Welcome to the second lesson under the heading’InfoWars’. In the first lesson we considered the methods of communist subversion used by the former USSR. It is now widely alleged that the Russian government is directing a vast propaganda/subversion effort against the West. Is this true?
Rand Corp provides a summary of alleged Russian active measures/information war activities. In summary Rand Corp make two allegations. Firstly that Russia seeks to package messaging to target audiences in a way that appears to each target audience to be plausible by containing within the narrative statements that are true, statements that are half true, and false statements. Secondly, that the truth is simply drowned out by a ‘fire hose of falsehood’ that rapidly saturates the media with a Kremlin narrative then moves on before fact checking can catch up.
The Guardian contains a highly readable examination of the Russian psychological warfare concept. Other sources investigating Russian psychological operations and calling for various responses include:
Are these measures a continuation of the same tactics of Cold War subversion practiced previously? Russia has clearly opened up an alternative informational space and has packaged a certain amount of messaging for Western audiences. This is an operation aimed at influencing Western opinion in ways favourable to Russian objectives. As discussed in the ‘fake news’ lessons, those objectives may in fact be beneficial to Western and non-western peoples, however they are contrary to the actual foreign policy objectives of Western elite, few of whom have been elected to office.
3P Training has found no evidence that Russia is attempting to bring target societies in the West to a state of demoralisation. Rather, the seeds sown by Communist activists and Marxist sympathisers in the 30 years from roughly 1960 to 1990 have now born fruit. While the USSR no longer exists, cultural Marxism is self-replicating in the West. The policies of cultural Marxism have advanced gradually and over time but still more rapidly than the society has been conditioned to acceot them. This has created a societal schism in the West and brought about a state of conflict with potential for societal demoralisation in the sense in which the KGB understood it. Ironically, Russia, which understands cultural Marxism very well, largely sees it as a threat. The response of the current government has been to adopt within its boundaries and cultural sphere those policies for preventing demoralisation advocated by former KGB agent Mr Brezmenov – a forceful rejection of cultural Marxist ‘rights’ ideology including state regulation of foreign NGOs, adoption of a patriotic state/civic ideology, and a return to religious and traditional values. Russia clearly does not want a return of its primary Cold War export. Indeed, in the 1990’s rushed privatisation brought Russia to a state of demoralisation and crisis. It was that crisis that allowed Putin to come to power and stabilise Russia.
President Putin openly promotes Russia’s civic response to demoralisation as a model for Europe to adopt, and supports political parties and civil organisations in Russia and overseas that share those values. To the cynic this is an attempt to divide and destabilise Europe; but it may also be an attempt to save it. Whatever the case, Russia maintains its ‘active measures’ as a tool of national defence. It may be that the pragmatic objectives of active measures remain unchanged:
- Cause the West to adopt policies that weakened it militarily, politically and economically
- Pull developing/non-aligned countries into the Soviet orbit and away from the Western one
- Make the Russia appear strong and attractive to its own populations and potential supporters while making the West appear weak and unattractive
- Hide the true cost of Russian military intervention