Information operations · Information Warfare · Public Diplomacy · Strategic Communications

Information, Communication, and Public Diplomacy (#92) July 15, 2018, Seen on the Web 4123-5332

Edited by

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

Carter T. McCausland, Virginia Military Institute, Assistant


Must Reads

In the News


Instruments of Informational Power


Professional Topics

  4. CYBER

Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  2. CHINA




Must Reads

  • All these adversaries, however, propagate ideas that challenge the norms that undergird peace, stability, order, democracy, and prosperity. Ideas must engage ideas, so it’s time for the parts of the U.S. government that deploy informational power to work together. Unifying them is a bridge too far. Something more simple—aligning—would be a good start.

DIME not DiME: Aligning the Instruments of U.S. Informational Power

Donald M. Bishop, The Strategy Bridge, June 20, 2018

  • . . . other countries and malign actors are now adapting and improving on Russia’s methodology, notably including China which now runs disinformation campaigns and influence operations in Taiwan, Australia and other neighboring countries and is working to acquire information technology assets and data sets across Asia, Europe and the United States. While the Trump Administration has taken some important sanctions steps to punish Russia for past actions and to harden our electoral infrastructure, it has not launched the kind of Presidentially-led, whole-of-government effort that is needed to protect our democracy and security from malign state actors who are intent on weaponizing information and the internet.

Statement for the Record

Victoria Nuland, CEO, Center for a New American Security, June 20, 2018

In the News


House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hearing: “Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World” June 14, 2018

  • Compounding the challenge, authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China are aggressively attacking democracies across the globe, including ours. As one witness will note, these attacks are broad political, economic and cultural. Beijing is spending billions, using the technology revolution to surveil its citizens at home, while spreading propaganda abroad. I have seen Moscow’s assault on its neighbors firsthand. We better wake up to this threat. Now.

Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World

Ed Royce, Committee on Foreign Affairs, June 14, 2018

  • Authoritarian regimes are also using a broader and more aggressive set of tools to advance their interests, including various forms of electoral espionage, the hacking of politicians and political parties, and the dissemination of misinformation and fake news — all designed to skew electoral outcomes and to discredit democratic systems. Repressive regimes are using what we call “distributed denial of democracy” (DDoD) attacks to pollute new media channels with disinformation, making new media less useful as a mechanism for legitimate democratic discourse. This hybrid warfare uses troll farms and botnets to amplify certain stories on new media. Such efforts also aim to create a false equivalency between legitimate international democracy assistance and foreign interference that subverts democratic dialogue, practices, and elections.

National Democratic Institute on Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World

Kenneth Wollack, President, National Democratic Institute, June 14, 2018

  • In Europe and beyond, the Kremlin is deploying a sophisticated information warfare campaign—including cybersecurity attacks on electoral systems and political parties and coordinated campaigns of disinformation—to undermine democratic institutions, exploit societal divisions, and erode citizens’ confidence in democracy. * * * What makes this form of political warfare particularly insidious is that it uses some of the core features of our democracy against us—exploiting free media to manipulate and spread false information and attempting to undermine confidence in our electoral systems.

Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World

Daniel Twining, International Republican Committee, June 14, 2018

  • While there are differences in the shape and tone of the Chinese and Russian approaches, both stem from an ideological model that privileges state power over individual liberty and is fundamentally hostile to free expression, open debate, and independent thought. Beijing, which spends an estimated $10-15 billion on such Sharp Power efforts, is investing resources in media, academic, cultural, and think tank initiatives, even in consolidated democratic states, like Australia and New Zealand and in our own country as well.

Testimony of Carl Gershman

Carl Gershman, House Foreign Affairs Committee, June 14, 2018

U.S. Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, “Election Security Preparations: A State and Local Perspective, June 20, 2018        

  • During the 2016 election cycle, state and local election officials were tested like never before by cyberattacks and we anticipate that these attempts to interfere will continue. To thwart these attempts, state and local governments need access to timely and actionable information and technical assistance, when necessary.

Chairman Blunt’s Opening Statement

Roy Blunt, Rules and Administration Committee, June 20, 2018

  • While the Trump Administration has taken some important sanctions steps to punish Russia for past actions and to harden our electoral infrastructure, it has not launched the kind of Presidentially-led, whole-of-government effort that is needed to protect our democracy and security from malign state actors who are intent on weaponizing information and the internet. * * * Going forward, I offer the following five steps * * * a multi-agency Fusion Center * * * the White House could establish and host a standing U.S. public-private commission to combat internet abuse and disinformation * * * the U.S. government must better advise, advocate for and protect U.S. companies when they do take bold and commercially costly action to stand up to state sponsors of malign influence * * * the President could appoint an International Coordinator to launch and lead a campaign to multilaterize all our efforts * * * the Administration could put forward and the Congress could support a significant budget increase to strengthen US capabilities . . .

Statement for the Record

Victoria Nuland, CEO, Center for a New American Security, June 20, 2018

  • Going into late spring of 2016, as the Presidential election got into full swing, we fully expected Russian cyber-based espionage activities against the major political campaigns – it had happened in previous election cycles and our operating assumption was that the Russians would target the campaigns for intelligence collection. However, by late June / early July 2016, as information from the Democratic National Committee began to be released, and as a few States began to report intrusions into certain parts of their electoral infrastructure, we realized that the Russians were doing something more than merely collecting intelligence. They were carrying out operations aimed at least at influencing the election and potentially even disrupting it.

Responding to Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Michael Daniel, Former Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for President Barrack Obama, June 20, 2018

  • According to US Intelligence officials, Minnesota was one of the 21 states in 2016 targeted by hackers acting at the behest of the Russian government. We didn’t learn the specific nature of the attempted intrusion until ten months after the fact, which is when the Department of Homeland Security briefed me, but we know when and how we turned back all attempts to infiltrate our system.

Testimony of Minnesota Secretary of State

Steve Simon, Minnesota Secretary of State, June 20, 2018

  • An area of concern that has received less focus, but cannot be underestimated, is the possibility of an attempted cyber-attack to alter electronic-based voter rosters that are now commonly used in place of paper-based voter rosters when checking in voters on election day

Hearing on Election Security Preparations: A State and Local Perspective

Shane Schoeller, County Clerk in Greene County, Missouri, June 20, 2018

  • Foreign governments, foreign non-state actors, and domestic troublemakers have the capacity and desire to corrode the essential public belief that our election outcomes are true and reliable. To very different degrees, this threat applies to both preliminary returns announced on election night and to official, final results. Beyond corrupting election results, the threat also reaches the large variety of systems used to run seamless elections.

Written Testimony of Noah Praetz

Noah Praetz, Director of Elections Office of Cook County Clerk, June 20, 2018

  • So, what exactly is Russia planning for the upcoming election? The correct question . . . is what are they notplanning? These people all said that 2018 will likely be a testing ground for 2020. Many of the tactics that Russia experiments with could (and likely will) be enacted on a much larger scale two year from now. Some of these strategies and maneuvers . . . have the same sinister goal of breaking the system—by cleaving our polity, distracting us with feuds large and small—by sowing discord through technology platforms and services. “Having the U.S. at war with itself is giving Russia credit internationally,” . . .

“The Russians Play Hard”: Inside Russia’s Attempt to Hack 2018—and 2020

Nick Bilton, Vanity Fair, June 22, 2018

  • The 2017 French presidential election remains the clearest failed attempt by a foreign entity to influence an electoral process in recent years. . . . This Brief examines how France successfully withstood the disinformation and interference; how this failed attempt can be explained; and, looking to the future, what lessons can be learned from this experience?

