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Waging the "War of Ideas"
Rand Corp ^ | William Rosenau

Posted on 07/01/2007 2:49:21 PM PDT by Valin


"Wars of subversion and counter subversion are fought, in the last resort, in the minds of the people," a leading British authority on counterterrorism concluded in 1971.1 More than three decades later, there is growing recognition among U.S. government officials, journalists, and analysts of terrorism that defeating al-Qaida— arguably the preeminent challenge to U.S. security—will require far more than "neutralizing" leaders, disrupting cells, and dismantling networks. From its inception in the mid-1990s, al-Qaida has been both a terrorist organization and an international revolutionary movement, which today stretches across North America, western Europe, and the global south.2 That organization, driven from its redoubt in Afghanistan in late 2001, continues to demonstrate its potency, as shown by the deadly railway attack in Madrid in March 2004. However, the much greater threat is posed by the global jihadist movement that Usama bin Ladin continues to inspire. That movement, characterized by some observers as a worldwide insurgency,3 threatens the United States’ interests in regions as diverse as central Asia, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

The extremist ideology articulated by bin Ladin and his circle ties together this widely dispersed, multiethnic extremist movement, characterized by one specialist as an "idea-based network, self-organizing from below, inspired by postings on the Internet." Al-Qaida, in the words of another scholar, "is the ideological organization par excellence."4 Al-Qaida’s message, disseminated widely and effectively through all forms of mass media, including the Internet, has a powerful appeal in much of the Muslim world.5 Cutting off the supply of recruits to this movement, eliminating its financial support networks, and preventing it from metastasizing into new regions will thus require a campaign to undermine its ideological appeal. As the 9/11 Commission concluded in its final report, eliminating al-Qaida as a formidable danger ultimately requires "prevailing in the longer term over the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism."6

But as Clausewitz famously observed, in war everything is simple, but even the simple things are extremely difficult. Although the United States and its allies have waged successful campaigns to discredit totalitarian ideologies such as fascism and communism, these operations have never come readily to liberal democracies. Part of the explanation can be found in the uneasiness open societies tend to have about engaging in psychological manipulation, lying, and other mendacious and ‘‘underhanded’’ practices that are likely to be part of any full-scale campaign against a hostile ideology.7 That this campaign would necessarily involve efforts to discredit a religious viewpoint—no matter how extreme that viewpoint might be—also clashes with liberal notions about the importance of religious liberty and the need to maintain the separation of church and state. More fundamentally, waging a blatantly ideological struggle seems quite unnatural to Americans and other Westerners, who tend to downplay intangible factors such as ideas, history, and culture as political motivators, preferring instead to stress relatively more concrete driving forces such as personal security and physical well-being.8

Whatever the explanation, it is clear to most informed observers that the United States has so far failed to conduct anything approaching an effective counterideological campaign against al-Qaida. What during the Cold War George Kennan and others called ‘‘political warfare,’’ and what of late has been euphemistically called ‘‘strategic influence,’’ is today simply not a significant part of the ‘‘global war on terrorism.’’ Or rather, it is a part of that war—but it is being employed effectively only by our adversaries.

In this chapter we will take the first tentative steps toward suggesting an ideological counterstrategy. To provide a context for the subsequent discussion, this chapter will outline the ideology promulgated by al-Qaida and associated terrorist groups. Second, it will examine recent attempts by the United States to combat al-Qaida’s worldview and compare this effort with America’s global propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union. The chapter will conclude with some preliminary ideas about waging an effective counterpropaganda campaign against al-Qaida, including potential themes and approaches.

