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

File Notes on Information, Communication, and Public Diplomacy (#99)


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, and
  • 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.

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.

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


Table of Contents

In the News



Elements of Informational Power


Professional Topics

  4. CYBER

Countries, Regions, Case Studies

  6. CHINA
  8. IRAQ
  9. IRAN

The Public Diplomacy Toolkit


Web Links

In the News

  • Multi-Domain – The Army must be able to fight not only in the land, sea, and air using combined arms, but also in all domains, including cyber, space, and the electromagnetic spectrum. * * * Other threats: Terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, cyber hackers, and other malicious non-state actors have transformed global affairs with increased capabilities of mass disruption. The Army will likely conduct irregular warfare for many years to come, not only against these non-state adversaries, but also in response to state adversaries who increasingly rely on asymmetric approaches. Terrorism remains a persistent condition driven by ideology and unstable political and economic structures, which could result in failed states, civil wars, and uncontrolled migration forcing our allies and partners to make difficult choices between defense spending and domestic security. Strategic Engagement – The Army uses habitual contacts and military-to-military engagements to build relationships and share information with allies and partners. Such engagements include key leader meetings, counterpart visits, Army Staff Talks, personnel exchanges, conferences, and seminars. We will synchronize engagements within our Strategic Engagement Campaign to reinforce other security cooperation activities

The Army Strategy

Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley and Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper, Department of the Army, 2018

[Compiler’s Comment: There are no mentions of “information” competition, conflict, environment, operations, or war; “psychological”; “cognitive”; social media; media; or hybrid war in this Army strategy document. Although “cyber,” “asymmetric,” “communications,” and/or “engagement” perhaps implicitly includes them, it would be better to mention them explicitly.]

  • The Plan to restructure Party and government agencies issued in March 2018 specified that the State Administration of Radio and Television shall ‘‘fully use broadcast news as the Party’s mouthpiece’’ and the combined broadcasting agency will ‘‘propagate the theories, political line, and policies of the Party.

Freedom of Expression

Annual Report 2018, Congressional Executive Commission on China, October. 2018

  • It will take years to regain the experience that has been lost among the diplomatic corps, but the foreign affairs committees can help arrest the decline. Each should designate a subcommittee to focus solely on the health of the Foreign Service. These subcommittees should hold hearings, make recommendations to the Appropriations Committees, and draft legislation to make sure that the service gets adequate funding to support recruitment, diversity, and career advancement for diplomats.

How Congress Can Take Back Foreign Policy: A Playbook for Capitol Hill

Brian McKeon and Caroline Tess, Foreign Affairs, November 7, 2018

  • From January 2010 to May 2015, JSSD [Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security] employees, along with individuals working at the direction of the JSSD, conspired to steal sensitive commercial technological, aviation, and aerospace data by hacking into computers in the United States and abroad.

June 2017 Grand Jury Indictment

United States District Court, Southern District of California, filed October 25, 1918

  • . . . Americans should be aware that foreign actors—and Russia in particular—continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord. They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics. The American public can mitigate these efforts by remaining informed, reporting suspicious activity, and being vigilant consumers of information, as discussed below. The United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from Russia, China, Iran, or other nations.

Joint Statement on Election Day Preparations

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of Naational Intelligence Dan Coats, and Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Christopher Wray, November 5, 2018

  • Sweeping accusations that the Kremlin tried to sway the 2016 U.S. election haven’t chastened Russian trolls, hackers and spies — and might even have emboldened them. U.S. officials and tech companies say Russians have continued online activity targeted at American voters during the campaign for Tuesday’s election, masquerading as U.S. institutions and creating faux-American social media posts to aggravate tensions around issues like migration and gun control.

Why it’s still in Russia’s interest to mess with US politics

Angela Charlton, Associated Press, November 4, 2018

  • Nearly two-thirds of the social media bots with political activity on Twitter before the 2016 U.S. presidential election supported Donald Trump. But all those Trump bots were far less effective at shifting people’s opinions than the smaller proportion of bots backing Hillary Clinton. As my recent research shows, a small number of highly active bots can significantly change people’s political opinions. The main factor was not how many bots there were – but rather, how many tweets each set of bots issued.

Even a few bots can shift public opinion in big ways

Tahud Zaman, November 5, 2018

  • Will this election be hacked? The answer is: Yes, it has already been hacked. This election has already been hacked even if not a single voting machine has been compromised. It has already been hacked even if not another ruble has been spent on spreading disinformation. It has already been hacked even if voter registration information has been undisturbed and no vote tallies are altered. Why? Because the legitimacy of an election depends on the electorate accepting that it was fair, that everyone who tried to vote got to vote and that every vote counted. Lose that, and your voting system might as well have suffered a devastating technological attack.

The Election Has Already Been Hacked

Zeynep Tufekci, The New York Times, Nov. 3, 2018

  • The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to deal with potential hacks and other threats on Election Day. It has set up a virtual war room * * * the under-secretary for the department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, Christopher Krebs, warned that while American officials are working to protect U.S. election systems, there are ongoing disinformation campaigns aimed at causing distrust about the security of our vote. “We have seen, over the last couple years in particular, Russia be very adept at using information operations and influence campaigns,” Krebs said. “Right now, there is a lot of noise out there, and a lot of it’s garbage.” Pointing to the Internet Research Agency, a Russia-based social media troll farm, and RT and Sputnik, the Russian-owned news channel and online news outletaccused of pushing propaganda, Krebs said, “They’re pushing garbage. … They’re pushing messaging.”

DHS: Lot of “noise, garbage” from Russian media about compromised U.S. election systems

David Morgan, CBS News, November 5, 2018

  • Foreign governments have for decades attempted to exert influence inside the U.S. to their political or financial advantage but perhaps never as acutely or troublingly as in recent years, current and former officials say. Through complex cyber operations, Russia sows dissent wherever it can to undermine American unity at home and alliances abroad, while China increasingly grabs influence within the U.S. to further its own long-term economic and security goals, sometimes in plain sight. Both appear to be successful, though in sharply different ways.

How China, Russia Interfere in U.S. Elections

Paul D. Shinkman, U.S. News and World Report, November 6, 2018

  • Watchdog groups and online researchers will be on alert Tuesday for any signs of people using social media to try to upend the midterm elections — and their biggest worry isn’t the Russians. Instead, homegrown American trolls are a growing force behind efforts on Facebook and Twitter to suppress turnout, confuse or anger voters, or otherwise spread fake rumors that could tip tight races or shake faith in the results. In many cases, the people are adopting the same tactics that Russian operatives used in 2016 to disrupt the U.S. presidential election.

Experts warn the social media threat this election is homegrown

Nancy Scola, Politico, November 5, 2018

  • [Flagged by the Pell Center at Salve Regina University]

Don’t Be Fooled: There Was Election Interference in 2018 |

Joshua A. Geltzer | Slate

A Russian Troll Farm Set an Elaborate Social Media Trap For The Midterms- And No One Bit |

Ben Collins | NBC News

Russian Trolls Were at it Again Before Midterms, Facebook Says |

Sheera Frenkel & Mike Isaac | New York Times 

Russian Trolling Ahead of the Midterms is a Mixture of the Weird and Pathetic |

Casey Michel | Think Progress

November 6, 2018 / 2:38 AM / 4 days ago

Russia seen adopting new tactics in U.S. election interference efforts

Joseph Menn, Reuters, November 6, 2018

  • The hackers have targeted voter registration databases, election officials, and networks across the country, from counties in the Southwest to a city government in the Midwest, according to Department of Homeland Security election threat reports reviewed by the Globe. The agency says publicly all the recent attempts have been prevented or mitigated, but internal documents show hackers have had “limited success.”

