The Russia watchFrom Russia, with malice; Western strengths become vulnerabilities; the NSC’s Russia Truther, and more

Published 11 June 2018

· From Russia, with malice

· New Russian media venture wants to wage “information war” in Washington, D.C.

· Strengths become vulnerabilities

· What Europe can teach America about Russian disinformation

· We still need East Stratcom against Kremlin trolls

· Spanish PM taps Russia supporter for National Security Director

· John Bolton’s new top aide is a Russia Truther

· Putin says he’s making Russia great again. In reality, it’s crumbling

From Russia, with malice (Carl M. Cannon, RealClearPolitics)
Propaganda is not new to Russia, nor a uniquely Russian endeavor. But manipulating the populace by controlling information has been woven into of the fabric of Russian life for a century before Lenin was born, was a key tenet of Marxism, was adopted by the Bolsheviks when they seized power, and became a trademark feature of Soviet society. So what’s new now? The short answer is digital technology, which enables a new kind of warfare: cyberwar.

New Russian media venture wants to wage “information war” in Washington, D.C. (Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast)
USA Really launched with a goal of stopping disinformation about Russia. A video it ran features an American flag and a Confederate flag alongside a MAGA poster of Donald Trump.

Strengths become vulnerabilities (Jack Goldsmith and Stuart Russell, Hoover Institution)
A digital world disadvantages the United States in its international relations. This essay seeks to shine light on the manifold and, in the aggregate, underappreciated structural challenges that digital systems increasingly present for the United States, especially in its relations with authoritarian adversaries. These problems arise most clearly in the face of the “soft” cyber operations that have been so prevalent and damaging in the United States in recent years: cyber espionage, including the digital theft of public- and private-sector secrets; information operations and propaganda, related to elections; doxing, which is the theft and publication of private information; and relatively low-level cyber disruptions such as denial-of-service and ransomware attacks. Our central claim is that the United States is disadvantaged in the face of these soft cyber operations due to constitutive and widely admired features of American society, including the nation’s commitment to free speech, privacy, and the rule of law; its innovative technology firms; its relatively unregulated markets; and its deep digital sophistication. These strengths of American society create asymmetrical vulnerabilities in the digital age that foreign adversaries, especially in authoritarian.

What Europe can teach America about Russian disinformation (Jay Willard, The Atlantic)
“If we are serious about defending Western values, now is the time.”

We still need East Stratcom against Kremlin trolls (Laima Andrikiene, EUObserver)
The EU and its member states are facing an organised and aggressive Russian state fake news, manipulation and disinformation campaign. Its objective is to destabilise the Western democratic order, confront and weaken states and ultimately to break up EU unity and support those that wish to destroy it. Unfortunately, given the scale of the challenge, the EU’s response so far has been dangerously inadequate.

Spanish PM taps Russia supporter for National Security Director (Anabel Díez and Javier Casqueiro, El Pais)
Army reserve colonel Pedro Baños is a regular contributor to Russia-funded outlets ‘RT’ and ‘Sputnik’

John Bolton’s new top aide is a Russia Truther (Justin Glawe, Daily Beast)
The national security adviser’s new chief of staff said intelligence was ‘rigged’ by Obama and that Trump should ‘pardon everyone’ under investigation.

Putin says he’s making Russia great again. In reality, it’s crumbling (Owen Matthews, Spectator)
Putin has bluster, confidence — and, once more, some oil cash to fund flashy international showpieces like the World Cup. But what he presents as a formula for national greatness is really founded on windfalls and luck, not judgment. And luck runs out.

Donald Trump is undermining the rules-based international order (Economist)
There may be short-term wins for America but there will be long-term damage to the world.
If most of America’s allies (which Mr. Trump often refers to as competitors) are unhappy, its real strategic competitors, Russia and China, are making hay. The weaker the West, the less threatened Russia feels, and the more it sees a chance of encouraging European countries to break with the sanctions that hurt its economy; Italy, under its new government, is a tempting target. The fact that Mr. Trump is trying to thwart efforts to discover the degree to which Russia attempted to undermine his opponent in the 2016 election does not just add to the distrust with which foreign-policy people see him. It may also encourage Russia in similar efforts elsewhere—or, indeed, renewed efforts in America.