The war for hearts and minds among the great powers is at least as important as conflict fought with conventional weapons. Its most recent incarnation is the hybrid propaganda wa, levied by Moscow against the West. This is a sophisticated, well-funded and multi-pronged attempt to bring domestic publics in the West around to the Russian regime’s viewpoint. Its reach is sometimes easy to see, as in the popularity of the Russian NT network (available in most US hotels for free), and, at other times, much harder, such as when clandestinely paid anchors pose as experts and journalists. In this course, we will study wars of information in a historical perspective.
A memorable quote outlines some the issues at stake:
„Vladimir Putin has a secret army. It’s an army of thousands of “trolls,” TV anchors and others who work day and night spreading anti-American propaganda on the Internet, airwaves and newspapers throughout Russia and the world. Mr. Putin uses these misinformation warriors to destabilize his neighbors and control parts of Ukraine. This force may be more dangerous than any military, because no artillery can stop their lies from spreading and undermining U.S. security interests in Europe.“
In this class, we use theories of international relations, public opinion formation, and psychology to identify the conditions under which strategic misinformation originating in a foreign state is most effective. We also identify a set of plausible counter-strategies.