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

Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” – 2 September 2017


In the News


[2016 Election Controversies]

 Instruments of Informational Power


Professional Topics

  2. CYBER

Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  3. CHINA
  7. INDIA
  10. IRAN
  12. QATAR



In the News


[2016 Election Controversies]

  • [Secretary Tillerson] said he tried to help Lavrov “understand just how serious this incident had been and how seriously it had damaged the relationship between the U.S. and the American people and the Russian people, that this had created serious mistrust and that we simply have to find some way to deal with that.”

Tillerson Tells Lavrov Russia’s Election Meddling Created ‘Serious Mistrust’

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, August 7, 2017

  • [General McMaster] did not broach the subject of Russia’s latest transgression, a wide-ranging and multifaceted attack on the 2016 American election that was undertaken to tilt the race in Trump’s favor, until [Hugh] Hewitt brought it up.  McMaster characterized it as a “sophisticated campaign of subversion and disinformation and propaganda that is going every day in an effort to break apart Europe and that pit political groups against each other … to sow dissension and conspiracy theories.”

McMaster: Russia Is Trying To ‘Break Apart Europe’ With Disinformation and Propaganda

Sonam Sheth, Task and Purpose, August 7, 2017

  • . . . the purpose of Russia’s interventions in the 2016 election wasn’t to elect either Clinton or Trump, for a traditional quid pro quo. Information operations don’t work that way; they’re hammers, not scalpels. You can sow distrust and confusion, and pit groups against each other—but you can’t move swing voters in Wisconsin from one column to another with any kind of reliability, and efforts to achieve such a straightforward aim are more likely than not to backfire. No, the point of the Kremlin’s assault on the American election of 2016 was to defame both candidates, and sow chaos, and thereby to discredit the American system of government,

News-For-Hire Scandal Deepens: ‘Fusion Gps’ Sleazy Venezuela Links Shed New Light on Trump Dossier

Lee Smith, Tablet, July 27, 2017

  • The FBI monitored social media on Election Day last year in an effort to track a suspected Russian disinformation campaign utilizing “fake news,” CNN has learned.

[VIDEO Embedded 1:12] Exclusive: FBI tracked ‘fake news’ believed to be from Russia on Election Day

Shimon Prokupecz, Pamela Brown and Evan Perez, CNN, August 4, 2017

  • We made a little video. No commentary. No opinions. No nothing—except recent senior intelligence and administration officials answering questions about what they believe about the Russian election interference.

What They’ve Said About Russian Election Interference

Alex Potcavaru and Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare, July 28, 2017

Instruments of Informational Power

  • Further adding to the complexity of the information environment is the presence of the citizen “reporter” and human rights’ organizations on the battlefield. Anyone with a camera and access to the Internet can capture and report their view of the violence. While impeding the ability to control the narrative, citizen reporters can bring additional security to civilians caught in the fighting. Human rights groups are also currently documenting what they believe are war crimes, relying on interviews and social media analysis.  As Marines, we must continue to keep our honor clean and remember that, “[e]very action will be observed, scrutinized and broadcast. Sending the right message will be as important as achieving the right kinetic effect.”

The Future Operating Environment

Peter B. Marks and Jeremy A. Nansen, Marine Corps Gazette, August 2017

  • When you’re moving fast, everyone shrieks that the 90 percent solution is fine and can you please just send it now! But careful attention should be paid to the absence of words like “no” and “never,” (or the conflation of “million” vs. “billion,” mixing up a head of state with a “glamour model,” including the wrong King Abdullah, etc.—not that anyone’s ever done these things). Take a minute to reread press releases and work through statements.

Can This National Security Council Handle a Real Crisis?

Loren Dejonge Schulman, The Atlantic, August 4, 2017 

  • Although StarTimes — a privately owned, Beijing-based media and telecommunications firm — is virtually unknown in the West, it has been sweeping across Africa since 2002, overhauling the continent’s broadcast infrastructure and beaming Chinese content into millions of homes. * * * But there’s a catch. StarTimes has substantial backing from the Chinese state — and an explicit political mandate.

‘China has conquered Kenya’: Inside Beijing’s new strategy to win African hearts and minds

Jonathan Kaiman, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2017

  • Systems to block the broadcasting of pro-Russian TV channels and radio stations are to be set up along the demarcation line in the Donbas,

Kyiv to block broadcasting of pro-Russian channels in the Donbas

UA Wire, August 4, 2017

  • As long he’s into reciprocity, Mr. Putin might take notice that while Moscow continues to banish U.S. international news outlets from Russian airwaves, Kremlin-funded mouthpieces such as Sputnik radio have enjoyed a field day in the United States, taking advantage of America’s open society to sow misinformation and distrust.

Russian propaganda has flooded U.S. airwaves. How about some reciprocity?

Editorial Board, The Washington Post, July 29, 2017

  • Five Ukrainian TV channels will start broadcasting to annexed Crimea on Ukraine’s Independence Day – August 24, Serhiy Kostinsky, a member of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council . . . noted that the construction of another towere to be broadcast to the Crimea is planned for next year. There are also plans to increase the number of TV channels and radio stations which will be accessible in the territory annexed by Russia.

