via Donald Bishop by email.
Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#60)
Seen on the Web, 1571-1628
TABLE OF CONTENTS
¡¡ Must Read !!
Quotable: Bruce Wharton on “Post-Truth” International Communication
In the News
1. ON CAPITOL HILL
Instruments of Informational Power
2. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
3. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
6. SOCIAL MEDIA ▪ INTERNET
8. DISINFORMATION ▪ FAKE NEWS
9. STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS
10. SOFT POWER
11. WAR OF IDEAS
12. HYBRID WARFARE
13. INFORMATION WARFARE
15. CONSPIRACY THEORIES
17. LESSONS FROM THE PAST
18. MEDIA SAAVY, EDUCATION, JUDGEMENT
19. IDEAS, CONCEPTS, DOCTRINE
Countries and Regions
23. ISLAMIC STATE
28. INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
¡¡ Must Read !!
The beneficiary of these lessons is the State Department’s new Global Engagement Center (GEC), which is legislatively given the task “to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.”
● Committee Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., set out a broader theme of the hearing in opening remarks, in which she noted that too often the U.S. focuses on the digital and technical aspects of cyberwarfare and influence campaigns, but she argued the U.S. must “keep in mind that information warfare is about information, including psychological and cultural aspects.”
Brad D. Williams, Fifth Domain Cyber, March 16, 2017
● The Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing yesterday on Russian attempts to undermine democratic institutions and splinter the NATO alliance . . . . Below are eight key takeaways from the hearing: Last year, Russia sought to influence the U.S. election. * * * This year, Europe will be the main battlefield in Russia’s disinformation campaign. * * * Russia’s goal is to split the West apart. * * * The disinformation techniques we’re seeing from Russia aren’t new. * * * But Putin is vulnerable. We can fight back. * * * To do that, we must strengthen our response to Russian disinformation. * * * Chairman Royce and the committee have long worked to make U.S. international broadcasting more effective in the fight to counter Russian disinformation. * * * We can win by sticking with our allies and reinforcing our democratic values.
House Foreign Affairs Committee, March 10, 2017
● “We could knock off all the ISIL and Boko Haram this afternoon; but by the end of the week, so to speak, those ranks would be filled,” said Waldhauser, in a hearing. “Many people, especially those in uniform, have said we can’t kill our way to victory here.” “The short answer is no, we cannot [win the war without soft power],” he said.
Caroline Houck, Defense One, March 9, 2017
● The investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform follows reporting by The Associated Press in January that uncovered critical problems with the program known as WebOps and revealed conflicts of interest in a new contract potentially worth $500 million to expand psychological operations against terrorist groups.
Desmond Butler and Richard Lardner, Associated Press, March 9, 2017
Elements of Informational Power
● Public diplomacy—that grand, hard-to-capture process by which societies and cultures speak to each other beyond the narrow channels of formal state-to-state diplomacy—is about to enter a golden age.
Rob Asghar, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, March 20, 2017
● I understand it’s important to get the message of what we’re doing out, but I also think there’s only a purpose in getting the message out when there’s something to be done. And so we have a lot of work to do, and when we’re ready to talk about what we’re trying to do, I will be available to talk to people. But doing daily availability, I don’t have this appetite or hunger to be that, have a lot of things, have a lot of quotes in the paper or be more visible with the media.
Erin McPike, Independent Journal Review, March 18, 2017
● “One of the things that will be challenging is that it is apparent that the president-elect often sends tweets without consulting his team,” [Josh] Earnest said, noting he was trying to be diplomatic. “And that has the potential to put Mr. Spicer in a difficult situation, if the tweets of the president-elect are not effectively coordinated with the public comments of his spokesperson.”
Linda Feldmann, The Christian Science Monitor, January 18, 2017
Radio Free Asia was founded on March 12, 1996, under the provisions of the 1994 International Broadcasting Act (P.L. 103-236), as a private non-profit corporation. RFA is funded by an annual grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Its mission is outlined by legislation. Acting as a substitute for indigenous free media, RFA concentrates its coverage on events occurring in and/or affecting the countries to which it broadcasts.
Radio Free Asia, n.d.
