information war

The State Department has people now whose job is to challenge false online claims about the U.S. and our policies. If they’ve been successful, they should expand that effort. It won’t be easy: It has to be done fast and adroitly (two skills not always conjoined in the State Department) to be effective.

Fake news stories. Doctored photographs. Staged TV clips. Armies of paid trolls. Has Putin’s Russia developed a new kind of information warfare – fought in the ‘psychosphere’ rather than on the battlefield? Or is it all just a giant bluff?

Last December, Peter Horrocks, the BBC World Service’s former director, warned that the West was losing the “information war” with Moscow as the old Cold War foe pumped out wave after wave of pro-Kremlin propaganda on its rapidly expanding radio, TV and online platforms.

Richard Stengel, who left his job as managing editor of TIME magazine in 2013 to become Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Obama administration, said ISIS conquering land is an "opportunity" because "it's easier to combat people holding land and trying to government it than it is to combat people who are non-state actors."

If we really knew what is going on in the Kremlin backrooms, where Russia’s information war is being planned, we in the West would be shocked, writes author Peter Pomerantsev in Politico magazine.

The BBC World Service is being financially outgunned by Russian and Chinese state-owned news channels, its former director Peter Horrocks has warned, amid high-level concerns that Britain and the US are losing a global “information war” with the Kremlin.

The idea of Russian “soft power” became fashionable, but it was very different to European “soft power”. So-called Russian soft power was just “softer power”, including any means of coercion not involving tanks. It was, in the English phrase, “softly-softly” power, or “covert power”, the type of behind-the-scenes influence encapsulated in the Russian phrase kuluarna polityka – politics in corridors, not just away from public influence, but without formal record.

December 15, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin has nearly completed his purge of independent news media in Russia.  “This is not just a war of information,” says one keen analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.  “It is a war on information.”

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