Special War

You may have noticed an uptick in Russian propaganda efforts targeting the United States and its political process. John R. Schindler reports:
There’s general consensus that the Kremlin’s weaponized propaganda represents a significant component of Russia’s arsenal in the shadow conflict of ideas, information, espionage, and secret warriors that I’ve called Special War.... This is merely an online version of the well-honed Cold War practice of what Kremlin spies term Active Measures, meaning the dissemination of lies and semi-lies at the West for political effect.

There’s really nothing new about this except how the Internet gives such propaganda unprecedented reach, quickly. This is merely an online version of the well-honed Cold War practice of what Kremlin spies term Active Measures, meaning the dissemination of lies and semi-lies at the West for political effect. More properly it’s called disinformation – dezinformatsiya or deza for short among Kremlin insiders — a murky amalgam of fact and sordid fiction.
This has been ongoing throughout the Global War on Terror, or whatever we're now calling it (or, more likely, refusing to call it anything). The former Soviets are trying to do something interesting, and from a position of demographic weakness: they're trying to reassert Russian regional power, while knocking America out of the northern Middle East. They're also trying to portray themselves not as Godless Communists this time, but as the real defenders of Christian civilization against the Islamic tide -- while, at the same time, setting America up as the real enemy of Islam, in the hope that the heat from the various radical Islamic groups will point at us instead of at them.

Their alliance with Iran and burgeoning activity in Syria is kinetic, but a major part of the effort really is this sort of "Special War." The United States has some capacities here: the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (now called the Open Source Center at the CIA), the Broadcasting Board of Governors at the State Department, public diplomacy worldwide, and military information operations and psychological operations. The military especially employs contractors in a supporting role here, so that they can draw on industry expertise -- global strategic information operations are run by the Strategic Command.

Schindler lists some other assets, although a number of those resources are Cold War relics that were disbanded ages ago. Still, we've got assets we could use. The problem is, we're really not in the game. It's for the usual reason. Schindler notes a recently abandoned State Department initiative and asks:
Who killed the Counter-Disinformation Team and why? What did the team produce during the time it existed? What has become of this product? How many people were on it? Does the State Department not consider countering Kremlin disinformation to be in its remit? Does the White House agree? What about the National Security Council? Is anybody in the U.S. government authorized to debunk Putin’s lies – if so, who? If not, why not?
Good questions.


E Hines said...

The press keeps trying to tie Trump to Putin. It's instructive that the same press isn't making a similar point about John "motorboat skipper" Kerry and his remark that the press should shut up about terrorist events and keep us all in the dark.

Who killed the Counter-Disinformation Team and why?

The motorboat skipper. Because.

Such a silence can only support terrorists, Putin, and the Obama administration.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

It's interesting to me, too, that we hear so much about Trump and Putin -- but not about Clinton and Putin, given her Uranium One deal. Too, why think Putin doesn't have the goods on Clinton given her terrible email security? It may be that he doesn't think she can be prosecuted for anything at all, of course, such that blackmail would lose much of its force.

E Hines said...

Or he's waiting until she's elected, and then he'll play that hand.

Eric Hines

jaed said...

Or he's already played that hand, personally rather than in public.

Or he thinks he doesn't have to play the hand, because she's smart enough to figure it out. (Planaria could figure it out, after all. Our journalists don't count.)

Dad29 said...


The Feds now propose to "help" our election system, with reports that the Russkis have 'compromised' 2 State electoral databases. Note well: the Russkis are allowing this story to go un-challenged.

So. The disinformation campaign's objective--to undermine trust in ANY system--is in high gear here, while we contemplate giving the Feds control of all State and local voting.


Ymar Sakar said...

This is why the Crimea was only one part of their overall operations, and it isn't over. I suspect they want to deal with Turkey using either a proxy or their own forces, but in order to do that they have to neutralize NATO and the EU, which means neutralizing the US. If the US goes Isolationist all of a sudden, that gives them some leeway. Russia knows better than to try to fight the United States on the battlefield. While their diplomatic claims about US stuck in a quagmire in Afghanistan is to save face, I suspect the real reports of US combat capabilities have already been uncovered.

Remember what Hussein O told M, to relay to Putin. After the 2012 elections, Hussein will have a lot more freedom.

Grim said...

It's more to Putin's advantage if he can turn Turkey without bringing it out of NATO. The NATO treaty requires unanimous votes for any action, including expelling a member. If Putin can turn the Turks into reliable supporters, NATO essentially becomes useless.

Ymar Sakar said...