Ukrainian TV channels to start broadcasting to Crimea on Ukraine’s Independence Day

UA Wire, July 28, 2017

  • More so now than ever, information is playing an outsize role in military capabilities and being rolled into conventional elements. In 21st century warfare, war is cognitive as much as it’s kinetic, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a small group of reporters in his office this week. Top competitors, Stewart said, are organizing their forces in this new information space and have developed doctrine to fight and win in the information age. Russia views many facets of the information space — to include information operations, space/counterspace, cyber, cyber-enabled psychological operations and electronic warfare, to name a few — as critical to fighting and winning future conflicts . . .

‘Information’ is playing outsize role in warfare

Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNet, August 4, 2017

  • “How do you bring together cyberspace, electronic warfare, information operations, command and control and intelligence functions all together to best support the senior operational commanders out there?” [Marine Corps Major General Lori] Reynolds said. . .

Here’s how cyber service component mission sets differ from CYBERCOM

Mark Pomerleau, Federal Times, July 26, 2017

  • After the briefing, War Is Boring submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for any leaflets used during Tidal Wave II and obtained low resolution copies of two of the messages dropped during the campaign.

Here Are the Leaflets the United States Dropped on Islamic State

Joseph Trevithick, War is Boring, July 31, 2017

Professional Topics

  • Over the past decade of war, we have emphasized the concept of the strategic corporal. His replacement is the cyber PFC. These days, the honor or shame of our Service branches is in the hands of every uniformed person holding a camera phone. In a few swipes and pushes, a laudable or condemning photo can be displayed for the world to see. This act is instantaneous, and it is irrevocable.

The Cyber PFC: How millennials influence global strategy

Peter C. Wisan, Marine Corps Gazette, August, 2017

  • Britain’s interior minister will use a visit to Silicon Valley on Tuesday to ask Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube to step up efforts to counter or remove content that incites militants.

British minister asks Silicon Valley to do more to counter militants

Mark Hosenball, Reuters, July 31, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed controversial legislation prohibiting the use of Internet proxy services — including virtual private networks, or VPNs — and cracking down on the anonymous use of instant messaging services.

Putin Signs Controversial Law Tightening Internet Restrictions

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, July 30, 2017

  • The paper . . . outlines the main challenges currently posed by the rapid spread of hate speech and fake news to democracy. . . . describes the sheer influence of online platforms on contemporary media consumption, the duopolistic position of Facebook and Google in the global digital advertising market and the vast legal protections these online platforms currently enjoy in both the EU and the US. . . . then proceeds to a comprehensive overview of relevant proposals and initiatives, put forward by governments, but also the civil society, the private sector and the platforms themselves.

Making online platforms responsible for news content

Klara Votavova and Jakub Janda, European Values, July 25, 2017

  1. CYBER 
  • As both cyber threats and opportunities have continued to grow, so too have the range of cyber issues — including everything from Internet Freedom and Governance to combatting cybercrime, fostering cybersecurity and advancing international security and stability in cyberspace. These important matters have evolved from being seen as largely niche or technical issues, to core issues of national security, economic security, human rights and, ultimately, core issues of foreign policy.

The Case for Diplomacy in Cyberspace

Chris Painter, Digital Diplomacy, August 1, 2017

  • The difficulties U.S. cyber diplomacy faced during the time the cyber coordinator’s office operated demonstrate that having such an office is not an indicator or guarantee of diplomatic success. None of the political problems that tormented U.S. cyber diplomacy during the Obama administration has disappeared. Indeed, in some areas, the problems are getting worse.

U.S. Cyber Diplomacy Requires More than an Office

David P. Fidler, Council on Foreign Relations, July 26, 2017

  • This website houses over 400 cyber and information security related definitions from around the world and we are constantly looking to expand and update our database.

Global Cyber Definitions Database

Cyber Security Initiative, last accessed August, 2017

  • 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

  • The Marine Corps’ contribution to this fight needs to expand into the creation of cyber elements that are capable of conducting full spectrum cyber operations all the way down to the tactical level in a forward environment that is completely untethered from a larger organization.

A Cyber Mission:  Carving out a space for the Marine Corps

Nick Adam, Marine Corps Gazette, August, 2017

  • Based on our open source review of a generalizable sample of 52 unique State [Department] telecommunications device manufacturers and software developers, we did not identify any reported close links to cyber-threat nations as defined by the State Authorities Act.

State Department Telecommunications: Information on Vendors and Cyber-Threat Nations

U.S. Government Accountability Office, July 27, 2017

  • In theory, there is no reason why the principles of deterrence should not apply to cyberspace. However, there are a number of reasons why it does not work in practice.

Which Cyberattacks Should the United States Deter, and How?

