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

Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#82) August 13, 2017

General Dwight D. Eisenhower on “Mutual Understanding and Respect,” June 1944


In the News


[Confirmation of General Selva]

[Russia Sanctions Act]

[DNI – Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community]



[Election 2016 Controversies]

Instruments of Informational Power


Professional Topics

  2. CYBER

Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  5. CHINA
  9. IRAN
  10. QATAR



In the News

  • Lawmakers may mandate a specific strategy for countering Russian disinformation if the State Department does not, a senior House Democrat warned.

Congress may mandate ‘information warfare’ plan for Russia

Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, August 7, 2017

[Confirmation of General Selva]

  • The Department must continue to improve its ability to exploit cyberspace as a pathway for Information Operations to affect adversary perceptions, decisions, and actions in support of strategic ends. We must also enhance our ability to support allies and partner efforts to defend against and defeat adversary propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation delivered in cyberspace.

Advance Policy Questions for General Paul Selva, USAF, Nominee for Reconfirmation as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Armed Services Committee, United States Senate, July 18, 2017

  • Gen. Selva said that to counter what has been termed Russian hybrid warfare, the military is building up capabilities “to compete below the level of armed conflict to include in the diplomatic, information, and economic realms in order to in order to impose costs for disruptive Russian behavior while denying them the benefits of malign activities.”

Military building for info warfare

Bill Gertz, The Washington Times, July 19, 2017

[Russia Sanctions Act]

  • US officials must underscore that America will wield cyber sanctions aggressively if Russia persists in its meddling in elections around the globe. Yet Washington should also state that current cyber sanctions and penalties can be lifted if Russia refrains from interfering in any democratic processes over a prescribed time period—perhaps four years.

The Russia Sanctions Bill Is a Decisive Moment for US Policy—Now What?

Edward Fishman, Atlantic Council, July 31, 2017

[DNI – Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community]

  • Terrorists—to include the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS)—will also continue to use the Internet to organize, recruit, spread propaganda, raise funds, collect intelligence, inspire action by followers, and coordinate operations.

* * *

In addition to the HVE threat, a small number of foreign-based Sunni violent extremist groups will also pose a threat to the US homeland and continue publishing multilingual propaganda that calls for attacks against US and Western interests in the US homeland and abroad.

* * *

Russia is likely to sustain or increase its propaganda campaigns. Russia is likely to continue to financially and politically support populist and extremist parties to sow discord within European states and reduce popular support for the European Union.

* * *

Tehran continues to leverage cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats—including against US allies in the region. Iran has also used its cyber capabilities directly against the United States.

Statement for the Record, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Daniel R. Coats, Director of National Intelligence, May 11, 2017 


[North Korea]

  • In the last year of the Obama administration, we increased our funding for getting information to North Koreans. But the State Department still allocates less then $3 million for this effort, and the Trump administration’s first budget request did not mention it. Congress should work with the administration to create a well-funded, dedicated program. The State Department should also continue efforts we began under Obama to enlist like-minded allies in Europe and Asia to back these efforts, and tech companies to find creative ways for North Koreans to share information safely. More funding should also go to scholarships for North Korean defectors, so that they will be ready to help their people if the North opens up.

How to Take Down Kim Jong Un

Tom Malinowski, Politico Magazine, July 24, 2017

  • Reauthorization of the North Korea Human Rights Act (which I am co-sponsoring) can enable the United States to reach the people of North Korea with targeted messages of hope and support, as well as examples of the freedoms we enjoy every day. We should take this a step further and begin to initiate targeted information operations focusing on North Korean political elites who, like every day North Koreans, have also felt the brunt of Kim’s paranoid persecution.

How to degrade the growing power of North Korea

Senator Ted Cruz, The Washington Post, August 1, 2017

  • Conversations with more than two dozen North Korean refugees, along with scholars, former government officials and activists, make it clear that young people are increasingly unmoored from the powerful ideology the government long ago placed at the center of every life.


In North Korea, a generation gap grows behind the propaganda

Tim Sullivan, The San Francisco Chronicle, July 29, 2017

  • The balloons in question are sent by private citizens—often activists who defected from North Korea—and carry leaflets criticizing the Kim Jong-un regime. While that may sound like a small issue to outsiders, it’s a major source of contention for Pyongyang, which imposes tight controls over information, and harshly punishes those breaking its rules. North Korea has insisted that for a dialog between the two nations to resume, the balloons must stop.
    Balloons and leaflets are the next potential flashpoint between the Koreas

Steve Mollman, Quartz, August 7, 2017

  • North Koreans have been able to fully embrace the spirit of the country’s “Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism” month by purchasing two new distinctly anti-American postage stamps. The stamps were launched at the end of last month to coincide with the anniversary of the Korean War.

[Video Embedded 00:38] North Korea Stamps Show Missiles Aimed At The U.S. Capitol As Part Of Its Anti-American Month Celebrations

Jason Le Miere, Newsweek, July 17, 2017

[Election 2016 Controversies]

  • There is another problem for the United States: Putin insists, and most Russians believe, that Russia played no role in the American presidential election, despite the unanimous conclusion of the American intelligence community. The fact that the American president and the right-wing media continue to insist the same means the legitimacy of the sanctions will be easy for the Russians to undermine. It also allows Russia to continue being a wedge issue, ripping apart the American political landscape.

