#RussiaFail · Information operations · Information Warfare · Public Diplomacy · Strategic Communications

Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#86) – September 24, 2017

Directive Approved by the President for the Guidance of the United States Information Agency,
October 28, 1953

– – – – – –

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

Henry L. Tucker, University of Mary Washington, Assistant



In the News


[Election 2016 Controversies]

     [What Happened by Hillary Clinton]

     [Morgan Freeman Video]

Instruments of Informational Power


Professional Topics

  2. CYBER

Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  3. CHINA
  5. CUBA
  6. IRAN



In the News

  • U.S. legislation may be needed to require social media companies to disclose more about how their platforms are used for political advertising, a senior Democratic lawmaker said on Thursday, after new signs of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.

U.S. may need new law to address Russian ad buys on Facebook: senator

Dustin Volz, David Ingram, Reuters, September 7, 2017


[Election 2016 Controversies]

  • [Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars] Rinkevics argued that a US investigation into Russian election meddling in the country in 2016 is vital.  “It is essential for all US allies to understand the mechanics of how you combine cyber-attack and then use it as [an] information weapon to influence people’s opinions,” he is reported to have said.  “If you have hacking, fake news with a purpose, it is very difficult to react. We can find out what happened, but it is very difficult to prove. The whole law in this area needs addressing.”

Latvia Warns of Growing Russian Fake News Challenge

Phil Muncaster, Infosecurity Magazine, September 5, 2017

[What Happened by Hillary Clinton]

  • “In addition to those who are calling me names, we know that Russia has really targeted, through their trolls and bots, a lot of accounts—a lot of Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, of people on the left—feeding them a steady diet of nonsense.”

Hillary Clinton Looks Back in Anger

David Remnick, The New Yorker, September 25, 2017 issue

[Morgan Freeman Video]

[Editor’s Comment] The video made by Morgan Freeman, circulated by the new Committee to Investigate Russia, has prompted dozens of articles and storms of comment, pro and con, domestic and international. According to Variety, Hollywood director Rob Reiner and David Frum (The Atlantic) launched the video, and James Clapper (former Director of National Intelligence), conservative political commentator Charlie Sykes, Max Boot (Council on Foreign Relations), and Norman Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute) are on the Committee’s Advisory Board. Space and time do not permit listing every article, but Joel Harding of the To Inform is to Influence website has provided links to the first wave of commentary and his take on “who attacks, shares, and supports.”  

Who Attacks, Shares, and Supports Morgan Freeman Video

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, September 24, 2017

Instruments of Informational Power

  • Here is what U.S. leaders have to say about democracy . . .

International Day of Democracy: Shareable quotes

ShareAmerica, September 15, 2017


The State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) is tasked with countering foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation targeting the United States and U.S. interests.

Global Engagement Center: Background and Issues

Matthew C. Weed, CRS Insight, August 4, 2017

  • In recent days, the intimidation campaign by Cambodia’s government against free speech has intensified. As a result, and out of concern for the security and safety of its journalists, Radio Free Asia (RFA) has made the difficult decision to suspend operations of its news bureau in Phnom Penh.

CEO statement on the closing of RFA’s Phnom Penh Bureau

John F. Lansing, Broadcasting Board of Governors, September 12, 2017

  • 1. They are not independent * * * 2. They do not want to be impartial * * * 3. They produce fake news to promote political objectives

Three things you should know about RT and Sputnik

Euromaidan Press, September 12, 2017

  • The FBI recently questioned a former White House correspondent for Sputnik, the Russian-government-funded news agency, as part of an investigation into whether it is acting as an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Sputnik, the Russian news agency, is under investigation by the FBI

Hunter Walker and Michael Isikoff, Yahoo News, September 11, 2017

  • Hong Kong’s public broadcaster RTHK dropped a 24-hour BBC World Service channel from its airwaves on Monday, replacing it with state radio from China in what critics say is a sign of encroaching Chinese control in the former British colony.

Hong Kong scraps 24-hour BBC World Service radio channel despite criticism

James Pomfret, Reuters, September 4, 2017

  • While RT may have limited capacity to influence those not already sympathetic to its aims, its reach across social and traditional media, and freedom from any commitment to impartiality, equip it perfectly for an atmosphere of rumour and counter-rumour.

