SOVIET ACTIVE MEASURES REBORN FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
Perkins, Alexander M.
Halladay, Carolyn C.
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Americans were largely surprised when the intelligence community revealed that Russia had launched a widespread influence operation focused on the 2016 U.S. presidential election. With their high-tech, social-media focus, these practices struck many as a newly implemented tactic against the United States. However, throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed and deployed influence operations—then called "active measures"—against the United States and its allies. During the last decade of the Cold War, the United States actively and systematically combatted this threat. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, active measures seemed to fade into history as well. This thesis argues that Russia has reincarnated this Cold War relic and is using active measures throughout the world to advance its strategic interests, especially in its post-Soviet space. Russia is utilizing 21st-century technology to gain access to Western populations and sow discord, distrust, and disorder. Thus, this thesis examines the Soviet-era active measures, the U.S. Cold War countermeasures, and Russian active measures today to make recommendations on ways to counter this form of malevolent influence. This thesis finds that the United States should organize purposefully and consistently to counter Russian active measures, educate the American public to increase its resiliency against foreign influence, and intensify its strategic public diplomacy efforts throughout Europe.
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