The New Axis Of Evil Poses A Greater Threat To America

Vladimir Putin will undoubtedly ask for weapons to replenish his severely depleted stockpile when Xi Jinping arrives in Moscow next week. Whatever plan they come up with will put our allies' and the United States' national security at much greater risk.

The new axis of evil, which covers Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, poses a greater threat to us. Iran has come together with China and Russia. All three are committed to overthrowing American influence in the world and eradicating freedom everywhere it exists. The danger of simultaneous attack is increased by China's threats to occupy Taiwan militarily, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and Iran's threats to "annihilate" Israel. Combined, this axis may confront us with one of the most serious challenges ever to our security, values and prosperity.


The United States must use all of its resources to win. Sadly, advocacy—the mobilization of truth and fact to influence international audiences—has lost much of its effectiveness during the past 20 years. Recall the crucial role the US Information Agency played in ending the Cold War. Soviet residents were convinced by the Voice of America broadcasts that life on the other side of the Iron Curtain was superior than theirs.

The VOA didn't just rely on news; it also employed editorial writers and even struck deals for Hollywood movies. Today's war criminal and serial human rights abuser, Mr. Putin, wouldn't perform well in Russian polls if one only relied on the news. The United States must reintroduce advocacy aimed to persuade. That is where wits are needed.

Today's propaganda is harder to counter with sincere advocacy than it was during USIA's heyday. Our opponents outspend us by orders of magnitude and daily flood millions of computers, eyes, ears, and brains with false information via social media and bots. They have significantly raised their level of play. We too must.

To outpace competitors, the president must specifically direct the creation of a long-term lobbying program that exceeds theirs in scope, ingenuity, and technology. An official who has extensive experience in public relations and communications and who has the weight to overcome bureaucratic timidity and inertia is needed to lead such an attempt. Elizabeth Allen has been proposed by President Biden as the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

When Mr. Biden was vice president, Ms. Allen worked as the White House's deputy communications director. With her history, it is likely that she will be able to influence the president anytime the bureaucracy needs a boost. Success depends on that.

The office is mandated by statute to actively promote "U.S. principles and policies" while "detecting and fighting disinformation emanating from overseas." The Senate would do the country a favor by swiftly approving Ms. Allen with a majority of both parties' votes.

Although public diplomacy is on senators' minds, they should work with their House colleagues to carefully examine every area of how we communicate with foreign nationals. The State Department's public diplomacy initiatives abroad are weighted toward ancillary aspects of American domestic social issues and away from fundamental, enduring U.S. principles, according to a recent Heritage Foundation article.

Take the groundbreaking film "To the People of Russia" produced recently by the undersecretary's office as an example of the type of advocacy that should be produced on a large scale. It mirrors Mr. Biden's declaration that "You are not our adversary" to the Russian people.

It is a masterpiece of advocacy that begins by recounting the time when the United States and Russia won World War Two as partners and is profusely illustrated. It praises the Russian people for their outstanding contributions to the arts and sciences and discusses our cooperation in space. At the conclusion, a footage from Mr. Putin's war is shown along with the statement, "We do not believe this is who you are. We support everyone working to create a more peaceful future. Russians looking for alternatives to Moscow's propaganda frequently use the messaging app Telegram, where the video was playing.

After watching the movie, former Russian president and current deputy head of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev expressed fury and labeled the American administration "sons of bitches" for what he claimed was use of Joseph Goebbels' methods. Mr. Medvedev's dislike of the film demonstrates the Kremlin's apprehension of a similar mass revolt to the one in Iran.

The lack of a Senate-confirmed incumbent in the position of undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs for more than five years speaks eloquently about the importance of advocacy being disregarded. It is untenable to leave a position of such importance to national security staffed by a number of transitory acting officials.

The internet and virtual private networks, which bypass most censorship, were created in the United States. It will keep losing the information war unless it takes advocacy seriously. The cost is a 17-year reduction in the number of free countries, which will eventually lead to a dramatic decline in the security, freedom, and prosperity of the West.

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