Information operations · Information Warfare · Public Diplomacy · Strategic Communication · Strategic Communications

“Seen on the Web” 31 July 2017 – Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy

2017 North Korean Postage Stamps

“Meet Toughness with Super Toughness!”
“Not with words, only with guns!”


North Korea Stamps Show Missiles Aimed at the U.S. Capitol as Part of its Anti-American Month Celebrations

Newsweek, July 17, 2017


In The News








Instruments of Informational Power


Professional Topics

  2. 8. CYBER

Countries and Regions

  5. CHINA




In The News


[Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, House of Representatives, 2017]

  • The strategy required by subsection (a) shall include at a minimum the following: * * * (5) An assessment of Iran’s asymmetric activities in the region, including— * * * (B) the size, capabilities, and activities of Iran’s cyber operations; * * * (D) the scope and objectives of Iran’s information operations and use of propaganda. * * * * * Congress makes the following findings: * * * Russian-language media organizations that are funded and controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation and disseminate information within and outside of the Russian Federation routinely traffic in anti-Western disinformation, while few independent, fact-based media sources provide objective reporting for Russian-speaking audiences inside or outside of the Russian Federation.

Bill Sponsored by Representative Edward R. Royce, House of Representatives

[Saudi Arabia’s Troubling Educational Curriculum, Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Trade Subcommittee, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, July 19, 2017]

  • The Saudi government promised the U.S. that a reform of its educational materials would be completed by 2008, but nearly a decade later inflammatory content in Saudi textbooks abounds.

Opening Statement by Representative Ted Poe, Chairman of the Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Trade Subcommittee

  • Sixteen years after 9/11, Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks still teach an ideology of hatred and violence against Jews, Christians, Muslims, such as Shiites, Sufis and Ahmadis, Hindus, Bahais, Yizidis, animists, sorcerers, and “infidels” of all stripes,as well as other groups with different beliefs. The most objectionable passages are found in the upper grades’ religious textbooks.

Testimony of Nina Shea, Director, Hudson Institute’s Center For Religious Freedom

  • Over a decade-and-a-half has passed since 9/11, and yet millions of Saudi school children have continued to be subjected to these inhumane lessons. Undoubtedly, such incitement has made America and our allies less secure, making it easier for the terrorist groups that we are fighting–and that target the kingdom itself–to attract potential new recruits

Written Testimony of David A. Weinberg, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

  • Consider that if this is the [Islamic Saudi] Academy’s curriculum in the United States, just imagine how prolific this problem has been across Saudi-affiliated academies and funded programs in other countries around the world, especially in countries in the Middle East, that are struggling with radicalization and terrorism.

Written Testimony of Hon. Frank Wolf

  • . . . the principal conduits through which most of these books have been distributed are Saudi Arabian humanitarian charities like the Muslim World League (MWL), the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), the World Assembly (or Association) of Muslim Youth, the UK-based Al-Muqtada Organization, and the now-defunct Al-Haramain Fund (AHF). Most of the activity related to this distribution has taken the form of constructing new mosques, madrasas, and libraries throughout the developing world.

Written Testimony Dr. Douglas M. Johnston, President Emeritus, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy

[Black Flags over Mindanao: ISIS in the Philippines, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, July 12, 2017]

  • The crisis in Mindanao illustrates that ISIS’ radical and brutal ideology is inspiring Southeast Asia’s terrorist organizations to be more cohesive and transnational, increasing the threat to the entire region.

Opening Statement by Representative Ted S. Yoho, Chairman of the , Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific

  • . . . the United States too often hampers its own counterterrorism efforts by adopting “us vs. them” rhetoric and actions that portray the United States as engaged in a battle with a religion rather than individual terrorist groups.

Testimony by Michael Fuchs Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

  • Many conditions and features in Southeast Asia enable terrorism and insurgency: socio-economic strain, sectarian friction, small groups of influential religious conservatives, radical ideologies, large archipelagoes and porous borders, preexisting insurgencies, jihadi veterans, permissive immigration rules, and flexible and informal funding networks. And unlike the 1990s and the early 2000s, social media is now everywhere, allowing for easy communications, recruitment, and financial transactions.

Written Testimony of Thomas M. Sanderson Director and Senior Fellow, Transnational Threats Project Center for Strategic and International Studies(CSIS)

  • ISIS is the most successful brand of Islamist extremism globally because it has identified a formula to

connect its fundamentalist principles to proactive action by its adherents, and has consistently spread its propaganda over the Internet and via social media platforms numerous languages—without much

interference from tech companies or challenges from the online presence of counter-arguments from progressive Islamic organizations.

Written Testimony of Supna Zaidi Peery, Strategic Policy Analyst, Counter Extremism Project 

  • Seventh, the U.S. must be thoughtful about, and should monitor closely, the political context in which IS-linked terrorism might unnecessarily be able to gain greater traction. * * * Regionally, the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim population in Burma has also been identified as a grievance that could become a unifying cause, recruitment tool, and rallying cry for Islamic militants across Southeast Asia.