Hackers targeting election networks across country prior to midterms

Jana Winter, The Boston Globe, November 05, 2018

  • The United States is grappling with fundamental cybersecurity threats at every level of voting infrastructure, from malware-based campaign hacks to weaponized social media posts. But there are plenty of people trying to do something about it.

Under Attack: How Election Hacking Threatens the Midterms

Rob Marvin, PC Magazine, October 29, 2018

  • Rumors. Inflammatory and divisive messages. Doctored photos. Kevin Roose, technology columnist, explains how he has waded into that shadowy world to write about it.

Spotting Disinformation Online Before the Midterm Elections

Kevin Roose, The New York Times, October 31, 2018

  • . . . the Trump administration still has no strategy for fighting disinformation campaigns aimed at swaying U.S. elections, * * * less than a week before voters nationwide return to the polls. In the absence of high-level White House coordination, the administration is letting individual agencies such as the FBI, the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security make decisions about how to respond to foreign governments’ attempts to use social media and other propaganda to undermine U.S. elections . . .

Inside the Trump administration’s rudderless fight to counter election propaganda

Eric Geller, Politico, October 31, 2018

  • Jihadist organizations are no longer the main terrorist threat facing the country. Since 9/11, no foreign terrorist group has successfully conducted a deadly attack in the United States. The main terrorist problem in the United States today is one of individuals—usually with ready access to guns—radicalized by a diverse array of ideologies absorbed from the Internet.

The Real Terrorist Threat in America: It’s No Longer Jihadist Groups

Peter Bergen and David Sterman, Foreign Affairs, October 30, 2018

Elements of Informational Power

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is weighing measures to overhaul the U.S. State Department’s public diplomacy arm amid a wider debate in Washington on how to respond to Russian and Chinese social media and disinformation campaigns. This summer, Pompeo directed the Bureau of Public Affairs and the Bureau of International Information Programs to explore a possible merger, a State Department spokesman confirmed to Foreign Policy.

State Department Considering Public Diplomacy Overhaul

Robbie Gramer, Foreign Policy, October 19, 2018

  • Efforts to co-mingle foreign and domestic information programs have left U.S. government propaganda with a checkered history. Congress has repeatedly denied the executive branch consolidated control over messaging and separated domestic public affairs and international propaganda via the Smith-Mundt Act and the creation of the U.S. Information Agency, precisely because the executive branch demonstrated a ready willingness to cross the line and propagandize the American public.

Apples and Oranges Don’t Grow on the Same Tree

Stephen L. Pike, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, November 2, 2018

  • Ambassador Greta Morris, PDC vice president and recent president of the PDAA, asserted: “Our public diplomacy today is so scattershot. We don’t have a whole of government or even whole of State Department approach. When will we get back to promoting the core values of democracy that have served us so well?” * * * PDAA’s President, Ambassador Cynthia Efird, appealed for more research on the impact of U.S. public diplomacy programs abroad. As she put it: “We must look at social media critically… let’s find ways to entice groups to come to us in a positive way.” * * * Today we should restore that through training of journalists, re-institution of daily State Department briefings, and strengthening such programs as the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and the Young Southeastern Asia Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). * * * Dr. Cull credited the former U.S. Information Agency, consolidated within the State Department in 1999, as “a critical factor in stressing what all nations could do together.”

Public Diplomacy: Hopes and Fears at a Landmark Anniversary

Alan Heil, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, November 9, 2018

  • The greatest challenge for today’s Public Diplomacy is that America has become divided, indeed polarized, over fundamentals. If you look at any of the Public Diplomacy products of the past – used to “tell America’s story to the world” — they smoothed over our nation’s domestic differences and presented a consensus view of America. That consensus has broken down, and there’s no longer an agreed narrative of America’s history and role in the world. Foreign political leaders and opinion makers see the lack of consensus when they read our newspapers and view our tweets, and they lose confidence in the steadiness of American policy and our nation’s reliability as an ally or partner. This is underway even while ubiquitous American entertainment exports distorted images of America. Americans who watch “House of Cards” understand that it is entertainment. But many Russians and Chinese perceive it to reveal the true nature of American governance. How can Public Diplomacy communicate American realities in the face of Hollywood’s enormous influence?

Public Diplomacy: Old organization, New Trends, and Ways Forward

Donald M. Bishop, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, November 9, 201

  • — There is no appointed Director of the Global Engagement Center, only an acting director, Daniel Kimmage. — There is no Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. The acting is Heather Nauert, who was just nominated to be US Ambassador to the UN. — There is no Deputy Director of National Security for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House …so there is no top cover, no national-level synchronization, coordination within the US Strategic Communications community and not with overseas counterpartsAs a result, the GEC may “take charge” of the overall effort but will lack the horsepower to ram through any powerful initiatives, will be strained to push through legislation in Congress, it will be difficult to get Department of Justice cooperation in new initiatives, it will be a leap to get other parts of the Strategic Communications community and other parts of the US Government to cooperate, allocate scarce resources, or otherwise do anything not already being done. 

New RAND Research:  Countering Russian Social Media Influence

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, November 5, 2018

  • Spotlight on Success: Media Literacy Campaign Combats Disinformation: The Public Affairs Section conducted an extensive media literacy campaign to combat disinformation targeted at the embassy during the Kenyan elections. The campaign, known as “YALI Checks: Stop, Reflect, Verify,” employed the full range of public diplomacy tools, including speakers, exchanges, videos, and online resources, to amplify a Bureau of International Information Programs initiative. Kenyan journalists from traditional and social media, including the blogging community, engaged in embassy programs to help Kenyans understand the role of responsible journalism and apply critical thinking skills to information they see on the internet..

Inspection of Embassy Nairobi, Kenya

Office of the Inspector General, Department of State, October, 2018

  • Weeks after President Donald Trump accused China of interfering in its domestic politics, U.S. diplomats are airing criticisms about sensitive issues on the Communist Party’s home turf. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing has in recent days posted Chinese translations of critical statements by top American officials on its official WeChat, the Tencent Holdings Ltd. social network with more than 1 billion users

U.S. Embassy Uses WeChat to Air Criticism of China on Home Turf

Bloomberg, October 31, 2018

  • Public Affairs Engagement Limited to Media Outreach: Mission Somalia’s restrictive security environment and staffing vacancies largely limited the Public Affairs Section to media activities, often in response to al-Shabaab disinformation, rather than engaging directly with the Somali public through exchanges, cultural programs, and other traditional public diplomacy activities. * * * The section issued press statements and arranged monthly interviews with Somali radio stations for the Chargé and the USAID director to promote awareness of U.S. assistance to Somalia. The section also engaged actively on social media through Twitter and Facebook.

Inspection of U.S. Mission to Somalia

Office of the Inspector General, Department of State, October, 2018

  • Public Diplomacy is not development, and developing its own small projects or exchanges aimed at development or social change misuses it. Serious development requires benchmarks, analyses, multi-year timetables and goals, pilot projects, budgeting, training, long term work with ministries and NGOs, and evaluation. Public Diplomacy can’t do any of these. Public diplomacy typically issues small, one-time grants. This is the “drop in the bucket” issue in Public Diplomacy planning.

