Journal Article - Texas National Security Review

What's Old Is New Again: Cold War Lessons for Countering Disinformation

| Fall 2022


Hostile foreign states are using weaponized information to attack the United States. Russia and China are disseminating disinformation about domestic U.S. race relations and COVID-19 to undermine and discredit the U.S. government. These information warfare attacks, which threaten U.S. national security, may seem new, but they are not. Using an applied history methodology and a wealth of previously classified archival records, this paper uses two case studies to reveal how and why a hostile foreign state, the Soviet Union, targeted America with similar disinformation in the past. The methods that the U.S. government devised during the Cold War to counter Soviet disinformation are still relevant, even in today's information landscape. By applying that history, this paper recommends developing a new U.S. strategy for countering hostile state disinformation: through promoting digital literacy, which requires a whole-of-society, generational effort. Establishing a coherent strategy is important because disinformation will be a major theme of 21st-century international security, as societies and governments become increasingly interconnected.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Walton, Calder. "What's Old Is New Again: Cold War Lessons for Countering Disinformation." Texas National Security Review, vol. 5. no. 4. (Fall 2022) .