Sunday, September 24, 2017

"Seen on the Web" (#85) -- Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy

Donald Bishop Sat, Sep 16, 2017 at 7:48 PM
Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#85)
September 16, 2017 - via email
Seen on the Web 3550-3657


     [CSCE Hearing on Russian Propaganda]
     [Hearing on North Korea]
     [Cyber Command]
[Election 2016 controversies]

Instruments of Informational Power

Professional Topics

Countries, Regions, Case Studies


Thanks to Jeffery Taylor

In the News

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, September 15, 2007

● I have directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations. 
Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, August 18, 2017

[Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), Hearing on “The Scourge of Russian Disinformation,” September 14, 2017]

Russia’s ultimate goal is to replace the Western-led world order of laws and institutions with an authoritarian-led order that recognizes only masters and vassals. Our feeble response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and their interference in our elections has only emboldened the Kremlin to think that such a new world order is not only possible, but imminent. We must not let Russian activities go with impunity. We must identify and combat them, utilizing every tool in our arsenal.

Executing Russia’s long-term expansion strategy is much easier when the countries and institutions that can prevent Russian expansion may be fighting a disinformation campaign at home. Unfortunately, Russia has perfected the control of information by first imposing strict limits on its citizens. This problem is two-fold, it allows Russia to control what its citizens know about their own country and it prevents Russian citizens from learning the truth about foreign government actions, particularly from the United States. This is why many Russians are reported to blame the United States for hardships resulting from sanctions rather than blaming the Russian government for behaving in a way that incurs sanctions in the first place.

Make no mistake the United States is facing information warfare, and I don’t use that term lightly. The BBG is an essential element of the national security response.  The export of U.S. journalism and the values of free media and free speech speak to the world as much as U.S. boots on the ground. Like defense, development, and diplomacy, U.S. international media—accurate, balanced and true—is an essential part of our standing on the world stage.

At Human Rights First, we have documented the effectiveness of these threats in Eastern Europe, including how Russia has contributed to significant backsliding on democracy and human rights in Poland and Hungary – each a NATO ally. We are seeing Russia make inroads in Central and Eastern Europe through the use of online bots and trolls in Poland, the buying off of politicians and business leaders in Hungary and the Czech Republic, the funding of youth military camps in Hungary and Slovakia, and the dissemination of fabricated stories about migrants and Muslims across Europe, but particularly in Germany.

Ten years since a cyber attack on Estonia, nine years after Russia’s invasion of Georgia, almost four years since the invasion of Ukraine, ten months since we got a red alert on the information war being waged against the American people — and our actions says we’re still trying to decide if this is a threat that we need to take seriously. For example: Congress mandated the creation of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center to help counter Russian disinformation, authorizing considerable financial resources to the cause. These resources have neither been allocated nor spent. Other efforts have directed resources to countering Russian narrative — in Russian. Very little has been done about the English language disinformation targeting Americans.

[House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing: “Sanctions, Diplomacy, and Information: Pressuring North Korea,” September 12, 2017]

Finally, we need to do much better at getting information to North Koreans so they better understand the brutality and corruption of the self-serving Kim regime. These efforts are already pressuring the regime, creating some unrest and increasing defections. But I’m afraid our efforts here grade poorly, as international broadcasting and fomenting dissent just hasn’t been a priority.  That’s unacceptable.

Do you think an information surge – you know that there’s nothing that precludes us from broadcasting despite jamming capabilities that they might have – even more to demystify the Kims because the big lie has certainly been embedded in the hearts and minds of many North Koreans for so long. 
Question by Rep. Christopher Smith (from 59:04 on the video transcript)

The question of increasing information access inside North Korea is one that we certainly have looked at and are working on, and whether we can do more there, I think we’re always looking at whether we can do more and what could be done more effectively.  But I think from my standpoint one of the biggest ways we can get people inside North Korea to question what the regime is doing is by making it very difficult for them to pay the military and to provide for their citizens, and that’s what we’re really focused on in addition to trying to knock down the proliferation networks that are contributing to the weapons program.


