Paul Goble: Disinformation consists of lies with a bodyguard of truth

In a lecture informed by numerous examples drawn from current affairs in eastern Europe, IWP adjunct professor Paul Goble discussed the nature of disinformation as explored in the work of the scholar Natalie Grant Wraga. At the event, hosted by The Institute of World Politics on September 17, 2014, Professor Goble described how Mrs. Wraga developed her firsthand knowledge of Soviet deception tactics. A prolific author born in Estonia, Mrs. Wraga fled the advancing Communists as a young woman and dedicated her life to the study of the Soviet Union and that regime’s efforts to shape foreign opinions. Although considered to be one of the foremost experts on Soviet deception, none of her works remain in print today.

Professor Goble noted that Mrs. Wraga made a sharp distinction between blatant propaganda — which observers can easily discount from coloring their judgments — and disinformation. He characterized Mrs. Wraga’s description of the latter as a demonstrable lie, or lies, surrounded by both truths and statements which the audience wants to believe. By studying the preferences and biases of various audiences, a disseminator of disinformation is able to tailor messages that successfully spread falsehood without alerting the audience to the presence of any information other than what they have already judged to be factual and reliable. Mrs. Wraga’s line-by-line analysis of numerous Soviet documents, said Professor Goble, shows that most effective disinformation contains “between 90% and 99% truth.”

Furthermore, Professor Goble provided contemporary examples to suggest that the Russian Federation continues to employ carefully-targeted messages laced with deceit about Russia’s objectives and adversaries that appear to be successful in altering the perceptions of both popular and elite audiences. He called attention to the diverse languages of the nations of eastern Europe, many of which are little-understood outside their homelands, thus allowing nuanced meaning in some messages to escape broader attention. He also stressed the failure of Western scholars to appreciate how the events of 1991 are perceived differently by some in Russia compared to the interpretation held by most scholars and policymakers in the West, and called attention to the fallacy of equating “media balance” with objectivity.

In a robust and illuminating question-and-answer session, Professor Goble commented on the comparative effectiveness of various methods of mass communication, saying that the “era of short- and long-wave radio is over,” and suggesting that US concentration on social media results in failures to reach sufficiently broad audiences (he noted that satellite television appears to offer untapped potential for reaching certain audiences). He also addressed questions concerning how the United States might develop a stronger base of foreign language expertise, and how government transparency in the United States is a strength in shaping foreign perceptions.

Russia’s Stake in Ukraine

You are cordially invited to a lecture

on the topic of
Russia’s Stake in Ukraine 

with 
David Satter
Former Moscow Correspondent, the Financial Times of London
Fellow, Johns Hopkins SAIS; Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

Wednesday, October 1
2:00 PM

The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Parking Map

Register

Please contact sdwyer@iwp.edu with any questions.

This lecture is sponsored by the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies.

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David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times of London, is the author of three books on Russia and the director of a documentary film. He has followed Russian events for almost four decades. In May, 2013, he became an adviser to Radio Liberty and in September, 2013, he was accredited as a Radio Liberty correspondent in Moscow. Three months later, he was expelled from Russia becoming the first U.S. correspondent to be expelled since the Cold War.

David Satter is a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute and a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. He has also been a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He teaches a course on Russian politics and history at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced Academic Programs and has been a visiting professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

David Satter’s first book was Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union, which was published in 1996. He made a documentary film on the basis of this book which won the 2013 Van Gogh Grand Jury Prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival. In addition to Age of Delirium, David Satter has written two other books about Russia, Darkness at Dawn: the Rise of the Russian Criminal State (2003) and It Was a Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past (2011). His books have been translated into six languages.

David Satter began his career in 1972 as a police reporter for the Chicago Tribune. In 1976, he became Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times. He worked in Moscow for six years. He then became a special correspondent on Soviet affairs for The Wall Street Journal, contributing frequently to the paper’s editorial page.

David Satter continues to write on Russia and the former Soviet Union for the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. His articles and op-ed pieces have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The National Interest, National Review, CNN.com, The Daily Beast, National Review Online, The New Republic, The New York Sun, The New York Review of Books, Reader’s Digest and The Washington Times. He is frequently interviewed in both Russian and English by Radio Liberty, the Voice of America and the BBC and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, C-Span, the Charlie Rose Show and other television programs.

David Satter was born in Chicago in 1947 and graduated from the University of Chicago and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and earned a B.Litt degree in political philosophy.

Anti-Communism and Counterintelligence: Interwar Poland

You are cordially invited to a special event on the topic of

Anti-Communism and Counterintelligence: Interwar Poland

Dr. Karol Sacewicz
will discuss
A Spy Joust: Poland and Lithuania in the interwar period

Dr. Tomasz Gajownik
will discuss
The Home Army and the Soviets: Polish strategic planning, 1941-1944 

Wednesday, September 24
2:00 PM

The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Parking Map

Register

Dr.Karol Sacewicz and Dr. Tomasz Gajownik are scholars affiliated with the Department of History and International Relations at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland.

Please contact sdwyer@iwp.edu with any questions.

