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

Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#89) November 27, 2017

National Security Archive, The Long Telegram


In the News


                  [Election 2016 Controversies]

 Instruments of Informational Power



Professional Topics

  2. CYBER

Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  2. SPAIN
  5. IRAN
  7. CHINA




_ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

In the News


[Nominations Hearing, Irwin Steven Goldstein, Nominee for Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, November 1, 2017]

  • To tell these stories, we must ensure that the State Department is using every tool available, and can harness the power of new technologies as they develop. Consistent with the President’s budget and the Secretary’s priorities, we should aspire to have a digital and technology profile that rivals the best companies in Silicon Valley. And in an era when people everywhere have access to vast information sources, we must speak to people where they listen.

Written Statement of Irwin Steven Goldstein, Nominee for Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Senate Foreign Relations Committee, November 1, 2017

  • Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) thinks there’s something missing from the congressional investigation into Russia’s election meddling: solutions for countering foreign disinformation campaigns.

GOP rep: We need a ‘counter’ to Russian disinformation

Morgan Chalfant and Ali Breland, TheHill, November 22, 2017

  • The House Foreign Affairs Committee forwarded legislation Wednesday that would reinstate the position of a top cyber diplomat at the State Department. * * * The bill would also endorse a series of global cyber norms that [Chris] Painter’s office pushed during the Obama administration. Those include that nations should not hack each other for economic gain, should not use cyberattacks to damage each other’s critical infrastructure, such as electric utilities and airports, and should not target each other’s cyber emergency response teams.

Bill to Restore State Department Cyber Office Advances

Joseph Marks, NextGov, November 15, 2017

  • “We may have in America the best 20th-century military that money can buy, but we’re increasingly in a world where cyber vulnerability, misinformation and disinformation may be the tools of conflict,” [Senator Mark] Warner said at The Atlantic’s Washington Ideas fest . . . . “What we may have seen are the first tools of 21st-century disinformation.” * * * The sophistication of Russia’s cyber campaign was “unprecedented,” he said. It was also cheap. Warner said the amount Moscow spent in total influencing the American, French and Dutch elections was about a quarter the cost of building an F-35 fighter jet.

Social Media is ‘First Tool’ of 21st-Century Warfare, US Lawmaker Says

Jack Corrigan, DefenseOne, September 29, 2017

  • 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.

Current Threats to the Homeland

Christopher Wray, FBI, September 27, 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 at his Sept. 26 re-nomination hearing.  “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

  • After a perfunctory hello, [former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] launched right into it: We’re losing the information war with Russia. She urged me to stand up a much stronger and more robust messaging machine to compete with the firehose of Russian propaganda and disinformation that was besmirching America’s image and undermining democracy around the world. “They’re using the old techniques of repeating lies over and over but doing so on 21st century platforms,” she said. You need to fact-check what they are saying and expose Russian disinformation in real time, she continued. We need to do much more. I remember how she ended the call: “The State Department is still issuing press releases while Putin is rewriting history.”

What Hillary Knew About Putin’s Propaganda Machine

Richard Stengel, Politico, November 15, 2017

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to oust the State Department’s cyber coordinator and a plan to downgrade and absorb the coordinator’s office into the agency’s economic section are just the first moves in a process that will end with cyber diplomacy gaining rather than losing prominence, a top State official told lawmakers Tuesday

State Plans to Elevate Cyber Mission, Despite Shuttering Dedicated Office

Joseph Marks, Nextgov, September 26, 2017

  • The Global Engagement Center is working aggressively to win the war of ideas that underpin terrorism. That must include addressing the entire eco-system of thought that justifies and supports killing civilians for political ends, as well as intervening against those people who are likely to commit violence. We need to continue working with our interagency colleagues and the tech companies that produce the platforms where terrorists recruit and cultivate followers. We must also remain flexible and agile as trends change and as our enemies adapt.

Written Statement of Irwin Steven Goldstein, Nominee for Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Senate Foreign Relations Committee, November 1, 2017


  • . . . [Ahmed] Younis and other members of the team believed the key to understanding both threats was understanding how people are persuaded into beliefs online, and knowing how to counter those messages in speeches, on social media, and on the ground, with help from grassroots organizations. He also believed the GEC could act as the connective tissue between government agencies—from the Department of Defense to the State Department—that had already confronted the issue.

The State Department’s Fumbled Fight Against Russian Propaganda

Issie Lapowski, Wired, November 22, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page




[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 Facebook handed over to Congress and 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, Washington Post, October 5, 2017


  • Russian operatives set up an array of misleading Web sites and social media pages to identify American voters susceptible to propaganda, then used a powerful Facebook tool to repeatedly send them messages designed to influence their political behavior, say people familiar with the investigation into foreign meddling in the U.S. election.

Russians took a page from corporate America by using Facebook tool to ID and influence voters

Elizabeth Dwoskin, Craig Timberg, and Adam Entous, The Washington Post, October 2, 2017


  • Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations. We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.  We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.

Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution

Office of the Director of National Intelligence, January 6, 2017


Instruments of Informational Power



Today’s diplomacy is deeply intertwined with global communications technologies and platforms. This shift emphasizes the importance of public diplomacy, a term coined in 1965 by Tufts’ Dean of the Fletcher School of Law Edmund Gullion to refer to efforts at forging consensus among nations by molding the public opinions of foreign citizens. In an era of Twitter, ubiquitous connectivity and disinformation bots, the public dimensions of the diplomatic repertoire supersede all others. Effective diplomacy requires a coordinated, multi-platform, public component.

Valuing Public Diplomacy

Shawn Powers, CPD Blog, November 3, 2017


  • . . . a U.S. government-funded, International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX)-implemented program in Ukraine called “Learn to Discern,” which has trained 15,000 people in critical thinking, source evaluation and emotional manipulation. U.S. public diplomacy should have much greater access to such tools, and there is no reason that similar training should not become standard in U.S. high schools and universities.