● The elevation from its previous sub-unified command status also demonstrates the growing centrality of cyberspace to U.S. national security and signals our resolve to embrace the changing nature of warfare and maintain U.S. military superiority across all domains and phases of conflict.
Colonel Rob Manning and Kenneth P. Rapuano, Department of Defense, August 18, 2017

● Intelligence officers sometimes talk about “blowback,” when covert actions go bad and end up damaging the country that initiated them. A year later, that is surely the case with Russia’s secret attempt to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, which has brought a string of adverse unintended consequences for Moscow.
David Ignatius, Real Clear Politics, August 18, 2017

● The recent news that thirty electronic voting machines of five different types had been hacked for sport at the Def Con hackers’ conference in Las Vegas, some in a matter of minutes, should not have been news at all.
Sue Halpern, The New York Review of Books, August 10, 2017

Instruments of Informational Power

● At first, the special envoy to the [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] focused principally on efforts, through public diplomacy, to engage with Muslim communities around the world. This was motivated in large part by the need to demonstrate, in the aftermath of the disastrous U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the ongoing quagmire in Afghanistan, that the United States was not at war with Islam. But in 2010, President Barack Obama broadened the envoy’s mandate to deepen and expand U.S. partnerships with the OIC, in line with what he had advocated in his June 2009 speech in Cairo.
Arsalan Suleman, Foreign Affairs, August 24, 2017

● As I learned years ago, figure out whatever your adversary is keeping secret or is reluctant to bring into public view; then find a way to shine the bright, honest light of public attention on it.
Ambassador Brian Carlson, Public Diplomacy Council, August 22, 2017

● With adversaries and competitors continuing to demonstrate effective central planning in information warfare, it is increasingly clear that the US government can no longer let each of its components fight piecemeal. Creating an overarching agency to coordinate information operations across the US government is the only way to coordinate whole-of-government efforts and effectively utilize the array of US capabilities across the global information environment.
Will DuVal and Adam Maisel, Real Clear Defense, August 15, 2017
● The challenges to the United States in the realm of information are numerous and diverse. And succeeding against them is a natural challenge for the United States if it is to maintain its pursuit of peaceful, interconnected societies. However, the solution is not simply to rebuild USIA. People who advocate bringing back USIA do not know what that means in practice or what USIA even really did.
Matthew Armstrong, War on the Rocks, November 2015

● A while back, I was having lunch with a journalist friend of mine, a post-’80s-generation Chinese woman. “A lot of my friends I went to journalism school with are in public relations (PR) now, because it pays better, but they really just get paid to lie for the company,” she said. * * * I’ve noticed this attitude among a lot of my friends in the fields of PR, branding, and journalism in China. * * * I remember how one friend of mine, who works in PR for a Chinese tech firm, referred to his job as “the mafia guy who clears the crime scene of evidence after the murder.” In contrast, for many organizations in the U.S., PR and corporate communications are having a bit of a renaissance.
Elliott Zaagman, Sup China, August 15, 2017

● This study surveys how the US Army communicated its missions to the American public during periods of conflict within the context of the national policy toward information management. The phrase “information management” is used to suggest a host of interrelated terms to include censorship, information operations, information warfare, propaganda, public affairs, public information, psychological operations, psychological warfare, and strategic communications.
Robert T. Davis II, Combat Studies Institute Press, US Army Combined Arms Center, July 2009

● The Baltic countries, which have sizeable ethnic Russian populations, have been working to prevent similar scenarios from occurring in their own countries by developing their own Russian-language media content. But they are fighting an uphill battle.
Hannah Thoburn, World Affairs Journal, August 23, 2017

● Today the Cambodian government has launched what appears to be a campaign against key FM radio stations that carry Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts.  These FM stations are a critical means for the Cambodian people to access accurate and independent news about Cambodia and the world.
John F. Lansing, Broadcasting Board of Governors, August 23, 2017

● The leaflets dropped by aircraft on Tuesday in Parwan province, north of Kabul, included an image of a white dog about to be eaten by a lion. The Taliban’s banner — containing the Islamic statement of faith, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” — was written on the side of the dog. The animal is considered impure in Islam.
Phillip Walter Wellman, Stars & Stripes, September 7, 2017

● Any deployed military operation requires coordination with the civilian population and host nation government. The Non-Lethal cell is uniquely capable of identifying, assessing, and countering adversarial messaging in addition to shaping the operational environment positively through multiple lines of effort.
Kevin Merrill, Small Wars Journal, August 28, 2017

● As violent extremist organizations (VEOs) continue to conduct violent acts in East Africa, the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UDPF) are working with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa to mature their use of psychological operations to counter these atrocities.
Tech Sgt. Andria Allmond, Defense Video Imagery Distribution System, August 18, 2017

Professional Topics

● Two in three Twitter users who write in Russian about the NATO presence in Eastern Europe are robotic or ‘bot’ accounts. Together, these accounts created 84% of the total Russian-language messages. The English language space is also heavily affected: 1 in 4 active accounts were likely automated and were responsible for 46% of all English-language content.
NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, August 31, 2017

