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File Notes on Information, Communication, and Public Diplomacy (#98)

File Notes on Information, Communication, and Public Diplomacy (#98)

Sun, Oct 28, 2018 at 8:26 PM

Files Notes on Information, Communication, and Public Diplomacy (#98)

October 28, 2018, Seen on the Web 4706-4791

. . . the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens . . . . 

May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

George Washington

August 18, 1790


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. 

Table of Contents

In the News


    Elements of Informational Power


    Professional Topics

  10. CYBER

    Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  18. NATO
  19. RUSSIA
  20. SWEDEN
  21. CHINA
  24. IRAN
  27. BRAZIL

    The Public Diplomacy Toolkit


    In the News


    ● The main tenets of the Kremlin’s hybrid operations are: information operations with cyber tools—which people commonly think of as hacking; propaganda and disinformation; manipulation of social media; and malign influence, which can be deployed through political, legal, or financial channels.  A further characteristic of Russian hybrid warfare is denial and deception used to obscure its involvement.  And the Kremlin deploys more than one hybrid warfare tactic simultaneously to provide maximum effect. 

    Russian Hybrid Warfare

    Senator Jack Reed, Congressional Record, Senate, October 10, 2018 (pp. S6763-S6766)


    ● On the occasion of the fifth meeting of the EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue in Brussels on 10 September 2018, the European Union (EU) and United States reaffirmed their strong partnership in favour of a global, open, stable and secure cyberspace where the rule of law fully applies, where the same rights that individuals have offline are protected online, and where the security, economic growth, prosperity, and integrity of free and democratic societies is promoted and preserved.

    EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue Joint Elements Statement

    Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, Department of State, October 16, 2018


    ● White House national-security adviser John Bolton says he told top officials in Moscow that Russian meddling in U.S. elections had backfired and that should provide a lesson to the Kremlin: “Don’t mess with American elections.”

    Bolton Says He Told Kremlin: ‘Don’t Mess With American Elections’

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, October 24, 2018

    ● U.S. Cyber Command has begun targeting Russian operatives, warning them that the military is tracking their activities in an attempt to deter them from disrupting the fast-approaching midterm elections, according to defense officials.  Begun in recent days,the operation is the first under a new presidential order easing restrictions on offensive cyberspace actions against foreign networks and represents Cyber Command’s initial foray into safeguarding U.S. elections, officials said.

    Pentagon launches first cyber operation to deter Russian interference in midterm elections

    Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post, October 23, 2108 

    ● In case you were wondering what sophisticated, stealthy new cybertools the U.S. government was cooking up to combat Russian interference in our elections, the Pentagon has just announced its first “cyber operation” to protect the midterms. It will be centered on the internet’s original sin: pop-up messages. Or rather, Cyber Command plans to use a variety of digital alerts—including text messages, emails, and pop-ups—to warn Russian operatives meddling in the midterm elections that their actions are being monitored. * * * it may well turn out that more aggressive measures are ultimately called for, but it’s heartening to see the U.S. government starting relatively small here, rather than escalating things too quickly. And it might be a mistake to underestimate either the irritation of pop-up messages—especially when they come with the unease of suddenly realizing that someone is watching what you’re doing on your computer, knows who and where you are, and is coming for you. 

    Bringing Pop-Ups to a Knife Fight

    Josephine Wolff, Slate, October 24, 2018

    ● U.S. Cyber Command has started launching its first offensive operations against Russian operatives trying to hack the midterm elections. Judging from the news accounts so far, I’d say they’re not quite offensive enough.

    Not Cyber Offensive Enough: The U.S. could be doing a lot more to deter Russian meddling in the midterms.

    Fred Kaplan, Slate, October 24, 2018

    ● An investigation into the US election system reveals frightening vulnerabilities at almost every level.

    The midterms are already hacked. You just don’t know it yet.

    Benjamin Wofford, Vox, October 25, 2018

    ● A realistic attack wouldn’t require mass voting manipulation or the hacking of physical machines. Rather it could use misinformation campaigns focused on vulnerable gaps at the county and state levels. * * * A well-crafted campaign could focus on specific states or congressional districts where a close race is forecasted. An attacker would then examine which counties would have a substantive impact if barriers were introduced to reduce voter turnout, either in total, or a specific subset (such as those in rural or urban parts of a district which generally have a strong correlation to conservative and liberal voting tendencies respectively).  Actors could use something as simple as a classic bulk email campaign to distribute links to fraudulent election websites that give voters false information about when, where and how to vote.  * * * As we will see – there are multiple challenges for a typical voter to identify legitimate from fraudulent sites, and the legitimate sites are often lacking the most basic security hygiene.

    State County Authorities Fail at Midterm Election Internet Security

    Steve Grobman, McAfee, October 24, 2018

    ● In the weeks leading up to the Swedish general election on September 9, Sweden’s Social Democrat’s website was repeatedlyflooded with fake traffic, causing it to slow down and ultimately crash for several hours. The majority of the traffic originated in Russia and North Korea.

    Cybersecurity for Political Campaigns in the Digital Age

    Amy Studdart, Power 3.0, September 20, 2018

    ● European Union officials are bracing for attempted meddling by Russia-backed operatives and their copycats ahead of the bloc’s elections in the spring, where far-right parties are set to make gains.  That’s led the bloc to bolster its defenses against cyber-attacks and pressure tech platforms to ramp up the fight against misinformation.

