Our friends in Moscow call it ‘dezinformatsiya.’ Our enemies in America call it ‘active measures,’ and I, dear friends, call it ‘my favorite pastime.’
—Col. Rolf Wagenbreth, director of Department X (disinformation) of East German foreign intelligence
This past week I have been studying about past information warfare strategies on the CIA website, especially those from the Cold War. It is very interesting to me as I have worked in what we call in the US, Information Operations, but I really hadn’t understood how focused the Soviets were on the weaponization of disinformation. It is really quite cunning.
In the whole field of disinformation warfare, there are seven principles that the Soviets used as a basis for their operations.
- Identify social, cultural, economic, and political rifts in a society that can be used to heighten and exacerbate conflict.
- Create propaganda, such as a false story or several contradictory false stories.
- Anchor the propaganda in elements of truth.
- Disguise the origin of the propaganda.
- Find and exploit “unwitting servants of seemingly good causes for their own ends” to propagate the lies.
- Deny everything.
- Prioritize long-term strategic progress over short-term victories.
It’s important to realize that this list is not a precise recipe, but more like principles that guide an iterative design process. Perhaps this can be illustrated by means of a fable.
Take a close look at these 7 elements and see if they look familiar to another enemy’s strategy. Forewarned is forearmed! We can never let down our guard. The information that flows into our homes and businesses at a staggering speed is just a part of the equation. If we are not careful our own biases and prejudices will allow us to be duped and we will then become a part of the problem and not a part of the solution.
The past three weeks the More than Meets the Eye Weekly have been about the proliferation of information warfare in our nations and states. You will want to go back and read the previous weeks editions as I wrap up this series this week with part 4. If you do not yet have a subscription go to www.morethanmeets.co and get your subscription now!