Successfully Countering Russian Electoral Interference

Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, CSIS, June 2018

  • Just weeks before his back-to-back summits with NATO members in Belgium and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland, President Trump is legitimizing Russia’s claim that it did not interfere in the 2016 election, contradicting the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Trump Backs Russia on Election Interference Ahead of NATO Summit

Natasha Bertrand, The Atlantic, June 28, 2018

Instruments of Informational Power

  • Public diplomacy is the patriotic art of making one’s country appear to have the better cause. It is designed to explain policies and institutions in terms that are persuasive to audiences in foreign cultures.  During the Cold War, this was the task of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA).  Created in 1953, it was euthanized in 1999, when the Clinton administration determined that history had ended, CNN was on the job, and new private sector outlets like Fox News were about to ensure “fair and balanced” American coverage of notable events.  Unfortunately, the extension of these media to foreign audiences has lowered the reputation of the United States abroad by directly exposing foreigners to the global yokelism of American celebrities and the ethnocentric prejudices of American popular culture.  USIA’s functions were severely downsized, then transferred to the Department of State, which has little or no credibility at home, still less abroad.  There is now no significant corrective for the spillover to foreign audiences of our partisan media’s politically motivated distortions of American policies and realities.  Presidential tweets have just exacerbated this problem.  With relative U.S. influence on foreign elites in decline, a future, more orderly administration will almost certainly want to restore the capacity of the United States to disseminate reliable information on U.S. policy and introduce the higher elements of American culture to audiences overseas.  The secretary of state is probably the right cabinet officer to oversee this function, but the department of State may not be the best place to house it.

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman Jr: Diplomacy as Risk Management

Chas Freeman, Diplopundit, April 17, 2018

  • In the good old days, we worried about carrying out effective public diplomacy in patently authoritarian, newly independent or conflict-ridden states. We had a well-established set of public diplomacy practices to lay the groundwork for democratic institution building, featuring principles of tolerance, transparency and freedom of expression. But what do you do when these principles are at risk in established democracies?

PD & the Decline of Liberal Democracy: The Case of Hungary

Vivian Walker, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, April 17, 2018

  • . . . yes the courage and dedication of our fighting men and women are impressive. But so too is the courage and dedication of our diplomatic corp who wield words and the power of persuasion to further our national interests, along with the aspirations of peace and justice. Their budget is but a fraction of our defense budget, but dollar for dollar they do more than almost anyone I can think of to make America what it has been, what it is, and what I believe we hope it to be.

Dan Rather post

Facebook, November 26, 2017

  • . . . on February 26, 2018, the DoS and the DoD signed a Memorandum of Agreement to transfer $40 million from the DoD to the GEC in FY2018 for initiatives to counter propaganda and disinformation from terrorist organizations and foreign nations. Combined with $20 million approved in the FY 2018 budget and carryover OCO funds from the FY 2017 budget, this funding has, according to DoS, placed the GEC in a position to be on the offensive in its fight against malign influence and disinformation.
  • “No single department or agency possesses the clout, expertise, or resources to make things happen across the US government on the scale needed to counter Russian disinformation.”

The center’s authority and flexibility to sole-source contracts for required subject matter expertise, an essential requirement for forging and executing fast-moving campaign strategy, is unclear. Some State Department officials indicate proposals submitted to the Global Engagement Center may take as much as a year to process. Putting it mildly, this timeframe is too long.

Countering Russian Meddling in US Political Processes

James Farwell, Parameters, Spring 2018

  • With adversaries and competitors continuing to demonstrate effective central planning in information warfare, it is increasingly clear that the US government can no longer let each of its components fight piecemeal. Creating an overarching agency to coordinate information operations across the US government is the only way to coordinate whole-of-government efforts and effectively utilize the array of US capabilities across the global information environment.

Bring Back the United States Information Agency

Will DuVal and Adam Maisel, Real Clear Defense, August 15, 2017

  • The Army senior leadership gets a D+ on the effective use of media.  The Army is not proactive in this area, usually late, defensive, and not transparent.  There is a lack of trust in the media that permeates the military at the senior levels and it is completely unnecessary and gets in the way of effective communication, transparency, and understanding the environment.  It is my observation that Public Relations and Affairs exists in the military as a defensive tool and not an offensive tool.

The 12 Critical Areas That Require Addressing: An Army General Officer’s (Retired) Perspective

Donald Bolduc, Small Wars Journal, June 12, 2018

  • Despite an unprecedented increase in spending by Russia for propaganda and a slight increase in spending for the BBG, [Igor] Panarin mistakenly claims that the US Department of State owns the BBG and its seven bureaus, including VOA. * * * Perhaps unbeknownst to Panarin, the launch of Current Time, RFE’s Russian TV station, was funded solely with internal funding.  Of course, no Russian propaganda piece should miss accusing the CIA of being behind US international information programs.

How Russia Justifies Even More Propaganda

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, June 18, 2018

  • It took Greta Van Susteren, a former television news anchor for CNN, Fox News, and NBC News, to get an interview for the Voice of America (VOA) with President Trump after his summit talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. She now freelances pro bono for the Voice of America and has a regular VOA television news program

Greta Van Susteren interviews Trump for VOA

BBG Watch, June 12, 2018

  • HEATHER NAUERT: So I just wanted to illustrate sort of, our overall, the importance that we put on our cooperation at the State Department with all of you, the importance of the collaboration that we have together. I think it’s already been strong. I know to the Secretary it’s very important to him that that continue we have the global engagement center at the State Department where we’re working to combat state-sponsored disinformation. We have at least one detailee over at the State Department right now. We’re hoping to get some more so hope to have your support in in doing that.  But we also recognize the importance of firewalls and respect that, so look forward to adhering to that and having more collaboration with communication in the future.

Heather Nauert stresses collaboration, firewall with BBG, praises RFA Uyghur Service

BBG Watch, June 8, 2018

  • “Board Chairman Kenneth Weinstein thanked outgoing Deputy Director Jeff Trimble for his 21 years of dedication and service in U.S. international media and presented him with a career achievement award, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) press releaseannounced. Kenneth Weinstein was appointed to the bipartisan BBG Board as a Republican by President Obama.

‘Arc of success’ BBG manager Jeff Trimble is retiring

BBG Watch, June 8, 2018

  • Former Miami mayor and veteran journalist Tomás Regalado has been named the new director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which oversees the Radio and TV Martí stations that broadcast news and other programs to Cuba. * * * The former mayor said he has clear ideas about how he wants to shape the OCB stations, which were created to provide uncensored information to Cubans.  “I do not want Radio and TV Martí to be an alternative, I want it to be the main means of communication for the people of Cuba,” he said.

Former Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado selected as new director for Radio and TV Martí

Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald, June 6, 2018

  • The operation to free the Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State militant forces took nine months * * * A report published by Britain’s Royal United Services Institute suggests the offensive’s ultimate success was underpinned by a campaign of information warfare conducted by resistance forces, which punctured Islamic State’s image of invincibility – and went head-to-head with Islamic State, or DAESH, propagandists.

Radio Resistance: Iraqi Amateur Broadcasters Who Beat Islamic State

Henry Ridgwell, VOA News, May 7, 2018

  • The Arabic language Middle East Broadcasting Network, newest of five U.S.-funded international broadcast organizations known as the MBN, is undergoing a significant transformation under its new president, Alberto Fernandez.  Ambassador Fernandez publicly detailed his comprehensive MBN vision for the first time April 23 at a gathering of the Public Diplomacy Council . . .

The Airwaves and an Eagle: A Press Freedom Day Challenge

Alan Heil, Public Diplomacy Council, April 30, 2018

  • Industry groups should be discouraged from treating foreign propaganda operations as legitimate organizations. For example, when the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences considers RT for Emmy Awards in news and current affairs, the American people might begin to associate the media channel communicating Russian intelligence messages as a trustworthy source.

