Foreign Interference in Elections: Advice for 2018 (from Denmark)

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, after fourteen months evaluating the Intelligence Community’s work on Kremlin interference in the American election, announced on May 16 that the foreign effort was “extensive” and “unprecedented.” Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), the Committee’s Vice Chairman concluded that “one thing is already abundantly clear – we have to do a better job in the future if we want to protect our elections from foreign interference.”

How does one go about doing that? In an effort to find out, we interviewed officials and academics from eleven countries, asking them how they go about defending their elections, what the U.S. should learn from them, and what keeps them up at night. Country by country, we’re going to share their advice here at FDRfoundation.org. Up first: Denmark!

It turns out the Danes were already paying attention to us. “The real wake-up call for Denmark was in 2016, when we saw the coordinated Russian influence campaign that targeted the US election, Jesper Møller Sørensen, Political Director at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained. “This was an example of the whole Russian toolbox of active measures which we need to counter with democratic means.”

The Danes, like many others, suggested a focus on education and coordination. Helping the general public understand that sometimes “fake news” is actually fake news is key. “In the end,” said Sørensen, “psychological resilience comes down to education.” “In our view an important part of education is also making public the ways influence campaigns are conducted and engage openly in these debates.”

Unfortunately, the U.S. (for now) lacks the Dane’s superpower: trust in institutions. “We have a well-educated and informed population, Sørensen noted, “but the greatest strength the Danes possess is the high amount of trust toward our government and institutions in general. This makes it harder to sow distrust and polarize debates.” Distrustful and polarized nations, like America, are easier to manipulate with disinformation.

Another Danish superpower is their ability to coordinate with friendly neighbors. “Close cooperation with like-minded countries is crucial to exchange experiences about the threat, said Sørensen, “we are engaged in a well-established and extensive cooperation with the Nordic and Baltic countries on this issue.” Can America do this?

Awareness, education, coordination: advice from Denmark for defending our 2018 elections.

Who Can Save Global Democracy? 9/27

Join Professor Paul Poast of the University of Chicago to discuss his new book (written with co-author Johannes Urpelainen), Organizing Democracy: How International Institutions Assist New Democracies. Explore the challenges faced by democracies and the liberal international order today – and the surprising opportunities for “middle powers” to step up and save the world.

Adams House Lower Common Room, 5:00-6:30pm, September 27, 2018. Books will be available for purchase and signing courtesy of the Harvard Book Store. This event is open to all Harvard affiliates, including alumni. RSVP Required

“The current U.S. administration, to put it mildly, is not a big fan of NATO. The same goes for international institutions more generally. President Trump has made clear his disdain for the WTO, the UNHRC, the Paris accord, the TPP, the Iran nuclear deal, etc…. ‘The fact that dominant powers like the United States and Britain seem to be retreating from major international bodies could open a door for other countries to step in … and find other productive forms of cooperation.’”

Read more about the book at the Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage.”

RSVP here (or above)

 

Making Democracies Resilient to Modern Threats

Democratic societies, institutions, and individual citizens are facing entirely new challenges in the modern era. Today’s threats can include network-based intrusions, misinformation and ‘fake news,’ influence campaigns, and many more. These threats have the potential to disrupt economic activity and development, threaten the national security of like-minded nations, jeopardize individual privacy, and sow mistrust among citizens towards their national and collective democratic institutions.

The seminar will seek to highlight a wide range of threats that democracies face today and may face tomorrow as well as provide strategies for institutions and individuals to understand and deal with these threats. General themes presented will touch upon how to recognize disinformation and influence campaigns, media literacy and the role of media organizations and individual journalists, security in digital spaces, and positive examples of how democracies are currently countering these threats.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at 13:00-17:00
Location: Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Grand Festive Hall, Bulevardi 31, Helsinki

http://www.fulbright.fi/en/making-democracies-resilient

American Diplomacy in the Trump Era 3/7

Asking the Right Questions About U.S. International Broadcasting

Asking the Right Questions About U.S. International Broadcasting

By Matthew Wallin & Jed Willard

Published on-line in The Diplomat on June 03, 2014

[An excerpt is reprinted here, see the original source at thediplomat.com for a complete reading.]

Congress is currently examining the government’s role in international news broadcasting, but are they asking the right questions?

The House Foreign Affairs Committee recently passed a bill to reform the U.S. Government’s international broadcasting apparatus. There have been issues with America’s international broadcasting for years, and the legislation makes long needed management adjustments that will streamline processes and generally enhance the official American voice around the world. But while there are many good things in the bill, it brings to mind the open question as to why America has international broadcasters in the first place.

On one hand, public diplomacy, which includes international broadcasting, is intended to build relationships and advertise our nation’s purpose, ideals, culture, and exceptionalism. On the other hand, public diplomacy also supports, explains, and defends foreign policy in an effort to achieve specific goals.

These are both perfectly rational objectives for public diplomacy and for the nation. But do they conflict? Does the U.S. want its state broadcasters to serve as independent journalists providing objective news coverage for populations otherwise subjected to nothing but propaganda and conspiracy theories? Or does it expect its state-funded broadcasters to strictly advocate U.S policy? Are these choices mutually exclusive?

Can Voice of America be assigned, for instance, to produce – as worded in the pending legislation – “accurate, objective, and comprehensive news and related programming that is consistent with and promotes the broad foreign policies of the United States?” Or is that asking the impossible – assigning an entity to perform two potentially opposing tasks? To examine the potential complications, let us consider VOA’s assignment in depth.

Read more at thediplomat.com

Matthew Wallin is a fellow specializing in public diplomacy at the American Security Project [external link]. Jed Willard is the Director of the FDR Center for Global Engagement at Harvard College.

Ending Endless Wars: The Colombian Peace Process 2/6

[Sign up here]

On February 6, Dr. Jennifer Schirmer, Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Divinity School’s Religions and the Practice of Peace Initiative, will host a Fireside Chat in the FDR Suite.

For the last 15 years, Jennifer directed a peace-building project in Colombia, engaging multiple sectors in dialogs preparatory to a peace agreement. Jennifer is an expert on international experiences with ceasefires, disarmament, demobilization, reintegration & reconciliation – areas we feel are critical to today’s America.

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e44aead29a4fa7-thefog

12 attendees only, preference given to undergraduates – please do not sign up unless you are certain to attend. If the wishlist begins to fill we’ll find a larger venue.

Date: 02/06/2018 (Tue.)

Time: 7:00pm – 8:00pm EST

Location: FDR Suite (Adams House B-17)