Vladimir Putin to America: You’ve Let Me Down

Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic, July 31, 2017

  • As part of a cyber-espionage operation against Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, North Korean hackers compromised email accounts belonging to individuals involved with an East Asia-focused foreign policy advisory group, multiple people familiar with the incident told CyberScoop.

North Korean hackers came close to hacking Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign

Chris Bing, Cyberscoop, August 1, 2017

Instruments of Informational Power 

  • First, restructure the State Department so that it can organize and even generate national power. Diplomacy certainly is the State Department’s most basic instrument. But it is clear that economics and trade, law enforcement, intelligence, public information, and even some military capabilities are equally important tools of foreign policy. * * * The undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs needs to focus on what is termed information operations and countering false narratives about the United States.

How Secretary Tillerson could reshape the State Department [Commentary]

Daniel Goure, Defense News, August 10, 2017

  • The days when an officer could shape a career to quietly edit press translations, arrange background interviews, organize talks at Information Resources Centers, accompany visiting American performers or artists, or tend Fulbright or Visitor programs will shrink.  For an uncertain future, master the profession of Public Diplomacy.  Read.  Write.  Present.  And think about studying “one battle” to start.

Professional Study in a Public Diplomacy Career

Donald M. Bishop, Public Diplomacy Council Commentary, August 11, 2017

  • The most valuable thing western public diplomacy could do for Narva [in Estonia], is not play into the Manichaean conceits of the Kremlin by trashing Putin, demonizing Russian-ness or attempting to convey an idealized picture of our way of life, but rather to build up local media to tell stories relevant to the locality. This reinforces, instead, an identity which is already present and gives the people of Narva the platform they need to be simultaneously Russian, Estonian, European and part of the 21st century.

Beyond The Rot: Cities & The Future Of Public Diplomacy

Soft Power 30 and Nicholas J. Cull, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, July 28, 2017

  • In 1981, President Reagan set up an interagency task force, called the “Active Measures Working Group” to expose Soviet disinformation. The KGB had engaged in decades of disinformation campaigns to discredit the US with little push-back, from false stories that the CIA was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to a fake historical propaganda book, circulated widely in the Muslim world, claiming that Jews, with the help of the U.S., were plotting to take over Europe.

America Needs a Firewall, Not a Border Wall

Stanley A. Weiss, Huffpost, July 18, 2017

  • Late Wednesday, the department responded to a request for comment by noting the Global Engagement Center “continues to execute its mission” and is already funded this fiscal year with $16.3 million.  “There is a process underway to ensure any future funding or programs account for the most appropriate tactics and strategy — especially in countering propaganda from countries such as Russia that have minimal protections for free speech or the media,” it said.

Senators blast Tillerson delay on spending funds to counter ISIS, Russia

Nahal Toosi, Politico, August 2, 2017

  • Almost all countries have some publicly funded media or at least some limits on what can broadcast and when. But other nations have a much tighter grip. China has very little privately owned media, so it has near total control over what its people watch and read. This can help keep an authoritarian regime in power.

[Video Embedded 03:56] How State Media Became A Weapon Of Information Warfare

Jake Godin, Newsy, July 18, 2017

  • [Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani] . . . allowed the creation of Al Jazeera television, hailed by many as a voice of open democracy—though its Arabic arm has mainly carried a mixture of Islamist and other anti-Western propaganda with agitation against other Arab regimes (along with often vociferous debate programs), and has had ties to AQ behind the scenes.

Qatar’s Comeuppance Is a Long Time Coming

Raymond Stock, Middle East Forum, July 2017

  • These three characteristics of the information environment—volume, speed, and ubiquity of connectivity—conspire to ensure no matter the level of operation, the ever present flow of information has the ability to influence military operations. Human beings—whether farmers in the developing world, London investment bankers, or military commanders—consume, consider, and react to information. The principles and practice of war cannot ignore this.

Speed, Volume, and Ubiquity: Forget Information Operations & Focus on the Information Environment

Michael Williams, The Strategy Bridge, July 26, 2017

Professional Topics

  • Experts have increasingly called attention to Russia’s . . . flooding Twitter and Facebook with millions of computer-generated bots posting under false names (often unwittingly picked up and amplified by supporters of Donald Trump). But its battle on LinkedIn to neutralize enemies has gone largely unnoticed. There, however, Newsweek has found that pro-Moscow forces have put constant pressure on the company to suspend or permanently evict a number of its adversaries, many with long, distinguished careers in the U.S. military or its intelligence agencies.

[Video embedded] How Russia Is Using Linkedin As A Tool Of War Against Its U.S. Enemies [00:50]

Jeff Stein, Newsweek, August 3, 2017

  • Using “psychographic” profiles of individual voters generated from publicly stated interests really does work, according to new research presented at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The controversial practice allows groups to hone their messages to match the personality types of their targets during political campaigning . . .

