Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Parrying Putin’s new Cold War

Daniel Gallington, washingtontimes.com

An aggressive adversary calls for more crafty national security

image from article, with caption: Illustration on responses to Russia’s renewed belligerence by Alexander Hunter
[W]e have developed some very bad habits over the last 75 years: We typically don’t react until after we are struck — whether it be by act of war, terrorists or even hurricanes — and our open society and permeable borders literally invite attacks against us.
An exception to this was the Cold War. However, and sadly, we have forgotten much of what we learned then and have allowed other essential capabilities to go fallow.
This has not gone unnoticed by Vladimir Putin, the former KGB thug who wants a return to Russia’s worst days of international intimidation. In case there remains any mystery about his motives, his goal is to reclaim as much of Eastern Europe as he can by using the “persecution of ethnic Russians” ruse that he got away with in Ukraine. Mr. Putin has also determined that amateurs and lightweights lead the West — and that NATO has become a hollow shell of its former self.
He may be right.
With that in mind, here are a few very important things we need to do: ...
Public diplomacy: Starting in the George W. Bush administration and continuing throughout the Obama administration, our government has kept its head in the sand and allowed dangerous social media to run rampant throughout the digital world. The Islamic State recruits thousands using these techniques.
You may wonder why we are not doing effective public diplomacy or information operations to counter these efforts around the world — and in open social media and Internet space? As I observed in a 2008 Washington Times op-ed, “Information operations have not been allowed to develop and mature because they were perceived as bureaucratic threats to the traditional public affairs function of our government.”
In addition, this activity is often caught up in the literal application of regulations intended for covert intelligence operations. While both activities can and should be complementary, their objectives are different — and that reality should be basic to our legislative and regulatory approach to each.
If you want to see how a very effective information program works, tune in Mr. Putin’s RT cable channel or Al Jazeera. We should be doing our own sophisticated programming worldwide with massive application, especially in the Middle East — there is simply no excuse not to.
There is an inherent difference between public affairs, and public diplomacy. To not do the latter in today’s instantaneous Internet world — because it may compete with or differ from the “official” political spin by public affairs — is just plain dumb. ...
Daniel Gallington served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Justice and as bipartisan general counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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