Securing Democracy Dispatch

January 3, 2018

Our Take

Happy New Year! Our regular edition of Securing Democracy Dispatch will return on January 8, but we wanted to share a few items from our team in the meantime in case you missed them over the holidays.

In Democracy Journal, Laura Rosenberger, director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, and Jamie Fly, director of GMF’s Future of Geopolitics initiative and Asia Program, write in their article entitled “Shredding the Putin Playbook” that “Putin uses a comprehensive toolkit — combining information operations, cyberattacks, malign financial influence, strategic economic coercion, and support for extremist parties and groups that act in combination with one another,” arguing that while Putin’s “active measures” are not new, he “has recommissioned these tactics and … weaponized new technological tools — tools intended by their creators to serve as empowering forces — to supercharge the attack on democratic institutions.” They stress that we need “a new playbook that cuts across bureaucratic stovepipes, employed by Americans of all political stripes alongside European partners and allies, and by governments, the private sector, and civil society … to secure democracy against attempts by foreign adversaries to undermine it.” (Democracy Journal)

In The Washington Post, Alliance for Securing Democracy Advisory Council members Michael Morell and Mike Rogers find that while there is a perception that Russia has stopped its social media meddling in the United States, Russia’s disinformation operations continue to this day. Morell and Rogers implore bipartisan recognition of the issue, stating “This should alarm everyone — Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike. Foreign governments, overtly or covertly, should not be allowed to play with our democracy.” Calling for greater deterrence against Russia and other actors who are adopting Russia’s playbook, they believe “True deterrence requires policies that prevent adversaries from achieving their objectives while imposing significant costs on their regimes. So far, we have done neither.” (The Washington Post)

Michael Morell, in an appearance on CBS This Morning, stated that while Russian meddling is not “inevitable” we need to do more to deter Russia’s behavior. Morell finds “There are many things we can do about this,” including passing “the legislation that’s been proposed that puts the same rules on political messaging on social media that we have on TV, radio, and print,” and doing “a better job imposing costs on Vladimir Putin and Russia to make Putin think twice about continuing to do this.” Unfortunately, Morell states, “We’re just not doing them.” (CBS)

Laura Rosenberger appeared on PBS Newshour December 26, 2017 to discuss Russia’s influence operations in the United States. Highlighting the themes tracked by the Alliance’s Hamilton 68 dashboard, Rosenberger stressed that Russian disinformation campaigns in the United States do not seek to support a particular party, but rather attempt to “turn Americans against one another, playing on existing divisions in our society” in order to “undermine the fabric of our democracy by pulling us apart at the seams;” stating, “I think it’s really important that we think about this in terms of how it’s actually trying to attack our democracy … could be turned against any politician at any point in time when the Russians deem … that it’s useful for them to attack that person.” (PBS Newshour)

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.