Putin’s Fake News offensive against the West has generated resistance – but not in Washington
Last week I was in Prague, participating in the STRATCOM 2017 summit – and it was a week very well spent. Sponsored by the European Values think-tank, a top-notch Czech NGO devoted to defending liberal democracies, it brought together 330 experts from 29 countries to discuss the threat to all our societies presented by Russian propaganda and disinformation.
Fittingly hosted in Prague, which as I recently explained has a serious problem with Kremlin espionage and subversion, STRATCOM 2017 is unique in its size and scope, bringing together a diverse group of security practitioners, politicians, think-tankers, journalists, and related experts from across the Western world. In Prague, the meet and speak frankly under Chatham House rules, sharing ideas and best practices. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else – and certainly nothing remotely comparable in the United States.
That’s because America is several years behind Europe in grappling with the corrosive effects of Kremlin-pushed Fake News on our societies. As the summit made abundantly clear, this is a necessary fight if we want to protect Western democracy and civil society from Vladimir Putin’s disinformation machine and his helpers in our midst. However, it’s painful to admit that Washington really isn’t in this fight at all, more than three years after Putin seized Crimea, invaded Ukraine, and initiated Cold War 2.0. This, notwithstanding that Kremlin lies in recent years have played a noxious role in misshaping American politics and elections.
It’s worthwhile looking at what is going on elsewhere before we castigate our own government. At the national level, several European countries have established units to examine Russian Active Measures, to use the proper Chekist term; in some cases, they are engaged in counterpropaganda, debunking noxious lies emanating from Moscow which aim to dissolve the bonds of democratic societies. Having just witnessed France’s successful effort to defeat Russian spy-games designed to manipulate their presidential election, European eyes have now turned to Germany, which has national elections in September. Whether Berlin will be as adept as Paris at blunting Putin’s lie machine remains an open and very important question.
Read the rest at The Observer …