Secrets and Lies: The Role of Truth in Great Power Information Warfare


The widely divergent narratives about such incidents as the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny and China’s involvement in unleashing COVID-19 have put a recent spotlight on the role of trust in international affairs. 

It is said that truth is the first casualty of war.  In an age of intensifying information warfare, should we expect truth to be among its chief victims?  How should the United States regard lying in great power competition with Russia and China?  And how important is building trust to success in managing the dangers of this competition?   

The Center for the National Interest hosted a distinguished set of panelists for a discussion of these issues on Friday, October 9:

  • Ambassador Thomas Pickering is Vice Chairman of Hills and Company and one of our country’s most distinguished diplomats.  In a government career spanning nearly five decades, he served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and as US ambassador to the United Nations, Russia, India, Israel, Jordan, Nigeria, and El Salvador, representing both Republican and Democratic presidents.
  • John Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Chicago.  One of the world’s foremost international relations theorists, he is the author of Why Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics
  • Konstantin Remchukov is the owner and editor in chief of Nezavisimaya Gazeta in Moscow and is among the most influential Russian media voices.  He chairs the Moscow Public Chamber, frequently appears on Russian TV, and has a weekly program on the opposition Echo Moskvy radio station.
  • Dimitri K. Simes, President and CEO of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of The National Interest, served as the moderator for this discussion.