Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Fighting the War of Ideas Like a Real War

Fighting the War of Ideas Like a Real War

This is author J. Michael Waller's attempt to formulate a much more immediate strategy to combat the propaganda of the Islamic terrorist. He argues that the US relies too heavily on ponderous, slow-to-react, public diplomacy that cannot react quickly enough to counterattack a lie-filled and internet-fueled ideology. We need to accelerate "the tempo and intensity of the nation's conduct of the war of ideas."

He succintly states a number of points often ignored both in the tactical conduct of the war of ideas and the strategic conflict in the realm of public diplomacy to which we should pay more heed:

--We cannot credibly sell a bad policy no matter how it is packaged
--There are many other issues that people will support as long as the United States is not the messenger
--Explaining US policies and culture, and non-offensive messages about American ideals, are vital but insufficient for current realities

There are others, finishing with:

--We cannot afford to wait for the cumulative effect of traditional public diplomacy to work because we have lost several years; our information initiative and our troops need the support now, and we risk running out of time in current war zones and other parts of the world

I do take issue with his contention that many Information Operations are shut down by PAOs afraid of violating the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. It is true that US Forces are not allowed to conduct IO against US citizens, even if there is a substantial chance of influencing an enemy. However, I don't believe that many IO proposed abroad are "shut down" by PAOs afraid that the effects may unintentionally reach Arabic speaking US citizens, thus violating Smith-Mundt.

While his first chapter, found at the site above, is somewhat simplistic, it does make me look forward to the forthcoming chapters and to reading more of his works.

His most basic argument is spot on: we're not going to win by simply communicating good things about us (even though I personally think we're doing a much better job of it than before). We are going to have to start communicating ugly things (or doing a better job of it) about the enemy as well.

Check it out.


At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Cannoneer No. 4 said...

We are going to have to engage the talents of millions of sympathetic Americans who aren't subject to Smith-Mundt to conduct Distributed IO by PSYOP Auxiliaries and Volunteer Counter Propagandists.

Forty years of Cultural Marxism has prepared the domestic target audience extremely well to be receptive to enemy propaganda, and we are just about defenseless, but not quite.


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