● “. . . we’re trying to battle violent extremist organizations and most of the time it’s kinetic, but that might not be the best answer and may just cause more problems. Engaging the people -- getting them the proper amount of information, the right information, through whatever means they receive the information from—showing them we’ll back up what we say with what we’ll do, they’ll in turn trust us or the host nation government.”
Operators develop information support skills: Moroccans learn communication skills at Flintlock 2017
Nicholas Mannweiler, United States Africa Command, March 12, 2017
● Vladimir Putin is everywhere in his country's public life. Now it turns out the president is even gracing ordinary Russians' dreams. A web search engine said the strongman was the only real individual "to appear often in people's dreams," according to analysis of users' online queries.
Yandex, which is more popular than Google in Russia, said it typically received half a million requests a week about the meaning of nighttime visions.
Yandex, which is more popular than Google in Russia, said it typically received half a million requests a week about the meaning of nighttime visions.
Alexey Eremenko, NBC News, March 18, 2017
● Online communications, by their nature, give marginalized social and political groups a space to organize, mobilize, and ultimately challenge the status quo. In the MENA region, online spaces like Awhaa will give sexual minorities the ability to assert their identity, rights, and place in society. So too will the Internet amplify discourses critical of the Islamic faith, or of religion in general, and solidify the identities of secularists, atheists, and even apostates.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Nathaniel Barr, Foreign Affairs, March 4, 2017
● If . . . Adam Alter is right . . . we have casually let ourselves become hooked in a manner not unlike Victorians taking cocaine and opium, thinking it no big deal. We, like them, are surprised at the consequences. Alter’s sweep is broad: He includes not just the more obvious addictive technologies such as slot machines and video games, but the whole sweep of social media, dating apps, online shopping and other binge-inducing programs.
Tim Wu, The Washington Post, March 2, 2017
● A recent global study conducted by Kasperksy Lab reveals that social media users are interacting less face-to-face than in the past because of this newfound ability to constantly communicate and stay in touch online.
Josh Noble, StudyFinds, February 1, 2017
● If the world is currently entering a new era of cyberwarfare, Russian hackers are the pirates of those yet-uncharted seas.
Sheera Frenkel, Buzzfeed, March 19, 2017
● Analysts are now convinced that Wikileaks has a pro-Russia agenda, added Dr [Andfew] Foxall. “When Julian Assange launched Wikileaks in 2006 he was talking about transparency in Eurasia where corruption is rife. But actually it is the US which has been targeted,” he said. “He claims that Wikileaks has secret Russian intelligence but hasn’t disclosed anything remotely sensitive about Russia. He has taken a consistently pro-Russia stance.”
Marco Giannangeli, Express, March 12, 2017
● Once aware of a cyberattack, the governments involved have to decide whether or not to publicize it. Sometimes, it’s in the best interest of both the attacker and the attacked to keep a hacking incident quiet. The reputation of the target country might suffer if it acknowledges that a successful attack was carried out against it, and it could even feel pressured to strike back if it became public. Meanwhile, the aggressor may benefit from keeping its cyber capabilities secret from other adversaries.
Keveh Waddell, The Atlantic, March 6, 2017
● Noting growing prevalence of “fake news” and propaganda in both legacy and social media, United Nations and key regional human rights experts have called on State actors to ensure that they disseminate reliable and trustworthy information, including about matters of public interest, such as the economy, public health, security and the environment.
Amid rise of ‘fake news,’ authorities should ensure truthful info reaches public – UN, regional experts
UN News Centre, 10 March 2017
● Before the presidential election, when Hillary Clinton looked to be cruising to a victory, a cottage industry of fake and misleading news reports found an eager audience on many conservative Americans’ social media feeds. Now, nearly three months after President Trump’s stunning victory, same kind of alarmist, click-bait headlines, along with their false news reports, are becoming increasingly prevalent on liberal Americans’ feeds.
Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, February 7, 2017
● Among other things, Weber Shandwick will integrate the "highest standards of integrity and accuracy" into its content creation and client counsel. It will also mitigate fake news’ damage "by insisting on truthful reporting" and refraining from doing business with anyone that "deliberately traffics in fake news or distributes content to fake news sites."