But first, some words on terminology are in order. There is no single word or phrase in English that fully captures the concept of a campaign to combat a hostile ideology. The two terms mentioned above, political warfare and strategic influence, have clear shortcomings. The word warfare has obvious military connotations. Among other things, its use implies that we are engaged in a conflict with a clear beginning, middle, and end, when in reality the struggle against terrorism is likely to persist for generations, as a number of U.S. policy makers have suggested.9 Strategic influence, defined by one military officer as ‘‘the deliberate, conscious coordination . . . of all government informational activities designed to influence opinions, attitudes, and behavior of foreign groups in ways that will promote U.S. national objectives,’’10 is both euphemistic and politically tainted as a result of the Pentagon’s ill-fated attempt to establish an Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), an organization accused by its bureaucratic detractors of spreading ‘‘disinformation.’’11

Similarly, the word propaganda, with its unwholesome connotation of Orwellian ‘‘Newspeak,’’ is probably too corrupted to be useful as anything other than a term of abuse. International broadcasting, cultural exchanges, conferences, and other forms of ‘‘public diplomacy,’’ defined by the now-defunct U.S. Information Agency (USIA) as ‘‘promoting the national interest . . . through understanding, informing, and influencing foreign publics,’’12 is too narrow for our purposes, since it does not include the full range of political, military, economic, and intelligence measures that might usefully be employed to hinder the spread of al-Qaida’s worldview. The term psychological operations (PSYOP) has similar difficulties. The traditional focus of PSYOP is on the battlefield and includes activities such as producing and distributing leaflets to encourage enemy forces to lay down their arms. Thus, the term is also too narrow and, like propaganda, is burdened with unhelpful connotations of ‘‘mind control.’’ What we are left with, then, is a variety of words and phrases, no one of which is sufficient for capturing the essence of our objective, that is, ‘‘prevailing in the longer term over the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism.’’


What is the worldview embraced by al-Qaida and its international affiliates? A leading scholar cogently describes this ideology as ‘‘jihadist-salafism,’’ that is, a profound ‘‘respect for the sacred texts in their most literal form [combined with] an absolute commitment to jihad.’’13 A Sunni reformist movement with origins in the encounter of the Muslim world with the West in the second half of the nineteenth century, Salafiyya (from the Arabic salaf, ‘‘devout ancestors’’) advocates a return to Islam as practiced by the Prophet.14 For Salafis, the Quran and the Prophet serve as the highest (indeed the only) source of theological, social, and political truth.15 This puritanical strain of Islam, spread through mosques, Islamic centers, and madrassas (religious schools), is rapidly gaining adherents across the Muslim world.16

While most Salafis do not support the use of violence to achieve key goals such as the reestablishment of sharia (‘‘divine law’’), the radical jihadist-salafism tendency is an ‘‘armed doctrine’’ that combines theological orthodoxy with a political agenda that includes the destruction of ‘‘apostate’’ regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan. Sayyid Qutb (1906–1966), a theorist for the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and a leading intellectual influence on al-Qaida’s Egyptian inner circle, described the entire world— including the nominally ‘‘Islamic’’ republics—as engulfed in jahiliyyah, that is, the ignorance, sin and barbarism that characterized the world before the arrival of the Prophet.17 To subscribers of jihadist-salafism like bin Ladin, the world is divided into two camps: the Islamic community (umma) and the enemy, that is, the unbelievers, led by the United States and other Western ‘‘crusaders’’ and their Zionist allies. ‘‘[T]here are two parties to the conflict,’’ bin Ladin told the al-Jazeera satellite channel in 1999: ‘‘The first party is world Christianity, which is allied with Zionist Jewry and led by the United States, Britain, and Israel; while the second party is the Muslim world.’’18

In the judgment of bin Ladin, these sinister forces seek nothing less than the destruction of Islam. As he declared in 1996, the United States after the end of the Cold War ‘‘escalated its campaign against the Muslim World in its entirety, aiming to get rid of Islam itself.’’19 In Bin Laden’s view, the persecution of Muslims in Chechnya, the Palestinian territories, Kashmir, and elsewhere offers ample evidence that the umma is facing an existential threat, and that the United States, through its regional satraps, is working toward the eradication of Islam.