Facebook ‘dark ads’ can swing political opinions, research shows

Alex Hern, The Guardian, July 31, 2017

Google’s latest project is an application called Perspective, which, as Wired reports, brings the tech company “a step closer to its goal of helping to foster troll-free discussion online, and filtering out the abusive comments that silence vulnerable voices.” In other words, Google is teaching computers how to censor.

Silicon Valley Censorship

Sam Westrop, Middle East Forum, July 26, 2017

  • On Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry was forced to take down the “ratings & reviews” feature on their Facebook page after receiving over 17,000 negative-poor responses in a 24-hour period, as compared to only 75 positive ratings. Thousands of Lithuanians, along with Latvians & Estonians, from around the world responded on Facebook to Moscow attempts to spread false propaganda about post-World War 2 partisans in the 3 Baltic countries

Russian Foreign Ministry forced to turn off Facebook ratings after thousands of Lithuanians protest

Linas Johansonas, Lithuanian News, July 18, 2017

  • Under a program called Peer to Peer: Challenging Extremism, students at dozens of universities are given a budget of up to $2,000 each semester to develop social media campaigns and other tools to counter the online recruiting efforts of terrorist groups like the Islamic State.

Students are the Newest U.S. Weapon against Terrorist Recruitment

Ron Nixon, The New York Times, July 18, 2017

  • Intelligence agencies of major world powers now seem to appreciate the importance of social media and its role in ‘information operations,’ a military term that infers the ability of messaging to affect the viewpoints of a target population. Just looking through listings for ‘intelligence analyst’ on several Washington DC—based job boards, foreign language specialists are widely sought for social media and social networking positions.

Social Media Now on Conflicts’ Front Lines

Jason Anderson, Foreign Policy Blogs, September 19, 2016

  1. CYBER
  • Interpol has teamed up with Russian security firm Group-IB in an effort to identify the members of a pro-ISIS hacker group that has taken credit for many website defacements and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

Interpol, Group-IB Unmask Pro-ISIS Hackers

Eduard Kovacs, Security Week, August 2, 2017

  • It is time for DHS to make a decision and get on with the critical business of building new, unified defenses for .gov.  The incredibly divisive circus that came out of our most recent election should be enough motivation, but it hardly stops there.  We need a renewed emphasis on holistic cybersecurity.  This is a truly bipartisan issue of vital concern to all Americans.

DHS Is Failing to Meet Its Cyber Responsibilities

Steven Bucci, Real Clear Defense, August 2, 2017

  • The ground service, along with the other services, is integrating cyber, electronic warfare (EW) and other elements of information warfare into combat operations to more effectively assimilate information age technology.

President’s Commentary: Ground Forces March to Cyber Battlefield

Lieutenant General Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.), Signal, August 1, 2017

  • “Where there’s some confusion is when we say IT infrastructure for keeping the lights on and network running versus … how we can weaponize the network to support defensive cyber operations or offensive cyber operations.”

What’s the difference between cyber and IT?

Mark Permleau, C4ISR, July 27, 2017

  • If the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues is not fully empowered, there is a damn good chance these critical negotiations will never be accomplished. . . . cyber is a critical issue now and will only grow in the future. Cyber is embedded into the very fabric of our community. A cyberwar of any kind could disrupt more than military and critical infrastructure targets.

We Need Cyberwar Rules of Engagement Now

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

  • The attendees at the “Navy-Private Sector Critical Infrastructure Wargame” included high-level elected officials, senior executives and information security officers from private industry. The sectors represented included the chemical industry, the tech industry, the energy sector, finance, health care, transportation, defense and manufacturing. “Our intent was to try to better understand what the role of the Department of Defense would be in attacks against critical infrastructure,” said . . . the event organizer * * * “Private companies are going to be the battlefield for this conflict, and are already,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who attended the event.

Naval War College Hosts High-Level Cyber War Games

MarEx, The Maritime Executive, July 19, 2017

  • After months of delay, the Trump administration is finalizing plans to revamp the nation’s military command for defensive and offensive cyber operations in hopes of intensifying America’s ability to wage cyberwar against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to U.S. officials.

US to create independent military cyber command

Lolita C. Baldor, AP, July 17, 2017

  • Cyber teams recently have been embedded in training rotations with Army combat brigades. “We looked at how to defend networks and how commanders deal with social media,” he said. The command this year will receive 60 newly minted lieutenants: 30 from West Point and 30 from ROTC programs. “That’s our future,” said Nakasone.

Military Steps Up Recruiting of Cyberwarriors

Sandra Erwin, Real Clear Defense, July 17, 2017

  • “Comparing military weapon systems to software exploits by slapping a nonsensical ‘cyber-‘ in front of some metal gear is intellectually lazy and misleading,” Thomas Rid, professor of security studies at King’s College London, told Motherboard in an email.

It’s Time to Stop Comparing Exploits to Physical Weapons

Joseph Cox, Motherboard, July 17, 2017

  • This new trend in digital attacks is sowing distrust, leading people to lose confidence in organisations and businesses, said Nicole Eagan, chief executive of cyber security firm Darktrace.

