THE Game Stop controversy and its lessons for NATO Cognitive Warfare

Hillman Norberg

One of the aims of cognitive warfare could be to achieve economic disruption. Economic coercion, statecraft (including sanctions) and cognitive warfare are some of the many challenges that governments face in today’s complex and unpredictable world. Casino Capitalism and the obsession with capital flows by individuals across the world dominate the way in which governments dedicate their resources and time to making sure their governments help with making sure individuals live a comfortable life economically. However, with a strong emphasis on international financial markets and the benefits that can be reaped by participating in the stock market and expanding upon individuals’ portfolios, a sense of paranoia and fear will emerge if there is the slightest disruption to the economic comfort of people. Social media’s enormous, worldwide popularity offers new ways to manipulate the general public that can also put pressure on democratic institutions, including financial ones. The recent GameStop and RobinHood controversy (GameStop which is a popular videogame store and RobinHood is a popular app for investments that propped GameStop stocks and created immense excitement for investors) solidified the overwhelming magnitude of financial harm that can occur from market manipulation and the infiltration by foreign adversaries into financial markets generally. An adversary, for instance, can wreak havoc and put the nation and its citizens into a state of panic over a financial collapse. Adversaries of NATO-member nations can use hacking and other technological means to cause a massive disruption to the market that can have a lasting impact similar to an actual war. Cognitive warfare, as well, can severely impact the mental health of individuals as well as the cognitive abilities of soldiers of allied nations as well as ordinary citizens. This, versus an actual bomb that would be used to destroy a physical structure, is another tactic not only used against a NATO member-state army but also the general public of NATO states and their way of life. In today’s complicated world, cyber hackers, economic coercion (including the disruption of financial markets) and cognitive warfare are some of NATO’s modern-day threats which can affect people directly, not just armies or military personnel. NATO should and must heavily invest into technologies or systems strategically in order to fend off these threats posed by adversaries of the world’s largest security network. By investing into these resources, NATO will be one step closer to keeping the allied nations safe and secure. It is of the utmost importance for NATO to rise to the occasion and invest into these technologies: cyber and cognitive warfare which are the threats of the future and that NATO members must be prepared to combat. 

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