This conceptualization leads bin Ladin and his followers to what one analyst has described as ‘‘a theoretical legitimization for ruthless political action’’ in which the detested ‘‘‘other’ . . . becomes a perfectly legitimate target in the war for the glory of Islam.’’20 The United States, according to bin Ladin, has created ‘‘an ocean of oppression, injustice, slaughter and plunder,’’ and has thus merited responses like the 9/11 attacks.21 Furthermore, waging jihad is not simply the obligation of the Islamic paladins of al-Qaida. According to bin Ladin, contributing in some way to violent, defensive jihad is the solemn obligation of every Muslim.22 Striking at the United States is particularly important, in his judgment, since without American support, the United States’ client regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere will ‘‘wither away.’’23

Thus the belief in the transformative power of violent political action is a central component of the worldview articulated by al-Qaida. In this, al-Qaida has much in common with those in the West—from the Jacobins to the Nazis to the European radicals of the 1970s—who believed that terror could serve as the midwife to revolution.24 For all its condemnation of the West, al-Qaida is a distinctly modern syncretic creation that has borrowed heavily from the hated ‘‘crusaders’’ in areas such as technology (e.g., the Internet), ideas (e.g., political violence and revolution), and operational approaches (e.g., fashionable management nostrums, such as the use of ‘‘flat’’ or ‘‘virtual’’ structures).25

Indeed, al-Qaida shares many features with twentieth-century totalitarianism, particularly its Marxist-Leninist variant. In addition to their shared views on the role of violence, and their Manichean outlook, common features include: . The centrality of the ideological component in their struggle against their adversaries . A global strategy that seeks to bring about a universal transformation26 . An internationalist stance that rejects national borders, class hierarchies, and racial distinctions . A belief that imperialism and a lust for natural resources is the impetus behind the West’s presence in the developing world27 . A stress on what communist parties referred to as ‘‘agitation and propaganda,’’ including the rhetorical demonization of their perceived enemies (e.g., al-Qaida’s vilification of Jews as the offspring of apes, and of Hindus as ‘‘worshipers of cows’’)28 . A conspiratorial mind-set, and a belief in the central role of a ‘‘vanguard’’ that drive the masses toward revolution29

Finally, the al-Qaida worldview shares with communism a utopianism characterized by what one expert describes as ‘‘unprogrammatic simplicity.’’30 Just as Moscow called for the creation of a dictatorship of the proletariat, al-Qaida urges the reestablishment of the caliphate (khilafah, the unified Islamic state, whose last vestige was abolished by Kemal Atatu¨ rk in 1924). As with the utopian Marxist-Leninist vision, al-Qaida’s dream lacks specifics about the most fundamental questions of governance, such as how political decisions would be made, how the state should be structured, and how fundamental public needs such as security would be met. In other words, both movements offer a vague image of some future paradise to be achieved through armed struggle, discipline, and revolutionary rigor, but no concrete plan for that glorious prospect, or how it will actually take shape.

To spread this ideological vision, al-Qaida relies heavily on information technology. Indeed, in the words of one analyst, al-Qaida ‘‘loves the Internet.’’31 Relatively cheap, largely unregulated, and able to reach millions of people, the Internet serves as an ideal instrument for disseminating ideological themes, vilifying opponents, providing moral inspiration, and recruiting new supporters. Web sites, chat rooms, and bulletin boards can also serve a more operational purpose. The Internet, according to a senior U.S. Defense Department official, functions as a ‘‘cybersanctuary’’ for al-Qaida and other terrorists, allowing them to ‘‘conceal their identities, to move large amounts of money, to encrypt messages, and to plan and even conduct operations remotely.’’32


During the Cold War, the United States and other Western powers (Britain, most notably)33 developed a robust infrastructure for waging a ‘‘war of ideas’’ against the communist ideology being promulgated by the Soviet Union and its allies. During the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, the so-called golden age of U.S. propaganda, counterpropaganda, and public diplomacy operations,34 the U.S. government carried out a sophisticated program of overt and covert activities designed to shape public opinion behind the Iron Curtain, within European intellectual and cultural circles, and across the developing world.35 Broadcasting by Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) brought news and cultural programming to target audiences abroad. At the height of their international popularity, ‘‘the radios’’ (as they were called) reached 50 percent of the Soviet population and 70 to 80 percent of the eastern European public every week.36 Cultural exchanges brought foreign academics, journalists, and politicians to the United States to give them direct exposure to American citizens, ideals, and institutions. Reading rooms at American consulates and embassies gave foreigners access to newspapers, books, magazines, and other media. Through secret funding by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S. government supported organizations like the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an international association of prominent artists, writers, and scholars opposed to totalitarian ideologies. Aggressive political warfare campaigns in Western Europe went beyond simply countering communist propaganda with pro-American messages. In France, for example, the United States worked with local authorities to limit the power of communistcontrolled unions, to deny communists access to social welfare benefits, and to restrict the supply of newsprint to communist presses.37