Countering Russian Meddling in US Political Processes

James Farwell, Parameters, Spring 2018

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

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

The Conversation, September 1, 2017

  • Special operators have been looking for a way to get a short audio message to target audiences in enemy-controlled areas — say, civilians in need of reassurance or enemy soldiers who might surrender or defect. Now they think they have one: a piece of paper, about the thickness of four ordinary sheets, infused with microcircuits that can store and replay a 30-second message.

US Special Operations Forces Making Paper That Talks

Patrick Tucker, Defense One, June 27, 2018

Professional Topics

  • . . . promoting public perceptions that match reality on the ground continues to be a critical challenge in Iraq. . . . However, adversaries ranging from extremist groups to other nations have robust messaging and disinformation campaigns intended to mischaracterize Coalition efforts, stoke sectarian divisions, and foment instability. Although the interagency teams we met with acknowledged and described some coordinated efforts to meet this challenge, we did not hear about an overall, coordinated strategy that would counter disinformation campaigns and support key initiatives.

Observations From Travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Qatar

Lead Inspector General For Overseas Contingency Operations, March 2018

  • So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago, they would have “begged” for this deal-looked like war would break out. Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!  — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 9:30 AM – Jun 13, 2018

Trump: Fake News is ‘Our Country’s Biggest Enemy’

David Rutz, The Washington Free Beacon, June 13, 2018

  • . . . it is unsurprising that disinformation campaigns often target the trustworthiness of journalists themselves as a way to sow discord and confusion.

The Lie is Not the Story: Practicing Journalism in the Disinformation Age

Dean Jackson, Power 3.0, April 5, 2018

  • In this Brief:  –How disinformation is used and consumed — Proactive and reactive disinformation strategies in different country contexts — The scale of the disinformation crisis.

Issue Brief: How Disinformation Impacts Politics and Publics

Dean Jackson, National Endowment for Democracy, May 29, 2018

  • Fake news may have already influenced politics in the US, but it’s going to get a lot worse, warns an AI consultant to the US government.  Sean Gourley . . . told a conference in San Francisco that the next generation of fake news would be far more sophisticated thanks to AI.  “The automation of the generation of fake news is going to make it very effective,”

Fake news 2.0: personalized, optimized, and even harder to stop

Will Knight, MIT Technology Review, March 27, 2018

  • The Comet Ping Pong story, and the even more disturbing news of the Kremlin’s role in our election, merely underscore fake news’s rapid ascent from an amorphous notion to perhaps the most significant digital epidemic facing the media, government, and, at the risk of sounding mildly hysterical, democracy itself.

Fake News is About to Get Even Scarier Than You Ever Dreamed

Nick Bilton, Vanity Fair, January 26, 2017

  • What were Soviet influence and disinformation campaigns? What did the West do about them? This study answers these questions, explaining the Cold War strategies followed by the USSR, as well as the Western response. The full report contains eleven case studies . . . [Report]

Soviet Subversion, Disinformation and Propaganda: How the West Fought Against it

Nicholas J. Cull, Vasily Gatov, Peter Pomerantsev, Anne Applebaum & Alistair Shawcross, London School of Economics and Political Science, October 2017

  • The tech industry can’t hide from the information war, particularly when its own creations are being weaponized. That was the consensus of a panel at the Techonomy17 conference * * * “We always knew we were going into an information war next,” said Danah Boyd, a principal researcher at Microsoft and founder of the Data & Society Research Institute, “and that we would never know immediately that that is what it is. Now we can’t tell what reality is.”

Tech Leaders Dismayed by Weaponization of Social Media

Tekla S. Perry, IEEE Spectrum, November 14, 2017

  • . . . the prominent role social media now plays, particularly Twitter, when speaking or tweeting with foreign and domestic publics. The constant use of the platform by President Trump has allowed him to create a sense of personal connection with reporters, constituents, and even international leaders, alluding to real-time and unfiltered content, but also weakening the role of the PA and PD officers who have a pervasive role of communicating policy.

4 Tactics for PA, PD, and Principal Officers on Twitter

Amanda Raemenas, Take Five, April 20, 2017

  • The traditional news cycle has been rendered obsolete as critical information spreads globally in real time. Journalistic media have more of a presence in newer social media, but even large cable networks are not as likely to break a story first anymore. There are additional layers and facets of complexity in cyberspace originating from broader and larger networks of networks, high levels of anonymity and ambiguity, and massive amounts of personal information for the gathering. These factors create ripe opportunities for those seeking to spread chaos and disinformation, especially if they can transform that chaos into a geopolitical advantage.

The Bear’s Side of the Story: Russian Political and Information Warfare

Tyler Quinn, The Strategy Bridge, June 27, 2018

  • Social media are among the primary sources of news in the U.S.and across the world. Yet users are exposed to content of questionable accuracy, including conspiracy theories, clickbait, hyper partisan content, pseudo scienceand even fabricated “fake news” reports.  It’s not surprising that there’s so much disinformation published: Spam and online fraud are lucrative for criminals, and government and political propaganda yield both partisan and financial benefits. But the fact that easily suggests that people and the algorithms behind social media platforms are vulnerable to.  Our research has identified three types of bias that make the social media ecosystem vulnerable to both intentional and accidental misinformation. * * * Bias in the brain * * * Bias in society * * * Bias in the machine.

Misinformation and biases infect social media, both intentionally and accidentally

The Conversation, June 20, 2018

  • 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 Magazine, September 20, 2017

  • We are finally seeing a strategic communications effort launched around the IP theft issue by China.

White House Launches Strategic Communications Effort to Counter IP Theft by China

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, June 23, 2018

  1. CYBER
  • When it comes to offensive cyber warfare, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of different ways to launch them.  Some quietly, some loud and ostentatious.  Before launch, however, they will go through the process of a ‘murder board’, where possible collateral damage will be discussed, limited, and assessed.  The ‘toolbox’ of available cyber tools will be assessed for the applicable ‘tool’.  The targeted networks, devices, geography, even the personalities will be assessed, along with a wide-range of seemingly unrelated factors. We may see distractions in the form of deceptions, we may see pre-emptive information actions, we might see an accompanying show of force using real-world assets, we might even see the quietest non-event you can imagine.  There is even a better than good possibility that nobody, not even the targets, will know anything happened.

Pentagon GreenLights Offensive Cyber

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, June 18, 2018

  • Nine-member states of the European Union will establish “rapid-response teams” to counter cyberattacks, according to project leader Lithuania, which has issued warnings about what it calls Russia-directed “hostile cyberactivity.” * * * Lithuania has been a leader on cyberdefense issues, increasing its capabilities in recent years amid what it calls “hostile cyberactivity” from Russia that target state institutions and its energy sector.

Nine EU Members Plan ‘Rapid-Response’ Cyberforce in Lithuania-Led Initiative

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, June 21, 2018

  • Avoid retelling the lies. Avoid putting them in headlines, leads or tweets, he says. Because it is that very amplification that gives them power.  That’s how propaganda works on the brain: through repetition, even when part of that repetition is fact-checking.

Instead of Trump’s Propaganda, How About a Nice ‘Truth Sandwich’

Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post, June 17, 2018

  • Russian military brinksmanship across Eastern Europe has further heightened tensions—those acts include the buzzing of NATO ships and aircraft by Russian warplanes, as well as subversive propaganda campaigns and cyberattacks to stir separatism among minority Russian populations in the region.

If Russia Invades, US Special Operations Forces Have an Unconventional Plan to Liberate the Baltics

Nolan Peterson, The Daily Signal, June 8, 2018

  • The spectacular posters that tsarist Russia used to drum up support for its war effort.

The Art of War: Russian Propaganda in WWI

Amos Chapple, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, n.d.

  • . . . executives conceded that determining the origin and motivation of many page operators is too great an effort for a private company to manage. Instead, the focus is on limiting the reach of serial offenders, punishing behaviors without often being able to get to the source. The brunt of Facebook’s news vetting in Mexico falls to a small group of third-party fact-checkers, whose job is to play whack-a-mole — debunking one story at a time, with each taking several days to disprove.  Facebook’s limited forensics around false news in Mexico show how its aspiration to keep elections honest globally is still out of reach for the social network, despite the prominent role its service has come to play in many societies.

