True political warfare is a good deal deeper and far nastier than what you see in campaigns, debates or contemporary White House briefings – hard to believe, but true. It’s not about a single seat, a party or platform or a single election. It is takes place between nations and regimes and is intended to create dysfunction at a level which either compromises a nation’s ability to compete with its adversary (economically or militarily) or reinforces the targets own internal economic or social problems. At its dirtiest it actually breeds and exacerbates those same internal conflicts.
I write about true political warfare in Creating Chaos and I’ll be discussing it at length on Chuck Ochelli’s internet show this coming Thursday. Knowing Chuck it’s bound to be lively, and I’ll be stressing the point that political warfare between regimes and nations involves covert disinformation campaigns more than simple propaganda. Contrary to popular opinion, because propaganda is more public and more obvious it is primarily used not again an adversary but internally or with neutrals.
We have a couple of very good examples of very effective propaganda being used by Russian and China in respect to the current global pandemic. Their aid campaigns to American are being aggressively promoted to their own public and to the global community in an example of strategic geopolitical messaging. Those efforts can be found in the following links:
Both Russia and China promoted the American aid extensively within their own media as well as to their respective target markets in Europe and Latin America. Russia is vitally interested in undermining American influence in Europe in an effort to recover its own position in energy sales while China is on a major mission to open markets and ensure resources, including those in Latin America. Both efforts that are well supported in this sort of propaganda.
In contrast, much more subtle and covert political warfare goes far deeper than such open media efforts, employing well crafted and destructive disinformation (which has some factual context) messages placed within the target nation’s own media – often using very convoluted routes. In last week’s show with Chuck we discussed to such historical campaigns, both Russian, in which well-designed disinformation was first planted in a neutral nation’s press (India), then picked up by western press outlets (British) and finally appeared in the American press. Planting information in the foreign press has been a constant for decades, reaching new levels of sophistication during the Cold War.
Unfortunately in more recent years the internet and social media have provided a venue for disinformation warfare that could hardly have been imagined. I addressed that sea change in Creating Chaos so there is no need to belabor it here. , Chuck and I will be discussing that on Thursday, as well as one on newest tactics being used so effectively – the retweeting of disinformation and fake news by senior political figures in American politics. Sadly it continues to be a wonderful time to be pursuing a career in information warfare.