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The Doges of War: Military Escalation and the Doge Meme
The Russia-Ukraine war has dominated the news cycle lately, and with good reason.
After a quiet summer, the last month has seen a series of developments that steadily increased the probability of nuclear conflict.
Last week, Elon set off a firestorm on Twitter by proposing terms for peace. There was massive pushback from blue checks, bots, and politicians on all sides.
Let’s take a look at how the world’s first “crypto war” has turned into an existential showdown, why some folks are using memes to push for military escalation, and what can be done to cool things off.
Meme War Racket
War has always meant economic opportunity. As the saying goes, war is a racket.
We like to think the decision to go to war or not is subject to careful weighing of pros and cons by our political luminaries with regard to the wellbeing of the American public, the human rights of the vulnerable abroad, risks to soldiers, etc.
The reality is usually different. Corporate media bombards us with memes—Commies, WMDs, terrorists, evil dictators, chemical weapons, the selective idea of US as a global guardian of democracy—until the social costs of pacifism become too great for the average citizen.
These media memes are arranged into a predictable formula known as Problem-Reaction-Solution: present a problem (an evil dictator must be stopped), control the socially acceptable reaction (population-wide fear and anger; flags, yard signs, and bumper stickers), propose a solution that was desired all along (military intervention).
In retrospect, it's usually obvious: the goal of the media-defense complex is to pin down any burgeoning pacifist sentiment long enough for the war machine to lurch into gear.
Yet somehow in the fog of war, there is a perpetually renewed expectation that this conflict is uniquely justified to receive moral support (and the money that comes with it) from taxpayers.
In 2021, America emerged from two decades of pointless military entanglement in the Middle East.
When the US left Afghanistan, it was obvious to most Americans that aggressive intervention in the Middle East had been a mistake.
WithIn a matter of months, however, citizens had once again been meme'd into supporting billions of dollars worth of defense spending to Ukraine.
Right now, Ukraine is on track to be the largest recipient of US military aid ever, by one metric receiving $110 million dollars a day. There's a good chance the real number is higher.
The expert class is broadly in agreement that protecting Ukraine is a worthy cause. No one in the general public wants to be seen as supporting Russia.
At the same time, the Ukraine War has been unique in recent memory for the inability of the media to convincingly pin down the basic motivations of its participants.
Russia says their goal was to de-Nazify and demilitarize their border, to prevent a genocide being committed against Russian speakers in these regions, and to disable American bioweapons labs in Ukraine.
Western media has dismissed these claims as propaganda, which has left an explanatory vacuum for Russia's invasion.
Into this vacuum they've thrust the idea of Vladimir Putin as an evil dictator bent on restoring the Soviet Union to its lost glory, by thermonuclear means if necessary.
Missing from most analysis is any historical context of the conflict.
NATO and Russia have been at odds for a long time. There's a strong argument to be made that NATO, not Russia, provoked this conflict, though no one wants to make it for fear of being seen as a Putin apologist.
Geopolitically, Ukraine is sharply divided into pro-Western and pro-Russia regions. If the border territories in question were given a choice, there's a decent chance they'd join Russia over Ukraine.
Strangely unexamined, too, is why Putin, supposedly Trump's puppet-master, waited for Trump to leave office before unfurling his plan for world domination.
Importantly, it is possible to have questions about all of this (including why the media tiptoes around it) without supporting Russia's military action, and while calling for peace.
The Doges of War
After a quiet summer, the war has come back into the news in a big way this fall.
In September, the narrative took hold in Western media that a Ukrainian counteroffensive was succeeding. Russian fighters were demoralized and in retreat.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky proclaimed, "we are moving in only one direction—forward and towards victory.” America sent more aid.
Putin denied the Western interpretation of whatever was happening, asserting, "I am sure that we have lost nothing and will not lose anything. The main goal is the strengthening of our sovereignty, and this is the inevitable result of what is happening now."
Since Ukraine went on the offensive, events have picked up pace.
In late September, Russia's Nord Stream 2 Pipeline was damaged.
Western politicians and media suggested that Russia sabotaged its own pipeline, which transports natural gas across the Baltic Sea to Germany, to escalate the war.
Online, a counter-narrative emerged that the US, not Russia, destroyed the pipeline to prevent Germany from opening peace talks with Russia. Internet sleuths quickly dug up evidence to support this possibility, including a vague threat to disable the pipeline by Joe Biden from February.
