Information operations · Information Warfare · Public Diplomacy · Strategic Communications

Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#87) October 13, 2017

Press Release of the Secretariat for Communication

Official Vatican Network,, January 24, 2017


In the News


[Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, Reappointment of Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, September 26, 2017]

[Cyber Diplomacy Act]

[Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Hearing, Threats to the Homeland, September 27, 2017]


[Election 2016 Controversies]

Instruments of Informational Power


Professional Topics

  2. CYBER

Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  3. CHINA




– – – – –

In the News

  • At a rare news conference, Senators Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the committee’s chairman, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and its vice chairman, broadly endorsed the conclusions of American spy agencies that said President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a campaign of hacking and propaganda to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

Senate Intelligence Heads Warn That Russian Election Meddling Continues

Nicholas Fandos, The New York Times, October 4, 2017

  • Three Democratic House members are calling on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to investigate the role of the Russian government-run radio network Sputnik in the 2016 presidential election.

Dems call on FCC to investigate Kremlin-run news agency’s influence in election

Max Greenwood, The Hill, September 19, 2017

  • [Director of National Intelligence Daniel] Coats explained that . . . cyber adversaries are becoming increasingly assertive and capable, theft and espionage attacks could cause major damage to networks, adversaries are targeting the integrity of U.S. data, and threat actors can use the Internet as an “echo chamber” to enforce false beliefs through repetition. “All these types of cyber operations have the power to erode public trust and confidence in our information, services, and institutions,” said Coats.

Cyber Looms as Top National Security Threat, DNI Says

Jessie Bur, MeriTalk, September 13, 2017

[Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, Reappointment of Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, September 26, 2017]

  • The United States may have superiority in most domains — sea, land, air, space — but it lacks the kind of whole-of-government integration currently allowing near-peer adversaries to excel at a level of “adversarial competition” that falls short of the definition of war. That’s what Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford told lawmakers . . . . “We need to adapt the U.S. military — really, the entire U.S. government — to be able to compete at that level below war, where the Russians have so successfully integrated information operations, cyber, political influence, economic coercion and information operations,” Dunford said.

DoD can’t compete with near-peer adversaries at a level ‘below war’

David Thornton, Federal News Radio, September 29, 2017

  • . . . the US is not prepared to respond to modern strategies of warfare developing in Russia and China, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Service Committee on Tuesday. * * * the US military is “a force that is designed for conventional war.” * * * Making the US more competitive against these threats would mean improving “our electronic warfare capability, our cyber capabilities, and our information operations capability,” Dunford said, and these need to be further integrated with “the economic and political tools” used by the Department of State, “from a whole of government perspective.”

Dunford: US Must Match Russian Abilities to “Compete Below the Level of War”

Wilson Brissett, Air Force Magazine, September 27, 2017

[Cyber Diplomacy Act]

  • “The U.S. is increasingly under attack by foreign actors online.  Now more than ever, we need a high-ranking cyber diplomat at the State Department to prioritize these efforts and ensure we keep the internet open, reliable and secure. The bipartisan Cyber Diplomacy Act will help counter foreign threats on the internet while promoting human rights and new jobs and economic growth.”

Royce, Engel Introduce Cyber Diplomacy Act 

House Foreign Affairs Committee, September 14, 2017

[Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Hearing, Threats to the Homeland, September 27, 2017] 

  • ISIS, al-Qae’da, and affiliated Salafi Jihadists are using new methods and technology to increase their audience and inspire terrorist attacks. The U.S. military and intelligence community have made significant strides towards destroying ISIS, and we must complete that mission swiftly and fiercely. However, we have learned that even destroying ISIS will not destroy its hateful ideology or end radical Islamist terrorism.

Opening Statement of Chairman Ron Johnson

. . . we’ve had 62 incidents since 9/11 and 106 fatalities by the white supremacist, antigovernment, and other violent extremists. Compare that to 23 acts of violence by Islamic violent extremists. The fatalities are almost equal. So one of my goals at this hearing today is to get specific responses as to whether or not the level of investigation and response matches the level of threat as it relates to these two types of terrorists that want to do harm to American citizens.

Opening Statement of Ranking Member Claire McKaskill

  • . . . terrorist groups historically sought time and space to plot attacks. But now they have become highly networked online, allowing them to spread propaganda worldwide, recruit online, evade detection by plotting in virtual safe havens, and crowd-source attacks.

Testimony of Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

  • From a threat perspective, we are concerned with three areas in particular: (1) those who are inspired by terrorist propaganda and act out in support; (2) those who are enabled to act after gaining inspiration from extremist propaganda and communicating with members of foreign terrorist organizations who provide guidance on operational planning or targets; and (3) those who are directed by members of foreign terrorist organizations to commit specific, directed acts in support of the group’s ideology or cause.

Testimony of Christopher A. Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice

  • [The Islamic State’s] effective propaganda continues to inspire violence even after the removal of key spokesmen . . . . ISIS’s media enterprise will probably continue to redirect their narrative away from losses to emphasize new opportunities, as seen with ISIS’s recent media attention to territories outside the areas it formerly held in Syria and Iraq.

September 27, 2017

Testimony of Nicholas J. Rasmussen, Director, National Counterterrorism Center


[Election 2016 Controversies]

  • . . . to understand Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election, the frame should not be the reach of the 3,000 ads that . . . were bought by a single Russian troll farm called the Internet Research Agency. Instead, the frame should be the reach of all the activity of the Russian-controlled accounts — each post, each “like,” each comment and also all of the ads. Looked at this way, the picture shifts dramatically. It is bigger — much bigger — but also somewhat different and more subtle than generally portrayed.

