Global Security and Intelligence Studies is a bi-annual, peer-reviewed, open access publication designed to provide a forum for the academic community and the community of practitioners to engage in dialogue about contemporary global security and intelligence issues. The journal welcomes contributions on a broad range of intelligence and security issues, and from across the methodological and theoretical spectrum. The journal especially encourages submissions that recognize the multidisciplinary nature of intelligence and security studies, and that draw on insights from a variety of fields to advance our understanding of important current intelligence and security issues. In keeping with the desire to help bridge the gap between academics and practitioners, the journal also invites articles about current intelligence and security related matters from a practitioner perspective. In particular, GSIS is interested in publishing informed perspectives on current intelligence and security related matters.
Current Issue: Volume 5, Number 1 – Spring/Summer 2020
The Case for the Sixth Domain of War: Psychological Warfare in the Age of Advanced Technology
Bethany Vailliant and Media Ajir
Wills win wars. A country at war must have and maintain the sup- port of its people to achieve victory. Targeting will, using advanced information technology (IT), presents a new vulnerability for the United States. Literature in this field has largely ignored the psychological effects of new, cyber-enabled tools; therefore, the concept of information warfare has tended to favor primarily technical infra- structure. This oversight has caused state mismanagement of what was once carefully managed disruption by the United States. Tools and techniques have been refined to transcend effects beyond mate- rial goods, entering our minds and manipulating our behavior. The weaponization of these tools urges us to consider the sufficiency of our current framework for warfare—the five domains. This research argues that due to the disruptive change in the delivery method of information, a sixth, psychological domain should be established to properly assess and operationalize effects going forward.
Psychology as a Warfighting Domain
Sarah Soffer, Carter Matherly, and Robert Stelmack
Using psychology to gain advantage over an enemy is as old as warfare itself. Psychological warfare predates its modern moniker, and military leaders have sought to understand their enemies and influence their behavior since military leaders emerged. In this paper, the authors discuss the history of psychology as a warfighting domain, using examples from myth and antiquity as well as select periods in which the United States or other countries used psychology to engage in conflict. An exploration of Russia’s use of influence and its effect on the US highlight what conflict in the information environment looks like. The authors then briefly discuss the current state of information warfare and provide thoughts on what this will look like moving forward in an interconnected world.
Discovering Influence Operations on Twitch.tv: A Preliminary Coding Framework
Alexander Sferrella and Joseph Z. Conger
Bots are an important tool for influence actors, and greatly contribute to the complexity and breadth of influence operations (IFOs) across many platforms. Twitch.tv—the second-most popular streaming site—is one such platform. Recognizing that influence actors may expand operations within Twitch, the following study develops a framework that mines data from the Twitch platform to identify potential bots running IFOs. Stream comments from 14 Twitch channels were run through a custom Python script. We identified 69 of 128 streams, from 12 channels, as having an anomalous comment count OR comment speed. Of those streams, we identified 7,332 users as having an anomalous comment count AND comment speed. However, we could not distinguish 100 randomly selected anomalous users as bots or humans after a manual analysis. Overall, our research provides future researchers with a modular method to collect and isolate Twitch data containing bots.
A New Russian Realpolitik: Putin’s Operationalization of Psychology and Propaganda
For two decades, Vladimir Putin has held the highest levels of position and power in Russia. The leader and his collaborating elites harness an enduring Russian identity and methodically design a path for a manipulated society to eagerly regain legitimacy, respect, and relevance. This qualitative and exploratory study examines Putin and his apparatus’s efforts to unify Russian society and expand its influence through the cultivation and operationalization of specific psychological theories. Through theory triangulation, thematic coding, and analysis of relevant and current open-source material, convergence demonstrates Putin’s disciplined understanding and deliberate management of Russian identity and perception. Evidence indicates Putin’s comprehensive and synchronized approach to achieve a spectrum of policy objectives. This study challenges the traditional notion of leadership’s rational pursuit of self-interest by showcasing Putin’s operationalization of power politics, propaganda efforts, and malleable internal workings of an exclusive society for both manipulation and exploitation.