High-level interest in such operations waned during the 1970s, but received renewed emphasis under President Ronald Reagan, the ‘‘Great Communicator,’’ who, like Eisenhower, was a firm advocate of the informational component of America’s Cold War strategy.38 However, with the end of the Cold War official interest once again plummeted. During the 1990s, Congress and the executive branch disparaged informational activities as costly Cold War anachronisms. The budget for State Department informational programs was slashed, and USIA, a quasi-independent body that reported to the secretary of state, was disestablished, and its responsibilities were transferred to a new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. By the late 1990s, according to one critic, the once mighty VOA had been reduced to the ‘‘Whisper of America,’’39 and in the words of another observer, ‘‘public diplomacy was left to wither without strategic focus or organizational direction.’’40 Things were no better within the CIA, the organization responsible for carrying out covert informational activities—e.g., disinformation, and secret support to foreign organizations and institutions—where political warfare was widely viewed as a career dead end. According to one press account, the officers and staff conducting foreign ‘‘influence operations’’ shrank to one-tenth of the level it had reached in the 1980s.41

The attacks of 9/11 convinced many both inside and outside of the government that far more needed to be done to reach Muslim audiences, explain the United States’ policies, and dry up the ideological stream contributing to the growth of violent Islamic extremism. President George Bush has correctly described the ‘‘war on terrorism’’ as ‘‘a long-lasting ideological struggle.’’42 So far, however, little progress has been made in ‘‘winning the war of ideas.’’ Since 9/11, the surge in federal national security spending has been greater than at any time since the Korean War,43 yet the State Department’s public diplomacy budget remains stuck at its pre-9/11 level of $1 billion per year, a mere 0.3 percent of the U.S. defense budget.44 Across the Muslim world, particularly since the war in Iraq, public opinion views the United States, its policies, and the global war on terrorism in increasingly unfavorable terms.45 As mentioned above, OSI was strangled in its bureaucratic cradle. VOA, according to one estimate, reaches a mere 2 percent of the world’s Arabs.46 Other international media initiatives, such as Radio Sawa, appear to have little influence in the Arab ‘‘street.’’47 Most notoriously, the State Department’s ‘‘Shared Values’’ campaign, intended to promote a benign view of the United States by distributing short documentaries that highlighted the benefits enjoyed by Muslims in America, failed when television stations in key Islamic countries failed to carry the U.S. programming.48 Sometimes our adversaries stumble onto the truth. One al-Qaida Web site did in November 2002 when it concluded that ‘‘America’s means of propaganda are no longer influential in the same way they were for decades.’’49


How should the United States approach the challenge of combating jihadist-salafism? The recognition by the president that defeating al-Qaida and other international terrorists requires an ideological weapon is an important first step, but much more needs to be done. As one prominent theorist has wisely cautioned, this weapon cannot be used ‘‘as a substitute for policy, as a way of looking as if one is doing something when one doesn’t really have a clear understanding and grasp of the goal one is trying to achieve.’’50

In the interest of strategic clarity, the U.S. government should abandon the assertion that the U.S. government and its partners are engaged in a global war against terrorism per se, as some American officials have suggested,51 and declare that the struggle is in fact against al-Qaida and the ideology that sustains it. The United States does not have the resources to combat all manifestations of terrorism, and what is more, not all terrorists threaten the United States. To be sure, acknowledging al-Qaida as the paramount adversary will lead its ideologists and their fellow travelers to claim that the West is locked in a ‘‘war against Islam.’’ But the resulting strategic clarity will likely outweigh any risks associated with this approach; also, the ideologues of jihadist-salafism are already making this charge about a ‘‘clash of civilizations,’’ as discussed above. With the focus on al-Qaida, policy makers can marshal their resources in a more focused and effective manner.