Russian propaganda may have been shared hundreds of millions of times, new research says

Craig Timberg, The Washington Post, October 5, 2017

1) Of the group of 3,000 ads turned over to Congress by Facebook, a majority of the impressions came after the election, not before. * * * 2) Twenty-five percent of the ads were never seen by anybody. * * * 3) Most of the ads, which Facebook estimates were seen by a total of 10 million people in the United States, never mentioned the election or any candidate. * * * 4) A relatively small number of the ads — again, about 25 percent — were geographically targeted. * * * 5) The ads that were geographically targeted were all over the map. * * * 6) Very few ads specifically targeted Wisconsin or Michigan. * * * 7) By and large, the ads targeting Michigan and Wisconsin did not run in the general election. * * * 8) The Michigan and Wisconsin ads were not widely seen. * * * 9) The Michigan and Wisconsin ads (like those everywhere else) were low-budget. * * * 10) The ads just weren’t very good. The language used in some of the ads “clearly shows the ad writer was not a native English speaker,”

10 reasons to stay calm about those Russia Facebook ads

Byron York, The Washington Examiner, October 5, 2017

  • . . . in 12 battleground states, including New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida, the amount of what they called “junk news” exceeded that from professional news organizations, prompting researchers to conclude that those pushing disinformation approached the job with a geographic focus in hopes of having maximum impact on the outcome of the vote.

Propaganda flowed heavily into battleground states around election, study says

Craig Timberg, The Washington Post, September 28, 2017

  • . . . (1) nationally, Twitter users got more misinformation, polarizing and conspiratorial content than professionally produced news. (2) Users in some states, however, shared more polarizing political news and information than users in other states. (3) Average levels of misinformation were higher in swing states than in uncontested states, even when weighted for the relative size of the user population in each state. We conclude with some observations about the impact of strategically disseminated polarizing information on public life.

Social Media, News and Political Information during the US Election: Was Polarizing Content Concentrated in Swing States?

Philip N. Howard, Bence Kollanyi, Samantha Bradshaw, and Lisa-Maria Neudert, COMPROP Data Memo, September 28, 2017

  • Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Russia, said on Tuesday there was “no question” Moscow meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, and pledged to bring up the matter with the Russian government.  ”There is no question, underline no question, that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year, Huntsman, a former ambassador to China, said at his Senate confirmation hearing.

Trump choice for Russia ambassador: ‘No question’ Russia meddled

Patricia Zengerle, Reuters, September 19, 2017

  • Facebook is under fire after revealing that a Russian group tied to the Kremlin bought political ads on its platform during the 2016 elections. Lawmakers are demanding answers, and liberal groups, who say the company failed to crack down on fake news, are seizing on the new disclosure.

Facebook under fire over Russian ads in election

Ali Breland, The Hill, September 16, 2017

  • The batch of more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads that Facebook is preparing to turn over to Congress shows a deep understanding of social divides in American society, with some ads promoting African American rights groups, including Black Lives Matter, and others suggesting that these same groups pose a rising political threat, say people familiar with the covert influence campaign.

Russian operatives used Facebook ads to exploit America’s racial and religious divisions

Adam Entous, Craig Timberg, and Elizabeth Dwoskin, The Washington Post, September 25, 2017

  • So, the Russian ad buy is a significant Facebook purchase, but not one that seems scaled to the ambition of interfering with a national U.S. election. That could be because: 1) Not all the ads have been discovered * * * 2) That was the right number, and the ads worked to aid distribution of disinformation. 3) The ads were part of a message-testing protocol . . . as a real-time focus group to test for the most viral content and framing. 4) That $100,000 was a test that didn’t work well, so it didn’t get more resources. 5) That $100,000 was merely a calling card, spent primarily to cause trouble for Facebook and the election system.

What, Exactly, Were Russians Trying to Do With Those Facebook Ads?

Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, September 25, 2017

  • Facebook has since confirmed that Russia-linked groups went further than buying ads and posting memes — they tried to organize anti-immigrant, anti-Clinton rallies in Texas and Idaho.  * * * Facebook will look not only into “foreign actors, including additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states,” Zuckerberg said, but also “organizations like the campaigns” to further its “understanding of how they used our tools.”

Facebook reportedly discovered it had been infiltrated by Russian government hackers months before the election

Natasha Bertrand, Business Insider, September 24, 2017

  • The threat from Moscow is not an idle one. It appears to have resulted in a successful operation against the United States, one that likely began long before Trump became president. The Russians not only penetrated the president’s inner circle but also used social media to spread fake news and may have even targeted voting systems.  In the aftermath of this campaign, the U.S. has done too little to harden its defenses against this kind of operation. There have been no demands to increase the budget of the intelligence community to counter Russia and other intelligence threats to the U.S.

War With Russia: Trump Is Losing the Intelligence Battle

Naveed Jamali, Newsweek, September 22, 2017

  • So the spending on fake Russian political ads identified by Facebook amounted to around 1/7,000th of what Mrs. Clinton spent on advertising. And of course these fake ad buys were not material in the context of Facebook’s total advertising revenues, which amounted to nearly $27 billion last year.  Is a $150,000 ad buy even big enough to require sign-off from Mr. Putin? If as some believe, Russian meddling was simply intended to discredit the likely winner, some poor Russian agent may now be headed to Siberia for engineering the election of a U.S. President who seems determined to drive down the price of oil.

Facebook’s Russian Clients: Can a U.S election be rigged for $150,000?

James Freeman, The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2017

Instruments of Informational Power


New Public Diplomacy Chief Named for US State Department

Joe Johnson, Public Diplomacy Council, September 26, 2017

  • Public diplomacy, “the process by which direct relations with people in a country are pursued to advance the interests and extend the values of those being represented”, has been extremely active throughout the [War on Terrorism].  They key word in this definition is values, an element of PD which “sets it apart from classical diplomacy” and its fixation on issues and interests.

