The European Union (EU) as a community of nation states was weakened after the immigration crisis in 2015 and after the crisis in the Eurozone in 2010, where Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece recorded the greatest recessions. According to the Pew Research Centre surveys conducted among EU member states, a temporary drop in trust in the EU may be observed1.
At the turn of 2013 and 2014, when huge protests erupted in Ukraine against corruption, breaking promises, and generally denying society’s hope for a better tomorrow by Viktor Yanukovych, the then pro-Russian president, the weakening of the European Union was exploited by Vladimir Putin’s Russia with the invasion on Ukraine2.
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The phenomenon of so-called “fake news”, information war, or disinformation in societies, had already existed. Part of the information war was Radio Free Europe, which was used to transmit a Western narrative in societies behind the Iron Curtain3, or false information about Black people spread by supporters of slavery in the United States when slavery was still legal4.
Nevertheless, it may be said that the Russian propaganda around Maidan and the subsequent war in Donbass made these concepts appear in the public consciousness. The wars of disinformation between countries continue, and more and more information about other states and their activities is coming to the surface.
However, because of the importance of these countries, the actions carried out by Russia and the People’s Republic of China seem to be the most interesting and, at the same time, dangerous for the freedom of the West.
Information wars have gained more significance in the Internet age than they had in the 20th century, when the main sources of information for societies were books, television, and press.
As a rule, in the 20th century, it was easier for governments to control an information war in their own backyard, because it was enough to shut down a newspaper, television, or accuse a journalist of spying, or to put pressure on the editorial staff – of course, the application of such measures was dependent on the determination of the governments, legal issues, values, or sentiments in a society, only the technical aspect is involved.
One example of such a practice is, though perhaps not very glorious, McCarthyism and the so-called “witch-hunt”, i.e. the search for communists in American society by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and his special subcommittee of inquiry in the Senate5.
In the Internet age, however, it is possible to create a strongly decentralized network of propaganda centers, whose founders and owners will be difficult to locate, and even more so, to be stopped by the authorities – even if they are outside the jurisdiction of a given country.
3 Weiner, T. (2007) Legacy of Ashes, Doubleday.