Friday, October 27, 2017

"Seen on the Web" (#88) -- Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy

Donald Bishop Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 7:38 AM
Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#88)
October 27, 2017
Seen on the Web 3751-3857


                [Election 2016 Controversies]

Instruments of Informational Power

Professional Topics

Countries, Regions, Case Studies
25.  CHINA
27. IRAN
32. IRAQ


In the News


● Nine months into the Trump administration, any notion that Capitol Hill would provide a comprehensive, authoritative and bipartisan accounting of the extraordinary efforts of a hostile power to disrupt American democracy appears to be dwindling.
Nicholas Fandos, The New York Times, October 22, 2017

● In recent public comments, the lawmakers investigating the Trump-Russia affair, along with some of the commentators who dissect its every development, seem to be focusing more on the facts of Russia's attempts to interfere with the 2016 election and less on allegations that Donald Trump or his associates colluded with those efforts.
Byron York, Washington Examiner, October 22, 2017

● Russia committed "warfare" against the United States through their 2016 election interference, said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.  "When a country can come interfere in another country's elections, that is warfare," Haley said Thursday. "It really is, because you're making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want to giving out that misinformation.
Joel Gehrke, The Washington Examiner, October 19, 2017

● We saw this anti-democratic effort take place in the 2016 election right here in the United States, where we now know that the Russian government was engaged in a massive effort to undermine one of our greatest strengths: The integrity of our elections, and our faith in our own democracy.
Alex Ward, Vox, September 21, 2017

● The 2016 presidential election wasn’t the first time Russian trolls used Facebook to mess with another country’s political system. And it wasn’t the first time Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered a weak defense of his company’s role in facilitating Russian online aggression.
Katie Zavadski and Ben Collins, The Daily Beast, September 27, 2017

● Sen. Mark Warner says the "million-dollar question" still unanswered about the Facebook election ads sold to Russian-linked accounts was how the Russians knew whom to target on Facebook.
Manju Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN, September 27, 2017

● A distinct set of websites receive a disproportionate amount of attention from Facebook compared with Twitter and media inlinks. . . . Many of these sites are cited by independent sources and media reporting as progenitors of inaccurate if not blatantly false reporting. Both in form and substance, the majority of these sites are aptly described as political clickbait.  [Report]
Rob Faris, Hal Roberts, Bruce Etling, Nikki Bourassa, Ethan Zuckerman, and Yochai Benkler, Berkman Kline Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, August 16, 2017

Instruments of Informational Power

● At a time when disinformation and fake news corrupt communication channels, delivering the truthful and authentic American message is needed now more than ever. American public diplomacy, our nation’s outreach to peoples around the world, is the prime channel for communicating this message. It is essential to this country’s national security and should be vigorously championed by the president and Congress.
Mel Levine, Rockwell Schnabel, and Jay Wang, The Hill, September 19, 2017

● While there is no canonical definition of PD, we consider the definition drawn from Jan Melissen’s 2005 book, The New Public Diplomacy: PD is a set of activities that a foreign ministry might perform in order to promote its agenda, targeting the general public in foreign societies and more specific non-official groups, organizations and individuals. Keeping this definition in mind, we analyze the evolution of Korea’s PD.
Olga Krasnyak, CPD Blog, October 9, 2017

● Embassy Valletta has one of the smallest public affairs operations in Europe, with one officer and two LE staff members, yet it performed the full range of public diplomacy programs. OIG reviewed the section's strategic planning; section leadership; resource and knowledge management; federal assistance awards; education and cultural affairs programs; and media engagement. * * * the section worked to implement [Integrated Country Strategy] goals, particularly the promotion of shared societal values, with an emphasis on the environment, women’s empowerment, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
Office of the Inspector General, September 2017

● The assertion that the Russian state has refrained from using law to exert pressure on foreign correspondents is misleading. In the past decade, the Russian state has changed its laws to ensure that American networks – and foreign networks generally – have an extremely difficult time broadcasting.
Sarah Miner, American Security Project, October 24, 2017

● Greta Van Susteren is back on TV, but not in the United States. Not exactly, anyway.  The former cable news host recently signed on as a contributor to Voice of America, the government-funded news outlet that is based in Washington, but covers U.S. affairs for foreign audiences. You won't find Van Susteren while channel surfing, but viewers in about 100 other countries can now see her on the air.
Callum Borchers, The Washington Post, October 24, 2017

● Whereas [RT’s] editors used to infuse news reports with sedulous pro-Kremlin bias, they now broadcast 1930s-style grotesquery. "Kiev is run by a fascist junta!" "The Syrian rebels gassed themselves!" "The 9/11 attacks look like an inside job!" "Flight MH-17 was actually brought down by the Ukrainians!" (This last claim prompted the anchorwoman charged with reading it to resign on air and walk off the set.)  It all evokes a passage from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four:
Dam Hannan, The Washington Examiner, October 23, 2017