Michael Sulmeyer, Defense One, July 27, 2017

  • Elsewhere in the Middle East, Moscow has used arms sales, disinformation, intelligence operations, diplomatic footwork and plain old hard power to further its agenda.* * * Russia’s renewed activism . . . is about exploiting opportunities to undermine and hollow out the U.S.-led international order, with its norms of economic openness, democratic accountability and the rule of law.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia Goes Global

Eugene Rumer and Andrew S. Weiss, The Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2017

  • On May 3, I announced my intention to become an independent candidate in the upcoming Rwandan presidential election and was ready to challenge the domination of Kagame’s regime. Immediately after that announcement, Photoshopped, nude pictures of me were circulated online. It was the regime’s attempt to discredit me and taint my public reputation. It did not stop there.

I wanted to be Rwanda’s first female president. Then fake nude photos appeared online.

Diane Shima Rwigara, The Washington Post, August 2, 2017

  • Now they are no longer relying on individuals circulating stories via Facebook, so they go to groups which have many like minded individuals.  They write a story, embed it with a bunch of links, ads too, post links to these “articles” in Facebook groups, and sit back and collect the money.

Fake/Sockpuppet Facebook Accounts

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, July 29, 2017

  • In order to save American democracy from a permanent departure of truth and norms, America must take a more proactive approach when it comes to securing its information spaces from foreign influence campaigns. Presently, we can assume that Russian tactics are evolving past those used in 2016. Some social media platforms are introducing processes to flag fake news, but to prevent an evolved attack, social media sites are largely unprepared.

An Alliance of Silicon Valley and Washington Can Save American Democracy

Charles Johnson, International Policy Digest, July 26, 2017

  • “The West is the cause of all problems in the world, whereas Russia is invariably the only source of positive hope”. This is the conclusion of a recent study on the messages from Russian TV channels in Moldova, published by the Association of independent press (API).

Kremlin TV: Singing from the same hymn sheet

Stop Fake, July 19, 2017

  • The struggle for power between nations takes place on three fronts: military, psychological and economic. While we are aware of Russia using active measures to alter military and psychological spheres, little attention is paid to its efforts in disrupting the western economy.

Russia’s next fake news campaign could devastate the economy

Cameron Colquhoun, Wired, July 18, 2017


  • The Iraqi government was quick to strike on the all-important propaganda front, putting out well-choreographed images of its triumphant political leader Haider al-Abadi, its jubilant military forces, footage of surrendering IS fighters, and celebrating Moslawis. * * * The details of this campaign are gratifying for those interested in strategic communications, demonstrating that the main forces fighting against IS have learned to plan in detail an influence campaign worthy of such a historic event.

Winning the Blame Game: The Caliphate of Complete Disaster

Dr. Craig Whiteside, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, 13 Jul 2017

  • Of course the Kremlin is going to try to hack Germany’s upcoming election. But it’s not going to succeed.

Russian Hackers Can’t Beat German Democracy

Joerg Forbrig, Foreign Policy, August 3, 2017

  • . . . the directing of political campaigns at people via social media based on their personality and political interests. . . is aided by vast amounts of data filtered by artificial intelligence. * * * Facebook doesn’t explicitly provide the tools to target people based on political opinions – but the new study shows how the platform can be exploited. Using combinations of people’s interests, demographics and survey data, it’s possible to direct campaigns at individuals based on their acceptance of ideas and policies. This could have a big impact on the success of campaigns.

First proof that Facebook dark ads could swing an election

Timothy Revell, New Scientist, August 2, 2017

  • One of the nation’s largest cybersecurity conferences is inviting attendees to get hands-on experience hacking a slew of voting machines, demonstrating to researchers how easy the process can be.  “It took me only a few minutes to see how to hack it,” said security consultant Thomas Richards, glancing at a Premier Election Solutions machine currently in use in Georgia.

Hackers breach dozens of voting machines brought to conference

Joe Uchill, The Hill, July 29, 2017

  • Russian intelligence agents attempted to spy on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign earlier this year by creating phony Facebook personas, according to a U.S. Congressman and two other people briefed on the effort.

Exclusive – Russia used Facebook to try to spy on Macron campaign: sources

Joseph Menn, Reuters, July 27, 2017

  • Despite reports from federal intelligence agencies and media outlets of Russia’s widespread targeting of state and local elections around the country and in Texas, election administrators in the nation’s third-largest county say Vladimir Putin’s government does not pose a unique or heightened cybersecurity threat.

Stanart questions Russian hacking claims, says elections secure

Mihir Zaveri, Houston Chronicle, July 26, 2017

  • . . . Russia could put pressure on Ukraine in other ways; after all, it is the country most vulnerable to Moscow’s full range of hybrid warfare tactics. These tactics include political manipulation, energy and economic restrictions, cyberattacks, subversive actions and propaganda and disinformation campaigns.

The U.S. and Russia: A Lesson in Asymmetry

Stratfor: Worldview, July 28, 2017


  • Grey Zone conflict is necessarily limited conflict, sitting between “normal” competition between states and what is traditionally thought of as war. Thus, the central aim is to influence the decision-making of adversaries and other key audiences, rather than removing their capacity to choose using brute force in itself. Success requires moving the emphasis from control to influence.

