our Western civilization is currently under attack. Not only by state sponsored hackers who are penetrating our IT systems in order to steal any information which can be used in any form to weaken our society as a whole and our political system in particular. The objective of enemy (yes EZR doesn't mince words) activity is to find a way of getting around the vast advantage NATO still has when it comes to numbers and quality of its military assets (land, sea and air forces). So the enemy attacks instead the brains of those who make decisions in the West, because they deem us all to be decadent, mentally weak and lacking determination to withstand them. Also they know pretty well that their economic resources aren't sufficient for a real, long lasting confrontation with the West, if they don't want to repeat the catastrophes of the past which resulted in hunger, despair and decay of their own society.
They assumed by launching a massive disinformation campaign accompanied with other 'measures' such as actively stealing a lot of information which can be used to blackmail people or to recruit people or in any other way the might think it'll be useful to their effort to undermine the West. It can be described as 'informational warfare' and indeed the sudden change back to tactics used during the Cold War, when NATO had sufficient counter measures and matched those efforts by sending the truth behind the iron curtain, surprised many of the common people as well as politicians in the West who almost all forgot about those tools of undermining societies. Since it all started again many months have passed and although there are still some people not realizing what is going on, many had their sudden awakening when it became clear that the Kremlin interfered in the US presidential election of 2016 in order to support the candidate they deemed more useful to their purposes.
Although many mistakes have been made in the very beginning of this attack on our democracies and freedom by turning a blind eye by thinking: 'why bother, we are strong enough to withstand this', the FBI investigation in this part of the enemy's efforts to undermine NATO has started and will uncover what needs to be uncovered. Besides finding those who are responsible for those kinds of attacks on our freedom by influencing our perception of bad people, who would like to make us believe that they are the good guys, it's most important that we now fill the 'void in the brains' of all those designated targets of their propaganda efforts. For almost a quarter of a century (almost) no one bothered anymore about knowing the facts of the Cold War and people were just too happy to forget about this prolonged period of confrontation between East and West, between capitalism and communism, between freedom and a regime of oppression led by people obsessed by power and even some people whose personal pleasure it was to commit mass atrocities.
"The words of president Eisenhower sum up the situation: people believe lies only when they have no opportunity to hear the truth. The communist have isolated their people to keep them from ever hearing the truth, to create a vacuum in their minds which will absorb lies because there is nothing else to seize upon. The only way to frustrate this evil manipulation of human minds an emotions is to supply the truth, which gives the oppressed people a measuring stick to lay against each lie that is told to them..."
Eagle Cage: Czech - German Border (1960) transcript starts at ca 5 mins 40 secs
Not only the general public became unaware of the dangers of hostile propaganda and efforts to undermine our western societies,but also many journalists who are now employed by e.g. TV networks have to relearn basic skills when it comes to detect and counter hostile efforts to confuse the public by using disinformation. First of all such efforts have to be detected and then countered by most accurate reporting of the genuine facts in order to rectify the already distorted picture. Journalists and the public have to catch up the facts rather quickly and the best way to learn fast is to ask real experts for their expertise. They can give real and factual insights, not skewed information which is spread in order to achieve a certain goal. Some of those experts who spent their whole academic career on gathering information on certain issues, which are suddenly important again, are angered about some journalists and half-witted people who are claiming to counter hostile propaganda by not 100% accurate information. Often those who tell a story can't admit that they spread their personal opinion rather than pure facts which they obtained by e.g. studying books or at least some articles written by experts on the particular matter before they inform their audience.
The experts who are angry, because they have to hear not entirely accurate 'facts' or even pure nonsense, are justified when they claim to be on the air instead in order to inform the audience correctly. It's important now, because those intentional efforts by extreme left wing and right wing groups and hostile governments have all one thing in common: to spread 'fake news'. In order to build a quick resilience against such attacks on our way of life it is however questionable to demand that all people have to visit libraries, read lots of books or hear a lot of experts giving a lot of facts, but also expressing a lot of opinions on TV. It's a difference when a professor teaches his students who have to spend years studying a subject such as the North Korean nuclear program or the methods used by the Kremlin during the Cold War because they want to graduate and giving the general public a 'quick & dirty', but accurate summary of the issues taught in university. The educational background of the TV audience who might watch or consume TV network news perhaps all day may be completely different from those people who are used to read non-fictional books since their youth and who want to get a university degree. It's justified to criticize that many common people are sports fanatics and know all the scores of baseball, basketball and football teams and/or individual players, but know almost nothing about foreign policy matters, but that's the way it is right now and in order to enable those people to understand a little bit of foreign policy one has to use tools which are suited for beginners. It should also be an 'appetizer' for those who want to learn more and perhaps are willing to take classes, visit libraries or are willing to buy books written by experts, but in the beginning people need to know the basic stuff presented in way that they don't get bored.
Although it's perfectly alright to express ones anger about a lot of nonsense or at least not entirely accurate information on air or in articles, it is better to inform the public about where they have to look for best freely available information. Just saying: "go use Google, because everything you need can be found on the internet" can and almost certainly will lead to counter productive results. People could enter the wrong search expressions in their preferred search tool or - even worse - those groups who want to distort the public information sphere are using tricks to rank first their conspiracies, propaganda and disinformation first in the search results. Often those actors pay a lot of people who work 24/7 to achieve those goals and so it's much better to provide the public with links, which lead those who really seek proper info to the right and reliable information instead. If the expert has been an author on a topic it would perhaps a good idea to publish a short summary or excerpts of his/her book(s) on the internet. If he or she has spoken on the radio, a TV channel or published audio/video elsewhere it's also a good idea to mention this on a 'table of subject related guidance' which offers links to those recorded statements, summaries, articles and books.
As published earlier in another blog entry, the commercial interests of publishers and authors have to be respected, but when the society is in danger of losing an important 'information battle' with groups or foreign powers which intend to inflict 'informational damage' organizations like NATO should think about providing certain funds to compensate the commercial stakeholders of publications for making their work freely available for the general public. What's the use of having the required knowledge for countering disinformation locked up behind a paywall or some expensive books. Since the attention span of many people isn't high enough to read entire books anyway one should also think about offering perhaps previously non-existing audio versions or simplified text versions of the precious books in question. Reporters affiliated with large publishers, TV networks, media corporations in general should think about sending their staff to training courses to be offered by some of the top experts of foreign policy, defense, Cold War history, etc.