National Security Strategy to address resurgent ‘revisionist powers’ and subversive disinformation



The new U.S. National Security Strategy, due to be published on Monday, will address the challenge of resurgent “revisionist powers” and the more specific threat of the Kremlin’s subversive use of disinformation, according to national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

McMaster previewed the major thrusts of the new strategy recently, but added Tuesday that the forthcoming document will take into account new Russian forays into the gray zone as “very sophisticated campaigns of subversion and disinformation and propaganda, using cyber tools, operating across multiple domains, that attempt to divide our communities within our nations and pit them against each other and try to create crises of confidence,” Foreign Policy reports.

“Geopolitics are back and are back with a vengeance after this holiday from history we took in the so-called post-Cold War period,” he told a Washington conference organized by the London-based Policy Exchange think-tank. China and Russia “are undermining the international order and stability. They’re ignoring the sovereign rights of their neighbors and the rule of law,” he added.

McMaster identified three broad threats to U.S. national security: “revisionist powers” like China and Russia that “undermine the international order”; rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea; and transnational terrorism.

New threats and opportunities demand an ability to “think differently,” and highlight the “need to compete across new domains –new arenas of competition” that the U.S. had vacated in recent times, “creating a vacuum and opportunities for revisionists,” he added.

Section 1239 of the National Defense Authorization Act directs the administration to “develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to counter threats by the Russian Federation,” the Daily Beast reports:

Subsection A of the requirement…directs the strategy to attribute and defend against “hybrid warfare operations short of traditional armed conflict against the United States and its allies and partners.” In particular, such a strategy should “identify and defend against” Russia’s “use of misinformation, disinformation and propaganda in social and traditional media.” The strategy .. also seeks action against “corrupt or illicit financing of political parties, think tanks, media organizations and academic institutions.”

The Act’s language builds on the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, legislation signed-into-law last year to promote more seamless coordination between the Department of Defense and the State Department in countering foreign propaganda and disinformation, a move pioneered by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that McMaster’s remarks were “extremely and absolutely wrong” and that Russia “does not indulge in sophisticated subversion in the United States,” RFE/RL adds.

Propelled by a revanchist post-Communist ideology, Russia has embarked on an imperialist foreign policy to reintegrate the post-Soviet zone as evidenced by the annexation of the Crimea and other belligerent moves in the region, says Marek Jan Chodakiewicz , a professor of history and the Kosciuszko chair in Polish studies at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. Putin has further challenged the United States virtually everywhere, including at home through cyberwarfare, he writes for the Hill.

American-supported efforts to combat a Russia-directed disinformation campaign aimed at getting Georgians to abandon their Western geopolitical orientation cover a broad range of strategies, Codastory reports:

The U.S. funds two fact-checking websites, and, which scour the Georgian media for anti-Western misinformation and attempt to debunk it. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds a segment on a weekly television news program, called “Strength is in Europe,” with four well-known public intellectuals discussing myths about Georgia’s growing ties with the European Union. USAID has even funded a series of book clubs around the country in which participants read and discuss journalist Peter Pomerantsev’s memoir of working in Russian television, “Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible.”


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