From Control to Influence: Cognition in the Grey Zone

Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security, July 2017

  • Installations may have evolved in services since their frontier days, but they still remain the indispensable platform to projecting U.S. Army combat power. Future adversaries will attempt to exploit their growing technological vulnerabilities to de-domain Army capabilities by using cyber-warfare, information warfare, and unconventional warfare attacks. Thus, we must update our concepts of installations from being sanctuaries to being the first skirmish lines of future defense.

How the Enemy Could Hit the U.S. Army at Home

Patrick Duggan, War on the Rocks, August 3, 2017

  • Every day, Marines wake up to a world in crisis. Urbanization, violent extremism, environmental disruptions, and demographic shifts are converging with the proliferation of advanced technologies to create a chaotic, unstable future threat environment. Key drivers of change will be the persistent complexity of crisis, technology proliferation, “weaponized” information, battlefield signatures, and the increasingly contested maritime domain.

The Future Starts Now:  Marine Corps Force 2025 implementation and information warfare capabilities

Staff, CD&I & MCIA, Marine Corps Gazette, August, 2017

  • . . . the findings of this study reveal that both Chinese and Russian media present narratives that feature the decline of the US in economic and political influence, as well as a rapid disintegration of US political values. Russian media narratives, however, are far more critical of the US and the global order than are Chinese, and are typically more confrontational than are Chinese narratives.

Russian And Chinese Media Visions Of The Gray Zone

  1. Hinck, R. Kluver, and S. Cooley, NSI, July 2017
  • Russians do not by their nature “love Stalin,” Novaya gazeta commentator Aleksandr Rubtsov says; instead, they “are being taught to love Stalin because the [Putin] regime really is functioning according to this regime prototype and has not found any other legitimation for itself in history.”

Putin Elites Want ‘Stalinism without Stalin’ and ‘Repression with a Human Face,’ Rubtsov Says

Paul Goble, Windows on Eurasia – New Series, August 2, 2017

  • On its official account, NATO recently tweeted a video about the Forest Brothers, the guerrillas from the Baltics who fought against Soviet forces after WWII. An immediate response from the permanent mission of Russia to NATO was: “[this is] another shameful attempt to rewrite history & glorify inglorious former SS-fighters and nationalists to serve political narrative of the day.”

Digital Diplomacy & Historical Narrative

Olga Krasnyak, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, July 26, 2017

  • South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, on Friday ordered his government to abolish state-issued history textbooks for middle and high school students, his first move to erase the unpopular legacies of his impeached and ousted predecessor, Park Geun-hye.

South Korea’s New Leader Abolishes State-Issued History Textbooks

Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times, May 12, 2017


  • The U.S. government has spent millions in taxpayer dollars on programs to combat violent extremism, despite the absence of evidence these programs have prevented the growth of terrorists in the United States, according to Congress, which criticized the FBI and Department of Homeland Security for enacting policy preventing its authorities from referencing “Islam” and “Islamic terrorism.”

Feds Spend Millions on Failed Program to Combat Extremism in America

Adam Kredo, The Washington Free Beacon, July 28, 2017

  • This Report engages in a comparative analysis of ISIS’s Dabiq and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazines in order to ‘reverse engineer’ lessons for CT-CVE strategic communications. It examines how Dabiq and Inspire deploy messaging that is strategically designed to appeal to its audiences and drive their radicalisation.

Learning from ISIS’s Virtual Propaganda War for Western Muslims: A Comparison of Inspire and Dabiq

Dr. Haroro J. Ingram, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, July 26, 2017

  • The U.S. should suggest to the Saudis that it would be in the interest of both countries for them to arrange quietly to stop paying for imams or mosques in Indonesia and India. The Muslim communities in these two countries total more than 400 million people—close to a quarter of all the Muslims in the world. So far they have not been radicalized, and their history and culture provide significant sources of resistance to Arab radicalization. But radicals have been making inroads in both countries.

How the Saudis Can Promote Moderate Islam

Max Singer, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2017

  • . . . the ideological war that the Islamists have waged against us since bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa published in a London newspaper. Messrs. Bush and Obama refused to fight the ideological war. Mr. Trump will have to face the fact that no matter what else we do, we cannot win in Afghanistan or defeat Islamist terrorism anywhere else, unless we defeat the Islamist ideology.

Stymied in Afghanistan

Jed Babbin, The Washington Times, August 3, 2017

  • Palestinian child terrorists as young as eight years old are increasingly being radicalized and spurred to carry out terror attacks on Israeli citizens, according to a prominent human rights organization that is accusing the United Nations of covering up the recruitment of child terrorists by Palestinian militant groups.