Written Testimony of Sheena Chestnut Greitens, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science University of Missouri



[China’s Information Controls, Global Media Influence, and Cyber Warfare Strategy, U.S. China Security and Economic Review Commission, May 4, 2017]


  • China’s information policy has four goals. They are to reduce risks to political stability and continued Party rule; promote Chinese content and technology; reshape global rules to favor China’s interests; and defend against perceived U.S. hegemony. China, in the last few years, has created policies, regulations and to make the information environment in China more controllable, most recently with the “National Cyberspace Security Strategy” released late last year.

James A. Lewis, Center for Strategic and International Studies


  • The peculiarly western presumption that the end state of all societies would be a democratic civil society carried on in the development of cyberspace, allowing major actors to dismiss as mere cybercrime the economic costs of unprotected resources being hacked or manipulated by organized and government-paid foreign bad and wicked actors.

Written Testimony of Dr. Chris C. Demchak


  • Similar to [Chinese Communist Party] outreach and propaganda efforts in other parts of the world, influence campaigns in the United States target two primary audiences: overseas Chinese and non-Chinese foreigners. In both cases, the narratives and actions encompassed by these initiatives reveal three primary aims: 1) To promote a positive view of China and benign perspective of the CCP’s authoritarian regime 2) To encourage foreign investment in China and openness to Chinese investment abroad 3) To marginalize, demonize, or entirely suppress anti-CCP voices, incisive political commentary, and exposés that present the Chinese government and its leaders in a negative light.

Written Testimony by Sarah Cook, Senior Research Analyst for East Asia, Freedom House


  • China, like other authoritarian states, grasps that the information space is an arena of contestation in which democracies are increasingly vulnerable. Moreover, China in particular understands that it is in shaping the related norms, standards, and corporate platforms in which the long-term opportunities for influence lie.

Written Testimony by Shanthi Kalathil, Director, International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy


  • Working with a budget many times larger than that which the United States devotes to international broadcasting, China has expanded and transformed its overseas operations with the aim of improving China’s image while downplaying outright propaganda. All of this fits in with China’s larger aim of expanding its “soft power” alongside its growing economic and military power.

Written Testimony by Dan Southerland, former executive editor of Radio Free Asia


  • Because of the Chinese government’s stringent control over domestic publishing, Hong Kong had become a place where mainland Chinese could purchase politically sensitive books and magazines. However, a series of jailings and alarmingly, cross-border abductions, have seriously undermined the industry and represent a blatant violation of free expression, the likes of which have never been seen in Hong Kong.

Written Testimony of Dr. Sophie Richardson, China Director, Human Rights Watch


  • The Chinese government uses a variety of censorship methods to control information in the traditional and online media. I divide the Chinese government’s methods of censorship into three main categories: fear, or censorship that threatens punishment; friction, or censorship that imposes costs on information access and spread; and flooding, or censorship through distraction or dilution of information.

Written Testimony of Dr. Margaret E. Roberts Assistant Professor of Political Science University of California, San Diego


  • For the Chinese government, censorship and propaganda go hand in hand; “consent” and intimidation are backed by the use of physical force, including police visits, arrests, and targeted personal attacks through state media against those who are simply expressing their political views online.

Written Statement of XIAO Qiang, Adjunct Professor, Director, School of Information, University of California at Berkeley; Founder and Chief Editor, China Digital Times






  • . . . for a month leading up to the November vote, a large portion of users on the social media platform Twitter might not have been human. The users were social bots, or computer algorithms built to automatically produce content and interact with people on social media, emulating them and trying to alter their behavior. Bots are used to manipulate opinions and advance agendas—all part of the increasing weaponization of social media.

How the Hashtag Is Changing Warfare

Adam B. Jonas, The Cyberedge, June 29, 2017 20


  • Russian cyber and information warfare experts were ordered to engage in information operations and cyber operations against our election systems by “Vladimir Putin himself,” [retired Marine General John] Allen said, and the fact the intelligence community stated this with “high confidence” . . . . According to Allen: “Part of the intention of the Russian program was to ultimately penetrate to the lowest level of the cyber networks associated with the voting system in the United States, and I don’t think I need to tell anyone in this room that voting system is the platform on which the American democracy finds its purpose and its identity. The Russians know that, and they came for the system last year.”

Counties Are on the Front Lines of Cyber War

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, July 25, 2017


  • Did the Russians hack the election? It depends on what the meaning of “hack” is.

What the Russians were really up to

Paul Danish, Boulder Weekly, July 20, 2017


  • . . . it’s almost difficult to disaggregate the effects and implications of the Russian active measures from what we saw during the course of the 2016 campaign. [Panel discussion transcript]

Active Measures: The Kremlin Plan to Beat The West Without Firing a Shot: Transcript of Speakers at the Aspen Security Forum 2017

Ned Price, Evelyn Farkas, Julia Ioffe, and Jim Sciutto, Aspen Security Forum 2017, July 20, 2017


  • President Donald Trump’s chief counterterrorism adviser said Thursday that the Russian government clearly tried to manipulate the 2016 election, and declared that the Obama administration’s retaliatory sanctions didn’t go far enough.