Russian Disinformation and U.S. Public Diplomacy

Mieczyslaw Boduszynski and Philip Breeden, CPD Blog, November 1, 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

American Diplomacy, Diplomatic Portal, September 29, 2017




  • To date, the U.S. and NATO have focused almost exclusively on defensive measures to counter Russian efforts to destabilize Europe and undermine its collective organizations. What has received almost no attention is the potential to conduct an information campaign against the Kremlin regime. In 2015, the House Armed Services Committee sought to add $30 million to the budget for U.S. Special Operations Command to expand “global inform and influence activities” against Russia and terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS. Much more than this is needed. Moreover, the money should go to creating programs dedicated to discrediting the Russian regime. A new U.S. Information Agency would be a good place to start.

NATO Needs a Long-Term Strategy to Counter Russia

Daniel Goure, RealClearDefense, October 4, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page




One thing is clear: the Donald Trump who came to power promising to drain the D.C. swamp has so far not done much when it comes to the well-known quagmire at the BBG.
Part I: Trump’s Big Fail (So Far) at the BBG/VOA

Dan Robinson, CPD Blog, November 17, 2017


  • Other than those hysterical reports warning of an oncoming Trump takeover of the BBG, neither the president nor any senior administration official has spoken publicly about how they view the BBG and the role they expect it to play in what has been called “the new information war.”

Part II: Trump’s Big Fail (So Far) at the BBG/VOA

Dan Robinson, CPD Blog, November 17, 2017


  • A team of journalists sit at video mixing desks preparing bulletins ‘Kremlin-style’ in London’s Millbank Tower.  State-of-the-art equipment allows for slick graphics that mimic the output of international news broadcasters.  Russia Today is a direct mouthpiece for the government and its global operations are funded by the Kremlin.

Putin’s lying machine: Revealed, how Russia’s spewing out ruthless propaganda from a Moscow-funded TV station – right next to Westminster
Neal Tweedie, The Daily Mail, November 14, 2017


  • The editor-in-chief of Russia Today, the propaganda arm of the Russian government, said on Thursday that American members of its staff are quitting in their “masses” because of security concerns, appearing to suggest they were at threat of U.S. law enforcement action. * * * It has become so tough for the news site to operate in the U.S. that “it’s hard for us now even to find a stringer in the USA,” Simonyan said.

‘We Can’t Even Hire A Stringer’: Russia Today Says Its U.S. Staff Leaving In ‘Masses’

Jack Moore, Newsweek, October 16, 2017


  • Alphabet Inc.’s Google recently removed Russia Today from a package of premium YouTube video inventory that the company sells to advertisers, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Google Yanks Russia Today From Premium YouTube Program

Mark Bergen, Bloomberg, October 3, 2017


  • It wouldn’t be outlandish to say that Al Jazeera is a political project masquerading in the guise of journalism.

How a TV Station Put Qatar on the Map

Hihal Khashan, Middle East Forum, October 1, 2017


  • President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of Russia’s Security Council on Friday that Russian media outlets working abroad were facing growing and unacceptable pressure, Dmitry Peskov, his spokesman, said.* * * Earlier this week, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Washington of putting unwarranted pressure on the U.S operations of Kremlin-backed media outlet RT, and warned that Moscow could take tit-for-tat measures.

Putin complains Russian media abroad face unacceptable pressure

Reuters, September 29, 2017


  • Russia’s commanding position in Belarusian electronic media weakened around 2010, when three main Russian TV channels broadcasting in Belarus were turned into hybrid Belarusian-Russian stations. Today, the newscasts aired on these channels are exclusively Belarusian, and there are several Minsk-based talk shows; but 65 percent of the overall content is still produced in Moscow.

Belarus Shows Three Important Signs of Change

Grigory Loffe, Jamestown Foundation, September 27, 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, September 25, 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


  • 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, in their broad contours, resembled the one that gathered around Merkel. They often involved conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods . . . 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


Return to the Top of the Page




  • As violent extremist organizations (VEOs) continue to conduct violent acts in East Africa, the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UDPF) are working with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa to mature their use of psychological operations to counter these atrocities.

Ugandan military forces mature skills in psychological operation to counter VEOs

Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond, Dvids, August 18, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page


Professional Topics



  • Governments around the world have dramatically increased their efforts to manipulate information on social media over the past year. The Chinese and Russian regimes pioneered the use of surreptitious methods to distort online discussions and suppress dissent more than a decade ago, but the practice has since gone global.  Such state-led interventions present a major threat to the notion of the internet as a liberating technology.  [Report]

Freedom on the Net 2017: Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy

Freedom House, November 2017


  • By now, the world is well aware of how Russia used armies of bots and online commentary to manipulate information on social media and spread disinformation during the United States’ 2016 presidential campaign.  Less well known is how those methods have spread internationally, with dozens of countries, including the Philippines, Turkey and Sudan, using social media to suppress dissenting voices and promote an anti-democratic agenda.

Government-controlled ‘keyboard’ armies now a global phenomenon, new report says

Sabra Ayres, Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2017



  • Russia’s Defense Ministry has drafted legislation to ban social-media posts by professional military personnel on security grounds.  The bill was published on October 4 on the federal portal for draft legal regulations.  An explanatory note accompanying the draft says that the restrictions are necessary because photos, videos, and other material uploaded to the Internet can be used by special services of foreign states and terrorist organizations. It also says that automatic geolocation can show where soldiers are deployed.

Russian Soldiers Face Ban On Social-Media Posts

RadioFreeEurope, October 5, 2017


  • Some accounts that Facebook Inc. has said appear to be tied to Russian entities and bought ads around the U.S. election continued to post divisive messages as recently as this past August, according to saved versions of the now-deleted pages.  “Secured Borders,” a Facebook page that the social-media giant told congressional investigators bought ads during the presidential campaign last year, posted messages after the election that called for killing Muslims and that labeled illegal immigrants as “rapists, murderers, child molesters,” according to cached versions of the page. . . . “Blacktivist,” another Facebook page that bought ads during the campaign, posted videos that allegedly showed police violence toward blacks.

Russia-Linked Facebook Pages Pushed Divisions After Election, Including on Charlottesville

Georgia Wells, The Wall Street Journal, October 3, 2017


  • Depending on how they are presented, ads on provocative topics, such as the ones the Russian actors purchased, can have a wide reach at a low cost if the messages go viral or gain traction among their target audience, according to ad buyers. In particular, getting a lot of shares appears to drive down the cost, ad buyers have said. This could explain why the Russian actors paid so little for some of the ads.