Central to any effective counterideological campaign is a coherent and powerful set of themes. What follows is not intended to be systematic or comprehensive; rather, these themes are meant to suggest in a general way what the campaign might look like and how it might be orchestrated. The Islamic world, made up of more than one billion people, is obviously diverse, and so it will be critical to tailor these themes to Muslims in specific nations or regions and Islamic traditions. The focus here is on elite and intellectual opinion, although some of these themes might be adapted for a broader audience: Jihadist-Salafism as an Alien Ideology As mentioned earlier, al-Qaida’s worldview is a relatively recent, highly politicized intellectual construct that has borrowed liberally from European extremism, most notably Marxism-Leninism. Although the al-Qaida ideology has an appeal throughout the Muslim world, it is well outside Islam’s mainstream Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi traditions. Al-Qaida’s ideologues are eager to position themselves as contemporary manifestations of Islam’s heroic past.52 Highlighting the imported, foreign nature of the ideology could help undercut al-Qaida’s Islamic credentials.

Jihadist-Salafism as a Threat to Islam Throughout east Africa and Pakistan, Sufis are confronted by ideological extremists who declare that their branch of Islam is a heretical assault upon the faith. While many Sufis (like other Muslims) detest aspects of U.S. foreign policy, many also loathe the extremists who rant in their mosques and prevent them from expressing themselves culturally. Assistance to the ‘‘enemies of our enemies’’ may therefore prove to be a useful stratagem. For example, support for Sufi music—an important part of their religious practice—through festivals and radio broadcasts could help empower Muslims who are under attack by ideological extremists. Counter messages should also mention attacks on Shiite mosques in Iraq carried out by al-Qaida affiliates. The intention of course is not to foment sectarian strife, but to reinforce the idea that al-Qaida’s ideology is fundamentally anti-Muslim.

Al-Qaida and Nationalism Al-Qaida rejects the modern nation-state as a godless Western invention, yet for some Muslims nationalism continues to exert a powerful pull, as demonstrated during the uprisings in Iraq against the coalition’s occupying forces. Faith, clan, tribe, and other forces may trump nationalism in many cases, but it may be useful in some circumstances to portray al-Qaida, with its dreams of a new caliphate, as a threat to national identity.

Al-Qaida as a Threat to Key Values Although the Bush administration believes that fostering a ‘‘global democratic revolution’’ is the key to defeating international terrorism,53 this approach is problematical. The president is part of a long U.S. tradition according to which ‘‘American liberal values and institutions constitute a generalizable model that promotes human rights and prosperity.’’54 However, other models of legitimacy may in fact be more applicable and suitable to the non-Western world.55 While the administration argues that liberal democracy is a universal value, many in the Muslim world view democratization as a distinctly American priority. At the very least, the democratization strategy is likely to take decades to bear real fruit, and in the meantime it may be wise to focus on more expedient approaches, given the urgent nature of the threat from al-Qaida. The focus therefore should be on stressing the danger that jihadist-salafism poses to core human values, as the U.S. national security advisor suggested in August 2004 when she characterized the ideology as one of ‘‘death and hatred’’ that must be fought by the ‘‘appeal of life and hope.’’56

Methods and Instruments

Neither American officials nor American Muslim leaders have enough credibility in the Islamic world to articulate these themes in a way that will resonate with significant audiences. Unfortunately, ‘‘people in other countries don’t see America as [a] beacon of idealism[,] but as something menacing,’’ as one journalist concluded recently.57 American policy for the Middle East, including support for Israel as well as for repressive regimes in the region, makes it nearly impossible for the U.S. government to wage an effective counterideological campaign unilaterally.