Report: Terror Attacks by Palestinian Children on the Rise, Despite U.N. Coverup

Adam Kredo, The Washington Free Beacon, August 2, 2017

  • Most of the plotters in Europe are not actually in contact with ISIS and, if they are, much of that contact is increasingly electronic.  The group also does not train the majority of plotters—although those that are trained clearly pose a pressing threat. Instead, most plotters are inspired by ideology.

European Islamist Plots and Attacks Since 2014—and How the U.S. Can Help Prevent Them

Robin Simcox, Backgrounder, The Heritage Foundation, August 1, 2017

  • Radicalism in Arab and Islamic countries has many causes: tyranny, monopolization of freedoms, civil war, poverty and illiteracy, the 1979 occupation of Afghanistan and the 2003 oc-cupation of Iraq, and the spread of Wahhabism funded by Saudi oil money. However, the most important among them all is education.

Eliminating Radicalism in the Arab and Islamic World: Education before Prison and Court

Khaled Sulaiman, The Washington Institute, July 25, 2017

  • . . . the Kremlin deploys a full quiver of intelligence weapons against America and its national security agencies, political parties and defense contractors. . . . A central tool of those operations is “kompromat,” “compromising material”: things of seemingly great value that are dangled, at what appears to be no cost, before unwitting targets. This is the “free cheese” that ensnares victims in a trap.

The Russians Were Involved. But It Wasn’t About Collusion.

Daniel Hoffman, The New York Times, July 28, 2017

  • . . . alongside the facts—that Israel has protected access to the Holy Places of the three major religions in Jerusalem for 50 years and has absolutely no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount on which Al-Aqsa sits —there were what we now call the “alternative facts,” in this case, long-standing and outlandish claims about a devilish Jewish plot to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque.

When “Alternative Facts” Kill

Alan Johnson, World Affairs Journal, August 7, 2017

  • Russian experts, politicians and television’s talking heads are constantly wondering whether Vladimir Putin’s Russia is trying to reconstruct the old Soviet Union with its extended empire and aspirations . . . . George Kennan’s famous “Long Telegram,” written more than 70 years ago, addressed this question in ways that may help us understand what’s going on in Russia today.

How the “Long Telegram” explains Putin’s Russia

Thomas Mason, The Washington Times, July 25, 2017

  • [Radio Free Europe] saw its job as a “surrogate” free media to expose and critique the shortcomings and increasing repression of the Polish regime. That was in fact its charter, as codified in policy documents also approved by the State Department, for the highly autonomous organization overseen and principally funded by CIA until 1971.  In contrast, the US Embassy in Warsaw . . . continued to view Gomułka’s reforms more positively and sought to engage and influence Polish communist elites.

A Case of Localitis?

  1. Ross Johnson, The Wilson Center, July 24, 2017
  • . . . paper explores the lessons that can be learned from past communication experiences to aid Counter-Terrorism Strategic Communications (CTSC) campaigns targeting the current propaganda threat from so-called “Islamic State” (IS) . . . by highlighting four lessons from the past . . . . These are i) the need for multiple mediums of communication, ii) the say-do-gap, iii) defensive and offensive messaging, and, finally, iv) market research and targeting.

Counter-Terrorism Strategic Communications: Back to the Future: Lessons from Past and Present

Dr. Alastair Reed, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, July 2017


  • Keep an eye on their [middle school and high school students] social media habits.It’s how they communicate with their friends, but things said between friends take on a different context when hundreds or thousands of people are watching or listening in. So remind them to: ▪ Think before you post. . . . ▪ Check the privacy settings in social media apps. . . . ▪ Remember that people aren’t necessarily who they say they are.

Internet security tips for middle school and high school students

Enjoy Safer Technology, August 7, 2017

  • “It is a whole new world. . . . Therefore I have arranged with the armed forces that the soldiers . . . are informed and educated in how to protect themselves”, the defence minister said. He also underlined the difference between Soviet propaganda and the modern pro-Kremlin disinformation Danish soldiers expect to be facing during their deployment: “We used to see a kind of propaganda where the aim was to create a positive view of the Soviet Union or Russia’s actions. Now, it has been turned around so that the aim is to create distrust among ourselves”.

Denmark to educate soldiers in combatting disinformation

East Stratcom, Stop Fake, July 27, 2017

  • We are a society drowning in doctored photos. Strategically touched-up profiles on dating websites. Magazine covers adorned with pixel-shaved jaws and digitally enhanced busts. Twitter feeds ablaze with images manipulated for maximum outrage. So amid this fakery and our obsession these days with “fake news,” just how good are we at separating fact from fiction when it comes to photos?

Many people can’t tell when photos are fake. Can you?

William Wan, The Washington Post, July 17, 2017

  • The antidote to bad information used to be more information. Not anymore. What good is more information if people don’t trust it—or if the traditional methods of sorting the good information from the bad (including the weighty brands of certain news organizations) don’t work anymore? The marketplace of ideas is experiencing market failure. When information proliferates and credibility shrinks, reasoned argument suffers and democratic society decays.