Recent cyber attacks out to sow distrust: Darktrace

Grace Chng, TechGoondu, July 12, 2017


  • Recent controversies over “fake news,” and concerns over entering a “post-fact” era, reflect a burgeoning crisis: problematically inaccurate information, it seems, is circulating in ways that disrupt politics, business, and culture. Journalists, commentators, policymakers, and scholars have a variety of words at their disposal — propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, and so on — to describe the accuracy and relevance of media content. These terms can carry a lot of baggage.

[Report] Lexicon of Lies: Terms for Problematic Information

Caroline Jack, Data & Society, accessed August 12, 2017

  • During her 12 years in power, [Angela] Merkel has also watched the Kremlin’s media apparatus air broadsides against her policies in a variety of languages, including German, English, Spanish and French.Her concern is not just the Russian media outlets that spread disinformation, Hegelich says. It is also the automated algorithms, known as bots, that help false reports go viral much faster than politicians or fact-checkers can debunk them.

Russia Has Launched a Fake News War on Europe. Now Germany Is Fighting Back

Simon Shuster, Time, August 9, 2017

  • . . . we are living at a similarly fraught moment, in a time when international alliances are in flux. America’s reputation abroad has plunged in many countries. * * * Yet at the moment, there is no systematic U.S. or Western response to Russian, Chinese or Islamic State disinformation. Attempts to keep track of it are uneven. There is no group or agency inside the U.S. government dedicated solely to this task. And, thanks to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, it looks like there won’t be anytime soon.

If this were the Cold War, America would be poised to lose

Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post, August 4, 2017

  • -Most people trust what they watch — but that won’t always be the case. ⸰ Tech is being developed that will make it easy to create fake video footage of public figures or audio of their voice. ⸰ The developments aren’t perfect yet, but they threaten to turbocharge “fake news” and boost hoaxes online. ⸰ In years to come, people will need to be far more skeptical about the media they see.

CGI and AI are going to turbocharge ‘fake news’ and make it far harder to tell what’s real

Rob Price, Business Insider, July 28, 2017

  • Facebook Inc will provide initial funding of $500,000 for a nonprofit organization that aims to help protect political parties, voting systems and information providers from hackers and propaganda attacks . . . . The initiative, dubbed Defending Digital Democracy, is led by the former campaign chairs for Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Mitt Romney, and will initially be based at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, which announced the project last week.

Facebook funds Harvard effort to fight election hacking, propaganda

Joseph Menn, Reuters, July 26, 2017

  • In the face of fake news, financial difficulties and mounting political pressure, the media world is changing rapidly. * * * The current difficulties journalism is facing are demonstrating the dangers of “a world without facts.” However, [Alan] Rusbridger maintains that it’s up to the media to regain public trust and make sure it isn’t taken for granted. In his words, “If we are doing stuff that is important and that matters, then we will have the support of the people.”

[Video Embedded 16:55] Former Guardian Chief Editor: We’re Begining to Glimpse What A World Without Journalism Is Like

Nataliya Gumenyuk, Hromadske, July 16, 2017

  • In recent years, democracy’s enemies have become adept at polluting social media platforms with rumors, disinformation, and anti-democratic propaganda. And has let some of the same people who once heralded the birth of the social media age to wonder whether democracy can survive it.

We Need 21st Century Responses: Secretary Albright Speaks At #DisinfoWeek

Digital Forensics Research Lab, June 29, 2017

  • This report describes an extensive Russia-linked phishing and disinformation campaign. It provides evidence of how documents stolen from a prominent journalist and critic of Russia was tampered with and then “leaked” to achieve specific propaganda aims. We name this technique “tainted leaks.”

TAINTED LEAKS: Disinformation and Phishing With a Russian Nexus

Adam Hulcoop, John Scott-Railton, Peter Tanchak, Matt Brooks, and Ron Deibert, The Citizen Lab, May 25, 2017

  • The US has always been better at projecting soft power through its private sector than through government channels. Hollywood, the music and tech industries, the lively and masterful media provide shining examples everyone wants to imitate.  Their success comes bundled with American values, such as a broader freedom of speech than in most other countries, openness to diversity, economic liberty, the constant quest for the next new thing.

Actually, it’s fine for the State Department to drop ‘democracy promotion’

Leonid Bershidsky, New York Post, August 3, 2017

  • Insofar as the State Department is the chief institution responsible for American “soft” power, weakening the institution simply makes it easier for an already intervention-prone Washington to rely on “hard” power to respond to crises and conflicts. That means more unnecessary wars, at least some of which might have otherwise been avoided.

Why the Wrecking of the State Department Matters

Daniel Larison, The American Conservative, July 31, 2017

  • “Despite its totalitarian character, the USSR with its communist ideology had more followers than does the Russian Federation which positions itself in the role of a defender of conservative values,” Mkrtchyan says. No disputes “the greatness of Russian culture,” but “Anglo-Saxon values including the American dream and the British way of life” are dominant.