What’s Thinking Got To Do With It? The Challenge of Evaluating and Testing Critical Thinking in Potential Intelligence Analysts
Margaret S. Marangione
This paper examines the need for critical thinking skills in intelligence analysts (IA) in the twenty-first century, with the proliferation of false and misleading information, including the weaponization of information and Big Data. Additionally, it reviews concerns about the critical thinking capabilities of millennial and Gen Z IAs against the performance standards of IC Directives (ICDs) 203 and 610. The debate of how to teach and assess critical thinking skills is also considered. The methodology of evaluating critical thinking tests and the results of a critical thinking test administered to IAs is explored against the backdrop of whether testing is valid when hiring analysts.
Reflecting History: The Basis for Assessing the Future
The US Intelligence Community has grown immeasurably in the past several decades as it faces the challenges of a growing and diverse global threat environment. Additionally, in a digital age of technology and interconnectedness, intelligence often takes a techno- centric approach, where intelligence analysts focus on key technological issues, capabilities, and programs related to the threat environment. While these issues are of significant concern, it is easy to overlook some of the “soft” requirements that contribute to the understanding of the intelligence problem—namely, a well-grounded appreciation and understanding of history and how it informs a broader understanding of culture and group and individual psychology. Understanding the historical narrative informs an appreciation of the environment, culture, and underlying psychology. Even with its limitations, history provides the intelligence professional with the basis of assessing the future.
An Interview with Emerson Brooking, the co-author of LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media
Conducted by Dr. Carter Matherly
Mr. Emerson Brooking is the co-author of the book LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media. The book not only highlights how other nations have taken offensive maneuvers using social media, but also managed to move past traditional psyops and employ psychology as a warfighting domain in its own right. Mr. Brooking’s work continues today as he maps the battlespace in this emergent domain. For an in-depth review of LikeWar, please see the book review in this volume by Austin Gouldsmith. To see more of Mr. Brooking’s current work and access some fantastic datasets, visit his repository on GitHub, https://github.com/DFRLab/ Dichotomies-of-Disinformation.
Policy from the Field: Contesting the Psychological Domain during Great Power Competition
It is comparatively insignificant but nonetheless relevant to discuss Great Power Competition in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Despite the need for global cooperation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, elements of Great Power Competition persist. In early March, Lily Kuo, a Hong Kong correspondent for the Guardian, detailed the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) and Chinese state media’s alternative narrative, which sowed seeds of doubt about COVID-19’s origination in China. The CPC, according to Kuo, seized on comments by Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Review of LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking
“Social media.” It needs no introduction: we are obsessed with it. Facebook vacation albums, glossy Instagram images, live concerts on Snapchat, on-demand YouTube entertainment—this is our new digital reality. Social media has revolutionized our information spaces aimed at connecting the world’s people through our daily experiences. Most of us, however, know that it often fails to truly connect us. Instead, this digital frontier has fallen prey to grabs for virtual influence, brand-building, confrontations, and the viral spread of information—benign and otherwise. Because of its massive reach, social media has even become an effective instrument for nation states, and everyone between, to behave much the same. LikeWar, addressing this sobering reality, is as timely as it is good. Presenting a research-filled warning to the American public, Singer and Brooking present the new normal of our digital lives. Using diverse examples ranging from Taylor Swift to ISIS and Donald Trump to the Arab Spring, LikeWar explains how the internet, and particularly social media, evolved from a creative way of connecting people to a means of attacking them.
Review of Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News by Clint Watts
Is social media helpful or harmful? Clint Watts explores the role of social media and an interconnected world in enabling and preventing terrorism and propaganda. Watts does not shy away from sharing his personal experiences with the reader, which makes “Messing with the Enemy” accessible to a wide audience from laypeople hoping to understand the effects of Russian troll farms to intelligence and influence operations professionals seeking a summary of past and recent events. Combining professional expertise with a thoroughly researched topic leads to a very readable and informative account of how psychological warfare has evolved in a social media world.
Review of The Conduct of Intelligence in Democracies: Processes, Practices and Cultural by Florina Cristiana Matei and Carolyn Halladay
In The Conduct of Intelligence in Democracies: Processes, Practices and Cultural, editors Florina Cristiana Matei and Carolyn Halladay fill a gap in intelligence literature, that of a comparative study between international intelligence practices. In their words, they seek “to provide readers with international views on the role and place of (effective) intelligence in a democratic milieu” (xi). There are of course challenges in achieving such an objective when the subject matter they are investigating is by its very nature composed of classified information and secret operations. The authors offer a wide range of case studies from various regions including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.