Sean Czarnecki, PRWeek,
● Clearly, the rigid, vertical 19th Century structure of the foreign policy bureaucracy is ill-suited to modern American diplomacy, which requires a foreign service capable of rapid, resounding policy responses. * * * The President and Secretary Tillerson well know it won’t be easy discarding decades of stale group-think; and reinventing antiquated management practices and structures, including communication platforms to ensure their clarity and effectiveness (after all, the department’s mission is global diplomacy).
Thaddeus McCotter and Dave Sanders, The Daily Caller, February 28, 2017
10. SOFT POWER
● . . . the question remains what Tillerson’s State Department will look like and whether it can do its job with its reach -- and its budget -- reduced. “These are the condo fees of global leadership,” said Daniel Runde, a Republican who’s a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “We have a Republican Congress and a Republican executive branch, and we’re overdue for a strategic conversation for how we use our soft power in the world.”
Nick Wadhams, Bloomberg, March 10, 2017
● “The Berlin Wall didn’t come down because people were responding to American howitzers,” said Joseph Nye, a former senior State Department official and now a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. “It came down under hammers and bulldozers wielded by people whose minds had been affected by the ideas of the West.”
Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times, March 10, 2017
11. WAR OF IDEAS
● Just putting someone in charge, whether it is the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy or a new USIA is not sufficient. We must change our methods. It requires new thought leadership and new team members. Our current government team does not have the training, expertise, experience or methods to be effective. It also requires new rules.
Kevin McCarthy, To Inform is to Influence, March 12, 2017
12. HYBRID WAR
● . . . power outages coupled with a well-planned and timed disinformation campaign could spur social unrest in Russian-populated northeastern Estonia. According to the 2015 Russian military doctrine, modern conflicts incorporate conventional force integrated with nonmilitary methods, and cyber offense is one of these nonmilitary tools. * * * Technical cyberattacks would be coordinated with, and supported by, a constant disinformation campaign, and targeted information and psychological operations.
Piret Pernik, The Cyber Brief, March 19, 2017
● Technology has taken the complexity of hybrid war to a new level. Cyber and information war in the age of spear phishing emails, Twitter, and YouTube has increasingly become a form of warfare unto itself. * * * Under Article 5 of the NATO treaty an armed attack against any member state is an attack against all, requiring a collective response. This is where the deniability aspect of hybrid warfare may come into play. By using hidden tactics that target political, economic, and social vulnerabilities, Russia or any other adversary could creep toward its objectives without activating Article 5.
Peter Grier, Air Force Magazine, March 17, 2017
● Wikileaks is hostile to the United States, and this release was designed to damage U.S. national security. News coverage which does not put this fact front and center is, alas, aiding and abetting what is likely a Kremlin-directed campaign of subversion.
Max Boot, Commentary, March 9, 2017
● . . . Saudi Arabia has used its oil wealth to spread not only radicalized religious education but also Arabic language education. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Arabic, but it does open doors to a huge canon of literature which promotes a radical viewpoint.
Micheal Rubin, American Enterprise Institute, March 12, 2017
● The House Democracy Partnership, a bipartisan commission of lawmakers started in 2005, is augmenting traditional executive branch diplomacy by building relationships with members of foreign legislatures in emerging democracies. Most recently, that work led them to . . . Kosovo, Georgia, and Sri Lanka during the February congressional recess.
Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, March 12, 2017
● Using secret information—kompromat—to wage war on anybody who threatens their power is the main agenda.That’s the real story of this week’s Justice Department charges in the Yahoo attack that violated 500 million private accounts.
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., The Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2017
● Though the impact of an effective information warfare campaign may be visible more rapidly in the information age, the principles of information warfare and the political psychology and weaponized narratives that underpin it are timeless. * * * Many readers are likely familiar with Paul Revere’s 1770 engraving of “The Bloody Massacre in King-Street,” which is a ham-fisted graphical depiction of the Boston Massacre taken largely out of context to rile up the citizenry of Boston - and the rest of the American colonies . . .
Eric Waage and David V. Gioe, Strategy Bridge, March 8, 2017
● Truth was the first casualty of the Great Depression. Reflecting the anguish of the time, propaganda was manufactured on an unprecedented scale. As economic disaster threatened to trigger shooting wars so, as George Orwell said, useful lies were preferred to harmful truths. He went further, declaring that history stopped in 1936; after that there was only propaganda.