Last week, Russia formally annexed the eastern fifth of Ukraine after holding a series of questionable referendums asking citizens in the border territories which country they wanted to join. Shortly afterward, Zelensky signed paperwork to join NATO.
As a result of the referendums, whatever their legitimacy, Russia is now fully committed to defending the border regions as its own territory. Putin has threatened to "use all the means at our disposal" to do so, implying that he would deploy nuclear weapons as a defensive measure.
Ukraine and the West, propelled by the Ukraine can win it all back narrative, are equally committed to reclaiming the territories, plus Crimea from 2014.
Absurdly, Zelensky was listed as the favorite to win The Nobel Peace Prize by Time Magazine after calling for nuclear escalation.
Russia has signalled that it is open to peace talks.
Zelensky has said he will not negotiate peace with Putin, instead pushing the idea that Ukraine should try to win the territories through armed conflict. He also called on the U.N. to punish Russia as part of his "formula for peace."
With all this going on, Elon waded into the discussion last Monday by posting a poll about a peace deal.
Elon was chastised by chess champion Gary Kasparov, a Ukrainian ambassador, President Zelensky, and others. All implied he was a Russian propagandist for suggesting anything less than total victory by Ukraine.
More importantly, Elon characterized the response as the "biggest bot attack I've ever seen."
He ran another poll to clarify the core issue.
A day after the polls, news broke that Elon had decided to go through with this original $44 billion Twitter purchase.
The news caught nearly everyone off guard. Even folks who thought he was eventually going to acquire Twitter were surprised at the timing, just a few weeks before his court date.
Reporting on his rationale for moving ahead with the purchase was virtually nonexistent, with one source (anonymous bankers) claiming he knew he was going to lose the upcoming trial.
There's another angle worth considering.
Sentiment toward the war on social media has been overwhelmingly pro-Ukraine, with neocons, liberals, blue checks, and bots all calling for continued military action over peace.
This is surprising, given that ongoing conflict risks a nuclear outcome.
It's possible Elon believed Twitter bots were being used to increase support for foreign policy that could lead nuclear conflict, and decided to intervene for humanity's benefit.
He also may feel the bot reaction to his polls will ultimately serve as indisputable evidence that Twitter is lying about the kind of activity it allows on its platform.
As circumstance would have it, there is an alleged botnet on Twitter, called #NAFO, for North Atlantic Fellas Organization, that swarms people whose posts diverge from pro-Ukraine orthodoxy.
The group includes real people like Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Urkaine's defense minister, but also, by appearances, a large number of automated accounts. (Kinzinger recently called for an investigation of Starlink for Internet outages in Ukraine, implying that Elon was intentionally tilting the board toward Russia).
NAFO's M.O. is to meme any deviation from pro-Ukraine orthodoxy into submission.
If an AI botnet is truly being deployed on social media to artificially boost support for escalating the kinetic war, a number of questions follow.
Who is behind the bots?
And is Elon purchasing a social media app?
Or a crime scene?
X Marks the Spot
Whenever Elon finally takes the helm at Twitter (the company is once again stalling), a lot of changes should happen quickly.
The app will happen one way or another, but he said he thinks Twitter will accelerate the process by three to five years.
In short order, Twitter could transform into a payments network that plugs into other services like Uber, Amazon, and Shopify. Any function currently performed by banks or payment apps would stand to be disrupted.
When Twitter comes under Elon's control, Dogecoin could play a starring role, as he hinted earlier this year.
The founders of PayPal (including Elon) originally wanted to use their own in-house currency, but ran into resistance from the banking cartel.
Now, 20 years later, by an incredible stroke of fortune, a decentralized, people-owned digital dollar alternative exists for just such a role: Dogecoin.
Folks keep calling for Elon to sink a billion dollars of his own money into Doge. An alternative perspective is that his Twitter purchase represents a $44 billion investment in Dogecoin's future.
Aside from updating the Internet's payment rails, one of the best arguments for Dogecoin is that it disincentives war.
Hard-money—ie. money that can't be arbitrarily inflated by warmongering politicians—makes it impossible for governments to bankroll years-long military campaigns through bottomless money printing.
Historically, when governments want to prolong a conflict, they try to unpeg currency from hard commodities like gold in order to fund wartime deficit spending. In the five decades since US removed the dollar's gold peg, the country has been in a state of more or less continuous war.