● Today, phishing emails are behind 97 percent of cyberattacks, yet recent research reveals 97 percent of people cannot identify those phishing scams, putting the companies they work for at risk. In fact, out of 5,000 emails, one of them is likely to be a phishing email that causes damage. Victims may not know they've become one for up to a year.
Amanda Ciccatelli, Inside Counsel, August 29, 2017

● . . . we found there’s one social media entity that’s really popular in central Europe and has 350 million users worldwide, called VKontakte. It’s exactly like Facebook, and it has this interesting feature Facebook has, which is groups. Pro-ISIS supporters would form themselves into these groups and they would exchange information about weaponry, financing, recruitment and events.
Natalie Wolchover, The Atlantic, August 28, 2017

● . . . many bots and botnets are relatively easy to spot by eyeball, without access to specialized software or commercial analytical tools. This article sets out a dozen of the clues, which we have found most useful in exposing fake accounts.
Digital Forensic Research Lab, August 28, 2017

● [Social media] also comes with big risks and vulnerabilities—both technical and behavioral. SNSs pose serious threats to the Department of Defense Information Networks (DODIN) and military operations as cyber criminals and adversaries are finding SNSs to be a major attack vector and entry point to infiltrate our networks and exfiltrate its data. Technical threats * * * Behavioral/OPSEC threats * * *
Lieutenant Colonel Dieter A. Waldvogel, Air and Space Power Journal, Summer 2017

● . . . a cybersecurity analysis released today placed the government at 16 out of 18 in a ranking of industries, ahead of only telecommunications and education.
Lily Hay Newman, Wired, August 24, 2017

● A draft report by the U.S. president’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council, or NAIC, assesses that: “The time to act is now. As a Nation, we need to move past simply studying our cybersecurity challenges and begin taking meaningful steps to improve our cybersecurity to prevent a major debilitating cyber attack.”
Mark Pomerleau, Fifth Domain, August 23, 2017

● Kaspersky Labs, the Moscow-based security provider, has adamantly denied any ties to the Russian government.  However, CBS News recently confirmed a certificate has surfaced confirming a relationship between the security firm and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).  * * * The relationship is concerning for many due to . . . whether or not this relationship would be abused to obtain classified information from the devices using Kaspersky for their security solution.
Kayla Thrailkill, Tech Talk, August 23, 2017

● Over the last two decades, states have developed increasingly sophisticated tools for conducting espionage and sabotage online. Cyber spying allows intelligence agencies to gain information without putting human sources in danger. Offensive cyber operations go further, offering the hope of destroying enemy capabilities without the need for military force. It’s easy to see why these tools are so seductive to policymakers.
Joshua Rovner, War on the Rocks, August 22, 2017

● While the possibility of large-scale cyberattacks gets the lion’s share of attention, chaos by small doses is more probable.
Brian E. Finch, The Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2017

● . . . the balance of power has shifted. The United States may be a so-called superpower, but the asymmetrical nature of power in cyberspace leaves America merely “playing goalie” and trying to stop attacks, Mandia said.  He shared that it took 18 years of responding to breaches for him to learn that intrusions are related to the global geopolitical conditions. Intrusions usually are tied to a specific incident.
Kimberly Underwood, The Cyber Edge, August 18, 2017

● Established in 2015, the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center — the newest of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s four multi-agency centers — seeks to build a better understanding of foreign cyberthreats to U.S. national interest and to enable informed decision-making.
Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNet, August 16, 2017

● Michigan high school students are invited to become cyber warriors this Fall and compete in the second annual Governor’s High School Cyber Challenge.
Up Matters, August 16, 2017

● Russia, China, Iran and North Korea: These four nations come up often when discussing the top threats facing the United States. These nations also possess advanced cyber capabilities, which are used for achieving a competitive economic advantage, sowing discord, raising money and a whole host of other reasons.
Mark Pomerleau, Fifth Domain, August 16, 2017

● The ongoing attempted hack of Scottish Parliament IT systems is similar to one which targeted Westminster in June.  Staff from Holyrood's IT office are working "closely" with the National Cyber Security Centre to put extra defences in place.
BBC News, August 16, 2017

● The US Defense Intelligence Agency has vowed to capture enemy malware, study and customize it, and then turn the software nasties on their creators.
Iain Thompson, The Register, August 15, 2017

● Now, Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited, the civic body's special purpose vehicle for the ambitious smart city project, is planning to bring in a dynamic cyber security model for upcoming web applications in an attempt to protect its IT infrastructure from third-party attacks in the form of malware or virus.
Sandeep Mishra, The Telegraph, August 14, 2017