● Registering RT as a foreign agent will not hinder the network’s ability to broadcast. What it will do is provide transparency for American citizens. FARA basically applies lobbying disclosure measures to the activities of foreign governments: Just as Americans have a right to know how corporations attempt to affect legislation, they should also be informed of the ways in which other countries try to influence our political process.
James Kirchick, The Washington Post, September 20, 2017

● RT and Sputnik News are part of what the Times' Jim Rutenberg has termed “the most effective propaganda operation of the 21st century so far,” a coordinated network of state-controlled TV and online media outlets and social media accounts that take advantage of the traditional protections of Western liberal democracies to undermine public confidence in the governments of those nations. TASS, which has received less attention in the United States, is a Russian news agency similar to The Associated Press but owned by the state.
Matt Gertz, September 20, 2017

● The bottom line is the investigation into whether to require RT and Sputnik to file under FARA should be dropped. The foreign agent designation would be a pyrrhic victory. Yes, they are a foreign agent supporting the Kremlin’s agenda of subversion, but the label will only help, not hurt, their mission.
Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner, September 21, 2017

● ETV+ isn’t created as an anti-propaganda channel. It provides an alternative to the Russian media’s narrative, so the audience can see different points of views.  The Russian-language channel follows the concept of the Estonian-language channels of the public broadcaster.
Euromaiden Press, September 25, 2017

● [The Marine Corps] needs to immediately add specialists in cyberwarfare, electronic warfare, information operations, intelligence analysis, communications, and air defense.  [Report]
Mackenzie Eaglen, American Enterprise Institute, October, 2017

● The Department must improve our ability to exploit the potential of cyberspace as a pathway for Information Operations to drive adversary perceptions, decisions, and actions (or inaction) in ways favorable to our strategic ends. We must also improve our ability to reassure friends and support allied and partner military efforts to defend against and defeat adversary propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation, much of which is delivered via cyberspace.
US Senate Committee on Armed ServicesSeptember 26, 2017

● As for the notion of yet more cultural training – it strikes me as playing training whack a mole. When military personnel deploy they go through a pre-deployment training and certification. Current deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan must have training on Islamic traditions and protocol to include role-playing situations designed to illustrate the right and wrong ways to work in theater. There is simply no excuse for this type of ineptitude, especially in our longest running AO!
PSYOP Regimental Blog, September 11, 2017

Professional Topics

● RT, the Russian state news organization that federal intelligence officials call “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,” uses Google’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as the main distributors of its content.
Jack Nicas, The Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2017

● . . . another consistent theme has been Russian trolls focusing on issues of race. Some of the Russian ads placed on Facebook apparently targeted Ferguson and Baltimore, which were rocked by protests after police killings of unarmed black men; another showed a black woman firing a rifle. Other ads played on fears of illegal immigrants and Muslims, and groups like Black Lives Matter.  Except for the technology used, however, these tactics are not exactly new.
Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic, October 21, 2017

● . . . social media has rebooted the far Right by allowing previously atomized groups to come together across borders. A significant player in this new Nationalist Internationale is Russia. As a monitoring project at the London School of Economics, Arena Programme, showed, German-language Kremlin media house Sputnik was strongly biased towards the AfD in the run-up to the election.
Peter Pomerantsev, The American Interest, October 20, 2017

● America is experiencing the sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions – including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence – should not be downplayed or tolerated.
George W. Bush Presidential Center, October 19, 2017

● Twitter and other social media platforms were jammed with images of the explosion and a screenshot of a CNN homepage. Even a YouTube video had been posted showing someone watching a TV broadcast in which ISIS had allegedly claimed responsibility for an attack on the plant. But not a word of it was true. It was all an elaborately staged hoax.
J.J. Green, WTOP, September 20, 2017

● On Thursday, U.S. Forces Korea received reports of fake text and social media messages instructing Defense Department civilians to evacuate the Korean Peninsula.
Charlsy Panzino, Air Force Times, September 21, 2017

● The bottom line is that there is no place for terrorism on Facebook—for terrorist actors themselves, terrorist groups, or supporters. This is a long-standing Facebook policy. Our work countering terrorism now is more vital than ever because of the success ISIS [the Islamic State] has had in distributing their message via social media. But our basic policy framework is very clear: There should be no praise, support, or representation of terrorism. We use a pretty standard academic definition of terrorism that is predicated on behavior. It is not bound by ideology or the specific political intent of a group.
Paul Cruickshank, Combating Terrorism Center, September 21, 2017

● For those of us in the PSYOP/MISO world, this underscores the importance of the Internet as an influence medium. It also means that we need to always be on the lookout for people that can be effective and credible spokespeople. An unfortunate downside is that tactical CDR at all levels may assume that they are PSYOP experts and take to the airwaves themselves. History has shown that this is generally not a good idea, but as we have discussed . . . there is not too much you can do other than damage control.
PYSOP Regimental Blog, September 7, 2017

