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

Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#84) September 14, 2017

Queen’s Speech 2017

Queen Elizabeth, Cabinet Office and Prime Minister’s Office, June 21, 2017

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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



In the News


     [Public Diplomacy funding]

[FY2018 State & Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill]

[Counter Russian Propaganda funding]

     [Election 2016 Controversies]


Instruments of Informational Power


Professional Topics

  2. CYBER

Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  2. CHINA
  5. KENYA



In the News 

  • Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military — toward a successful outcome. [Editor’s comment:  which of the DIME elements of national power was not mentioned by the President? End comment.]

Remarks by President Trump on the Strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia

Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, August 21, 2017

  • The Trump campaign has launched a weekly news service on social media to provide supporters with positive coverage of the president . . .

Trump launches ‘real news’ service to fight negative media coverage, slipping support

Dave Boyer, The Washington Times, August 7, 2017

  • Last month, by a vote of 208-217, the U.S. House of Representatives voted down an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), that would require the Defense Department to conduct “strategic assessments of the use of violent or unorthodox Islamic religious doctrine to support extremist or terrorist messaging and justification.”

The U.S. House Votes against Studying Islamism

Clifford Smith, The Washington Examiner, August 11, 2017

[Public Diplomacy funding]

  • Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs.  With funds appropriated to this account, the State Department manages U.S. educational, professional, and cultural exchanges, such as the Fulbright Scholar Program, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and the Young Leaders in the Americas Initiative.  Funds are appropriated to Academic Programs, Professional and Cultural Exchanges, and Young Leaders Initiatives. * * * Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) . . . is the independent federal agency that directs and oversees all U.S. government-funded non-military international media programs . . . . Voice of America (VOA), Broadcasting to Cuba (Radio and TV Marti), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN), which includes Alhurra Television Radio Sawa. The broadcasting category is generally divided into the following two accounts:  International Broadcasting Operations . . . funds the operations of the BBG and all U.S. government, non-military international broadcasts . . . . contracts with surrogate broadcasters such as Radio Free Asia; transitioning to greater use of new digital communications methods . . . Broadcasting Capital Improvements . . . supports provision and maintenance of facilities and equipment, from broadcast station repair to the building of new antennas, as well as physical security programs worldwide.

State, Foreign Operations Appropriations: A Guide to Component Accounts

Curt Tarnoff and Cory R. Gill, Congressional Research Service, August 22, 2017

[FY2018 State & Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill]

  • U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham . . . said . . . “Through the bill and report, the Subcommittee has articulated its vision of an active American role in the world today. ‘Soft power,’ as it’s commonly called, is an essential ingredient to national security. This bill recognizes and builds upon the significance of ‘soft power.’” * * * Bill Highlights * * * Supports Key Allies, Counters Extremism, and Promotes Democracy and Human Rights * * * $120 million for the Countering Russian Influence Fund.

FY2018 State & Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Approved By Subcommittee

U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, September 6, 2017

  • The Administration’s FY2018 budget request for the Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs account totals $285 million, a 55% reduction from the FY2017 enacted level of $634 million. The department notes that these programs help build strategic relationships and networks between American citizens and people in other countries to advance U.S. foreign policy goals

Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2018 Budget and Appropriations

Susan B. Epstein, Marian L. Lawson and Cory R. Gill, Congressional Research Service, August 2, 2017

[Counter Russian Propaganda funding]

  • “Congress has provided substantial resources to combat foreign propaganda, particularly from Russia. There is broad agreement that the U.S. Government is behind the curve on this threat,” said [Senator Rob] Portman.  “Countering foreign propaganda should be a top priority, and it is very concerning that progress on combatting this problem is being delayed because the State Department isn’t tapping into these resources. The State Department should take swift action to fully fund the GEC and ensure that it is capable of carrying out the purposes Congress directed, particularly as they relate to Russia and other state-sponsored foreign disinformation.”

Portman, Murphy Call on State Department to Step Up Efforts to Counter Russian Propaganda

Press Release, Rob Portman United States Senator for Congress, August 2, 2017

[Election 2016 Controversies]

  • What happened during the 2016 presidential election, then, was not an anti-American one-off. It was part of a sustained policy, a tile in the giant geopolitical mosaic of Russian resurgence that Mr. Putin has set out to construct.  Moscow has perpetrated cyberwarfare, hacking, fake news and political interference for years. Last year, in addition to meddling in America’s election, Russia was behind an attempted coup d’état in Montenegro .

Putin’s Goal: Revenge and Restoration

Leon Aron, The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2017

  • . . . that the State Department may eliminate the promotion of justice and democracy from its mission has the potential for devastating consequences around the world. It would signal a dramatic shift in America’s role in the international community.