● The State Department quietly established a new office earlier this year within its Diplomatic Security Service to safeguard against and respond to cybersecurity threats. The State Department officially launched the new office, called the Cyber and Technology Security (CTS) directorate, on May 28, a department official confirmed.
Morgan Chalfant, The Hill, August 14, 2017

● With responsibility for the entire planet, transcending geographic boundaries and working hard to maintain the perspectives and the authorities to benefit the entire joint force, McDew said 90 percent of military logistics and global movement are coordinated on unclassified commercial networks. “Ignoring cyber is not an option for us,” he said. “Cyber for us is mission critical.”
Mark Pomerleau, Fifth Domain, August 14, 2017

● The Army’s electronic warfare professionals will begin their transition to the cyber branch in January.
Mark Pomerleau, Fifth Domain, August 14, 2017

● Applied domestically as an instrument of political control and internationally to advance a strategy of destabilization, Moscow’s doctrine of cyber-dominance is ominous and increasingly effective. Klimburg cites a study concluding that “Russian Internet users have become so inured to the Kremlin narrative of the Internet as a tool of Western powers that two out of five Russians distrust foreign media and nearly half of Russians believe foreign news web sites need to be censored.”
Gordon M. Goldstein, The Washington Post, August 4, 2017

● The Air Force must move to change and innovate if the service is going to survive and thrive in this new information-driven world. If not, the Air Force faces to the prospect of extinction, as the environment we sprang from fades further into the past.
Lt Gen William J. Bender, USAF (Ret.), The Mitchell Forum, August 2017

● There’s fake news, and then there’s fake news. For partisans, that politically-charged term is evolving at breakneck pace. What was once universally understood to mean sloppy propaganda targeting the ill-informed in social media’s cloistered information ghettos is now a blanket term describing flawed (or, not infrequently, inconvenient) journalism.
Noah Rothman, Commentary Magazine, August 31, 2017

● In Europe, citizens and lawmakers are feeling the pressure, as the trifecta of populism, fake news, and threats of Russian interference increase the sense of urgency. Amid worries surrounding upcoming elections in Germany, the country has taken an especially proactive approach in stopping the spread of fake news.
Niko Efstathiou and Bebe Santa-Wood, Center for International Media Assistance, August 30, 2017

● A “passionate Brexit supporter” with more than 100,000 Twitter followers could be in the pay of the Russian government as part of an international disinformation campaign, analysts have said.
Lizzie Dearden, The Independent, August 30, 2017

● But what does deception mean in the 21st century? Once it required recruiting courtesans as spies and camouflaging troops with tree branches and green facepaint. Now it involves putting out fake news on Facebook and concealing missile launchers in commercial shipping containers.
Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr., Breaking Defense, August 14, 2017

● Earlier this month, pro-Kremlin media websites,, and, referring to each other—a ping-pongmanipulation technique—reported on the 16 August radio interview of Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis. The interview focused on the forthcoming Zapad 2017 Russia-Belarus military exercises * * * Selectively quoting from the interview . . . advances the Kremlin’s core narrative: that Russia is besieged by enemies, Lithuania and its NATO allies are aggressors, and Russia does not deserve to be treated with suspicion. It’s clear that pro-Kremlin media outlets prefer to argue with Western views instead of adhering to responsible, well-documented principles of journalism and examining why Western governments and their citizens react as they do to Russia’s actions abroad.
Dalia Bankauskaite, Center for European Policy Analysis, August 2017


● Launching and managing a national branding programme is infinitely more complex, sophisticated, difficult and long term than managing a similar activity for a commercial organization It takes years, and the pay-off is slow + not readily measurable/tangible Politicians like quick, measurable results that get them votes – that is one of the reasons why so many national branding programmes are taken up enthusiastically and then dropped.
Katrzyna Rybka-Iwanska, Slide Share, August 21, 2017


●. . . the Kremlin’s attempts to influence other countries’ electoral processes have been a problem across Europe for over a decade, and that our intelligence agencies weren’t alone in sounding the alarm. And that’s a serious problem for those who are dismissive of the evidence of Russian intervention. Russia’s effort in our election may have been its most dramatic—and arguably its most fruitful—but evidence suggests it was hardly an isolated event.
Joshua Holland, The Nation, August 21, 2017

● President Vladimir Putin was able to create an opportunity to accomplish his goals without engaging the West in armed conflict. Preparations included a robust information operations offensive, consisting of a heavy barrage of propaganda targeting Russian-speaking viewers of state-run media in the near abroad.
Daniel Burkhart and Alison Woody, Joint Force Quarterly, June 19, 2017