● Because Twitter may facilitate interconnectedness among diverse actors—elite and nonelite, inside and outside of a given national community—it can potentially challenge traditional war journalism that has typically been elite-oriented and nationally oriented. The present study examined this potential during the 2014 Gaza–Israel conflict.
Ori Tenenboim, International Journal of Communication, 2017

● Some of the suspicious Facebook ads purchased by Russian agents ahead of the 2016 presidential election were aimed at influencing its outcome by preying on racial, religious and other social tensions in the United States, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
At times, these Kremlin-sourced ads even played on both sides of an issue — advancing and opposing causes including Black Lives Matter and gun control, for example — in a bid to stir potential political unrest, said the sources . . .
Tony Romm, Recode, September 25, 2017

● Facebook pledged last week to reveal all ads being shown to its users, even those not appearing on advertiser profiles, after it was revealed that the company ran Russian-linked ads meant to influence the election. Twitter, however, will not commit to the same, and appears to have no plans to expose its so-called dark posts to public scrutiny.
Alex Kantrowitz, BuzzFeedNews, September 26, 2017

● The future conflict may start in the cyber domain, denying communications and other capabilities, [General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps] said.
Matthew Cox,, September 20, 2017

● . . . it’s a haven for hackers, who have turned the dark web into the Internet equivalent of a shopping bazaar for cyber thugs. There’s lots of money to be made there – to the point where the dark web is more about commerce than it is about information exchange. Federal authorities may succeed from time to time in shutting down a particular black market. But, once they do, there will be multiple players who are eager – and capable – of quickly setting up another market which sells the same products.
Stephen Coty, HelpNetSecurity, September 21, 2017

● When European defense ministers played a tabletop cyber defense exercise, things got hard very quickly. One of the things the West is least prepared to handle about a cyberattack is how quickly the response to it turns political. Defense officials responding to an attack quickly encounter bureaucratic roadblocks and geopolitical concerns they may be unprepared to navigate. 
Caroline Houck, Defense One, September 21, 2017

●  “We can get all camouflaged up, we can hide in holes, we can put camouflage nets on, wear ghillie suits, camo up our faces, color our teeth green and you can’t see us at all until I push the button on my radio to talk, to tell my boss: ‘Hey, I’m here,’ ” * * * “Bam. All that physical camouflage from the eyeball just went away because now you’re broadcasting in the spectrum. So we can show that to commanders and they can start getting an appreciation of how the spectrum is a capability for them and a vulnerability,” . . .
Mark Pomerlau, C4ISRNET, September 21, 2017

● The Human Dimension. Humans are the weakest link in the cybersecurity system.  Unlike the physical world, in which potential human activity is limited by geographic and space limitations—Israel, for example, uses a barrier to keep out potential terrorists, and people do not own nuclear weapons or aircraft carriers—barriers to entry for cyber are so low that they have democratized cyber activity. Everyone who has a desktop, laptop, or smart phone is an actor and a potential problem.  [Report]
Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, October 2017

● "Cyber is fueling all other terror threats," said Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) Online cross-pollination between terrorist and transnational crime organizations and other nefarious actors has made a "witches' brew of the internet."
Mark Rockwell, FCW, September 27, 2017

●  “One clear lesson is that you can't fight propaganda with propaganda,” says Tetiana Popova. “If you do that you lose credibility yourself and bring all facts into doubt,” adds the former Ukrainian deputy minister for information policy.  “And that is what the Russians want,” she said firmly.
Jamie Dettmer, Voice of America, September 18, 2017

● Tweeting out a mix of pro-Trump cheerleading, ordinary partisan content, Islamophobia, racism, and conspiracy theories, the account amassed at least 136,000 followers. Its tweets often racked up thousands of retweets, sometimes even from top Trump campaign staffers.  And it turns out a Russian government-backed organization was running it all along.
Andrew Prokop,, October 19, 2017

● The use of a tiny, no-questions-asked hosting company run by a man living in New York shows the Kremlin-backed troll farm’s brazen use ofAmericans and American companies to conduct its disinformation campaign.  Over the past two months, Russia’s efforts to integrate Americans and U.S. communities into its vast propaganda campaigns has become clearer, as social media companies began shuttering accounts originating from Russia’s Internet Research Agency, or troll farm.LUSIVE
Katie Zavadski, Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen, and Spencer Ackerman, The Daily Beast, October 23, 2017

● RT, the Russian state news organization that federal intelligence officials call “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,” uses Google’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as the main distributors of its content.
Jack Nicas, The Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2017

