INFORM TO INFLUENCE

by Joel Harding

Russian Influence Operations – “Damn, They’re Good”

Okay, nobody said that about the Russians.  That is supposed to be my attention getting headline.

I’m going to use two quotes from seniors out of context, from private correspondence.

Interference in western elections, democracy, and social cognition is not likely to decline given unanswered recent and continuing successes. Therefore, we need an effective countervailing strategy and implementation in a hurry. The current administration can be described as neither prescient in identifying emerging threats nor speedy in formulating policy responses to address them successfully. The complexity of modern national security and economic security challenges requires much higher caliber personnel in policy leadership positions and support by effective reach back into centers of US thought leaders, which in turn are in need of mobilization around emerging challenges (aka crises). We probably also need significant bureaucratic reform to move from ponderous industrial age organization to flatter organizations with high agility based on dynamic task focused networks.

In response, another senior wrote:

Perhaps we could stop telling the Kremlin their ops were so successful, when there is little evidence their activities did anything to effect the outcome.

There is the thing which all the pundits, all the polls, all the soothsayers, and all the prognosticators missed.

We do not know and certainly the Russians do not know, how effectively their influence operations really worked.

Our metrics are for crap.  This has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt when all the polls called for Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump by 3 percent, up to 12 percent.  With so many variables, it is absolutely impossible to say the Russians, assuming they are responsible for the Wikileaks releases, fake news, and tons of other news releases, are responsible for an increase or even a decrease in ANY outcome of the US 2016 elections.

Jullian Assange said “Our next leak will lead to arrest of Hillary Clinton”.

This did not happen.  De facto everything Assange released oozed into a cacophony of screeching for and against the candidates.

Recall, if you will, the Maidan protests, starting in November 2013 and the current Russian occupation of Donbas in Ukraine. Now hearken to a commensurate increase in Russian propaganda starting in November 2013 and continuing today, with Russia in Crimea, Donbas and Syria, with an accompanying increase in Russian propaganda in support of Crimea, Donbas and Syria.  The only real metric we have is the August 2015 Pew Report titled Russia, Putin Held in Low Regard around the World. The Pew Report said that only three countries in the world held Russia in a positive view: Vietnam, Ghana, and China.   In the meantime, every observer of Russian propaganda, every observer of global attitudes, every article, report, or whisper said that Russia was kicking butt in the information arena.

Reports, articles, movies, and documentaries also show the Russian bear as a formidable beast, it’s military unstoppable and omnipotent.  Ukraine, the nation who was beaten severely by Russia, held.  The current line of advance has held since the Minsk agreement.  The Russian playground bully has been slapped to a halt.

Russia, in response, has doubled down on its only winning strategy.  Propaganda. It has increased funding to RT, Sputnik News, and other Russian state-controlled propaganda outlets.  From every report there has been no noticeable, observable effects.  All the fake reports of rapes, all the staged reports of refugee uprisings, all the faux reports of governments quaking in fear – have been proven wrong, staged, and not-to-be-believed.

The Russian economy is failing. Russian sports team members have been found guilty of doping. Russians have been caught in massive corruption in Panama. A Russian minister has been arrested for corruption.  Russians have been officially accused of hacking US websites, so there is credible evidence. Russians created fake news web sites.  Russians have created fake news.

If anything, the truth is: Russian Influence Operations – “Damn, they suck”

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