Facebook’s fight against fake news has gone global. In Mexico, just a handful of vetters are on the front lines.

Elizabeth Dwoskin, The Washington Post, June 22, 2018

  • As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has grown in wealth and power, Beijing has devoted immense resources to managing the country’s image and influencing audiences abroad. Its efforts include but are not limited to international broadcasting, professional exchange programs, academic partnerships, pressure on foreign media outlets, and the development of state-backed and/or state-friendly nongovernmental organizations and private sector partnerships.

The Big Question: Understanding China’s Soft Power

National Endowment for Democracy, June 19, 2017

  • The Russian interference in the US elections and the backlash in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and elsewhere against Chinese interference in domestic affairs have brought the new concept of sharp power to the fore in a matter of months. The panel on sharp power clarified what the concept means, put it in a wider context of types of power and effects on national identity, and compared details on its application by China in several cases. It was widely acknowledged that China’s use of sharp power is more long-term and subtle than Russia’s recent intrusions. Yet, the ideological divergence and profound national identity gap between China, as well as Russia, and the United States and its democratic allies forms the background for application of sharp power.

Synopsis of the 2018 Asan Plenum: “Illiberal International Order”

Gilbert Rozman, The Asan Forum, May 21, 2018

  • Authoritarian influence is penetrating deep into the heart of the [liberal international order] via “sharp power.” As opposed to “soft power,” sharp power is not concerned with winning the “hearts and minds” of its targets. Rather, sharp power is the means by which authoritarian regimes coerce and manipulate foreign populations through propaganda and the promotion of false narratives or “fake news.” What may appear to be innocent cultural exchange programs or state sponsored media are often tools used by a regime to legitimize its grip on power while putting a positive spin on illiberal values for Western audiences. As these tools become more sophisticated, their ability to disrupt Western society grows. How can the West counter the influence of “sharp power?”

Day 1: Sharp Power

Gilbert Rozman, The Asan Forum, April 24, 2018

  • This year, as the West bursts out with the concept of “sharp power” (锐实力), whipping up a fresh round of “China Threat Theory” (中国威胁论), and is reduced to a “New Cold War” (新冷战) mentality, the familiar old predicament of China’s rise (崛起困境) has emerged once again. How can [China] accurately grasp the development of world affairs and determine a strategy for China’s rise? How can China face the risks and challenges that attend its rise? How can China’s international leadership be constituted?

Yan Xuetong on the Bipolar State of our World

David Bandurski, China Media Project, June 26, 2018

  • . . .  America is a sticky economic superpower whose capacity to influence the world economy will linger and even strengthen in some respects, even though its economic weight in the world is declining.

The sticky superpower

The Economist, October 3, 2015

  • Traditional military power can usefully be called sharp power; those resisting it will feel bayonets pushing and prodding them in the direction they must go. This power is the foundation of the U.S. system. Economic power can be thought of as sticky power, which comprises a set of economic institutions and policies that attracts others toward U.S. influence and then traps them in it. Together with soft power (the values, ideas, habits, and politics inherent in the system), sharp and sticky power sustain U.S. hegemony and make something as artificial and historically arbitrary as the U.S.-led global system appear desirable, inevitable, and permanent.

America’s Sticky Power

Walter Mead, Foreign Policy, October 29, 2009 

  • Russia’s modern hybrid warfare doctrine is a modern take on the Soviet Union’s strategy of “deep battle.” Hybrid warfare is not covert warfare. Rather, it’s the combined use of conventional military force with other nonkinetic means such as cyberattacks and propaganda to sow chaos and confusion among the enemy—both on the battlefield and deep behind the front lines.  “The main aim of Russian hybrid warfare is to divide our society,” Kalnins, Latvia’s chief of defense, told The Daily Signal. “They’re using this tool to separate us.”  Hybrid warfare is an evolving threat spanning every combat domain.

If Russia Invades, US Special Operations Forces Have an Unconventional Plan to Liberate the Baltics

Nolan Peterson, The Daily Signal, June 8, 2018

  • One of the basic tools of pro-Kremlin disinformation is to fill the information space with constant noise to confuse the audience – or to at least force it to stop paying attention.  A recent target of this method has been The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), hosted by Finland. This week, pro-Kremlin attempts to obscure the public discussion around the centre grew in both quantity and absurdity.

Get ready for pro-Kremlin tinnitus

Disinformation Review, September 7, 2017

  • Last week an adjunct faculty member at New York University made headlines when he used LinkedIn to compile and release a database of more than 1,500 ICE employees while calling for those opposed to the Trump administration’s immigration policies to do as they pleased with it. * * * What makes the Immigration and Customs Enforcement list so different is the context in which it was shared: to harass and intimidate – a practice known as doxxing — rather than to research government secrecy. Almost immediately, the list made the rounds among activists, with calls for everything from identifying employees’ home addresses and phone numbers to banning them from stores – and even kidnapping or harming their children.

Is ‘Doxxing’ the Future of Political Protest?

Kalev Leetaru, Real Clear Politics, June 26, 2018

  • . . . our citizens consider disinformation a serious threat. In a Eurobarometer poll conducted in March, 83 percentof EU citizens called fake news a problem for democracy. NATO has proven that a defense alliance can withstand severe military threats, but because today’s national security threats no longer involve only armed forces, our defense most be more wide-ranging too. Indeed, earlier this year Sweden announcedthat it will establish an Agency for Psychological Defense.  What we need now is a cross-border defense alliance against disinformation — call it Communications NATO. * * * During the Cold War, the United States funded and successfully ran what one might call an information shield: Radio Free Europe and its sister operation Radio Liberty. But they provided information with the goal of enlightening people behind the Iron Curtain, not Americans.

We Need a NATO for Infowar

Elisabeth Braw, Defense One, May 3, 2018

  • A proactive, and therefore better, strategy for combating threat IW should combine IW force protection and IW network engagement into an umbrella program that this paper calls IW buffering. Rather than meet IW threats head on, an IW buffering strategy would instead mitigate the effects of threat IW while focusing on undermining the sustainability of the threat IW capabilities. To illustrate the benefits of an IW buffering approach, this paper will analyze the structure and effects of recent ISIS and Russian IW campaigns and suggest how similar threats could be proactively mitigated in the future.

Information Operations as Force Protection
Jaim Coddington and Casey Lamar, Small Wars Journal, June 29, 2018

  • The Marine Corps is gearing up to conduct combat exercises with its information warriors. * * * One area where they need to bolster skills is protection of battlefield networks, because Russia and China are able to conduct cyber-attacks and electronic warfare.  So, the Marines are putting more emphasis on information operations in their preparations for combat, because if your communications are jammed or your intelligence data is corrupted in wartime, fighting effectively could be hard. The latest Marine Operating Concept (the Corps’ plan for fighting and winning future wars) is heavily focused on securing and exploiting the electromagnetic spectrum.

Five Reasons The Marine Corps Is The Future Of U.S. Ground Combat

Loren Thompson, Forbes, June 21, 2018

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Russia “is seeking to weaponize information” in an attempt “to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions.” In a speech to business leaders on November 13 in London, May offered “a very simple message” to Russia: “We know what you are doing, and you will not succeed.”

British PM may: Russia Seeks ‘Discord In The West’

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, November 14, 2017

  • Today, you don’t need mounted riders for a raiding campaign or for acts of international brigandry. Moscow successfully rode past NATO, all of America’s carrier strike groups, and struck Washington with a campaign of political subversion. The technology involved may be innovative or new, but this form of warfare is decidedly old. To deal with it, Washington will not require panel discussions, new acronyms, and the construction of a center of excellence, but instead to revisit the history of conflict, international politics, and strategy.