    Fear of Russian Meddling Hangs Over Next Year’s EU Elections

    Natalia Drozdiak, Bloomberg, October 16, 2018


    ● Why do murders like those of Jamal Khashoggi and Farzad Barzoft, or disappearances like those of Pakistani blogger Samar Abbas  and Chinese professor Sun Wenguang happen? Simple. Because anti-democratic regimes believe they can get away with it. And because the United States and its allies have failed since the end of the Cold War to embrace a national-security strategy founded on values, rather than naked geopolitical interests, these regimes will largely be right.

    The U.S. Needs to Put Its Values Back at the Center of Its Foreign Policy

    Danielle Pletka, The Atlantic, October 24, 2018

    ● The darkest clouds hovering over the slaying of a noted Saudi journalist at the country’s consulate in Istanbul are multiplying daily. However, the immediate question remains: what’s next, and when and where will the murderers be brought to justice?

    The Khashoggi Murder: What’s Next?

    Alan Heil, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, October 25, 2018

    ● As more and more facts surface about those responsible for the death of Khashoogi, a speedy and comprehensive move guaranteeing a ceasefire in Yemen might be a significant stabilizer in the chaos gripping Arabia as a whole. A quickly arranged ceasefire led by Saudi Arabia would be a masterful public diplomacy act that could be the key to stabilizing Arabia and repairing the image of MBS.

    The Kashoggi Crisis: What Next?

    Alan Heil, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, October 20, 2018


    ● America’s public schools are still touting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether.

    The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected

    Nellie Bowles, The New York Times, Oct. 26, 2018

    ● Athena Chavarria, who worked as an executive assistant at Facebook and is now at Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said: “I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children.”

    A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley

    Nellie Bowles, The New York Times, October 26, 2018

    ● Child care contracts now demand that nannies hide phones, tablets, computers and TVs from their charges.

    Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids

    Nellie Bowles, The New York Times, October 26, 2018

    Elements of Informational Power


    ● Spotlight on Success: Increasing Human Rights Outreach Through Social Media:  [The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s] Office of Policy Planning and Public Diplomacy actively used social media tools to conduct outreach on human rights issues. The bureau’s Facebook page is the Department’s second-most popular domestic page, with approximately 2.3 million followers, 98 percent of whom live outside the United States. The office produced 70 videos over 12 months, 52 of which were part of its Human Rights Heroes Initiative and spotlighted individuals and institutions engaged in human rights work around the world. For example, in December 2017, the office produced a video interview of a North Korean defector, which drew about 11,000 viewers. Its videos, tied to DRL bureau strategic priorities, were viewed 2.2 million times. Finally, the office’s May 2018 interactive web chat on media literacy attracted participation by 35 U.S. embassies and other programming venues, the largest number of venues in the Department’s history for such outreach, according to information reviewed by OIG. 

    Inspection of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor 

    State Department, Office of Inspections, October 26, 2018

    Professional Topics


    ● The information space that is used by voters, politicians and interest groups in Western nations is being contested and challenged by new risks and threats, both from within and from without. Ubiquitous Internet platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube once held the promise of greater democratic participation and pluralism. But this has been tempered by concerns about the misuse of personal data and by new forms of political polarisation. This has occurred in tandem with an erosion of the balancing effect of trusted sources of information and a steep rise in the production and dissemination of false news (‘fake news’). * * * Systemic vulnerabilities in Western political information spaces have been avidly exploited by the Russian state. It has done this through the deployment of intentionally divisive and polarising false-flag content. This includes disinformation, which may be defined as ‘deliberately distorted or manipulated information that is leaked into the communication system of the opponent, with the expectation that it will be accepted as genuine information, and influence either the decision-making process or public opinion.

    Political Subervsion in the Age of Social Media

    Edward Hunter Christie, Policy Brief, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, October, 2018

    ● Disinformation, the intentional use of false or misleading information for political purposes, is increasingly recognized as a threat to democracy worldwide. Many observers argue that this challenge has been exacerbated by social media and a declining environment for independent news outlets. Now, new advances in technology—including but not limited to “deepfakes” and other forms of synthetic media—threaten to supercharge the disinformation crisis.  The International Forum for Democratic Studies asked five leading experts about the role that deepfakes and other emerging applications may play in the disinformation landscape.

    The Big Question: How Will ‘Deepfakes’ and Emerging Technology Transform Disinformation?

    National Endowment for Democracy, October 1, 2018

    ● Call it the era of misinformation. Call it a crisis of trust. If you must, call it fake news. The truth is that in 2018, hot-button news events are immediately weaponized online by interested parties, whether that’s foreign actors trying to undermine democracy, local politicians trying to rally their base, spammers trying to make a quick buck, even trolls in it for the old-fashioned lulz—or all of the above.  In this treacherous landscape, you need to be armed with facts, and an awareness that conversation you see online may not be what it appears, especially when it comes to divisive social issues like immigration.  This week, you need to be aware of misinformation surrounding news of a caravan of migrants walking from Central America through Mexico to the US.

    Alert: Don’t Believe Everything You Read About the Migrant Caravan

    Emily Dreyfuss, Wired, October 23, 2018

    ● A recent poll found that 44 percent of voters in Brazil use WhatsApp to read political and electoral information. Unfortunately, in the lead-up to the first round of the presidential election on Oct. 7, the app was used to spread alarming amounts of misinformation, rumors and false news.

    Fake News Is Poisoning Brazilian Politics. WhatsApp Can Stop It. 

    Cristina Tardáguila, Fabrício Benevenuto and Pablo Ortellado, The New York Times, October 17, 2018

    ● There is truth and there is post-truth. There is information and there is disinformation. But in the grey zone between these categories, there is infoshum – Russian for “info-noise”.

    InfoShum: The New Trend in Kremlin Propaganda

    EU vs. Disinfo, 15 October 2018


    ● We set about mapping the influence of known sources of junk political news and information that regularly craft content for an audience of US military personnel and veterans—we call such activity Veteran Operations or “VetOps”.  In particular, we investigate pattersns of interaction between current or former military personnel who have (i) shared shared junk news targeted to an audience of military personnel, (ii) engaged with users who disseminate large amounts of misinformation about national security and international affairs.

    Junk News on Military Affairs and National Security: Social Media Disinformation Campaigns Against US Military Personnel and Veterans

    John D. Gallacher, Vlad Barash, Philip N. Howard, and John Kelly, COMPROP Data Memo 2017.9, October, 2017

    ● Add another one to the list of scams soldiers should be looking out for. Apparently now internet grifters are pretending to have hacked your computer’s camera and taken videos of you or your family, and they’re threatening to release them unless you pay up. Army Criminal Investigation Command is warning soldiers and families to beware of this “hijacked webcam” scam, according to a Thursday release from the Army.

    Has someone contacted you saying they’ve got webcam video of you? Don’t pay them.

    Meghann Myers, Army Times, October 24, 2018

    ● Special operators and other troops must stop taking their unsecured personal tablets and smart phones into combat after an internal Navy investigation found that mapping applications can be hacked by hostile actors, cybersecurity experts warn.

    Cybersecurity Experts: Stop Sending Troops Into Combat With Personal Tablets, Smartphones

    Susan Crabtree, Washington Free Beacon, October 24, 2018


    ● Mr. Goldsmith is part of a cottage industry of digital detectives investigating malfeasance on social media that extends beyond internet firms, journalists and academics to include ordinary citizens.  “They see me as a novice cybervigilante, and not someone with the reputation of a research university to back me up,” Mr. Goldsmith said of Facebook. “Which, to be fair, is exactly the case.” What U.S. intelligence agencies say was a widespread effort by the Kremlin to influence the 2016 presidential elections—and renewed warnings about attempts to influence the midterms—have added urgency to their cause.

    Army Veteran Wages War on Social-Media Disinformation

    Ben Kesling and Dustin Volz, The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2018

    ● We are still blessed with relative political peace. But we shouldn’t fool ourselves. That can change. The late Sixties and early Seventies saw a surge of political violence on a scale that would shock the conscience of Americans today. We do not want to walk down that road. That level of violence, amplified through social media, could very well break our nation. So it’s imperative that we restrain our rhetoric, wait for evidence, and then have the moral courage to follow that evidence wherever it takes us — even to the darkest places in our own political movements.

    It’s Going to Get Worse 

    David French, National Review, October 24, 2018

    ●. . . when Elena Khusyaynova, the alleged financier of a sprawling Russian disinformation effort, was indicted last week, one Russian media outlet rushed to associate itself with the St. Petersburg accountant. USA Really, a conspiratorial website run by a Russian media executive and Kremlin policy adviser, quickly boasted on its website that Khusyaynova was the company’s chief financial officer.

    D.C.-Based Russian Media Venture Boasts that Indicted Kremlin Operative Is Its CFO

    Lachlan Markay and Dean Sterling Jones, The Daily Beast, October 26, 2018

    ● Twitter is defending its policy of removing fake accounts after President Trump attacked the tech company for removing “many people from my account.”  The social media giant said it was ● seeking to remove fake accounts so that people would know their followers are actually real people and argued that this was for the better.

    Twitter defends removal of fake accounts after Trump criticism

    Tal Axelrod, The Hill, October 26, 2018

    ● The Department of Defense announced today efforts to expand its successful ‘Hack the Pentagon’ crowdsourced security program. DOD awarded contracts to three private-sector Silicon Valley firms to boost the Department’s capacity to run bug bounties aimed at strengthening security for internal DOD assets. 

    Department of Defense Expands ‘Hack the Pentagon’ Crowdsourced Digital Defense Program

    News Release, Department of Defense, October 24, 2018

    ● [General Joseph] Dunford said in the years since U.S. forces first responded to ISIS’s invasion in the summer of 2014, the military has been able to better counter social media warfare and other online weapons, such as gaining organizational or planning capabilities.  The military “has had some success in cyberspace,” Dunford said, without going into specifics. “Much as we have worked over the last few years to deny them sanctuary in the physical space we’ve done the same thing to deny them freedom of movement in cyberspace.”

    DoD knows future terror groups will seek to copy ISIS, turn social media into a weapon

    Tara Copp, Military Times, October 16, 2018

    ● Social networking sites are thus a double-edged sword. They can be used to organize, inform, and mobilize large groups. But in doing this you provide the secret police a lot of information you would rather not share with them. Islamic terror groups advise their members to avoid social networking sites, but that has proved impossible to enforce. Social networking was designed to be alluring, as well as useful, especially to the young and niche groups. For young revolutionaries, this can be a fatal attraction. Social networking sites can be used to organize, inform, and mobilize large groups. But in doing this you provide the secret police a lot of information you would rather not share with them.

    Intelligence: Social Media In The Combat Zone

    Strategy Page, October 11, 2018

    ● Fake accounts can push unwitting groups toward the fringes, Mr. Brookie said. “It just piggybacks onto very real sentiment,” he said. By appearing to be peers, fake pages can push others to increasingly polarized positions and make the extreme seem normal, he said.

