Testimony Presented to the House Foreign Affairs Committee
April 15, 2015
Helle C. Dale
My name is Helle Dale. I am Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my own, and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage Foundation.
Audiences within reach of Russia’s growing media empire are increasingly subjected to manipulation and rampant anti-Americanism. This trend has intensified since the Russian annexation of Crimea and its invasion of Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Through its global network, Russia Today (RT), the Kremlin broadcasts globally in five major languages, including on cable TV stations in the United States. Free Western media has no comparable presence in Russia.
Russian propaganda is corrosive to the image of the United States and to our values. Or as Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland described it before this committee on March 4, “the Kremlin’s pervasive propaganda campaign, where is truth is no obstacle.” And Russian propaganda is being spread aggressively around the world as we have not seen it since Soviet days. This is not just in Central Asia, and Eastern and Central Europe, but even here in the West. The daily content and commentary from RT and others is often polished and slickly produced. And it’s not like old-fashioned propaganda, aimed solely at making Putin and Russia look good. It’s a new kind of propaganda, aimed at sowing doubt about anything having to do with the U.S. and the West, and in a number of countries, unsophisticated audiences are eating it up.
In future natural disasters or battlefield operations, U.S. Special Operations Command would like to be able to take over local AM and FM radio transmissions to broadcast its own message.
To do that, the MacDill Air Force Base headquartered command “is seeking sources to provide a radio broadcast system capable of searching for and acquiring every AM and FM radio station in a specific area and then broadcasting a message(s) in the target area on all acquired AM and FM radio station frequencies,” according a solicitation posted Monday on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
The solicitation doesn’t offer any cost estimates or timetables, nor does it include any specifics on how or when the system would be used. Continue reading