Raiding and International Brigandry: Russia’s Strategy for Great Power Competition

Michael Kofman, War on the Rocks, June 14, 2018

  • Political Warfare is not a new concept, and the British rightfully identify this fact in their manual developed during World War II, The Meaning, Techniques and Methods of Political Warfare. In their manual, the British describe political warfare as encompassing the elements of psychological warfare, ideological warfare, morale warfare, and propaganda.

The Bear’s Side of the Story: Russian Political and Information Warfare

Tyler Quinn, The Strategy Bridge, June 27, 2018

  • The [Free and Open Indo-Pacific] project is not only about building a counter-narrative. There needs to be content before a narrative can be built around it. Too much focus on building an appealing narrative will distract attention from the pressing need to draft strategic objectives. The overall conflation between these two features of the project comes from a lack of clarity about what Washington wants to do with the FOIP. A rules-based order is the goal and the Indo-Pacific project is the means to get there. But until you know where you want to go, it is difficult to know how to win company and support for the cause.

Three Traps in Building the Indo-Pacific Narrative Thus Far

Huong Le Thu, Pacific Forum, June 22, 2018

  • Many experts assert that we are living in a post-fact environment, in which truth is obscured by divisive political agendas. As illustrated by the recent “rave revolution” in Tbilisi, the capital of the Georgian Republic, a discrete event, action or policy can produce multiple narratives that provide competing explanations for what happened—and why. These narratives, in turn, have the power to exploit, or be exploited by, basic disagreements about national identity, values and state legitimacy. Possibilities for a sustaining narrative convergence disappear. And that’s a big problem.

Six Narratives in Search of a Truth: The Georgian “Rave Revolution”

Vivian Walker, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, May 28, 2018

  • . . .there are two key components of the populist style . . ..  Firstly, populists of all political persuasions seek to establish a clear divide between the people and another. This is the “central element that differentiates populism from other political styles.”  The other is usually presented as a corrupt or weak domestic elite, but the focus on the elite is often supplemented with other hostile actors.  These might include foreign powers, immigrants, or ethnic and religious communities. In populist narratives, these forms of othering are often combined: the hostile foreigner has been allowed to take advantage of the people by the weak or corrupt domestic elite. * * * Secondly, populists bring to life this supposed divide by developing a narrative based on a sense of threat or crisis.

Populist Narratives and the Making of National Strategy

Michael Hatherell, The Strategy Bridge, June 26, 2018

  • . . . China wants to work with its Asian partners in the SCO to break what it sees as Western dominance of the global narrative on governance. Imagine a world in which media and their audiences across Asia see global affairs not through the lens of the Associated Press, AFP, Reuters or the New York Times, but through the grand political vision offered by Xinhua.

Breaking the Grip of Western Newswires

David Bandurski, China Media Project, June 3, 2018

  • Known as “countering violent extremism” or “preventing violent extremism,” these civilian-led programsare designed to counter extremists’ efforts to recruit, radicalize, and mobilize followers to violence through youth empowerment, social and economic inclusion, and improved local government responses. Programs have ranged from youth leadership training to partnerships with moderate religious leaders who enhance their communities’ understanding of the risks of extremism.  Despite their good intentions, these programs are riddled with problems.

Compounding Violent Extremism? When Efforts to Prevent Violence Backfire

Jessica Darden, War on the Rocks, June 6, 2018

  • Lone-Wolf terrorism is a myth: even the loneliest wolf has had some sort of help, whether propaganda or planning. And like every other historical insurgency, Islamism has sleeper cells; armed combatants and planners; cultural fronts; media apologists; and well-funded underground financing sectorsthat include alternate economy through religious charities, foreign funded NGOs, human rights organizations, and think tanks promoting pro-Islamist propaganda.

The Character of Insurgency

Sumantra Maitra, CRB, November 13, 2017

  • . . . although education is not a vaccine against radical ideology as evidenced by the relatively high levels of schooling amongst all Islamic State fighters, clearly the children are least well equipped from a radicalization perspective to bring greater knowledge to bear against the narrative being pushed by the Islamic State. Second, when considering the challenge of returning fighters, those children that survive the battlefields of Iraq and Syria and are able to return to their home countries will be at a disadvantage. They will have left home with lower education levels, lost anywhere from months to years in terms of their ability to catch up, and gained skills that are not particularly marketable upon their return. Successful reintegration of these children will likely need to address these economic and educational challenges.

Children at War: Foreign Child Recruits of the Islamic State

Dakota Foster and Daniel Milton, Combating Terrorism Center, June/July 2018

  • Many more Muslims in Russia are being exposed to Islamist radicalization because of the tactics the FSB is now using to fight that trend, Aleksey Grishin of the Religion and Society Analytic Center says, because jihadists have figured out how to use the FSB’s approach against it for their own purposes.

FSB Tactics Now Getting in Way of Fighting Spread of Islamist Extremism, Expert Says

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia – New Series, June 12, 2018

  • None of these photos were honest; all were either taken or presented out of context to maximize their editorial impact. The visuals didn’t report, they offered commentary. They provided politicized art, not neutral data.  It’s easy to blame social media and political polarization for using deceptive photographs to make editorial statements more common and pernicious, but I fear the roots may be culturally deeper.

Stop Editorializing with Photographs

J.J. Mccullough, National Review, June 27, 2018

  • . . . after the war we had a terrible propaganda, we had to say to the world, yes, Japan, Italy, and Germany were bad, they had started World War II, they were fascist, but now they’re the good guys, and the Soviet’s propaganda was the war’s still going on, we’re still liberating people from fascism whereas the United States and our imperialist enemies Great Britain have flipped and they’ve joined the Axis.  That was very hard to combat in the late 1940s and 1950s.  [Video]

Uncommon Knowledge: Victor Davis Hanson Goes to War (Part 1)

Peter Robinson, The Hoover Institution, November 21, 2017

  • More than 60 percent of America’s middle and high school students rely on alt-right internet sites as credible sources for their research papers. The students are using alt-right sites to write papers on topics that range from free speech and the Second Amendment to citizenship, immigration and the Holocaust.

Schools must equip students to navigate alt-right websites that push fake news

The Conversation, June 19, 2018

  • Jankowicz highlights 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, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, November 1, 2017

  • Democracy is a better idea than fascism, but the liberal international order does not exist because it is a better idea. It exists because the democratic powers built bigger and better guns, killed millions of fascists, overthrew fascist governments, tried and hanged fascist leaders, and liberated or coercively democratized former fascist countries. (Then they fought and won a four-decade-long Cold War against the Soviet Union.) The liberal international order rests on a founding act of violence, of which the Normandy campaign was a crucial part. It was justified, of course, because it was also an act of self-defense against the fascists’ attempts to found their preferred world order on the rest of us.

Why Visit Normandy? Reflections on a Birthplace of the International Liberal Order

Paul Miller, War on the Rocks, June 25, 2018

  • . . . no military — not even the combat-tested U.S. military — has any experience with the type of warfare the Fourth Industrial Revolution will produce. U.S. military leaders must continually push themselves to think in the most creative and unconstrained ways possible about how to prepare for the future battlefield. Simply making incremental changes to today’s legacy warfighting systems and processes could prove catastrophic against adversaries who successfully leverage the tremendous global changes to come.

War in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

David Barno and Nora Bensahel, War on the Rocks, June 19, 2018

  • . . . inflammatory language was used to define an ethnic minority and to give it fictional characteristics and properties. In some cases, the targeted “tribe” was entirely fictional, created by rhetoric alone. In China, the regime sought to identify the enemy as “Blacks,” as opposed to the friendly “Reds.” The Russian Bolsheviks defined and blamed the “Enemies of the People.” The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia sought to eliminate the “75ers,” the people who had been expelled from cities in 1975. After the unwanted group had been defined, propaganda was used to demonize and dehumanize it.