Don’t change the State Department’s mission statement

Megan Corrado, The Washington Examiner, August 18, 2017,


Instruments of Informational Power

  • For the U.S. government, there is no shortage of PD outputs to boast of. As of June 2017, there are more than 90 educational and cultural programs; 450 U.S. embassy and consulate websites with millions of followers; 700 American Spaces, or hubs for foreign citizens to gain information about – and interact with some dimension of – the U.S.; and more than 450 expert speakers dispatched abroad to engage foreign audiences on various topics about the United States. Of the more than one million U.S. sponsored exchange program alumni worldwide, 485 of them are former or current heads of state. This costs just $1 billion, less than 2% of the combined diplomatic and development budget for the U.S. – a budget that is a fraction of what the U.S. spends on defense spending.

Challenges In Measuring Public Diplomacy

Soft Power 30 and Katherine Brown, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, August 4, 2017

  • . . . public diplomacy will never be successful if its goal is influence. Rather, the goal should be to understand how foreign publics view a nation’s policies and to amend these policies when necessary. Online messaging will not influence Pakistanis’ view of the U.S. Limiting drone strikes might.

All Azimuth? A Response To Comor And Bean

Ilan Manor, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, August 9, 2017

  • In my recent research on embassy websites, I’ve found the best examples have certain elements in common. Effective embassy websites are aware of web culture, host influential narrative, and utilize balanced rhetoric.

Embassy Websites: First Impressions Count

Jeffrey Roberstson, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, August 11, 2017

  • In Africa today . . . more people listen to VOA on their phones than on the radio. Today, like all major media organizations, VOA operates on every media platform. While world events and technology have changed, in my view VOA—or if not the Voice of America, at least a robust American voice—remains as important as ever. Indeed, in new ways, it may be more important than ever.

Why the Voice of America Remains a Vital Force in the World

Geoffrey Cowan, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, March 2017

  • The late Voice of America (VOA) editor, writer and announcer Zofia Korbońska, with a great risk to her life helped to expose Nazi crimes in German-occupied Poland during World War II. Later, while working for the Voice of America in the United States, she helped to expose communist crimes and Soviet propaganda.

Zofia Korbońska – a Voice of America journalist who countered Nazi and Communist propaganda

Ted Lipien, BBG Watch, August 16, 2017

  • “What would you do if we asked you to write something that wasn’t true?”

My Life at a Russian Propaganda Network

Andrew Feinberg, Politico, August 21, 2017

  • . . . until the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 . . . Al-Jazeera, was considered by many media and politics scholars as a major element of a “pan-Arab public diplomacy” and even a “virtual state.” . . . Al-Jazeera’s success as an effective public diplomacy tool before the Arab Spring can be attributed to its popularity, credibility, critical coverage, and relative independence from Qatar’s politics. However, after 2011, Al-Jazeera, especially the Arabic channel, has “degenerated to a propagandistic agent” serving Qatar’s policy and agenda.
    Al-Jazeera’s relationship with Qatar before and after Arab Spring: Effective public diplomacy or blatant propaganda?

Zainab Abdul-Nabi, Arab Media & Society, July 23, 2017

Joe Mayes, Bloomberg, August 8, 2017-


  • “The battle for Marawi [in the Philippines] has materially changed the outlook for ISIS-PHL, suddenly launching Hapilon and his organization into legitimacy while placing the Philippines in the precarious position of having to play its cards exactly right in . . . the upcoming IO battle,” the report concludes, using an acronym for information operations.

US Army Pacific official: ISIS a growing threat in the Philippines

David B. Larter, Defense News, August 8, 2017

  • The cognitive dimension or according to the NATO doctrine, psychological domain encompasses the minds of individuals who transmit, receive, and respond to or act on information . . . . This dimension is influenced by individual and cultural beliefs, norms, vulnerabilities, motivations, emotions, experiences, morals, education, mental health, identities, and ideologies.

New Ways In The Cognitive Dimension Of Information Operations

Zsolt Haig and Veronika Hajdu, De Gruyter, 2017

  • Role players are asked to seek personal information from Marines during training scenarios as a way to teach information security. Jackson recalled a “prostitute” in the Immersion Trainer who asked for and received a young Marine’s cellphone number during a session. Jackson entered the number into databases to find personal information about the Marine and other Marines connected to him on social media. After the session, Jackson revealed to the squad that due to that “honey trap,” he had most of their home addresses.

The Simulator Training Marines for World War III with Russia

James Laporta and Rory Laverty, Daily Beast, August 12, 2017

Professional Topics

  • Over lunch in New York, [Christopher] Ahlberg explained that professional hackers will spy, steal, or deface a target’s computer systems. It’s part of the mission. The difference today, he said, is a new breed of hackers who are indiscriminate in who they target, and are willing to perform pointless destruction and sabotage.

Why the Honor Code Among Hackers Has Broken Down

Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, August 26, 2017

  • On August 24, an ostensibly Russian Twitter account with just 74 followers . . . posted an angry tweet attacking U.S. news website ProPublica as an “alt-left #HateGroup and #FakeNews site.” Within hours, the post was retweeted over 23,000 times. A second account followed up with a similar attack the following day. Analysis shows that both attacking tweets were retweeted massively because they were amplified by a large, and probably rented, network of automated “bot” fake accounts, origin unknown.

