Our picksU.S. Needs a Counter-Disinformation Strategy | Reducing Disaster Costs | Preventing Electoral Violence, and more

Published 19 October 2020

·  Forget Counterterrorism, the United States Needs a Counter-Disinformation Strategy

·  Creating the Right Incentives for State and Local Governments to Reduce Disaster Costs

·  The Biggest Risk to This Election Is Not Russia. It’s Us.

·  YouTube Will Remove Videos Making Harmful Claims Rooted in Conspiracy Theories

·  The United States Isn’t Doomed to Lose the Information Wars

·  How to Prevent Electoral Violence at Home

Forget Counterterrorism, the United States Needs a Counter-Disinformation Strategy(Brian Raymond, Foreign Policy)
If the U.S. government wants to win the information wars, Cold War-era tactics won’t cut it anymore.

Creating the Right Incentives for State and Local Governments to Reduce Disaster Costs(Jason Thomas Barnosky, Noreen Clancy, Lloyd Dixon, RAND)
In the United States, federal, state, and local government share responsibility for paying for losses from disasters. Traditionally a state and local function, more responsibility has shifted to the federal government over time, and federal programs providing support to state and local entities for disaster response and recovery have proliferated. But as the frequency and severity of disasters has increased, so have the losses, and it is worth considering whether the current risk-sharing approach is appropriate.
To better understand the current situation, RAND undertook an analysis of the extent to which state and local governments rely on FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program to repair buildings, contents, vehicles, and equipment that are damaged in presidentially declared disasters. With some exceptions, the PA program will pay for that part of the repairs that is not covered by the insurance purchased by state and local governments.

The Biggest Risk to This Election Is Not Russia. It’s Us.(Fiona Hill, New York Times)

·  “Moscow’s operatives did not invent our crude tribal politics; they just exploited them. Robert O’Brien, President Trump’s national security adviser, revealed this week that he had recently met his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, in Geneva and warned him that ‘there would be absolutely no tolerance for any interference’ in the November election. This was a pointless exchange. It misrepresents how Russia actually interferes in our affairs. The Russian state does not meddle directly. It delegates to proxies, who amplify our divisions and exploit our political polarization.”

·  “Americans must recognize that the United States is ripe for manipulation. With a month to go before Election Day, we are ripping ourselves apart. … [T]he idea that Russia determined the [2016] election is overstated. It would never have resonated so loudly without our deep polarization—and our structural issues … These issues were rooted in our system and had already played out in 2000. By overplaying Russia’s ability to influence the vote, American politicians and pundits conceded victory to Russia and its intelligence agencies. Instead, we should have focused on fixing our own faults.”

·  “Today, we are even more fractured than in 2016. What was then a vulnerability is now a full-blown national security crisis. Our partisan strife has contributed to the botched handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has eroded our international reputation. It has made us susceptible to manipulation by any foreign or nonstate actor that wants to weaken us. Our own political actors are undermining our democracy in a gambit to sway the election.”

·  “The United States has set international standards for free and fair elections for decades. But President Trump, not President Putin, has repeatedly declared our electoral system ‘rigged’ and questioned the integrity of the ballot. … The biggest risk to this election is not the Russians, it’s us.”

YouTube Will Remove Videos Making Harmful Claims Rooted in Conspiracy Theories(Dalvin Brown, USA Today)
YouTube is cracking down on videos displaying “harmful conspiracy theories” as social platforms continue to grapple with the spread of misinformation and hate.
The Google-owned streaming company will now prohibit content that targets a person or group with “conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence,” YouTube said Thursday.
That means potentially harmful videos claiming that someone is complicit in one or more proven-to-be-false conspiracies will be taken down starting on Oct. 15, YouTube said.
For an example of the types of content that will be banned, think back to the Pizzagate scandal of 2016, which included baseless allegations that Hillary Clinton was involved in running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a pizzeria in Washington. The false information swiftly spread across the internet and a vigilante gunman later opened fire at the restaurant.

The United States Isn’t Doomed to Lose the Information Wars(Doowan Lee, Foreign Policy)
China and Russia are ramping up their disinformation campaigns in the lead-up to the November vote. It’s time for Washington to fight back.

How to Prevent Electoral Violence at Home (Tara D. Sonenshine, The Hill)
I have spent more than three decades covering conflict as either a journalist, State Department official or senior executive at the United States Institute of Peace. Global conflict does not scare me. But America in this election season does.
People are on edge. Voters are being texted, e-mailed, coaxed and cajoled. A pandemic has sickened and killed thousands, spreading viral particles and understandable fear and panic. Desperate people do desperate things, and my biggest concern is electoral violence — something I have always associated with overseas conflicts.