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How Elon Musk Became a Geopolitical Chaos Agent.

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The wealthiest man in the world has been involved in some of the most explosive conflicts.

Elon Musk offered a peace plan for Russia and Ukraine in the past four weeks that angered Ukrainian officials. A tweet he posted about Iranian internet access exposed government protesters as phishing schemes. In a newspaper interview, he suggested that China could be appeased by Taiwan being given partial control. A Taipei official demanded that he retract the suggestion.

In recent months, Mr. Musk has emerged as a disruptive actor in global politics. Although many billionaire executives tweet their opinions on international affairs, none of them can match Mr. Musk’s power and ability to cause trouble. Musk had made mistakes and gotten into trouble even when he was told not to.

Although Mr. Musk is most well-known for his ownership of Tesla, an electric car company that he founded, most of his wealth comes from Space X, his rocket company that runs the Starlink satellite network. Starlink can beam internet service into conflict zones and other geopolitical hotspots, making it an indispensable tool for the Ukrainian army.

If his plan to buy Twitter on Friday, as he promised, Mr. Musk’s influence could grow even more. Musk has called himself a freedom-of-expression absolutist and is expected to moderate Twitter’s content.

There are many of his critics. They worry that it’s challenging to distinguish Mr. Musk’s business interests from his opinions, particularly when it comes to Tesla, which is becoming more dependent on China.

“Technology is central to geopolitics,” stated Karen Kornbluh (a director at the German Marshall Fund, a think tank focused on geopolitics and an ex-advisor to President Barack Obama). It is both fascinating and messy, and Elon Musk is right there in the middle.

In some cases, Musk has been a blessing. He provided Starlink internet access to Ukraine earlier this year and funded most of the hardware and services. This enabled civilians and soldiers to communicate with each other during the conflict with Russia.

However, the messages he sent have caused problems. In a tweet last week, he stated that he couldn’t “indefinitely” finance Starlink in Ukraine. Then he abruptly reversed course.

Last month, Musk attended an Aspen private event called The Weekend. The event was partly organized by Eric Schmidt, ex-Google chief executive, and adviser to the government, and brought together American business leaders and politicians, including Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House), former Vice President Al Gore, and Joseph Dunford, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

According to two witnesses, Musk took the podium at lunchtime under a tent on a course for a conversation with billionaire David Rubenstein.

To the delight of many, Musk presented a peace plan to end the war in Ukraine. It would allow Russia to annex Ukrainian land.

According to participants, many were outraged by the idea. The next day, Jake Sullivan (the national security advisor to President Biden) gave a video presentation at the event. A questioner raised concerns about Mr. Musk’s plan for peace. According to a spokesperson for the National Security Council, Mr. Sullivan didn’t comment on Mr. Musk’s comments at the event. However, Musk did reveal his plans 10 days later via Twitter. The Kremlin publicly supported this idea.

Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, and his top aides vigorously rejected Mr. Musk’s plans. His shifting positions left them awkward: Starlink terminals are now a vital means of communication for Ukraine’s Army.

Four people familiar with the matter claimed that Starlink was lost in certain areas close to the front lines when the army moved into the southern territories occupied by Russia in mid-September. Two people who knew this said that Mr. Musk had geofenced the service to make it only available in certain areas. Others in Ukraine said that the satellite system worked fine, but it needed to be clarified why it wasn’t working.

According to people, Mr. Musk discussed the issue with the U.S. and Ukrainian governments to find out where Starlink will be available. A spokesperson for the National Security Council stated that officials from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the National Security Council, and the U.S. government had spoken with Starlink and answered any questions regarding U.S. policies like they do all other companies.

Musk caused more confusion for Ukraine this month when he stated that he couldn’t continue paying Starlink service to Ukraine, making it appear that he was taking on the cost. According to The New York Times, a document detailing the expenses reviewed by The Times, SpaceX was paid at least part of Starlink’s cost by the United States, Britain, and Poland.

“He must decide whether Starlink provides lifesaving technology to its clients or a commercial service that is heavily dependent on the geopolitical interest of its management, and thus unreliable for customers with concerns over national security,” stated Dimitri Alperovitch (co-founder of Silverado Policy Accelerator), a Washington-based geopolitical think tank.

Musk was in Aspen to lay out his peace plan for war in Ukraine. However, he also explored unrest in Iran while he was there.

He appeared to be able to rescue the nation from the authorities’ response to protests that spread throughout the country. They blocked internet access to certain areas, and he responded with more violence. He tweeted, “Activating Starlink” after the U.S. government removed some sanctions restricting American tech companies’ ability to operate in Iran. This was to aid protestors.

Starlink was a way to bypass the government’s blockade on land-based internet connections, which had left many Iranians offline.

Many Iranians quickly learned that Mr. Musk’s promises did not stand. Musk did not provide any context about getting Starlink running, how long it would take, and why Iran’s government restrictions made it almost impossible to offer Starlink widely in Iran.