Piers Brendon, The Guardian, March 11, 2017
● The biggest solution, in my opinion, to countering Russian propaganda, disinformation, and fake news is education, plain and simple . . .
Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, March 19, 2017
● In today’s world, with constant claims of fake news, it’s a tough time to be a member of the mainstream media. In an effort to show the world what a credible source it is, The Wall Street Journal has released a new campaign called “The Face of Real News.”
Katie Richards, Adweek, March 9, 2017
● In many quarters of our society today it is taken for granted that nationalism is a malign force, just a step or two removed from Nazism. I take a different view: nationalism rightly understood can be a powerful positive force. Churchill, Roosevelt and de Gaulle were nationalists, after all.
Michael Barone, American Enterprise Institute, March 10, 2017
● . . . the “mean world syndrome.” [George] Gerbner . . . showed that people who watch a lot of commercial television think that there is far more violence, perversion, infidelity, misogyny, and the like than there really is. Why? Because commercial television is about garnering market share . . . and script writers and producers do that by being edgy—by using astounding complexes to evoke those little but frequent adrenaline squirts of excitement that keep our Stone Age human brains glued to the screen in a textbook example of stimulus-reward feedback loops.
Adam Garfinkle, The American Interest, February 21, 2017
● One can point to many reasons, specific and general, why the West no longer attracts imitators. Let’s point to the main reason. There was a time when the West knew what it was about. It did so because it thought about itself—often in freshman Western Civ classes. It understood that its moral foundations had been laid in Jerusalem; its philosophical ones in Athens; its legal ones in Rome. It treated with reverence concepts of reason and revelation, freedom and responsibility, whose contradictions it learned to harmonize and harness over time.
Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2017
20. IDEAS OF AMERICA
● The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance revolves around the clash of freedom and civilization, The Searchers shows the price of obsession in the Western landscape, and Shane is a tale of the costs of competence. In that sense, High is about the truth that violence can be forced even on people who want to avoid violence, and civilization is maintained by those willing to fight—in a world in which too many duck away from the fight for civilization.
Joseph Bottum, The Washington Free Beacon, March 11, 2017
● . . . what are the deep strengths that must continue to be nurtured and improved upon (or at least not harmed) by public policy? Again, [Martin] Feldstein: (1) An entrepreneurial culture. * * * (2) A financial system that supports entrepreneurial activities. * * *(3) World class research universities. * * * (4) Labor markets that generally link workers and jobs unimpeded by large trade unions, state-owned enterprises, or excessively restrictive labor regulations. * * * (5) A growing population, reflecting both natural growth and immigration. * * *(6) A culture and a tax-transfer system that encourages hard work and long hours. * * *(7) A supply of energy that makes North America energy independent. * * *(8) A favorable regulatory environment. * * *(9) A smaller size of government than in other industrial countries. * * *(10) The U.S. has a decentralized political system in which states compete. * * * It’s interesting to note how big a role Feldstein sees culture playing in US growth.
Joseph Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute, March 13, 2017
● Today’s students get steeped in American tales of genocide, slavery, oppression and segregation. American history is taught less as a progressively realized grand narrative and more as a series of power conflicts between oppressor and oppressed.
David Brooks, The New York Times, March 21, 2017
Countries and Regions
● Russia plays a part in aggravating the migration crisis and . . . using it for propaganda and gaining influence. When it comes to . . . sexual offences they are active in emphasising that the . . . authorities and the media are attempting to cover up these crimes.
Szabolcs Panyi, Index, March 21, 2017
● We talk with Michael Schwirtz, my colleague at The Times who has been investigating the story of a 33-year-old Russian hacker. We talk with Arkady Bukh, a lawyer who defends accused Russian hackers, about why it’s so hard for the United States government to prosecute those hackers — even when it knows exactly who they are.
Michael Barbaro, The New York Times, March 13, 2017
● Putin praised demographic reforms implemented under his leadership and claimed that the infant mortality rate in Russia had fallen recently to a rate “lower than in Europe.” However, data from international sources shows Putin is wrong.
polygraph.info, March 12, 2017
● [The Russian] effort is enormous, encompassing billions of dollars and dozens of domestic and international media outlets in an architecture that dwarfs the disinformation offensive marshaled against the West by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Its objective is clear and unequivocal: to obscure objective facts through a veritable “firehose of falsehood,” thereby creating doubt in Western governments, undermining trust in democratic institutions, and garnering greater sympathy for the Russian government (or, at least, greater freedom of action) for its actions abroad.