Public Diplomacy, Not Development

Donald M. Bishop, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, October 31, 2018

  • When evaluating the digitalization of public diplomacy, one can segment this process into two stages. The first stage lasted from circa 2007 to 2014. It was during this stage that diplomats and diplomatic institutions began to experiment with digital technologies. * * * The first stage of public diplomacy’s digitalization ended abruptly in 2014 as Russian special forces crossed the border into Eastern Ukraine. The Crimean Crisis was not just a diplomatic crisis that ruptured relations between Western nations and Russia—it was also a digital crisis which had a dramatic impact on the digitalization of public diplomacy. This was a result of Russia’s use of official and non-official digital channels to spread false narratives about events unfolding in Crimea, to flood digital platforms in Eastern Europe with emotionally arousing propaganda and create a skewed information environment in which the truth was easily contested.

Can Digital Skills Serve as PD Resources? The Case of Brexit

Ilan Manor, CPD Blog, Nov 5, 2018

  • To address the root causes of extremism, the [State Department’s] Integrated Country Strategy [for the Philippines] calls for combatting local corruption through support for local governments, providing assistance to IDPs and host communities, supporting peace education in schools, promoting social media campaigns for at-risk youth, and training journalists and students from Mindanao to counter ISIS-P propaganda and other extremist messaging.


Lead Inspector General, September, 2018

  • I attended a conference this past week and I realized that the terminology of IO/IW/Propaganda/SC/PD and every other ‘information term’ is being abused. Seriously abused. Some of the terms receiving serious abuse: Information Operations, Information Warfare, Propaganda, Cyberwar/Cyberwarfare, Strategic Communications, Public Diplomacy, Disinformation, Misinformation, Malinformation. It was seriously disconcerting to hear cyber experts stating they were in an information war when they were referring to a cyber or cyber-enabled incident. It hurt my brain when the term information operations was used interchangeably with cyberwar. It caused me cognitive dissonance when participants used the term propaganda willy-nilly, for anything said or written with the intent of informing or changing an opinion or a behavior.

The Use and Abuse of Information Terms – Solution?

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, November 4, 2018

  • . . . the DoS reported that the Global Engagement Center, the interagency counter-propaganda organization housed at the DoS, began a $990,000, 18-month initiative to empower grassroots peace activists to counter violent extremism on Mindanao. According to the DoS, two grantees will deliver a program involving civil society training, messaging, interventions, and the redirection of individuals susceptible to extremist recruitment. The DoS also reported that the Global Engagement Center is preparing to launch a second 18-month initiative to engage university academics in Mindanao, stemming from an ongoing program run by the DoD and U.S. Embassy Manila.


Lead Inspector General, September, 2018

  • While many films made by the US Information Agency (USIA) were very useful in Africa to tell about American society and policies, two [Years of Lightning, Day of Drums and The Harvest] were not.  These two, one about President Kennedy and the other about American agriculture, had the opposite result from that intended. Local African culture distorted the films’ messages.

USIA Films That Failed in Africa
Bob Baker, American Diplomacy, November 2018

  • Efforts to co-mingle foreign and domestic information programs have left U.S. government propaganda with a checkered history. Congress has repeatedly denied the executive branch consolidated control over messaging and separated domestic public affairs and international propaganda via the Smith-Mundt Act and the creation of the U.S. Information Agency, precisely because the executive branch demonstrated a ready willingness to cross the line and propagandize the American public.

Apples and Oranges Don’t Grow on the Same Tree

Stephen L. Pike, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, November 2, 2018

  • I always found that trust and credibility were the coin of the realm for journalists as well as government officials. We needed to rely on each other to respect facts, each other’s word, and the ground rules for using information. If a press officer lied or deliberately misled a reporter, he and his fellows would never trust you again. Ditto for a reporter who betrayed a trust or made things up. Those who didn’t respect the rules were bypassed and shunned by both sides. Regimes that resort to censorship to get their way only make things worse. I’ve lived in countries where tyrants tried to control media and information to cement their grip on power. It’s not in the public interest.

A Media Journey: from Edward R. Murrow to Fake News
Dick Virden, American Diplomacy, November 2018

  • U.S.-funded broadcast language services heard [in Afghanistan] (Pashto, Dari, and Deewa to Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan provide in-depth, multimedia vital information on both lead-up campaigning and election days), as well as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Afghanistan-targeted Radio and TV language service, Azadi.

Autumn 2018: Two National Elections in Starkly Different Settings

Alan Heil, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, November 2, 2018

  • Dr. [Michael] Schneider . . . told the story of a joint team of U.S. officials and volunteers who saved hundreds of thousands of potential victims of the Ebola virus in West Africa from 2014 through 2016. * * * The American teams insisted on rigorous measures to ensure isolation of infected residents . . . measures that flew in the face of local customs and beliefs. Public diplomacy efforts on the ground found messages and strategies to secure cooperation from the people. International broadcasters joined in the campaign. The Voice of America and BBC exchanged public service announcements on Ebola prevention in more than a dozen languages, each using a combination of these in their online, video and radio transmissions to Africa.

Public Diplomacy: Hopes and Fears at a Landmark Anniversary

Alan Heil, Public Diplomacy Council Blog, November 9, 2018

  • In March 2018, the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee issued a large-scale plan to restructure the functional authority and managerial responsibilities of Party entities and

Chinese government agencies, provisions of which reinforced the Party’s ideological control by assigning to the Party Central Propaganda Department functional control of the press,

publishing, and film. The plan also brought together China’s three major broadcast news entities—China Central Television, China National Radio, and China Radio International—under a newly formed ‘‘mega’’ agency called China Media Group, to be known as Voice of China internationally.

Specific Findings and Recommendations

Annual Report 2018, Congressional-Executive Commission on China, October. 2018

  • [C4ISRNet ran a series of articles detailing Army efforts to advance and integrate tactical cyber, electronic warfare and information operations within traditional forces.]

How the Army is improving tactical cyber operations

What new cyber teams taught an infantry unit

3 new tactical cyber units the Army is prototyping

Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNet, October 22, 2018

  • I attended a conference this past week and I realized that the terminology of IO/IW/Propaganda/SC/PD and every other ‘information term’ is being abused. Seriously abused. Some of the terms receiving serious abuse: Information Operations, Information Warfare, Propaganda, Cyberwar/Cyberwarfare, Strategic Communications, Public Diplomacy, Disinformation, Misinformation, Malinformation. It was seriously disconcerting to hear cyber experts stating they were in an information war when they were referring to a cyber or cyber-enabled incident. It hurt my brain when the term information operations was used interchangeably with cyberwar. It caused me cognitive dissonance when participants used the term propaganda willy-nilly, for anything said or written with the intent of informing or changing an opinion or a behavior.

The Use and Abuse of Information Terms – Solution?

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, November 4, 2018

  • [Egypt’s] Operation BADR [in 1973] provides valuable lessons for military planners’ incorporation of diplomatic, informational, military, and economic tools across all elements of operations for achieving political ends.

Operation BADR: Defeating A2AD with DIME

Scott Humr, The Strategy Bridge, November 7, 2018

Professional Topics

  • The nation loved the song, which was introduced 80 years ago. But some reviled Irving Berlin for his presumption, as an immigrant and a Jew, in having written it at all.

