The Place of Past Events in International Information Wars

In: Lithuanian Historical Studies
Alvydas Nikžentaitis (Lithuanian Institute of History)

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This article presents an analysis of the role memory culture plays in information wars. Based on the examples of Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Belarus, it finds that the phenomenon of using the past in information wars can be explained as a fighting measure to entrench the authority of a given country in the eyes of the global community. This requirement emerged among countries in this region following the collapse of the old global systems and with the creation of new political blocs. Associations have been noticed between information wars that exploit the past and the growth of a country’s economic potential. For this reason, this foreign policy tool has not been used to the same degree in different countries in the region, nor did it start being used at the same time. Almost all the countries in the region started to massively exploit the past as a means of soft power only in the 21st century. This tool is especially significant in Poland and Russia, being used less often in Lithuania and Ukraine, and hardly at all in Belarus. The storylines of the past being used in information wars can be divided into two categories: Global identities, whose symbols have become Holocaust and Gulag figures; and symbols associated with the memory cultures and identities of separate societies, such as the idea of Slavic unity (in Russian-Ukrainian relations) or the past of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (in Lithuanian-Belarusian relations). The author predicts that the use of the past in information wars is set to intensify in the future, and as such, the teaching of expert skills is necessary to address this; at present, these skills are lacking in countries in the region.

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