Ilan Berman, The Daily Beast, March 3, 2017
● Russian authorities have decided to step up their efforts to control the flow of information and to counter misrepresentation of their country. This narrative has echoed around international media reporting over the last week. At a closer look, however, little of what has been reported is in fact news: Russia has been building up capacities to actively influence public opinion at home and abroad over a considerable period of time – and hasn’t done much to hide it.
Disinformation Review, March 2, 2017
● . . . we identified six narratives that Russian disinformation pushed during 2016: 1. Europe is facing Armageddon due to migration * * * 2. Europeans want to recognize Crimea as Russian but the EU stands in the way * * *3. The murder of British MP Jo Cox was an inside job to sway the Brexit vote * * * 4. Ukraine isn’t part of Europe * * * 5. Latvians are perpetual fascists * * * 6. Merkel, Hollande, and the EU are to blame for the migrant crisis.
Jakub Janda and Ilyas Sharibzhanov, StopFake, February 10, 2017
● Finally, one official cryptically indicated, “terror cannot be eradicated through terror,” referencing America’s growing reliance on drone strikes and covert operations (though he might also have meant the growing number of botched airstrikes by the Afghan Air Force). Instead, he thought the United States should focus on “cultural-educational strategies” and devise strong counter-narratives to defy those who espouse terrorism.
Matt Dearing And Ahmad Waheed, War on the Rocks, March 2, 2017
23. ISLAMIC STATE
● In 2015, Sheikh Aadel al-Kalbani, the former imam to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, even said that the Islamic State (ISIS) was a result of the Salafi version of Islam and that the question of how this ideology was fueling terrorism must be addressed with transparency. The significance of his statements cannot be understated; it is nearly unheard of for a prominent Salafi imam to publicly recognize that Salafism is prone to radicalization and is therefore in need of some kind of reformation.
Carlo Jose Vicente Caro, Foreign Affairs, March 7, 2017
● . . .the government has developed new tricks. One of its first big successes was the music video of "Shisanwu", the 13th Five-Year Plan, which came out in 2015. So how do you sell the idea of the 13th five-year social and economic development strategy to young people? An animated music video with a foreign band singing in English of course.
● This leads me to the inescapable conclusion that Beijing’s THAAD protests have little to do with Chinese security concerns – the Pacific Forum, among others, has provided Chinese officials with in-depth briefings on THAAD capabilities showing minimal, if any, threat to China’s second-strike capability – and everything to do with China’s desire to stir up political unrest and anti-American feelings in South Korea (dare we say by interfering in the ROK’s internal affairs?)
Robert A. Cossa, Pacific Forum CSIS, March 13, 2017
● China is doing a poor job at political education for university students because the classes are outdated and unfashionable, the education minister said in a rare admission of the difficulties faced enforcing a key government policy. Beijing has campaigned against the spread of "Western values" at universities, and the ruling Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog last year sent inspectors to monitor teachers for "improper" remarks in class.
Ben Blanchard, Reuters, March 12, 2017
● It’s about to get harder to access foreign publications in mainland China. Taobao has ordered all vendors to stop selling foreign media starting today—even if authorities have approved the media for circulation in China. The online shopping platform, owned by Alibaba, has been one of the few places to browse overseas publications free from censors . . .
Echo Huang, Quartz, March 10, 2017
● An order from Beijing will drastically cut the number of foreign picture books for children published in mainland China this year. . . . The order opens a new front in a broad campaign to reduce the influence of foreign ideas and enhance ideological control, applying restrictions to animal cartoons and fairy tales written for toddlers and older children that have few political implications. Chinese universities were previously ordered to limit the use of Western textbooks and promote communist dogma.
Sidney Leng, South China Morning Post, March 9, 2017
● The results not only show a drop in sentiment resembling nationalism, they strongly suggest that Chinese youth, at least those in China’s capital, are less nationalistic than their elders, belying notions of growing numbers of Internet-addled youngsters ready to take the government to task for any perceived failure to defend the national honor.
Matt Schrader, ChinaFile, February 14, 2017
25. LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGES