Responding to Russia’s Information Warfare

Mark Galeotti is a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague. He has penned an interesting New York Times op-ed on responding to Russia’s information warfare. He also actively tweets and blogs at In Moscow’s Shadows.

 

In his NYT op-ed Dr Galeotti has several suggestions for his readers. First, strengthen cybersecurity including for targets such as domestic media outlets and political parties. Second, educate the public about disinformation and propaganda, such as how to critically evaluate media and news sources. Third, use multilateral agreements to target Russia’s finances. Fourth, use economic statecraft measures such as asset freezes and sanctions. Fifth, strengthen and uphold collective security treaties. Sixth, target Vladimir Putin’s psychological vulnerabilities such as his fear of failure.

 

These suggested policy actions reflect an on-going debate in international relations circles. University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer has advanced an offensive realist approach: (1) the international system is anarchical; (2) great powers seek asymmetric military strength over other nation-states; and (3) great powers in a defensive stance will use alliances and other means as buck passing to prevent the emergence of threatening rivals and competitors.

 

Dr Galleotti’s suggestions reflect a liberal internationalist approach that differs from Mearsheimer’s offensive realism. The domestic populace is educated and key institutions are secured from other great powers who seek to influence them. Alliances and treaties that impose a rules-based liberal order on the anarchical international system are prioritised and strengthened. Foreign policy is broadened from diplomatic and military responses to include cybersecurity, economic, and sociological dimensions. As part of this policy shift, insights from political psychology are used to understand foreign leaders, politico-military institutions, and the decision elites who mobilise them.

 

At the end of his NYT op-ed Dr Galeotti observes:

 

All of this requires a new mind-set. It means accepting that Russia has chosen to be at war with us – albeit a special and limited war. Russia needs to be treated as a political combatant.

 

Understanding limited, special warfare that has economic, psychological, and sociological dimensions does need new thinking. This is the shadowy realm of disinformation, information warfare, propaganda, and psychological operations. These are areas that Russia has sophisticated conceptual / theoretical and applied expertise in. The United States and its allies need to gain a similar level of knowledge. Policymakers need to better appreciate what living in a possible multipolar world (rather than a neoconservative ‘unipolar moment’) is like. Other great powers and strategic actors (such as those in Adam Segal’s recent book The Hacked World Order) do not necessarily have a liberal internationalist worldview.

 

Dr Galeotti’s policy advice is a first step. More can be done.

Personal Goals for 2015

Some personal goals for 2015:

 

1. Complete a full PhD draft (two chapters plus rewrites). Model the rewrites on the chapter / structure / paragraph format used for the Princeton Studies in International History and Politics and using the methodology insights of the Cambridge Series in Political Science Research Methods. Submit PhD-related presentation proposals to International Studies Association for possible inclusion in the 2016 annual convention.

 

2. Develop an Academic Moneyball framework (one page) for business development / contract management / research management activities. Draw on asset management, hedge fund, private equity, and value creation domains – for active management – in order to develop the Academic Moneyball framework. Note relevant insights in one paragraph (the Aramchek model) from Russia’s Putin regime on leadership and value appropriation in bureaucracies that also face volatility from international capital markets (some potential background reading: Putin vs. Putin; Putin’s KleptocracyHow Russia Really WorksThe Social Construction of Russia’s Resurgence; The Man Without A Face, and Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible). Distill into a rolling 100-day action plan (one page) and work breakdown structure (Work Breakdown Structures: The Foundation for Project Management Excellence).

 

3. Continue to keep a reflective diary on trading systems development. Develop one-page algorithm pseudo-code for momentum, trend-following, and value-based strategies – decomposed from the relevant academic research and practitioner literature – with awareness of stream-based processing methods (Fundamentals of Stream Processing).

 

4. Complete a personal program of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and attend a Mindfulness meditation group.

ISA 2014: The Social Construction of Russia’s Resurgence

The Social Construction of Russia's Resurgence (2009)
The Social Construction of Russia’s Resurgence (2009)

I missed the Saturday sale of political science publishers at ISA 2014.

 

One of the books on my post-conference reading list is Anne L. Clunan‘s book The Construction of Russia’s Resurgence (John Hopkins University Press, 2009). Jack Snyder‘s original paper for RAND in 1977 focused on Soviet strategic culture and the socialisation of politico-military elites during nuclear detente negotiations (PDF). Clunan’s book looks like a useful social construction approach to contemporary issues of leadership and national image that Snyder, Colin S. Gray, Ken Booth and others explored in the first generation of strategic culture scholarship.