Diplomacy and the War on Terror

Stuart Murray and Patrick Blannin, Small Wars Journal, September 18, 2017

  • America’s chronic monolingualism . . . reminds us that the actual status of English as the de facto global lingua franca has further reinforced Americans’ negative attitude toward world languages. Second, it reveals shortcomings in the U.S. education system whereby students “take” world languages but don’t speak them. Third, it undermines the U.S. national interest, security, public diplomacy, and global leadership.

World language skills matter for U.S. national security

Dr. Zekeh Gbotokuma, The Baltmore Sun, September 12, 2017

  • At its best, public diplomacy:   ● Provides a truthful, factual exposition and explication of a nation’s foreign policy and way of life to overseas audiences; ● Encourages international understanding; ● Listens and engages in dialogue; ● Objectively displays national achievements overseas, including in the arts.  At its worst, propaganda:  ● Forces its messages on an audience, often by repetition and slogans; ● Demonizes elements of the outside world and claims the nation it glorifies can do no wrong; ● Simplifies complex issues, including history; ● Misrepresents the truth or deliberately lies.

Public Diplomacy & Propaganda: Their Differences

John Brown, American Diplomacy, September, 2008


  • The Global Engagement Center is struggling to keep up with its missions: countering ISIS recruitment and Russian disinformation.  The chief technology officer at the U.S. State Department’s anti-propaganda center left last week, along with two other members of its analytics team, Defense One has learned. The departures raise new questions about the Global Engagement Center, the two-year-old office that remains leaderless nine months into the Trump administration.

Analysts Are Quitting the State Department’s Anti-Propaganda Team

Patrick Tucker, Defense One, September 12, 2017

  • Officials within the State Department and Republicans and Democrats urged Tillerson to reconsider spending the money which was set to expire—in part—on September 30. At the end of August Tillerson snapped up $40 million from the Pentagon fund for the program instead of the full pot of $60 million.  The decision to tap the fund came “after a review and then realignment of [Global Engagement Center] programs to match national security priorities and to ensure that this funding will be used as effectively as possible.”

Tillerson’s Russia and ISIS Fighting Anti-Propaganda Unit is Losing Key Staff

Graham Lanktree, Newsweek, September 13, 2017

  • North Korea analysts said the new [BBC] service offered an important additional voice for North Koreans looking for news and information from outside the rogue state. BBC News Korean is being broadcast for three hours a day and feature a daily 30-minute show featuring news, sport, culture and business. It also features an English language learning service teaching listeners simple phrases. According to Washington-based North Korea monitor 38 North, there is “little doubt” the BBC’s real target is North Korea, even if the broadcaster itself said the service was for the “Korean peninsula”.

BBC Korean Service ‘targeting’ listeners in North Korea, say experts

Ross Logan, Express, September 27, 2017

  • Listening to foreign radio stations is illegal in North Korea. The BBC’s shortwave channels were “aggressively targeted” by radio jamming on the first evening of broadcasts, according to 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

North Korea ‘aggressively’ jamming new BBC radio service: report

Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA Today, September 27, 2017

  • Russian government-backed news outlets RT and Sputnik are facing Justice Department scrutiny over whether they are operating in the U.S. as foreign agents, under a law written to regulate propaganda and lobbying by foreign governments.

Russia-Backed News Outlets Come Under Justice Department Scrutiny

Byron Tau, The Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2017

  • Registering under FARA will have no adverse impact on Kremlin media or its employees to work in the United States. Registering with FARA will: ● Not remove press credentials of Kremlin media employees ● Not cause the revocation or denial of access to press galleries ● Not limit or prevent access to continuing or entering into new cable TV distribution contracts or from purchasing or leasing radio stations in the U.S.  ● Not otherwise infringe on the ability to collect and disseminate information within the United States ● Not subject Sputnik, or RT or similar, to physical or financial abuse or intimidation.

Sputnik and the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA)

Matt Armstrong,, September 12, 2017

  • FARA does not suppress any operations, and that “reciprocity” is not in the Kremlin’s vocabulary, there is no equivalence between how America and Russia treat free speech and the news media.

Don’t do it: why the Foreign Agent designation is welcomed by RT and Sputnik

Matt Armstrong, MoutainRunner.US, September 21, 2017

  • Officials in Germany and at NATO headquarters in Brussels view the Lisa case, as it is now known, as an early strike in a new information war Russia is waging against the West. In the months that followed, politicians perceived by the Russian government as hostile to its interests would find themselves caught up in media storms that . . . often involved conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods — sometimes with a tenuous connection to fact . . . amplified until they broke through into domestic politics. In other cases, they simply helped promote nationalist, far-left or far-right views that put pressure on the political center. What the efforts had in common was their agents: a loose network of Russian-government-run or -financed media outlets and apparently coordinated social-media accounts.

RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War

Jim Rutenberg, New York Times, September 13, 2017

  • VOA and RFE/RL . . . provide a platform for the discussion of multiple points of view. They offer the freedom to speak, to listen, and to know the truth. They empower critical thinkers through news and information programs based on professional journalism and information freedom programs that enable people to capture and share events and what they are thinking. While the BBG is an important part of U.S. foreign policy — working closely with the State Department and other parts of the U.S. government — the journalists and their work are intentionally insulated against political pressures. Think of it like a fire hose: The foreign policy bureaucrats select the audience and the BBG opens the valve to unleash uncensored journalism.

RT as a Foreign Agent: Political Propaganda in a Globalized World

Matthew Armstrong, War on the Rocks, May 4, 2015


  • When employed correctly Military Information Support Operations (MISO–formerly PSYOP) as a force multiplier enjoys unparalleled capability to shape, and ultimately win, the hearts and minds of the populace who are the key terrain in any COIN conflict.  By the same token, MISO improperly employed, can have a serious and deleterious effect on the overall war effort.  It is for this reason that release authority for Military Information Support Operations comes directly from the Secretary of Defense.

MISO Product Testing in a Non-Permissive COIN Environment

Brian J. Hancock, Small Wars Journal, September 13, 2017

Professional Topics

  • Black or covert measures—once highly risky and dangerous to carry out—are now easily and efficiently carried out through social media. Russia is now able to remotely coordinate an army of hackers, honeypots . . . and hecklers or internet trolls (individuals who purposely create discord or provoke).

Information Warfare: Russia’s “Active Measures.”

Sophia Protosky, Global Security Review, September 30, 2017

  • Jihadist web content is accessed more frequently from the UK than any other European country, a new report has revealed, with Prime Minister Theresa May today set to urge tech firms to go “further and faster” to take down such content.

UK Biggest ‘Market’ in Europe for Jihadist Web Content: Report

Phil Muncaster, Infosecurity, September 20, 2017

  • Social media is a more effective tool of politics than diplomacy, which, again, has had a deleterious effect. What many e-diplomacy advocates thought would become platforms promoting openness and goodwill have in fact become forums to air grievances, settle scores and stoke nationalistic impulses.

Digital diplomacy’s downsides

Nick Bryant, Lowy Institute, September 13, 2017

  • . . . the Twin Falls post is the first example to come to light of Russian agents actually trying to conjure a political rally on American soil.

Purged Facebook Page Tied to the Kremlin Spread Anti-Immigrant Bile

Scott Shane, The New York Times, September 12, 2017

  • Co-ordinated groups of Twitter bots pushing pro-Russian propaganda have developed an odd but occasionally effective strategy – retweeting messages that the bot-makers disagree with and flooding their enemies with followers.

The surprising new strategy of pro-Russia bots

Brian Krebs, BBC, September 12, 2017

  • . . . swamping social media with phony Facebook and Twitter accounts that spread propaganda—are particularly hard to stop because they exploit the internet’s central trait: its openness. This has been the net’s strength and also its weakness. Openness allows the free exchange of ideas and expression of dissent but also leaves the system, and everyone in it, prey to criminals, terrorists, and, in this case, foreign spies and propagandists: all of them shrouded in anonymity.

The Info Wars to Come

Fred Kaplan, Slate, September 8, 2017

  • States and their militaries see the value not only of controlling networks for surveillance or to deny access to adversaries, but also of subtle propaganda campaigns launched through a small number of wildly popular worldwide platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This form of hybrid conflict – launched by states without state insignia, on privately built and publicly used services – offers a genuine challenge to those who steward the network and the private companies whose platforms are targeted.

“Netwar”: The unwelcome militarization of the Internet has arrived

Jonathan Zittrain, Taylor & Francis Online, August 21, 2017


  1. CYBER
  • Chasing tools to solve cybersecurity and space vulnerabilities is futile, said Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, who heads the Air University. Instead, rethinking ideas and theories behind those realms is the only way to effectively approach them, he argued . . . . To do that, the US military needs to stop thinking it’s invincible, a result of being incredibly and “unilaterally dominant” since World War II.

Space, Cyber Problems Are Results of American ‘Hubris’

Gideon Grudo, Air Force Magazine, September 18, 2017

  • “We are working diligently to better integrate cyberspace operations into our campaign plans as well as maturing CENTCOM’s use of the cyberspace domain,” Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said in a keynote address on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the Billington CyberSecurity Summit in Washington. “Historically, cyberspace operations have been stovepiped and executed independently. As the domain has matured, we have started integrating cyber operations into all of our planning efforts.”

Cyber is being normalized with traditional military operations

Mark Pomerleau, Fifth Domain, September 14, 2017

  • The Department of Defense’s cyber warriors are not one-trick ponies. In creating a cyber warrior class, DoD and Cyber Command sought not to stovepipe their workforce into certain roles, namely offense or defense. From their perspective, the relationship is symbiotic and both sides are equally imperative.

For DoD cyber warriors, offense and defense is interchangeable

Mark Pomerleau, Fifth Domain, September 14, 2017

  • An inherent clash exists between the military’s mission to disrupt ISIS communications and the intelligence community’s mandate to collect and analyze intelligence from those same computer networks.

Cyber Warriors and Cyber Spies Struggle to Strike Balance

Ned Carmody, The Cipher Brief, September 14, 2017

  • One of the greatest national security threats the United States faces today is the one we are least prepared for: cyberwarfare.

The New Face Of War: Security In The Age Of Cyberwarfare

Anastasia Pyrinis, Huffington Post, September 11, 2017

  • During the Cold War, the larger struggle against communism created a mainstream consensus about what America stood for and against. Today, our society appears to be defined by a particularly vicious form of “partyism” affecting Democrats and Republicans alike. This divisive environment can make the media more susceptible to repeating and amplifying falsehoods.

Samantha Power: Why Foreign Propaganda Is More Dangerous Now

Samantha Power, The New York Times, September 19, 2017

  • Hizballah’s past military successes against it, amplified by a prodigious propaganda machine, have undermined Israel’s deterrence image, emboldened some of its most implacable enemies (such as Hamas), popularized the resistance “brand” in the Arab world (at least prior to Hizballah’s intervention in Syria), and served as a model and inspiration for radical Shi’a throughout the region.

The Next Hizballah-Israel Conflict

Michael Eisenstadt and Jeffrey White, The Washington Institute, September 19, 2017

  • “One clear lesson is that you can’t fight propaganda with propaganda,” says Tetiana Popova. “If you do that you lose credibility yourself and bring all facts into doubt,” adds the former Ukrainian deputy minister for information policy.  “And that is what the Russians want,” she said firmly.

How to Wage an Information War

Jamie Dettmer, Voice of America, September 18, 2017

  • In this infographic, Meduza compares the U.S. government’s international news media to RT and Sputnik, to get a better sense of just how big these operations are, relative to each other.

Comparing Russian and American government ‘propaganda’

Meduza, September 14, 2017


  • Computational propaganda is the use of automation, botnets, algorithms, big data and artificial intelligence (A.I.) to sway public opinion via the internet. Disinformation campaigns using computational propaganda techniques emerged globally in 2010, and reportedly went mainstream last year during the U.S. presidential campaign.

Disinformation as a service? DaaS not good!

Mike Elgan, techworld, September 9, 2017

  • Recognising the danger of disinformation to colour the outcome of policymaking, electoral results and public opinion in general, urgent investments are needed to capture and retain young, driven staff who can engage creatively, effectively and proactively using social media. Management styles need to change too – centralised, bureaucratic organisations are anathema for iterative, adaptive and responsive advocacy campaigns. They will fail miserably.


Sanjana Hattotuwa, The Island, September 9, 2017

List of fake news websites


  • It’s pointless to fact-check individual bits of Russian propaganda, the way the East Stratcom Task Force does, or the way fact-checking operations do for Facebook. One reason is that fact-checking, predictably, has little effect on audiences whose confirmation biases are stroked by propaganda narratives.

How to Resist Russian Propaganda on a Tight Budget

Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, September 13, 2017

  • Facebook touts its partnership with outside fact-checkers as a key prong in its fight against fake news, but a major new Yale University study finds that fact-checking and then tagging inaccurate news stories on social media doesn’t work.

Tagging fake news on Facebook doesn’t work, study says

Jason Schwartz, Politico, September 11, 2017

  • [Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill] identified an inherent “culture clash” between cybersecurity experts, who are all about confidentiality and secrecy, and elections officers, who prize transparency and openness. “Bringing those two cultures together has been extremely interesting,” said Merrill, who chairs a cybersecurity task force for the National Association of Secretaries of State. “We’re trying to figure out how best to communicate. We’re having to learn a whole new language. We’re establishing relationships.”

The Daily 202: Bipartisan initiative to thwart election hacking gains steam

James Hohmann, The Washington Post, September 14, 2017

  • [Matt] Rhoades said he thought the possibility of a truly hacked election—in which individual ballots are tampered with—is even more worrying than cyber attacks. He said he fears that not even hard evidence of hacking could legitimize an election that had been interfered in to such a degree.

Experts Discuss Future of Cyber Threats in Politics

Lucas Ward, The Harvard Crimson, September 12, 2017

  • Text messages, like paper leaflets in previous war propaganda falling from the sky, whisper, “America won’t help you” and “NATO is not your friend.” Russo-defiant Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko faces a Kremlin-backed coup. * * * That’s where this hypothetical – but very plausible – scenario leads into a more traditional conflict: Internet-connected infrastructure shuts down, rockets crash into key targets, and the treads of Russian tanks chew up Baltic roads, bringing the deafening roar of war across all spheres.

‘The Greatest Threat’

Todd South, Air Force Times, September 18, 2017

  • . . . Moscow has proven a capable practitioner of new forms of cyber and so-called hybrid warfare. Money invested in hacking groups like Fancy Bear and warehouses full of paid internet trolls have surely done more to destabilize Europe and the United States than a few new stealth jets and tanks. Likewise, pro-Russian media outlets—both from official organs like Russia Today as well as proxies—has been weaponized to disseminate propaganda over social media emphasizing the weakness of Western societies and the strength of Russia—employing mixed and often contradictory messages tailored to appeal to both left- and right-wing ideologies.

The Russian Military’s Greatest Enemy (And Its Not America)

Sebastien Roblin, National Interest, September 9, 2017

  • The United States is looking to counter Iranian influence in the Middle East with a more aggressive approach in cyberspace.  “They operate almost entirely in what we refer to as the gray zone, that space between normal international competition and armed conflict,” the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, said Wednesday in Washington, calling it “an area ripe for cyberspace operations.”  “We at CENTCOM are examining ways to compete in the gray zone,” he said. “Integrating cyberspace operations as part of a holistic approach is clearly a critical part of that.”

US Military Readying a More Aggressive Approach Against Iran

Jeff Seldin, VOA, September 14, 2017

  • The United States has no peer competitors in conventional military power. But its adversaries are increasingly turning to asymmetric methods for engaging in conflict. Cyber-enabled information warfare (CEIW) is a form of conflict to which the United States – and liberal democracies more generally – are particularly vulnerable.

Cyber Assaults on Democracy’s ‘Brain-Space’ are Here to Stay

Herbert Lin, The Cipher Brief, September 20, 2017

  • The Russian troll farm at St. Petersburg, Russia, has a new name. Glavset.

Glavset Is New Name For Russian Internet Research Agency, The Russian Troll Farm

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, September 10, 2017

  • Storytelling is the new black and it’s being adopted everywhere from social media to TED speeches to analytic journals.

Nail your narrative #1: Don’t forget the most important story of all

Wayne Aspland, Linkedin, June 16, 2014

  • There are many reasons why organisations find it difficult to embed their strategies and other programs. They range from the communications used to the commitment of the organisation to the alignment with planning cycles, measurement and remuneration.  But the starting point is always the same. It’s the story you tell in the first place – its simplicity, credibility and the level to which it inspires people to get involved. If you don’t get that right, then no amount of embedding will save you.

