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Make no mistake: It’s the 21st century Great Powers War

Fortunately, it’s not a shooting war. But, nevertheless a very dangerous, destructive Information War.

Disturbing as it is, “CYBERWAR INC.”,The New York Times depiction of national vulnerability to disruption, represents but half of the threat Russia now represents in the incipient Information War.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has laid it out for Congress and the public.

“The Russians are bent on establishing both a presence in the Western hemisphere and they’re looking for opportunities to expand military cooperation, sell equipment, air bases, as well as intelligence gathering facilities. So it’s just another extension of their aggressiveness in expanding those interests.”

(For a more detailed analysis of Russian geopolitical strategy see U.S. former ambassador to Russia William J. Burns’ New York Times commentary, “How We Fool Ourselves on Russia“)

Referring to the findings of 17 U.S. security agencies, Clapper said, “I don’t think we ever encountered a more aggressive or direct campaign to interfere with our election process than we’ve seen in this case. The hacking was one part of it but it also included classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”

To begin to address that half of the Information War, Clapper recommended that a new “U.S. Information Agency [is needed] to fight this information war a lot more aggressively than we are doing right now.”

In reporting on Director Clapper’s testimony to the Senate Armed Service Committee, The Times noted that, “During the Cold War, the United States fought a war of information (and disinformation) against Communism. The lead agency of that war was the United States Information Agency (USIA), the propaganda arm of the US government, which was dissolved in 1999.”

(A relevant note about the word “propaganda”: In his commentary, “Strategic Communications or Democratic Propaganda”, Philip M. Taylor has written, “…  the semantic origins of the word originat[ed] in the seventeenth century from the Vatican’s Congregation for the dissemination of the true faith – with the operating word being ‘faith’… It was recognized that, when certain value systems came under attack … they needed to be defended and that should be done by a reaffirmation of the values being challenged.” [Emphasis added.]

Of course, over the centuries “propaganda” has evolved to have a very negative connotation.)

The Times article also recounted the famous comment  by legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow, when as head of the USIA in 1962, he said: “I don’t mind being called a propagandist, so long as that propaganda is based on truth.”

Truth: With constant repetition, it would be the foundation for a USIA that James Clapper has identified as the needed existential U.S. element in the Information War.