Facebook Estimates 10 Million Users Saw Russian-Backed Ads

Georgia Wells and Natalie Andrews, The Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2017


  • YouTube is in hot water with conservative users and creators, with the Google-owned video giant accused of discriminating against the right as YouTube takes ads off content that it says violates the terms of service.

Online right fumes after YouTube ad crackdown

Ali Breland, The Hill, September 30, 2017


  • Thousands of Twitter accounts linked to the Kremlin were churning out material designed to splinter America along political, racial and religious lines yesterday, even as tech executives arrived at Capitol Hill to field questions on Russian meddling in last year’s US election.  An analysis of 600 Twitter accounts linked by the German Marshall Fund, a think tank, to the Russian government has provided the most vivid insight yet into how the Kremlin is seeking to use social media to undermine western societies.

Russian campaign on Twitter and Facebook aims to splinter America

Rhys Blakely, The Times, September 29, 2017


  • The uptick in fake Antifa accounts claiming to belong to the current anti-fascist movement can be a minefield for internet explorers looking for a safe place to talk about punching Nazis and resisting fascism. These accounts reportedly aim to troll and spread misinformation, or, in the case of the @AntifaBoston account, apparently reveal that they aren’t actually operated out of the US, but in Vladivostok, Russia.

A Fake Antifa Account Was ‘Busted’ for Tweeting from Russia

Beckett Mufson, Vice, September 28, 2017


  • In the West, governments have sought to let citizens freely and openly engage with cyberspace – for trade, culture, and civic discourse. Others, such as Russia and China, see the internet as a powerful tool to consolidate their power domestically and a threat to their sovereignty internationally. But doing so disregards the economic, social, and cultural globalization that the internet has helped manifest.

The Global Commons is a Great Good

Chris Inglis, The Cipher Brief, September 26, 2017


  • A new UN report on the state of broadband says 1.5 billion more people use the internet today than in 2010, but 52% of the world’s population still lacks access. Of people without internet, 62% live in Asia and the Pacific Islands, and 18% in Africa.

52% of the world does not have internet access

Erica Pandey, Axios, September 18, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page


  1. CYBER


  • Russian-language bots create roughly 70% of all Russian messages about NATO in the Baltic States and Poland. Overall, 60% of active Russian-language accounts seem to be automated. In comparison, 39% of accounts tweeting in English are bots. They created 52% of all English-language messages in the period August–October. Our data suggest Twitter is less effective at removing automatically generated Russian content than it is for English material. Nonetheless, we have seen improvement in social media policing by the platform. [Report]

Robotrolling 2017, Issue 2

NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence, 2017


  • The Trump administration soon will complete the final draft of a broad “cyber deterrence strategy” that will recognize that no single agency or country can do this alone. The White House believes this requires a “portfolio approach,” said White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce.  The strategy will emphasize international alliances and collaboration between government agencies, said Joyce, who is one of the administration’s foremost authorities on cybersecurity, having spent 27 years at the NSA.

Trump cyberwar strategy calls for whole-of-government response

Sandra Erwin, SpaceNews, October 3, 2017


  • The Trump administration seems to want it both ways on cybersecurity policy. On one hand, the White House has ordered the State Department to study and report on the United States’s “international engagement strategy” for cyber issues, signalling it takes the issue seriously. Yet Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s ongoing State Department reorganization hobbles U.S. cyber diplomacy by downgrading the central coordination office for international outreach on cyber issues.

Is the State Department Reorganization Undermining Cyber Diplomacy?

Garrett Hinck, Lawfare, October 3, 3017


  • The UN’s recent failure to proscribe cyber warfare has left government officials and legal experts in Europe divided over whether existing laws are sufficient or new ones are needed to contain the threat.  Despite documents such as the NATO-sponsored Tallinn Manual of 2013 that aims to demonstrate how existing international laws should apply to cyber conflicts, this is not enough, they said.

UN’s failure to frame cyberspace norms leaves officials split over cyber warfare

Brooks Tigner, Jane’s 360, September 28, 2017


  • . . . the good news is that most bots ― and their close cousins, “sockpuppets” and “trolls” ― exhibit some clear tell-tale signs. What follows is a list of those signs, based on our research into bots, sockpuppets, and disinformation on Twitter. With these signs, anyone can spot a bot, and resist the spread of disinformation online.

Spot a Bot: Identifying Automation and Disinformation on Social Media

Bill Fitzgerald and Kris Shaffer, Data For Democracy, June 5, 2017




  • . . . many efforts to counter terrorist propaganda and the use of the Internet have been announced but have yet to achieve much progress. In the United States, it was only in June that the government released its first domestic grants for those purposes.

On counterterrorism, we’re still fighting the last war

Washington Examiner, October 2, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page




  • Have you ever wondered whether you have fallen prey to a Russian misinformation campaign? Soon, you will be able to find out.

Were You a Victim of Russian Propaganda? Facebook Will Help You Find Out

Sheera Frenkel, The New York Times, November 22, 2017


  • New revelations show that fake Russian Twitter accounts published at least 45,000 messages about Brexit ahead of the referendum, most of them calling on British voters to reject the European Union. Data analysts from Swansea University and the University of California, Berkeley, tracked down more than 156,000 fake Twitter accounts based in Russia.  According to their study, these accounts published a huge number of tweets devoted to the Brexit vote, including 45,000 messages in the 48 hours preceding the vote. The fake accounts also included numerous tweets aimed at fanning anti-Muslim sentiment in the United Kingdom.

Figure of the Week: 45,000

EU vs Disinfo, 21 November 2017


  • Ladies and Gents, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few of the players who are NOT playing or aren’t playing enough.

US Efforts to Counter Russian Disinformation and Propaganda

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, November 17, 2017


  • Disinformation campaigns, otherwise known as cyber propaganda, cognitive hacking, information warfare, and the more common “fake news,” have roots in history but are increasingly relevant, and dangerous, as actors manipulate Web tools to sway public opinion.

