Containment 2.0: U.S. political warfare
Alexander, Nicole M.
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Contemporary Russia has shown an increasing preference for using Cold War–era political warfare techniques, which are deeply rooted in its doctrine and foreign policies. To date, the U.S. response comprises the conventional military aspects of the Cold War–era deterrence and containment rather than political warfare strategies. Exploring previous U.S. experience in political warfare activities—under the broad categories of strategic influence, support to political, social, and counter-government groups, and special warfare—provides insight into determining a contemporary political warfare strategy. This thesis tests three hypotheses regarding U.S. political warfare experience during the Cold War. The exploration of these hypotheses shows that a strategic influence narrative centered on a full and fair strategy may produce better results rather than one centered on delegitimizing the enemy. Additionally, it was found that the United States should continue to support political, social, and counter-government groups, but should also take into consideration the type of support being provided while ensuring the group already has certain characteristics and enjoys public support. Finally, Cold War experience indicates that special warfare has the capacity to support and synchronize interagency political warfare activities. This analysis illuminates a path forward for a comprehensive political warfare policy to counter a reinvigorated Russian political warfare strategy.
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