Failing State's Deadly Post-Truth Order

The Marshall Plan is often cited as the extraordinary innovation that enabled the world to recover from the ravages of World War II, with a bold vision for harnessing international partners and private sector to rebuild a devastated Europe. Arguably, there is a similar level of challenge facing the international community today, with every indication of it worsening into the future.....

“They are not the Communist students and factory workers of the 1960s”
2019 – A Deja Vu in Terms of Protests?
November 12, 2019 VOICE OF AMERICA
FILE - Protesters wave Lebanese flags during an anti-government protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 10, 2019. The Arabic writing beneath the fist reads "Revolution.
It was a revolutionary year. In more than 50 countries spontaneous street alliances formed of disgruntled urban workers and left-behind rural folk.
Of course, there were dedicated reformers, ardent revolutionaries and hardened nationalists among them, too, and fearful governments tottering on the edge immediately accused them of causing all the trouble and of grasping at impossible theories of government or being manipulated by foreign enemies.
This year or 1848? The description could be used for either... the year Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published The Communist Manifesto..
In 1848, the printing presses were the communication channels for the demands for change... the expression of anger, much as social media sites and mobile phone apps are used now to organize and spread the word...
At pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong, Oct.19, 2019.protesters use illuminated letters to form a slogan...And that would seem to sum up the reaction of many established politicians and those favoring the status quo now...with protests from Barcelona to Bolivia and Hong Kong to Honduras. In the last few weeks, large anti-government protests erupted on every continent, including Algeria, Britain, Chile, Ecuador, France, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Lebanon. The various 1848 upheavals had some common themes but also contradictions, as there are now. The 1960s and 1980s seemed much more focused, more inter-connected in terms of aims and causes, say analysts.
And in 1848, many of the protests, like now, were often leaderless, making it harder for governments to know how to handle them or to find anyone they could negotiate with who had any real authority. Something that challenged France’s Emmanuel Macron in his efforts to take the sting from the tail of the Yellow Vests.
This year’s protests appear to have four broad themes — income inequality, public corruption, political freedom and climate change. Some commentators and radicals tried to tie them together but it appears to be a stretch to do so, though some protests in the West featured all four.

Influence Operations and the Internet: A 21st Century Issue
By Col Rebecca A. Keller, USAF

The US military conduct of information operations (IO) which includes military deception (MILDEC) and psychological operations (PSYOP), is based on doctrinal precedence and operational necessity....
While MILDEC is customarily a wartime mission, PSYOP is conducted during all phases of military operations including peacetime...JP 3-13.2, Psychological Operations, states the purpose of PSYOP is to influence perceptions and behavior as part of approved programs supporting US policy and military objectives.... Impact of Cybertechnology on Influence Operations Increasingly the use of the cyber domain is actively researched and exploited by the United States and its adversaries to conduct influence operations via cell phone, e-mail, text message, and blogs in both peacetime and combat environments. The cyber world will progressively become both a boon and a bane to IO personnel, allowing a global audience reach but providing a large vulnerability to enemy deception and PSYOP efforts requiring a near immediate response to worldwide operational events. While traditional forms of MILDEC—operational feints, displays, or camouflage and concealment—are increasingly negated by advances in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technology that quickly uncover the deception, cybertechnology has brought a new generation of MILDEC options to military planners. These include digital imagery manipulation, computer file alteration, and false file storage where phony or deceptive electronic files are deliberately made accessible to an adversary. Ubiquitous Internet availability and use of cell phones present new opportunities for PSYOP efforts.... proliferation of cell phone ring tones offer options for message delivery or embarrassment...altering ring tone of terrorist cell chief or military leader to “God bless the USA”....
In 1948 the US Information and Education Exchange Act, (Smith-Mundt), international release of American news and information (propaganda) to counter worldwide communist propaganda from the Soviet Union... Additionally, some well- known media entities were also covered by the Smith-Mundt Act (Voice of America [VOA], Radio Free Asia and Europe, and Radio and TV Marti). A domestic dissemination clause further strengthened by Congress in 1972 and 1985 to completely “block Americans from accessing USIA materials so USIA products were exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.”... While Smith-Mundt prohibits dissemination of truthful US influence information to American citizens, no law prohibits foreign nations or organizations from targeting US citizens ...lack of public awareness of this threat and the proliferation of cheap means for global message distribution leave the US public vulnerable to influence operations (propaganda) and deception by adversaries and other nations....
Keeping the American Public Informed ...This insulation of the US public from US deception operations is understandable; however, it also leaves the United States vulnerable to foreign deception and propaganda efforts and “a questioning mind is the first line of defense.” Therefore, the general public should be taught how to identify and respond to propaganda, PSYOP, and deception operations launched by any foreign nation or other entity.

Emerging Risk of Virtual Societal Warfare
Social Manipulation in a Changing Information Environment

The year 2016 and beyond saw an explosion of interest in issues of disinformation, propaganda, information manipulation and fakery, “fake news,” “Truth Decay,” and related trends—a broad phenomenon that can be termed hostile social manipulation. In this study, we define this concept as the purposeful, systematic generation and dissemination of information to produce harmful social, political, and economic outcomes in a target country by affecting beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. Examples of this rising challenge include Russian efforts to influence elections and sow discord in the West through propaganda and disinformation; the role of social media platforms such as Facebook in spreading such misinformation; and burgeoning Chinese programs to shape regional narratives and gain political leverage in specific countries. U.S. intelli- gence services have concluded that Russia employed such techniques to influence the 2016 election, and Moscow continues to employ them— sometimes brazenly despite U.S. warnings—in the United States and Europe.