Trump counterterrorism adviser blames Russia for election hacks

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, July 20, 2017


  • CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday that Russia has no plans to leave Syria and will continue to try to meddle in U.S. affairs to “stick it to America.” He reiterated his belief that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election and described the U.S.-Russia relationship as “complicated.” “I think they find anyplace that they can make our lives more difficult, I think they find that’s something that’s useful,” he said

CIA director: Moscow loves to ‘stick it to America’

Deb Riechmann, Military Times, July 20, 2017


  • A formerly SECRET memo sent to the Director of Central Intelligence in 1982 reveals that the Intelligence Community’s concern with Russian attempts to influence the U.S. Presidential election go back decades. While some have called the recent Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election “without precedent,” the CIA memo shows that some of the first attempts by Russia to influence the outcome of the election were detected in the early 1980s.

CIA has been tracking Russian interference in U.S. elections since 1982

Emma Best, Muckrock, July 19, 2017


  • In recent months, we have learned much about how successful the Trump campaign was in micro-targeting voters in crucial swing states. In the waning days of the 2016 campaign, especially, Trump’s data team knew exactly which voters in which states they needed to persuade on Facebook and Twitter and precisely what messages to use. The question is: How did the Russians know this, too?

Hacking the Vote: Who Helped Whom?

Sue Halpern, The New York Review, July 19, 2017


  • The former managers of Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns are leading a new initiative called “Defending Digital Democracy” in the hopes of preventing a repeat of Russia’s 2016 election interference.

Former Clinton and Romney campaign chiefs join forces to fight election hacking

Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post, July 18, 2017


  • . . . Rep. Adam Schiff . . . was asked whether his committee was looking into whether the Trump campaign’s digital team helped to guide Russian fake news attacks on Clinton.   Schiff thinks it’s something the committee should be exploring, specifically “whether there was any help in terms of the fake news the efforts to push negative news by the Russians, whether there was any coordination in the efforts to target that, to identify where it would be useful to push stories out on social media feeds.”

Report: Investigators probing Trump digital campaign operation run by Kushner

CBS News, July 12, 2017


  • The New York Times and Associated Press posted corrections last week walking back the widely reported claim that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of helping Donald Trump. Rather, the assessment involved information collected by the FBI, CIA and NSA, and was then published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all the intelligence agencies.

[VIDEO Embedded] New York Times, Associated Press Correct Claims That All 17 Intelligence Agencies Agreed on Russian Interference [10:30]

David Rutz, The Washington Free Beacon, July 5, 2017

Elements of Informational Power




  • The greatest public diplomacy challenge today is inside the United States government itself. Does public diplomacy still matter? Do we care what the world thinks about us? Is public diplomacy a factor as we make day-to-day foreign policy decisions, whether we should actually do X or Y, not just how to explain X or Y after the decision or the statement has been made.

Meet The Author: P.J. Crowley

USC Center on Public Diplomacy, May 8, 2017


  • Today, public diplomacy is led by an undersecretary of public affairs in public diplomacy. This is a person who is a political appointee with limited knowledge and little interest in the traditional application of public affairs tools in the field. Many of these undersecretaries have achieved a lot but the main issue is that there has been too many of them. Consequently, none of them have brought much if any field experience at all.

Ambassador Speaks on the Continued Challenges of the USIA and State Department Merger

DACOR, October 7, 2016




  • We found that the U.S. government has a strategy to counter ISIS messaging. However, we recommended that State take steps to enhance the strategy and assess progress made under the strategy. State concurred with these recommendations.

[Report] Countering ISIS and its Effects, Report to Congressional Addresses

United States Government Accountability Office, July 2017




  • Since its formal inaugural last February after a couple of years as a pilot program, Current Time director Daisy Sindelar said, followers to the program have increased to 2.4 million people a week in 40 countries. 1.3 million of these users reside in Russia. In a series titled “Unknown Russia”, human interest stories included a video account of a Russian hamlet set up for blind people which has fallen on very hard times.

US international broadcasting then and now

Joe Johnson, Public Diplomacy Council, July 13, 2017


  • . . . millions of Iranians use Internet proxies to access [the Persian language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,] Farda. In May of this year, Farda’s website attracted 28 million page views and received over 60,000 comments, and ten million people listened to its radio programs online. These Iranians are not turning to Farda for anti-Israel rhetoric, defenses of President Obama’s nuclear arms agreement, or flattery of their rulers. They can get all that on their state-run media—without risking arrest.

Reading the News in Tehran

Martha Bayles, The American Interest, July 11, 2017




  • The MIST team understood its mission, brought significant resources to bear that would have otherwise been unavailable and worked very well under chief-of-mission authority. It was instrumental in achieving our shared goal, captured in an OIG report a few years after I left: “Now that the Darien is free of FARC guerillas … ”

President’s Views

Barbara Stephenson, American Foreign Service Association, June 2017


Professional Topics




  • [Russian] government agencies are frenetically scouring Google, flagging and bidding to block more content than the rest of the world combined. Russian state bodies sent the U.S. search engine over 13,200 requests to remove content between the last day of 2015 and the first day of 2017, according to Google’s new transparency report. The largest surge in Russian state requests came in the latter half of 2016. The majority of the removals—nearly 12,000—took issue with content on YouTube.