Cognitive Mindhacks: How Attackers Spread Disinformation Campaigns

Kelly Sheridan, DARKReading, November 6, 2017


Donald J. Trump, October 5, 2017


  • Fake news is back in a big way and threatening to distort the official version of events in Las Vegas, after Facebook and Google both promoted fallacious online stories that the shooter was an anti-Trump ‘liberal’.

Fake News on Vegas Shooter Embarrasses Google and Facebook

Phil Muncaster, Infosecurity, October 3, 2017


  • Disinformation campaigns leveraging social media are a powerful, yet not very expensive, weapon. Russia’s infamous Olgino troll factory was created several years ago. Given the egregious corruption in Russia’s defense industry, setting up Olgino cost a lot less than designing and building next-generation missiles. Coupled with Russia’s non-internet media empire, both domestic and overseas, Putin has a powerful megaphone allowing him to spread mistrust, confusion, and fear far and wide. The West has had difficulty adjusting.

Make America Vigilant Again

Karina Orlova, The American Interest, September 29, 2017


  • What can be concluded from the examples above is that the government-controlled disinformation campaign goes hand in hand with corruption. Apparently, when journalism starts selling out with regards to being independent and critical, other parts of the professional ethics and integrity are also likely to be abandoned.

Corruption and disinformation: Backstage at Russian television

EU vs Disinfo, September 25, 2017


  • In addition to ensuring that Soldiers are not putting out unauthorized communications or social media posts that adversely affect operations, Commanders also need to be aware of adversary disinformation campaigns. Environments characterized by hybrid-style operations are most prone to military deception and other disinformation campaigns. The adversary often manipulates social media sentiment as ways of multiplying their force projection and as a means to sow confusion amongst U.S. and allied forces.

Russian New Generation Warfare Handbook

The Asymmetric Warfare Group, December 2016




  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared at the presidential palace here Monday, praising a country that once clashed with Soviet forces to preserve its independence for now establishing a new center dedicated to countering the unconventional forms of warfare that Russia is fond of using. Mattis called the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats that Finland established earlier this year “an institution fit for our times.”

In Finland, Mattis backs creation of a hybrid warfare center focused on Russia

Dan Lamothe, The Washington Post, November 6, 2017


  • Based in Finland’s capital Helsinki, the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats launched on Monday to research “hybrid war” — the strategic use of diplomacy, politics, media, cyberspace and military to destabilize and undermine an opponent’s government.

Finland opens new center to fight ‘hybrid threats’ from Russia

Reid Standish, USA Today, October 4, 2017




  • . . . Russian doctrine and recent disinformation campaigns exploit the grey-zone concept and have significant implications for future warfare. Firstly, I’ll cover Russian doctrine, then briefly cover similar terms in Western thinking. Secondly, I argue that Russian operations blur the line between war and peace in practice by using disinformation tactics in the public domain. Thirdly, I identify the drivers behind the effectiveness of information operations before lastly looking at the implications for policymakers and warfighters.

A Perpetual Conflict of Ideas?

Miah Hammond-Errey, The Strategy Bridge, September 28, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page




  • . . . the Kremlin is clearly screwing with us. But the response to information campaigns does not necessarily have to be in the information space. Indeed there is nothing more the Kremlin would like than to go meme to meme, message to message. * * * the Kremlin . . . needs the media fireworks of a verbal conflict with the West to distract from its own failures domestically and to give it meaning, but it is also reliant on the very same West for advertising to fund its hate speech-filled television channels, for technology to extract its oil, and for banks and law courts to protect its elite’s investments. These are the spots to target. If this were a war, after all, you would never engage the enemy in the battle he desires. There are more painful measures to take against his active measures.

Beware the Russian Elephant

Peter Pomerantsev, The American Interest, November 20, 2017


  • Long before the 2016 presidential elections in the United States, Russia was engaged in an effort to subvert European democracies through the tactical deployment of “weaponized information.” * * * if sufficient political will coalesces, here are three concrete, albeit politically difficult, actions that policymakers should consider undertaking: 1. Stop treating the Russian digital assault exclusively as an international problem to be addressed by our foreign policy institutions. * * * 2. The United States and its allies must complement their defensive strategy with an offensive strategy. * * * 3. The United States should lead in starting an international conversation at the United Nations about the rules that will govern the use of weaponized information.

Is the U.S. serious about countering Russia’s information war on democracies?

Thomas M. Hill, Brookings, November 21, 2017


  • Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov, former Deputy of the State Duma, former head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the State Duma, is on the attack.  He gave an interview to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, RG, in which he says Russia must now defend itself against information warfare from the West.
    Russia: Legislation adopted in Russia is a means of protecting our media

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, November 21, 2017


  • Russia’s information warfare operations, aimed to weaken adversaries’ social cohesion and political systems, are complex and adaptive, but Western governments can take steps to guard against them. [Report]

Countering Russian Information Operations in the Age of Social Media

Council on Foreign Relations, November 21, 2017


  • Here is Russia’s latest missive to blame the West, notably Google, for protecting themselves from Russian Information Warfare. Notice the Whataboutism . . .

‘Google’s plan to isolate Russian media is an act of information warfare’

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, November 21, 2017


  • Every organization measures itself by key performance indicators (KPIs) and the Russians are no different. . . . The Russian active measures team is no doubt taking high-fives for its successes against these KPIs.  KPI 1 – Shape the U.S. election discourse and feed divisiveness into the United States. * * * KPI 2 – Framing the dialogue via ads and fictitious personas. * * * KPI 3 – Divide the United States and NATO. * * * KPI 4 – Silence opposition both foreign and domestic. * * *

Russia: Skilled Political Warfare Adversary

Christopher Burgess, Security Boulevard, November 7, 2017


  • Russia is attempting to discredit the legitimacy of Western institutions and to undermine the sovereignty of its adversaries, particularly the United States. Russian efforts to hack Western elections, plant fake news on a wide variety of websites, bribe foreign politicians and create faux political scandals is meant largely to weaken the credibility of Western institutions.

