Soviet Active Measures in the “Post-Cold War” Era 1988-1991

Many have assumed that Soviet “active measures” ceased following the fall of the Soviet Union.  Given how long it has been since then most are unaware that there ever was such at thing as “active Measures”.  “Active measures” is the old Soviet term for Cultural Warfare waged by propaganda and influence operations.  Given that we are still facing cultural warfare directed and waged from within our borders (is it racist to claim that even have borders these days?) it is useful to remind ourselves that at one time the US Congress was very much concerned with it.

Soviet Active Measures in the “Post-Cold War” Era 1988-1991
A Report Prepared at the Request of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations by the United States Information Agency June 1992

Active measures is a Soviet term that refers to the manipulative use of slogans, arguments, disinformation, and carefully selected true information, which the Soviets used to try to influence the attitudes and actions of foreign publics and governments. In addition to examining disinformation, this report looks at the Soviet use of conciliatory, alarmist, and derogatory slogans and arguments in order to illustrate the wide variety of manipulative messages and themes used in active measures operations.

Prior to 1988, one type of Soviet active measure message, crude, anti-American disinformation, received the lion’s share of attention. During the “post-Cold War” years of 1988 to 1991, the use of this type of Soviet active measure decreased markedly, although it still continued to some extent.

While anti-American disinformation decreased during the late 1980s and early 1990s, another form of derogatory disinformation increased. As the Soviet Communist Party loosened its rigid totalitarian grip within the USSR, it tried to compensate for this by increasing its use of defamatory disinformation against its domestic adversaries, including Russian president Boris Yeltsin, Lithuanian president Vytautas Landsbergis, and other democratic and nationalist opponents of the Soviet Communist Party.

During this period, both at home and abroad, the Soviets placed an increasing reliance on active measures themes that were often very conciliatory, although many also appear to have been disingenuous. For example, in late 1988, the Soviets launched a major active measures campaign designed to create a benign, and false, image of the KGB.

In 1990 and 1991, the Soviets spread alarmist active measures themes energetically, as they attempted to turn to their advantage Western fears about the dangers of a break-up of the USSR. According to a recent defector who circulated active measures for the KGB during this period, the Soviet authorities deliberately sought to influence Western policy by encouraging the belief that if Gorbachev were to lose power or the USSR were to break up, this would lead to the creation of “aggressive republics with uncontrolled access to nuclear weapons.”

Also in 1990 and 1991, the Soviet authorities set up an elaborate montage of internal front groups that posed as democratic parties, known as the “Centrist Bloc,” led by the so-called Liberal Democratic Party – which was neither liberal nor democratic. In late 1990, the Soviet government floated the idea of forming a coalition government with these bogus parties. They, in turn, formed a National Salvation Committee, called for political parties to be banned, and urged that a state of emergency be imposed in the USSR. This elaborate charade was presumably designed so that the Soviet authorities could appear to be bowing to supposedly popular, “democratic” pressure in imposing a state of emergency. This scheme was partially implemented in the Baltics in January 1991, but soon abandoned. It was resurrected in August 1991 in the form of the abortive hard-line coup, which the Liberal Democratic Party wholeheartedly supported.

Communist countries such as Cuba and North Korea have their own active measures and disinformation apparatuses. States or groups that have been trained by the Soviets, such as Iraq and the Palestine Liberation organization use these techniques in their foreign policy endeavors. Highly ideological, anti-Western regimes such as Iran and Libya have elaborated their own front group structures and actively spread anti-Western disinformation. Various communist parties around the world continue to use these techniques. According to the April 21, 1992 New York Times, a recent Chinese government document speaks of the need for “prudent and active measures … so that bilateral [U.S.-Chinese) relations develop in a way that will help us.”

Finally, this report tries to make it clear that manipulative actions by foreign governments do not have to be overtly anti-American in order to be inimical to U.S. interests. Conciliatory and alarmist themes can be very damaging to the United States, if they cause the U.S. government to take actions that work to its detriment and which it would not otherwise have taken if it had not been the target of distorted or false messages systematically propagated by a foreign government for a political, economic, military or related purpose.

Given the fact that a number of states continue to engage in manipulative active measures campaigns directed at the United States, the United States Information Agency (USIA) continues to monitor, analyze, and counter foreign efforts in this area. USIA continues to flexibly reallocate its resources devoted to this mission in order to meet shifting demands. As long as states and groups interested in manipulating world opinion, limiting U.S. government actions, or generating opposition to U.S. policies and interests continue to use these techniques, there will be a need for the United States Information Agency to systematically monitor, analyze, and counter them.

That is a snippet from the executive summary, there is more at the link.

“Various communist parties around the world continue to use these techniques.”  That would include the American Communist Party and their wholly owned subsidiaries, the Democrat Party and their allied RINOs.

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