‘Post-truth’ media really is shifting the news agenda – and more subtly than it seems

Precious N. Chatterje-Doody,The Conversation, September 1, 2017

  • [RT’s] PR strategy skilfully uses these criticisms to cater to the biases of an anti-establishment generation. Its motto encourages viewers to “Question More”, and its various advertising campaigns have successfully exhibited Western contempt and suspicion as a badge of honour.

‘Post-truth’ media really is shifting the news agenda – and more subtly than it seems

The Conversation, September 1, 2017

Professional Topics

  • As jihadist attacks are increasingly being carried out by home-grown “lone wolves,” top counter-terror chiefs of four Western powers said Thursday they need more support from social media companies to detect potential threats.

Anti-terror chiefs want social media help with ‘lone wolves’

The Bull, September 8, 2017

  • Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook’s event-management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests in the U.S., including an August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho, The Daily Beast has learned.

Exclusive: Russia Used Facebook Events to Organize Anti-Immigrant Rallies on U.S. Soil

Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen, and Spencer Ackerman, The Daily Beast, September 11, 2017

  • Speaking on a visit to London, [Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars] Rinkēvičs said there was increasing evidence that Russia was automating disinformation on social media. Pointing to new NATO-sponsored research showing more than five times the number of Russian language tweets sent in Latvia concerning NATO came from bots, instead of from individuals. The figure in Estonia was nine times as many. He described the tactic as ”very systematic and a new way to spread propaganda amongst young people”.

West failing to tackle Russian hacking and fake news, says Latvia

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, September 5, 2017

  • ISIS has taken a more advanced approach, targeting and utilizing a number of novel platforms to preach its jihadist ideology, thus blending tradition and technology in a sophisticated manner. Running a $2 billion campaign thanks to its oil monopoly in Syria, the group expertly commands usage of the cyber community in a multitude of forms: Twitter . . . Facebook, Google, Tumblr, Kik, WhatsApp, and more. Coupled with its use of more under-the-radar messaging apps such as Telegram (which is encrypted) and Surespot, ISIS is able to maintain a constant and steady presence on the Internet.

The Islamic State’s Virtual Caliphate: Jihad in the West

Mina Hamblet, Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2017

  • After violent protests rocked Charlottesville . . . Senator John McCain took to Twitter to condemn hatred and bigotry and urge President Donald Trump to speak out more forcefully.  Then pro-Russian bots got activated on social media.  Within hours, an online campaign attacking McCain — a frequent Trump critic — began circulating, amplified with the help of automated and human-coordinated networks known as bots and cyborgs linking to blogs on “Traitor McCain” and the hashtag #ExplainMcCain.

Pro-Russian Bots Sharpen Online Attacks for 2018 U.S. Vote

Nafeesa Syeed, Bloomberg, September 1, 2017

  • Social media platforms produce sizable corpora that analysts can use to assess public reactions to unfolding events, but there are significant technological and methodological challenges . . . . One of the defining challenges for SOCMINT is the ability to derive meaningful analysis from an extremely large corpus, which includes misspellings, sarcasm, regional patterns of linguistic expression, and constantly evolving idioms.

Automated Analytics: Natural language processing in social media intelligence

1st Lieutenant Michael Hastings, Marine Corps Gazette, September, 2017

  • For information categorized as open source, “we can consider social media, and more generally the Internet, as the single largest ‘database’ in existence.” With “nearly one-third of the world’s population now us[ing] social media,” the potential to find valuable information through this medium is infinite.

OSINT As An NMOS  [Open Source Intelligence as a Necessary Military Occupational Specialty]

2nd Lieutenant Gabriella V. Gonzalez, Marine Corps Gazette, September 2017

  1. CYBER
  • After years of debate . . . technology is leaving net neutrality behind.  Here are at least three indicators that technology is outsmarting net neutrality. The 5G effect * * * The Netflix effect * * * The app effect

Technology is Outsmarting Net Neutrality

Mark Jamison, American Enterprise Institute, September 6th, 2017

  • Cyberspace’s role in warfare has yet to be properly integrated into U.S. war planning, largely due to this earlier debate over whether it will prove decisive or inconsequential. It is neither. Cyberspace will not be able to deliver cyber effects and threats that, alone, will shape adversary behavior. But if delivered in tandem with other domains, their effects will be meaningful.