    Fake Facebook Accounts Latched On to Real U.S. Protest Groups

    Deepa Seetharaman and Robert McMillan, The Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2018


  10. CYBER

    ● The new US National Cyber Strategy points to Russia, China, North Korea and Iran as the main international actors responsible for launching malicious cyber and information warfare campaigns against Western interests and democratic processes. Washington made clear its intention of scaling the response to the magnitude of the threat, while actively pursuing the goal of an open, secure and global Internet.  The first Report of the ISPI Center on Cybersecurity focuses on the behaviour of these “usual suspects”, investigates the security risks implicit in the mounting international confrontation in cyberspace, and highlights the current irreconcilable political cleavage between these four countries and the West in their respective approaches “in and around” cyberspace.

    Confronting an “Axix of Cyber”? China, Iran, North Korea, Russia

    in Cyberspace

    Fabio Rugge, ISPI: Instituto per gli studi de politica internazionale, October, 2018

    ● Rob Joyce, former White House cyber coordinator and a senior official at the National Security Agency, believes the new U.S. policy governing cyber warfare is more “thoughtful” than some of its critics might think. * * Joyce pushed back on the idea that the Trump administration’s rescission and replacement of Presidential Policy Directive 20, which detailed an interagency process to approve offensive cyber operations developed under the Obama administration, amounted to throwing out the rulebook. 

    NSA official: new U.S. cyberwar policy isn’t the ‘Wild West’

    Derek B. Johnson, FCW, October 24, 2018

    ● The Russian Defense Ministry has announced a procurement contract . . . to supply the military with equipment enabling it to monitor cadets’ online activities. * * * According to the (Dubai-based) developers of this software, InfoWatch protects businesses from “reputational risks caused by leaks,” prevents the “retrieval of confidential data,” and “collects evidence for incidents investigations.”

    Russia’s military to spend half a billion rubles on software to monitor cadets online

    Meduza, October 23 2018

    ● Special operators and other troops must stop taking their unsecured personal tablets and smart phones into combat after an internal Navy investigation found that mapping applications can be hacked by hostile actors, cybersecurity experts warn.

    Cybersecurity Experts: Stop Sending Troops Into Combat With Personal Tablets, Smartphones

    Susan Crabtree, Washington Free Beacon, October 24, 2018

    ● Social engineering:  An attempt to trick someone into revealing confidential information (e.g., a password) that can be used to attack systems or networks. Examples include: phishing—when the attacker masquerades as a legitimate business or reputable person via an e-mail or website to obtain certain information; spear-phishing—when phishing attacks are closely tailored to the audience; and whaling—phishing that targets high ranking members of organizations.

    Appendix II: Examples of Types of Cyber Attacks

    WEAPON SYSTEMS CYBER SECURITY: DOD Just Beginning to Grapple with Scale of 

    Vulnerabilities, U.S. Government Accountability Office, Report to the Senate Armed Services Committee, October 2018



    ● Since its inception nearly three decades ago, soft power has become a foundational concept for understanding how states exert influence. * * * In recent years, a third type of power has become increasingly important as authoritarian countries such as China and Russia have tried to manipulate and co-opt culture, education systems, and media to influence democracies. * * * This isn’t hard power—military force is not really in play. And it isn’t really soft power, either. * * What is really going on is that authoritarian states are attempting to exert influence through sharp power, which typically stems from ideologies that privilege state power over individual liberty and are fundamentally hostile to open debate and independent thought. Practice differs from regime to regime, but sharp power usually involves censorship and manipulation designed not to win over publics but to degrade the integrity of independent institutions.  How do we know who is exerting sharp power effectively, and how do we gauge its impact? 

    Forget Hearts and Minds: Soft power is out; sharp power is in. Here’s how to win the new influence wars.

    Christopher Walker, Shanthi Kalathil, and Jessica Ludwig, Foreign Policy, September 14, 2018

    ● As globalization allows for a growth in targeted authoritarian threats — defined as “sharp power” — democracies find themselves in increasingly vulnerable positions. Democracies must focus on soft power approaches, particularly in the realm of engaging civil society, to combat sharp power threats, rather than attempting to engage in equally intrusive campaigns. Dr. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., and Ms. Shanthi Kalathil spoke to Pacific Council members on the rise of authoritarianism and democratic responses in the fourth installment of the 2018 Summer Teleconference Series. Kalathil argued that “democracies should live by their democratic values while calling out authoritarian behavior and avoid engaging in xenophobic activities that would diminish their true soft power,” and that democracies must “rethink how [they] can most effectively project their voices and define their values.”

    Democracies Should Fight Sharp Power with Soft Power

    National Endowment for Democracy, September 4, 2018



    ● Despite hiring thousands of employees and investing in teams dedicated to quelling phony information two years after the problem emerged during the 2016 presidential election, the country’s most influential tech companies have struggled to respond. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have resisted demands to remove some of the viral conspiracy theories and extremist content — a reflection both of the gravity of the task and of their belief that they should not serve as arbiters of truth. 

    Why false narratives about the migrant caravan and mail bombs won’t go away on social media

    Drew Harwell, Tony Romm, and Craig Timberg, The Washington Post, October 25, 2018

    ● . . . the narrative jamming paradigm refers to the constellation of practices that operationalize concepts of physical jamming in the EM spectrum for SC.  An example would be attempts degrade an adversary narrative through counter-messaging, i.e. refuting claims within the target narrative to undermine its credibility.  Another application of the narrative jamming paradigm involves attempts to increase the salience of a counter-narrative by flooding the information environment (IE) with references in the hope that they will overpower or drown out the target narrative.