The Complicated DNA of ‘God Bless America’

James Kaplan, The New York Times, Nov. 9, 2018

  • It’s easy nowadays to accuse journalists and news groups, whether highbrow or low, of making up stories. But “fake news” is a catch-all phrase, so it can be misleading and a little unhelpful. All sorts of things could go wrong with a story from the start of research and interview to publication, without it being fake. Most stories that turn out to be problematic almost always, simply, got crucial facts wrong. A good example is an “exclusive” by Bloomberg Businessweek, “The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate US Companies”, published earlier this month.

Case study in fake news for all journalism schools

Alex Lo, South China Morning Post, October 29, 2018

  • A Daily Beast analysis of Twitter data shows the Kremlin troll farm’s English-language propaganda is nine times more effective than its disinformation in Russian.

Americans Are Easy Marks for Russian Trolls, According to New Data

Kevin Poulsen, The Daily Beast. October 31, 2018

  • “As visual journalists, we know that manipulating images is manipulating truth,” said the group’s president, Whitney Shefte, a Washington Post videographer. “It’s deceptive, dangerous and unethical. Knowingly sharing manipulated images is equally problematic, particularly when the person sharing them is a representative of our country’s highest office with vast influence over public opinion.”

Sarah Sanders promotes an altered video of CNN reporter, sparking allegations of visual propaganda

Paul Farhi, The Washington Post, November 8, 2018

  • [Flagged by the Pell Center at Salve Regina University]

Russian Influence Operations Taking Aim at US Military

Jeff Seldin | VOA News

  • The Ukrainian Week talked with French cybersecurity expert Christine Dugoin-Clément about mechanisms for fighting fake news, the prospects for certifying true information, and the likelihood of separating propaganda from journalism once and for all.

Christine Dugoin: “Completely separating propaganda from journalism will never be easy”

The Ukrainian Week, August 15, 2018

  • When NATO’s large Trident Juncture 2018 exercise concluded this week, pro-Kremlin disinformation was unsurprisingly swift to react . . . three different ways in which pro-Kremlin disinformation seeks to undermine public trust in the EU and NATO. This week we look at how Russia’s disinformation reacted to this exercise. Disinformation aimed to create an image of NATO and the West as an enemy * * * The earlier disinformation on Western desires to invade new territories in the Arctic was developed further * * * Pushing contradictory messages is one of the core features of pro-Kremlin disinformation. So the picture of the West as a military aggressor also turned into an image of an out of date alliance crippled by internal divisions.

“Funeral Teams for NATO Soldiers” – a Week of Scare-Mongering, Exaggeration and Mockery

EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, November 8, 2018

  • When online hate spills over into real-life violence, it highlights what is arguably the greatest technological challenge facing the Internet: Media companies have not figured out what to do about the threats and abuse that pollute their platforms.

Online hate is spreading, and Internet platforms can’t stop it

Andy Rosen, The Boston Globe, November 1, 2018

  • What a glittering dream of expanded knowledge and enhanced connection it was at the start. What a nightmare of manipulated biases and metastasized hate it has turned into.

The Internet Will Be the Death of Us

Frank Bruni, The New York Times, October 30, 2018

  • Social media information operations are so new that there is no universal term to describe them; one currently used is cyber-enabled Information operations, to emphasise the fact that neither information operations nor cyber warfare are new, but information operations in an electronic context is a development in recent years. Daesh has been a prominent user of social media and has used various platforms—Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to name a few—to either propgate violent scenes in order to intimidate its adversaries or disseminate their message to draw in new recruits. Moreover, the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency has been pointed out as a key player in the meddling of U.S. elections.

Fighting the New War: Information Operations on Social Media

CDANS Cyber Defense and Network Security, n.d.

  • State-sponsored cyberwarriors and deep-pocketed influence campaigns spread plausible misinformation – what I like to call “iffy” content – as a cost-effective way to advance their social or political cause. Others spread misinformation just to earn ad revenue. * * * How well have Facebook and Twitter done? Are they helping iffy content reach large audiences? At the University of Michigan Center for Social Media Responsibility, we have started keeping score, going back to early 2016. We compute a daily “Iffy Quotient” . . .

Unlike in 2016, there was no spike in misinformation this election cycle

Paul Resnick, The Conversation, November 5, 2018

  • No country has ever achieved vibrant, entrepreneurial prosperity while denying its people political freedom. * * * Or so it has ever been. * * * Can China defy this rule? * * * If the answer turns out to be yes, one reason will lie in that phenomenon that not so long ago we assumed would be a great force for freedom: the Internet.

If the Chinese look to the West for a democratic model, what are we showing them?

Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post, November 4, 2018

  1. CYBER
  • . . . the increased national attention on cyberspace could be subject to threat inflation because of a lack of understanding—as many aspects of this threat are technically complex, overclassified, and lumped together with other cyber activities. 2 This concept of cyber-threat inflation has gained little attention in the United States, although it should be considered during U.S. cyber strategy formulation, budgeting, and national discourse.

Don’t Inflate the Cyber Threat

Adam Yang, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, November, 2018

  • In the old days before the internet, people would get their information from reputable print and broadcast media that was actually curated and edited. Now the vast majority get the news from a website that takes almost no responsibility for what it spews into the world. . . . “They took over the role of editing without the responsibility of editing,” says one journalist about the company, which showed far more interest in rapid growth and ballooning profits than the accuracy or veracity of what is put on the site.

Critic’s Notebook: ‘Frontline’ Doc ‘The Facebook Dilemma’ May Scare You Off Social Media

Frank Scheck, 2:14 PM PDT 10/29/2018 by Frank Scheck

  • When FireEye Inc.’s chief executive, Kevin Mandia, was a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in the late 1990s, he and his fellow investigators had a term for the digital fingerprints they would find while responding to hacking incidents within the U.S. military. They called them “indicators of compromise”—the internet addresses, malicious software or internet domains used by the hackers they were tracking.

To Fight This Generation of Hackers, Companies Take a Cue from Spies

Robert McMillan, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 2018

  • Russian actors are still attempting to gain access to all forums on Facebook, establish new accounts on all social media, and these new accounts are better hidden as to origin.  For the most part, these new accounts are still established in haste so there may be one, sometimes two pictures, they are very sparse on details, and their pictures are always a touch too appealing. A moderator on one of the largest closed groups on Facebook reported similar findings to me, she must block and report over 20 accounts every day, for the past six months. 

Russia seen adopting new tactics in U.S. election interference efforts

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, November 6, 2018

  • Educational institutions play a major role in the US economic, political, and intellectual well-being. Ironically, the security of the software and data systems . . . is far from perfect. . . . we . . . take a retrospective look and see what Higher Education has irretrievably lost, what it is losing at this very moment, and what is bound to be lost unless proper protection is in place. There is hardly an industry that a common cybercriminal would pass by. The regularity of Higher Education organizations falling victims to malefactors’ actions makes them indisputable winners in the number of annual data breaches.

A Brief History of Higher Education Insecurity

EdGuards, n.d.

  • To compete in cyberspace requires an examination of Marine Corps functions and organization. The military dominates the market in lethal weapons, but the same is not true of cyberspace. At one time the military had primacy in the cyber domain, but today private firms lead nearly all dimensions of cyberspace innovation. During a recent visit to a Marine Corps unit, the Commandant offered a bonus to Marines in the audience with hacking skills. That the top Marine solicited hackers from the ranks is a stark reflection of the state of cyber recruiting, retention, and talent management in the service.

Cyber War Requires Cyber Marines

Major Nick Brunetti-Lihach, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, November 2018

  • This report analyzes different approaches and policy options to respond to the specific threat of Russian influence on social media in the United States. * * * From this survey, we developed a broad framework—a disinformation chain * * * To lay out the various options and match them to the threat of Russian disinformation operations on social media, we proposed a framework illustrating the chain of Russia influence operations, from Russian leadership, to Russian organs and proxies, through amplification channels, and finally to consumers—a stylized model of a complex dynamic process.

Countering Russian Social Media Influence

Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, Todd C. Helmus, Andrew Radin, Elina Treyger, RAND, 2018

  • I found the [RAND] report good, but not very good. * * * The recommendations are general, so vague as to not have substance, and not really useful.  Of note, the onus is placed on Social Media corporations to “inform key audiences”. Hopefully, that includes educating users as to Russian (and Chinese) propaganda, disinformation, and fake news efforts, methodologies, and examples. The most aggressive recommendation?  Besides diplomatic efforts to discourage Russian aggression, “Deter or curtail activities of known Russian proxies.”

New RAND Research:  Countering Russian Social Media Influence

Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, November 5, 2018

  • The Air Force is once again inviting hackers into its network, and it’s willing to pay big bucks to see what they find. Hack the Air Force 3.0, which runs through Nov. 22, is open to 191 countries, making it the government’s largest bug bounty program to date, according to a USAF release.

Third Iteration of Hack the Air Force is Largest Ever

Amy McCollough, Air Force Association, November 7, 2018

  • ‘Twenty years ago the Russians had to recruit journalists to find people to disseminate something… nowadays they just have to start a meme.’ * * * During the Cold War, hundreds of bogus headlines around the world appeared: The U.S. invented AIDS. Wealthy Americans were adopting children to harvest their organs. If these sound like the kind of conspiracies pushed by Russian trolls during the 2016 election, there’s a good reason: They were once promulgated by Russian or Soviet agents. Russia has a century-old playbook for “disinformation,” historians and former intelligence officers say, recycling tactics and narratives, and giving clues to detect their next information-warfare attack on our elections.

Factory of lies: Russia’s disinformation playbook exposed

Ben Popkin, NBC News, Nov. 5, 2018

  • Within the NATO alliance, and among European MFAs (ministries of foreign affairs), Russia’s digital activities were viewed as one element in its Hybrid Warfare doctrine, one which relied on digital disinformation and propaganda to destabilize foreign countries. Russia’s activities therefore brought about a major shift in the digital activities of NATO and European MFAs as digital technologies would be used to counter Russian disinformation, map Russian networks of influence, identify Russian digital assets and disseminate counter-narratives that would rebuke Russian allegations. Many of these activities would become collectively known as strategic communications. Importantly, the goal of strategic communications was no longer to engage with foreign populations or to foster relationships with them. Rather, the goal was to influence digital publics and shape their understanding of events unfolding in Crimea. The public diplomacy goals of engagement and relationship-building were thus supplanted by the traditional goals of influence and information dominance.

Can Digital Skills Serve as PD Resources? The Case of Brexit

Ilan Manor, CPD Blog, Nov 5, 2018

  • This is the increasingly prevalent face of hybrid warfare, where law-abiding militaries like the IDF confront non-state actors like Hezbollah that blend unrestricted warfare tactics and sophisticated information operations with the advanced weaponry of modern conventional forces.

Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges

Gemunder Center Hybrid War Task Force, Jewish Institute for National Security of America, October, 2018

  • President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko * * * told about the steps Russia takes within the hybrid war. “The information attacks, the attempts to destabilize the situation inside the country, energy blackmail, complete embargo and shut down of the market, aggressive imposition of its agenda through the agents of influence, through the agents of political, cultural, social spheres, incitement of social conflicts, influence through the religious organizations, which is a very important part of a hybrid war, this is not a complete list of Moscow’s tools, which was finally named hybrid,” Poroshenko said.

Poroshenko says Ukraine knows how to deal with “Russian bear”, 7 November 2018



  • As information operations and its environment becomes modern warfare’s front-line, the Afghan government and supporting coalition forces must become more capable in order to defeat the enemy in a domain in which they have shown more vulnerability than strength. To overcome such conspiracies in the future, the war in Afghanistan must take a turn towards the offense in the information warfare spectrum.

How Do We Win Information Warfare in Afghanistan?

Abdul Rahman Rahmani and Noor Afshan Lawrence, Small Wars Journal, n.d.

  • . . . Russia tabled a draft resolution seeking the General Assembly’s endorsement of an “international code of conduct for international information security,” and a resumption of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) process next year. Somewhat less expected, however, is that the United States tabled a competing resolution, setting up a clash between Russia, China, and their largely autocratic friends on one side, and the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan, and Australia on the other.

Russia, US Offer Competing Vision of Cyber Norms to the UN

Alex Grigsby, Defense One, October 29, 2018

  • By illegally exposing civilians to harm, manipulating the narrative and exploiting misperceptions about the laws of war, Hezbollah will seek to portray Israel as an arbitrary, immoral and illegal murderer of civilians. By weaponizing information and the law, Hezbollah will hope to survive to fight another day while delegitimizing Israel in the eyes of the world before the IDF can achieve decisive victory.

Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges

Gemunder Center Hybrid War Task Force, Jewish Institute for National Security of America, October, 2018

  • Once upon a time, “information operations” or “psychological operations” meant leaflets and loudspeakers. Because of the 2016 elections; the theft of American corporate, government, and defense secrets by other nations; and the “weaponization of information” by Russia, there’s now a more urgent analysis of “information warfare.” This reckoning now integrates such concepts as “hybrid warfare” and “the gray zone.” The armed forces are also thinking through the relationships between “cyber” and “information.” From my perspective, “cyber” occupies the public imagination, and there’s lots of talk about “cyber,” “cyber defense,” “cyber offense,” “bots,” “trolls,” and “hacking.” Cyber, however, is simply communications between microprocessors. The larger challenge is about “information” — which embraces facts, knowledge, logic, argument, education, theory, beliefs, judgment, interpretation, opinion, thought, narrative, norms, values, ideas, Jefferson’s “facts submitted to a candid world,” and, yes, truth. Armed forces thinkers see it this way too.

The Instruments of U.S. Informational Power Need to Work Together

Donald M. Bishop,, November 5, 2018

  • Too often, the IDF is too constrained, reluctant or slow to release information to the international media, allowing its adversaries’ more immediate misrepresentations to drive the narrative. As a result, the IDF lost the information campaign in its conflicts with Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in 2014. When faced with an adversary that uses misinformation and exploits legal misperceptions to advance its strategic goals, such failures could prove disastrous for Israel in the next conflict.

Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges

Gemunder Center Hybrid War Task Force, Jewish Institute for National Security of America, October, 2018

  • Americans should be naturals at overseasmanship and intercultural communication, he told us, because of the diversity of our society. To walk to a park or a theater, for instance, city dwellers often had to make their way through distinct ethnic neighborhoods. They had to recognize the environment, know how things might be different, and be well mannered and respectful. Because they practiced these skills at home, he said, it should be easy for U.S. sailors and Marines to do the same in other countries. In the decades since the 1940s, the United States has become even more diverse. And Rosenberg’s insight still holds. If Americans of different backgrounds can learn to get along in this country, they have a head start in getting along with those who live in foreign lands.