For these reasons, it is essential that the ideological countermessage be articulated by Muslims outside the United States. As suggested in the preceding section, jihadist-salafism has adversaries in the Islamic world, and these individuals and organizations should be given the resources to carry out a counteroffensive. This support should not be linked directly to the U.S. government. Rather, other governments, private foundations, and international organizations with greater credibility in the Muslim world should play a much greater part than they have played so far in helping voices opposed to jihadist-salafism to be heard. This is not to say that the United States’ traditional tools, such as international broadcasting, should be discarded. However, they should be used more widely as a ‘‘megaphone’’ for Muslims who reject the worldview being spread by al-Qaida. Many of these voices are likely to be strongly opposed to U.S. foreign policy, particularly with respect to the Middle East. The radical scholar Shaykh Salman al-Oadah, a Saudi once admired by bin Ladin, has criticized the 9/11 attacks for killing noncombatants, and in 2002 he coordinated an open letter written by Saudi intellectuals that called for greater dialogue with the West.58 The potential value of such figures as persuasive opponents of the al- Qaida ideology far outweighs whatever potential danger they might pose as detractors of the United States or Israel.

Support to writers, scholars, journalists, and other intellectuals should be central, since in ideological struggles, intellectuals by definition play an essential part in creating and articulating ideas that can be marshaled against one’s enemies. Encouraging a freer intellectual climate by supporting universities, publishing houses, Web sites, newspapers, and research institutions in the Islamic world would give Muslim intellectuals a base from which to create and disseminate antitotalitarian ideas, much as the Congress for Cultural Freedom did during the Cold War. Already, Muslim intellectuals are mounting sophisticated attacks on the distortions of Islam being made by bin Ladin and his followers, and these counterarguments should be given a wider hearing across the Islamic world.59

As important as the Internet is in terms of spreading extremist ideology, the United States and its allies should resist the temptation to deal with al-Qaida Web sites by simply pressuring Internet service providers (ISPs) to shut them down.60 Terrorists and their supporters are usually able to find new hosts with little difficulty. In addition, these Web sites serve as a window into the movement’s strategy, operations, and recruitment techniques that might not otherwise be available to intelligence analysts, law enforcement personnel, and other experts.

At the same time, the United States should work closely with its friends and allies to restrict the ability of ideologues of jihadist-salafism to spread their message in other ways. Such an approach runs counter to Western liberal traditions, and to the belief that a "marketplace of ideas" is the best antidote to despotic notions. Moreover, such an approach could play into the hands of tyrannical but useful governments, like the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan, that cites the ‘‘global war on terrorism’’ as an excuse for persecuting real or imagined opponents of the state.

But as discussed at the beginning of this chapter, defeating al-Qaida requires an attack on an ideology. To be effective, this counterpunch will require more than just allowing alternative worldviews in the Muslim world to be more widely disseminated, as important as that task is. In the Middle East, state-sponsored or state-run magazines and newspapers routinely publish the most hateful diatribes against "infidels," Jews, "crusaders," and other alleged "enemies" of Islam. In an article that appeared in a journal produced by the Religious Affairs Department of the Saudi armed forces, for example, it was charged that "World Jewry has established a shadow government run by 300 Satans who call themselves ‘elders. ’"61 Such publications serve as transmission belts for jihadist-salafism. The United States must do much more to pressure the leaders of Saudi Arabia and other governments to eliminate their support for such extremist expression, regardless of whatever political price these other states might be forced to pay domestically by attacking extremism.62 Similarly, all ideologues promoting jihadistsalafism should be dropped from government payrolls, forbidden to travel abroad, denied access to media outlets, stripped of welfare benefits, and denied other privileges. Advocates of suicide bombing, such as the Egyptian-born extremist Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who attended a conference in Britain in July 2004, should as a matter of policy be denied further opportunities to spread their ideological message to audiences in the West.63 Again, such measures inevitably raise questions of civil liberties, and every care must be taken to avoid the suppression of legitimate dissent. That said, these measures are certainly no harsher than many of the other widely used tools in the global campaign against al-Qaida, such as detention without trial, psychological and physical pressure against prisoners during interrogations, and the use of special operations forces and other military power against terrorist cadres.