Russia Today has Far Less ‘Soft Power’ than the Soviet Union Did, Armenian Commentator Says

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia – New Series, July 20, 2017

  • “The story of this year’s Soft Power 30 index and the wider report is the shifting dynamic between the US and China,” said Jonathan McClory, an analyst at Portland and the study’s author. “Where we see the traditional role of US global leadership in retreat, China is clearly stepping in to drive the global agenda forward.”

China Climbs on Soft Power Index While Trump Pulls Us Down, But the Gap’s Still Yuuuuge

Coco Liu, South China Morning Post, July 18, 2017

  • [U.S. Strategic Command] commander Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten also said information warfare—the use of information operations, cyber, space, and other capabilities—is emerging as a form of strategic warfare. “Information warfare in the future is the key to military dominance and control,” Hyten told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. “The military that figures out how to control information will be the most powerful military on the planet,” he said. Currently, Russia and China have developed significant information warfare capabilities involving the use of political, legal, media, intelligence, psychological, and cyber warfare means to achieve strategic objectives. * * * By contrast, the United States is just beginning to develop effective information warfare capabilities, both military and civilian.

STRATCOM Worried by Slow Pace of U.S. Nuclear Modernization

Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon, July 31, 2017

  • The Russians also have grown adept at conducting modern psychological information warfare, based on past Soviet capabilities used by the KGB during the Cold War.  The DIA report discloses new information about the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by Russian military and intelligence services that are targeting the West for subversion.  “Information operations are seen as a critical capability to achieve decisive results in the initial period of conflict with a focus on control of the information spectrum in all dimensions of the modern battle space,” the report says.

DIA Reveals New Details of Russian Information Warfare

Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon, July 7, 2017

  • Since at least 2010, the Russian military has prioritized the development of forces and means for what it terms “information confrontation,” which is a holistic concept for ensuring information superiority, during peacetime and wartime. This concept includes control of the information content as well as the technical means for disseminating that content. Cyber operations are part of Russia’s attempts to control the information environment.

[Report] Russia Military Power: Building a Military to Support Great Power Aspirations

Defense Intelligence Agency, 2017

  • That all war is a conflict of narratives is a premise worth considering.

Nine Links in the Chain: The Weaponized Narrative, Sun Tzu, and the Essence of War

Jon Hermann, The Strategy Bridge, July 27, 2017

  • But unless there is a fundamental change to the constellations of conflict in the Middle East, we can never be wholly rid of IS – not even if we create endless well-meaning education and prevention programs. Not to mention a compelling counternarrative.

Opinion: ‘Islamic State’ jihadism could live on

Loay Mudhoon, Deutsche Welle July 16, 2017

  • Post–World War II Germany faced its past, discarded its Nazi institutions, and committed itself to reconciliation with its neighbors. . . . . Post-Soviet elites in Russia never acknowledged the truth of what their predecessors had done to their own society—and to the subject peoples they ruled. It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway is the expressive title of the best book on the subject. Russian rulers’ refusal to face the past allowed and invited the past to return.

The Cold War Never Really Ended

David Frum, The Atlantic, July/August 2017

  • Russia is preparing an “asymmetric” response in answer to the adoption by Polish authorities of a law on de-communization, which provides for the taking down of monuments to Soviet soldiersin the country, reports the newspaper Izvestia.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia said that the “unfriendly actions of Warsaw will, in any case, not remain without consequences.”

Media: Russia prepares to respond to demolition of Soviet monuments in Poland

UA Wire, July 31, 2017

  • The Russian government has warned Poland that it will face sanctions if it removes monuments glorifying the Soviet victory in World War Two.  Last month Poland updated its “de-communisation” legislation, banning “totalitarian” symbols, which would include Soviet propaganda monuments.

Russia warns Poland not to touch Soviet WW2 memorials

BBC News, July 31, 2017

  • Although Stalin can — and should — be demonised (contrary to the statements heard from the Russian president), attempts to demonise Russian society are counterproductive, given that the sheer scale of Stalin’s crimes has been purposefully whitewashed from the social memory of Russians for quite some time. The illusory aura of the Great Patriotic War, and the creation of its cult surrounding it, would not have been so successful without the Kremlin’s policy of purposefully concealing ‘inconvenient’ issues.

Of chiefs and men

Olga Irisova, Intersection, July 27, 2017

  • Russia will retaliate against Poland if it follows through on its decision to tear down Soviet-era World War II monuments, the speaker of Russia’s upper house says.

Russia Vows to Retaliate if Poland Removes WWII Soviet Monuments

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, July 19, 2017

  • The problem is about how to reverse decades-long policies of promoting unbridled multiculturalism that allowed the ideologies of Islamism and Salafism to permeate an inchoate European Muslim society, thereby militating against the creation of an European Islam free from the ideological baggage exported by conservative and Islamist individuals, groups and governments.

How Muslim Extremists Exploit European Liberalism

Robert G. Rabil, The National Interest, June 12, 2017


  • . . . young people in the North Caucasus who had earlier gone into the Islamist underground are now expressing their anger at social and economic injustices in the region “via ethnic mobilization.” The two are linked: where Islamist extremism was strongest, now ethnic protest is.