Putin loses his Defender of Orthodox Christianity propaganda line, if he tries that. While having the Americans fight Islam, is a clever ploy for an underpowered nation on the world stage, Putin still has to put up a show of a fight against Islam, now that Turkey is going back to the Caliphate model.

And to be honest, Putin probably means it, as when Bush talked to Putin and said he saw through Putin's heart. Without the context of their word exchanges, it is hard to interpret that line. But I would take it to mean that not all of Russia's propaganda, are false.

Ymar Sakar said...

It would be easier for Putin to use the White Nationalist parties in Britain and France to accomplish that issue of the veto. Although if the rumors are true, and the Alt Right is receiving Putin propaganda on an Active Measures scale (Bezmenov, fyi), then it makes sense why there's a lot of Alt Right push for this White Nationalist Christianity or this white supremacy "American freedom is from the White Founders Only" type of thinking. A lot of it works for Europe, but its effect on the US is limited to Democrat voters from the Reconstruction days.

It wouldn't be what I would use if I wanted the Alt Right to win in America. Maybe Putin doesn't care or their Active Measures isn't that flexible. The problem with large intel organization is that once they have set up a chain of mass produced propaganda, it's hard to tweak it on demand. The idea of a white supremacy nationalist party starting here in the US, surprised many of the locals. It was so fast. And I was even observing and collecting intel on many of the organizations that constitute the Alt Right, for years now. I wonder if the RUssian intel service just got "surprised" by Trum and the ALt Right, like the rest of us, and are using a bad viral WMDeception attack because that's what they know worked in W Europe.

If National Front in France gets enough influence in France, they can veto any attempt by Turkey to get the alliance going, sort of like France tried to do in Iraq.

First rule of business is to divide your enemies. Turkey, when isolated, is something the Russians can deal with. If barely.

Ymar Sakar said...

Russian Active Measures are effective, although only after generations. Much of it was used in Georgia, with the Ossetian (descendants of those raiding steppe hordes that attacked Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire) separatist movement, cleaving Georgia in half almost, almost like they are trying to reach the Turkish border for something.

Now that they have Crimea, that land route isn't that important any more. Although if they do want to move in to Turkey land force wise, without using amphibious forces, they might just start another Ossetian uprising, sort of like a Palestinian uprising to get Israeli land.

Russia has set up interesting assets and pawns around this global board. But it's not enough, if I was in their shoes. It is not that strong of an advantage. It would have been better if they allied with the US, but to the Russians, Hussein is already selling us out, so they don't need an actual alliance on paper.

Eric Blair said...

Well, now that the Russians are no longer Commies, its basically "Great Game" stuff again.

I think that's what everybody missed after the collapse of the old Soviet Union in 1991.

That all didn't end to well last time, but this time there are lots more players with enough stuff, one way or another, to make things interesting. As in old Chinese curse interesting.

In a sense, we've gone back to the 15th century. Multi-polar world.

Ymar Sakar said...

That all didn't end to well last time, but this time there are lots more players with enough stuff, one way or another, to make things interesting. As in old Chinese curse interesting.

While Russian Soviets collapsed in the Cold War, they were able to deal a mortal blow on the US, in the form of their Active Measures and subversion/infiltration. A Weapon of Mass Deception that went rogue and mutated, which would have ended much of America's power.

Now Putin and the former KGB, barely has any control over the Hussein types, although more than they had on Bush or JFK.

If the US goes totally insane under the mad dog Leftists, it's all going to be Russia's fault, because that was their "Stone Dog" final weapon, which finally destroyed the heart of the United States. Only after the Russians themselves lost, however, so it didn't do them much good in the end. And if a crazy US ends up launching nukes and making Russia a permanent Siberia, due to the virus they gave us, the joke is going to be on them, as usual.

In a sense, we've gone back to the 15th century. Multi-polar world.

A lot of it hinges on the US and whether it goes Fortress America or Full Empire. Either one could happen. The rest of the world would prefer an isolationist America, as that would allow Russia and China more freedom. Many other nations, such as the weaker powers like Japan, would prefer that America stand as the bulwark on the dead Pax America for a little bit longer while they arm up.

Eric Blair said...

It ain't going full empire. Just ain't. It might have, had McCain been elected in 2008. There would still be 50,000 US soldiers in Iraq, and so on.

And the Soviets, by collapsing, didn't strike any mortal blow--what do you even mean by that? but the peace brought about an almost instant reduction in force.

The Berlin Wall came down in 1989. My Division got reduced in 1990. After the first Gulf war was over in 1991, and the Soviet Union dissolved, the Americans just started draining out of Europe, and the army (and everybody else) started being reduced.

Even post 9/11/2001, The Army didn't go back to anywhere near it's 1991 numbers.

Empire is so not happening.