counter-propaganda

Shaun Riordan discusses why adding an extra €1 million per year to the East Stratcom Unit won't be much help.

A look at some of the tactics the United States can use to respond to disinformation in the 21st century.

An embattled anti-propaganda unit intended to combat Russian and Islamic State militant group (ISIS) misinformation is losing key staff even after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began to fund the program at the urging of Congress. Nash Borges, chief technology officer at the anti-propaganda Global Engagement Center’s (GEC), left the unit last Friday according to Defense One, which obtained a copy of his final email to staff.

A senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan apologized Wednesday for propaganda leaflets that superimposed a key Islamic text on the image of a dog. The leaflets distributed by U.S. forces in Parwan province, north of Kabul, on Tuesday depicted a lion, representing the U.S.-led coalition, chasing a dog with a section of the Taliban’s banner, containing a passage from the Koran in Arabic, superimposed on its side.

After coming under pressure from lawmakers, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken steps toward spending tens of millions of dollars to counter propaganda by Islamist extremists and governments such as Russia. A State Department official confirmed on Thursday that Tillerson last week approved the use of about $60 million by the Global Engagement Center toward the anti-propaganda efforts.

The tragic condition of U.S. foreign policy ever since the Reagan administration is that public diplomacy has consistently occupied a tertiary status in the scale of national priorities. [...] It is OK to send messages like the Tillerson-Mattis one only if we reassure the North Korean people that we haven’t abandoned them. The Tillerson-Mattis message can thus serve a psychological disarmament purpose, at least to a limited degree. But we must have a parallel track of diplomacy — with the North Korean people. We must give them hope.

Why does this history matter? Because we are living at a similarly fraught moment, in a time when international alliances are in flux. America’s reputation abroad has plunged in many countries. Conspiracy theories have never been easier to create and pass on, both abroad and at home. [...] Yet at the moment, there is no systematic U.S. or Western response to Russian, Chinese or Islamic State disinformation.

Why does this history matter? Because we are living at a similarly fraught moment, in a time when international alliances are in flux. America’s reputation abroad has plunged in many countries. Conspiracy theories have never been easier to create and pass on, both abroad and at home. [...] Yet at the moment, there is no systematic U.S. or Western response to Russian, Chinese or Islamic State disinformation.

Pages