Tom Kent (Adjunct Professor of International Affairs) writes on the opportunism of Russia's information operations and the West's reluctance to go to an information offensive (CEPA, April 29, 2020).
From the opening:
Russian information operations are opportunistic. They often prey on societies when they are most vulnerable: during turbulent election campaigns and at times of national crisis like the coronavirus pandemic.
Because Russia strikes at such sensitive moments, its actions can touch off angry reactions in the West, even a longing for revenge. In the wake of Russian covert messaging during the 2016 United States elections, a congressman raged to me in his Capitol Hill office that it was time for America to “give Putin a taste of his own medicine.”
At the same time, other observers have a strong aversion to Western countries going much beyond the pro-democracy efforts that governments and NGOs have already undertaken. From some policy circles in Washington to the halls of the European Union, there is an abiding fear of becoming “propagandists” ourselves — even if we make a point of sticking to facts.