If governments actually had to raise money for military conflict through taxation rather than money printing, most wars would instantly become so unpopular that any politician supporting them would be voted out or overthrown.
Since the overwhelming majority of people in the world don't like war, it benefits almost everyone to return to a currency standard where arbitrary inflation is impossible.
If Dogecoin becomes Twitter's native currency, and Elon onboards billions of people onto the platform, it will be possible for the people of the world to unite behind a single disinflationary, stateless form of money, maybe for the first time ever.
A global Dogecoin Standard would be the equivalent of a collective statement by the people of the world to their governments: "no more war."
When Elon called Doge, "the people's crypto" last year, his vision may have been bigger than anyone imagined.
Memes for Peace
The military conflict between Russia and Ukraine risks becoming another expensive foreign intervention for America.
The conflict has the added drawback of being an existential threat to humanity. The probability of a nuclear outcome is low but rising.
Given the stakes are civilization itself, statesmen, celebrities, and anyone else with a platform should look for opportunities to advocate for de-escalation and peace.
There's evidence that AI bots have been warping public discourse so as to increase support for a course of action that could lead to nuclear conflict. It'll be interesting to see what happens with #NAFO going forward, especially their bizarre use of the Doge meme to call for military escalation.
Someday, the full story of Elon's Twitter acquisition will be told, including his rationale for changing his mind and going ahead with the deal last week. Hopefully, when the Twitter deal closes, we get more details on who is behind the bots, and what are their motives.
We can also look forward to the global adoption of stateless digital currencies like Dogecoin, which cut the legs out from the war machine. The future is much wow—if we can survive the Doges of war.
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Dogey Treats: News Bites
On Sunday, Elon tweeted "Nuclear war probability is rising rapidly" and, "I’ve been up all night trying to think of any possible way to de-escalate this war." He said he has "no desire to become involved in wars, but it is safe to say that all bets are off if the nukes start flying." On Monday, Russia launched a series of retaliatory missile strikes on Ukrainian cities in response to an explosion that damaged Russia's bridge to Crimea. Biden, who recently warned of "Armageddon," promised to continue supporting Ukraine and said he would send advanced air defense systems to the Ukrainian military.
Global Financial System
Are BRICS's plans for a new reserve currency an attempt to reduce dollar dominance?
Russia plans to allow international trade to be conducted in crypto in every industry. The Russian Central Bank is expected to start testing a digital Ruble in April 2023.
After it was damaged by an unknown cause, Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline is ready to supply gas to Germany.
Namibia Central Bank will accept crypto payments.
The Bank of England is ramping up its purchases for long-dated government bonds. Its emergency bond-buying program is scheduled to end this Friday.
US national debt surpassed $31 trillion.
Cathie Wood sent an open letter to the Fed to try to convince it to stop raising interest rates. Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the UN's plea to stop raising rates, but said the bank was committed to bringing inflation under control. The Fed posted its first operating loss in over a decade.
Louisiana notified Blackrock of its intention to pull pension investments from over ESG.
Congress continues to delay a stock trading ban for its members, despite broad support.
OPEC announced deep cuts to oil production. Is OPEC battling The Federal Reserve to keep oil prices high? Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the production cuts risked undermining the global economy.
Russia said it won't sell oil to countries that adopt price cap.
US gasoline stockpiles dropped to lowest level since 2014.
Ye called out Mark Zuckerberg in a tweet for suspending him from Instagram. Elon tweeted "Welcome back to Twitter, my friend!" Ye made his first posts in nearly two years on Twitter, including a picture of a hat that read "2024" and posts about the protests in Iran, cancel culture, and anti-semitism (a tweet which was taken down by Twitter for violating rules). Throughout the week, he was in the headlines as a result of a viral interview with Tucker Carlson.
SpaceX launched a historic Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station.
S&P upgraded Tesla's credit profile to investment grade.
Cathie Wood said shifting consumer preferences toward electric vehicles could pose problems for the $1 trillion auto debt market. Elon agreed.
Elon tweeted that The Boring Company will soon release Burnt Hair scent.
Starlink launched service in Japan, which is the first country in Asia to receive services.
Kim Kardashian payed the SEC $1.2 million to settle a suit for promoting EthereumMax.
The Biden administration asked congress for clearer crypto regulation.
One billion Dogecoin moved after news broke that Elon was trying to close the Twitter deal
Beeple posted an artwork titled "WORLD WAR MEME."
Memes of the Week
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