Pentagon Study Finds That Russia Is Beating U.S. In Race For Global Influence

Kremlin.ru/CC BY 4.0

JakeThomas

The United States has "a narrative problem," one expert wrote, while "Russia does not."

Russia is outpacing the United States with its global influence campaign, according to a Pentagon white paper released in June, and it is largely due to the hyperpolarization at home.

The assessment, a more than 150-page document prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and shared with Politico earlier this year, pointed to Russia’s ongoing and increasingly sophisticated disinformation campaign in numerous countries — including the U.S. — and a strengthening relationship with Moscow and Beijing as evidence that America has reason to worry.

Though the study did not criticize President Donald Trump directly, Politico reported that it echoes bipartisan criticism of the president’s approach to Russia, including his deference to Russian President Vladimir Putin and antagonistic stance toward the U.S. intelligence community.

The report warned that the U.S. must step up its game, recommending “that the State Department spearhead more aggressive ‘influence operations,’ including sowing divisions between Russia and China.”

Failure to adequately address the situation could ultimately result in armed conflict, the report said.

"In this environment, economic competition, influence campaigns, paramilitary actions, cyber intrusions, and political warfare will likely become more prevalent," wrote Navy Rear Adm. Jeffrey Czerewko, the Joint Chiefs' deputy director for global operations. "Such confrontations increase the risk of misperception and miscalculation, between powers with significant military strength, which may then increase the risk of armed conflict."

Speaking with Politico, Natalia Arno, president of the Free Russia Foundation, “an anti-Putin Washington think tank that recently completed its own study of Russian efforts to undermine the West,” said people likely do not realize how “shrewd and strategically discreet” Putin’s attacks on the West have become.

“The attacks may seem more subtle and craftier, but they are every bit as destructive as governments are influenced, laws are changed, legal decisions are undermined, law enforcement is thwarted and military intervention is disguised,” she said.

At the heart of a lax American response to this growing threat is discontinuity at home, according to the report.

Anna Borshchevskaya, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who contributed to the report, said, “We still have a story to tell but because we are so polarized and are doubting ourselves we have a narrative problem. Russia does not.”

Read the full report.

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