Great powers have been hated throughout history. During a visit to Paris in 1903, in the aftermath of the second Boer War, King Edward VII of Great Britain, when told by a companion that "the French don’t like us," replied, "Why should they?"64 Today, as the world’s preeminent power, pursuing often highly unpopular policies, the United States is confronting swelling numbers of people around the world who don’t like us. But while we should never expect to be universally loved—as many Americans seem to expect—neither should we be oblivious of the fact that al-Qaida’s legions, and the millions of people in the Muslim world who support them, would like to see large numbers of Americans dead. As bin Ladin declared in 1998, it is an "individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country" to "kill Americans and their allies."65

To defeat al-Qaida, such notions must be fought far more effectively. Al-Qaida’s inner circle, and the dedicated cadres who make up the ranks of affiliated terrorist groups like Jemaah Islamiya in Southeast Asia, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in central Asia, and the Group for Salafist Preaching and Combat in north Africa, are almost certainly immune to counterideological messages. Instead, informational tools and strategies must be aimed at larger groups that may be receptive to the murderous message of jihadistsalafism. This approach, together with the full range of other forms of political, military, economic, and intelligence power, is essential if the West is to cut off the flow of terrorist recruits, money, and other resources, and halt the further spread of al-Qaida.


1. Frank Kitson, Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency, and Peacekeeping (London: Faber and Faber, 1971), p. 78.

2. For more on the nature, structure, and operations of al-Qaida, see Jason Burke, Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror (London and New York: Tauris, 2003), particularly chapters 1–2.

3. See, e.g., John Mackinlay, Globalisation and Insurgency. International Institute for Strategic Studies Adelphi Paper 352 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 79; and ‘‘Point Man of the Pentagon,’’ American Legion Magazine (August 2004): 30.

4. Michael Doran, ‘‘The Pragmatic Fanaticism of al Qaeda: An Anatomy of Extremism in the Middle East,’’ Political Science Quarterly 117:2 (Summer 2002): 187.

5. Anonymous [Michael Scheuer], Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror (Washington: Brassey’s, 2004), pp. 209–12.

6. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2004), p. 363; hereafter cited as 9/11 Commission Report.

7. ‘‘Strategic Deception in Modern Democracies: Ethical, Legal, and Policy Challenges,’’ Conference Brief, U.S. ArmyWar College Strategic Studies Institute, n.d., p. 2.

8. Carnes Lord, ‘‘The Psychological Dimension in National Strategy,’’ in Frank R. Barnett and Carnes Lord (eds.), Political Warfare and Psychological Operations (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1989): 22.

9. As U.S. Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker has concluded, this conflict "is a little bit like having cancer. You may get in remission, but it’s never going to go away in our lifetime." Quoted in Robert Burns, "Army Chief Says Islamic Extremist Threat Is Like a ‘Cancer’ That Will Linger," Associated Press (15 June 2004).

10. Susan L. Gough, ‘‘The Evolution of Strategic Influence,’’ USAWC [U.S. Army War College] Strategy Research Project, Carlisle Barracks, Pa. (7 April 2004), p. 1.

11. See, e.g., Andrew Buncombe, ‘‘Threat of War: Pentagon to Target Allies with Covert Propaganda,’’ Independent (London) (17 December 2002): 11.

12. Quoted in ‘‘Changing Minds, Winning Peace: A New Strategic Direction for U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World,’’ Report of the Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, Washington, D.C. (1 October 2003), p. 20.

13. Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 220.

14. Ibid., p. 219. The movement’s Saudi strain, known as Wahhabism, serves as kingdom’s state ideology. In general, ‘‘Muslims view the Western usage of the term . . . as carrying negative and derogatory connotations.’’ Febe Armanios, ‘‘The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya,’’ CRS [Congressional Research Service] Report for Congress, 22 December 2003, p. 1.

15. Febe Armanios, ‘‘The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya,’’ CRS Report for Congress (22 December 2003), p. 3. The term ‘‘wahhabism,’’ which has derogatory connotations for many Muslims, is a version of Salifiyya practiced in Saudi Arabia (p. 1).

16. Ibid., p. 3.

17. Sayyid Qutb, Milestones (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Mother Mosque Foundation, n.d.),p. 12.

18. ‘‘Usamah Bin-Ladin, the Destruction of the Base,’’ al-Jazeera (10 June 1999), Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS).

19. ‘‘Mujahid Usamah Bin Ladin Talks Exclusively to Nida’ul Islam about the New Powder Keg in the Middle East,’’ Nida’ul Islam (October–November 1996),, accessed 1 September 2004.