From Russia With #HateGroup? Analyzing a bot attack on a news site in the United States

Digital Forensic Research Lab, August 25, 2017

  • . . . the Alliance for Securing Democracy recently unveiled Hamilton 68, an interactive dashboard displaying the near-real-time output of Russian Influence Operations on Twitter—or RIOT, if you’re a fan of on-the-nose acronyms. . . . . The network promotes a selective worldview of Western societies in decline, suffused with crime, chaos and conspiracy, and a Russia (and a Russian president) filled with strength and integrity.

Here’s What Russia’s Propaganda Network Wants You to Read

J.M. Berger, Politico, August 23, 2017

  • . . . I learned the value of shining the bright light of truth on an adversary’s nefarious activities.  Countries with political systems and leaders that depend on lies, secrecy, denial, and obfuscation are especially vulnerable to the truth.  And, in most free societies, it is possible to find allies who will help reveal the truth and let the public judge for themselves.

Exposing Russian Social Media Operations

Brian Carlson, Public Diplomacy Council, August 22, 2017

  • Suddenly, the organization’s social media following dramatically increases or changes. So now what? How can you sustain your expanded network and leverage social media to maximum benefit in building a stronger and more engaged community?

Practical Advice from the USC Center on Public Diplomacy

Soft Power 30, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, August 18, 2017


  1. CYBER
  • Cyberwar is still an emerging concept, but many experts are concerned that it is likely to be a significant component of any future conflicts. As well as troops using conventional weapons like guns and missiles, future battles will also be fought by hackers manipulating computer code.

Cyberwar: A guide to the frightening future of online conflict

Steve Ranger, ZD Net, August 29, 2017

  • The Darkening Web asks us to distinguish three different species of computer attacks. The first is the genuinely and immediately violent: the cyber equivalent of actual war in which we hack a system to turn off automated defenses or cause a dam or a power grid to fail. * * * The second . . . is the hack for information—loudly announced when done for political effect, but often kept quiet as secret spy work. * * * Finally, there is the role of propaganda through the internet, in the form of pushing fake news or the form of restricting disfavored speech. Russia dominates recent press accounts about the first form, but China is the master of the second.

Software and Hard Consequences

Joseph Bottum, The Washington Free Beacon, August 12, 2017

  • The ability to disrupt and even cause physical loss of life through the conduct of cyber warfare will pose a significant challenge to nations trying to decide whether to retaliate. It is very difficult to directly attribute responsible parties to an attack without revealing one’s own capacities.

Strategy Considerations Across the Spectrum of Warfare

Vincent Duenas, Real Clear Defense, August 10, 2017

  • Previous cyber-incidents focused on information acquisition, network infiltration or precision strikes to sabotage the opposition. What are we seeing now are disruptive cyber-actions — with the apparent goals of signaling capability, disrupting normal systems and demonstrating the instability of Western democratic models.

Cyberwarfare has taken a new turn. Yes, it’s time to worry.

Benjamin Jensen, Brandon Valeriano and Ryan C. Maness, The Washington Post, July 13, 2017


  • Facebook was criticized last year for its role in helping to spread of fake/false news. (The company is using the term “false news” for now — “fake news” has become heavily politicized and almost meaningless.) Product Director Rob Leathern said the company has been trying to fight back in three ways — ending the economic incentive to post false news stories, slowing the spread of those stories and helping people make more informed decisions when they see a false story.

Facebook says Pages that regularly share false news won’t be able to buy ads

Anthony Ha, Tech Crunch, August 28, 2017

  • As Texans face torrential rains and flooding from Hurricane Harvey, a deluge of misinformation is spreading online. * * * Those awed by the apocalyptic scenes of sharks swimming up freeways are breathing new life into a fake image that makes the rounds of social media during major hurricanes.

A Shark in the Street, and Other Hurricane Harvey Misinformation You Shouldn’t Believe

Linda Qiu, The New York Times, August 28, 2017

  • The website TJournal discovered that a photograph tweeted by RIA Novosti showing a large crowd outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow is actually from July 22, when Muscovites gathered outside the embassy to pay their respects to Chester Bennington, the frontman for the rock band Linkin Park who died in late July.

Russian news outlets spread fake story about huge lines outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow

Meduza, August 22, 2017

  • It’s been only a few months since politicians started flinging around the term fake news in the U.S. But today, we go to another country that has been dealing with the phenomenon of fake news for years. Ukraine is where Russia tested and then rolled out fake news tactics – that is, pumping out propaganda and simultaneously working to undermine people’s faith in a free press.

‘Rough Translation’: What Americans Can Learn From Fake News In Ukraine

Gregory Warner, National Public Radio, August 21, 2017

  • Some of the world’s biggest news organisations, such as the Guardian and Al-Jazeera, have been the targets of illicit URL twinning to make fake news sites look like legitimate media outlets. These bogus sites were discovered to be operated by a group of Russians aiming to propagate wrong information.

Russian fake news sites pose as reputable media outlets by copying domain names

Mario Manlupig, International Business Times, August 19, 2017

  • A completely fake article, made to look as if it were published by The Guardian and containing explosive comments attributed to the former head of British intelligence, was likely created to serve as propaganda material for Russian media, according to experts and details uncovered by BuzzFeed News.