● . . . another consistent theme has been Russian trolls focusing on issues of race. Some of the Russian ads placed on Facebook apparently targeted Ferguson and Baltimore, which were rocked by protests after police killings of unarmed black men; another showed a black woman firing a rifle. Other ads played on fears of illegal immigrants and Muslims, and groups like Black Lives Matter.  Except for the technology used, however, these tactics are not exactly new.
Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic, October 21, 2017

● . . . social media has rebooted the far Right by allowing previously atomized groups to come together across borders. A significant player in this new Nationalist Internationale is Russia. As a monitoring project at the London School of Economics, Arena Programme, showed, German-language Kremlin media house Sputnik was strongly biased towards the AfD in the run-up to the election.
Peter Pomerantsev, The American Interest, October 20, 2017

● RT, the Russian state news organization that federal intelligence officials call “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,” uses Google’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as the main distributors of its content.
Jack Nicas, The Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2017

● . . . another consistent theme has been Russian trolls focusing on issues of race. Some of the Russian ads placed on Facebook apparently targeted Ferguson and Baltimore, which were rocked by protests after police killings of unarmed black men; another showed a black woman firing a rifle. Other ads played on fears of illegal immigrants and Muslims, and groups like Black Lives Matter.  Except for the technology used, however, these tactics are not exactly new.
Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic, October 21, 2017

● . . . social media has rebooted the far Right by allowing previously atomized groups to come together across borders. A significant player in this new Nationalist Internationale is Russia. As a monitoring project at the London School of Economics, Arena Programme, showed, German-language Kremlin media house Sputnik was strongly biased towards the AfD in the run-up to the election.
Peter Pomerantsev, The American Interest, October 20, 2017

● . . . a detailed counter-message is better at persuading people to change their minds than merely labeling misinformation as wrong. But even after a detailed debunking, misinformation still can be hard to eliminate, the study finds.
Homeland Security News Wire, September 25, 2017

● @tpartynews wasn't American. It was part of a Russian propaganda operation, according to Russian journalists who discovered the link.
Drew Griffin and Donie O’Sullivan, CNN, September 22, 2017

● Among the disinformation debunked this week: President Poroshenko admits returning Crimea to Ukraine is unrealistic; Putin shatters atheism in five minutes; Ukrainians infecting Europeans with tuberculosis and what you really need to know about Russia’s government funded agencies RT and Sputnik., September 18, 2017


● To help strengthen both the internet and digital elections infrastructure as a whole, we will expand our partnerships with election commissions around the world. We already work with electoral commissions in many countries to help people register to vote and learn about the issues. We’ll keep doing that, and now we’re also going to establish a channel to inform election commissions of the online risks we’ve identified in their specific elections.
Richard Allen, Facebook newsroom, September 27, 2017

● Election meddling is Facebook’s next adversary, and it’s got a plan to attack it just like it did with fake news. Solutions to both these scourges come too late to prevent tampering that may have aided Donald Trump winning the presidency — but at least Facebook is owning up to the problem, working with the government and starting to self-regulate. Here’s the nine-point plan Zuckerberg has devised to combat election interference, plus our commentary on each strategy’s potential.
Josh Constine, TechCrunch, September 21, 2017

● . . . the change in communication practices belies perhaps the greatest challenge of MDB – decentralized execution and mission command. The concept demands delegation of authority and execution of commander’s intent to the lowest possible level, often in the absence of direct control or specific guidance, while assuming potentially high risk, and resulting in operational and strategic outcomes. While our current doctrine and warfighting philosophies champion such concepts, our leadership culture and operating procedures have moved steadily in the opposite direction. MDB requires today’s leaders to train for uncertainty and push decision-making authority down.
Jon Bott, John Gallagher, Jake Huber, and Josh Powers, Over the Horizon, August 28, 2017

● Information warfare involves the deliberate use of information to confuse, mislead, and affect the choices and decisions that the adversary makes. Cyber-enabled information warfare (CEIW) takes advantage of the features of information technologies and the internet: high connectivity, low latency, high degrees of anonymity, insensitivity to distance and national borders, democratized access to publishing capabilities, and inexpensive production and consumption of information content.
Herbert Lin, The Cipher Brief, September 20, 2017

● To achieve dominance in the networked age, the U.S. Air Force must build organizational expertise that can foster a culture that lives and breathes multi-domain integration. Air, space, cyber, and the information environment are currently too complex to effectively command and control effects across geographic and global commands.
George Hart, Over the Horizon, August 31, 2017

● Leaking damaging documents during election season, feeding the media false stories about candidates, and concocting conspiracy theories to smear politicians: this will sound familiar to anyone who followed the U.S. presidential election, and to an extent, recent campaigns in France and Germany. But these methods are not new. In fact, the Soviet Union used them all in West Germany throughout the Cold War.
Laura Daniels, War on the Rocks, September 27, 2017


