Life in the Obama White House 12/7

 

A Fireside Chat with President Obama’s Director of Global Engagement

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Brett Bruen is a former U.S. Diplomat who served as Director of Global Engagement at the White House.  Brett is a specialist in using strategic communications to influence the course of crisis and conflict. Bruen created some of the government’s most innovative international programs for reaching new audiences around the world.  Brett also unified public and private entrepreneurship programs for the first time under one banner, as part of President Obama’s Spark Global Entrepreneurship initiative. Bruen served in the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea, Iraq, Venezuela, Argentina, Zambia, and Eritrea. He serves as an adjunct faculty member of the Federal Executive Institute, where he trains senior U.S. Government leaders on strategy and world affairs. Bruen is Founder and President of GSR, with a vision to democratize internationalization and give every business and organization the tools to navigate in foreign markets. 

Date: 12/07/2017 (Thu.)

Time: 6:00pm – 6:45pm EST

Location: FDR Suite, B-17, Adams House

RSVP: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e44aead29a4fa7-life

 

Russia’s Neighbors Respond to Putin’s ‘Hybrid War’

[Excerpted from FOREIGN POLICY, read full article here: Russia’s Neighbors Respond to Putin’s ‘Hybrid War’]

RIGA, Latvia — On Aug. 30, the western Latvian region of Kurzeme suddenly lost cellular service for seven hours, an unusual event in the tech-savvy Baltic nation.

Though the Latvian government has yet to say just what caused the disruption, the country’s intelligence services announced last week that they are investigating if the unusual loss of service resulted from a Russian electronic attack; a Russian ship equipped for electronic warfare was reportedly just offshore at the time….

Latvia’s concern is a reflection of the growing array of hybrid war capabilities in Russia’s arsenal — from the use of disinformation and propaganda to sow internal discord within a country, to crippling cyberattacks, to old-fashioned military power. Those capabilities have been honed in recent years in the Russian campaigns in Ukraine and Syria. But the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and their Nordic neighbors, have increasingly become a testing ground….

Across the Baltic Sea, Finland has also been moving quickly to fortify itself against both old threats and new ones.

Helsinki is spending heavily on defense, maintains a large conscript army of 280,000 soldiers, and has a growing array of civil defense initiatives. But Helsinki is also beefing up resources outside the barracks, launching a public diplomacy program to train government employees about what disinformation is and how fake news goes viral. The Nordic country has also looked to boost its already close ties with NATO, opening an EU and NATO-linked center in Helsinki in early October dedicated to researching how governments can push back against information warfare.A shooting war is probably unlikely — “it would mean World War III,” Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told journalists last week — but a quiet one is already underway. In addition to a flood of fake news, including stories designed to inflame ethnic tensions, pro-Russian activists have targeted and harassed a Finnish journalist who was investigating the activities of troll farms in Finland. (Russian internet trolls routinely spread disinformation and amplify societal divides, in Europe as in the United States.)

So far, Finland has proven more resistant than most to the information onslaught….

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE AT FOREIGN POLICY:

Russia’s Neighbors Respond to Putin’s ‘Hybrid War’

The U.S. Struggles against Russian Cyber Disinformation

As the Kremlin wages an unyielding disinformation campaign against the United States and its European allies, Washington is still reeling from Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election and only just beginning efforts aimed at tackling this major national security threat.

Almost a year after election day, there are some signs of life in U.S.-led efforts to counter disinformation. While allies across the Atlantic have long faced off against this Russian weapon, the 2016 presidential election — filled with revelations about the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack, use of Facebook advertisements, and Russian troll armies on social media — opened the eyes of many in Washington to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s preferred tactics.

“When we look at the U.S. election, the size and the risk appetite was probably something that was of surprise — but as far as the methods and interest to actually attempt to sway the opinions, that is nothing new, at least in Europe,” Jānis Sārts, director at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, told The Cipher Brief.

By using “fake news,” social media manipulation and amplification through bots, targeted advertising, weaponized stolen information, and other information warfare tactics, Russia has sought to sow discord, exploit societal divisions, and make an impact on the U.S. political scene….

[Read the rest of Mackenzie Weinger’s article at “The Cipher Brief”: https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/international/u-s-struggles-russian-cyber-disinformation]

The Harvard Cubans: Film Screening and Q&A with Director

Our friends at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies invite Harvard undergraduates and friends of the FDR Foundation to  Monday’s screening of the documentary film The Harvard Cubans (Los cubanos de Harvard), produced by the Cuba Studies Program at DRCLAS/Harvard. The film covers the Cuban Teachers’ Expedition in 1900, when 1,273 Cuban schoolteachers attended Harvard Summer School in the largest people-to-people exchange between the two countries, at the time or since.
As background, here is an interesting article from the magazine OnCuba about the Expedition and the documentary (also available in Spanish). FDR arrived at Harvard around the same time as the Cuban teachers, while cousin Teddy and other Harvardians played key roles (both pro and con) in the Spanish-American War which led to the Expedition.
David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies
October 23, 2017 | 6:00pm | CGIS S-010*

In the year 1900, more than half of all Cuban public school teachers from across the island boarded five American military ships to travel to Cambridge to participate in a Summer School organized by Harvard, the largest such endeavor ever undertaken by the University. The Cuba Studies Program sponsored the making of a documentary film about the expedition. Visit our website for the full synopsis.

Following the premiere screening of the film, a question-and-answer session will be held with director Danny González Lucena and historian Dr. Marial Iglesias Utset, Visiting Research Scholar at the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at Harvard. Please note the 72-minute film is in Spanish with English subtitles. Reception to follow.

About the director: Danny González Lucena is a journalism graduate of the University of Havana. He currently works as a cultural journalist on Cuban television, where he specializes in music. He has also been involved in issues related to heritage conservation and folk traditions, with several international special reports. His work as a filmmaker includes the titles: Por qué luchamos (2011), dedicated to the life and work of the Saíz brothers; La Perla de Oriente (2016), which investigates little-known aspects of Guantanamo musician Lilí Martínez; and Los cubanos de Harvard (The Harvard Cubans) (2017).