Active Measures, authoritarianism, democracy, dictatorship, disinformation, freedom, integrity, medieval v modern, perceptual control, totalitarianism
As BackChannels Would Define It
Active Measures — The collection of Russian Agitation, Disinformation, and Propaganda Methods made evident through covert or subtle Influence Campaigns applied to wrecking the political coherence and cohesion of EU/NATO for the purpose of reestablishing Political Absolutism in the same and then using the most thuggish of feudal and medieval methods to leverage loyalty and wealth from them for contribution to the Greater Imperial Glory of Moscow, the Russian “mafia state” it has come to represent, and the immense enrichment of its oligarchy.
Indeed the west, the melange of classically liberal democratic open societies built and structured around fair dealing, freedom, and integrity and related humanist and liberal ethics, principles, and values has been unprepared for covert agent provocateur, e.g., covert agitators Far Right and Far Left, disingenuous publications, false front organizations, trolls, etc.
I’ve chosen to demur from producing “long copy” and a lengthy reference section for this post. Awareness of “Active Measures” — the kernel of Russia’s covert campaign to degrade and ruin the democracies of the west — should suffice for both the interested and the unwittingly vulnerable.
Cull, Nicholas J., Vasily Gatov, Peter Pomerantsev, Anne Applebaum, and Alistair Shawcross. “Soviet Subversion, Disinformation and Propaganda: How the West Fought Against It.” Final Report (PDF). LSE Consulting, London, October 2017.
Darczewska, Jolanta and Piotr Zochowky. “Active Measures: Russia’s Key Export.” (PDF). Center for Eastern Studies, Point of View 64, Warsaw, June 2017.
Linville, Darren and Patrick Warren. “That Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It.” Rolling Stone, November 25, 2019.
Lipton, Eric, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane. “The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.” The New York Times, December 13, 2016.
Pond, Elizabeth. “The West wakes up to the dangers of disinformation.” The Christian Science Monitor, February 28, 1985.
According to rough Central Intelligence Agency estimates presented in US congressional hearings in 1980 and 1982, Moscow spends some $4 billion a year on overt and covert propaganda, with some $3 billion of this going to Pravda, Tass, and other overt activities and the residual $1 billion presumably going into covert disinformation. Georgetown University Prof. Roy Godson, coauthor with Richard H. Shultz of the book “Dezinformatsia” says the Soviets employ 15,000 in “active measures.”
“Active measures” — the term came into use in the Soviet Union in the 1950s — include international front organizations, agent-of-influence operations, and forgeries. Front organizations straddle overt and covert measures, Godson and Shultz explain. The International Department of the Soviet Communist Party “coordinates the activities of these organizations,” but “the fronts actively attempt to maintain an image of independence.”
The flagship of these fronts is the World Peace Council.
Shane, Scott. “The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election.” The New York Times, September 7, 2017.
Addendum — From the Awesome Conversation
Through the Cold War Era and now with Putin leading the Russian Federation, the purpose of Soviet / post-Soviet “Active Measures” has been to fragment EU/NATO for the purpose of Russian expansion and its feudal practices. A video like this one — the same as above on this page — will help a little bit with understanding the greater east-west politics and the tension between the worlds of “Absolute Power” and the open democracies of the west.
Active Measures” represents an international (RF v EU/NATO) dispute over the future, not only an American one.
If we are at one the other’s throat, Moscow will have succeeded in exploiting our natural political arguments and issues by heightening them and undermining our national political cohesion and coherence, thereby weakening our state and degrading our democracy.
Regarding “Far Out Left” and equally distant Far Right tendencies, the related foreign and disingenuous domestic manipulations of political perception targets us all.
Addendum – Miscellaneous Quotations and Reference Having to Do with Disinformation
“It was unthinkable before Trump for anyone to run this kind of disinformation campaign from the White House against the American public,” according to Jonathan Rauch, the author of the forthcoming book The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth. As a result, we live in an era defined by epistemic chaos and noetic disarray, one in which a large portion of the population embraces falsehoods and fairy tales and thinks of them as “alternative facts.”
The deceit being dispensed by Trump & Company is hardly universal, but it is extensive, which is why defeating Trump was essential if we’re going to move away from perspectivism as the interpretive theory in our politics. But objective reality as a concept—truth as something that exists independent of affect, independent of subjective narratives, independent of whatever a partisan information silo claims is true—has been badly damaged. Among the most urgent tasks facing America, then, is to strengthen our regard for what Plato called episteme over doxa, true knowledge over opinion, reality over fantasy.Wehner, Peter. “Trump’s Most Malicious Legacy.” The Atlantic, December 7, 2020.
A Diffuse, Unregulated Network of Propagandists
In the Cold War, the Communist Party defined the USSR’s information strategy from the top down. Today, Russian information warfare is waged by a variety of groups that have different interests, domestically and internationally, and different connections to the outside world. Modern Russia is a loose, networked state with multiple actors allowed to conduct domestic and foreign policy, usually to benefit corrupt political groups around (and including) Putin. These different groups influence state strategy both directly and indirectly;some have their own areas of interest, such the oil company Rosneft’s interests in Africa and Latin America.
As a result, Russian information warfare is not consistent and strategic; its fundamental quality is tactical opportunism, which of course leads to inconsistency. This inconsistency makes attribution difficult or even misleading. We still cannot be certain, for example, which particular vested interest was behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee in the US. It is possible that business groups under sanction in the US organized the hack because they believed that a President Trump would lift the sanctions; it is equally possible that the FSB organized the hack with the idea of undermining Hillary Clinton, for geopolitical reasons. Either way, it is likely that the actual hackers were criminals, hired for this particular purpose, and not state employees.The Kremlin, in other words,is just one of myriad actors pumping out disinformation, alongside domestic media as well as the teenagers in Macedonia who produced anti-Clinton fake news for personal profit.Excerpt (on page 68) from Cull, Nicholas J., Vasily Gatov, Peter Pomerantsev, Anne Applebaum, and Alistair Shawcross. “Soviet Subversion, Disinformation and Propaganda: How the West Fought Against It.” Final Report (PDF). LSE Consulting, London, October 2017.
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