How A Hoax Made To Look Like A Guardian Article Made Its Way To Russian Media

Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko, Buzzfeed News, August 15, 2017

  • It is important to also integrate “soft power,” . . . in the effort against the maritime threat * * * An information (psychological operations) effort can also play a supporting role in the campaign against al-Qaeda and ISIS, including in the maritime sphere. Even though this may ultimately be a war of ideas, one should not exaggerate what psychological operations can do and, ultimately, it is necessary to defeat the jihadists themselves.

 The Jihadist Maritime Strategy: Waging a Guerrilla War at Sea

Norman Cigar, Marine Corps University, May 2017

  • . . . the recent evolution of technology and mass media has reinvented the concept [of hybrid war], changing its very nature with the introduction of elements like trolls, bots and hacktivists. Though there is some debate about the term’s definition, hybrid warfare — at least for the purposes of this analysis — now can include the deployment of any number of tools in the cyber realm, in addition to traditional troops, paramilitary groups, punitive economic measures, political manipulation and the spread of propaganda and disinformation.

This is why Russia is increasingly turning to hybrid warfare

STRATFOR, Business Insider, August 8, 2017

  • President Vladimir Putin was able to create an opportunity to accomplish his goals without engaging the West in armed conflict. Preparations included a robust information operations offensive, consisting of a heavy barrage of propaganda targeting Russian-speaking viewers of state-run media in the near abroad.

Strategic Competition: Beyond Peace and War

Daniel Burkhart and Alison Woody, Joint Force Quarterly, June 19, 2017

  • Americans became acutely aware of Russian information warfare after the 2016 presidential election, but Russia’s actions are anything but new. For more than a century, Russia has relied on disinformation, propaganda and other similar measures to achieve its objectives. For the last three decades, it has exploited its growing capabilities in cyberspace to spy on, influence and punish others.

Russian Information Warfare: A Reality That Needs a Response

Bruce H. McClintock, Rand Corporation, July 2017


  • The distorted history that has been taught to children and youth has made them oblivious of real history. It is a major reason behind the state of disconnect from our [Pakistan’s] progressive and pluralistic culture of the past as a nation.

Distorted history a major source of bigoted worldview: speakers

NNI, Daily Times [Pakistan], August 30, 2017

  • . . . the actual historical relationship between fascism and communism is more complicated than appearing to be on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum.

No, The Communist Soviet Union Wasn’t Anti-Fascist. The Two Ideologies Are Bedfellows

Tyler Stone, The Federalist, August 29, 2017

  • In 1991 as part of its legacy from the Soviet Union, Ukraine had around 5,500 statues of Lenin scattered around the country. Now, 26 years after the country proclaimed its independence, all of them have been taken down. . . . 1. Lenin became someone else  2. Lenin changed his colours * * * 3. Lenin got dressed * * * 4. Lenin became a decoration * * * 5. Lenin became art * * *6. Lenin was sold * * * 7. Lenin was stolen * * * 8. Lenin was mothballed * * * 9. Lenin was decapitated * * * 10. Lenin was hidden * * * 11. Lenin was graffitied * * *

11 imaginative ways Ukraine has dealt with historic statues

Natalia Liubchenkova, Euro-News, August 25, 2017

  • “We turned over a rock and discovered a significant problem,” said Stotsky, about his deep dive into textbooks, articles, timelines, and maps used from at least 2011 to 2015—some possibly still in use—for World History course sections on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Islam in Newton’s two public high schools, which are among the most prestigious in the country.

Anti-Israel Curricula Used in World History Courses Across the Country

Rachel Frommer, The Washington Free Beacon, August 12, 2017

  • . . . the key for the current Chinese leader is to give itself and Chinese people the sense that China is back in its natural place in the world order, which means as the regional hegemon and at least one of the top few countries in the world.  Why this desire to recreate past glory?

How China’s History Shapes, and Warps, its Policies Today

Howard W. French, Ian Johnson, Jeremiah Jenne, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Robert A. Kapp, and Tobie Meyer-Fong, Foreign Policy, March 22, 2017


  • In recent years, there has been a shift in the international study of Community Resilience, beyond disaster response, to include its role in the response to violence. Research in the UK is limited, but studies in the Horn of Africa and the United States shed light on the potential value of its application in the context of effectively countering violent extremism.

Applying the Principles of Community Resilience to Violent Extremism in the UK

Murshed Madaser, Quilliam, July 14, 2017

  • . . . in a world faced with the increasing threat from violent extremism and where secular values are being challenged by regressive sectarian ideals held by non-violent extremists in the public sphere, there is now, more than ever, a need for greater powers to combat the threat posed by extremism * * * defined by the government as the ‘vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs, this includes calls for the death of members of the armed forces’.

In Plain Sight: MEND, CAGE, and So-Called “Non-Violent Extremism” by Lottie Moore

Quilliam, June 30, 2017

  • . . . the key for the current Chinese leader is to give itself and Chinese people the sense that China is back in its natural place in the world order, which means as the regional hegemon and at least one of the top few countries in the world.  Why this desire to recreate past glory?