Three Worrisome Lessons from the Latest Conflicts in Daghestan

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia – New Series, July 18, 2017

  • As Warsaw burned and Polish soldiers were being killed, the Soviet propaganda machine intensified its attacks on the Polish Government in Exile leaders and the Home Army . . . . Very few Americans know today that in a betrayal of public trust, the wartime U.S. government-run Voice of America (VOA) was a willing and eager participant in the Soviet propaganda effort.

Voice of America and Warsaw Uprising: Collusion with Stalin

Ted Lipien, BBG Watch, August 1, 2017

  • [During World War II] The Political Warfare Executive further classified its output into white, grey, and black propaganda depending on the level, or otherwise, of its camouflaged origin. White openly spoke in the name of His Majesty’s Government, grey and black propaganda pretended to be anything but the voice of the British Government.

From the Horse’s Mouth: The Types of Research Units and What is Black, Grey & White Propaganda

Psywar, July 9, 2017

  • At the exhibition “Ppira: the Spearhead of Psychological Warfare Exposed,” on display until the end of 2017 at DMZ Museum in Goseong County, Gangwon Province, you can see this and many other examples of ppira, propaganda flyers sent from South Korea to the North, and vice versa, to influence the population on the other side.

Ppira: Women’s Bodies as Bait in Propaganda War Between Two Koreas

Jieun Choi, Korea Expose, July 20, 2017

  • [The Saturday Evening Post] also carried Rockwell’s paintings of the “Four Freedoms” that FDR vowed to defend in 1941 as he prepared public opinion for entry into the world war. Rockwell depicted a New England town meeting for “Freedom of Speech”, heads bowed in prayer for “Freedom of Worship”, a Thanksgiving meal for “Freedom from Want” and parents watching children sleeping in “Freedom from Fear”.

Why Everyone Liked Norman Rockwell

The Economist, July 27, 2017

  • The [University of Wisconsin Green Bay] GenCyber Camp is the first GenCyber Camp to be implemented in the state, 90 students from grades 7 through 9th are participating and learning online safety at no cost. Funding is provided by the NSA and the NSF.  Dr. Chattopadhyay says it’s important to introduce cyber security at a young age, since the middle school students are already using smart phones, tablets and computers.

Middle school students learn online safety during UWGB GenCyber Camp

Cearron Bagenda, ABC2 WBAY, July 31, 2017


  • . . . three paradoxes. Each was made possible by technological innovations. All will endure long after this ringmaster moves his circus to another town. Paradox #1: More information, less credibility * * * Paradox #2: More connectivity, less civility * * * Paradox #3: The wisdom of crowds, the duplicity of crowds  * * * More information, connectivity, and crowdsourcing are also shrinking credibility, eroding civility, and empowering the duplicity of crowds.

The Three Paradoxes Disrupting American Politics

Amy Zegart, The Atlantic, August 5, 2017

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia – New Series, July 27, 2017

  • In his speech . . . in Warsaw, Poland, President Trump did more than merely reassure our European allies of America’s commitment to NATO and Article V. What he presented could be called the outlines of a Trump Doctrine, one unlike any articulated by previous presidents. Based on his remarks, there appear to be eight key principles of the Trump Doctrine. * * * 4.  Threats to our security and way of life are increasing in both complexity and severity. These threats are not only physical but also ideological. But threats also arise from within, from a failure to cherish and support core Western values.

Was a Trump Doctrine Unveiled in Poland?

Daniel Gouré, Real Clear Defense, July 09, 2017

  • . . . kinetic activities to capture/kill individuals, to disrupt plots, to interdict finances, to interrupt propaganda and media activities, to hinder recruitment prospects—as important as they are—we’ve learned that none of these things are decisive. . . . inevitably the financier is replaced, the propagandist recovers his media or builds more media . . . . I subscribe to the school of thought . . . that these kinetic activities primarily buy time and space, for mostly non-military, non-kinetic activity that have a fairer prospect of creating durable results. They are things such as countering effective propaganda, counter-messaging if you will . . . .

A View from the CT Foxhole: LTG Michael K. Nagata, Director, Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning, NCTC

Brian Dodwell and Don Rassler, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, June 27, 2017


Elliot Kaufman, National Review, August 3, 2017

  • By declaring ourselves champions of liberty and backing up that sentiment with economic policy, diplomatic ingenuity, and military strength, the U.S. serves as a steady deterrent to those who otherwise wouldn’t hesitate to make things more oppressive than they already are.

Be-Dumb Agenda

Abe Greenwald, Commentary Magazine, August 1, 2017

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has ordered his department to redefine its mission and issue a new statement of purpose to the world. The draft statements under review right now are similar to the old mission statement, except for one thing — any mention of promoting democracy is being eliminated.

State Department considers scrubbing democracy promotion from its mission

Josh Rogin, The Washington Post, August 1, 2017

  • It’s popular, trite, and somewhat cliche to say, when talking about the current social and political state of America, that “the things that unite us should be stronger than the things which divide us.”  But this is an American conception of unity and solidarity that only began historically after the ugly mess of the Civil War in the 1860s.  Today in America, we are divided by political lines, social lines, and even class lines in as almost as pernicious way as we were in the decade leading up to the Civil War.

[Podcast 29:56] Earbud U Season Five, Episode #8 – John Zogby

Jesan Sorrells, HS Consulting and Training, July 19, 2017

  • [John Zogby:]  When it comes to spotting trends we at John Zogby Strategies need to rely on the smartest people around. My buddy Bruce Mehlman of the firm Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas is truly among the best. We are sharing with you their infographics on the Age of Disruption which spells out huge demographic changes in our lifetime and why we find ourselves in the cultural and political situation we’re currently facing.

[Powerpoint] America in the Age of Disruption. What’s Next in Washington?

Bruce Mehlman, Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas , July 11, 2017

  • A country without a creed of universal human rights would find excuses for indifference and callousness, as most nations throughout most of history have done.  The United States, however, has been inflicted with idealism since the day of its founding. The assertion is still shocking: that a life on the other side of the world is created equal — honestly, objectively, God-blessedly equal — to our own.

America’s glorious guilt

Michael Gerson, The Washington Post, July 10, 2017


Countries, Regions, Case Studies 

  • Belgian authorities consider violent extremism as a complex phenomenon driven by political, social, and personal factors–polarization of ethnic and religious groups in society, terrorist propaganda, anti-Western religious ideology, the civil war in Syria, perceived or actual anti-Muslim discrimination, unequal distribution of educational or employment opportunity, criminality, and psychological disturbance. (p.103)

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016

Bureau of Counterterrorism, Department of State, July 2017

  • On this edition of Russian Roulette, Olga and Jeff sit down with Brian Whitmore, Senior Russia Analyst at RFE/RL and host of the podcast The Power Vertical, for a wide-ranging conversation about the role of disinformation in Russian grand strategy, the upcoming Russian presidential elections, and the state of civil society in the Russian Federation.

[Podcast – via ITUNES] Of Nuclear Weapons and Deadly Misconceptions – Russian Roulette Episode #36

Olga Oliker and Jeffrey Mankoff, Russian Roulette, CSIS, August 11, 2017

  • Putin’s tactics, like the demonization of the United States in Russian official media, appear recycled from the Cold War. Russian cyber hacking and disinformation recall Soviet “active measures” of the 1980s.

Russia’s Back-to-the-80s Foreign Policy

Daniel Fried, The Atlantic, August 2, 2017

  • From employing double agents to pushing out propaganda to ordering a cyber and influence campaign aimed at interfering in the U.S. election and boosting then-candidate Donald Trump’s chances, Moscow’s activities remain a high priority for anyone in the counterintelligence sphere.

U.S. Counterintelligence Director: Putin “Achieved His Mission”

MacKenzie Weinger, The Cipher Brief, August 2, 2017

  • Then there is this little Russian inflation of word meaning. See if you can find which word we definitely did NOT use, but it fits Russia’s narrative. * * * Yes, sir, Russia is using a word we never used, “enemy”. That is a remarkable inflation of the language in the bill.

Russia’s Last Gasp: Withdraw Money From US

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, July 31, 2017

  • This is bogus, this is fabricated, this is Russia.

Russian Foreign Ministry Pushing Fake News

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, July 31, 2017

  • The term “anti-Russian,” a synonym for “Russophobic,” has a long history. It expresses the self-victimizing and enemy-creating sentiments of the Kremlin and Kremlin-linked media. But “countering Russian mischief” has very different meaning than being “anti-Russian.” The first refers to countering something that Russia does; the second, “anti-Russian,” refers to countering something that Russia is—not only as a political agent but also as a whole country with social-cultural-historical aspects.

Does ‘countering Russian mischief’ mean being anti-Russian?

Urve Eslas, Stopfake, July 28, 2017

  • The Kremlin because of its Soviet-KGB background views Russian nationalism as the work of the CIA and other Western intelligence services but at the same time fears that a deracinated non-ethnic civic nation would not be capable of mobilizing Russians in a crisis, according to Yegor Prosvirnin, the editor of the now-blocked Sputnik i pogrom portal.

Kremlin Views Russian Nationalism as a CIA ‘Project,’ Prosvirnin Says

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia – New Series, July 27, 2017

  • “We continue to see new propaganda stories around the Russian-Belarusian exercises Zapad-2017, attempts to ‘demonize’ them,” Grushko said.

US and Russia clash over military exercises

David M. Herszenhorn, Politico, July 19, 2017

  • Vladimir Putin’s fascism, the first “post-modern” fascism, is able to include under its banner so many radically different people because it is not an ideology – no basic text could be prepared about it – but rather a set of “understandings” like those which govern criminal subcultures, according to Igor Yakovenko.

Putinist Fascism Not an Ideology but Rather a Set of Criminal ‘Understandings,’ Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia – New Series, July 16, 2017


  • This joint training is our response to ideologists, organizers and sponsors of hybrid wars,” Petro Poroshenko said.

