The Best Natural Defense to Psychological Warfare

Small Wars Journal, 2016

2 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2016

See all articles by Jessica Zhanna Malekos Smith

Jessica Zhanna Malekos Smith

Duke Law School; Kings College London, Department of War Studies, Students

Date Written: December 25, 2016


Using false information to disorient and mislead an adversary is not a new tactic of contemporary warfare. In fact, false signaling is not even unique to the human species, for animals and insects predate us in using these techniques to feign weakness to predators and ensnare prey.

But what does set human beings apart in this regard, is the systematic production and distribution of false information to psychologically harm a target. Using broadcast media, cyberspace, printed media, and plain word of mouth, “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

And as the threat and effect of psychological warfare becomes more pronounced in cyberspace, policymakers must address this burgeoning security threat. For if a foreign power can freely employ technical and political artifice to undermine core democratic institutions, then this is the way a democracy ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Thus, as a baseline to fortifying the psyche of the United States intelligence community, who in turn help inform and advise America’s political and military leadership, this article recommends a creative health-based approach.

Keywords: psychology, cyber, fake news, propaganda, national security, cyberwar, psychological operations, intelligence, defense

Suggested Citation

Malekos Smith, Jessica Zhanna, The Best Natural Defense to Psychological Warfare (December 25, 2016). Small Wars Journal, 2016. Available at SSRN:

Jessica Zhanna Malekos Smith (Contact Author)

Duke Law School ( email )

210 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Kings College London, Department of War Studies, Students ( email )

King's College London, Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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