NATO Needs a Long-Term Strategy to Counter Russia

Daniel Goure, RealClearDefense, October 4, 2017


  • Many, indeed perhaps most, of the most disruptive cyber attacks on the United States in the past years have been more about the impact of the use of information, not from the specifically cyber elements . . . the [North Korean] attack on Sony . . . the Russian attack on the Democratic National Committee, whose emails were then released to throw off the course of the 2016 presidential election.  Indeed, information may turn out to be a more important organizing principle than cyber; certainly this is what China and Russia both seem to believe. [Michael] Sulmeyer writes that, “[m]aybe it’s time we get away from using “cyber” as the description of what needs to be done, and instead think about what an Information Warfare Command would look like.”

Cyber Command Is Growing Up. Now For the Real Issue.

Jason Healey, The Cipher Brief, October 1, 2017


  • There is no way to win in an information war by resorting to a quick-draw gunfight. Methodical, truthful, fair, objective, unbiased, reasoned, and well rounded information must be provided to the population. Educating the population and exposing an adversary’s propaganda, whether lies, distortions, bias, deceit, or denial is most important.

How to tackle Russia’s propaganda machinery

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, September 30, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page




  • Right now the populists have a story to tell the country about what’s gone wrong. It’s a coherent story, which they tell with great conviction. The regular Republicans have no story, no conviction and no argument. They just hem and haw and get run over.

The Philosophical Assault on Trumpism

David Brooks, The New York Times, October 3, 2017


  • We have an American narrative. It is a story of high aspirations that aren’t always met. It begins with the Constitution, our operating manual. That document enumerates our rights, and so makes it clear, for example, that knocking down a reporter, or silencing a university speaker, is un-American.

American Narrative

Tom Ricks, Weaponized Narrative Initiative, August 10, 2017


  • How does weaponized narrative work?  A fast-moving information deluge is the ideal battleground for this kind of warfare – for guerrillas and terrorists as well as adversary states. A firehose of narrative attacks gives the targeted populace little time to process and evaluate. It is cognitively disorienting and confusing – especially if the opponents barely realize what’s hitting them. Opportunities abound for emotional manipulation undermining the opponent’s will to resist.

What is Weaponized Narrative?

Weaponized Narrative Initiative




  • “One of the most interesting things over the last few years has been the increasing focus on advertising technology, with the likes of tracking software and chatbots. Those solutions are not necessarily a silver bullet, but the way they approach audience identification and segmentation, and message delivery, there are a lot of lessons being learned. We should be looking very closely at that.” The NCTC representative also pointed to developments now being made in artificial intelligence and machine-learning, calling them a potential “game changer” for CVE over the next few years.

Governments embrace machine-learning to counter online extremism

Richard de Silva, Defence IQ, September 25, 2017




  • The most straightforward way to characterize the evolving U.S. approach is to say that Washington decided not to have a specific policy toward Islamists. Within the administration, there was a recognition that the agenda of these groups varied considerably from country to country. . . . Having a policy toward Islamism, understood as a broad ideological tradition, seemed unwise since U.S. policy is generally formulated—for better or worse—in terms of American interests in specific countries.

How America Changed Its Approach to Political Islam

Shadi Hamid, Peter Mandaville, and William McCants, The Atlantic, October 4, 2017


  • Policy Exchange’s new report provides a comprehensive analysis of the struggle against online jihadist extremism – what we call “the new Netwar”. This issue is vital to UK national security and there is a danger that the blood and treasure we are investing in defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria will produce little more than a pyrrhic victory unless we act to defeat the virtual threat. [Report]

The New Netwar: Countering Extremism Online

Martyn Frampton, Ali Fisher, Nico Prucha, Policy Exchange, 2017




  • More than three quarters of British jihadists have been involved with non-violent Islamist groups before turning to foreign fighting and carrying out terrorist attacks, a report has indicated.  Islamist groups have acted as a recruitment pool for dozens of jihadists who have gone on to join al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other terrorist groups, according to research by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

Tony Blair institute finds that non-violent Islamist groups serve as recruitment pool for jihadists

Fiona Hamilton, The Sunday Times, September 30, 2017


  • The following discussion maps the political, religious, racial or ideological media publications, to use the British legal definition cited above, that terrorists assembled before they carried out or attempted to carry out their attacks. [Report]

What Types of Media Do Terrorists Collect?

Donald Holbrook, ICCT, September 2017


Return to the Top of the Page




  • . . . outside the communist world communism hurt no country more than India. If the subcontinental giant houses more poor people . . . than any other country, it’s in part because India’s leaders — like so many others in the post-colonial world — looked upon the Russian Revolution with fondness rather than horror.  Deeply influenced by both Fabian socialism and the Soviet experience of industrialization, India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru . . . and his daughter, Indira Gandhi . . . turned India into one of the most dirigiste economies outside the formally communist world.

Communism didn’t just hurt communist countries

Sadanand Dhume, American Enterprise Institute, November 20, 2017


The Kremlin . . . was “clearly rattled by Oswald’s Soviet connection.” So, how to dispel that notion? Kalugin explained their orders: “We were told to put forward the line that Oswald could have been involved in a conspiracy with American reactionaries displeased with the president’s recent efforts to improve relations with Russia.” And so, said Kalugin, “I spoke with all my intelligence assets, including Russian correspondents and various U.N. employees, and told them to spread the official Soviet line. In the end, our campaign succeeded.”

The Kremlin, LBJ, and the JFK Assassination

Paul Kengor, The American Conservative, November 8, 2017


  • . . . 45 Nazi lawyers sailed for New York under the auspices of the Association of National Socialist German Jurists. The trip was a reward for the lawyers . . . . The announced purpose of the visit was to gain “special insight into the workings of American legal and economic life through study and lectures,”

What America Taught the Nazis

Ira Katznelson, The Atlantic, November 2017 Issue


  • Disinformation has long been a Russian strategy to manipulate its own citizens and to undermine U.S. democracy. During the Cold War, the U.S. government took concrete measures to identify and combat propaganda filled with Marxist rhetoric and improbable claims, and Americans’ ability to recognize such propaganda became central to the country’s defeat of the Soviet Union. Yet President Vladimir Putin has found considerable success by waging a new version of the old propaganda war with the West. Russia’s global messaging today is nimbler, subtler and better funded, giving the Kremlin an edge in advancing its expansionist goals.

