Thursday, May 4, 2017

Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#67) May 3, 2017 Seen on the Web 2003-2062

via email from Donald Bishop

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

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

Public Diplomacy professionals always need a 360-degree view of how ideas are expressed, flow, and gain influence.  Many points of view citied here are contentious, partisan, and/or biased; inclusion does not imply endorsement.
Edited by
Donald M. Bishop, Bren Chair of Strategic Communications, Marine Corps University
Jeffery W. Taylor, University of Mary Washington, Assistant


In the News

Instruments of Informational Power

Professional Topics
6. CYBER                        

Countries and Regions


In the News

● Today, thanks to the Internet and social media, the manipulation of our perception of the world is taking place on previously unimaginable scales of time, space and intentionality. That, precisely, is the source of one of the greatest vulnerabilities we as individuals and as a society must learn to deal with. Today, many actors are exploiting these vulnerabilities.
Senate Armed Services Committee, April 27, 2017.

● To date, there is not a single individual in the US government below the President of the United States who is responsible and capable of managing US information dissemination and how we address our adversaries in the information environment.
Senate Armed Services Committee, April 27, 2017

● I describe three such trends .... • The first is a new geography wherein people and organizations increasingly see the internet as a jurisdiction in its own right .... • The second is a new social order wherein people increasingly organize by ideology ....  • Finally, there is the increasing propensity of private citizens, organizations and nation-states to see cyberspace as a means of collaborating, competing, or engaging in conflict ....
Senate Armed Services Committee, April 27, 2017

[Hearing on U.S. Pacific Command, Senate Armed Services Committee]

● . . .this is not about winning wars on the cheap, as some critics may suggest. It’s about winning wars on the smart. 
Senate Armed Services Committee, April 27, 2017

● The North’s special operations forces are its best trained and equipped units and its cyber capabilities are maturing, with cyberwarfare operators capable of conducting a variety of offensive operations including computer network attack and network exploitation.
Senate Armed Services Committee, April 27, 2017

Elements of Informational Power

The Department of State has renewed the Charter for the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. The bipartisan Commission appraises U.S. government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics. It may conduct studies, inquiries, and meetings, as it deems necessary.
U.S. Department of State, April 20, 2017

● The Department of State is pleased to welcome Heather Nauert as the new State Department Spokesperson. Nauert comes to the Department with more than 15 years of experience as an anchor and correspondent covering both foreign and domestic news and events, including the 9-11 terror attacks, the war in Iraq, and the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Nauert's media experience and long interest in international affairs will be invaluable as she conveys the Administration’s foreign policy priorities to the American people and the world.
U.S. Department of State, April 24, 2017

● The constant use of [Twitter] by President Trump has allowed him to create a sense of personal connection with reporters, constituents, and even international leaders, alluding to real-time and unfiltered content, but also weakening the role of the PA and PD officers who have a pervasive role of communicating policy. . . . analyzing the tweets from the current administration’s officials ... will give inside [sic] unto how the three should represent themselves and their policies on a social media platform such as Twitter.
Amanda Rae Menas, Take Five, April 20, 2017

● ... journalists should provide more context in their coverage of deployed units: more “why” and “how,” in addition to the “who,” “what,” and “where.” *** Stories about individual soldiers or actions miss the forest for the trees, after all, while talking-head stories about deforestation of the Amazon are too large and abstract for useful public conversation. Aim, then, for something in the middle. Don’t settle for writing “it’s fighting season again.” Tell readers what’s going to make this year at war different than last year.
Randy Brown, Small Wars Journal, April 22, 2017

● ... our research suggests that British efforts may be being thwarted, at least in part, by a peculiarly British problem – the culture of no comment that surrounds much of its counterterrorism activity abroad. There is an increasing trend in British defence and security policy of secretive yet growing military commitments in areas where the UK is not generally considered to be at war, but where it faces threats from terrorist groups.
Abigail Watson, Small Wars Journal, April 22, 2017

● . . . in the latest influence operation involving the 2016 election . . . . Cyber was the vector used to extract the information, but how the stolen information is used “is not necessarily a cyber issue,” Christopher Painter, Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the State Department said . . . . Information warfare has happened for centuries, he added, and while cyber has been either an accelerant or an enabler for these types of activities, it is just a small part.
Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNet, April 25, 2017

● The nature of war is not changing but rather the character of war is with social media, cyber operations, information operations and small commercially available unmanned aerial vehicles, which all lead to an increasingly lethal battlefield in which all domains will be contested and congested.
Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNet, April 7, 2017

Professional Topics

● In more innocent times, the rise of the Internet was seen by many people as a boon to democracy. *** in what are clearly less innocent times, the Internet is viewed as a far less benign force. It can be a haven for spreading fake news and rewarding the harshest and most divisive of political rhetoric. It . . . has dark corners populated by anonymous actors . . . whose influence appears to be growing but not easily measured.
Dan Balz, The Washington Post, April 22, 2017

● In an age of presidential tweets, protest hashtags and online petitions, corporate America must take warning. Pepsi paid top dollar for that flashy ad with Kendall Jenner — because they listened to marketers, and not to consumers. Consumers talked back in a tidal wave of negative attention.
. . . Companies should avoid the controversy and continue doing what they do best: making, marketing and selling quality products that Americans — and indeed the entire world — can enjoy.
Angela Morabito, Washington Examiner, April 17, 2017

● Key Findings: While Social Media Is Still Relatively New, Many of the Best Practices for Using It Are Based on Well-Understood Marketing Approaches * * *A Bottom-Down Messaging Strategy Using Influencers in the Arab World Can Be Effective * * *Tailoring Top-Down Messaging by Targeting Specific Themes to Different Communities also Helps Facilitate the Social Conversation
Todd Helmus and Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, RAND Corporation, 2017

● When we think of the cyber domain, we should start thinking about social media because we sense in these domains, and then the question becomes how do we pull together all the sensing and turn it into decision-quality information? How do we take pre-effects from those same domains? It is sensing, effects, decision speed, and operational agility that are going to define the victors in future campaigns.
William T. Eliason, Joint Force Quarterly, April 1, 2017


● Russia’s cyberwarfare operations are built on the back of their cybercriminal networks. Can the US and its allies take them down?
Sheera Frenkel, Buzz Feed, April 20, 2017

● In 2016, [Pawn Storm] attempted to influence public opinion, to influence elections, and sought contact with mainstream media with some success. Now the impact of these malicious activities can be felt by various industries and enterprises operating throughout the world.
Feike Hacquebord, Trend Micro, 2017

● ... this response must forever strip Moscow of the possibility of playing on human ignorance with lies and disinformation and promote a new generation of Russian leaders who are committed to integration with rather than the destruction of the globalized world, Pavlova concludes.
Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia—New Series, April 13, 2017

● The report [about revisions to the Republican platform] sounded damning—unless one knew, of course, that the “language” to which Acosta managed to refer four times in the space of thirty seconds did not exist—no statement on Ukraine was inserted into the Republican platform by the Trump campaign—and that the sentiment ostensibly ascribed to candidate Trump falls squarely in the foreign-policy mainstream and was, in fact, the position held by the Obama administration.
Masha Gessen, The New York Review, March 6, 2017

● Virtually every action, message, and decision of a military force shapes the opinions of an indigenous population . . . . Themes of U.S. goodwill mean little if its actions convey otherwise. Consequently, a unified message in both word and deed is fundamental to success.
Todd Helmus, Christopher Paul, and Russell W. Glenn, RAND Corporation, 2017

● NATO officials interviewed recognized Russia’s ability to use strategic communication tools to internally destabilize some of its neighbors, as well as NATO’s lack of tools to address this issue. In general, they believed that NATO headquarters and other Alliance institutions would be ineffective or unable to respond because of their limited capabilities in the area of strategic communication. This is believed to give Russia a significant advantage .... While improved strategic communications is clearly a priority, it does not seem to have gotten off the ground.
Stephanie Pezard, Andrew Radin, Thomas S. Szayna, and F. Stephen Larrabee, RAND Corporation, 2017