●  [José Manuel Barroso;] I think we need, in the beginning of the XXI century, namely for the new generation that is not so much identified with this narrative of Europe, to continue to tell the story of Europe. Like a book: it cannot only stay in the first pages, even if the first pages were extremely beautiful. We have to continue our narrative, continue to write the book of the present and of the future. This is why we need a new narrative for Europe.
Anne Applebaum, The New York Review of Books, October 12, 2017

● Vitaly Troshin was the chief architect and city planner in the Russian Arctic city of Vorkuta starting in the 1970s. His research into the city's founding uncovered records that Soviet authorities had buried, detailing the creation of labor camps and the executions of political prisoners. Troshin was determined to keep the history of the gulag from being lost to time.
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, September 22, 2017

● The Soviet Union didn't ask for assistance in 1932 and 1933 partly because Stalin didn't want the world to know that collectivization, which he was trumpeting as a great triumph – he didn't want people to know that it was a real disaster. He didn't want people inside the Soviet Union to know and he didn't want people abroad to know.
Natalya Golitsina, RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, September 25, 2017

● Newly urbanized men often turn to Islam in order to try to restore their dominance, he continues, something that is often supported by older women (but not often by younger ones) who come to view Islam as a substitute for the community norms that have been undermined by modernization and globalization.
Paul Globe, Window on Eurasia-New Series, September 22, 2017

● In combination with the serious developmental consequences of living in an active conflict zone, the Islamic State’s efforts to indoctrinate and radicalize youth are expected to create a sociocultural “perfect storm” of influence that will result in a generation of fighters more violent than previously encountered. Analysis of Islamic State propaganda suggests that this may be intentional, representing a kind of transgenerational “long game” designed to ensure survival of the group.
Colleen McCue, Joseph Massengill, Dorothy Milbrandt, John Gaughan, and Meghan Cumpston, Combating Terrorism Center, September 21, 2017

● By training at-risk youths in history, philosophy, literature, and religion, the government hoped to fight terrorism at its root.
Maddy Crowell, The Atlantic, September 28, 2017

● Traditional antisemitism and anti-Israelism may or may not be related. We approached this question empirically and correlated the two types of attitudes.  We discovered that anti-Israel attitudes are not, as a general rule, antisemitic; but the stronger a person’s anti-Israel views, the more likely they are to hold antisemitic attitudes.  [Report]
L. Daniel Staetsky, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, September 2017

● Like most mythologies which take on a life of their own, the idea that Jewish-Americans might have dual loyalties was not challenged or questioned, it was assumed. That made it all the more insidious.
Dennis Ross, The New York Times, September 26, 2017

● Where many African-Americans, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, saw the Soviet Union as a beacon of racial equality . . . the post-World War II period saw a rise in covert operations directed at American racial divisions.  “Russia often looked to use anti-black racism in the US as a way of exposing what they believed was the moral bankruptcy of Western capitalism and the hypocrisy of American ‘democracy,'” said Jennifer Wilson, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Pennsylvania. . . .“Russia has always seen the problem of anti-black racism in the U.S. as a political tool.”
Casey Michel, Think Progress, September 26, 2017

● Disinformation can be defeated without the establishment of a shiny new initiative cased in the language of Cold War 2.0. Instead of “rapid information operations,” the United States should work to systematically rebuild analytical skills across the American population and invest in the media to ensure that it is driven by truth, not clicks. The fight starts in people’s minds, and the molding of them. In K-12 curriculums, states should encourage a widespread refocusing on critical reading and analysis skills for the digital age.
Nina Jankowicz, The New York Times, September 25, 2017

● The Facebook user’s question: How do we know what is FAKE and what is REAL in this day and age? I struggle everyday reading both sides of the coin and not knowing what the TRUTH is anymore because the media only tells us the part of the story they want us to know. Who are the credible sources?  My answer: * * *
Joe Harding, To Inform is to Influence, September 26, 2017

● Americans should consider how, if at all, to respond to “cheap speech.” That phrase was coined 22 years ago by Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law School. Writing in the Yale Law Journal (“Cheap Speech and What It Will Do”) at the dawn of the Internet, he said that new information technologies were about to “dramatically reduce the costs of distributing speech,” and that this would produce a “much more democratic and diverse” social environment. Power would drain from “intermediaries” (publishers, book and music store owners, etc.) but this might take a toll on “social and cultural cohesion.”
George Will, The Washington Post, September 20, 2017  

● The Marine Corps has been looking to take advantage of the often referred to “information” domain, which encompasses cyberspace, the electromagnetic spectrum, social media and everything in between. One of the measures the Marine Corps has taken in this sphere is the standing up of a deputy commandant for information, a three-star position that will oversee all aspects of information within the service.
Mark Pomerlau, DefenseNews, September 22, 2017


● Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
George W. Bush Presidential Center, October 19, 2017

● We are blessed, and we have been a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world. And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941., October 16, 2017

● . . . we, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it. The implications of this abandonment are profound and the beneficiaries of this rather radical departure in the American approach to the world are the ideological enemies of our values. Despotism loves a vacuum and our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership.
Senator Jeff Flake, The New York Times, October 24, 2017

● Many elements of our national identity today enjoy a broad consensus. According to an AP-NORC survey conducted earlier this year, supermajorities of Americans cite a fair judicial system and the rule of law, individual liberties as defined in the Constitution, and the country’s governing institutions as being essential to the American identity. Strong majorities also include the ability to get a good job, pursue the American dream, and speak English as very important.  When religion and ethnicity enter the picture, however, the consensus vanishes.
William A. Galston, The Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2017

Countries, Regions, Case Studies


● . . . as we sift through the latest revelations surrounding the fake Russian sites and social media accounts, the breadth of operations appears far larger than initially assumed – and questions about American involvement remain unanswered. As Weisburd said, “Welcome to the wilderness of mirrors.”
Casey Michel, Think Progress, October 23, 2017

● A special federal prosecutor and Congress are both investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The investigation is as serious as they come. It is trying to uncover the truth about a hostile foreign country’s attempts to undermine American interests and national security.
David Leonhardt, The New York Times, October 20, 2017

● The Kremlin’s proposed convention would enhance the ability of Russia and other authoritarian nations to control communication within their countries, and to gain access to communications in other countries, according to several leading U.S. cyber experts. They described the latest draft as part of Moscow’s push over the past decade to shape the legal architecture of what Russian strategists like to call the “information space.”
David Ignatius, The Washington Post, October 24, 2017

● Russian propaganda is overwhelming, their bots, fake sites, troll farms, state-news media, and the myriad other tools of Russian Information Warfare keep pounding us. We are only beginning to uncover the sheer immensity of Russian efforts to influence the US election in 2016, however.  Multiple studies by Pew Research Center, here, however, show that Russian Information Warfare against the West is not at all effective.
Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, September 25, 2017

● Over the last 12 days, 400,000 Russians have been evacuated from approximately 1,000 facilities in 80 cities after anonymous callers had warned that bombs were set to go off in them.  Officials, who so far haven’t identified let alone arrested those responsible, say there are no signs the bomb scares are letting up.  The central government media have devoted relatively little attention to this wave * * * What makes this such a big and serious problem as the emergency services minister said is that the authorities have little choice but to evacuate buildings if they receive warnings and that whoever started the calls, others may join in a kind of copycat crime. 
Paul Globe, Window on Eurasia-New Series, September 22, 2017


● Warsaw’s preparations for war include contending with the constant efforts by Russians spies and provocateurs to harm Poland in what I’ve termed Special War—the secret espionage and propaganda struggle at which the Kremlin regrettably excels, as Americans learned to our great political pain in 2016.
John R. Schindler, Observer, October 20, 2017


● According to a notice issued this month by Zhejiang University, content that is widely circulated online, that shows “core socialist values” and influences public opinion with “correct thinking and culture” now carries the same weight as an academic paper – whether it is in the form of an essay, video or animation.
Viola Zhou, South China Morning Post, September 21, 2017

● Dozens of Chinese universities are expected to launch a fresh spending spree to boost their international rankings after the government announced plans to create world-class higher-education institutions by 2050.
Chen Shaoyan, Xu Zhuang, Kong Xiangfeng and Li Rongde, Caixin, September 22, 2017

● As China strives to achieve its goal of national rejuvenation in a world of complex opinions, there is no doubt it faces tough challenges in promoting its culture and making the country's voices heard.  On these fronts, the country's publicity, ideological and cultural departments have played a vital role in communicating the nation's vision since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012.  At a conference on publicity and ideological work held in August 2013, President Xi Jinping said, "Facing unprecedented challenges and hardship, we must persist in consolidating mainstream ideology and opinion."
Xinhua, September 20, 2017

● In September 2014 Xi Jinping gave a speech on the importance of united front work—political influence activities—calling it one of the CCP’s “magic weapons”.  The Chinese government’s foreign influence activities have accelerated under Xi. China’s foreign influence activities have the potential to undermine the sovereignty and integrity of the political system of targeted states.* * * Key points: • CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping is leading an accelerated expansion of political influence activities worldwide. • The expansion of these activities is connected to both the CCP government’s domestic pressures and foreign agenda. •The paper creates a template of the policies and modes of China’s expanded foreign influence activities in the Xi era. • The paper uses this template to examine the extent to which one representative small state, New Zealand, is being targeted by China’s new influence agenda.
The Scholar’s Stage, September 20, 2017