Why Americans Keep Falling For Russian Propaganda

In Homeland Security, September 13, 2017




  • People who gaslight typically use the following techniques:  1. They tell blatant lies. * * * 2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof. * * * 3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition. * * * 4. They wear you down over time. * * * 5. Their actions do not match their words. * * * 6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you. * * * 7. They know confusion weakens people. * * * 8. They project. * * * 9. They try to align people against you. * * * 10. They tell you or others that you are crazy. * * * 11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting in Relationships

Stephanie Sarkis, Psychology Today, January 22. 2017


Return to the Top of the Page




  • Diplomacy is not a one man show: to look at the press, it seems the world revolves around the secretary and the president. Yet, their visits and their achievements require preparation, from the commercial deals that the president tallies to the joint statements that Tillerson issues. Often, a good set-up means the secretary and president can conclude a deal, but it doesn’t just materialize when their airplanes touch down. After wheels-up, their actions require follow-up with allies and adversaries, coordination with like-minded nations to reinforce their goals and vigilance to make sure deals are kept and don’t just whither into pieces of yellowed paper. Diplomats fan out across the region and the globe to set up and build on the secretary’s goals. The secretary and president stand on the shoulders of our diplomatic teams.

Diplomacy:  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Just Doesn’t Get It

Ambassador Richard Boucher, The Cipher Brief, November 22, 2017


  • The open societies of the US and free and democratic nations are being subverted by active measures and propaganda to undermine political processes and sow cultural and political divisions to allow closed societies of revisionist and revolutionary powers to dominate in international affairs.  The way to counter this effort is through a grass roots resistance movement that consists of an educated, activist, energetic, and empowered youth who seek to be part of something larger than themselves and validate their self-worth as disruptors of the status quo.  However, the closed societies are challenging their ability to disrupt because active measures and propaganda have taken away their initiative.

The Cyber Underground – Resistance to Active Measures and Propaganda: “The Disruptors” – Motto: “Think For Yourself”

David Maxwell, Small Wars Journal, October 3, 2017




  • The core American idea is not the fortress, it’s the frontier. First, we thrived by exploring a physical frontier during the migration west, and now we explore technological, scientific, social and human frontiers. The core American attitude has been looking hopefully to the future, not looking resentfully toward some receding greatness.

The Philosophical Assault on Trumpism

David Brooks, The New York Times, October 3, 2017


  • The U.S. is now viewed as a positive global force by just 40 percent of respondents, a drop of 24 percentage points from last year and enough to push it below China in world rankings.

Other nations view China more favorably than the US, survey shows

Jeff Cox, CNBC, September 28, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page


Countries, Regions, Case Studies



  • We won’t let the samurai take even the smallest piece of our land,
    We will stand up and protect the capital of amber [Kaliningrad],
    We will save our Sevastopol and Crimea, for the sake of our descendants.

And we will return Alaska to the haven of the motherland.

[includes video]

“We will return Alaska”

EU vs Disinfo, 22 November 2017


  • On November 13, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Russia seeks “to weaponise information” and uses its state-run media outlets to “plant fake stories and Photoshopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the West.”  The answer of the “central figure of the government propaganda“, the anchor of Vesti Nedeli, was in the same vein as when he decided to attack Angela Merkel a few months ago.  The programme’s opening news report about the British Prime Minister came with the headline “News of foreign sex”, with the host reporting that Theresa May would soon join the ranks of Femen activists. Then, both Viking warriors who stripped before battle and naked Femen activists were recalled, before the anchor moved on to saying that May displayed a “generous dose of whiteness of her tired flesh” while delivering her “most aggressive” speech against Russia.

This week on Russian TV: Theresa May targeted after stating that Russia weaponises information

EU vs. Disinfo, November 20, 2017


  • To fight back, the Russian leadership decided it needed a new approach —- to undermine the West’s faith in its own political system. The spearhead was Russia Today. * * * Shekhovtsov identifies three main elements in the Russian disinformation strategy that has evolved. The first is “nudge propaganda,” using fringe activists from the far-right and other groups to promote Russian interests. The second is “narrative laundering,” in effect creating and spreading fake news, with the original source obscured. * * * The third main tactic is selective sourcing.

Russia’s New ‘Useful Idiots’?

Bradley Jardine,, October 6, 2017


  • The Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT’s list of the top ten Russophobes was an odd collection, mixing institutions (NATO and Buzzfeed, in second and ninth place) with individuals, including me and my friend Anne Applebaum—the prize-winning historian of Soviet crimes—tied for fifth place.

How I ended up on the RT “Top Ten Russophobes” list

Edward Lucas, Center for European Policy Analysis, October 3, 2017


  • Opposition presidential candidate Aleksey Navalny says that the Putin regime is increasing repression because it has discovered that its propaganda no longer has the impact it once did.

‘Repression is Increasing Because Propaganda No Longer Works,’ Navalny Says

Paul Globe, Window on Eurasia-NewSeries, September 30, 2017


  • Most Russians live in an information universe that is utterly peculiar and starkly different from most others. Russia’s state-run television commands immense power over Russian minds and most Russians apparently like it. Television would not be that important if people didn’t want it.

News Inside the Bubble

Maxim Trudolyubov, The Russia File, 2017


  • Until now, the Russian tactic of discrediting Ukraine was based on targeted publications in the European or American press used to launch media campaigns against Ukraine. * * * After the US decision to give half a billion in military aid to Kyiv became a fact last summer, targeted information attacks on Ukraine began to subside. Instead the anti-Kyiv strategy began was becoming institutional. For example, targeted publications in the USA or the EU are less and less often used as an information fodder for the Russian press. They are being replaced by exposing reports allegedly written by independent Western research and expert centres, civic initiatives or international associations of investigative journalism.

US military aid to Ukraine: opponents only catching panic

Andrey Starostin,, September 30, 2017


  • The following individuals have done the most to deny the truth about Russia and project a uniquely positive image about Russia to the world. This is usually accomplished with lies, whataboutisms, deception, and deceit, all packaged up in a nice, neat coordinated propaganda message.  If you want it bad, they’ll give it bad, they never disappoint.