How China’s History Shapes, and Warps, its Policies Today

Howard W. French, Ian Johnson, Jeremiah Jenne, Pamela Kyle Crossley Robert A. Kapp, Tobie Meyer-Fong, Foreign Policy, March 22, 2017

  • . . . “sharia supremacism” is more accurate than “radical Islam,” and by leaps and bounds more accurate than “radical Islamic terrorism.” “Sharia supremacism” conveys the divine command to implement and spread Islam’s societal framework and legal system. It demonstrates that our quarrel is not with a religion per se but with a totalitarian political ideology with a religious veneer. Violent jihadism is only one way — the most immediately threatening way — of carrying out the mission.

McMaster and the Challenge of Sharia Supremacism
Andrew McCarthy, National Review, August 12, 2017

  • Kepel identifies two main causes of the jihadist surge in France: the Internet and the emergence of “ethnoreligous fissures in the social fabric,” which he believes are breaking the French Republic apart. “The departure [of young Frenchmen] for Syria to engage in jihad and undergo martyrdom there is the natural and concrete sequel of their virtual indoctrination,” he writes, although he does not provide much evidence to support this idea.

Terror in the Terroir

Jytte Klausen, Foreign Affairs, August 15, 2017

  • On July 31, Boaz Ganor, Bruce Hoffman, Marlene Mazel, and Matthew Levitt addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute.

Lone Wolf: Passing Fad or Terror Threat of the Future?

Boaz GanorBruce HoffmanMarlene Mazeland Matthew Levitt, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, August 7, 2017

  • The vast majority of Tawheed Network members . . . have a particular hatred of the British Empire, whom they ultimately blame for the region’s problems. They despise the fact that they speak the same words as their kuffar (infidel) hosts, seeing it as a sign of colonial domestication. . . . Their solution has been to mutate the English language into a form more pleasing to them, by combining ordinary Muslim street-slang with scriptural allusions to form an argot . . .

How Terrorists Are Creating a New Language

Quilliam, August 7, 2017


  • Maybe it’s the accent. When it comes to news, in a world where “fake news” has become an ideological battle cry rather than an oxymoron, Americans deem British media outlets more trustworthy than their U.S. counterparts.

These are the most — and the least — trusted news sources in the U.S.

Sue Chang, Market Watch, August 31, 2017

  • The general point is that in politics, before actually starting a war, you must convince yourself and the rest of the world that your war is just. If you convince only your own population that your war is just, you will be isolated.

China-India standoff on the Himalayas

Francesco Sisci, Settimana News, August 15, 2017

  • Dogmatic individuals hold confidently to their beliefs, even when experts disagree and evidence contradicts them. New research from Case Western Reserve University may help explain the extreme perspectives, on religion, politics and more, that seem increasingly prevalent in society.

Why some people are so sure they’re right, even when they are not

Science Daily, July 26, 2017

  • Traditional media companies, meanwhile, are struggling to define a new business model amid lower advertising revenues and declines in readership. This has negative consequences for the quality and independence of media, and can accelerate the spread of low-quality news, disinformation, and hate speech. Given the challenge to shore up quality journalism, Western governments must now create a regulatory framework that forces online platforms to take greater responsibility for their content.

How to Hold Facebook and Google Responsible for Fake News

Klára Votavová and Jakub Janda, Atlantic Council, July 26, 2017

  • The hyperconnectivity revolution has knitted the world together in a way that was inconceivable to past generations. In so doing, it has arguably disintermediated a series of critical elements on which complex human societies have always been based. This, in turn, is changing the nature of human relations, discourse, and organizational structure so fundamentally that we are well beyond any experience of human history.

Flattened: Disintermediation Goes Global

Dee Smith, The American Interest, July 3, 2017

  • Europe’s experience with Muslim immigration is, of course, vastly different than America’s, where assimilation of immigrant populations into mainstream society has been more successful. There are a number of reasons for this, all of which should give Americans confidence and provide an example for Europe to emulate as it grapples with the migrant crisis.

Is the U.S. Better at Assimilating Immigrants Than Europe?

Megan G. Oprea, National Interest, August 9, 2017

  • . . . 2017 is an auspicious time to reaffirm the fundamental principles of liberal democracy to a turbulent and hostile world. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Unlike younger, more fragile democracies, the United States has a deeply ingrained tradition of unalienable rights, separation of powers, judicial independence, and rule of law—all set forth in a Constitution expressly designed to prevent a would-be “strong man” from seizing power.

A Teachable Moment

Martha Bayles, The American Interest, August 7, 2017

  • American Muslims come from various backgrounds and, according to a 2009 Gallup poll, are one of the most racially diverse religious groups in the US. It appears that due to their vast ideological and racial differences, American Muslims have come together on the one common feature in their identity: being American. In accepting their diversity, American Muslims have actually enriched and solidified their community’s footprint.