According to Amir Rashidi (an Iranian digital rights expert), Starlink was unavailable in Iran. However, hackers who believed they had links to the government started a phishing campaign. They sent messages through social media channels with links purporting to give access to Starlink. According to Mr. Rashidi, who has analyzed at least five malware variants, the links did not provide access to Mr. Musk’s satellite system.

The service was limited to certain areas. Although it was unclear why the satellite system wasn’t working, others in Ukraine claimed it was functioning fine.

According to people, Mr. Musk discussed the issue with the U.S. and Ukrainian governments to find out where Starlink will be available. A spokesperson for the National Security Council stated that officials from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the National Security Council, and the U.S. government had spoken with Starlink and answered any questions regarding U.S. policies like they do all other companies.

Musk caused more confusion for Ukraine this month when he stated that he couldn’t continue paying Starlink service to Ukraine, making it appear that he was taking on the cost. According to The New York Times, a document detailing the expenses reviewed by The Times, SpaceX was paid at least part of Starlink’s cost by the United States, Britain, and Poland.

“He must decide whether Starlink provides lifesaving technology to its clients or a commercial service that is heavily dependent on the geopolitical interest of its management, and thus unreliable for customers with concerns over national security,” stated Dimitri Alperovitch (co-founder of Silverado Policy Accelerator), a Washington-based geopolitical think tank.

Musk was in Aspen to lay out his peace plan for war in Ukraine. However, he also explored unrest in Iran while he was there.

He appeared to be able to rescue the nation from the authorities’ response to protests that spread throughout the country. They blocked internet access to certain areas, and he responded with more violence. He tweeted, “Activating Starlink” after the U.S. government removed some sanctions restricting American tech companies’ ability to operate in Iran. This was to aid protesters.

Starlink was a way to bypass the government’s blockade on land-based internet connections, which had left many Iranians offline.

Many Iranians quickly learned that Mr. Musk’s promises did not stand. Musk did not provide any context about getting Starlink running, how long it would take, and why Iran’s government restrictions made it almost impossible to offer the service to all Iranians.

According to Amir Rashidi (an Iranian digital rights expert), Starlink was unavailable in Iran. However, hackers who were linked to the government started a phishing campaign. They sent messages through social media channels with links purporting to give access to Starlink. According to Mr. Rashidi, who has analyzed at least five malware variants, the links did not provide access to Mr. Musk’s satellite system.

According to Mr. Rashidi, Iran has a small amount of Starlink internet access. This is due to equipment that was smuggled over its border. This raises additional concerns about the possibility that authorities can identify transmitted data because satellite signals could be traceable to ground-based individuals.

Mr. Rashidi fled the country in 2009. He praised Mr. Musk for his efforts to help but said that his tactics were “very irresponsible.”

He said, “It was someone who wanted to jump up and say, I’m doing some good’ without understanding the consequences.”

Recently, Mr. Musk also stepped into Taiwan, perhaps the most sensitive geopolitical hotspot in the world.

Mr. Musk’s business empire is at risk from tensions between China and Taiwan. Tesla’s Shanghai manufacturing plant produces up to 50% of its new cars. China tightly controls the activities of Western companies in China, and observers worry about how Tesla’s dependence upon China might affect Mr. Musk’s political position.

Musk revealed that he was under pressure from Beijing when he told the Financial Times that the Chinese government disapproved of him offering Starlink internet services in Ukraine. Beijing demanded assurances from Musk that he would not provide the service in China.

He then suggested a way to ease tensions: China could take some control over Taiwan.

This comment sharply contrasts the United States’ policy and its allies. Taiwanese politicians swiftly rebuffed it.

Chao Tien Lin, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwanese legislature’s foreign affairs committee, called for Mr. Musk’s retraction in a telephone interview with The New York Times. He said, “If he doesn’t, I will sincerely recommend not only Taiwan but all liberal democratic countries consumers to boycott Tesla and its associated products.”

Some people have suggested that the Taiwanese would be the ones to blame if there is a military conflict between the two countries. However, Starlink might not be an option due to Mr. Musk’s public stance and links with China.

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Realm Scans: Navigating the Uncharted Territories of Digital Discovery

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In the expansive landscape of digital exploration, there exists a realm where information becomes an adventure—Realm Scans. Beyond a mere scanning service, this digital haven is where curiosity converges with innovation, and the uncharted territories of digital discovery come to life. Join us as we embark on a journey to unravel the unique dynamics of Realm Scans, navigating through the realms where information is not just scanned but transformed into a digital odyssey.

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“Digital Horizons: Exploring the Essence of Realm Scans” is not just an article; it’s an ode to the tech enthusiasts, the information seekers, and the digital explorers who recognize the profound impact of a scanning service that goes beyond the surface. It’s an acknowledgment that in the realms of digital discovery, Realm Scans stands as a beacon, inviting users to embrace the transformative power of information in the digital age.

As Realm Scans continues to redefine the digital scanning landscape, “Digital Horizons” invites us to appreciate the nuances of a service that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary—an exploration where every scan is not just a document but a digital adventure waiting to be unfolded.

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