The richest man in the world has inserted himself into some of the most combustible conflicts across the globe. Over recent months, Elon Musk has emerged to be a new agent of chaos in global politics.
In the last four weeks, Elon Musk has offered a peace plan for Russia and Ukraine that outraged Ukrainian officials. He tweeted about Iranian internet access that exposed government protesters to a phishing scheme. He suggested in a newspaper interview that China could be appeased if it were given partial control of Taiwan. An official in Taipei demanded that he retract his suggestion.
While plenty of billionaire executives like to tweet their two cents on world affairs, none can come close to Musk’s ability to cause trouble. He has sometimes waded into situations even after he was advised not to, and has already left behind plenty of messes.
Musk seems to think he bought himself a seat at the table with his wealth accumulated from, first, his inheritance, and secondly, his stake in his electric car company Tesla.
But his influence stems largely from his rocket company, Space X, which runs the Starlink satellite network. Starlink can beam internet service to conflict zones and geopolitical hot spots, and it has become an essential tool of the Ukrainian army.
His influence is only set to grow with the planned purchase of Twitter. He has called himself a free speech absolutist, and he is expected to take a light touch to moderate Twitter’s content.
Musk’s many, many critics worry that it is difficult to separate his personal opinions from his business interests. And Tesla is increasingly dependent on China.
Experts have said technology has become central to geopolitics, and it is messy that Musk is there in the middle of this.
Other experts also warn that it is clear Musk fancies himself an expert in topics that he frankly has no knowledge in, providing a dangerous combination as he continues to suggest solutions to conflicts of which he has no clue.