The Three Paradoxes Disrupting American Politics

Amy Zegart, The Atlantic, August 5, 2017

  • Because while what we are experiencing now is not really a Cold War . . . we nevertheless are in a battle between two normative systems on the Eurasian landmass.  The one to the West is based on values we hold near and dear: individual rights, accountable government, transparency, the rule of law, and the sanctity of contracts.  And the one to the East is based on a very different set of principles: patron-client relationships, cronyism, paternalism, and the subordination of the law to power.

The Daily Vertical: Why Ukraine, Georgia, And Moldova Matter

Brian Whitmore, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, August 4, 2017

  • The United States is trying to win wars and keep peace. This cannot be done with more intelligence and firepower. It can only be done with more intelligent firepower, which includes an understanding of the importance of culture and religion. As we seek to build capacity in our foreign allies, we must first build strong and meaningful relationships.

Commander of the Faithful

Jim Gant, Marine Corps Gazette, August 2017

  • “We write symphonies,” President Trump proclaimed on July 6 during a speech in Warsaw. * * *  with just three words Mr. Trump buttressed this unfortunate perception. Did he mean that Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony is simply greater than, say, an Indian sitar master playing a classic raga? Or an exhilarating Indonesian gamelan ensemble?

Trump Is Wrong if He Thinks Symphonies Are Superior

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, July 30, 2017

  • Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley wants the American public to stop fooling itself when it comes to war, so he’s drawn up five ”myths” he says we need to let go of, pronto. * * * The myths: 1. Wars will be short * * * 2. You can win wars from afar * * * 3. Special Forces can do it all * * * 4. Armies are easy to create * * *  5. Armies fight wars  “We don’t. Armies don’t fight wars,” he said. . . . Nations fight wars.” In other words, Milley explained, to fight and win wars on behalf of the U.S. takes a buy-in at every level, from service member, civilian and government official alike.”

Milley: Future wars will be long, they’ll be fought on the ground, and spec ops won’t save us

Meghann Myers, Army Times, July 27, 2017

  • Switch on the news in Russia, and the message is clear: Washington is in chaos. Dmitry Kiselev, the host of a weekly television show, summed up U.S. President Donald Trump’s return from last month’s Group of 20 meeting in Germany by saying Mr. Trump had “plunged back into his native American hell, into an atmosphere of paralyzing persecution.”

Russians Portray Washington as Mired in Chaos

Nathan Hodge and Thomas Grove, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2017


Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  • 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

  • Despite the conviction of many that conflicts among opposition figures are simply battles among individuals, Vladimir Pastukhov says, “an ideological struggle in post-communist Russia not only exists but is proceeding within a long discredited mental paradigm” which explains why Russian history, its reflection, is a vicious circle.

Russian Public Life Today is Not Just a Battle of Individuals but a Struggle of Ideologies, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble, Windows on Eurasia – New Series, August 1, 2017

  • The legislation, signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on July 30, 2017, bans anonymous use of online messenger applications and prohibits the use of software to allow users to circumvent internet censorship. The new laws are part of Russia’s widespread crackdown on online expression, in violation of human rights law and democratic safeguards.

Russia: New Legislation Attacks Internet Anonymity

Human Rights Watch, August 1, 2017

  • The increasing sympathy and support Russians show for the figure of Stalin, psychiatrist Vyacheslav Tarasov says, reflects their sense that local officials aren’t preventing but rather promoting injustice and that a strong hand is needed to restore both order and justice. And that those ends are so important that they justify almost any means.

Rise of Stalinism Reflects Widespread Feeling that Ending Injustice Requires a Strong Hand, Psychiatrist Says

Paul Goble, Windows on Eurasia – New Series, July 29, 2017

  • The changing vector of internal development, connected with the fall of the popularity of liberalism, required the development of a new ideological basis. March 15, 1999 was the first time the telecast “However.” This project, created by Mikhail Leontyev, was an outlet for xenophobia, malicious and anti-Western sentiments coming from Russian television screens.

“Trump cards” of Russian propaganda and disinformation operations

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, July 29, 2017

  • Still, despite the site’s clean copy and analytical framework, those familiar with the Kremlin’s English-language operations perceived Russia Direct to be another tool in Russian attempts to influence foreign audiences.   “The Kremlin propaganda machine tailors its messages to its audiences . . .

Russia: Does Website Closure Indicate the Kremlin Is Feeling Economic Pinch?

Casey Michel, Eurasianet, July 28, 2017

  • “Is it common for Russia to play both sides against the middle?” [Senator Lindsey] Graham asked.  “What you need to understand about the Russians is there is no ideology at all,” [William] Browder said. “Vladimir Putin is in the business of trying to create chaos everywhere.”

Businessman Paints Terrifying And Complex Picture Of Putin’s Russia

Miles Parks, NPR, July 28, 2017

  • Agitprop has its limits. Active measures have a downside.  Influence operations often result in blowback.  And if these lessons aren’t yet obvious to Vladimir Putin and his cronies, they aren’t paying attention.