    Applying Recent Lessons from Climate Change Communication to Counter-ISIS Strategic Communication

    Nicholas Mercurio, Small Wars Journal, n.d.

    ● “Dispelling any doubts that the Chinese government is trying to create a new narrative about its indoctrination camps in Xinjiang, CCTV on Tuesday broadcast a primetime program praising the camps,” tweeted New York Times reporter Chris Buckley this morning. You can watch the whole program here (in Chinese).

    The ‘students’ of Xinjiang — Beijing on the defensive

    SupChina, October 16, 2018



    ●. . . given the scope of the changes – and the historical, cultural, and emotional weight of the Alamo itself – the multimillion-dollar Master Plan has ignited an impassioned debate over how the story of Texas’s creation myth should be told, and what (and how) other stories should be told with it. The plan’s proponents hope the redesigned Alamo will provide a broader history that better encapsulates the state’s diversity and complexity. Critics are hoping that certain stories don’t get buried in the process.

    In Alamo redesign, renewed battles over who gets to tell stories of Texas 

    Henry Gass, Christian Science Monitor, October 23, 2018



    ● Conspiracy theories are a form of superstition. They work on the assumption that bad things must be willed by human actors. What makes conspiracy theories so compelling is that they are like a complex molecule in which Reason and Superstition stick to each other in just such a way that they can get passed the blood-brain barrier and, like a virus, wreak havoc in our minds.

    The Tribal Appeal of Conspiracy Theories 

    Jonah Goldberg, National Review, October 26, 2018



    NOTE TO READERS:  The attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue has prompted a large number of reports, columns, and essays discussing Anti-Semitism, hate crimes, and American society – alas too many to catalog.  The articles below were compiled before the attack.

    ●. . . Hitler’s death did not end other manifestations of anti-Semitism. It lived on in the communist attacks on the conspiracy of Zionists with “American monopoly capitalists,” during the anti-cosmopolitan purges of the early 1950s; in the New Left’s denunciation of a supposedly powerful Israel working as a tool of American imperialism in the aftermath of the Six-Day War of 1967; in the Palestine Liberation Organization’s lies that Israel was an apartheid state that practiced deliberate mass murder. It lived on among the radical Islamists in Tehran, among authors of the Hamas Charter of 1988, and in the al-Qaeda killers who attacked the “alliance of Jews and crusaders” on Sept. 11, 2001. That attack fused hatred of the United States and Jews. Every single one of these forms of anti-Semitism, though on opposite ends of the political spectrum, has a conspiratorial mind set at its core that leads to the use of violence to attack the supposedly powerful Jew, indistinguishable from the supposedly evil Zionist.

    Trump doesn’t understand how anti-Semitism works. Neither do most Americans

    Jeffrey Herf, The Washington Post, October 27, 2018

    ● There is no single source of anti-Semitism in the United States; it comes from radical leftists bent on destroying the Jewish state and right-wing nationalists who consider Jews to be foreign invaders. Both are increasingly evident on college campuses.

    American anti-Semitism: It’s getting worse

    Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post, October 27, 2018

    ● Myth No. 1:  The last of the tsars, Nicholas II, was a decent man. * * * Worst of all, he was an incorrigible anti-Semite, blaming Jewish people for all the woes that preceded and followed his abdication: “One thing is clear: it is that as long as the Yids are in charge everything will get worse,” he wrote to his mother in 1917. In captivity, he read aloud to his family the book that in the West we know as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” His belief in a world Jewish conspiracy, combined with his contempt for democracy, made him a fascist before the word was coined.

    Five myths about the Romanovs

    Robert Service, The Washington Post, October 26, 2018

    ● The conspiracy theories around Soros, then, aren’t just expressions of bitter partisanship * * * his name has become a synonym for a well-worn anti-Semitic canard: the idea that Jews are malevolent fomenters of social dissent, agitators slyly funding and masterminding protest, seeking to undermine a white, Christian social order.

    Conspiracy theories about Soros aren’t just false. They’re anti-Semitic.

    By Talia Lavin, The Washington Post, October 24, 2018 



    ● It’s heartening that we find that good ideas will spread well no matter where they are born. It’s a bit less encouraging that mediocre ideas can spread just as far as good ones if they originate at a prestigious university. If we want academia to act more like a meritocracy, then we should try harder to ensure that our evaluations of ideas are not biased by the prestige of their birthplace, but instead focus on their independent merits.

    Academic ideas are supposed to thrive on their merits. If only.

    Henry Farrell, The Washington Post, October 24, 2018

    ● Q: What is fog of war in cyberspace?  A:  [Dr. Alexander Kott, chief scientist of the United States Army Research Lab]  It’s not a particularly well-accepted term. My colleagues and I came up with this term to describe an idea that sometimes the best way to hide your information from the enemy is to put it everywhere. Take your information, break into small pieces and sprinkle it around. Only you should know how to reassemble all those little droplets.  Fog is bad when it hides things from us and we cannot see clearly. Fog is our friend when it hides us from our enemies. We have done some interesting research in the last couple of years on how to use the enormous number of small computing devices we have everywhere.

    ‘Internet of Battlefield Things’ Transforms Combat

    Jennifer Strong, The Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2018

    ● Americans over 50 are worse than younger people at telling facts from opinions, according to a new study by Pew Research Center.

    Older People Are Worse Than Young People at Telling Fact From Opinion

    Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, October 23, 2018

    ● Nationalism is burdened by negative connotations, all of which are well-deserved. It is hard to avoid confronting the fact that nationalism is often a precursor to national, sectarian, ethnic, and tribal conflicts around the globe.

