State-backed disinformation campaigns: How can democracies fight back?



28 April 2020




Free but registration is essential

While the United States and Australia have both increased scrutiny of state-backed disinformation and foreign interference campaigns in recent years, the coronavirus pandemic has seen an increase in disinformation alongside targeted actions by foreign governments designed to leverage this crisis for strategic effect. How serious are these disinformation campaigns? What threat do they pose to democratic processes and institutions? How are free and open societies such as the United States and Australia responding to these intrusions?

To discuss these issues, USSC hosted a webinar panel discussion featuring Zack Cooper and Laura Rosenberger, Co-Directors of the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy program, and USSC Director of Foreign Policy and Defence Ashley Townshend, in a conversation moderated by USSC CEO Professor Simon Jackman.

Zack Cooper is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and co-director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy. He studies US defence strategy and alliances in Asia. He served as assistant to the deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism at the National Security Council and as special assistant to the principal deputy under secretary of defence for policy at the Department of Defence.

Laura Rosenberger is director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Before she joined GMF, she was foreign policy advisor for Hillary for America, where she coordinated development of the campaign’s national security policies, messaging, and strategy. Prior to that, she served in a range of positions at the State Department and the White House’s National Security Council (NSC).

Ashley Townshend is Director of Foreign Policy and Defence at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, where he works on strategic affairs with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region. Ashley is also founding convenor and co-chair of the US-Australia Indo-Pacific Deterrence Dialogue and a lecturer in the Centre’s postgraduate program. A frequent contributor to the Australian and international media, Ashley’s analysis has appeared in outlets such as the Financial Times, CNN, the Australian Financial Review, Bloomberg, ABC, and Sky News.

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