The Fifth Domain Won’t be the Sole Battleground

James Van de Velde, The Cipher Brief, August 30, 2017

  • A strain of malware has been used to hack diplomatic and government computers since 2016, according to security researchers. . . . Gazer, “has managed to infect a number of computers around the world, with the most victims being located in * * * Southeastern Europe as well as countries in the former Soviet Union.”

Researchers find persistent malware targeting embassies

Michael Peck, Fifth Domain, September 1, 2017

  • European Union defence ministers tested their ability to respond to a potential attack by computer hackers in their first cyber war game on Thursday, based on a simulated attack on one of the bloc’s military missions abroad.  In the simulation, hackers sabotaged the EU’s naval mission in the Mediterranean and launched a campaign on social media to discredit the EU operations and provoke protests

Cyber alert: EU ministers test responses in first computer war game

Robin Emmott, Reuters, September 7, 2017

  • The Kremlin hacked our presidential election, is waging a cyberwar against our NATO allies and is probing opportunities to use similar tactics against democracies worldwide. Why then are federal agencies, local and state governments and millions of Americans unwittingly inviting this threat . . . . posed by antivirus and security software products created by Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based company with extensive ties to Russian intelligence.

The Russian Company That Is a Danger to Our Security

Jeanne Shaheen, New York Times, September 4, 2017

  • . . . there is almost no positive message that Russia can use to beautify itself. Consequently its propaganda effort has turned almost entirely to the business of denigration and disruption. * * * hostility to immigration with an emphasis on the threat the “influx” poses to western values; support for President Assad in his battle against jihadists; denial that Syria has been responsible for chemical attacks; contempt for the European Union; claims that the West provoked the crisis in Ukraine; scepticism that the Russians were in some way responsible for the shooting down of Flight MH17; talking up any suggestion that electoral systems in the West are rigged; emphasis on any success by ethno-nationalist parties in Europe; a division of the sentient world into craven followers of the lying “mainstream media” on the one hand, and discerners of the truth on the other.

How the West can defeat the Kremlin’s lies

David Aaronovitch, The Times, August 31, 2017

  • Denmark and Sweden will cooperate in the field of hybrid threats, and there will be a strong focus on the problem with fake news and disinformation. This was the message in an op-ed published on Wednesday by the two countries’ defence ministers . . . under the headline “Russian fake news: a danger to our countries”.

Denmark and Sweden: “Russian fake news is a danger to our countries”

EU vs Disinfo, September 1, 2017

  • During the summer, we saw some new initiatives aimed at countering pro-Kremlin disinformation in Europe.

Initiatives to counter disinformation spring up in the Russian language

EU vs Disinfo, September 5, 2017

  • On top of this strong Russian influence on the German domestic scene, there is an emerging clash of narratives between Berlin and Moscow. Angela Merkel[‘s] . . . insistence on promoting the European project and its ideals stands in stark contrast to the Kremlin’s illiberal democratic model . . . . Moscow’s support for Europe’s nationalist parties . . . has helped trigger a wave of anti-liberalism and anti-globalization cross Europe. Russia and Germany represent a battle of ideas with the former trying to denigrate the credibility of the latter.

Taming the Russian Bear: Germany’s Vital Role in Fighting Kremlin’s Hybrid Warfare

€uBulletin, September 6, 2017

  • The United States is challenged by adversaries who seek to alter fundamentally the systemic balance of power through information-based strategies. These strategies leverage both legal and illegal operations to gain influence and control over key industries and information resource domains to constrain American freedom of action. It is a larger geoeconomic and geoinformational campaign . . . to harvest information in support of military, diplomatic, economic, and global political goals. [Abstract]

Treating Information as a Strategic Resource to Win the “Information War”

Robert Jake Bebber, Elsevier, May 30, 2017

  • Russia has been long credited with having formidable information warfare capabilities. Russian information confrontation theory covers a wide range of these actions . . . stemming from cultural, ideological, historical, scientific, and philosophical viewpoints.