● . . . China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA), which was celebrating its 20th anniversary in Beijing. "The association should also actively carry out public diplomacy to make China's stories and voices heard around the globe and build a friendship bridge between China and the world," Yu [Zhengsheng] said.
Xinhua, September 20, 2017

● . . . sweeping efforts by Xi’s administration to strengthen China’s system of cyber governance and to expand the legal framework for control over all data, networks and information content. China is pushing ahead with its own internet model, where the space for anonymity online is rapidly eroding, and data collected from a single digital identity is feeding into a vast government scoring system that reaches into all aspects of life.
Samm Sacks and Paul Triolo, Lawfare, September 25, 2017

● Even as it engages with UN human rights institutions, however, China has worked consistently and often aggressively to silence criticism of its human rights record before UN bodies and has taken actions aimed at weakening some of the central mechanisms available in those institutions to advance rights. Because of China’s growing international influence, the stakes of such intervention go beyond how China’s own human rights record is addressed at the UN and pose a longer-term challenge to the integrity of the system as a whole.[Report]
Human Rights Watch, 2017

● . . . China has since built a new [wall], in cyberspace — the largest system of Internet censorship, control and surveillance in the world, nicknamed the Great Firewall of China. Thirty years on, it is extending those controls even further. Since passing its broad new Cybersecurity Law in June, the Communist Party has rolled out new regulations — and steps to enforce existing ones — that reflect its desire to control and exploit every inch of the digital world, experts say.  Today, the Great Firewall is being built not just around the country, to keep foreign ideas and uncomfortable truths out, but around every individual, computer and smartphone, in a society that has become the most digitally connected in the world.
Simon Denyer, The Washington Post, September 27, 2017

● India and a handful of other countries are unwittingly aiding North Korea as it carries out cyberattacks against its enemies.
Josh Horwitz, Quartz India, October 24, 2017

● The true risk when it comes to North Korea is its cyberattack capabilities. North Korea has invested heavily in cyberattack operations to disrupt its Western enemies. * * * The goal for North Korea's cyberattack operations, beyond flying under the radar, is to inflict death by a thousand cuts -- a deliberate and organized disrupt-and-attack approach in line with the country's national strategy. Arguably, the more money and resources North Korea can steal via cyberattacks, the stronger its kinetic military can become.
Eric O’Neil, CNN, September 25, 2017

27. IRAN  

● Iran has spent years honing its digital skills through cyber campaigns that have pummeled regional adversaries, stolen trade secrets from foreign competitors and destroyed computers at the oil giant Saudi Aramco. And initially, the country also aimed its cyber forces at the U.S., launching a barrage of distracting attacks on the financial sector and even successfully infiltrating a dam in New York state.
Eric Geller, Politico, September 24, 2017

● ISIS may be using its networks in Belgium to support attack cells elsewhere in Europe.  ISIS also appears increasingly successful at inspiring low-level attacks in Europe despite its territorial losses, indicating its messaging is still resonant.
Jennifer Cafarella with Jason Zhou, Institute for the Study of War, September 14, 2017

● The Islamic State is now using Instagram to push out its propaganda, analysts say.
Sean Langille, The Washington Post, September 20, 2017

● The West has failed miserably in the battle of the narrative, consistently allowing ISIS and other terrorist groups to seize the initiative in promoting their propaganda. Western governments need to devote significantly more resources to strategic communications and information operations aimed at blunting the impact of terrorist messaging.
Colin Clarke, Foreign Affairs, September 25, 2017


● Media lynching for those who do not toe the government line, judicial authorities that do not protect citizens, independent journalists accused of conspiracy. This is Vučić's Serbia.
Dragan Janjic, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, September 19, 2017


● Last month, President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and his administration announced that he had concluded a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom. Only problem is that there is no deal. It’s fake news. I’ve spoken to contacts in the defense business and on the Hill, and all of them say the same thing: There is no $110 billion deal. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts.
Bruce Reidel, Brookings, June 5, 2017


● A reliable survey conducted in Jordan last month shows that many Jordanians now hold unexpectedly moderate views on . . . Islamic reform, relations with the United States, and even cooperation with Israel. In this one society, at least, these findings are so striking that they turn conventional wisdom about "the Arab street" on its head.
David Pollock, The Washington Institute, September 20, 2017

32. IRAQ

● The ministry’s promotion of the arts serves several goals: motivating soldiers, building up public support and nationalism, countering radicalization, and signaling an improved security situation to boost citizens’ confidence.
Kendall Bianchi, Foreign Affairs, September 18, 2017

● Book reading in the Arab region is believed to be lower than in regions of similar economic status, but this has not been tested using nationally representative data. * * * The study examined print and e-book reliance among Internet users in six Arab countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates . . . Arab respondents in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, countries with large numbers of expatriates, reported lower book reliance than Asian or Western expatriates, but this was not the case in Qatar. * * * Use of news apps and reliance on in-person conversations for news positively predicted reliance, whereas time spent in person with family and friends and frequency of social media posts were negative predictors.
Justin D. Martin, Ralph J. Martins, Shageaa Naqvi, International Journal of Communication, 2017