David Rosenberg, Overseasmanship Pioneer

Donald M. Bishop, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, November, 2018

  • . . . Russia is increasingly relying on informational and sociological approaches to achieve its foreign policy objectives—what some scholars describe as hybrid warfare.1 For example, Russia is courting its diaspora around the world, including in Latin America, to leverage Russian-speaking communities as a source of Russian national power.

The Russians of Latin America: Moscow’s Bid for Influence Over Russian-Speaking Communities in the Region

Brian Fonseca and Vladimir Rouvinski, Military Review, November-December 2018

  • What surprised many Afghans was the simultaneous conspiracy theory that circled in social media mere hours after attack. The narrative of the conspiracy was that, “the attack was ordered by Gen. Austin Scott Miller the Resolute Support Mission Commander in Afghanistan and carried by his bodyguards.” This surprising counter claim gained such quick momentum that it forced Chief Executive of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, to take an immediate stand against it.

How Do We Win Information Warfare in Afghanistan?

Abdul Rahman Rahmani and Noor Afshan Lawrence, Small Wars Journal, n.d.

  • This week, it was also time for some good old historical conspiracies. In the attempt to overshadow Russia’s responsibility in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the Russian TV keeps on exploiting every opportunity to accuse the others doing the same. Frequently these disinformation efforts seem to backfire, and so did they this time as well. A commentator announced that poisonings have been a speciality of the British special services for the past several centuries. His “evidence” was that already in the 16th century, British doctors poisoned Ivan the Terrible and his son, Ivan. See the facts here.

How effective is challenging disinformation?

EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, November 8, 2018

  • In retrospect, the portrayal of World War I-era women is not as glamorous as that of the Rosie the Riveters in World War II, but their role in the conflict from a propaganda standpoint was every bit as vital to the war effort, as shown in these posters from the U.S. Library of Congress.

Women and Children: The Secret Weapons of World War I Propaganda Posters

Ben Marks, Collectors Weekly, November 6, 2018




  • . . . Valimail conducted a survey to test adult Americans’ ability to distinguish fraudulent campaign emails from authentic ones. * * * The survey results indicate that those who identify as Republicans are marginally better at identifying fake emails than those who identify as Democrats. In addition, it also suggests that people are more likely to believe phony emails that appear to come from the political parties with whom they affiliate. There is one clear takeaway: Difficulty distinguishing real vs. fake emails is universal across the board. * * * “The results of this survey confirm what nation-states and bad actors have known for years: that email is incredibly vulnerable to impersonation, and is therefore a prime channel for spreading misinformation, malware, and fraud,” said Alexander García-Tobar, CEO and co-founder of Valimail. “More concerning is the fact that consumers’ trust in their public leaders and political candidates can be so easily abused for financial or political gain, when the tools to combat these types of attacks are readily available.”

Real vs. Fake Email Test Results



  • It’s time for all Americans to take control of the information they consume. 1. Avoid “fake news” by always looking for a source. * * * 2. Spot and block bots. * * * 3. Use Facebook’s “Info and Ads” to determine motivations. * * * 4. Do not click on Twitter Direct Message (DM) or Facebook Messenger links. * * * 5. Activate your quality Twitter filter. * * *

Don’t Be Manipulated During Midterm Elections: 5 Immediate Social Media Actions You Need to Take.

Dan Nadir, Proofpoint, October 30, 2018




  • Enjoy the Four Freedoms in song with choral ensemble Crescendo, led by artistic director Christine Gevert, and Berkshire-based composer John Myers. Paintings in Song was inspired by Norman Rockwell’s art. His compositions reflect Rockwell’s timeless images in a musical setting, highlighting the continued cultural relevance represented in the artist’s Four Freedoms, among others.

Paintings in Song—The Four Freedoms

Norman Rockwell Museum




  • Democracies are famously slow at responding to crises—their systems of checks and balances, open deliberation, and public participation are not conducive to rapid decision-making. But this built-in caution has helped some semidemocratic countries fend off authoritarian-style internet controls over the past year.

Freedom on the Net 2018: The Rise of Digital Authoritarianism

Adrian Shahbaz, Freedom House, 2018


  • For average Americans acculturated over time by the American creed, it is often difficult to understand or relate to older, more ossified cultures that derive their community identity from deep-seated psychological attachments that may not embrace as universal either natural individual values or rights, or the unique American emphasis on abstractions related to individualism and individual human rights. In other cultures, sacred places and cultural relics often serve as the key emblems and anchors of community identity, especially among communities that have grown up steeped in deeply embedded cultural traditions fortified by ancient rituals and practices, some with roots that are demonstrably hundreds (if not thousands) of years old.

Partner of Choice: Cultural Property Protection in Military Engagement

Laurie W. Rush and Amanda Hemmingsen, Military Review, November-December 2018


  • [In 1953] Team A, led by Kennan, argued for a continuation of the Truman administration’s policy of long-term resistance centered on Europe and utilizing political solidarity with allies and the attraction of economic improvement. This was, at its core, the Truman strategy, sheared of some of its sharper edges. This team’s biggest concern was not a Soviet Union armed with nuclear weapons, but the decline of confidence in the United States by other countries. It envisioned what we now call the rise of the rest, arguing for the inspirational power of American example to attract other countries to the Western model.

Trump Doesn’t Need a Second ‘Solarium’

Kori Schake, The Atlantic, October 30, 2018




  • College-educated suburban women really don’t like Republicans. White men without college degrees really don’t like Democrats. Urban America is really blue. Rural America is really red. The race in 2016 entrenched those positions on the presidential level. The 2018 race entrenches them all the way down the ticket. * * * the two electorates tell entirely different unraveling stories. In rural America, the sources of unraveling are the immigrants (symbolized by the caravan) and the radicalized mobs of educated elites (symbolized by the media). In rural America basic values like hard work, clear gender roles and the social fabric are dissolving before people’s eyes.

The Retrenchment Election

David Brooks, The New York Times, November 1, 2018


  • . . . in an era when colleges are expanding their engagement of diversity issues, and at a time when religion plays a central role in public life and global affairs, religion continues to be the dimension of diversity that many institutions leave out. I believe this is educational malpractice.

Faith Is the Diversity Issue Ignored by Colleges. Here’s Why That Needs to Change.

Eboo Patel, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 29, 2018


  • There’s a lesson here worth heeding. Our economic GDP may be booming, but our moral GDP is in recession.

Why Aren’t Democrats Walking Away With the Midterms?

Bret Stephens, The Atlantic, November 2, 2018


Countries, Regions, Case Studies




  • The Russian media is obsessed with the American civil war. No, not the one that erupted in 1861 over the secession of the South—the civil war that’s coming with the next U.S. presidential election.

How Do You Say ‘Fake News’ in Russian?

Russian news sites portray the U.S. presidential election as a prelude to civil war.

Amy MacKinnon, Foreign Policy, November 1, 2018


  • Every society develops what have come to be called “urban legends,” stories for which there is little or no evidence but that remain widely believed and both reflect and shape the opinions of people about others. None in Russia has proved more resilient and long-lasting despite the almost complete lack of evidence than belief in “Baltic Amazons.” . . . beautiful Baltic women who have become snipers and have taken part in virtually all anti-Russian military actions from Afghanistan on. * * * That this notion continues to circulate says a lot about what happens in the low-information environment the Russian government has imposed on its population, an environment in which rumors come to be accepted as fact and do not cease to spread because there is not the bright light of media attention that might dispel them.