● The dangerous imbalance between the attention and resources that Trump is willing to devote to “hard” and “soft power” threatens not only to undermine U.S. leadership, but also to leave Americans more vulnerable to a wider spectrum of threats.
James Gibney, Bloomberg, April 19, 2017

● In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the United States was guided by the fundamental belief that it was at war with "a transnational terrorist movement fueled by a radical ideology of hatred, oppression, and murder." This mindset was articulated in the 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, which notes that the "war on terror" is a different kind of war. It is a battle of arms and a battle of ideas .... The paradigm for combating terrorism includes all aspects of U.S. national power and influence: military, diplomatic, financial, and so forth.  Accordingly, the Bush administration's second term was marked by an interagency push to counter the terrorist threat.
Rand Beers, Samantha Ravich and Matthew Levitt, The Washington Institute, April 7, 2017

● I continue to be frustrated by commentators who label the Russian activity to influence the election as a cyberattack. It was, in fact, information warfare, and it was conducted in the same way the Russians conducted information warfare well before everyone was on the internet and connected on social media.
Maj. Gen. Brett T. Williams (ret.), C4ISRNet, April 25, 2017

● There are many who still argue that unless death or destruction results, a cyber incident should not be considered an attack or an act of war. What they are missing is that cyber space has given nation states, or transnational groups, or single threat actors, the capability to effectively use information as a devastating weapon.
Gail Harris,, April 25, 2017

“Active measures” were subversive techniques and policies aimed at influencing people and events in foreign countries to suit Russia’s objectives. Claims of internet-driven hacking and misinformation campaigns by Russia against the U.S. fit well within this Cold War approach.  
Paul Ratner,, April 9, 2017

● In the United States, even radical and abhorrent ideas are constitutionally protected, as is watching jihadist videos. The problem is that in an era of mass social media and digital communication, ideological radicalization and then mobilization to violence (the "flash to bang" ratio) is faster than ever.
Matthew Levitt, The Hill, April 7, 2017

● The Islamic State’s calls for attacks are increasingly resonating with radical-leaning teens and pre-teens in Europe. The Manichean appeal of the group’s ideology certainly plays a part in this appeal. Yet such has been the Islamic State’s success, the driving force behind its recruitment clearly goes beyond this. The group has taken advantage of how simple it is today to produce relatively slick digital output
Robin Simcox, CTC Sentinel, February 22, 2017

● Among the most recent evolutions of jihadi terrorist tactics in the West has been the rise of the virtual entrepreneur. The increased use of social media, often paired with applications that offer the option of encrypted messaging, has enabled members of groups like the Islamic State to make direct and lasting contact with radicalized Americans. In some cases, these individuals direct terror plots, and in others, they provide encouragement and motivation for attacks.
Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Seamus Hughes, CTC Sentinel, March 9, 2017

Though it’s comforting to believe the truth will always out, the reality of politics can be quite different. An audience’s attention belongs to the best storytellers and those who are most active and capable of fighting for the opportunity to tell the world a narrative to believe in.  Truth may be the weight of history but it is never consistently the force that shapes it.
Lenin Hernandez, Take Five, April 18, 2017

● The more difficult task will be developing a national narrative, broadly backed by elites across the ideological spectrum, about “who we are”—one built around opposition to authoritarianism and illiberalism.
Jeff D. Colgan and Robert O. Keohane, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2017

Mr. Gorbachev was wagering that truthful and unfettered expression — a press able to criticize and investigate, history books without redacted names, and honest, accountable government — just might save the creaking edifice of Communist rule.
Gal Beckerman, The New York Times, April 10, 2017

“My firm belief as a Turk is that democracy and human rights in Turkey can only be established by facing history and acknowledging historic wrongdoings,” [Taner Akcam] said.
Tim Arango, The New York Times, April 22, 2017

● Radio Atlantico del Sur (RAdS) was the psychological operations radio station broadcast by the Ministry of Defence to Argentine troops during the latter part of the Falklands Islands Conflict. This is a draft OD(SA) interim assessment suggesting possibilities for the radio station, it dates from around 12 May 1982., July 25, 2016