Russia’s Improved Information Operations: From Georgia to Crimea

Emilio J. Iasiello, Army War College, 2017

  • $100,000 in political ads purchased by a shadowy Kremlin-linked “troll farm” on Facebook – that’s something important. In one sense, this purchase . . . represents a new frontier in Moscow’s historic propaganda efforts. Gone are clunky attempts to push the glories of communism and evils of capitalism. In their place are subtler attempts to emphasize existing social divisions in the United States, or sow entirely fake stories – a modern information war that Russia handles with “finesse,” according to one historian.

In Russia’s Facebook reach, hints of darker intrusions

Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor, September 20, 2017

  • The vast majority of counterintelligence cases I worked in the FBI involved a foreign intelligence service (FIS) conducting what we called “perception management campaigns.” Perception management, broadly defined, includes any activity that is designed to shape American opinion and policy in ways favorable to the FIS home country.

How Facebook Changed the Spy Game

Asha Rangappa, Politico, September 8, 2017 

  • Bickers’s opening salvo to drive home this point tells the story of the infamous sign on Shanghai’s famous riverside park, the Bund, that said “Chinese and Dogs Not Admitted.” As it turns out, such a sign was not posted in the park during the colonial period, but a fabrication of the sign was on display at a Shanghai museum from the 1950s until 1989. As Bickers says, “the story of the sign was an urban myth conveying a simplified version of a complex story that had gained significant political traction.”

Much Ado About (Chinese) Nationalism

Tom Fox, Real Clear Defense, August 29, 2017

  • Why, then, has China so consistently radiated hostility toward Japan instead of trying to seduce it?  The conventional explanation is that Beijing doesn’t dare reach out to Tokyo because the Chinese remain collectively furious over Japan’s aggression and atrocities during World War II and the country’s subsequent refusal to apologize for them. But this view doesn’t hold up.

Why China Can’t Stop Hating Japan

Richard McGregor, The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2017

  • Was the Holodomor a genocide? No, says modern Russia * * * For Ukraine, by contrast, the mass murder of millions by the Communist regime in the Kremlin is both a historical fact and a defining feature of modern statehood

Facing facts: Why the Great Famine in Ukraine still matters today

Edward Lucas, Stopfake, August 29, 2017

  • There is a controversial new video out on NATO’s official YouTube channel entitled Forest Brothers. The gist of the 8-minute film is to lionize the brave Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian fighters who took to the woods to resist the Soviet Union’s 1945 occupation of the Baltic States.

ON TARGET: NATO film rewrites history, glorifies Nazis

Scott Taylor, Chronicle Herald, September 10, 2017

  • …many Africans . . . mostly considered illiterate by “Western” notions of literacy . . . but deeply well-educated using their own local techniques provide insights into how effective government, civil society and community actors can deliver messages that work at the local level. . . . messages are effective only when the delivery is seen as both credible and knowledgeable of the local environment. Using techniques that fuse oral traditions and techniques like Ajami Wolof, Hausa or Swahili can provide major inroads to successful strategies to prevent violent extremists appeal in taking root in local environments.

Messaging in Africa: Local Solutions to Prevent Violent Extremism

Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, Quilliam, August 22, 2017

  • . . . two recent reports . . . bring stark attention to the sheer numbers and risks of those that will become returnees to their western home nations. It is important to discern the nuances of the threat posed by these FTFs that will return home, and . . . the connection between FTFs and homegrown violent extremists terrorists (HVEs) who strike targets where they live.

The Terrorist Diaspora, its Returnees, and Disrupting the Rise of Homegrown Violent Extremists

Conrad E. Orr, Small Wars Journal, September 6, 2017

  • . . . hate sermons are not indicative of the values of Islam or what it means to be a Muslim. Such sermons openly promote concepts that directly contradict those of a liberal society. They resist progression and increase discontent, leading to more terror attacks against innocent civilians. They threaten friendly, communal relationships, stirring suspicions of Muslims in a fragile world.