What Russia Does Not Want You to See: Kremlin Tops List For Flagging Google Content

Damien Sharkov, Newsweek, July 21, 2017


  • Our silicon age, which sees no glory in maintenance, but only in transformation and disruption, makes it extremely difficult for us to imagine how, in past eras, those who would change the world were viewed with suspicion and dread. If you loved the world; if you considered it your mortal home; if you were aware of how much effort and foresight it had cost your forebears to secure its foundations, build its institutions, and shape its culture; if you saw the world as the place of your secular afterlife, then you had good reasons to impute sinister tendencies to those who would tamper with its configuration or render it alien to you.

The Children of Silicon Valley

Robert Pogue Harrison, The New York Review of Books, July 17, 2017


  • Over the past year, China has doubled down on its campaign to reduce Taiwan’s presence on the world stage, whether by luring away its few remaining diplomatic allies . . . or blocking its participation in international organizations like Interpol and the World Health Organization. Now President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan is trying to tweet the island back into the global conversation.

Muffled by China, Taiwan Embraces Twitter as Megaphone

Chris Horton, The New York Times, July 6, 2017


  • In the past few years the advancement of technology and rapid globalization has led to an increased level of competition between nations. Today the use of social media has changed the way of communication by giving the authority and opportunity in the hands of the people.

Social media

Pakistan Observer, last accessed July 31, 2017


  1. CYBER


  • The Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, established under President Barack Obama in 2011, will be folded into the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs . . . . The coordinator will no longer report directly to the secretary of state, going instead through the bureau’s chain of command as Tillerson pushes ahead with a department-wide reorganization, they said.

Tillerson to Shut Cyber Office in State Department Reorganization

Nick Wadhams and Nafeesa Syeed, Bloomberg, July 19, 2017


  • Alexander Klimburg thinks we are not nearly as worried as we should be about internet-borne mayhem in our increasingly interconnected world.

The Coming War for Cyberspace

Stephen Budiansky, The Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2017


  • Dense Urban Terrain presents numerous challenges and opportunities to military forces due its cyber characteristics. The volume of networked devices and communications platforms offers both offensive and defensive opportunities and challenges. The intelligence and command and control capabilities that these devices offer is unparalleled in other terrain.

Cyber Operational Considerations in Dense Urban Terrain

Paul Maxwell, Andrew Hall and Daniel Bennett, Small Wars Journal, July 12, 2017


  • . . . talent remains dispersed. Substantial cyber expertise exists throughout government, but these experts would be far more effective working under a unified command structure. Such an agency would be likely to attract the best and brightest at a time when those minds can mean the difference between cyber catastrophe and cyber protection. A unified federal agency would also be best suited to provide crucial coordination with state and local governments and the business community.

America Isn’t Ready for a ‘Cyber 9/11’

  1. Rodgin Cohen, The Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2017


  • An annual report from the German intelligence agency BfV called out Russia, Iran, China and Turkey for their cyberespionage activities.

German intel calls Russia, China, Iran top cyber threats

Teri Robinson, SC Magazine, July 6, 2017




  • For years, the Kremlin and the media it controls have waged a multifaceted information and disinformation campaign both inside Russia, and pointed at its perceived adversaries. And last year, that effort crescendoed here during the U.S. presidential campaign. Tonight, we look at the information war.

[Video Embedded] Inside Russia’s propaganda machine [12:08]

Judy Woodruff, PBS News Hour, July 11, 2017




  • . . . the main dish of disinformation this week was a mix of several favourite pro-Kremlin ingredients: historical revisionism, NATO, Nazis and the Baltic states.

*Trends of the Week*

EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, July 20, 2017


  • . . . German democracy was called into question with accusations of fascism coming from the initiative for founding the German Pro Putin party. And we saw Angela Merkel’s democratic credentials questioned as she was accused of being a dictator. Estonia was also accused of being a fascist state, along with being blamed for Russophobia. Last time we checked, both Estonia and Germany were doing pretty good on democracy rankings.

Interpreting Fascism

EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, July 13, 2017


  • Skepticism toward the media is most often associated with conservatives in Middle America, some of whom eat something other than artisanal sandwiches. But this week brings more evidence that investors worldwide have become very reluctant to buy what many established news organizations are selling.

Have Consumers Decided Most News Is Fake News?

James Freeman, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2017


  • “Disinformation” is another Cold War concept that has managed to make its way back into the mainstream. Referring to a design to mislead or misinform an audience, disinformation is a form of deception that is usually widely spread. One of the best-known examples was the Soviet campaign to convince Americans their own government created the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

A New Cold War? Yes and No

Katherine Humphries, Atlantic Sentinel, July 7, 2017


  • The Washington Post added a video to Facebook on Wednesday advising its readers on how to spot and avoid fake news on the internet.

Washington Post Releases Video Instructing Readers How to Avoid Fake News

Alex Griswold, The Washington Free Beacon, July 5, 2017


  • When people are overloaded with new information, they tend to rely on less-than-ideal coping mechanisms to distinguish good from bad, and end up privileging popularity over quality, the study suggests. It’s this lethal combination of data saturation and short, stretched attention spans that can enable fake news to spread so effectively.

