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September 14, 2007



So, what is your suggestion?

Cannoneer No4

Virtual Cyber Militias Must Run with the Ball OGAs Dropped

J Michael Waller

Hi, Purpleslog - My suggestion, as it has been for years, is for the President to create an interagency body, run through the National Security Council, to coordinate the ideological dimension of the conflict. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan had such entities and used them to great effect against Soviet-sponsored ideology.

President Reagan's Soviet Active Measures Working Group is a useful general model. While today's conflict is much different, the political technology to wage a war of ideas and combat enemy propaganda is rather generic and can be applied almost irrespective of the adversary's ideology.

The fact that the National Counterterrorism Center chief acknowledges the problem and says there's no "home office" for carrying out the work underscores my concern.

For its part, the FBI has a statutory duty to combat foreign propaganda, and it has not done so. It should start.

The Director of National Intelligence gives no assurance that the ideological aspect is being handled on a national strategic level.

The Department of Homeland Security, with its large counterterrorism portfolio, admits that it has no counter-ideology strategy, either, despite the documented connections between lawful political extremists and illegal terrorist support networks.

This gets back to the issue of strategic coordination from the White House, which continues not to exist, six years after 9/11.


Michael, what you suggest is the kind of thing that we should be doing, however year after year goes by and nothing is ever done. At this point it is clear that the Bush Admin has no intention implementing any serious of counter-ideology effort and who knows what the next administration will do. It might be 10-20 years before gov't takes action. However there is a solution to this problem.

"...the political technology to wage a war of ideas and combat enemy propaganda is rather generic and can be applied almost irrespective of the adversary's ideology."

Yes. In addition, the recent advances in technology that we are all familiar with have made available to ordinary individuals capabilities that during the Cold War were only availabe to governments and big business. Our adversaries have already figured this out and have been waging a very sophisticated propaganda campaign with video cameras, PCs, editing software, websites, cell phones, etc.

The lesson to be learned here is that we don't have to wait for gov't to take action. The same technology that has enabled the radical Muslim propaganda campaign is available to us as well to wage a counter-ideology campaign. We can create a private organization to do counter-ideology. The biggest challenge that we have is breaking out of the government-centered mindset. We need to learn from our adversaries that individuals or small groups can wage an idea war better than can government.

Cannoneer No4

Too bad there is no Soros figure on the other side to bank roll the effort.

Any counter-ideology campaign directed specifically at jihadis will be opposed by Western Transnational Progressives/tree huggers/lefties/Chomskyites who generally share many of the same goals. Since their party dominates the Legislative Branch, government solutions are strangled in the crib.


"Too bad there is no Soros figure on the other side to bank roll the effort."

Indeed. Jason Apuzzo and Dirty Harry over at LIBERTAS have had some recent posts complaining about the complete absence of pro-victory financiers to bankroll films. No doubt there are people who have the means to finance pro-victory equivalents of Sundance and Participant Productions, but where are they? Why are those who believe in the ideals of the American experiment so passive while the transnational left is so active in using every tool available to advocate for their ideas?

J Michael Waller

These comments are right on the mark. The proper people at the White House are well aware of the precedents but for some reason refuse to implement a serious coordination program. Likewise, the administration is such a control freak about the message that it generally won't entrust people at the lower levels to use the Internet for rapid and effective message-making and counterpropaganda.

I have long urged the administration to take Marine General Krulak's "strategic corporal" concept and apply it to information operations on the military side and to public diplomacy on the civilian side. Lots of oohs and ahhs at the idea, but no real moves toward implementing them.

I've pretty much given up on the administration in this regard and agree with you that the private sector is the way to go.

Two private initiatives in the Muslim world have actually gained traction - and made money.

The first is a British-Pakistani music video called "Yeh Hum Naheen" (This Is Not Us). It's Pakistan's response to "Live Aid," with top Pakistani pop stars banding together and putting out a powerful and popular message of unity against Islamist extremism. Click to my report on it here at: http://jmw.typepad.com/political_warfare/2007/08/good-news-pakis.html.

A second (earlier) example is an Indonesian and American private effort to work through popular culture, in this case, with a band that performed the album "Laskar Cinta" (Warriors of Love). Click to this link to read the story at the Lib For All Foundation, and scroll to the bottom to view the video: http://libforall.org/popculture-republic-of-love.html.

EMI Records produced both the Pakistani and Indonesian music videos, and made a profit doing so.

These two productions are quite apart from the 24/7 online work that we ought to be doing, but they're good examples of what can be done through popular culture.

Private sector initiative doesn't need to cost much. A good blogger who's from the cultures in question can do a lot on his own at practically no cost. With skill and persistence he can wreak havoc on extremist websites.

Cannoneer No4

Political Face Of War Today


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