No easy answers: Why Western Muslim communities must be their own savior

Muhammad Fraser-Rahim and Muna Adil, Quilliam, July 31, 2017


Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  • A hacking group has claimed that the US government is currently operating more than a dozen secret biological labs in Ukraine and is likely responsible for a series of disease outbreaks in the country – bold claims later repeated, without criticism, by Russian state media.  The hackers – despite the assertions of media outlet Tass to the contrary – are widely believed to be linked to the Russian government. It is perhaps one of the most blatant examples of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine in action – a toxic blend of hacking, misinformation and spin.

Russian propaganda machine claims US covertly testing chemical warfare in Ukraine

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, August 26, 2017

  • “It would be right if the community itself developed a system of moral and ethical filters, to minimize if not to exclude, but it would be better, of course, to exclude the state’s influence on this process [the media],” Russian News Agency TASS quoted Putin as saying.

Putin in Crimea: the influence of the government on the media in Russia has to be minimized

UA Wire, August 21, 2017

  • Clint Watts, a former FBI Special Agent, says that Russian-controlled Twitter bots helped amplify widespread calls for President Trump to fire National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster. The hashtag #firemcmaster spread virally earlier this month.

[Video Embedded 1:48] Former FBI Agent Says Russian Twitter Bots Were Behind Push for McMaster Firing

David Z. Morris, Fortune, August 20, 2017

  • Russia has many skilled cyberoperators, and for good reason: Their educational system emphasizes information technology and computer science, more so than in the U.S.

Tracing the sources of today’s Russian cyberthreat

Dorothy Denning, Fifth Domain, August 16, 2017

  • The invasion of Ukraine, the occupation of Crimea and Donbas was justified by the word “if”. It has been mentioned so often over the several years of war with Ukraine that the whole alternative reality has been created for Russians, where an assumption has long become a reality for them. It’s the soldiers of modern propaganda, the Russian leaders and their minions, who create this fictitious picture of the world.

Russia, the “If” state

Roman Tsymbaliuk, Unian, August 16, 2017

  • . . . the Putin regime’s systematic effort to undermine and destabilize democracies has become the subject of urgent focus in the West. According to interviews with more than a dozen US and European intelligence officials and diplomats, Russian active measures represent perhaps the biggest challenge to the Western order since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A Guide to Russia’s High-Tech Tool Box for Subverting US Democracy

Garrett M. Graff, Wired, August 13, 2017

  • In its effort to gain control over social networks, an effort that is likely to fall short given various workarounds available to Internet savvy users, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) is demanding that by next year, instant messenger services and social networks provide it with the kind of personal data that most people prefer to keep secret to avoid identity theft.

FSB demands detailed personal information on Russians using social networks

Euromaidan Press, August 12, 2017

  • Russia has brought suspicion on itself. It routinely flouts the Vienna Document, an accord designed to avert misunderstandings during war games. Brokered through the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, it fosters transparency. Any drill involving more than 9,000 troops requires advance notification of at least 42 days; any exercise involving more than 13,000 troops must be preceded by an invitation to the other 56 participating states to send two observers.

Russia’s biggest war game in Europe since the cold war alarms NATO

The Economist, August 10, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Siberian getaway dominated his homeland’s news agenda over the weekend, his torso already earning plaudits from the tabloid press, as well as comparisons to fictional adventurer Indiana Jones

[Video Embedded 00:45] Russia Releases Propaganda Images Of Putin And National Media Goes Nuts For Modern Day Indiana Jones

Damien Sharkov, Newsweek, August 7, 2017

  1. CHINA
  • In a few days, the PLA Navy’s hospital ship Peace Ark will arrive in Djibouti as part of a ritual charm offensive of the Chinese military. This will be the PLA’s sixth “harmonious mission”, an operation during which a ship initially built to treat wounded soldiers in wartime provides free medical services to citizens in developing countries.

How a humanitarian naval mission is boosting China’s global ambitions

Mathieu Duchatel, South China Morning Post, August 20, 2017

  • The political crisis unfolding now in America, where the president’s top advisor Steve Bannon was forced to resign on August 18, is being followed with a mix of amusement and amazement in China.

A Chinese conundrum with the US after Charlottesville

Francesco Sisci, Settimana News, August 21, 2017

  • China’s crackdown on academic freedom has reached the world’s oldest publishing house. Cambridge University Press (CUP) said it has pulled over 300 articles and book reviews on its China site from the China Quarterly (CQ), one of the most prestigious journals in the China studies field, at the request of the government’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).

Forced to comply or shut down, Cambridge University Press’s China Quarterly removes 300 articles in China

Echo Huang and Isabella Steger, QZ, August 18, 2017

  • . . . China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) approved the guiding concepts for “information operations for the PLA, also known as “Three Warfares” (san zhong zhanfa). It was reinforced in 2010. Comprising public opinion/media warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare, the Three Warfares have been critical components of China’s strategic approach in the South China Sea and beyond. It is now being applied in the Indian context.

China playing out its ‘Three Warfares’ strategy against India in Doklam

Indrani Bagchi, The Economic Times, August 13, 2017

  • 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 Zai, Bloomberg, August 1, 2017

  • Chinese government leaders, subtle masters of propaganda, seem to have discovered a Sun Tzu formula for taming dissent on the Internet: The best strategy may not be to confront critics directly, but to lull or distract them with a tide of good news.