[TRANSCRIPT] The Daily Vertical: The Limits Of Dark Power

Brian Whitmore, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, July 27, 2017

  • Speaking of rudeness, the world has endured illegal invasions of Ukraine, twice, and Georgia, twice. Speaking of rudeness, the world has tolerated overwhelming amounts of propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation emanating from Russia. Speaking of rudeness, the world has endured legions of professional Russian trolls inhabiting Twitter, Facebook, the comment sections of many public websites, and anyplace else commenting is allowed.

Russia’s Comical Response To US Sanctions

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, July 27, 2017

  • Moscow is increasingly bold in challenging the West, and the risk of great-power conflict is at its highest point since the end of the Cold War. The United States urgently needs a clear strategy for dealing with this challenge.

Russia Will Overshadow Trump’s Presidency Unless He Takes Action

Michael Singh, The Washington Institute, July 25, 2017

  • Russia publicly apologized for the doping scandal that got the country suspended from international track and field by the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in November of 2015. The apology came from Russia’s athletics boss Dmitry Shylakhtin . . .

Russia Apologizes for State-Run Doping Scandal

Scott Rafferty, Rolling Stone, August 4, 2017

  • Propastop blog is aimed at contributing to Estonia’s information space security.  If we detect that someone is disseminating lies, biased- or disinformation in the media or somebody wants to influence processes concerning Estonia by manipulating information, we will bring it to the public.

What is Propastop?

Propastop, June 3, 2017


  1. CHINA
  • Two chatbots with decidedly non-socialist characteristics were pulled from one of China’s most popular messaging apps after serving up unpatriotic answers about topics including the South China Sea and the Communist party.

China chatbot goes rogue: ‘Do you love the Communist party?’ ‘No’

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, August 5, 2017

  • Beijing’s system of internet censorship relies on tens of thousands of workers to remove comments critical of the Communist Party. So what does the average citizen really think of the one-party state? A couple of artificial-intelligence programs run by a Chinese internet company suggest resentment of the country’s rulers is running high.

China’s Dissident Chatbots

The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2017

  • Chinese censors tested on Thursday a new way of shutting down websites and cutting off the country’s internet users from the rest of the world. The censorship drill targeted tools that many in China use to thwart the country’s vast online censorship system, though internet companies said it also hit some sites at random.

China’s Internet Censors Play a Tougher Game of Cat and Mouse

Paul Mozer, The New York Times, August 3, 2017

  • After initially taking a relatively defensive, reactive position on the global governance of cyberspace, China under President Xi Jinping has adopted a more activist cyber diplomacy. This foreign policy has three primary goals: limit the threat that the Internet and the flow of information may pose to domestic stability and regime legitimacy; shape cyberspace to extend Beijing’s political, military, and economic influence; and counter US advantages in cyberspace while increasing China’s room to maneuver.

Chinese Cyber Diplomacy in a New Era of Uncertainty

Adam Segal, Hoover Institution via Scribd, 2017

  • China’s investments in advanced EW systems, counterspace weapons, and cyber operations—combined with more traditional forms of control such as propaganda and denial through opacity—reflect the priority the PLA places on information advantage.

[Report] Annual Report To Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2017

Department of Defense, 2017

  • In the last decade, the Chinese government has committed to boosting its appeal abroad. Beijing has been developing an international media network and establishing cultural study centers around the world. While debate abounds over whether promoting China’s traditions, values, language, and culture can win it more friends, vast funds are backing programs to enhance the country’s image. Despite its efforts, China has yet to see a significant return on its investment.

China’s Big Bet on Soft Power

Eleanor Albert, Council on Foreign Relations, May 11, 2017

  • While China aspires to the status of a regional great power, its leaders perceive the United States as a hegemon in a unipolar world. Using information operations and Sun Tzu’s philosophy, the Chinese will pursue a holistic asymmetric strategy to achieve their strategic aims. While avoiding the likelihood of a conventional conflict over Taiwan, China will succeed in undermining the U.S. for four main reasons: China knows the U.S. better than the U.S. knows China; China exercises power by the denial of information to the U.S.; China has limited strategic goals and the initiative and, finally, China has a unified strategy while the U.S. has none. [From the English abstract; the body of the article is in Korean]

Sun Tzu and Information Operations: Ancient Philosophy between China and the United States

Kwang Ho Chun, New Asia Research Institute via dkyobobook, 2017

  • Taipei’s international space continues to be challenged by Beijing’s unrelenting efforts to squeeze Taiwan out of the global stage. Consequently, soft power may be an important tool for Taiwan’s unique diplomatic situation. Whether or not Taiwan is fully utilizing its soft power resources—including the promotion of its democracy—to effectively counter challenges to its international space warrants closer inspection.

Public Diplomacy with Taiwanese Characteristics: Tsai’s Inclusive Cultural Push for More Exchanges

Sebra Yen, Global Taiwan Institute, July 5, 2017

  • While analysts continue to pay close attention to the increasingly frequent passages by People’s Liberation Army vessels and aircraft near Taiwan, an equally important development is the ongoing saturation of Taiwan with information to overwhelm the population and create a sense of permanent crisis.

