Staff Writer Anne Applebaum recounts how a 2018 incident was spun by the Chinese Communist Party:

In 2018, a typhoon stranded thousands of people at Kansai International Airport, near Osaka, Japan. Among them were some tourists from Taiwan. Normally, this story might not have had much political meaning. But a few hours into the incident, an obscure Taiwanese news website began reporting on what it said was the failure of Taiwanese diplomats to rescue their citizens. A handful of bloggers began posting on social media, too, excitedly praising Chinese officials who had sent buses to help their citizens escape quickly. Some of the Taiwanese tourists supposedly had pretended to be Chinese in order to get on board. Chatter about the incident spread. Photographs and videos, allegedly from the airport, began to circulate.

The story rapidly migrated into the mainstream Taiwanese media. Journalists attacked the government: Why had Chinese diplomats moved so quickly and effectively? Why were the Taiwanese so incompetent?

It turns out everything beyond the typhoon was false; there were no buses, there was no rescue, there was no Taiwanese government failure.

In the article, “Russia’s Quiet Riot” in Foreign Affairs Magazine, Andrei Kolesnikov, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, quoted Putin speaking to a group of mothers (“either of Russian Soldiers in general or of the recently mobilized”) “Death in the trenches is better than death from vodka.”

Wow. How contemptuous is that? A side from suggesting Putin’s point of view on the state of Russian young men, it prompted incredulity that anyone would say, let alone, think that, leaving me only to further devalue to a new low my estimate of the character of this man. However, I tempered my immediate emotional response with the caution contained in Anne Applebaum’s story.

This quote highlights the need to be aware of a new form of manipulation, the Taiwanese call “cognitive warfare”, intended to move past dis-/mis-information to develop a mindset.


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