The Dark History Behind Trump’s Inflammatory Language

Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post, June 22, 2018

  • Where once the greatest threat to the American press was censorship, the bigger challenge now is what could be called reverse censorship. Authoritarian governments, led by Russia and China, have devised methods of taking advantage of the internet to stifle speech without directly blocking it. The prevailing tactics of each of those countries have now found a home in the United States, and Wu believes the U.S. First Amendment tradition needs revamping to handle it.

The Age of Reverse Censorship

David Graham, The Atlantic, June 26, 2018

  • The Constitution guarantees US citizens freedom of speech. But that right does not extend to robots. In fact, algorithmic assessments and automated messages generated through artificial intelligence, especially when such “speech” influences elections, should not be protected.

Countering Russian Meddling in US Political Processes

James Farwell, Parameters, Spring 2018

  • Russiaor Chinacould “overrun” US allies at the outbreak of war, senior military leaders fear, and our plan to stop them is very much a work in progress. Iraq and Syria have given sneak previews of how the US can combine, say, hackers, satellites, special operators, and airstrikes in a single offensive, but we’re not yet ready to launch such a multi-domain operation against a major power.

Generals Worry US May Lose in Start of Next War: Is Multi-Domain the Answer?

Sydney Freedberg, Breaking Defense, May 14, 2018

  • An overwhelming majority of American business leaders believe that the risk of a data breach is higher when employees work remotely, a grave warning that comes on the heels of intelligence secrets being stolen from home computers.

How Telework Fuels the Insider Threat

Justin Lynch, Fifth Domain, June 25, 2018

  • When the nation’s attention is captured by an episode of blatant racial hatred or primitive bigotry and that episode turns out to be a hoax—an unfortunate phenomenon that occurs with exhausting regularity—the hoaxers have a habit of appealing to a particular excuse. They were just “raising awareness” of an issue of grave public concern that is surely happening somewhere, just not necessarily to them.

The Lies We Tell in the Name of Greater Truths

Noah Rothman, Commentary, June 26, 2018

  •  . . it is hard to defeat an idea. It is even harder to defeat a virulent ideology like the one jihadis are promoting, in part because they don’t view defeat like we do in the West. When jihadis lose on the battlefield, they don’t internalize the loss and second-guess their socio-political system like our 20th-Century adversaries did. No, when jihadis lose on the battlefield, they blame it on the fact that they were not committed enough, not pious enough, and not dedicated enough. Jihadis are also defining the duration of this game in decades and generations, whereas we want to claim victory at every turn in the short-term.

A View from the CT Foxhole: Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Price, Ph.D., Outgoing Director, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point

Brian Dodwell, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, June/July 2018

  • I learned out there that America has two fundamental powers — one is the power of intimidation . . . and one is the power of inspiration.

Secretary Mattis at IRI Freedom Dinner

James Mattis, International Republic Institute Awards Dinner, May 15, 2018

  • The words “Abu Ghraib” have become synonymous with torture, a black eye for America that has damaged US national security.  Donald Trump’s policy of ripping children away from their parents at the border is a new black mark on America that could also undermine US national security.

Trump’s family separation policy is as damaging to America as Abu Ghraib

Michael Fuchs, The Guardian, June 20, 2018

  • Words alone cannot restore the public’s confidence in democracy, but the right messages can play an important role in strengthening the coalition of democracy activists and engaging new participants.  Our research tested over a dozen messages aimed at generating increased support for American democracy.  [Report]

The Democracy Project:  Reversing a Crisis of Confidence

George W. Bush Institute, Freedom House, Penn-Biden Center, June 26 2018

  • A war is, indeed, on. But this one surpasses the usual political partisanship and concerns the very idea of America. Who and what are we? What do we stand for? How should we live, and for what would we be willing to die? Will we unite in decency or tear ourselves asunder in a replica of Stephen King’s “The Stand”?

A War is on

Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post, June 26, 2018

  • The Patriotic Millionaires organization provides a dynamic vehicle through which like-minded people can work together to advance the common good.  Together we can realize a one-in-a-generation opportunity to reset America’s ideological course and create a new American paradigm for the next chapter in our nation’s history.
    Patriotic Millionaires Organizational Outline, n.d.
  • Many elements of our national identity today enjoy a broad consensus. According to an AP-NORC surveyconducted earlier this year, supermajorities of Americans cite a fair judicial system and the rule of law, individual liberties as defined in the Constitution, and the country’s governing institutions as being essential to the American identity. Strong majorities also include the ability to get a good job, pursue the American dream, and speak English as very important.  When religion and ethnicity enter the picture, however, the consensus vanishes.

How to Become an American

William Galston, Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2017

  • . . . we, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it. The implications of this abandonment are profound and the beneficiaries of this rather radical departure in the American approach to the world are the ideological enemies of our values. Despotism loves a vacuum and our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership.

Full Transcript: Jeff Flake’s Speech on the Senate Floor

The New York Times, October 24, 2017

Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  • The Kremlin has added another facet to their political warfare through the savvy exploitation of new media. They are taking advantage of the West’s belief systems by conducting an end-around and using a form of malicious soft power to gain a position of advantage. The liberal world order could begin to crumble if the bear is allowed to continue to tell his story in such a corrosive, manipulative way. The global community should take a long-term view to find opportunities to degrade Russian deception while upholding the ideals of liberal democracy.

The Bear’s Side of the Story: Russian Political and Information Warfare

Tyler Quinn, The Strategy Bridge, June 27, 2018

  • The Russian strategic decision to value information dominance over cyber warfare is reaping major dividends in sowing distrust among the Western democracies, a former director of the CIA and NSA said on Monday.  In the 1990s, “Russia went to door number two” in choosing information dominance, partially because many in the Kremlin then were familiar with its uses, tactics, techniques and procedures before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden said

Panel: Kremlin Now Reaping Benefits from Years of Investment in Information Warfare

John Grady, USNI News, June 12, 2018

  • The report rewrites history, cites irrelevant facts, is full of typos, paints the US, the UK, and NATO as Satan incarnate, and just stinks with the worst imaginable smell. It makes special mention of RFE, VOA, and the BBG.  It also demonstrates the obtuse logic Russians use to say the CIA founded VOA. For any instructors of Russian information warfare, this should be required reading. It wonderfully illustrates Russian official thinking, Russian logic, and argumentative techniques in official documentation.

Annual Report:  Interim Commission of the Council of Federation on Protection of State Sovereignty and Prevention of Interference in the Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation (February 2018)

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, June 20, 2018

  • Although Russia has long employed information as a tool of state power, since 2013 its military thinkers have increasingly adopted a novel approach to information that places such considerations at the forefront of their strategy. Scholars and policymakers have used many phrases—including new generation warfare, new-type warfare, hybrid warfare, and nonlinear warfare—to describe this contemporary military doctrine.2 But these phrases often obscure Russian thinking.

Victory without Casualties: Russia’s Information Operations

  1. S. Allen and A. J. Moore, Paramenters, Spring 2018
  • Russia is attempting to offset Western technological superiority by going straight to the population and shaping their opinions in favor of Russian objectives. In doing so, they could preempt the entire Western war machine and ensure it is not brought to bear. This strategy was explicitly described by Russian strategists Sergey G. Chekinov and Sergey A. Bogdanov, who advocated for actively engaging in an “information struggle” to achieve “information superiority” and “create conditions for the government to achieve its political objectives in peacetime, without using armed force.”

Countering Russian Disinformation

Timothy McGeehan, Parameters, Spring 2018

  • Putin seeks to shatter NATO.  He aims to diminish the appeal of the Western democratic model and attempts to undermine America’s moral authority.  His actions are designed not to challenge our arms, at this point, but to undercut and compromise our belief in our ideals.

Remarks by Secretary Mattis at the U.S. Naval War College Commencement, Newport, Rhode Island

Department of Defense, June 15, 2018

  • Alexander Malkevich might be the new face of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to subvert U.S. democracy. Or he might be a bumbling provocateur.  Malkevich, a Russian media executive with ties to the Kremlin, arrived in Washington this week to launch USA Really, an English-language news site that spreads the kind of disinformation and discord attributed to Russian trolls in ahigh-profile indictmentearlier this year.

Russian Troll or Clumsy Publicity Hound?

Amy Mackinnon, Foreign Policy, June 15, 2018

  • Loud, abrasive, inept, and sophomoric efforts at dispensing Russian propaganda like USAReally are most likely deliberate distractions for more sophisticated, low-level, more-professional efforts.  * * * In the meantime, members of the Russian Troll Farm will be quietly snapping up dozens, if not hundreds of domains sounding like legitimate news sites, conservative and liberal sites, and sites from every ethnic, racial, cultural, sexual, and religious perspective.  These sites, in turn, will probably be autopopulated with news feeds to establish long-term cred. Using AI, some will carry “original” stories. Each will have twitter feeds, follow other pirate sites, and feed yet more pirate sites.

Russian Troll or Clumsy Publicity Hound?

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, June 15, 2018

  • What Vladimir Putin is accused of doing to help Donald Trump win the presidency is essentially identical to what he is either accused of or proven to have done to help many other right-wing candidates in many other countries. As the plot in the United States is slowly exposed, a remarkably similar one in the United Kingdom is quickly surfacing.

Britain Has a Russia Collusion Scandal Now. It Looks Exactly Like Trump’s.

Jonathan Chait, New York, June 22, 2018

  • On April 4, 2018, RIA FAN, a self-described news organization with known connectionsto Saint Petersburg’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), revealedits plans to launch a brand new venture, entitled “USA Really”, within the next month.  The project, initially reported by EU vs Disinfo, takes a stance consistent with the anti-Western, anti-liberal narrative of previous Internet Research Agency efforts.

Troll farm takes aim at American audiences in new web campaign

Lawrence Alexander, Global Voices, April 21, 2018

  • Years of debunking Russian propaganda are finally starting to bear fruit. Lawmakers, politicians and everyday citizens are becoming increasingly more aware of deceptions, misrepresentations and outright fabrications utilized by the Russian fake-makers to advance their domestic and international agenda. Without further ado, here is another compilation of the most notable lies spawned by the Russian state media and government officials.

Russia’s Top 280 Lies – International Edition

Russia Lies

  • Gerasimov took tactics developed by the Soviets, blended them with strategic military thinking about total war, and laid out a new theory of modern warfare—one that looks more like hacking an enemy’s society than attacking it head-on. He wrote: “The very ‘rules of war’ have changed. The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness. … All this is supplemented by military means of a concealed character.”

The Gerasimov Doctrine

Molly Mckew, Politico, September/October 2017

  1. CHINA
  • Chinese diplomacy has a serious information asymmetry problem. For many years, the overwhelming tendency of Chinese diplomats and reporters stationed abroad has been to “report the good news and ignore the bad (报喜不报忧)”, an issue that is deeply rooted in bureaucratic politics and official mindsets.  A social and cultural tendency towards “face-saving” also makes Chinese people, particularly officials, reluctant to openly discuss negative information, while the bureaucracy’s performance-based evaluation system also discourages local officials from passing bad news up the ranks.

How PRC Diplomatic Messaging Impedes Its Foreign Policy Objectives

Zhibo Qiu, The Jamestown Foundation, May 9, 2018

  • Like its economic and military efforts, China’s soft- (or “sharp”) power offensive began before Xi’s rule but has since gained steam. Its main aim is to burnish the regime’s global image. To this end, Beijing has since 2003 pursued influence through a combination of external propaganda, the promotion of Chinese culture, and the cultivation of friendly political forces abroad.  The turning point for the PRC’s propaganda efforts came in the wake of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, when the regime opted for a dramatic expansionof the overseas operations of three CCP-controlled media organs . . .

China’s Three-Pronged Play for Global Leadership

Minxin Pei, Power 3.0, April 17, 2018

  • Since the time of Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015), Singapore’s leaders have refused to infer, merely from the country’s size and composition, a need to appease the People’s Republic of China (PRC). They have remained averse to the notion that little countries should kowtow to big ones, and they firmly reject the idea that their country is somehow racially embedded in a “greater China” whose roads all lead to Beijing. In recent years, however, the PRC has sought to assert what it views as its natural primacy in the region through a range of tactics that have involved not only traditional “hard” power, but also “soft,” “sharp,” and “sticky” power.

China in Xi’s “New Era”: Singapore and Goliath?

Donald Emmerson, Journal of Democracy, April 2018

  • New Zealand is the target of a concerted foreign-influence campaign by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). . . . coopting local elites, securing access to strategic information and resources, and manipulating public discourse. These CCP political influence activities, which in China fall under the rubric of “united front work,” have also frequently been a means of facilitating espionage. New Zealand appears to have been a test zone for many of China’s recent united front efforts . . .

China in Xi’s “New Era”: New Zealand and the CCP’s “Magic Weapons”

Anne-Marie Brady, Journal of Democracy, April 2018

  • . . . much of censorship in China works not by making information impossible to access but by requiring those seeking information to spend extra time and money for access. By inconveniencing users, censorship diverts the attention of citizens and powerfully shapes the spread of information. When Internet users notice blatant censorship, they are willing to compensate for better access. But subtler censorship, such as burying search results or introducing distracting information on the web, is more effective because users are less aware of it. Roberts challenges the conventional wisdom that online censorship is undermined when it is incomplete and shows instead how censorship’s porous nature is used strategically to divide the public.

Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall

Margaret Roberts, China File, June 13, 2018

  • Chinese influence – whether “soft power” or “sharp power” – is attracting increasing attention from around the world. There’s a general consensus that China’s government is boosting its attempts to make friends and influence people, particularly within its immediate neighborhood. But what tools is China using in its efforts – and most importantly, is it working?

How China Wins Friends and Influences People

Shannon Tiezzi, The Diplomat, June 27, 2018

  • China has a long history of using public diplomacy (PD) tools to bolster its status internationally and tell its story to the world. Yet, there is a growing consensus that the 2013 ascension of President Xi Jinping was an inflection point. In a marked departure from the “low profile” foreign policy of his predecessors, President Xi embraced a more active engagement with other countries, particularly its neighbors in the East Asia and Pacific (EAP). Meanwhile, Chinese leaders increasingly refer to soft power and public diplomacy as integral to their “good neighbor” strategy. [Report]

Ties That Bind: Quantifying China’s public diplomacy and its “good neighbor” effect

Samantha Custer, Brooke Russell, Matthew DiLorenzo, Mengfan Cheng, Siddhartha Ghose, Harsh Desai, Jacob Sims, and Jennifer Turner, AID Data, June 2018

  • . . . many CCP and Chinese-government initiatives fall outside the spectrum of acceptable public diplomacy, and that Australian institutions nonetheless frequently invite and initiate such activities. In light of these findings, it questions whether new legislation can be effective without complementary changes in the behavior of Australian managers.

China in Xi’s “New Era”: Overstepping Down Under

John Fitzgerald, Journal of Democracy, April 2018

  • . . .what keeps current Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in power is not simply nuclear weapons but also the powerful narrative that is spun to keep the North Korean people from rebelling. From the perspective of the North Korean regime, propaganda plays a large role in the Kim family’s survival. Its members have held on to power for seven decades largely because of their airtight control on information.

Bringing Real News to North Koreans

Jieun Baek, Foreign Affairs, June 11, 2018

  • In a sign of improving relations with the United States, North Korea has decided to cancel an annual “anti-U.S. imperialism” rally this year.