Nail your narrative #2: What is a strategic narrative?

Wayne Aspland, Linkedin, June 24, 2014

  • Few people live in a more historically saturated country than do the Russians of today, especially under a president who prefers to talk about the past rather than the future and in the centenary year of the 1917 revolutions.  But a new survey shows that many Russians don’t have a clear grasp on important facts.

Russians Think History is Important but Don’t Know Many Important Facts, New Poll Finds

Paul Globe, Window on Eurasia-New Series, September 10, 2017

  • Since 9/11, . . Western nations have learned from the challenges and difficulties used to counter the propaganda of violent extremists. * * * However, African nations and developing nations for centuries have known . . . how effective their local traditions and languages play in combatting violence and to resolving conflict. . . . this speaks to the increased importance of nuanced, and tailored responses that addresses the root causes at the neighborhood, community, state, national level and international level.

Messaging in Africa: Local Solutions to Prevent Violent Extremism

Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, Quilliam, August 22, 2017


  • Among the specific deviations promoted by Shami Salafism is a ban on most forms of hudoud — which refers to corporal punishment for crimes against God — and on beheading, a contrast with Islamic State practice. In Dalati’s view, Nejdi Salafism rushes to impose hudoud punishment, while Shami Salafism states that hudoud should be reserved for those who commit a clear violation of God’s law as determined by a very specific and “thorough” process.

Splitting Civil Society from the Jihadists in Idlib

Ruwan Rujouleh, The Washington Institute, September 14, 2017

  • Instead of killing terrorism’s leaders, the US must work to stop Salafi-jihadism — the ideology of terror — from spreading.

War on terror reconsidered

Katherine Zimmerman, AEI, September 11, 2017

  • Ridding ISIS of its territory, targeting its leadership, and showcasing its violations of human rights have indeed weakened the group. However, these tactics have not translated into victory because we have not correctly framed the problem — namely, are we correct to focus on defeating “terrorism” or even “jihadist ideology?” What, then, should their defeat look like — should we eliminate all existing and potential terrorists or rid the world of their propaganda?

16 Years after 9/11, Our Patriotism Remains ‘Uninformed’

Jacob Olidort, The Washington Institute, September 11, 2017

  • Anti-Westernism and anti-liberalism have not displaced anti-Semitism in Russia as some have argued but rather, along with widespread conspiracy thinking and eschatological links between Russian nationalism and Russian Orthodoxy, have laid the groundwork for a new recrudescence of this ancient evil, Aleksandr Verkhovsky says.

Conspiracy Thinking, Orthodox Eschatology Lead Russian Nationalism Back to Anti-Semitism, Verkhovsky Says

Paul Globe, Window on Eurasia-New Series, September 10, 2017

  • . . . these three pictures—the burning monk, the fleeing child and the shooting of the prisoner . . . are the three pictures that for the American TV viewer and the newspaper and magazine reader seemed paradigmatic, standing for important truths about the war, while actually, as you understand by now, they all represented exceptions: Far from being paradigmatic they were entirely untypical of what went on in the war.

Quotable:  Martin Herz on “paradigmatic” Photographs of the Vietnam War

Donald M. Bishop, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, October 3, 2017

  • As World War II ended, America faced another challenge: the Cold War with the USSR and the Eastern Bloc it influenced. As relations began to freeze, it became clear that nuclear weapons, spies, and the traditional tools of war wouldn’t be enough to fight Soviet hegemony. And so the West, argues Greg Barnhisel, turned to their secret weapon: books.

America’s unlikely Cold War Weapon

Erin Blakemore, JSTOR, September 12, 2017

  • We certainly do have an incredibly amoral and highly competent group of ministers around Philip IV of France [reigned 1286-1314] who were devastating in their attacks on the Templars and deployed such sophisticated techniques in attacking them. . . . the way to attack the Templars was to attack them in terms of their values and what they stood for. To attack their probity, to attack their chastity, to attack their Christianity.

The Rise and Spectacular Fall of the Templars: An Interview with Dan Jones

Daniele Cybulskie, Medievalists.Net, September 5, 2017

  • The Bolshevik revolution that was followed by the counter-revolution and the civil war had to resort to use multi-modal propaganda that was directed towards winning the hearts and minds of the people it tried to rule. . . . political propaganda posters displayed carefully chosen images, and crafted messages that were aimed at creation of “Homo sovieticus.”

The Russian Revolution Centenary: 1917-2017

Berkeley Library

  • On one level, there’s no arguing with the math. If you take the percentage of Americans that the U.S. census defines as “minorities” and project their past voting habits into the next decade and beyond, you’ll come up with a very sunny version of the Democrats’ prospects. There are only two problems with this line of thinking, but they’re pretty big ones. For starters, the census prediction of a “majority-minority” America—slated to arrive in 2044—is deeply flawed. And so is the notion that ethnic minorities will always and forever continue to back Democrats in Obama-like numbers.

Redoing the Electoral Math

John B. Judis, New Republic, September 14, 2017


Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  • With the return of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012, we observed a change in Russian information and security policy. Russian leadership understood, with the mass demonstrations in large Russian cities in 2011 and 2012, that the government needs to control the information sphere and fight the West back, where it seems strong, namely in foreign media, impact of NGOs on civil societies, and providing a narrative which is widely accepted. Disinformation, fake news, and cyber attacks have become part of a Russian security strategy to fight the West in soft areas of influence.

Russia Blends Cyber Attacks with Information War

Stefan Meister, The Cipher Brief, September 17, 2017

  • Influence operations, Russian or otherwise, aim to raise the profile of certain themes and issues. They do this by amplifying content, including topics, hashtags, and URLs linking to longer stories and video.  The authors of the campaign create some of the content they amplify, but not all of it. Much of the activity featured in this dashboard is created by third parties, then amplified by accounts linked to Russian influence operations.