    Our Nationalist Nightmare

    Noah Rothman, Commentary, October 23, 2018

    ● One of the things we heard over and over again as we conducted the review is that we need to be more realistic about what success looks like in places like Afghanistan or Somalia.  Rather than focusing on broad state-building efforts, the U.S. government, host nation, and other partners should target those dynamics that are fundamental to establishing basic peace and stability.  The goal of stabilization is not to remake societies, but to help those with legitimacy to peaceably manage conflict.  This approach requires more humility and more realism as we work to understand the dynamics in places where we are operating and how we can influence them.

    A New U.S. Framework for Stabilization: Opportunities for Civil Affairs

    Kevin Melton, Peter Quaranto, Patrick Quirk, Sara Reckless and Kelly Uribe, Small Wars Journal, n.d.

    ● When the story of 2018 is told, historians may be hard pressed to say which was weirdest: that a deadly nerve agent was deployed in a quiet cathedral town on the edge of Salisbury Plain, at the heart of our military establishment. Or that the Russian suspects were identified not by British intelligence but a group described last week as “armchair investigators”.

    Citizen journalists – the fighters on the frontline against Russia’s attacks 

    Carole Cadwalldr, The Guardian, October 13, 2018



    ● To Americans, “House of Cards” is a soap opera told through a dark portrayal of U.S. politics * * * But abroad, it may have done much greater damage. It has found success among audiences that know little about American democracy and may, like Putin, already subscribe to a warped idea about how its machinery works. In places like those, the show is a poisonous piece of soft power that validates toxic conspiracy theories and the anti-American propaganda of U.S. rivals like Russia, China and even Iran, all of which have avid viewers of the show.

    ‘House of Cards’ is credible. Just ask the Russians, Chinese and Iranians.

    Reid Standish, The Washington Post, October 25, 2016


    ● If the Trump boom has proved anything, meanwhile, it’s proved that American prosperity is still made at home. A better answer to China’s perverse ambitions would be to focus on renewing our own economic dynamism, building up our military and alliances, dealing with the fiscal challenge of our welfare state. These priorities are likely to guarantee American success in the coming century, not following Xi Jinping down the path of seeking foreign scapegoats for failure and heavy-handed intervention at home.

    Let’s Vote on a China Cold War

    Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., The Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2018


    ● It has now become evident that Republicans are better at politicizing cultural issues and Democrats are better at offering economic benefits to those who are struggling. If you think voting behavior is primarily motivated by material appeals, the Democratic strategy is fine. But if you think it’s motivated by cultural identity, a desire for respect, a sense of what’s right, loyalty to a common story, the Democratic strategy leaves a lot to be desired.  These days, culture is more important than economics.

    The Materialist Party

    David Brooks, The New York Times, October 22, 2018


    ● There’s an old saying that when the United States catches a cold, the rest of the world gets pneumonia.

    The Midterms Are Getting Weirder and Weirder

    Bret Stephens, The New York Times, October 23, 2018


    ● . . . as a global leader, other nations tend to follow America. What happens in America affects the rest of the world, be it for good or bad.

    Where Does the Phrase “When America Sneezes, the World Catches Cold” Originate?

    Elizabeth Nicholas, Culture Trip, April 22, 2018


    ● How can we live in an America where someone . . .  can send pipe bombs to, among others, former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), financier George Soros, former CIA director John Brennan and CNN?  This is not what America is about. We are a country dedicated to freedom of speech, press, assembly and religion. We are a nation of immigrants from all corners of the globe brought together in mutual dedication to the “self-evident” truths “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” All “men” means, in the language of the 18th century, all people of whatever gender or color or creed.  There is no exception for liberals or Jews or critics of the president.

    What is happening to our country?

    Max Boot, The Washington Post, October 27, 2018


    Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  18. NATO

    ● Western military exercises are an obvious target for the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign that aims to undermine the public’s trust in EU countries, NATO and the West in general.  Recently the Ukrainian-hosted “Clear Sky 2018” – a 12-day joint multinational military exercise – concluded. And NATO’s Trident Juncture 18, one of the largest military exercises ever held in Norway, was launched on 25 October. The disinformation about these events had been well prepared and tailored for different audiences well in advance.

    Top three ways Russia spreads disinformation about NATO military exercises

    Europmaidan Press, October 26, 2018


  19. RUSSIA

    ● Born in Russia and spread abroad, the idea of holding “youth patriotic camps” represents a two-tier “hybrid” strategy for Moscow based on proselytizing to youths (fostering pro-Russian and anti-Western feelings) and conveying skills and knowledge on subversive actions as a part of non-linear military operations.

    Russian PMCs, War Veterans Running ‘Patriotic’ Youth Camps in the Balkans (Part One)

    Sergey Sukhankin, Jamestown Foundation, October 24, 2018

    The Kremlin has fallen into a trap that almost any government in power for a long time does. It has increasingly begun to accept its own propaganda as an accurate description of reality, thus losing touch with what is going on and offending both its own officials and the population at large, according to Sergey Shelin.

    Kremlin Believes Its Own Propaganda and Loses Touch with Realities Russians and Russian Officials Can See, Shelin Says 

    Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia-New Series, October 26, 2018

    ● President Trump began the morning of his summit with Putin by tweeting: Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!  The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs quoted the tweet responding: We agree.

    Diplomacy Disrupted

    Donna Oglesby, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, October 23, 2018

    ● There is truth and there is post-truth. There is information and there is disinformation. But in the grey zone between these categories, there is infoshum – Russian for “info-noise”.