How China tames dissent on the Internet

David Ignatius, The Washington Post, July 18, 2017

  • . . . the Olympics are adopted to help rebrand China . . . including export brands and culture. The Games switches from acting as an approach to draw attention to China’s historic victimhood and economic achievement, to building the emotional attributes of the China brand via demonstrating Beijing’s adherence to the international shared values characterised by Olympic Spirit, innovation and cooperation.

From Beijing to Rio: rebranding China via the modern Olympic Games

Xiufang (Leah) Li, The Journal of International Communications, July 17, 2017

  • At a time of strained and erratic relations between the United States and China, Ivanka Trump . . . has emerged as an unlikely but singularly potent emissary, not to just to China’s leaders but to many of its citizens.

Unpacking China’s Curious ‘Ivanka Fever’

Rebecca E. Karl, Yishu Mao and Linda Jaivin, Foreign Policy, April 17, 2017


  • “The quickest way to bring down the regime is to change people’s minds,” said Park Sang Hak, a refugee from the North who now runs the group Fighters for a Free North Korea from a small Seoul office, sending tens of thousands of plastic fliers across the border every year. Fearing retaliation by Pyongyang, he goes nowhere without police bodyguards.

Activists fight North Korea with balloons, DVDs and leaflets

Tim Sullivan, AP News, Aug. 23, 2017

  • North Korea released a new series of propaganda posters showing its missiles attacking the U.S. as part of an ongoing effort to rally its people against the new round of U.N.-approved sanctions.

North Korea Targets U.S. Capitol in Latest Propaganda Posters

Sofia Lotto Persio, Newsweek, August 18, 2017

  • The North Korean cyber-espionage group known as the Lazarus Group has been busy hacking US defense contractors, according to a report published on Monday by security research firm Palo Alto Networks.  The attacks are a continuation of a series of operations Lazarus Group had set in motion in April 2017 . . .

North Korean Cyberspies Target US Defense Contractors Following Nuclear Threats

Catalin Cimpanu, Bleeping Computer, August 16, 2017

  • The North Korea-linked cyber espionage group known as Lazarus is believed to be behind attacks targeting individuals involved with United States defense contractors, Palo Alto Networks reported on Monday.

North Korea-Linked Hackers Target U.S. Defense Contractors

Eduard Kovacs, Security Week, August 14, 2017

  • . . . the North Koreans appear to be saying that the only way they will put their WMD programs on the table is if the US threat to their country ends, a very different position than described in media reports. We can argue whether the North Koreans are “sincere” about negotiations and of course whether talks can work, but first we need to get our facts straight. In this case, the media did a disservice to us all.

Fake News

38 North, August 9, 2017

  • An unknown hacking group has been targeting organizations in North Korea with Konni Malware. . . . In 2017, already three different campaigns were identified by security experts against North Korean companies using this malware.

North Korea Hit By Konni and Inexsmar Malware After Missile Tests

Uzair Amir, Hack Read, August 9, 2017

  • A host of nongovernmental organizations are working to smuggle information into North Korea, from leaflets to USB drives filled with Western and South Korean television shows. Recent defector interviews suggest the regime’s monopoly on information is fraying.

Redouble efforts to shut down North Korean currency-generating activities, and take powerful steps to maximize the flow of information and the pace of social change inside the North. Contain, deter and transform.
Contain, Deter, Transform: A Winning Strategy on North Korea

Michael J. Mazarr and Michael Johnson, Rand Corporation, August 2017

  • But knowledge—about the prosperity and freedom of their fellow Koreans south of the DMZ, and about the abnormality of their own suffering—is spreading among North Koreans. We are learning more about them, too—they are not brainwashed, “robotic” denizens of an “ant colony,” as they are so often described. They are resilient, increasingly entrepreneurial people with normal aspirations, who will some day want a say in the fate of their country.

How to Take Down Kim Jong Un

Tom Malinowski, Politico, July 24, 2017

  • Turkmenistan’s authoritarian leader sought to burnish his strongman credentials this week by appearing in a propaganda video that portrays him as a sharp-shooting, knife-wielding, military man of action. He’s a former dentist. Guess what happens next.

Turkmenistan’s strongman leader channels inner Arnold Schwarzenegger (and Putin) in much-mocked video

Kim Hjelmgaard, USA Today, August 4, 2017


  1. KENYA
  • Fake news. Odd plot twists. Tit-for-tat accusations. One candidate calling another “crooked.”  Those political phenomena, familiar to voters in the United States and Europe, have surfaced in Kenya ahead of a tightly contested presidential election on Tuesday. But in a country with a history of election violence, the addition of such toxic behavior has further fanned fears about whether the country can pull off a credible and peaceful vote.

As Kenya’s Vote Nears, Fear That ‘Fake News’ May Fuel Real Bloodshed

Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, The New York Times, August 6, 2017


They want video footage of the individual’s pledge for the group’s propaganda purposes, and they urge the would-be attacker to act with speed.