As significant as these developments have been, they may only represent the beginning of what an aggressive nation can accomplish with techniques and technologies designed to disrupt and shape the information environment of a target country. This report’s primary conclusion is that, as significant as social manipulation efforts have already been, the United States and other democracies have only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg of what these approaches may someday be able to achieve.

The intersection of multiple emerging technologies, from arti- ficial intelligence to virtual reality and personalized messaging, is creating the potential for aggressors to change people’s fundamental social reality. Two well-known information-related threats are classic cyberattacks on major infrastructure sites and internet-enabled disin- formation, but this report calls attention to the burgeoning landscape in between—areas of the emerging information-based foundation of society that are vulnerable to persistent disruption and manipulation. Especially with the rise of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and algo- rithmic and big-data–driven decisionmaking, advanced societies are becoming perilously dependent on networks of information and data gathering, exchange, communication, analysis, and decisionmaking. These risks are especially significant today because of the changing nature of the infosphere (the information environment governing post- modern democracies), which is characterized, among other trends, by the fragmentation of authority, the rise of silos of belief, and a persistent “trolling” ethic of cynical and aggressive harassment in the name of an amorphous social dissent.

As much as it feels to citizens of advanced economies that we already live in an information society, we have in fact seen only the first hints of this transformation. And that transition will open unprec- edented opportunities for hostile rivals—state or nonstate—to reach into those societies and cause disruption, delay, inefficiency, and active harm. It will open the door to a form of virtual societal aggression that will make countries more persistently vulnerable than they have been for generations. Such virtual aggression will force a rethinking of the character of national security and steps taken to protect it.

Traditional forms of information-based social manipulation have focused on disseminating narratives—through, for example, propaganda, public diplomacy, and social media posts—to affect beliefs. Classic hostile cyberattacks have often used information networks as a highway to attack physical targets, such as banks, power stations, or centrifuges. The evolution of advanced information environments is rapidly creating a third category of possible aggression: efforts to manipulate or disrupt the information foundations of the effective functioning of economic and social systems. Aggressors will increasingly have the opportunity, not merely to spread disinformation or favorable narratives or damage physical infrastructure, but to skew and damage the functioning of the massive databases, algorithms, and networks of computerized, computer-enhanced, or computer-dependent things on which modern societies will utterly depend.

What we call virtual societal warfare can involve any combination of a broad range of techniques, including the following:
deploying classic propaganda, influence, and disinformation operations through multiple channels, including social media
generating massive amounts of highly plausible fabricated video and audio material to reduce confidence in shared reality
discrediting key mediating institutions that are capable of distin- guishing between true and false information
corrupting or manipulating the databases on which major com- ponents of the economy increasingly rely
manipulating or degrading systems of algorithmic decisionmak- ing, both to impair day-to-day government and corporate opera- tions and to intensify loss of faith in institutions, as well as increase social grievances and polarization
using the vulnerabilities inherent in the connections among the exploding IoT to create disruption and damage
hijacking virtual and augmented reality systems to create disrup- tion or mental anguish or to strengthen certain narratives
inserting commands into chatbot-style interactive systems to gen- erate inefficiencies and in some cases personal frustration and anxiety.
In many cases, the primary goal of such aggression may not be physical harm so much as confusion and an accelerating loss of confi- dence in the operation of major social institutions. And the emergence of information-dependent societies will broaden and deepen the array of social manipulation techniques available to attackers, allowing them to seek highly tailored combinations of physical damage and changes in attitudes. The role of trust is a consistent theme in this analysis: Attacks on the effective operation of information systems strike directly at levels of social trust, creating the sense that the institutions and pro- cesses of advanced societies cannot be trusted and generating a sense of persistent insecurity and anxiety. ...

To shed light on how these techniques might evolve, RAND researchers built on a first-phase analysis from this project focused on Russian and Chinese efforts at hostile social manipulation. This project was not yet aimed at solutions... one lesson of this research phase is that many of these trends, technologies, and capabilities remain poorly understood, and some possible responses have potentially dramatic implications for the operation of the information environment, the character of free speech, and other issues. It would be dangerous to begin promulgating possible solutions without rigorous analysis of their likely consequences. This report is designed to set the stage for such work


These categories represent only a broad sketch of response likely to be required for democracies to armor themselves against
the potential threat of virtual societal warfare. These emerging forms of aggression represent a significant danger to advanced democ-racies, a form of national security threat that has not been seen before. Especially in the nuclear age, and in an era when a general global consensus has prevailed against outright territorial aggression, large-scale invasions have become mostly a thing of the past. But while armies can be deterred, gradual, low-level hostile manipulation of the infosphere and larger social topography of nations may be the new frontier of aggression. The potential for virtual societal warfare is certainly emerging.
The only question today is whether democracies band together to control and defend themselves against this threat.

Press Freedom VOA
U.S. Agency for Global Media USAGM

WASHINGTON - The announcement of John Lansing’s resignation as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media is renewing questions about the mission and direction of the broadcasters it oversees. The USAGM directly manages five international news entities, including Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America. Combined, the USAGM broadcasters transmit in 61 languages and have an unduplicated weekly audience of 345 million.
Lansing, 62, a veteran cable TV executive, named CEO of USAGM in 2015  has now served under two presidents. He will formally leave the agency at the end of September and start in mid-October as CEO of the domestic National Public Radio network.
“John Lansing is going to leave behind a really remarkable legacy,” said Amanda Bennett, director of the Voice of America. “He really focused USAGM on issues of a free and independent press. That’s going to be his legacy. That, and his sunny disposition.”...

global state terror psywar must invert reality and truth
3/22/18, RAND Policy Currents the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life... poses a threat to the health and future of U.S. democracy. But Truth Decay isn't just an American problem, says RAND's Hans Pung. It also endangers democracy across Europe. Read more »