North Atlantic Treaty Organization

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (or NATO) is a political and military alliance between 30 member nations across primarily North America and Europe.1)



Cognitive Warfare

NATO commissioned a report on “Cognitive Warfare” published in November 2020.2) The report emphasizes the importance of anticipating advances in this area of combat, explaining it as “a clash of human wills, and therefore what defines victory will be the ability to impose a desired behaviour on a chosen audience.” The report warns of a situation “where everyone, unbeknownst to him or her, is behaving according to the plans of one of our competitors.” Concerningly, the report explicitly states that “the objective of Cognitive Warfare is to harm societies and not only the military,” and that NATO itself was working to develop these strategies.3)

The report distinguishes between “Cognitive Warfare” and “Information Warfare”, characterizing the latter as consisting of “electronic warfare, computer network operations, PsyOps, military deception, and operational security,” aimed at “controlling the flow of information.” Cognitive warfare, on the other hand, “degrades the capacity to know, produce or thwart knowledge. Cognitive sciences cover all the sciences that concern knowledge and its processes (psychology, linguistics, neurobiology, logic and more).”

As an example of cognitive warfare, the report references the “deliberately biased” Lancet study on chloroquine that came amongst “a massive amount of texts on the subject” which created an information and knowledge overload“.4) 5) The result of this study was the mainstream dismissal of chloroquine and similar repurposed drugs, and this report seems to imply that it was an intentional tool of cognitive warfare in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's endorsement of hydroxychloroquine.6)

What is NATO? (2009). North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
du Cluzel, F., Cole, A., & le Guyader, H. (2020, November). Cognitive Warfare. Innovation Hub - ACT. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from
Norton, B. (2021, October 8). Behind NATO’s ‘cognitive warfare’: ‘Battle for your brain’ waged by Western militaries. The Grayzone. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from
Mehra, M. R., Ruschitzka, F., & Patel, A. N. (2020). Retraction—Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis. The Lancet, 395(10240), 1820.
Joseph, A. (2020, June 4). Lancet, NEJM retract Covid-19 studies that sparked backlash. STAT.
Cathey, L. (2020, August 9). Timeline: Tracking Trump alongside scientific developments on hydroxychloroquine. ABC News. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from
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