Russian Razzie Awards – Top 10 Pro-Russian Individuals and Organizations

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, September 30, 2017


  • Not unlike the way disinformation goes hand in hand with corruption on Russian television, Mr. Kolchin’s testimony underlines how disinformation also correlates with a culture of strict government censorship. This triangle of systemic problems – corruption, censorship and disinformation – challenges professional integrity among employees and undermines the trustworthiness of these media’s total output.

Political censorship in Russian comedy shows

EU vs Disinfo, September 29, 2017


  • Russian law currently requires all media outlets, print and electronic, that issue materials in non-Russian languages to translate them into Russian, a requirement that adds to the burdens of the editors of these publications and puts them at risk of major fines if they do not comply.

Finno-Ugric Nations Challenge Law Requiring Non-Russian News Be Translated into Russian

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia-New Series, September 30, 2017


  • The following individuals have done the most to counter Russian disinformation, propaganda, and lies than anyone else.

Counter-Russian Top Ten

Joel Harding, To inform is to Influence, September 30, 2017


  1. SPAIN


  • This past week, Russian media and Kremlin-friendly dissidents have been using the upcoming Catalonian referendum on independence from Spain to spread propaganda to bring sympathy to the Separatists.

Russia, Wikileaks and Ed Snowden Are Lying About Upcoming Catalan Independence Vote

Jeremy Fassler, The Daily Banter, September 26, 2017




  • Drawing on its high-tech prowess and unprecedented social media opportunities, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has strongly embraced new media channels to reach millions of viewers directly, including in the Arab world.  Ofir Gendelman, Netanyahu’s spokesman for the Arab media, told in recent years “Israel has become a powerhouse of public diplomacy directed at the Arab world.”

Israel’s efforts to directly engage with Arab population

Ariel Ben Solomon, Heritage, September 29, 2017




  • All the scenes featuring U.S. policy makers are the same, with smoke and fire around the U.S. leaders, and the video plays on the dismay and skepticism of U.S. officials about the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s elite unit also makes an appearance in the video. The fighters can be seen conducting marksmanship training, shooting drills, grenade tosses, and vehicle interdictions. One Taliban commander states that Afghanistan doesn’t need democracy. The video is the latest attempt by the Taliban to highlight the U.S. as tired and weary of the war in Afghanistan.

New Taliban propaganda video features Trump calling Afghanistan a ‘complete disaster’

Shawn Snow, Military Times, September 28, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page


  1. IRAN


  • Iran is stepping up its media and influence efforts across the broader Middle East in worrisome ways, the top U.S. commander in the region said. “One of the key things that we see here is their [Iran’s] use of cyber capabilities to manipulate the information environment,” Gen. Joseph Votel, who leads U.S. Central Command, said Wednesday . . . . “This is where you see the most significant influence of these actors in this particular space. Their ability to use cyberspace to manipulate information, propagate a message is a key aspect of what see.”

US Military Leaders Worry About Iran’s Media Operations

Patrick Tucker, Defense One, September 15, 2017




  • As many commentators have argued, much of the extraordinary success of IS in recruiting foreign fighters stemmed from their more explicitly apocalyptic vision of the struggle against the enemies of Islam. Swift military success was followed by the restoration of the Caliphate and pronouncements of the imminent and final global triumph of Islam. The military defeat of IS is surely a refutation of that prophecy and will seriously demoralise its supporters. Decades of social scientific studies of similar failures of prophecy says otherwise.

The Failure of Prophecy and the Future of IS

Lorne L. Dawson, ICCT, September 2017


  1. CHINA


  • . . . the communications service Skype has disappeared from Apple’s app store and other download sites in China. The New York Times reports (paywall) that an Apple spokesperson said that the company had been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that “a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law,” forcing them to remove the apps.

A Cyber Czar falls to earth

SupChina, November 21, 2017


  • China’s overseas influence operations to pressure foreign media have become much more assertive. In some cases, even without direct pressure by Chinese entities, Western media companies now self-censor out of deference to Chinese sensitivity.  [Report]

U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission – 2017 Annual Report, Chapter 3, Section 5
November 15, 2017


  • . . . the iconic Walt Disney Company, which for almost a century has symbolized the United States and its ideals, is kowtowing to the world’s most powerful autocrat.

The Not-So-Magic Kingdom

Martha Bayles, The American Interest, November 6, 2017


  • After years of being known as one of the dirtiest countries on the planet, China is now making a concerted effort to re-brand itself as a proponent of green energy. This forms part of a wider, multi-channel effort to boost its global soft power that encompasses everything from building new language institutes to trying to head major UN bodies.

China’s Image Campaign: Green on the Outside, Black on the Inside?

Kenneth Szabo, Modern Diplomacy, September 30, 2017


  • . . . what obligations do we have, all of us, if we are chatting on China’s internet? Here is Article 4: . . . “Providers of information services through internet chat groups on the internet, and users, must adhere to correct guidance, promoting socialist core values, fostering a positive and healthy online culture, and protecting a favorable online ecology.”  This piece of devilry is one of the most specific indications we have yet of the Party’s atomization and personalization of censorship, of the way the relationship between propaganda and the public is being transformed by digital communications.

The Great Hive of Propaganda

David Bandurski, Medium, September 15, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page




  • As for last week’s defector, when he woke up from surgery this week, he is reported to have asked to listen to South Korean songs and watch American movies — a small taste of freedom long denied.
    The Parasites Feeding on North Korea

Brian H. Hook, The New York Times, November 24, 2017


  • The Lazarus Group, the North Korean hacking team thought to be behind last year’s attacks on the SWIFT financial network and the devastating data breach at Sony in 2014, appears to be expanding its attack surface.

North Korea’s Lazarus Group Evolves Tactics, Goes Mobile

Jai Vijayan, InformationWeek Dark Reading, November 20, 2017


  • The United States, unlike North Korea, remains highly vulnerable to cyber-campaigns aimed at swaying public opinion — as evidenced by Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections. A combination of inadequate cybersecurity measures, heavy reliance on the Internet, a hands-off state and extensive private sector exposure makes the United States an easy target.

Would cyberattacks be likely in a U.S.-North Korea conflict? Here’s what we know.