This lecture is sponsored by the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies.

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Al-Jazeera quotes Prof. Chodakiewicz on Russia’s nuclear missile test

Following his recent Intermarium Series lecture, “Ukraine: The Summer is Over,” Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz was interviewed on Ukraine and relations between post-Soviet Russia and the West by Yaser Alarami, the DC correspondent of Aljazeera Net. Dr. Chodakiewicz’s comments were incorporated into Mr. Alarami’s article, which was published in Arabic. Below are the questions Aljazeera Net asked Dr. Chodakiewicz about America’s position on Russia’s nuclear missile test:

  1. How do you think Washington sees this move? Is it a violation of the weapons of mass destruction agreements with Moscow?

MJC: Of course it is a violation of various agreements, as well as the international consensus. However, the White House will downplay it because to dwell too much on Putin’s brazen moves would underscore Obama’s impotence. It also shows that signing the New Start (Start III) treaty in 2010 was a serious miscalculation. So expect a little bit of noise and no consequences.

  1. Will this experiment push Washington to back off the sanctions imposed on Moscow? 

MJC: The sanctions imposed on the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine are rather symbolic. I therefore doubt that the nuclear test will impact Western sanctions. Washington understands that this is simply Moscow flexing its muscles, a part of the Great Game.

 

Please click here to read the article.

Fourth annual Kosciuszko Chair Military Lecture commemorates the Warsaw Uprising

2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the tragic Warsaw Uprising. During this great feat of martial heroism, the Polish anti-Nazi, anti-Communist underground resistance fought the German occupiers of their homeland for sixty-three days — from 1 August to 3 October 1944. Predictably, the Soviet troops on the other side of the river Vistula stood by passively; Stalin hoped to destroy the Polish resistance with Nazi claws. The Western Allies did little more than airdrop some small arms and ammunition, most of which fell into German hands. As a result, the city of Warsaw was almost entirely destroyed, and a significant element of the Polish Home Army slaughtered. In addition, the Germans and their auxiliaries massacred approximately 200,000 civilians as they suppressed the uprising.

Yet, in spite of the toll and the defeat, the Poles generally celebrate the failed Warsaw Rising. In the fourth annual Kościuszko Chair Military Lecture, Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz explained this phenomenon.

In this lecture, given on September 11, 2014 and entitled “The 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising: Why the Poles Commemorate Defeat,” Dr. Chodakiewicz offered personal experiences along with historical facts in order to indicate that Poles do not solely celebrate defeat but rather, the spirit of freedom within the context of defeat.

- Pawel Styrna and Anjani Shah

Russian news agency mischaracterizes IWP professor’s lecture

The news agency, RIA Novosti, one of the largest in post-Soviet Russia, has quoted extensively Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz’s September 10 Intermarium Series lecture on Ukraine.

Although the Kościuszko Chair is generally always happy to see its lectures quoted in the media, it must be pointed out that the RIA Novosti piece was Muscovite disinformation. The lecture was open to all, but a RIA Novosti correspondent never identified himself/herself, nor did one interview Dr. Chodakiewicz.

Even more characteristically, RIA Novosti only mentioned selected, cut-and-pasted quotes taken out of context, thereby distorting Dr. Chodakiewicz’s arguments. The Russian correspondent intentionally picked out snippets to portray the Ukrainians as incompetent and the U.S. and its NATO allies as weak, indecisive, and, in general, not serious about defending Ukraine. In reality, Dr. Chodakiewicz’s criticism focused on the ineptness of Ukraine’s top-heavy post-Soviet military brass, not the rank and file troops.

To counter the post-Soviet disinformation, we are reposting Dr. Chodakiewicz’s advice, which we encourage RIA Novosti to quote in full:

What to do?

a)   Ukraine:

  • Secure and seal the border with Russia.
  • Seek provisional dual power in the Donbas (as opposed to evacuation or invasion).
  • Invite Western monitors, civilian and military (but not peacekeepers).
  • Purge the armed forces and security of the post-Soviets.
  • Hold no elections before asserting control over the entire country.

b)  The West:

  • Establish bases in the Baltics, Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland.
  • Arm Ukraine with conventional weapons.
  • Establish and boost satellite TV programs to beam the Western message into the post- Soviet zone, in particular in Russian.
  • Counter the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign in the West.
  • Freeze (gradually and selectively) all private and public assets of Russian origin in Western banks and financial institutions.
  • Supply Poland with enriched uranium for a nuclear device (like we did for Japan in the 1960s when China was at its most belligerent).
  • Supply Europe with gas and oil from the U.S.

The full lecture can be found below.

Prof. Marek Chodakiewicz discusses the current situation in Ukraine

Having explored the crisis-riven Central and Eastern European country in July, Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz shared his observations on the situation in post-Maidan Ukraine, including the eastern Donetsk region plagued by a Russian-supported irredentist insurgency and the area of the MH17 crash site, in a lecture at The Institute of World Politics on September 10, 2014.

This lecture, entitled “Ukraine: Summer’s Over,” was part of the Intermarium Lecture Series hosted by the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies.