How will the modern threat environment change as nations compete for hearts and minds through new information vectors?
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Cyber Security Connect’s sister brand, Defence Connect.
Almost every modern analysis of information operations cites the Sun Tzu line “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” And rightly so.
In the purest sense, the objective of all information operations is the same – to subtly nudge and influence the decisions of an enemy state, opening a means to achieve favourable political outcomes.
Very Clausewitzian. Some things never change.
Whether it is Russia’s FSB inciting chaos within enemy states through the Gerasimov Doctrine, China’s Three Warfares or the US’ exploitation of NGOs to disseminate approved information – state apparatuses are gaining security at the expense of other states. In the world of information campaigns, it would seem as though Morgenthau was right all along.
A historical analysis of such campaigns would lead analysts to think that influence is a “choose your own adventure” story, limited only to one’s imagination. It is true.
Take the anti-Hukbalahap counterinsurgency in the Philippines as an example. Military units would pretend to be vampires to scare the insurgents from withdrawing into the jungles, and also pretended to watch members of the underground – all to make them not want to fight anymore.