Will China’s Disinformation War Destabilize Taiwan?

Michael Cole, The National Interest, July 30, 2017

  • The juche ideology has been hammered into the North Korean psyche since Kim first introduced it during the 1950s. Works of propaganda like “Sea of Blood” — and the fact that it’s nearly impossible for those inside the country to get information from the outside world — help reinforce the underdog, survivor mentality that is at the heart of the juche idea.

Why North Korea still hates the United States: The legacy of the Korean War

Joshua Berlinger, CNN, July 28, 2017

  • North Korea’s state-sponsored hackers are increasingly going after money rather than secrets, according to a report published on Thursday * * * Formerly, most such attacks appeared intended to cause social disruption or purloin secret data, and the targets were generally the computer networks of government agencies or media companies in countries it considered hostile. . . . That kind of attack is still occurring, but in the last few years, North Korean hackers seem to have become more interested in stealing cash, the Financial Security Institute said in its report on Thursday.

North Korea Tries to Make Hacking a Profit Center

Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times, July 27, 2017

  1. INDIA
  • According to social media experts, countering such a strategy involves two broad actions — countering the fake videos themselves, and removing the socio-political conditions that allow such fake videos to seem genuine to the audience.  Just trying to track and take down fake videos . . . is like trying to douse a fire in a godown using buckets of water.

How India’s enemies are using fake news to wage information war
Trisha Thomas, Ultra, August 5, 2017

  • The Indian embassy in China, which has access to Wei Bo (a popular microblogging website in China) account, should publish articles and release videos at online platforms of China to clarify its position.  India media should prominently debate the futility of war and the same should be translated into Chinese for our neighbours’ consumption. Similarly positive news related to India circulating in Chinese media, should also be translated for Indians.

Bypass Beijing’s Propaganda by Accessing Chinese Social Media

Irfan Ahmad, The Quint, August 2, 2017

  • Besides the Marawi siege, the Islamic State has used its propaganda to encourage fighters to travel to Southeast Asia. What’s more, Islamic State leaders may see Southeast Asia now not only as a location to spread their message of radicalism but also as a place where core Islamic State fighters could eventually flee to—and then possibly coordinate global propaganda efforts out of if the Islamic State is completely pushed out of its territory in the Middle East.

Southeast Asian Nations Step up Anti–Islamic State Collaboration

Joshua Kurlantzick, Council on Foreign Relations, August 4, 2017

  1. IRAN
  • More recent Iranian operations have leveraged extensive reconnaissance of social media to successfully compromise American government organizations and critical infrastructure facilities

The Iranian Cyberthreat Is Real

Trey Herr and Laura K. Bate, Foreign Policy, July 26, 2017

  • The narrative of the religious establishment, dominated by ultraconservative clerics who promote and export intolerant interpretations of Islam, remains deeply disturbing as well. Firebrand clerics . . . preach anti-Semitism and the inferiority of women. The former Imam of the Grand Mosque, Adil al-Kalbani, declared . . . that the Islamic State “draw[s] their ideas from our own books, from our own principles.”

The United States and Saudi Arabia Do Not Share Values

Christian Bischoff and Amy Hawthorne, The Washington Institute, July 27, 2017

  1. QATAR
  • If Al Jazeera English isn’t Qatar’s main means to influence the Western media environment beyond serving to obfuscate the truth about Al Jazeera, then, what is? Here, Middle East Eye (MEE) . . . increasingly fills the gap as Qatar’s chief agent of influence.

Qatar’s other covert media arm

Michael Rubin, American Enterprise Institute, July 25, 2017

  • Reports this month that the United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of a Qatari news agency, helping to incite a crisis in the Middle East, are as unsurprising as they are unwelcome. For years, countries — in particular Russia — have used cyberattacks and the dissemination of disinformation through social media and news outlets to provoke protests, sway elections and undermine trust in institutions.

The Hacking Wars Are Going to Get Much Worse

Adam Segal, The New York Times, July 31, 2017


  • “As always, there will be visa concerns and concerns navigating port of entry procedures,” Ruth told the educational advisers. “You will have to deal with these to assure people that we are still a welcoming country and that there is an opportunity here.”

Competition Heats Up for International Students in US

Liz Konneker and Kathleen Struck, Voice of America, August 2, 2017

  • The World Expo embodies nation branding in vivid ways. The fundamental goal of nation branding is to achieve differentiation and resonance in the field of national representations. National pavilions, a centerpiece of the World Expo, are branded spaces designed to craft a positive, distinctive identity about a country. They are hence a platform for nations to engage in public diplomacy.

Branding Nations At The Milan Expo

Jian (Jay) Wang, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 2015 

  • . . . works by well-known American artists have been permanently installed in U.S. Embassies, and art exhibitions have toured the world. American artists have collaborated with local artists in many other countries to create new works that are displayed in U.S. embassies and consulates.

Sharing American art in embassies

ShareAmerica, August 4, 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


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