Information Warfare isn’t Russian – It’s American as Apple Pie
USMA Research Unit Affiliation
Army Cyber Institute
Both pundits and the American public are still seeking to understand the information-related events that occurred during 2016 Presidential Election and probably will be for some time. However, the US Intelligence Community and many other expert organizations such as the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike have indicted Information Warfare elements subordinate to Russian President Vladimir Putin as working to both undermine American confidence in its democratic institutions and tilt the scales in favor of one candidate. Though the impact of an effective information warfare campaign may be visible more rapidly in the information age, the principles of information warfare and the political psychology and weaponized narratives that underpin it are timeless. Information warfare is not new, but developments in information technology have enabled it to deliver its payloads vaster and over a much wider network. Looking to Putin’s intelligence apparatus is not to witness the genesis of political information warfare. In fact, the United States was birthed in a stew of information, misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda projected by competing entities both internally and externally. Thus, instead of looking at the apparent success of Russian intelligence in the recent election as the perfected form of information warfare, it is worth considering colonial and revolutionary America to appreciate the historical precedent and perspective. Indeed, at one point in its history, Americans were actually quite effective at information warfare, and we can look to one artisan in particular to understand this lost art.