● . . . Russian media and Kremlin-friendly dissidents have been using the upcoming Catalonian referendum on independence from Spain to spread propaganda to bring sympathy to the Separatists.
Jeremy Fassler, The Daily Banter, September 26, 2017


● Who is the greatest speaker and who gave the finest speech? * * * For argument’s sake, here is a top ten. 10 Barack Obama, Grant Park, Chicago, November 7, 2012 * * * 7 John F Kennedy, Washington DC, January 20, 1961 * * * 3 Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863 * * *  2 Martin Luther King, Washington DC, August 28, 1963 * * *
Phillip Collins, The Sunday Times, September 25, 2017


● Over the last decade, roughly 1 million foreigners have taken part in a four-month program that places international students in seasonal, service-industry jobs: working in amusement parks, swimming pools, ice cream parlors, ski resorts. Participants pay anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 in fees to placement services, which match them with businesses across the country. In principle, the program provides a way for young people to finance their travel, improve their English and meet working Americans. The reality often falls short.
Bloomberg, September 22, 2017

● Presently, the American Library is a part of the American Center which is a very important American Institution in India for public outreach, and particularly the younger generations, the future leaders of India. The American Center is also the only one of its kind in the city – the services offered by the Center are highly subsidized, virtually free, and open to all.
Arunava Dasgupta, Diplomatic Square, July 27, 2017

● Given the U.S.’s trepidation to engage the public sector on religious issues, our efforts to contain the threat have relied on purely kinetic counterterrorism approaches, rather than decreasing the proliferation of radical ideologies, which perpetuate the flow of new recruits. However, with a renewed focus in the U.S. on addressing radical Islamist extremism, there may be new opportunities to empower religious scholars who can authentically refute extremist narratives and possibly break the cycle of radicalization and recruitment.
Hedieh Mirahmadi, Tarek Elgawhary, and Mehreen Farooq, World Organization for Resource Development and Education, 2017

● Families pay for travel, insurance for their student, room and board, school meals and $10,000 a year in tuition to the public schools where they enroll, said Laurel Capobianco, vice president of BCC International, which is based in Troy. Michigan public schools receive the usual per pupil foundation allowance from the state for their exchange students in addition to the tuition.
Lauren Slagter, Associated Press, September 18, 2017

● The SPAN is a beautiful example of how literature for public outreach can be dovetailed to suit a purpose and a time. From an initial general interest magazine, very traditionally designed, some brilliant photographs and production value, wonderful articles and a page comprising 4 cartoons, SPAN was slowly re-purposed to meet a specific objective – of reaching out to the younger generation of Indians, acquainting them with the education facilities available there and the admission process. It was like “Everything you wanted to know about US Education System but did not know whom to ask”!  The entire magazine had shed its earlier features, was completely redesigned for this new target audience and was in total sync with the wide embracing role of the internet and its many applications. From general information on US, it had specialized as a students’ information magazine, precisely targeted and possibly, thus circulated.
Arunava Dasgupta, Diplomatic Square, July 27, 2017

● . . . here is a concerted effort to bring Expos back to the United States. In May of this year, Congress passed a bipartisan bill (H.R. 534) called the “U.S. Wants to Compete for a World Expo Act,” which President Trump promptly signed into law. As a result, the United States rejoined the international organization that manages World Expos, the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), and is supporting a Minnesota bid to bring an Expo to the United States from May to August of 2023.
Jim Core, DipNote, September 26, 2017


● Adapted from Cole Porter’s Broadway musical of the same name, itself based on Ernst Lubitsch’s “Ninotchka” (1939), “Silk Stockings” (now on Blu-ray from Warner Archive) is a contest between rival utopian ideologies — Soviet communism and Hollywood make-believe.
J. Hoberman, The New York Times, August 19, 2016

(from 1:39 on the clip)

“Stevie Canfield”            “Ninotchka”
(Fred Astaire)               (Cyd Charisse)

♪ Paris
Loves lovers,
♫ Characteristic,
For lovers
♫ It's heaven above.
They should be atheistic.
Tells lovers,
I'm pessimistic,
♫ "Love is supreme,
Wake up your dream
And make love!"
That's anti-communistic.
Only Paris
One discovers
You're optimistic.
The urge to merge
With the spurge
Of the spring.
♪ Bourgeois propaganda!
♪ Paris
Loves lovers,
For lovers know that
Is individualistic.
Is ev'-
And not at all collectivistic.
Ry thing.
♫ But a low totalitarianistic thing!


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
Henry L. Tucker, University of Mary Washington, Assistant

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