September 1, 2017
Russia is exploiting the openness of liberal democracies to undermine them from the inside by conducting an active measures campaign that is, in effect, political warfare. These campaigns actively seek to influence the targeted society, and they involve a number of lines of effort: espionage operations to acquire information, such as through cyberhacking; information operations to disseminate disinformation, as well as spread and amplify information that advances a particular narrative; and propaganda campaigns using traditional media platforms. While these efforts are rooted in old Soviet tactics, the new online information environment makes these current efforts a qualitatively different threat than those of the past.
Russian active measures present an ideological challenge to the United States and liberal democracies not seen since the Cold War. This challenge has caught the United States off guard and it must now scramble to act to not only defend itself but US allies as well from what is an on-going Russian campaign.
Max Bergmann is a Senior Fellow at American Progress, where he focuses on European security and U.S.-Russia policy. From 2011 to 2017, he served in the U.S. Department of State in a number of different positions, including as a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, where he focused on political-military affairs and nonproliferation; special assistant to the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security; speechwriter to Secretary of State John Kerry; and Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. Prior to serving in the State Department, he worked at American Progress as a Military and Nonproliferation Policy Analyst and at the National Security Network as the deputy policy director. Bergmann received his master’s degree from the London School of Economics in comparative politics and his bachelor’s degree from Bates College.