    InfoShum: The New Trend in Kremlin Propaganda

    EU vs. Disinfo, 15 October 2018

    ● In the years since Maria Zakharova took over the job of communicating Russia’s intentions to the wider world, her weekly press briefing has become must-watch TV here.  Combative and aggressive, her style mimicked Russia’s increasing belligerence, both at home and abroad.

    Meet The Woman Who Is Proudly Russia’s Troll-In-Chief

    Konstantin Benyumov and Emily Tamkin, Buzzfeed News, October 22, 2018

    ● Not mentioned in the article is crushing efforts by the government to saturate the common folk with propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, and fake news. Some estimate that 80% of the Russian Information Warfare program is aimed inward, internally, toward the Russian people. If you think it’s bad here in the West, I would hate to be living in Russia. 

    Lilia Shevtsova: Gutting Russia

    Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, October 27 2018

    ● If one is to understand if and to what extent Russia’s cyber activities are different from those of China or the US, let us start by making a distinction between three related, but distinct phenomena: cyber-espionage; (dis)information campaigns that draw on cyber-espionage; and cyber-attacks with real life consequences (in the physical world).

    Russian cyber sins and storms

    Nina Popescu, European Council on Foreign Relations, October 10, 2018

    ● [Joel Harding’s article includes a link to an essay published on October 16, 2018, by the recently established “’Information Special Forces’ Association” (” “The United States may disintegrate soon: the expert named the date when the fate of America will be decided.”]

    Igor Panarin, Head Of Russian Information Spetnaz

    Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, October 16, 2018

    ● The Russian Defense Ministry has announced a procurement contract . . . to supply the military with equipment enabling it to monitor cadets’ online activities. * * * According to the (Dubai-based) developers of this software, InfoWatch protects businesses from “reputational risks caused by leaks,” prevents the “retrieval of confidential data,” and “collects evidence for incidents investigations.”

    Russia’s military to spend half a billion rubles on software to monitor cadets online

    Meduza, October 23 2018


  20. SWEDEN

    ● In the weeks leading up to the Swedish general election on September 9, Sweden’s Social Democrat’s website was repeatedlyflooded with fake traffic, causing it to slow down and ultimately crash for several hours. The majority of the traffic originated in Russia and North Korea.

    Cybersecurity for Political Campaigns in the Digital Age

    Amy Studdart, Power 3.0, September 20, 2018


  21. CHINA

    ● Chinese authorities describe the purpose of the camps as educational or therapeutic. “Members of the public who have been chosen for reeducation have been infected by an ideological illness,” residents of the province were told via state-approved social media. “They have been infected with religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology, and therefore they must seek treatment from a hospital as an inpatient.” 

    China’s glittering glamour disguises a fist of tyranny

    David Von Drehle, The Washington Post, October 26, 2018

    ● As friction between Washington and Beijing has intensified this year over issues including trade and the mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the Chinese government’s propaganda and censorship apparatus has sought to keep pace.  During the past month in particular, three existing trends in the Communist Party’s media policy have gained new prominence: a revival of Mao-era themes, suppression of negative content about the economy, and a push to deliver official narratives directly to U.S. audiences.  But even as these efforts accomplish certain goals, particularly within China, they are also detrimental for the party in a number of important ways.

    Amid US-China Tension, Beijing’s Propaganda Machine Kicks Into Overdrive

    Sarah Cook, The Diplomat, October 24, 2018

    ● Xi Jinping’s rule features a global expansion of Party work, notably propaganda and United Front efforts that can help engineer environments favourable to CCP policies. The installation of Xiist concepts at the United Nations is a discourse-engineering success story, illustrating the use of multiple state and private entities and methods ranging from propaganda to bribery.

    Confined discourse management and the PRC’s localised interactions in the Nordics Jichang Lulu, Sinopsis, October 22, 2018 

    ● Government propaganda insisted the centres were aimed at countering the spread of separatism, violence and religious “extremism” through “free” education and job training.  However, an AFP examination of more than 1,500 publicly available government documents – ranging from tenders and budgets to official work reports – shows the centres are run more like jails than schools.

    Inside China’s internment camps: Tear gas, Tasers and textbooks

    Al-Jazeera, October 24, 2018

    ● Global Times continues its propaganda campaign on Xinjiang with an editorial titled Governance in Xinjiang stands on righteous side. The Chinese version of the editorial is one of the top stories on the Global Times website. There’s also this piece of fantasy:Interfaith harmony is mainstream in Xinjiang.

    Adding oil and fighting poverty — state media today

    SupChina, October 17, 2018

    ● Surprisingly, the voluntary 2015 Xi-Obama agreement stopping military forces from hacking commercial enterprises for economic gain did appear to reduce Chinese theft from western targets. China’s technological development process, however, was still dependent on massive expropriation of foreign R&D. This necessitated new ways to get information while still technically adhering to the agreement. 

    China’s Maxim – Leave No Access Point Unexploited: The Hidden Story of China Telecom’s BGP Hijacking

    Chris C. Demchak and Yuval Shavitt, Military Cyber Affairs, 2018


    ● We discovered that North Korea’s ruling elite are technologically savvy, use a full range of older and cutting-edge computers, phones, and devices, use the internet as a tool for sanctions circumvention, and recently shifted to embrace Chinese social networking services over Western ones.  In this final piece in our series, we explore the persistence of trends in internet security, social media use, and cryptocurrency, and reveal greater insight into the way North Korea uses the internet to generate revenue for the Kim regime.

    Shifting Patterns in Internet Use Reveal Adaptable and Innovative North Korean Ruling Elite

    Insikt Group, Recorded Future, October 25, 2018



    ● They posed as fans of pop stars and national heroes as they flooded Facebook with their hatred. One said Islam was a global threat to Buddhism. Another shared a false story about the rape of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim man.  The Facebook posts were not from everyday internet users. Instead, they were from Myanmar military personnel who turned the social network into a tool for ethnic cleansing, according to former military officials, researchers and civilian officials in the country.

    A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military

    Paul Mozur, The New York Times, October 15, 2018


  24. IRAN

    ● Facebook has discovered Iranian disinformation activity on its platform and is working to reduce its impact.

    Facebook finds evidence of Iranian disinformation campaign

    Ali Breland, TheHill, Octobert 26, 2018



    ●. . . [Aqil] Shah — a Pakistani scholar at the University of Oklahoma — has found that U.S. drone warfare strikes enjoyed broad public support among the population in Pakistan’s tribal areas.  * * * Shah’s study is not alone — other efforts by scholars withdeep ties to the tribal areas have made a similar case in recent years. These writers relate how local residents in interviews largely voice support for the strikes, stating they target the “sinners” and not the “innocent.”  However, such findings clash sharply with a vast body of writing arguing just the opposite. Over the last decade and a half, numerous journalists, scholars and activists have written about how U.S. drone warfare in nations like Pakistan — as well as Yemen, Somalia and beyond — has harmed civilians,alienating and radicalizing populations in the target societies. ● ● According to this blowback thesis, the strikes and their vast civilian death toll have “created a siege mentality,” spreading hate for the United States in countries such as Pakistan.

    Does U.S. drone warfare in countries like Pakistan really cause ‘blowback’?

    By Daniel Silverman, The Washington Post, October 26, 2018 



    ● The Cyber Operations Command will address issues like cyber terrorism, extremist propaganda, terror recruitment drives, fake news and data theft. It will also enhance digital monitoring of all ongoing operations, especially the war against Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria.

    Nigerian Army Launches Cyber Command Base In Abuja 

    Africa Independent Television, October 16?, 2018


  27. BRAZIL

    ● A recent poll found that 44 percent of voters in Brazil use WhatsApp to read political and electoral information. Unfortunately, in the lead-up to the first round of the presidential election on Oct. 7, the app was used to spread alarming amounts of misinformation, rumors and false news.

    Fake News Is Poisoning Brazilian Politics. WhatsApp Can Stop It. 

    Cristina Tardáguila, Fabrício Benevenuto and Pablo Ortellado, The New York Times, October 17, 2018



    ● Four years later, the coalition of nations that rose up against ISIS in Iraq and Syria sees conventional operations coming to a close, and ISIS’ ability to manipulate social media has also been largely dismantled, said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford. * * * Dunford said the group’s ability to produce videos, web posts and other outreach has been cut by more than 80 percent over the last two years, and that the group’s once-flagship monthly propaganda magazine hasn’t been published in more than a year.

    DoD knows future terror groups will seek to copy ISIS, turn social media into a weapon

    Tara Copp, Military Times, October 16, 2018

    ● [General Dunford:]  In the meantime, the greatest challenge we face today is probably from individuals and homegrown violent extremists who are inspired by ISIS’ ideology. 

    Russia’s Strategy, ISIS’ Future & Countering China: CJCS Dunford Speaks 

    James Kitfield, Breaking Defense, October 16, 2018

    ● A SINISTER poster purporting to come from ISIS has threatened cyber attacks against the West.  The chilling caption on the image, which has been circulating online, reads: “We will terrorise you in cyber space and a real world”.

    ‘We Will Terrorise You’: ISIS threatens more attacks ‘in cyberspace and the real world’ in chilling warning to the West

    Nika Shakhnazarova and Jon Lockett, The Sun, October 15, 2018

    The Public Diplomacy Toolkit


    ● Ukraine’s military is improving its combat effectiveness and interoperability with NATO, but it still needs to improve its English-language skills and continue embracing modern military thinking, the alliance’s senior representatives of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) asserted on Oct. 22.

    Ukraine’s military needs mastery of English to boost cooperation with NATO

    Illia Ponomarenko, Euromaidan Press, October 23, 2018. 

    ● Broadly speaking, different life stages give us different advantages in language learning. As babies, we have a better ear for different sounds; as toddlers, we can pick up native accents with astonishing speed. As adults, we have longer attention spans and crucial skills like literacy that allow us to continually expand our vocabulary, even in our own language.  And a wealth of factors beyond ageing – like social circumstances, teaching methods, and even love and friendship – can affect how many languages we speak and how well.

    What is the best age to learn a language?

    Sophie Hardach, BBC Future, 26 October 2018


    ● The use of non-traditional tools, such as sports, has proved to serve as good as, if not better than, traditional hard power diplomatic approaches. Sports, often unpoliticized, allowed the U.S. and China to steer away from the carrots-and-sticks approach to facilitate peace and interaction.

    Beyond Hard Power: Forging Peace Through Sports

    Wa’el Nimat, CPD Blog, October 11, 2018 



    ● A group of higher education institutions, including Haverford College and The New School, challenged a recent Trump administration policy that could open up more international students to harsh immigration penalties . .
    Colleges Fight New Visa Policy For Foreign Students

    Suzanne Monvak, Law360, October 23, 2018

    Compiled by Donald M. Bishop, Bren Chair of Strategic Communications, Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity, Marine Corps University, Quantico