How Fake News Breaks Your Brain

Ben Panko, Smithsonian Magazine, June 30, 2017



  • I think soft power comes down to three key ideas. Firstly, a nation needs to tell an aspirational, unifying story about itself. * * * Then you need to tell that story in the right way. In the internet age, that means engagement not transmission or broadcasting. * * * Finally, and especially in a social media age, the national brand is most credible when carried by sportsmen, artists, or businesses, most importantly by people.

How the UAE can become a soft power superpower

Tom Fletcher, The National, July 3, 2017



  • In Russia, Putin’s autocratic government strictly controls access to the internet and monitors the communications of its citizens, allowing it suppress negative stories and flood media with pro-regime propaganda. If the US provided Russians with tools to communicate secretly and effectively, new, unmonitored information could flow freely and Russians wouldn’t have to fear speaking honestly about their government.

Here’s how the US can retaliate against Russian hacking and ‘kick them in the balls’

Alex Lockie, Business Insider-Australia, July 21, 2017


  • As Canadian troops begin their mission in Latvia . . . an invisible battle for hearts and minds will be happening back at home. The goal: destroy public support for the mission in Canada. Russia isn’t likely to engage in conventional warfare anytime soon, but it does have a number of information warfare tools it can use to test NATO’s resolve and capabilities without sparking a broader conflict.

As Canadian troops arrive in Latvia, the battle for support lands at home

Alicia Wanless, CBC, July 14, 2017


  • Viewing the United States as its main threat, Moscow is utilizing psychological information warfare as the key means of achieving its ambition to dominate the world stage, deploying disinformation tactics used by the KGB during the Cold War, according to a new Defense Intelligence Agency report.

DIA report: Russia redeploying KGB tactics to dominate U.S.

Art Moore, World Net Daily, July 9, 2017




  • . . . newly arrived National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster reportedly told his staff that the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” is inaccurate and unhelpful. . . . McMaster argued that use of the phrase hampers U.S. counterterrorist cooperation with key Muslim-majority allies because ISIS and its ilk practice and preach a perversion of Islam . . . In other words, terrorism is un-Islamic, not radically Islamic.

Reconsidering Religious Radicalism: An Introduction to the Summer 2017 Issue

Judd Birdsall & Drew Collins, The Review of Faith & International Affairs, June 16, 2017


  • A global movement—not individual groups, not an ideology, and certainly not poverty—is waging war against us. This movement is the collection of humans joined by the Salafi-jihadi ideology, group memberships, and common experiences into a cohesive force that transcends the individual or the group.

America’s Real Enemy: The Salafi-Jihadi Movement

Katherine Zimmerman, American Enterprise Institute, July, 2017




  • “They gave them ‘courses’ that encouraged violence and taught them the concept and ideology of jihad,” he says. “In math, instead of teaching them that one plus one equals two, they taught them that one bullet plus one bullet equals two bullets. They opened workshops to prepare [boys] to fight, show them how to build muscle, things like that… they put young boys in mosques and gave them lectures on Islam and how to be a true jihadi.”

Educated in Terror: Deprogramming the Children ISIS Taught to Kill

Sulome Anderson, NBC News, July 6, 2017




  • Truth be told, the vast majority of Russian IW are abject failures. The perception, however, is that Russian IW is efficient, effective, and has tangible results. Like brainwashing, however, it has extremely limited success. The problem is Putin keeps challenging us to show how he affected our election. ‘Show me the evidence’. We can’t. The problem is we do not measure.

When Russia’s Dark Arts Backfire

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, July 12, 2017


  • . . . the report takes a hard look at the current state of public diplomacy evaluation, making it clear that “progress toward” measuring the impact of public diplomacy is not the same thing as actually being able to measure it.

Speaking Out

James Rider, American Foreign Service Association, December 2015




  • After his death in 1924 at the age of 53, Lenin’s corpse became the centerpiece of a gargantuan, pyramid-shaped mausoleum in Red Square, where he still lies in artificially preserved repose. Today, many would like his body, and his legacy, buried.

It’s time to bury the ‘executioner’ Lenin for good

Rev. Ben Johnson, Acton Institute, May 1, 2017




  • The incident is a neat illustration of how Russia, which no longer wields the kind of power it once had, now advances its interests through the dark arts of influence operations. And it just so happens to feature Ms. Veselnitskaya, who is again in the news.

When Russia’s Dark Arts Backfire

Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, The New York Times, July 12, 2017


  • . . . our efforts to build our resilience to foreign influence campaigns should not be limited to the digital world . . . the Soviet Union perpetually targeted the U.S. with aggressive disinformation campaigns throughout the Cold War. At the time, we regarded them as irritations to be countered with diplomatic demarches and corrective press releases, not as existential threats to our national security. . . . There is perhaps nothing that will do more to encourage our adversaries to believe in the effectiveness of influence campaigns than the hysteria over Russian activities that has gripped Washington since last fall. Restoring our national confidence that our republic cannot be toppled by propaganda is perhaps the most effective deterrent in our toolbox.

