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Weaponizing Information:
Propaganda Warfare in the 21st Century

Sidney E. Dean, Editor


Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly
Volume XVI, Nr. 1 (January 2016)


Influencing popular opinion has always been a vital element of international politics and of warfare. The recent revolution in communications technology has taken 21st Century propaganda warfare into a new dimension. It has also leveled the playing field to the point that a small organization or even one skilled communicator can disseminate a message around the world within minutes. The snowball-potential offered by social media means that one film clip or blog post can be forwarded to millions of people within days. Traditional media outlets tendency to monitor the net further increases the potential exposure for propaganda messages. The more outrageous or threatening the message, the more likely it will be viewed.

The internet’s potential as a propaganda tool was quickly recognized by groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS, groups which recruited technology- and media-savvy specialists to churn out e-zines, blog posts, twitter campaigns, and eye-popping violent videos. Meanwhile Vladimir Putin’s nationalist Russia has revived disinformation as a foreign policy tool, seeking to convince Europeans and Americans that, “objectively,” Putin is pursuing legitimate national aims. And once western governments are playing catch-up in their struggle to discredit adversarial propaganda.

This volume brings together fifteen subject experts who discuss the phenomenon of (Dis-)Information Age Warfare, analyze the Russian and Islamist propaganda machines, introduce the civilian and military counter-efforts currently conducted by the United States, and propose additional strategies for countering the flow of propaganda.