A Russian Urban Legend that Just Won’t Die – Anti-Moscow Amazon Fighters from the Baltics

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia-New Series, October 29, 2018


  • Moscow State University’s Political Science Department offers an elective course on “information war” where students are currently learning how Western intelligence agencies falsified news about the attempted assassination of Sergey Skripal and his daughter in order to embarrass the Kremlin and erode international trust in Russia.

A former FSB agent is teaching students at Moscow State University how Britain defeated Russia in the ‘infowar’ over Sergey Skripal

Meduza, November 7, 2018




  • [The Serbian govrnment’s] lack of commitment allows for the ruling party to

maintain power with impossible coalitions of divergent ideologies, as constant pivoting and contradictory statements secure the support of multiple domestic actors. In order to enact a real shift in perceptions, the U.S. and the West must take the argument directly to the people. In order to do this, the U.S. must focus its efforts on three aspects of Serbian society whose he continuation of this “balancing on all stools” foreign policy and the

continued influence of Russian propaganda: the media atmosphere, economic and political stagnation, and corruption.

Of Suitors and Scoundrels: Russia, the West, and the Limits of Geopolitics in Serbia

Robert Swanson, Center for European Policy Analysis, October, 2018




UNIAN, 3 November 2018

● In September-October, the Security Service of Ukraine blocked the activities of an inter-regional network of anti-Ukrainian online propaganists who had been acting in the interests of the aggressor state, the Russian Federation. “Security operatives exposed nine pro-Russian propagandists in Odesa, Kyiv, and Severodonetsk. The culprits, who were financed by Russian intelligence, would post political news drafted in Russia and call for actions of public disobedience and mass riots. SBU blocks online network of Russia propagandists acting from three Ukrainian cities
SBU blocks online network of Russia propagandists acting from three Ukrainian cities
UNIAN, November 9, 2018

  • Up to now, Russian society has preferred to keep its protests peaceful, Valery Solovey says; but the re-emergence of conflicts between increasingly distinct social classes may change that and make violence more common and thus a greater problem for the powers that be. In a Facebook post, the MGIMO professor and commentator lists six reasons for his disturbing conclusion * * *

Fourth, the various mechanisms for dampening class conflict “have ceased to work. The situation of small and mid-sized business is becoming worse, and the still small middle class is contracting in size. Propaganda is no longer the anesthetic it was.

Resurgence of Class Conflict in Russia Could Easily Lead to Violence, Solovey Says

Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia-New Series, November 2, 2108


  • Russia considers creating “cyber squads” that should help law enforcement officials to search for extremist materials on the Internet . . .

Russia plans to create ‘cyber squads’

UAWire, November 3, 2018




  • Russia has been developing and improving its cyber arsenal for the past ten years, As Russian cybertools have been in play in Estonia in 2007, and strategic cyberattacks were deployed during the Russo-Georgian war in 2008. During the Ukrainian conflict that started in 2014, Russia demonstrated its capacity to combine cyber capabilities with electronic warfare, intelligence and kinetic capabilities. This Hotspot Analysis examines the specific case of the use of cybertools in the Ukrainian conflict. [Report]

Hotspot Analysis: Cyber and Information warfare in the Ukrainian conflict

Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich, October 2018




  • Russia is ever-present in Georgian politics. Kremlin propaganda and misinformation are rife, and the rise of far-right groups — which aren’t explicitly pro-Russian but instead anti-Western — can be linked directly to Russia.

Russian threat haunts daily life in Georgia

Dave Lawler, Axios, October 29, 2018


  1. CHINA


  • Based on data from incident response companies gathered by the security software vendor Carbon Black, China is now the leading source of cyber-attacks. * * * Remember the good old days, when the US and China were supposedly working out new norms for the cybers, and China was going to stop all that hacking of US companies to steal intellectual property? It turns out the Chinese were just upping their hacking game, improving their operational security and penetration skills—learning from the methods of their Russian counterparts.

New data shows China has “taken the gloves off” in hacking attacks on US

Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, November 1, 2018


  • . . . the Chinese Communist Party understands influence and how to wield it. The foundation for influence is “social affairs work,” which is a Communist Party idea dating back to the 1920s or 1930s. Intelligence work is like the hard core of information work, handled primarily by professionals. Move out to “united front” work—which might aptly be described as political mobilization—and it is handled by professionals but also by the broader CCP. * * * Social affairs work—the collection of information on anyone who might be useful for generating political influence and power—actually is. We know this system works, because everyone who has dealt with the Chinese government has some experience in seeing a well-prepared PRC side that seems to have knowledge of personal information about their interlocutors.

Beijing Has Learned How to Play U.S. Politics

FP Editors, Foreign Policy, October 29, 2018


  • A total of 36 countries, including Thailand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have undergone training sessions and two- to three-week seminars with Chinese officials on topics such as new media and information management. “This year, Beijing took steps to propagate its model abroad by conducting large-scale trainings of foreign officials, providing technology to authoritarian governments, and demanding that international companies abide by its content regulations even when operating outside of China,”

China’s Web Surveillance Model Expands Abroad

Sintia Radu, U.S. News and World Report, Nov. 1, 2018


  • China has violated an accord it signed with the U.S. three years ago pledging not to engage in hacking for the purpose of economic espionage, a senior U.S. intelligence official [Ralph Joyce] said Thursday.

China Violated Obama-Era Cybertheft Pact, U.S. Official Says

Dustin Volz, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 2018


  • Take a more critical look at the circumstances surrounding China: Time of Xi, however, and the plot quickly thickens. The series was in fact the product of a three-year content deal inked in March 2015 between Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific and China Intercontinental Communication Centre (CICC), a company operated by the State Council Information Office (SCIO) — the Chinese government organ, sharing an address with the Central Propaganda Department’s Office of Foreign Propaganda (OFP), responsible for spearheading its official messages overseas (Gitter 2017). The news chatter surrounding the series came almost exclusively from official state media . . .

Documenting China’s Influence

David Bandurski, Chinoiresie, November 7, 2018


  • Mr. Xi has been the focus of a lavish, highly choreographed multimedia campaign that critics have derided as a throwback to Mao’s cult of personality.

China’s Leader, Hogging Spotlight, Elbows Communist Titan Aside

Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times, November 5, 2018


  • Chinese technology executives, the [American group from Silicon Valley] found, were even more driven and more willing to do whatever it takes to win. But that comes with major trade-offs, and punishing work schedules are only the beginning. They found Chinese tech executives to be less reflective about the social impact and potential misuse of their technologies, a potentially worrisome quality in a country with loosely enforced privacy laws, strict government censorship and a powerful domestic surveillance apparatus.

Crazy Work Hours and Lots of Cameras: Silicon Valley Goes to China

Li Yuan, The New York Times, Nov. 5, 2018


  • One week before the birthday celebration [Lincoln’s birthday at the American Consulate General in Shanghai], things started to unravel.  In an out-of-the-blue Saturday call from Beijing, the Deputy Chief of Mission demanded to know what the hell we were doing. He reported that relevant authorities in Beijing had heard about our Lincoln reception, deemed it suspicious, and were threatening to derail Secretary Clinton’s upcoming visit, considered crucial to the future of U.S.-China relations.

Abraham Lincoln, Hillary Clinton, and Liu Xiaobo
Beatrice Camp, American Diplomacy, November 2018




  • This quarter, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed financial sanctions on

Mohammad Reza Lahaman Kiram, an alleged ISIS-P recruiter, who appeared in an official ISIS beheading video. According to a Treasury spokesperson, Kiram was filmed executing captives held by ISIS as part of a propaganda campaign and engaged in other acts to attract potential radicals to join militant terrorist groups in Southeast Asia.


Lead Inspector General, September, 2018


  1. IRAQ


  • . . . the DoS reported a “steady stream of destabilizing misinformation and

propaganda from regime affiliated media outlets and other malign regional actors”

seeking to hurt the Raqqah Civilian Council’s reputation and credibility. The DoS warns that without greater international support backed by consistent, clear public statements on the enduring Coalition commitment to the city and northeastern Syria, Raqqah may devolve into the same vulnerability ISIS found when it first arrived, a “fractured city ripe for extremist takeover and exploitation.


Report of the Lead Inspector General, November 5, 2018


  1. IRAN


  • The Iranian regime has adopted a clearly-defined political strategy through which it aims to spread its ideology and strengthen its influence beyond Iran’s geographic borders. The regime views the triple-pronged approach of culture, media, and intelligence as an effective tool that will allow it to win the hearts and minds of youth in the Middle East and beyond.

The Overlap of Media, Culture, and Intelligence in Iran

Firas Elias, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, November


  • [Flagged by the Pell Center at Salve Regina University]

Memes, Hashtags, and “Hypocritical Holy Men”: Trump’s Information War on Iran |

Nahal Toosi | Politico




  • . . . a fierce information war being waged online over the killing of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi government last seen entering Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Automated accounts known as bots have flooded social media in recent weeks, many of them promoting messages which support Saudi Arabia and are intended to cast doubt on allegations that the kingdom was involved in Khashoggi’s death.

Fake news network vs bots: the online war around Khashoggi killing

Jack Stubbs, Katie Paul, and Tuqa Khalid, Reuters, November 1, 2018




  • The Taliban . . . have made an appeal in their information war to the three “primary social identities that most Afghans share: religion, culture, and politics.” The Taliban are spreading their propaganda via Taranas (Holy Chants broadcasted through radio, shops, and military vehicles), leaflets (distributed by ordinary Taliban in rural areas in places like mosques, local gatherings like Jirgas, and if necessary in person) and through social media. The social media aspect of this propagation is done by almost all Taliban fighters, primarily using Facebook, Twitter, but also reaching into Instagram and Snapchat. These information warfare tactics are used to disrupt Afghan government activities in the areas where the Taliban are operating to destroy the relationship between ordinary Afghans and security forces

How Do We Win Information Warfare in Afghanistan?

Abdul Rahman Rahmani and Noor Afshan Lawrence, Small Wars Journal, n.d.




  • For years, a form of irregular war has been underway in the Western Hemisphere. The

war’s initiators refer to their method as a “combination of all means of struggle,” . . . The struggle’s lead strategists also inspire and sustain sophisticated jurisprudential, diplomatic, informational, and economic operations. * * * two categories of effort, violent and nonviolent, form a fluid whole intended to take, increase, and concentrate power in the proponents’ organizations. The identity of those organizations is not a mystery. They are armed political parties that, among other features, loudly announce themselves as anti-United States in tone and message, and behave accordingly.

The Cubazuela Problem

Geoffrey Demarest, Military Review, November-December 2018




  • As the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate crumbles, it is reverting to insurgency in Iraq and Syria and refocusing its media narrative from its triumphs to its commitment to a ‘long war’ against its enemies in which it will ultimately prevail. In this new phase where it controls less territory and has fewer battlefield successes, the Islamic State’s media network will be important in selling this long-war narrative and trying to rally support among Sunni Muslims locally and worldwide by enflaming sectarian animosity. Although greatly diminished from its peak, the Islamic State media network remains dangerous, continuing to spread its message to sympathizers across the internet and among Sunnis in territories where it maintains a presence.

Selling the Long War: Islamic State Propaganda after the Caliphate

Michael Munoz, CTC Sentinel, November 2018


The Public Diplomacy Toolkit




  • . . . one of the U.S. State Department’s least heralded but most effective exchange programs has wrapped up another successful summer. * * * Roughly 100,000 international students, participants in the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, have returned home to resume their studies after a summer-long cross-cultural adventure in the United States.The Summer Work Travel program transforms thousands of authentic experiences – from simple conversations to Grand Canyon road trips – into powerful, ongoing diplomacy.  It makes lasting friends for the United States, and in part through the stories of its alumni, regenerates itself annually.  By filling a crucial seasonal need, it supports American businesses and American workers.  And it does all that without any federal funding.

How Summer Adventures Become Diplomacy
Michael McCarry, American Diplomacy, November 2018


  • On Oct. 20, Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) suspended two exchange programs with China’s Renmin University, citing principles of academic freedom. At issue were reports from Renmin students that the university had cracked down on student groups advocating worker rights.

Cornell University suspended two exchange programs with China’s Renmin University. Here’s why.

Jessica Chen Weiss, The Washington Post, November 1, 2018




  • The theme of Expo 2020 Dubai is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, representing the potential of what can be achieved when meaningful collaborations and partnerships are forged. The Expo’s subthemes are Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability. The USA Pavilion will emphasize the “Mobility” sub-theme, and the pavilion’s architecture and interior design will communicate American progress, ingenuity, and innovation in social, physical, and mechanical mobility in commerce and the arts.

The U.S. and Worlds Fairs: Expos as Global Soft Power

PDAA: An Organization of Public Diplomacy Professionals, n.d.




  • . . . even as the first tanks rolled into Baghdad, the U.S. State Department was already trying to win hearts and minds in the region, not through brute force but with glossy propaganda—specifically, a government-funded monthly magazine called Hi that featured celebrity interviews and articles on American culture. Published in Arabic, the magazine followed in the footsteps of similar U.S. government efforts, such as Radio Free Europe, which began as a news broadcast over the Iron Curtain.

Hi, we failed to sell you America

Nick Kolakowski, Fast Company, September 6, 2018




  • Although the State Department has engaged for many years in cultural heritage and property issues, we have never tried to integrate them into our broader foreign policy framework, actively using them in diplomacy to strengthen partnerships and advancing our national security.  It is time for the U.S. to consider the adoption of a cultural heritage policy . . .

U.S. Diplomatic Engagement and Cultural Heritage Protection
Larry Schwartz, American Diplomacy, November 2018


  • . . . recognizing that protection of cultural legacies is an essential component of a forward-leaning strategy to promote coalition cohesion, some segments of the U.S. military have begun to use cultural property protection (CPP) as a basis for establishing new partnerships. Using CPP is not only a moral responsibility for preserving a population’s heritage in a practical sense, but it also enables U.S. military personnel to gain opportunities for acquiring deep insight into the psyche of their partner or potential partner military organizations by carefully noting what they value most in terms of preserving their own nation’s culture and why.

Partner of Choice: Cultural Property Protection in Military Engagement

Laurie W. Rush and Amanda Hemmingsen, Military Review, November-December 2018




  • [A great deal of data on international student admissions is available in this report.]

2018 State of College Admission

Melissa Clinedinst and Pooja Patel, National Association for College Admission Counseling, 2018




  • When it was time to square up the tab, the barman said with a smile that he wouldn’t take my money. “Thank you for your service,” he simply explained. On our way out the door, my wife stopped, took my hand, turned to me, and said, “This is the greatest country in the world.”

‘I’ll Never Be the Same’: My Ukrainian Wife’s First Trip to the United States

Nolan Peterson, The Daily Signal, November 02, 2018


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