President on Sea Breeze 2017 training: This is is our response to ideologists, organizers and sponsors of hybrid wars

Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, July 17, 2017


He noted that while US president Donald Trump uses Twitter “to bypass the traditional media, [Czech Republic President Milos] Zeman uses the alternative media, which often spreads disinformation or conspiracy theories,” to reach the public.

Business booming in Czech fake news industry

Ondrej Houska, EU Observer, July 31, 2017

  1. CHINA
  • China’s Communist Party is curbing the online activities of its 89 million members ahead of a leadership shake-up in a few months. The new rules made public on Tuesday said that all party cadres face punishment if they visit “illegal websites” or disclose party and state secrets online.

China to Punish Communist Party Members Who Visit ‘Illegal Websites’

Keith Zhai, Bloomberg, August 1, 2017

  • The rules range from guidance on the proper way to talk about politically sensitive subjects — “Never indicate that Hong Kong and Macau are countries in any texts, maps, or diagrams” — to prohibitions on slang and vulgar language — “never publish the phrase green tea bitch.”

Here are all the words Chinese state media has banned

Jeremy Goldkorn, Lucas Niewenhuis, Jia Guo, Jiayun Feng, and Sky Canaves, SupChina, July 29, 2017

  • Enlisting telecoms firms will extend China’s control of its cyberspace – which it believes should mimic real-world border controls and be subject to the same laws as sovereign states.  While the Great Firewall blocks access to overseas sites, much like a border control, the telecoms firms can filter and censor online access at a more granular level, in the home and on smartphones.

Amid VPN crackdown, China eyes upgrades to Great Firewall

Cate Cadell, Reuters, July 20, 2017

  • PLA military diplomacy typically emphasizes form over substance, top-down management, tight control of political messages, protection of information about PLA capabilities, and an aversion to binding security commitments.

[Report] Chinese Military Diplomacy, 2003–2016: Trends and Implications

Kenneth Allen, Phillip C. Saunders, and John Chen, Institute for National Strategic Studies, July 2017

  • In November, Thai authorities publicly acknowledged they were investigating Thais who have expressed support for Southeast Asian ISIS-affiliated groups and ISIS propaganda via social media.  Security authorities emphasized there was no confirmed evidence of Thai citizens joining ISIS . . . (p.88)

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016

Bureau of Counterterrorism, Department of State, July 2017

  • The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, the Islamic authority in charge of Muslim affairs, maintains a Facebook presence and holds outreach and educational events to counter terrorist propaganda and recruitment efforts. (p.88)

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016

Bureau of Counterterrorism, Department of State, July 2017

  • The Australian Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) leads the nation’s countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts. Following a department restructure this year, the AGD established the CVE Center, which is composed of four overlapping streams that build strength in diversity and social participation, target work with vulnerable communities and institutions, address terrorist propaganda online, and counter radicalization to violence. (p.66)

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016

Bureau of Counterterrorism, Department of State, July 2017

  1. IRAN
  • Mia Ash is a 30-year-old British woman with two art school degrees, a successful career as a photographer, and plenty of friends—more than 500 on Facebook, and just as many on LinkedIn. * * * Mia Ash doesn’t exist.  Instead, she’s a persona, her biography fabricated and her photos stolen from another woman’s online profiles . . . . They believe Ash is the elaborate creation of Iranian state-sponsored hackers who have targeted dozens of organizations around the Middle East in a massive, years-long campaign of espionage and possibly even data destruction.

Meet Mia Ash, The Fake Woman Iranian Hackers Used To Lure Victims

Andy Greenberg, Wired, July 27, 2017

  1. QATAR
  • The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

UAE orchestrated hacking of Qatari Government sites sparking regional upheaval, according to U.S. intelligence officials

Karen DeYoung and Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post, July 16, 2017

  • Saudi Arabia and Qatar have ramped up their lobbying efforts to gain international support in their 2-month-old feud. That includes TV attack ads, and flooding online media sites with competing messages.

[Podcast and Transcript 03:33] Qatar And Saudi Arabia Take Their Feud To The Airwaves, Internet

Jackie Northam, NPR, July 31, 2017


  • “I sometimes wonder how much better the world would be if – in nations where there are ideology problems, where the ideologies are hateful – the U.S. helped pay for students at each high school in that country to come to America,” Mattis said.

Education the key to reducing the lure of terror, says Mattis

Interview with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, The Islander, June 2017

SI News, July 30, 3017

  • International exchange is an important, undervalued, and strategic investment that benefits the United States.  Many of the international students who study in the United States, or other professionals who spend time here through exchange programs, go home to become leaders in their countries.
    International exchanges advance US interests for the long term

Esther Brimmer, Lorne Craner, and Kristin Lord, The Hill, July 17, 2017

  • In the current era, museums are not just landmarks. They are also key elements in successful place-making. Museums represent efficient, accessible and meaningful places where people can meet, exchange their views and try to solve problems. This once again proves how museums can act as platforms for soft power.
    Museums Turned Into Soft Power

Nik Fes, Tourism Review, July 31, 2017


This is a compilation of news, articles, essays, and reports on strategic communications, Public Diplomacy, public affairs, U.S. and foreign 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