The United States has recently been ridiculed for losing the ongoing information war, and has fallen victim to successive propaganda and disinformation campaigns orchestrated by Russia without a significant response. Given Russia’s concerted efforts to delegitimize Western democracies and their institutions, it is imperative for the United States to adequately respond to Russian “active measures” in the information environment, say analysts Will DuVal and Adam Maisel.
The lack of a whole-of-government approach to global US information operations demands a remedy, they suggest, proposing a revival of the Cold War-era United States Information Agency (USIA), albeit with a modern overhaul to optimize its effectiveness in an information environment dramatically different than that of the Cold War:
The proposed USIA should not primarily serve as a product-producing agency, but rather a coordinating entity that develops strategic communication priorities and counter-propaganda strategies to be carried out by the various agencies and directorates. A potential option would be to create a Director’s Steering Board for USIA, with ex officio representatives from agencies such as the Department of State, Department of Defense, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (the current oversight authority for all US nonmilitary international broadcasting such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). USIA should also be required to liaise with existing US and allied entities (such as NATO, the EU’s East StratCom Task Force, etc.) influencing the information environment to ensure continuity and effectiveness at all levels while deterring foreign propaganda where it exists. It would be extremely beneficial for the new USIA to promote innovation in technology that increases the credibility of US media outlets.
Subsequently, the USIA should provide a convening mechanism to empower media, social media, and technology companies to spread best practices on identifying and removing foreign disinformation, and the social media “bots” and “amplifier accounts” that help spread it, DuVal and Maisel add. RTWT
In the meantime, Russia’s economy is being seriously impacted by Western sanctions, says Vladimir Milov, former Deputy Minister of Energy (2002), adviser to the Minister of Energy (2001-2002), and head of strategy department at the Federal Energy Commission, the natural monopoly regulator (1999-2001).
“Credible sources have told me that the possibility of refinancing problems emerging never occurred to Vladimir Putin and his inner circle when he decided to invade Crimea and Donbass,” he writes for The American Interest:
Heavy borrowers like Igor Sechin (left), the head of Rosneft, were apparently assuring Putin that Western banks had too much profit at stake to ever stop lending. And Western governments—according to this strand in Kremlin thinking—would never go against the interests of their key financial players….. The theory that Western sanctions were somehow “unimportant” is a sentiment that has been strongly amplified by a choir of Russian propaganda outlets, their numerous Western sympathizers, and all sorts of “useful idiots”—including a coterie of respected economists who focus on studying oil prices and their effects to the exclusion of all else.