How Isis Remote-Controls Its European Operatives To Commit An Attack: ‘Be Quick’

Jack Moore, Newsweek, July 25, 2017


  • . . . the director of Kazakhstan’s Institute of Linguistics, says that his country is doing away with the notion of “Russian” schools and promoting English to lessen the country’s dependence on Russian sources.

Kazakhstan Promoting English-Language Instruction to Reduce Dependence on Russian, Scholar Says

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia – New Series, August 11, 2017

  • English is either the official or an official language in no fewer than 52 different countries around the world. The sun may have set on the British Empire, but the sun never sets on the English language . . . by far, the dominant second language in the world. No fewer than 611 million speak it as a second tongue. In polyglot India, the parliament debates in English because it’s every Indian’s second language.

Memo to Jim Acosta: It’s an English-Speaking World

John Steele Gordon, Commentary Magazine, August 3, 2017

  • Whether you already speak some English or are just starting out, you’ve probably got a powerful tool to help you reach the next level of proficiency: your phone. But with so many phone apps for English learners, how do you find the right app for your needs? We consulted three experts and asked for their advice.

The world of English in the palm of your hand. These apps will boost your skills.

Lauren Monsen, Share America, January 8, 2017

  • After Hidden Figures was released last year, an unprecedented amount of US embassies were reportedly calling the State Department requesting the film. Eventually the movie was screened to nearly 80 locations overseas and because of all those screenings a new, publicly funded exchange program will bring women from around the world working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to the United States.

Hidden Figures Has Inspired a State Department Education Exchange Program

Hazel Cills, Jezebel, August 10, 2017


  • Now 37 years old, [Neftalie] Williams is a skateboarding envoy with the U.S. State Department and is spreading his love for the sport, recently completing a cultural diplomacy mission in Cambodia, where he highlighted skateboarding’s benefits to young people.

This U.S. Sports Envoy Is Bridging Communities With Skateboarding

Kristi Eaton, NBC News, August 11, 2017

  • . . . we examine an attack on a country’s image through the arena of sports – the Palestinian Football Association’s attempt to suspend Israel from FIFA in 2015 – and Israel’s reaction to the attack. Our findings indicate that this move had limited success in terms raising the attention of the international media to the Palestinians’ claims against Israel, both in terms of the amount of coverage the topic received and in the ways in which the issue was framed.

The sporting arena as a public diplomacy battlefield: the Palestinian attempt to suspend Israel from FIFA

Reut Ber and Moran Yarchi, The Journal of International Communication, May 25, 2017 

  • If this obsession with Chinese cash prompted a wave of great Chinese applicants to U.S. universities, it would have been fine. Instead, it’s triggered a tsunami of fraud. Chinese families, eager to get their sons and daughters admitted to U.S. schools, contract with agents that are often paid a bounty by U.S. universities for each student accepted by the school.  Deception runs through the whole application process

John Pomfret: Chinese cash at American colleges is a massive problem

John Pomfret, Supchina, August 23, 2017

  • [John Allen:]  U.S. forces need to understand the cultural and political contexts of the host country and how these affect the forces beside which they are fighting. And they need to manage the tension between the need to be ready to fight the next conventional war and to once again fight irregular conflicts, which can only be won by empowering indigenous forces.

In the Warlords’ Shadow: Embracing New Strategies to Fight the War on Terror

Gen. John R. Allen, USMC (Ret.) and Daniel Green, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, August 4, 2017

  • Culture-packed, pocket-sized and free to the public, the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Expeditionary Culture Field Guides have been a staple in field readiness and as an augmentation to deployment awareness training for our military members since 2009.
    5 New Countries Added to Field Guide Inventory

Air Force Culture and Language Center (AFCLC), Connection Newsletter, Spring 2017 (p. 3)

  • “A LITE [Language Intense Training Event] is a TDY, averaging 30 days, that places Airmen in linguistically, regionally, and culturally complex settings. LEAP participants most commonly attend a four-week language school, while some LITEs are more exercise or security cooperation focused, with or without a classroom component.”
    Coffee, Cameroon and the Corps

Seth Maggard, Air Force Culture and Language Center, Connection Newsletter, Spring 2017 (p. 7)

  • The Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP) is designed and managed by the Air Force Culture and Language Center (AFCLC) to sustain, enhance and posture for utilization the existing language skills and talents of Airmen. The goal of LEAP is to develop a core group of general-purpose force (GPF) Airmen across specialties and careers possessing the capability to communicate in one or more foreign languages.

[Video Embedded 03:09] Language Enabled Airman Program

Air Force Culture and Language Center, n.d.

  • U.S. public diplomacy is a critical tool in advancing America’s global interests by both forging new international relationships and strengthening old ones. Not simply with leaders and policymakers, but with citizens across the world. This year, the United States has had an incredible opportunity to do just that on the world’s largest stage of 2017: the World Expo in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Next Generation Ambassadors at USA Pavilion EXPO 2017

Dr. Joshua W. Walker, Huffpost, August 8, 2017