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December 16, 2019, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

The Disinformation War

The Boat House at Confluence Park

679 W Spring St, Columbus, OH 43215

Speaker: Laura Rosenberger and Zachary Cooper

Disinformation – specifically, disinformation from foreign governments aimed at undermining democracy – became a buzzword in light of revelations that Russia interfered in a “sweeping and systematic fashion” during the 2016 presidential election. Russia’s aim? To further divide Americans by amplifying controversy on the right and left, hijacking legitimate social movements online, and using one of democracy’s greatest strengths – free and open debate – against us.


That was 2016. In the lead up to the 2020 election, Americans face an evolving disinformation threat from multiple authoritarian actors, including China, Iran and North Korea. Recent confirmation of Chinese state-backed information manipulation aimed at a Western audience is a wake-up call for Americans that weaponization of social media is not just a Russian tactic and that numerous state actors are manipulating the information space and utilizing new technology to undermine democracy. Disinformation undermines the shared truth and objective facts upon which democracies are built. Shining a light on these tactics and understanding why authoritarian actors employ disinformation helps build a more resilient society and bolsters democratic values long into the future. To shine that light and help us make sense of this new threat to democracy, the Columbus Council on World Affairs welcomes Laura Rosenberger, Director, and Zack Cooper, Co-Director, of the Alliance for Securing Democracy. Please join us on December 16th for this important discussion.


Doors open at 11:30a.m.

Laura Rosenberger Headshot

Laura Rosenberger

Director, Alliance for Securing Democracy & Senior Fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF)

Laura Rosenberger is the 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). As chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and as later, then-Deputy National Security Advisor Blinken’s senior advisor, she counseled on the full range of national security policy. In her role at the NSC, she also managed the interagency Deputies Committee, the U.S. government’s senior-level interagency decision-making forum on our country’s most pressing national security issues. Laura also has extensive background in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Northeast Asia. She served as NSC director for China and Korea, managing and coordinating U.S. policy on China and the Korean Peninsula, and in a variety of positions focused on the Asia-Pacific region at the Department of State, including managing U.S.–China relations and addressing North Korea’s nuclear programs. She also served as special assistant to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, advising him on Asia-Pacific affairs and on nonproliferation and arms control issues. Laura first joined the State Department as a presidential management fellow.


Zachary Cooper

Co-Director, Alliance for Securing Democracy & Senior Fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF)

Zachary Cooper is co-director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). He also serves as a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies U.S. defense strategy and alliances in Asia. In addition, Zack is an adjunct assistant professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, an associate at Armitage International, and a member of the board of advisors of the Center on Economic and Financial Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Zack served in the Pentagon and White House under the George W. Bush administration, first as special assistant to the principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy and then as assistant to the deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism at the National Security Council. He has also been the senior fellow for Asian security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Dr. Cooper received his Ph.D., M.A., and M.P.A. from Princeton University and B.A. from Stanford University.