Nadiya Kostyuk and Yuri M. Zhukov, The Washington Post, November 21, 2017


  • The cyber-attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 made it clear that the nation had developed its cyber warfare capabilities much more than had been realized until then.  But now it appears that North Korea has set its sights on loftier goals, perhaps spreading chaos and even damage worldwide through a well-placed series of cyber-attacks on defense targets, industry and media.

North Korea Getting Ready Wage a Global Cyber War, Experts Say

Wayne Rash, eWeek, November 15, 2017


  • There is a mysterious cyber-army allegedly built by North Korea that has been attacking targets in South Korea and around the world for the last several years.That army is a little less mysterious to security researcher Ashley Shen, who gave a deep dive talk on the tactics and tools used by the North Korean hackers in a session at the SecTor security conference . . .
    Researcher Provides Insight Into North Korea Cyber-Army Tactics

Sean Michael Kerner, eWeek, November 15, 2017


  • The U.S. government on Tuesday issued a technical alert about cyber attacks it said are sponsored by the North Korean government that have targeted the aerospace, telecommunications and financial industries since 2016.

U.S. government shares technical details on North Korean hacking campaign

Dustin Volz, Reuters, November 14, 2017


  • It’s just another day with just another radio station transmission getting hijacked. This time, unknown intruders compromised the transmission of a short-wave radio station 6400kHz in North Korea to run “The Final Countdown” song by Swedish rock band Europe, released in 1986.
    Someone hacked N. Korean Radio Station to Play “The Final Countdown”

Waqas, HackRead, November 14, 2017


  • He’s hacked into numerous jihadist websites. He’s even defaced the official website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the message, “Stop attacking Americans.”  Now, the shadowy hacker known as ‘The Jester’ has broken into North Korea.  Just last week, North Koreans living along the northern border were treated to a different sort of broadcast.
    A Hacker Breaks Into a North Korean Radio Station — Then Starts Trolling

Paul Resnikoff, Digital Music News, November 12, 2017


  • . . . North Korea is still the least Internet-friendly country on Earth. Access to the global Internet for most is unimaginable. Hardly anyone has a personal computer or an email address that isn’t shared, and the price for trying to get around the government’s rules can be severe.  But for Kim Jong Un . . . the idea of a more wired North Korea is also attractive. It comes with the potential for great benefits to the nation from information technology — and for new forms of social and political control that promise to be more effective than anything his father and grandfather could have dreamed of. It also allows for the possibility of cyber-attacks on the West.

North Korea’s digital divide: Online elites, isolated masses

Eric Talmadge, Associated Press, November 11, 2017


  • As the US reportedly conducts a denial-of-service attack against North Korea’s access to the Internet, the regime of Kim Jong Un has gained another connection to help a select few North Koreans stay connected to the wider world—thanks to a Russian telecommunications provider.

As US launches DDoS attacks, N. Korea gets more bandwidth—from Russia

Sean Gallagher, ArsTechnica, October 2, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page


  • A major Russian telecommunications company appears to have begun providing an Internet connection to North Korea. The new link supplements one from China and will provide back-up to Pyongyang at a time the US government is reportedly attacking its Internet infrastructure and pressuring China to end all business with North Korea.

Russia Provides New Internet Connection to North Korea

Martyn Williams, RealClearDefense, October 2, 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. [Report]

Preparing for the Possibility of a North Korean Collapse

Bruce W. Bennett, Rand Corporation, 2013


  • . . . 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

Jeff Kim, Bush Institute, September 27, 2017


  • North Korean state media has released a new video depicting the destruction of US aircraft and warships and warning that any attack on the North will see US forces “head to the grave”.

North Korea ‘blows up US aircraft carrier and jets’ in new propaganda video

Julian Ryall, Telegraph, September 25, 2017


  • Previous reports had suggested the North Korean internet was significantly larger, with as many as 5,500 websites. But when access to the country’s web was briefly available this week, the GitHub users found just 28 North Korean domains.

North Korea’s internet revealed to have just 28 websites

Cara McGoogan, The Telegraph, September 21, 2017




  • At the tactical level, Thai counterinsurgency used large-scale irregular forces, the Thahan Phran, supported by special operations forces, massive local indoctrination efforts, and offers of amnesty.

Is There a Thai Way of Counterinsurgency?

Zachary Griffiths, Real Clear Defense, September 29, 2017


Return to the Top of the Page




  • Each year, approximately 300,000 foreign nationals from more than 200 countries and territories are sponsored by organizations designated by the U.S. Department of State to study, teach, conduct research or take part in internships and on-the-job training programs here in the United States. Not to be confused with the H-1B Visa, the J-1 is a temporary, non-immigrant visa.

Cultural Exchange: The Intangible Benefits

Kathy Artus, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, October 2, 2017


  • . . . the [J] visas provide an opportunity for cross-cultural education and training. The idea is that when visitors return home, they bring with them the American values they were exposed to during their stay. Many J-1 visas go to young people who develop an appreciation for life and culture in the U.S. They become America’s de facto ambassadors and advocates abroad.

The U.S. Makes Ambassadors of Visitors

Michael Polt and Kim Davis, The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2017




  • Schuyler Korban, UMass-Boston’s vice provost for global programs, traveled to Beijing in October 2013 . . . . In an ensuing memorandum of understanding, the universities agreed to promote student and faculty exchanges, “transnational research,” symposia, and other joint activities.  In this heyday of academic globalization, such partnerships are increasingly common. This one, though, had an unusual aspect, of which Korban says he had “no inkling” at the time. . . . . [University of International Relations] is affiliated with and partly funded by the Ministry of State Security, China’s spy agency. American diplomats have described UIR as the ministry’s “elite institute for preparing its new recruits.”

When spies target Boston’s universities

Daniel Golden, The Boston Globe, September 30, 2017




  • With so many reasons to worry that the center may not hold in American life, baseball steps into the breach. If you’re ever losing faith in this country, go to a game. It may cure you. The national pastime reminds us that there’s nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed by what’s right about America.

Baseball is a Salve for our Nation’s Wounds

Jame Hohmann, Washington Post, October 6, 2017





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


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


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


Edited by

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

Henry L. Tucker, University of Mary Washington, Assistant



One thought on “Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#89) November 27, 2017

Comments are closed.