From the Desk of the Editor
Dear Reader of Atlantica,
The 2016 US presidential elections brought to light the extent to which malign actors were able to target US citizens and Western societies at large in an attempt to wreck democratic processes. While the conclusion that Russia did in fact interfere in the 2016 presidential elections came as no surprise to many observers, the extent of Russia and other actors’ global disinformation campaigns that US officials have since uncovered has posed an even more shocking threat to Western societies than was previously imagined. Despite US President Trump’s frequent references and alarmism over so-called ‘fake news’, the spread of dis- or misinformation continues nearly unabated over social media as well as through many online media outlets—some of which is even spread by the president himself. On the eve of the 2020 US presidential elections, how can the US and NATO move forward in combating this threat, as well as the myriad of conflicts spanning the globe?
In his article “Combating Disinformation: Policy Analysis and Recommendations for the 21st Century Security Environment,” Alexander Fremis defines disinformation more broadly speaking and situates it within the US context. Alexander points to gaps in the current US policy and proposes suggestions for how the US can fill these gaps, including leveraging partnerships with international organizations such as NATO. Next, against the background of increasing activity of Russian actors ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, Shannon Welch highlights the threat that misinformation poses to the US electoral process. Shannon explains three types of misinformation methods within the US context and offers recommendations for how NATO can help the US combat Russian disinformation attacks in the future. Finally, Lorenzo Giuglietti addresses the ongoing conflict in the Mediterranean between NATO member states Greece and Turkey in his article, “Eastern Mediterranean: What’s Next for US Defence and NATO?” Lorenzo argues that the waning role of the US in global affairs has brought a host of regional actors into this increasingly chaotic situation. While NATO has taken an active role in establishing a deconfliction mechanism, the Alliance’s long-term presence in the region as well as interest in maintaining peace among member states makes NATO a (if not the) critical actor in deescalating the region.
With the US presidential elections just days away, the question of “What’s next for US defence and NATO?” is more important than ever. The outcome will certainly affect the international consensus regarding NATO and its effectiveness, efficiency, and resilience. Will Trump’s re-election continue to rally member states to question NATO’s raison d’être while simultaneously boosting defence spending, or will a Biden victory attempt to reverse course and lead the US on a long, hard road back to its post-Cold War internationalist tendencies? Certainly, whoever wins will continue to struggle against the plague of international conflicts and threats that together the US and NATO face—not least the COVID-19 pandemic.