Class 4. Why Can't the U.S. Get Its Act Together When It Comes to Information Warfare?

Guest speaker Matt Armstrong talks about lack of leadership and agency hot potato when it comes to addressing political warfare head on. (We also debated terminology.)

We had a great discussion today with

on our general stumbling-around-in-the-dark approach to combating disinformation and influence operations by foreign adversaries. One thing Matt noted was that we had it more together — at least in terms of congressional attention and public awareness — during the Cold War than we do now, something we will be exploring in the coming weeks.

A couple of things referenced in today’s discussion:

I should note that the latter resource, which I brought up, deals with covert political warfare between the KGB and CIA, while Matt’s focus is on “public diplomacy” — and this conversation was helpful in distinguishing the two and emphasizing that both are necessary to effectively countering the problem.

I’ll be on break next week so we’ll pick up again in the New Year. When we return, I’ll be tweaking the format slightly so that we’ll have two lectures each month (basically every other week, in addition to my regular posts) and a guest speaker — I know many of you are either just joining or catching up, and this will allow me some time to join in the discussions between the lectures. I also have so many people on my list of potential guests that I need room to get them in! Speaking of which, our January speaker will be former CIA officer John Sipher, who spent 25 years in the agency, including in Russia. He has spoken to my Yale class every year and has great stories and insight into both historical and current active measures operations, so save the date! (He is already on the syllabus and I will send reminders as we get closer.)

Oh, and one more exciting thing in the New Year: I will be unveiling my new logo! It’s very cool: Stay tuned.

Finally, don’t forget that we will have our last Zoom office hours for the year this Thursday, December 22, from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. I hope you will be able to join — we can expand the discussion to include the latest January 6 Committee referrals and findings as well, if you like.

See you soon — and if you are not able to make it Thursday, have a safe and wonderful holiday and a happy New Year!

Pancake’s attempt at camouflage.

Leave a comment

Democracy in the (Dis)Information Age
Past course lectures
Asha Rangappa