North Korea Cancels Annual Anti-US rally for First Time in Years

Laura Widener, American Military News, June 25, 2018

  • Gone are the posters depicting the U.S. as a “rotten, diseased, pirate nation” and promising “merciless revenge” on American forces for an imagined attack on the totalitarian country.  In their place are cheery messages touting praising the prospects for Korean reunification and the declaration Kim signed in Aprilwith South Korean President Moon Jae-in promising “lasting peace,” according to reports.  Still the most isolated country in the world, very few North Koreans have access to news and information from the outside world. So, state propaganda plays a huge role in shaping their views.

North Korea erasing most anti-US propaganda

Eileen Connelly, New York Post, June 23, 2018

  • Propaganda departments in China and North Korea were in full swing on Wednesday as Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, concluded a two-day tour of China that painted the once-reclusive autocrat as a forward-looking leader.

As Kim Ends Beijing Visit, China and North Korea Craft New Messages

Jane Perlez, The New York Times, June 20, 2018

  • Pyongyang is not an easy partner to make a deal with, primarily owing to a unique approach to diplomacy that North Koreans call “attack diplomacy.” The use of diplomacy to manipulate Americans is a point of pride for North Koreans, and their propagandagloats over their aptitude for duplicity and ability to “trick the Yankees.”  Such manipulation only matters if North Korea is negotiating in bad faith. Unfortunately, North Korea is probably more likely to enter into diplomatic negotiations in bad faith than any other state.

How Can the United States Defeat North Korea’s “Attack Diplomacy”?

T.S. Allen and Luke Schumacher, Modern War Institute, June 13, 2018

  • Kim Jong Un has to be given a great deal of credit for tactical diplomatic acumen. He began 2018 totally isolated and under severe economic and military pressure. * * * In five short months, he has totally reversed the diplomatic momentum of the situation. * * * Kim did this through very slick public diplomacy in which he shifted his image from that of a comic book villain to that of a normal and quite approachable statesman.

Obituary: The Maximum Pressure Policy

Joseph Dethomas, 38 North, May 9, 2018

  • While much of the world watched the historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea as it happened this week, citizens of the nation arguably most impacted by the summit remained in the dark.  Multiple sources reported that Korean Central Television, North Korea’s state news agency, aired historical programming, landscapes and the national flag as leader Kim Jong Un crossed the border to the south Friday.

North Korean TV Had Very Different Broadcast During Historic Korean Summit

Chris Agee, The Western Journal, April 27, 2018

  • North Korea’s army of hackers has grown more brazen and capable over the course of several months, broadcasting a growing willingness to launch attacks on international targets. Hackers linked to Pyongyang have deployed new tools and escalated operations against financial targets and global organizations.

Increasingly Brazen North Korean Hackers Growing Capable

Morgan Chalfant, The Hill, May 5, 2018

  • This week, the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign zoomed into Europe. Its magnifying glass focused on highway D1 in the Czech Republic, connecting Prague and Brno, the two biggest Czech cities.  Through the lens of the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign, the renovation of the highway appeared to be suspicious business and part of preparation for a war, a Czech outlet alerted.

Militarised Disinformation: When Highway Renovation becomes a Western attack “to the East”

Disinformation Review, June 21, 2018

  • At a surface level, the National Socialists (Nazis) and the Islamic State (IS) appear fundamentally different. * * * However, upon closer scrutiny Nazis and IS share a range of common features. * * * Of the similarities, one of the most foundational is an emphasis on appealing to disenfranchised members of a middle class and the groups’ exploitation of middle class identity to achieve their goals. Hitler rose to power on a wave of resentment among German professionals and veterans who felt economically vulnerable and nationally castrated after World War I. The Islamic State used a similar sense of resentment among former Baathist officers and other politically weak Sunnis to form a violent resistance to the Shia-dominated government. In both cases, the relatively deprived middle class embraced messages of supremacy, strength, and violence to restore themselves and their political community to their former glories.

The Fascist Caliphate: How the Islamic State Mirrored Fascist Political Tactics Through Appealing to a Relatively Deprived Middle Class

William Spach, Small Wars Journal, June 20, 2018

  • While Americans sound the alarm over covert social media manipulation, Israeli expert says no sign of Russian efforts to impact politics here

Fake news a ‘nuisance’ for Israel, not a dire threat, says country’s cyber chief

Simona Weinglass, The Times of Israel, June 24, 2018

  • Like President Xi, Crown Prince Salman has zero interest in freedom of expression. On the contrary, he may be seeking Hollywood’s help in fashioning a new kind of propaganda more powerful and persuasive than the old. If Hollywood wants to go along with this vision, then there’s not a lot the rest of us can do to discourage it. But at a minimum, we could refrain from cheering.

Drilling Down at Cannes

Martha Bayles, The American Interest, May 8, 2018

  • Amid widespread protests in response to Venezuela’s social, political and economic crises, state control over information has reached new heights.  In June 2018, Venezuelans have seen online newspapers, pornography sites, and the Tor network blocked, in what appears to be the latest move in an ever-evolving strategy to limit access to information for the general public.

No paper, no electricity, no news: Information controls keep coming in Venezuela

Global Voices, June 26, 2018


  • Unfortunately, what has been conspicuously missing from traditional evaluations of cultural exchange programs is a deeper conceptualization of “exchange.” In other words, fully understanding the two-way flow of information and experience, not to program participants, but also in turn to local communities and organizations that host them. This local impact of hosting international visitors is an indispensable aspect of the larger goal of creating mutual understanding through cultural diplomacy.

Reimagining Exchange: The Local Impact of Cultural Exchanges

Jian Wang and Erik Nisbet, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, Jun 25, 2018

  • As the percentage of issued F-1 visascontinues to drop, many institutions within the U.S. are facing decreasesin their international student population and are looking to bolster their current recruitment strategies. While the cultural and financial value of international students on American campuses has long been recognized, the importance of a diverse international student body and particularly an economically diverse student body is often overlooked. Recruiting economically diverse international students allows schools to more efficiently focus their recruitment efforts and better predict incoming classes, resulting in a higher yield on resources invested in recruitment and admissions.

How Increasing Economic Diversity Among International Students Benefits Higher Education Institutions

Makala Skinner, World Education News + Review, May 8, 2018

  • The University of New Hampshire says it will start accepting scores from the Chinese exam, making it the first flagship state school in the United States to evaluate Chinese applicants using the results from that test, known as the gaokao.

For Survivors of a 9-Hour Chinese Exam, a Door Opens to America

Tiffany May, The New York Times, June 13, 2018

  • A new report criticizing labor practices at NYU’s United Arab Emirates campus suggests that though the facility bears the same name, it isn’t held to the same labor standards.

The Selective Westernization of NYU’s Abu Dhabi Campus

David Kenner, The Atlantic, May 10, 2018

  • Technology and incubation hub, Hive Colabhas struck a partnership with the United States Embassy to introduce a mobile programming bus project in Uganda.  The year-long project which will kick off in August this year aims to connect Ugandans in under-served areas with educational opportunities and serve as a program venue for U.S. Embassy staff and visiting speakers.  The project will see a bus traverse the whole country while training and educating school children on various aspects including Literacy (reading and writing), American Culture, STEM, life skills, computer skills, among others.  Among the other activities that will be tacked through the project will be learning about American cultural programs including educational advising (Education USA), life skills, human rights, democracy, peace, leadership training and Sexual Reproductive health and rights training.

Hive Colab Partners with US Embassy in Mobile Programming Bus Project

Paul Mugume, PC Tech Magazine, April 26, 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

Carter T. McCausland, Virginia Military Institute, Assistant


One thought on “Information, Communication, and Public Diplomacy (#92) July 15, 2018, Seen on the Web 4123-5332

Comments are closed.