● With respect, Christians must be cautious of baring our own moral hypocrisy when handling fake news or media bias. What I mean by that is Christians have a responsibility to do our due diligence before sharing catchy headlines we see on social media without knowing where a report came from or, in some cases, without reading what a piece says.  Discernment is key.
Chelsen Vicari, Juicy Ecumenism, April 13, 2017

● Singapore crushes us on test scores, but that's because tests measure the wrong things. It's not measuring the ability to identify problems and find unique solutions. These are completely missed by standardized testing. When we use this testing we forget the most important facets: critical thinking and creativity.
Kelly Cole, Washington Examiner, April 20, 2017

● At a moment when the international order is under severe strain, power is fragmenting and great-power rivalry has returned, the values and purpose at the core of the American idea matter more than ever. Against this backdrop, acting in defense of a critical international norm in Syria is reassuring; going mute on human rights issues in dealing with authoritarian leaders is not.
William J. Burns, The Washington Post, April 19, 2017

● The United States has been the modern world’s most influential country and has promoted democracy passively by serving as a model and actively through its diplomatic efforts, aid, and even military and covert action practices. **** The withdrawal of American support for democracy could compound the various anti-democratic trends we have described and lead to the fall of Huntington’s “third wave.”
Joshua Muravchik and Jeffrey Gedmin, The Washington Post, April 19, 2017

● What on earth is happening to us? It wasn’t that long ago that there was a sense of duty that went along with being a good American citizen . . . . But what we as Americans have always shared together – a love of freedom, democratic institutions, a common purpose – has degenerated into partisan and ideological totalitarianism. It is my way or the highway. Otherwise nice people say they would not a shed a tear if Mr. Trump were assassinated, nor would their counterparts on the other side have wept if Mr. Obama had been killed in office.
John Zogby, Forbes, April 18, 2017

● The greatest threat to the liberal international order comes not from Russia, China, or jihadist terror but from the self-induced deconstruction of Western culture. 
Andrew A. Michta, The American Interest, April 12, 2017

● That will require American schools to teach a lot more history and civics, including the basic Enlightenment principles of the nation. The bloody and successful civil rights movement of the recent past was predicated on everyone knowing those principles. Even the Black Panthers quoted them.
E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Democracy Journal, Spring 2017

Countries and Regions


● First spread contradictions *** and then spread conspiracies
EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, April 20, 2017

The latest whataboutist claim on the far left is that what Putin did in 2016 is no worse than what American consultants did in 1996. That’s nonsense.
Casey Michel, Daily Beast, April 17, 2017

● After every terror attack, the reaction is sadly the same. Pro-Kremlin outlets all over Europe start spreading conspiracy theories accusing various European governments, or the EU, or the US of false flag operations. In the upside-down world of disinformation-oriented pseudo-media, it is always someone in the West who is responsible for every tragedy of this kind – except when they claim, perversely, that the tragedy never happened and was in fact only staged by evil western governments trying to manipulate their populations.
EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, April 16, 2017

● RT is generously funded by the Russian state (around 300 million USD annually) and its ambitions are high: It wants to “question more”, as one of its slogans says, and become a global leader among those who feel in opposition to “the main stream”. As the Russian authorities’ most expensive international prestige project, it uses sensationalist clickbait in a way which is not very different from its sister organisation, Sputnik.
EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, April 13, 2017

● ... most commentators has discussed the future [of Russia] in terms of a competition symbolically represented as between the television which portrays a rosy picture of life in Russia and the refrigerator which shows Russians precisely what their life has become.  But even though the refrigerator has been gaining on television in recent months, a more important competitor to the state’s TV-centric message system may have emerged in the shape of the Internet, especially among the young,
Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia—New Series, April 10, 2017

● ... however skillful Putin's manipulation of public opinion ... Russia's leader came to understand that his rule needed at least the facsimile of a big idea .... Eurasianism has proved to be a most useful ideology, a tool for Kremlin authoritarianism and a channel for mischief-making with the Western hard right.
Andrew Stuttaford, The Weekly Standard, November 14, 2016