How to Deter Russian Cyber Attacks

George Beebe, The National Interest, July 12, 2017


  • A World War II Polish ambassador in Washington exposed pro-Soviet bias at U.S. propaganda agency and Voice of America (VOA), previously secret diplomatic cables show.

Polish Ambassador’s Fight with Pro-Stalin Voice of America and Soviet Propaganda in the U.S.

Ted Lipien, BBG Watch, July 10, 2017


  • . . . the shift to a war footing brought with it the rapid expansion of the federal government, including unprecedented efforts to shape and monitor public opinion.

U.S. Declares War on Germany

Erik Sass, Mental Floss, April 4, 2017


  • One of the U.S. government’s principal tactics to fight apartheid at the time was inviting students and professionals from South African’s majority black population to the United States in significant numbers, cracking open the seemingly unshakeable clouded glass ceilings. In doing so, our diplomats outsmarted apartheid every day for about 20 years.

Soft Power Against Apartheid

Dan Whitman, Foreign Service Journal, December, 2015


  • Why does the new, post-communist Russia, which claims to have broken with the evil traditions of the USSR, stubbornly refuse to admit that the Baltic nations – Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians – were occupied and annexed against their will and contrary to international law, in 1940, and once again in 1944, and subsequently brought to the limit of their national existence through five decades of sovietization and russification?

Address by H.E. Lennart Meri, President of the Republic of Estonia, at a Matthiae-Supper in Hamburg on February 25, 1994

The Republic of Estonia, Speeches of the President of the Republic, 1992-2001, February 25, 1994




  • Ukraine has also become an unlikely laboratory of solutions to defend the truth. * * * The Academy of Ukrainian Press (AUP) has successfully campaigned to build media and information literacy into the national curriculum. Critical thinking, understanding of media structures and content are now fully integrated into a range of social subjects.

How Ukraine is tackling its huge fake news problem

Daniel Bruce, iNews, July 10, 2017




  • Congress is uniquely vulnerable to foreign government-directed influence campaigns. Its malleability—due to tension with the executive branch and partisan forces—make it susceptible to pressures that are not felt by the executive branch. (Foreign governments may also attempt to amplify these pressures through the exploitation of conduits for influence such as the media, think tanks, and activist organizations.)

Congress and Counterintelligence: The Unique Vulnerabilities of the U.S. Congress to Malign Foreign Influence

Darren E. Tromblay, Lawfare, July 13, 2017


  • The critics of our president’s Warsaw remarks (which were written, reportedly, by Stephen Miller, with documented inserts by Trump himself) regard the speech as playing to “nationalist,” “xenophobic” and “racist” elements of the American electorate.

Trump, the West and the Left

William Murchison, Real Clear Politics, July 11, 2017


  • The strongest surviving Western impulse is the impulse to criticize the West, to feel shame and guilt over our collective inheritance. * * * But so much time is wasted on disclaiming and caveating ourselves that we rarely allow even the blandest assertions of cultural solidarity, convinced they reek not just of chauvinism but of murder. * * * But if the West in its self-understanding is reduced, per Beinart, to mere self-loathing paired with the demographic accident of “white, Christian hegemony,” how can it possibly defend itself . . .

In Defense of ‘The West’

Daniel Foster, The Atlantic, July 10, 2017


  • The president is best understood not as a figure who harkens back to the distant past, evokes other lands, or foreshadows the future, but one who is representative of this very moment in America, where media overload is destroying the sense of a shared public reality.

America’s First Postmodern President

Jeet Heer, New Republic, July 8, 2017


  • American history is the story of cycles of conflict and consensus, hyperbole and statesmanship. There is nothing extraordinary about the noise and violent rhetoric we are experiencing today, except that technologies magnify it, moves it past the speed of sound, and enables millions of us to participate in it.

Message: We Can Stop This Trump-Cable News Circus

John Zogby, John Zogby Strategies, July 5, 2017


  • We must end the obsession with creating new “types” of diplomacy. It was probably a mistake “inventing” public diplomacy and digital diplomacy. It undoubtedly led both scholars and practitioners into unhelpful, and potentially harmful, cul-de-sacs like nation-branding or the obsession with social media presence. But now a plethora of new kinds of diplomacy are being offered up, ranging from education diplomacy, via sports and science diplomacy, to gastronomic diplomacy.

Stop Inventing “New Diplomacies”

Shaun Riordan, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, June 21, 2017


  • [Russian] Mental health professionals are now, at least in theory, able to have access to and participate in the world mental health community. Thus, the opposite approach to cutting off communication might now be effective: stimulating communication and access, providing training in issues of medical ethics and human rights, and translating key documents and manuals into local languages may make it impossible for the public to remain uninformed. . . . 80–90% of the rank and file Russian psychiatrists do not know any second language. Therefore, when books, articles and documents are not available in Russian, it remains possible for the psychiatric leaders (many of whom hail from Soviet times) to pretend that the diagnosis used for Soviet dissidents – ‘sluggish schizophrenia’ – is quite accepted in the world . . . . Information is a weapon, and should be used maximally and extensively.

Ending political abuse of psychiatry: where we are at and what needs to be done

Robert van Voren, BJPsych Bulletin, February, 2016, 30-33



  • Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, leaders on both sides of the aisle had overemphasized the idea of America as an idea and only an idea. George W. Bush declared flatly in his First Inaugural that “America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals.” Barack Obama spent much of his presidency waging cultural warfare against the Jacksonians. But conservatives are now in danger of overcorrecting toward nationalism.

America Needs to Reconcile Its Id and Superego

Nicholas M. Gallagher, National Review, July 11, 2017


  • To commemorate our 50th anniversary, TFAS commissioned a Freedom Index survey to engage in a national discussion on the importance of freedom and to determine how our country defines freedom. What we found was a mixture of encouraging news and troubling warnings.

Is America still free? The Founders’ principles will disappear if they aren’t taught

Roger Ream, The Washington Times, July 3, 2017


Countries and Regions




  • Other main narratives include: • Ukraine is a failed state governed by corrupt fascists • Ukraine is responsible for the conflict in its eastern territories • The EU is morally degrading and about to collapse • The EU is preparing for war with Russia * * * • There is an international conspiracy against Russia • The Eurasian Economic Union brings real benefits to former Soviet Republics, unlike the European Union • The USA is an aggressive country that creates conflict in the Middle East, in Syria and with North Korea

Kremlin TV: Singing from the same hymn sheet

EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, July 18, 2017


  • Since 2012, the Russian authorities have intensified a crackdown on freedom of expression, selectively casting certain kinds of criticism of the government as threats to state security and public stability and introducing significant restrictions to online expression and invasive surveillance of online activity.

Online and On All Fronts: Russia’s Assault on Freedom of Expression

Human Rights Watch, July 18, 2017


  • Owned by Russia’s Ministry of Defence, Zvezda broadcasts television, produces online stories and radio programmes related to military, but also, more broadly, political and social affairs. Zvezda describes itself as “patriotic”, which in Russia translates as loyal to the government line. Zvezda is also known for a style bordering on tabloid journalism – and for spreading outright disinformation.

Dependent media – Russia’s military TV Zvezda  

EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, July 16, 2017


  • But the first story explores a new Russian identity. It’s a combination of religion, old Russian traditions, and rediscovered patriotism. This new identity helps explain how people in today’s Russia think, how President Putin acts, and why he remains popular.

Pride, patriotism and how Putin helped redefine what it means to be a ‘true Russian’

Judy Woodruff, PBS News Hour, July 10, 2017




  • This is a tongue in cheek blog which supposedly shows the “horrors” of life in Ukraine. The author spares no opportunity to show how propaganda misrepresents actuality. His titles say ‘this is the horror they must suffer through’, whereas the picture shows beauty, wonderment, and art.

The Horror of Kharkov

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, July 19, 2017




  • In the Baltics, pro-Moscow organizers and media of any kind, even the innocent, are under constant suspicion. But that doesn’t prevent many from operating in plain sight, eager to deliver their pro-Kremlin message to whoever listens.

The Baltics Try to Wall Out Russian Agents, But Moscow’s Message Still Comes Through

Anna Nemtsova, Daily Beast, July 11, 2017


  • The Russian government’s hacking and disinformation campaign had limited effect on French voters. Why? One answer: Most of the Russian government’s disinformation was consumed and distributed by alt-right Americans – and more than half of it was in English, not French.

The Russian government’s disinformation campaign failed to influence the French election. Why?

Homeland Security News Wire, July 21, 2017


  • . . . our findings also demonstrated that the prior interest of users engaged in MacronLeaks may be revealing of the reasons of scarce success of the campaign at affecting the French vote outcome: most of the audience of MacronLeaks campaign was the English-speaking American alt-right community, rather than French users.

Disinformation and Social Bot Operations in the Run Up to the 2017 French Presidential Election

Emilio Ferrara, University of Southern California, Information Sciences Institute, July 2017


  1. CHINA


  • Mr. Liu’s name was erased from the internet by government censors and his family members were muzzled. Activists who had been criticized by others in the movement for being too moderate suddenly found themselves in prison.

After Liu Xiaobo’s Death, Chinese Democracy Dream Fights for Survival

Josh Chin and Eva Dou, The Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2017


  • The death on Thursday of China’s most prominent political prisoner, Liu Xiaobo, set off a frenzied effort by government censors to block discussion of his legacy online. Candle emoticons and the phrase “R.I.P.” were banned on Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site. On many sites, searches of Mr. Liu’s name turned up zero results.

Chinese Citizens Evade Internet Censors to Remember Liu Xiaobo

Javier C. Hernandez, The New York Times, July 14, 2017


  • The cause of this emoji censorship is, of course, the death of Liu Xiaobo. Liu was a Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate who was jailed shortly after the release of Charter 08, a manifesto authored in part by Liu and signed by hundreds of Chinese activists and academics calling for democratic reforms in China.

Why China’s government is blocking the candle emoji

  1. Custer, Tech In Asia, July 13, 2017


  • Getting around the Great Firewall, the system used by China to control internet access, just got harder with a popular virtual private network forced to cease operating on orders from the government.

China’s Great Firewall Gets Tougher as Popular VPN Shut Down

Bloomberg, July 3, 2017


  • China may see it as in its interests to comply with the agreement to decrease cyber economic espionage against the United States for the same reason that it signed on to the agreement in the first place. It appears U.S. anger and frustration on the issue has reached the point that, if the activity continues, Washington is willing to take meaningful action in response.

Evaluating the US-China Cybersecurity Agreement, Part 3

Gary Brown and Christopher D. Yung, The Diplomat, January 21, 2017


  • China’s push to increase national regulation of the Internet may be intended partly to weaken the preeminent role of the United States in cyber governance, instead emphasizing national sovereignty and control. This model would weaken openness and freedom of expression. The Chinese have framed the argument along the lines of “hegemony versus fairness” within the cyberspace domain.

Evaluating the US-China Cybersecurity Agreement, Part 2: The US Approach to Cyberspace

Gary Brown and Christopher D. Yung, The Diplomat, January 19, 2017


  • China has consistently been sensitive to the spread of ideas both within China and coming in from outside. The Chinese specifically identify the danger posed to Communist Party rule by U.S. soft power and the corrupting influence of American ideas. Having witnessed the painful process of social media-driven turmoil in the Middle East, China is undoubtedly anxious to make sure it controls information sufficiently to avoid a societal catastrophe. This motivates attempts to control political speech and limit the dissemination of information.

Evaluating the US-China Cybersecurity Agreement, Part 1: The US Approach to Cyberspace

Gary Brown and Christopher D. Yung, The Diplomat, January 19, 2017




  • Over the long run, the United States and its partners should foster change away from the Kim family dynasty. They should take steps to expand the North Korean population’s access to information, and highlight and document human rights abuses at home. They should encourage defections, and sow distrust in the Kim regime and among the Pyongyang elite.

Time to Lose Your Illusions on North Korea

Richard Fontaine, War on the Rocks, July 7, 2017


  • Portraying itself as a king of “jihadist/insurgent journalism,” al-Shabab continues to utilize its significant media operations capabilities to present its own narrative, however slanted, for various events, a narrative that is in many ways more cohesive and sustained than that presented by many of its foes.

Al-Shabab in Somalia: The Resilience of Al-Qaeda’s East African Affiliate

Christopher Anzalone, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (from p. 67)




  • Devoid of public diplomacy, Riyadh has long dealt with allies as merchandise, doling out financial packages or free oil shipment to appease them. With a post-oil economy on the horizon, the time has come to replace the old-fashioned diplomatic doctrine with pro-active statesmanship that goes beyond brinkmanship

Saudi Arabia’s generational swing: Nayef is out, Prince Mohammed is in

Naveed Ahmad, Daily Pakistan, June 24, 2017




  • ISIS shifted rapidly from a narrative of resilience to victimization as it was squeezed out of Mosul, once its de facto capital in Iraq. Where the group previously touted battlefield victories, it began criticizing U.S.-led forces for killing civilians and destroying infrastructure.

Amid Defeats, ISIS Shifts Narrative from Invincibility to Victimization

Natalie Johnson, The Washington Free Beacon, July 11, 2017






  • My visit to America was a unique opportunity to study new methods and models of cultural management, aesthetics and life. I greatly benefited from the experience, which broadened my interests, changed my way of thinking and radically influenced my work. In a number of fields, American cultural and artistic practices are useful and adaptable outside your country. And, perhaps more importantly, my visit to America changed the way I think about the United States—for the better!

Museum Management Lessons

Ivan Stanic, Foreign Service Journal, December, 2015


  • One of U.S. foreign policy’s ground-breaking soft power initiatives is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year: the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Though it is not widely known and operates quietly, with a current budget of $90 million, the impact of the IVLP is significant.

Soft Power, High Impact

Robert Zimmerman, American Foreign Service Association, December 2015




  • The beautiful thing about New York is not that it confers success, but that it teaches civility.

Expect goodness, and ye shall find it

Garrison Kellor, The Washington Post, July 11, 2017




This is a compilation of news, articles, essays, and reports on strategic communications, Public Diplomacy, public affairs, U.S. government international broadcasting, and information operations.  The editorial intent is to:


  • share with busy practitioners the academic and policy ferment in Public Diplomacy and related fields
  • from long speeches, testimonies, and articles, flag the portions that bear on Public Diplomacy
  • provide a window on armed forces thinking on the fields that neighbor Public Diplomacy such as military public affairs, information operations, inform-influence-engage, and cultural learning, and
  • introduce the long history of Public Diplomacy by citing some of the older books, articles, reports, and documents that are not available on the internet.


Public Diplomacy professionals always need a 360-degree view of how ideas are expressed, flow, and gain influence.  Many points of view citied here are contentious, partisan, and/or biased; inclusion does not imply endorsement.


Edited by

Donald M. Bishop, Bren Chair of Strategic Communications, Marine Corps University

Jeffery W. Taylor, University of Mary Washington, Assistant






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