Dealing with Hate Sermons

Mohammed S. Dajani, The Washington Institute, September 5, 2017

  • Islamism is a specific understanding of Islam that holds if Muslims wish to return to the riches and power of 1,000 years ago, they must apply Islamic law in its entirety.  Islamists argue among themselves how to do so: the modern-oriented Gülen movement in Turkey represents one extreme and ISIS, which wants to return to the seventh century, represents the other. Some Islamists use violence, others work through the political system.

Daniel Pipes on Merkel’s Historic Folly

Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum, August 22, 2017

  • The third-generation jihad has been assisted by two phenomena: social-networking sites that easily and widely disseminate Islamist propaganda (thus increasing the rate of self-radicalization) and the so-called Arab Spring, which led to state collapse in Syria and Libya, providing “an exceptional site for military training and propaganda only a few hours’ flight from Europe, and at a very low cost.”

Saving Realism from So-Called Realists

  1. Brands and P. Feaver, Commentary, August 14, 2017


  • . . . rehabilitation and reintegration efforts for juvenile violent extremist offenders (including those returning from IS-territory) need to be based on two underlying assumptions: the importance of age and attitudes. [Report]

Children of the Caliphate: Young IS Returnees and the Reintegration Challenge

  1. Van der Heide and J. Greenen, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, August 28, 2017


  • As we have pointed out on many occasions, the pro-Kremlin outlets love conspiracies. And the more shocking these conspiracies are, the better they serve the purposes of the disinformation campaign. For understandable reasons, the most shocking conspiracies include stories about violent death.

Shock! Conspiracy! Chemical Attack!

EU vs Disinfo, September 3, 2017

  • . . . the Pew Research Center . . . surveyed members of the five living and/or relevant generations (Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, the Greatest Generation, and the Silent Generation) and asked them to name the ten most historic events occurring in their lifetimes, events that had the greatest impact on the country. All named the September 11th Attacks as the most historic—which is understandable if only due to our proximity to that epoch-shaping event. For Millennials, though, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War didn’t even make their top 12 history-making events.

The Generation that Wasn’t Ready

Noah Rothman, Commentary, August 29, 2017

  • The young people sitting before Ash had spent some of their most formative years hearing that the news is fake. For the teachers responsible for educating them, this is a new problem. Whereas they once feared teenagers would fall for everything they read online, now teachers are increasingly concerned that their students will grow up not believing anything they read — or worse, believing the difference between what’s real and what’s fake is a matter of choice.

‘These are all fake news,’ said the honor student. He was wrong.

Jessica Contera. Washington Post, September 4, 2017

  • Training in how to combat pro-Kremlin disinformation is a “top priority” for the 200 Danish soldiers who will be deployed to Estonia as a part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

Denmark to educate soldiers in combatting disinformation

EU vs Disinfo, July 25, 2017

  • . . . next time you’re tempted to say you want to educate someone about something, think again. Try using a term that doesn’t carry the burden of condescension, like inform, familiarize, explain, clarify.  Because nobody likes to be addressed in a way that makes them feel diminished . . . Try to avoid writing or saying educate. Use a kinder, gentler word.

‘Educate’ vs. ‘Inform’

Pen-For-Rent, June 25, 2017

  • The Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie once observed that there are “two Americas” — one at home and one abroad. The first is the America of Hollywood, work-in-progress democracy, civil rights movements and Ellis Island. The second is the America of coups and occupations, military dictators and CIA plots, economic meddling and contempt for foreign cultures. The rest of the world knows both Americas. But as Shamsie has written, Americans don’t seem aware of the second one at all.

Trump is making Americans see the U.S. the way the rest of the world already did

Susan Hanzen, Washington Post, September 8, 2017

  • I remain confident that new approaches can be found to establish a US role in the world order that helps protect Western ideas and interests. But that begins by abandoning notions of US primacy and deep engagement across the globe. And it involves a return to the original wisdom of the West: seeking not to dominate or be dominated but using checks and balances along with laws and institutions to carve out a stable and enduring new foundation.

Forgetting the lessons of the West

Andrew Carr, ASPI The Strategist, August 30, 2017


Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  • Vladimir Putin’s Russia has interfered politically in no less than 27 countries since 2004.  They’ve launched cyberattacks in Estonia and Georgia. They’ve used disinformation campaigns in Lithuania, France, Germany, and Canada. And they’ve deployed organized crime groups in Spain.

The Daily Vertical: The Kremlin’s Global Campaign Of Chaos

Brian Whitmore, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 8, 2017

  • The US government’s decision to close the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco will complicate the citizen-to-citizen diplomacy . . . said Natasha Venzon, who heads the Rossinca cultural and educational center in San Jose, California.  “‘Cultural Understanding + Sharing = Peace,’ is our commitment to building bridges among our peoples and nations and this mission would seem to be more timely now than perhaps ever before,” said Venzon, whose center educates children from Russian-language families living in the Silicon Valley area.  “The Russian Consulate, and its core of dedicated diplomats, have been true partners in enabling our communities, at home and abroad, to celebrate the tremendous traditions and beauty of the Russian-language cultures we treasure and share.”  She said that the US move was “only the latest challenge to our dreams for citizen to citizen diplomacy, especially among our youngest and most natural diplomats, our children.

Closure of Russian consulate in San Francisco may complicate citizen-to-citizen diplomacy

TASS, September 1, 2017

  • Seventy percent of Russian-language tweets targeting NATO military activities in Eastern Europe are generated by automated Russian trolls, according to a survey done by the military alliance.

Russian Twitter Bots Troll NATO

Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon, September 1, 2017

  • Gessen’s theory, in part, is that the USSR robbed its citizens of “the ability to make sense of one’s life in the world,” an ability that is “a function of freedom.” They lost “the intellectual tools for sensemaking,” and so “the only stories Russia told itself about itself were created by Soviet ideologues.” Moreover, she claims, the system’s co-optation of intellectuals reinforced this effect.

Arrested Development

Sean Guillory, Bookforum, September 2017

  • When the USSR existed, calling someone “anti-Soviet” was one of the most damning labels, even if some wore that as a badge of honor, Artemy Troitsky says; but now that it has ceased to exist, efforts to use “Russophobia” in the same way don’t work nearly as well.

Kremlin’s Efforts to Use Russophobia as the ‘Anti-Sovietism’ of Today Don’t Quite Work, Troitsky Says

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia – New Series, August 31, 2017

  • Not only has a large part of the older generation which was compelled to learn Russian in Soviet times in the former republics and Warsaw Pact countries passed away with younger people choosing not to learn Russian but rather English and other languages, they say, but Russia no longer offers the kind of ideological attractions that caused some to learn Russian in the past.

Is Putin Attacking Non-Russian Languages Because of Decline in Number of Russian Speakers in the World?

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia – New Series, August 31, 2017

  • Moscow City Hall exercises tight control over the editorial policies of local newspapers, distributing weekly guidelines to newsrooms that allegedly describe what topics should be discussed in published stories and how certain stories should be written.

Russian journalist uncovers Moscow City Hall’s propaganda guidelines for local newspapers

Meduza, September 6, 2017

  • Last Sunday is likely to pass into history as “the birthday of political Islam in Russia,” . . . a development that represents a turn of events that will leave the country “much changed” however the Kremlin responds.  What signaled this development . . . was a demonstration by Muslims in front of the Myanmar embassy in Moscow against that country’s repression of the Rohinja minority . . . .

Political Islam has Been Reborn in Russia, Ostalsky Says

Paul Globe, Window on Eurasia-New Series, September 7, 2017

  • In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, hackers can be patriotic heroes or hackers can be criminals.  It just depends, of course, on whom they are hacking.

The Daily Vertical: Cybercriminals And Patriotic Hackers (Transcript)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 7, 2017

  • It is not surprising that the Kremlin is using disinformation and other dirty tricks to sow confusion in Western countries and undermine faith in democratic systems. Russia’s leaders are convinced that Western democracy is a threat to the authoritarian order in a country they have cowed into submission.

A Problem Much Bigger Than Putin

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, The New York Times, September 12, 2017

  • Russia has meddled in the affairs of at least 27 European and North American countries since 2004 with interference that ranges from cyberattacks to disinformation campaigns, according to an analysis by a surveillance organization.

Alleged Russian political meddling documented in 27 countries since 2004

Oren Dorell, USA Today, September 7, 2017

  • Media reports and outside experts contend that the Russian government is seeking to influence European political discourse, policymaking, and electoral processes . . . . the use of disinformation, the spread of fake news, cyberattacks on government or political party computer systems, and the cultivation of relations with European political parties and allies broadly sympathetic to Russian views. Efforts by the Russian government to influence Europe’s political landscape appear aimed at sowing disunity and destabilizing the EU and NATO.

Russia: Background and U.S. Policy

Cory Welt, Congressional Research Service, August 21, 2017

  • . . . the most repeated piece of disinformation was the old favourite linking Nazis and Ukraine. So, the country was accused of being a neo-Nazi monster created by the West, as well as being occupied by Nazis who follow in the footsteps of Goebbels. There was no specific mention of the actual occupation of parts of Ukraine. . .

Back to basics

EU vs Disinfo, September 7, 2017

  1. CHINA
  • Australian academics have backtracked after their teaching materials received complaints from Chinese students.

The summer of Australian academics apologizing to Chinese students

Lucas Niewenhuis, SupChina, September 9, 2017

  • . . . after an inspection of Hunan Television [by the Communist Party’s Hunan provincial committee] . . . the provincial satellite TV station, is criticized for lacking a sense of political responsibility, an excessive focus on high ratings, and spending too little effort on Party construction.  “For a long time, some leaders in Hunan TV deeply believed that ‘Entertainment is the foundation of a television station’ . . .  and that ‘High ratings are the only criteria on whether a television station is successful or not’ . . . . They have failed to fulfill the mission of being a mouthpiece of the Party.”

Hunan TV slammed for chasing ratings

SupChina, September 2, 2017

  • “Wherever he goes, Xi Jinping sets off a whirlwind of charisma!” hyperbolises a narrator from China’s Communist party-controlled broadcaster, CCTV. * * * The scenes are part of a four-and-a-half-hour television extravaganza being screened in China this week in a bid to burnish the president’s leadership credentials ahead of a key political summit . . .

‘A whirlwind of charisma!’: China propaganda blitz hails Xi, the Great Statesman

Tom Phillips, The Guardian, August 31, 2017

  • I have seen firsthand how difficult reporting from China can be for foreign correspondents. They are routinely harassed, sometimes even physically attacked, followed, and face constant barriers in their job.

A former Chinese news assistant weighs in on Dutch paper’s fake news scandal

Yajun Zhang, Radii, September 7, 2017

  • Some of these “internet-related crimes” include using the internet to “fabricate or distort facts, spread rumors, disturbs social order,” “insult or slander others,” and to propagate “harmful information.”

China’s Cybersecurity Law Gives the Ministry of State Security Unprecedented New Powers Over Foreign Technology

Insikt Group, Recorded Future, August 31, 2017

  • Written by the Ministry of Education, the new national editions will replace a number of different versions on the market for three subjects — Chinese language, history, law and ethics — with added focus on traditional culture, revolutionary history, and ideology.

Chinese Textbooks Get a Few Shades Redder

Lin Qiqing, Sixth Tone, August 29, 2017

  • Seven top colleges set up departments to oversee the political thinking of teachers after government inspectors criticise institutions’ ideological ‘weakness’

Chinese universities tighten ideological control of teaching staff

Nectar Gan, South China Morning Post, August 28, 2017

  • Many Korea specialists in Washington favor a major increase in pressure tactics, known as “strategic strangulation.” The U.S. would expand the use of cyber hacking and other covert methods to disrupt missile development and unnerve the government; it would flood the North with smuggled flash drives loaded with uncensored entertainment and information.

We chatted, and I asked him if he’d been to the United States. Never, he said. I had wondered what it must be like to experience the United States through the fog of Twitter. It turned out that it wasn’t much different from Americans trying to make sense of North Korea through its propaganda.

The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea

Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, September 18, 2017

  • Information. Defectors are already sending information into the North about the outside world. The U.S. and its allies can expand that effort and encourage elites to defect or stage an internal coup.

Options for Removing Kim Jong Un

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal, September 4, 2017

  • North Korea on Thursday vowed to execute reporters from two South Korean newspapers, saying they insulted the country’s dignity while reviewing and interviewing the British authors of a book about life in the isolated country.

North Korea vows to execute reporters over bad book review

The New York Post, August 31, 2017

  • . . . public perceptions can easily be manipulated in such a way as to discredit diplomatic initiatives.  Pyongyang has consistently led its populace to believe that the outside world represents an existential threat.   By closing the country to external information sources and producing a steady stream of anti-Western propaganda, the North Koreans have fostered an ideology of perpetual conflict . . . . even if US and South Korean information and messaging operations were able to penetrate North Korean defenses, it is unlikely that they would resonate with an audience primed to distrust all Western influence.

From Pylos to Pyongyang: What Thucydides Can Teach Us about Contemporary Diplomacy

Vivian S. Walker, Small Wars Journal, August 28, 2017

  • The Department of Homeland Security and FBI issued a new warning on Wednesday that North Korean government hackers are continuing to target critical U.S. infrastructure for cyber attacks.

Government Warns North Korean Cyber Attacks Continue

Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon, August 24, 2017

  1. CUBA
  • . . . 41 different websites are blocked in the country, including the Cuban Free Press Project and Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization that advocates for greater civil liberties around the world.

Here Are the 41 Websites You Can’t Access in Cuba

Louise Matsakis, Motherboard, August 30, 2017

  1. IRAN
  • Iran’s clandestine spy network has been threatening and blackmailing scores of journalists, even going so far as to detain and threaten the family members of these reporters, in order to ensure positive coverage in global media outlets.

Iranian Spy Service Threatening, Blackmailing Global Media Outlets

Adam Kredo, The Washington Free Beacon, September 6, 2017

  • Over 26 years since it broke away from the Soviet Union, Moldova still struggles to find its balance in an increasingly divided region. The country has become one of the battlefields in the information war that Moscow is waging in — and with — the West . . .

Moldova Feels Squeezed in Russia’s Information War

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight, September 7, 2017


  • Mideast pundits often speak in terms of “age-old” ethnic and religious conflicts, or of “deeply entrenched” attitudes or prejudices. A closer look at the evidence, however, reveals that Arab public opinion can sometimes change dramatically, both for better and for worse, in the space of just a year or two. Another common cliché . . . is that Arab youth are more militant than their elders. The data to disprove both false assumptions come from the very timely case of the Palestinians in Jerusalem . . .

Jerusalem Palestinian Poll Shows How Events Shift Attitudes Sharply, Pro and Con

David Pollock, The Washington Institute, September 5, 2017

  • The output of IS’s vast propaganda apparatus demonstrated a high level of forethought and guidance, exemplifying the strict control IS leadership had over its content. As such, IS’s propaganda provides a useful tool for understanding the caliphate’s broader strategy.

From Wolf Pack to Lone Wolf

Joseph Tyler Gruber, Marine Corps University, August 2017


  • Almost half of American undergraduates and 96,000 international students begin their studies at [community colleges]. Typically, annual tuition is half that of public four-year institutions. Many offer intensive English classes, which help international students to succeed in their studies.

Two-year colleges open new worlds for students

Christopher Connell, ShareAmerica, September 7, 2017

  • As students arrive on campuses for the fall semester, fewer of their classmates are likely to be from overseas, a new Chronicle survey has found.

Many Colleges See a Drop in International Students, Chronicle Survey Finds

Karin Fischer, The Chronicle, September 6, 2017

  • . . . Pomfret’s article suggests that Chinese students go to the U.S. to study, do not assimilate into American culture, only choose to hang out with their countrymen, and only get in because universities are cash poor and Chinese students can pay the full tuition freight. * * * You can tell that story, but I prefer to stick with what’s actually happening in the vast majority of cases, not just hyper-headlined clickbait.

Lawrence Kuok: The real Chinese student story — a response to John Pomfret

Lawrence Kuok, SupChina, September 2017 


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