● Russia has also employed a wide array of so-called hybrid tactics in eastern Ukraine. Sophisticated uses of propaganda and cyber attacks have joined the use of irregular militias on the battlefield. In December 2016, a cyber attack against Ukraine’s electrical grid took down a fifth of the capital’s power consumption at that time of night.
Luke Coffey and Daniel Kochis, The Heritage Foundation, April 11, 2017


● Almost one in four of the internet links shared by French users of social media in the run-up to elections were related to fake news, much of which favoured anti-EU candidates and showed traces of Russian influence, according to a new study.
Andrew Rettman, euobserver, April 9, 2017

Remember all those Congressional hearings about Russian propaganda, disinformation, fake news?  Not so much now, eh?  That is because Russia has shifted its main effort towards France
Joel Harding, To Inform is To Influence, April 20, 2017


South China Morning Post, April 20, 2017

. . .Chinese social media outlets — including microblogging site Weibo and social messaging app WeChat — are frequently abuzz with the tabloid’s stories. In fact, the social media feeds of millions of Chinese netizens are filled not only with translations of the Daily Mail’s stories, but also with a torrent of misinformation from the West’s now-ubiquitous fake news and conspiracy theory websites.
Fang Kecheng, Sixth Tone, April 16, 2017


● [Jieun Paek] urges greater measures to undermine the regime’s legitimacy at home by smuggling in information about it and the world (as some activists are already doing).
Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, April 20, 2017


● Despite statements from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the incontrovertible laboratory results proving the use of sarin in the Khan Sheikhun area of southern Idlib in Syria, pro-Kremlin outlets kept to last week's practice of muddying the waters with disinformation about the issue.
EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, April 27, 2017

● Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a huge spike in the number of online stories which question the bravery of the White Helmets [rescue workers], or suggest that the recent chemical attacks were suspicious, or make some other claim that seeks to confuse you about the war in Syria.
We’ve written this short list to help you understand why this is happening. 1) Russian trolls *** 2) Heroes are a problem for Assad *** 3) War crimes are bad for business *** 4) Pro-Assad bloggers *** 5) Because they can *** The massive growth of social media has opened up a new front in modern warfare.
The Syria Campaign,, April 19, 2017

● As Syrian president Bashar al-Assad called videos of last week’s chemical attack a “fabrication,” a piece of propaganda promoted by a Russian cyber operation and bearing the hashtag #SyriaHoax has gained traction in the United States, analysts tell ABC News.
Brian Ross Megan Christie James Gordon Meek, ABC News, April 13, 2017

● Riyadh must go beyond a narrow definition of counterterrorism and examine its own role in fostering a climate of extremism. Many counterterrorism issues—particularly the promotion of extremism abroad via sectarianism and criticism of non-Muslims—touch on core domestic political issues conducive to the regime’s legitimacy and very survival. Reforms in these areas will come slowly, at best, and the United States should expect regression should the regime face a serious challenge to its reign.
Daniel L. Byman, Brookings, April 17, 2017


● When Burn the Ballroom, a rock-band from North Virginia was performing a public diplomacy tour around the Russian Far East in August 2016, drummer (and high school football coach) Jack Ivins was thrilled to discover that young people in this territory share his passion for American football. So [he recently] returned to Russia and conducted a vigorous sports and music diplomacy program in the three largest cities of the Russian Far East.... With football coaching as his day job on this program, he spent his evening carrying out rock diplomacy.
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia, April 20, 2017

To undermine ISIS recruitment efforts, Muslims, overall, need to be treated fairly. If Muslim minorities got the treatment they deserve, there would be no need for violence and extremism. By creating anti-Muslim policies and by alienating the religion, radical responses are created.  By incorporating Muslims into society through public office, cultural exchange programs, clubs, and sports teams, the sense of undervalue decreases. People who once were angry with the way Muslims were treated, felt alone, or felt segregated against, will have less of a need to join a radical organization ....
Egor Pelevkin, Take Five, April 19, 2017

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