Methodology of the Artikel 38 Dashboard

J.M. Berger, Securing Democracy, September 12, 2017

  • . . . this is the sort of Russian propaganda designed to paint the United States as an external enemy.  Nazi Germany blamed the Jews for their internal problems. Russia blames an external enemy, the US, the UK and the West for all their problems. Russia strictly controls what their citizens say, hear, and read. This is just one more example of actual propaganda put out by Russia on a deniable, non-official page, but pushed by Russian officials.

Russian Propaganda Targeting Russians

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, September 9, 2017

  • There is a potentially explosive downside for Moscow to the defeat of ISIS in Syria: More than 5,000 Russian citizens and 5,000 other Russian speakers from CIS countries had been fighting for the Islamic State, and those not killed or captured in the Middle East will likely return to their homelands and possibly continue terrorist activities there.

ISIS Fighters from Russia and CIS After Defeat in Syria and Iraq Seen Returning Home and Becoming a New Threat

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia-New Series, September 8, 2017

  • What Putin’s Kremlin is doing is actually quite unique. It has unleashed a widespread effort to undermine, corrupt, and cripple the institutions of liberal democratic governance.  No, everybody doesn’t do this.  Only a regime that fears transparency, fears the rule of law, and fears accountable governance launches a campaign of mayhem like this.

The Daily Vertical: The Kremlin’s Global Campaign Of Chaos (Transcript)

Brian Whitmore, Radio Free Europe, September 8, 2017

  • … a few specific and extremely daunting obstacles. The most pressing is the presence of Russian information dominance through traditional media. Countering the weight of Russian controlled TV and radio is beyond the scope of Ukrainian resources – questions surround even the larger Ukrainian owned outlets as having close ties to Moscow.

Ukraine, Hybrid Warfare, and Reclaiming the Strategic Advantage

Spencer B. Meredith III, Real Clear Defense, September 19, 2017

  1. CHINA
  • “Magic weapons” . . . refers to three long-standing pillars of Chinese Communist Party propaganda operations: Party building, military activities, and the one that Xi has raised to “a level of significance not seen in China since the years before 1949” — the United Front Work Department, which does all it can “to guide, buy, or coerce political influence abroad.”

China employs ‘magic weapons’ in foreign influence campaigns – China’s latest political and current affairs news

Lucas Niewenhuis, SupChina, September, 2017

  • Chinese internet regulators said they have hit operators of three of the country’s biggest social-media platforms with the maximum fine allowable under a new cybersecurity law for hosting fake news, pornography and other forms of banned content.

China Fines Social-Media Giants for Hosting Banned Content

Josh Chin, Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2017


  • Far more than when I previously visited, North Korea is galvanizing its people to expect a nuclear war with the United States. High school students march in the streets in military uniform every day to denounce America. Posters and billboards along the public roads show missiles destroying the U.S. Capitol and shredding the American flag. In fact, images of missiles are everywhere — in a kindergarten playground, at a dolphin show, on state television. This military mobilization is accompanied by the ubiquitous assumption that North Korea could not only survive a nuclear conflict, but also win it.

Inside North Korea, and Feeling the Drums of War

Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, October 5, 2017

  • Moscow is playing a fraught double game, by quietly offering North Korea a slender lifeline to help insulate it from U.S.-led efforts to isolate it economically.  A Russian company began routing North Korean internet traffic this month, giving Pyongyang a second connection with the outside world besides China.

Russia throws North Korea lifeline to stymie regime change

Andrew Osborn, Reuters, October 4, 2017

  • The BBC has launched a Korean service as part of an expansion of its foreign language outlets.  The service, which began broadcasts on Tuesday, will provide news, sport, business and culture through a website and radio transmissions.  A key focus of the service is North Korea, where government censorship restricts access to independent news.

BBC launches Korean news service

BBC, 25 September 201

  • YouTube has shut down two more channels broadcasting North Korean content, frustrating researchers who say that the information is crucial for understanding North Korea’s leadership, economy and military, as well as the human rights situation in the country.

YouTube has shut down more North Korean channels — and researchers are livid

Anna Fifield, The Washington Post, September 14, 2017

  • The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States need to overcome ingrained North Korean propaganda painting them as the enemy and blaming them for all ills in North Korea. The ROK and the United States must change how North Koreans think about unification and their individual prospects after unification.

Preparing for the Possibility of a North Korean Collapse

Bruce W. Bennett, RAND, September 19, 201

  • . . . proliferation . . . cellphones, DVDs and flash drives—in long-closed North Korea has made it possible to crack through official propaganda with messages from the outside, seeking to sow internal unrest with the regime.  In a paper . . . Navy Commander Fredrick “Skip” Vincenzo explored using such technology to launch an “influence campaign” to reach top Korean officials. He concluded that such a campaign is unlikely to spark an antiregime uprising because “the regime’s harsh, pervasive security apparatus is too well entrenched.”

U.S. Has Options as Tension With North Korea Escalates

Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2017

  • There has been some good thinking in the policy world about how unification might be achieved, from offering amnesty communicated through an information campaign to North Korean elites who turn on Kim, to subversion through political warfare, to help to those North Koreans either looking to make their way to South Korea or to help undermine the regime. The US could lead efforts with South Korea to get information to regular and elite North Koreans through massive Korean-language broadcasting to the mass dropping of leaflets, USB drives, satellite phones, and so on. * * * But only the US can lead the “high politics” of this effort.

Kim Jong Un must go. It’s time for a Korean democratic unification

Dan Blumenthal, AEI, September 13, 2017

  • North Korea presents a severe, but not imminent threat. There is time to design and implement a strategy based on a CVID end state that employs political, informational, and economic methodology directed against the three drivers, while also taking measures to ensure the US and its allies prevail in conflict, instability, or collapse.

Why the Kim regime actually needs nuclear weapons

Byran Port, Pacific Forum CSIS, September 13, 2017

  • “Kim Jong Un understands that as soon as society is open and North Korean people realize what they’re missing, Kim’s regime is unsustainable, and it’s going to be overthrown,” Sun told Business Insider.

A former US Navy SEAL tweeted his solution to the North Korean crisis — and it just might work

Alex Lockie, Business Insider, September 11, 2017

  • YouTube has cut off access to a state-run North Korean propaganda channel, as the US seeks to impose tougher sanctions following Pyongyang’s recent nuclear and missile tests.  The shutdown of Uriminzokkiri, which regularly posted video footage boasting of the North’s nuclear and missile programmes and others praising the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un, was confirmed Saturday.

YouTube shuts down North Korea propaganda account

France24, September 9, 2017

  • . . . the belligerent rhetoric of North Korean propaganda, with its talk of triumph and total war, could leave its own leaders mistakenly convinced that they would win such a conflict, just as the sloppy toughness coming out of the White House might leave them convinced that the United States is about to strike anyway.

A Sneak Peek at America’s War Plans for North Korea

Chetan Peddada, Foreign Policy, September 7, 2017

  • . . . people in North Korea need to fight for themselves and they need information from outside. If somehow information can leak into North Korea, it can shatter their whole understanding about North Korea being the best country out there. Knowing how desperate they are, the people think that’s their only option and they can’t really do much about it. But, if they can see that there is a different world out there, I feel like people will definitely speak out.

Growing Up As A North Korean Defector

George W. Bush Presidential Center, September 27, 2017

  • … Al-Qaeda has been all but eclipsed by the Islamic State (ISIS), which has skillfully used social media to become the foremost purveyor of jihadist indoctrination in the West, creating a “virtual caliphate,” extremely dangerous and easily accessible to vulnerable men and women from a variety of backgrounds in a manner al-Qaeda was never able to achieve. Even were all territory now under ISIS control to be retaken, this virtual caliphate could continue to pose a major threat.

The Islamic State’s Virtual Caliphate

Mina Hamblet, Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2017

  • . . . combating Russia’s propaganda networks remains a “David and Goliath struggle”, the E.U. official conceded. The Kremlin’s efforts to destabilize the E.U. and promote pro-Russian policy are alleged to include outright hacking, backing for anti-E.U. political parties, heavily biased news reporting, and an army of internet “trolls” who stalk social media with pro-Russian messages. East StratCom will have expanded to 14 employees by the end of this year, but only three of them are working full time on de-bunking disinformation

The E.U. Agency Fighting Russia’s Wildfire of Fake News with a Hosepipe

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson, Time, September 11, 2017

  • Russian attacks on Lukashenka resemble information warfare that preceded military action against Ukraine.

Saving the “Fraternal State”?

Vladimir Podhol, AEI, September 2017

  • . . . claiming that the PA doesn’t tolerate calls for violence requires overlooking the entire PA educational system, which exists to incite violence against Israelis. As then-Senator Hillary Clinton observed correctly in 2007, the PA’s textbooks “do not give Palestinian children an education; they give them an indoctrination…[which] profoundly poisons the[ir] minds.” When the school term ends, PA summer camps keep the children’s skills sharp.

The State Department’s Palestinian Fantasies

A.J. Caschetta, New English Review, September 12, 2017

  • From suspected Iranian cyberattacks on Saudi Arabia to leaked emails causing consternation among nominally allied Arab nations, state-sponsored hacks have become an increasing worry among countries across the Persian Gulf. Defending against such attacks has become a major industry in Dubai . . . [which] increasingly bills itself as an interconnected “smart city” where robots now deliver wedding certificates.

In Persian Gulf, computer hacking now a cross-border fear

Jon Gambrell, Fifth Domain, September 12, 2017

  • Saudi Arabia has urged its people to report subversive comments spotted on social media via a phone app, a move denounced by a human rights watchdog as “Orwellian”.

Saudi calls for social media informants decried as ‘Orwellian’

Reuters, September 13, 2017



  • Jennifer Clinton joins Cultural Vistas after serving five-and-a-half years as President and CEO of Global Ties U.S., where she led a grassroots network of 120 community-based organizations in 45 states and 21 countries around the world that engage 40,000 volunteers who implement public diplomacy and international exchange programs in close partnership with the U.S. Department of State.

Cultural Vistas Announces Jennifer Clinton as Next President and CEO

Forimmediaterelease, September 14, 2017

  • The United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur continued its music diplomacy by bringing in one of America’s hottest rock bands – ASIDIC – to entertain music lovers at the Black Box venue at Suria Sabah on Friday. “The US budget is a matter decided by Congress and the State Department and we hope to continue this next year as this is an investment in people (ties),” a spokesman said, when asked if such concerts would fall victim to new President Donald Trump’s cost-cutting.

US music diplomacy continues in KK

Daily Express, September 12, 2017

  • They felt a naked love of country without anybody telling them to. You don’t get this from wearing a flag pin on your lapel, but when you stand in a crowd and sing about the purple mountains and the buffalo roaming and grace that taught my heart to fear and the Red River Valley, roses loving sunshine, singing in the rain and the bright golden haze in the meadow, it does pull people together no matter how they feel about the Second Amendment.

Of thee they sing with feeling

Garrison Keillor, The Washington Post, September 19, 2017


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

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

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


Edited by

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

Henry L. Tucker, University of Mary Washington, Assistant 



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