● Many top defense officials acknowledge that while the nature of war has not and likely won’t change, the character of war is. This is evident in conflict today and projected battles of the future with a combination of kinetic and non-kinetic effects against militaries and to effect populations using the information space. Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, calls this fifth-generation war.
Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNet, August 14, 2017

● Fourth, the United States must improve its counter-ISIS narrative. ISIS has been quite skilled at building a global brand and adapting it to shifting conditions. Good messaging will be critical to long-term success against the group (particularly the effort to drive down its appeal among young Muslims), but it is still, unfortunately, an area of relative weakness within the U.S. government.
Michael Dempsey, Foreign Affairs, August 18, 2017

● Designed by sculptor Sergei Selikhanov, the work depicts Yuzif Kaminsky, the only villager who survived the Nazi massacre in Khatyn, cradling the corpse of his dead son, Adam. The Kaminsky family wasn’t Jewish, but the father’s grief stands for all the suffering inflicted on the region — and in stark contrast to typical Soviet-era statues of defiant soldiers or a glorious Mother Russia.
Belarus Holocaust monument is haunting — and subversive
Cnaan Liphshiz, The Times of Israel, August 24, 2017
● The announcement last week by Cambridge University Press that it had removed some 300 articles from a Chinese website hosting the China Quarterly . . . is yet another example of an assault on history by the [PRC]. Censorship is a key element in the Chinese Communist Party’s strategy to stay in power. In so doing, it aims . . . “to control China’s future by shaping consciousness of its past.”
John Pomfret, The Washington Post, August 23, 2017

● To some, he is a hero despite losing a civil war. To others, he is a symbol of oppression. Some of the statues built in his honor have since been removed, but others remain because the cause he represented still has support.  No, he is not Robert E. Lee. He is Chiang Kai-shek, and how his memory has been handled in Taiwan echoes the debate over what to do with monuments to Lee and other Confederate leaders in the United States today.
Austin Ramzy, The New York Times, August 22, 2017

● In yet another move in Russia to silence those telling the truth about the Great Terror and Stalinism in general, Dmitry Kozlov has been fined for erecting a Last Address plaque, part of the civic initiative honouring the memory of individual victims of the Terror.
Halya Coynash, Human Rights in Ukraine, August 18, 2017

● Just alongside Moscow's central ring road, the pieces of a vast bronze sculpture are being slotted into place. It is Russia's first ever national memorial to the millions deported, imprisoned and executed in Soviet times.  Most were victims of Joseph Stalin's brutal, paranoid rule.
Sarah Rainsford, BBC News, August 17, 2017

● No statues of Lenin remain in Ukraine, according to the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, Vladimir Vyatrovich. In an interview . . . [he] announced that “a total of 2,389 monuments have been pulled down, including 1,320 statues of Lenin. As far as we know, there are no more (statues of) Lenin on the territory controlled by Ukraine.”
Matt Janney, The Calvert Journal, August 17, 2017

● Today, the unburied body [of Vladimir Lenin] remains a lingering element of the Soviet legacy, representing Russia’s inability or unwillingness to bury its Soviet past.
Alice E. M. Underwood, The Russia File, August 17, 2017

While controversial statues of Confederate icons who fought for slavery come down in the United States, Russia is erecting new monuments to a once-disgraced Soviet Union dictator who killed millions: Josef Stalin.
Anna Arutunyan, USA Today, August 16, 2017

● Though fundamentally designed as a method to stop people from becoming terrorists, the media frequently reports on the controversies surrounding Prevent. Critics of the scheme accuse it of targeting Muslim communities and, in doing so, alienating these communities, creating a ‘climate of fear’ and stoking far-Right sentiment. Others allege it is ‘spying’ on citizens rather than keeping them safe.
Richard de Silva, Defence IQ, August 10, 2017

● Pershing studied the Koran and drank tea with tribal leaders to emphasize that he was there to put down violence, not continue a religious war the Spanish had waged for centuries. It was a people-centric strategy adopted a century later in Iraq and Afghanistan, as troops sought to isolate fighters from civilians. “He did a lot of what we would call ‘winning hearts and minds’ and embraced reforms which helped end their resistance,” Lance Janda, a military historian at Cameron University, told PolitiFact.
Alex Horton, The Washington Post, August 18, 2017

● Wartime aside, Soviet propaganda became a defining aspect of the nation's very culture, spreading the aesthetics, values, and lessons of the Soviet ideology throughout the nation and beyond.
Gabe Paoletti, All that is Interesting, August 2, 2017

●. . . deploy an effective counter-propaganda operation and lay bare jihadi contradictions, exaggerations, and hypocrisy. The varied sociopolitical geography of Salafi jihadism will require a finely tuned approach. Any message originating in the United States will be immediately discredited. Therefore, overt U.S. Government projects should not be considered. Covert counter-information operations will need to be given priority.
Scott Englund, Joint Force Quarterly, June 20, 2017

● Battlefields are growing ever more complicated, from pervasive information warfare in social media, to applying multi-functional and multi-domain military capabilities below the threshold of armed conflict or the coupling of economic power with militia and irregular forces.
Gen. Robert B. Brown and Gen. David G. Perkins, War on the Rocks, August 18, 2017

● The full faith and credit of the United States rest not on this or that grudgingly passed statute, but on a much deeper structure of consensus and cooperation, both political and social. That is to say, it rests on the very attributes of our society that seem to be under siege in the contemporary political situation.  If America ever does stop exporting political stability and the rule of law, it will probably not be due to a lack of demand, but a disruption in supply.
Charles Lane, The Washington Post, August 30, 2017

● Our military exists to protect our nation and our allies from those forces who threaten our values: democracy, liberty, freedom of speech and religion, racial and gender equality. We execute these values imperfectly, but they are the right ones to hold. The United States is not interested in conquering other lands, stealing their natural resources, or enslaving their people. That is the work of those we must and will defeat – personified by the 20th-century Nazi fascists.
James Stavridis, The Boston Globe, August 24, 2017

● As my good friend Condi Rice has said, the essence of America is that which really unites us. It is not ethnicity or nationality or religion, it is an idea that you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. That it doesn’t matter where you came from but where you’re going. As the arm of the U.S. Government representing America around the world, the U.S. State Department should be a clear display of America’s values and our people, not just in our mission but in the composition of our workforce.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Department of State, August 18, 2017

● America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.
Cleve R. Wootson, The Washington Post, August 16, 2017

● . . . the mainstream media have been pushing the line that America’s historic tolerance of religious diversity no longer extends to adherents of the Islamic faith. A just-released Education Next survey tells a different story.
Paul E. Peterson, The Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2017

● Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.
Robin Wright, The New Yorker, August 14, 2017

Countries, Regions, Case Studies


●  One of the basic tools of pro-Kremlin disinformation is to fill the information space with constant noise to confuse the audience – or to at least force it to stop paying attention.  A recent target of this method has been The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), hosted by Finland. This week, pro-Kremlin attempts to obscure the public discussion around the centre grew in both quantity and absurdity.
Get Redy for pro-Kremlin tinnitus
EU East Stratcom Task Force, Disinformation Review, September 7, 2017

● Russia’s army of media influencers, social media bots and trolls has increasingly amplified alt-right and far-right narratives in the United States since the 2016 presidential election.
Morgan Chalfant, The Hill, August 26, 2017

● Reverence for Stalin — one of the most despised and notorious figures of the 20th century — is on the rise in Russia.  In fact, the totalitarian wartime leader has never been more popular.  "I think it's a real catastrophe," said Fangulyan.
Chris Brown, CBC News, August 22, 2017

● Russia’s international image is more negative than positive. Critical opinions of Russia are particularly widespread in the United States and Europe, while views are more mixed in the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
Margaret Vice, Pew Research Center, August 16, 2017

● The United States and Russia are well-positioned to work together on countering the use of the internet as a propaganda tool by terrorist organizations and, at a minimum, share best practices in countering terrorist organization’s soft power on the internet.  This line of cooperation should focus in particular on countering recruitment of Russian and American citizens on the internet and through social media, with a broadened dialogue that incorporates not only government but also relevant civil society institutions.
Andrey Kortunov and Olga Oliker, CSIS, August 2017

● Russia carries out and encourages ‘active measures’ in Europe to destabilise and confuse governments and societies. But these are often opportunistic and shaped by local conditions. There is no grand strategy, beyond weakening the EU and NATO and creating a more conducive environment for itself.  [Report]
Mark Galeotti, European Council on Foreign Relations, August 2017


● . . . I call on you not to name the military conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on the Ukrainian territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as a “civil war” and remove the reference of such in the Report. Inaccuracy of such wording creates a false and misleading reader’s perception of what is going on in Eastern Ukraine.
Natalia Galibarenko, Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, August 16, 2017

● It is the first known instance of a living witness emerging from the arid mass of technical detail that has so far shaped the investigation into the election hacking and the heated debate it has stirred. The Ukrainian police declined to divulge the man’s name or other details, other than that he is living in Ukraine and has not been arrested.
Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Higgins, The New York Times, August 16, 2017

● Germany has banned a far-left internet portal accused of inciting violence and rallying activists who rioted during last month's G20 summit in Hamburg. It is now a crime to continue using the site, linksunten.indymedia, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said. 
BBC News, August 25, 2017


● . . . China remains hobbled when it comes to understanding a topic of more concern to the Chinese than to anyone else: the reasons for change and conflict in their own society. By obstructing free research by its own academics, the Chinese government limits the analysis and judgment of the experts it surely wants to advise it. In the end, China loses more from censorship than Westerners.
Rana Mitter, South China Morning Post, August 26, 2017

● China’s investment in its soft power institutions has since been both significant and rapid.  Indeed, China’s spending on soft power over the last decade has hit $10bn a year, according to David Shambaugh of George Washington University. This is more than the combined government spending of the U.S., UK, France, Germany, and Japan on soft power.
Soft Power 30, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, August 25, 2017

● A representative of a large American publishing house . . . said: “We’re nervous about whether there will be increased censorship requests from Chinese agencies in the future.”
South China Morning Post, August 24, 2017

● The propaganda machine is also trying to shape the conversation on social media. Censors are vetting political jokes and commentary. New laws are restricting who can distribute news, and which VPNs, virtual private networks, can be used to circumvent what has come to be known as the "great firewall" of China.
Al Jazeera, August 21, 2017

● Within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), some Party units have established a largely unknown network of writing teams which propagate the policies or perspectives of a particular unit by publishing feature articles in Party journals. These writing teams often make use of a pseudonym in the form of a person's name, leading outsiders to believe that the work is written by a journalist.
Wen-Hsuan Tsai and Peng-Hsiang Kao, The China Quarterly, May 13, 2013

● Researchers may point to the violent riots in Xinjiang in 2009 as the starting point of the narrative of the Chinese state being “too accommodating” to ethnic minorities, particularly Muslim Uighurs. And as this recent online mobilization will show, the narrative has evolved and gained momentum from a host of new sources.
Ma Tianjie, Foreign Policy, March 31, 2017

● Based on Miller and Swaine’s insights, Hong Kong-based designer Jason Li and I compiled this visual guide to what’s authoritative and what’s not in media reflecting Chinese official opinion. We first published it at our group blog 88 Bar and updated the guide for SupChina this month.
Graham Webster, SupChina, January 20, 2017

● Earlier this week, I blogged about an inadvertently funny racist Chinese video made by state-owned Xinhua News. * * * Now the Indians have fired back with a silly video of their own targeting President Xi Jinping.
Sadanand Dhume, American Enterprise Institute, August 18, 2017

● Chinese state media have released a propaganda video that lambasts India over a border dispute, sparking accusations of racism.  The English-language clip, accusing India of committing "sins", features a Chinese actor in a Sikh turban, speaking in a mock Indian accent.
BBC News, August 17, 2017

● Chinese media - controlled by either the Communist Party of China or directly managed by the Chinese Government - has accused India of committing "seven sins" at Doklam.  The latest in the series is a "racist" video in poor taste with the actors trying to spread lies about the legality, ground reality and history of Doklam in particular and eastern sector of the border in general.
Prabhash K. Dutta, India Today, August 17, 2017

● Anti-American stamps have been produced on a regular basis by North Korea for almost 60 years, so reporting on a new one is pretty much like reporting that water is wet. But North Korea is not alone in anti-American sentiments. Anti-American stamps have been produced by Iran and Libya in the past 30 years. And other countries have had international political squabbles take center stage on their stamps.
Marty Frankevicz, Linn’s Stamp News, August 14, 2017

● Another reality often ignored is the fervor with which North Korea casts the US as the enemy. Not “an” enemy, but “the” enemy. . . . anti-US propaganda in North Korea is straightforward and harsh . . . . state media regularly refer to the US as “imperialists,” “bastards,” and other colorful epithets. South Korea, by comparison, is rarely mentioned directly as an enemy, but is cast more often as an unfortunate victim of US imperialist power, in need of liberation.  The vast majority of propaganda in North Korea is decidedly militant, with Kim Jong-un regularly appearing in posters and paintings leading soldiers, tanks, and missiles in glorious victory over US aggressors.
Justin Fendos, Pacific Forum CSIS, August 30, 2017

● The Philippine and US governments were combatting an enemy whose main propaganda messages resonated with a popular base that had grown further and further from the landlord and elite class, even before the Japanese invaded in 1941.
Major Andrew E. Lembke, Combat Studies Institute Press, 2013

● The religious and national struggle of our people is not some illegitimate or proxy war rather it takes root from a pure spiritual and national fervor. 
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [Taliban], August 15, 2017

● Essential Function 8: Maintain Internal and External Strategic Communication Capability.  EF 8 advisors work with the Afghan government to counter insurgent messaging and offer a positive narrative to the Afghan people and the international community. Efforts seek to help Afghan partners speak with one consistent voice, both within their own organizations and externally. Advisors focus on bridging gaps and overcoming challenges to improved communications within the Afghan security ministries and forces while continuing to reinforce successes and look for opportunities to improve.[Report] Operation Freedom's Sentinel: Report to The United States Congress
Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations, Office of the Inspector General, Department of Defense, June 30, 2017

● Bangladesh has approved a project to build hundreds of mosques with almost $1 billion from Saudi Arabia, an official said Wednesday, worrying minorities who fear they could be used to spread fundamentalist Islam.
AFP, UK Daily Mail, April 26, 2017

● . . . a group of 10 Palestinian officials attended a weeklong workshop on “Communication Skills & Media Relations for Diplomacy” this week in Turin, Italy to craft skills for engaging with all manner of media . . . . organized by the International Training Center of the International Labor Organization (ITC-ILO), with funding from the Italian Consulate General in Jerusalem . . . . This included familiarizing them with converged, digital media priorities, hardware, software and applications used by journalists, skills needed to produce and publish content, cautionary notes on fake news and misleading information, sourcing, and news value.
Magda Abu-Fadil, Huffpost, August 6, 2017


● . . . ideology seems to have been the dominant fuel for that attack, given that the terrorists were reportedly inspired by a local Moroccan-born imam who had developed ties to the Islamic State (IS) while maintaining regular contact with Morocco and with Moroccans abroad. IS propaganda, including Spanish-language websites and social media, had recently intensified its focus on "al-Andalus," . . . .
Sarah Feuer and David Pollock, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, August 24, 2017


● . . . those outside of Boko Haram are not ‘true Muslims’ worthy of protection, and indeed, capable of being targets of violence. This trend not only debunks classifications of Boko Haram as a primarily anti-Christian group, but it also stands in stark contrast to Boko Haram’s propaganda in which it casts itself as the vanguard and protector of Muslims in the north.
Jason Warner and Hilary Matfess, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, August 2017

● By this time next year, the group as we know it today may be barely recognizable. But its legacy will live on virtually, because the superlatives were justified in at least one regard: its information operations. When it comes to strategic storytelling, the Islamic State truly has been unmatched—not only in terms of the quality of its output, but in quantity, too.
Colin Clarke and Charlie Winter, War on the Rocks, August 17, 2017

● ISIS routinely publishes casualty counts, war maps and propaganda images of collateral damage inflicted on civilians by its enemy’s campaigns during these confrontations.  "Basically, they’re taking the same positions you’d expect from the alt-right," Bloom told Newsweek. "Any idea that they’re losing they’ll refer to as 'fake news.'"
Tom O’Connor, Newsweek, August 12, 2017


● Top overseas universities are reporting record numbers of Chinese tourists this summer as more middle-class Chinese “tiger” parents try to expose their children to wider academic horizons.  Education tourism is a booming business in China – it raked in 30 billion yuan (US$4.5 billion) in revenue last year is expected to grow 30 per cent annually to hit a trillion yuan within a decade, according to state-run Xinhua.
Alice Yan and Zhuang Pinghui, The South China Morning Post, August 19, 2017

● Report finds Trump Muslim ban and 'extreme vetting' have a detrimental effect on candidates from the Middle East who voice fears for their safety if they lived in the US
Roberta Pennington, The National [UAE], August 16, 2017

● Numerous universities and colleges across Canada have already reported a spike in applications from prospective students frightened off by the US’s turbulent political climate, according to Canadian media reports.
Roberta Pennington, The National, August 16, 2017


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

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

Public Diplomacy professionals always need a 360-degree view of how ideas are expressed, flow, and gain influence.  Many points of view citied here are contentious, partisan, and/or biased; inclusion does not imply endorsement.

Edited by
Donald M. Bishop, Bren Chair of Strategic Communications, Marine Corps University
Jeffery W. Taylor, University of Mary Washington, Assistant

Thanks to Jeffery Taylor
The capable and energetic Assistant preparing this newsletter, Jeffery Taylor, is moving on – continuing his studies at the University of Mary Washington and working new projects at Marine Corps University.  Only with his help were we able to keep up with the dramatic surge in articles, essays, reports, and op-eds on Public Diplomacy, strategic communications, and the many related topics that began in November of last year.  Thanks, Danke, arigato, gracias, xie xie, merci, kamsa hamnida, and best wishes for the future!

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