20. Maha Azzam, ‘‘Al-Qaeda: The Misunderstood Wahhabi Connection and the Ideology of Violence,’’ Royal Institute of International Affairs, Briefing Paper No. 1 (February 2003), p. 4.

21. See, e.g., ‘‘Azzam Exclusive: Letter from Usamah Bin Muhammad Bin Ladin to the American People,’’ Waaqiah (Internet) (26 October 2002), FBIS.

22. See, e.g., ‘‘Bin Laden’s Sermon for the Feast of the Sacrifice,’’ Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI], Special Dispatch Series No. 476 (5 March 2003), p. 10.

23. ‘‘Pakistan Interviews Osama Bin Laden,’’ Pakistan (Islamabad) (18 March 1997), FBIS.

24. John Gray, ‘‘Living with Bin Laden,’’ Independent on Sunday (London) (18 May 2003): 25.

25. This point is made in Bruce Hoffman, ‘‘The Leadership Secrets of Osama Bin Laden: The Terrorist as CEO,’’ Atlantic Monthly (April 2002): 26–27.

26. John Gray, ‘‘How Marx Turned Muslim,’’ Independent (London) (27 July 2002): 16.

27. ‘‘The Arabian Peninsula,’’ according to bin Laden, ‘‘has never . . . been stormed by any forces like the crusader armies spreading in it like locusts, eating its riches and wiping out its plantations.’’ ‘‘Bin-Laden, Others Sign Fatwa to ‘Kill Americans’ Everywhere,’’ Al-Quds al-Arabi (London) (23 February 1998), FBIS.

28. See, e.g., ‘‘About the Heroes’ Will and the Legitimacy of the New York and Washington Operations,’’ Alneda (Internet) (24 April 2002), FBIS.

29. Paul Berman, Terror and Liberalism (New York and London: Norton, 2003), p. 118.

30. Reuel Marc Gerecht, ‘‘The Gospel According to Osama Bin Laden,’’ Atlantic Monthly (January 2002) (online edition).

31. Timothy L. Thomas, ‘‘Al Qaeda and the Internet: The Danger of Cyberplanning,’’ Parameters 33:1 (Spring 2003): 112.

32. ‘‘Opening Statement of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz before the House Armed Services Committee’’ (10 August 2004), armedservices., accessed 18 October 2004.

33. See, e.g., J. Vaughn, ‘‘ ‘Cloak without Dagger’: How the Information Research Department Fought Britain’s Cold War in the Middle East, 1948–1956,’’ Cold War History 4:3 (April 2004): 56–84.

34. Gough, ‘‘The Evolution of Strategic Influence,’’ p. 16.

35. For various perspectives on these activities, see Scott Lucas, Freedom’s War: The American Crusade against the Soviet Union (New York: New York University Press, 1999); Frances Stoner Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and World of Arts and Letters (New York: New Press, 1999); Walter L. Hixson, Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 1945– 1961 (New York: St. Martin’s, 1998); and Kenneth A. Osgood, ‘‘Form before Substance: Eisenhower’s Commitment to Psychological Warfare and Negotiations with the Enemy,’’ Diplomatic History 24:3 (Summer 2000): 405–33.

36. Anthony J. Blinken, ‘‘Winning the War of Ideas,’’ Washington Quarterly 25:2 (Spring 2002): 105.

37. Lucas, Freedom’s War, p. 137.

38. Gough, ‘‘The Evolution of Strategic Influence,’’ pp. 20–4.

39. Newton N. Minow, ‘‘The Whisper of America,’’ Decision Memorandum, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (August 2003).

40. ‘‘Shays Hearing on Public Diplomacy in the Middle East,’’ press release (10 February 2004),, accessed 15 March 2004.

41. J. Michael Waller, ‘‘Losing a Battle for Hearts and Minds,’’ Insight on the News (22 April 2002): 18.

42. Quoted in Bill Powell, ‘‘Struggle for the Soul of Islam,’’ Time (13 September 2003): 46.

43. 9/11 Commission Report, p. 361.

44. Powell, ‘‘Struggle for the Soul of Islam,’’ p. 46.

45. See, e.g., Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, ‘‘A Year after Iraq War: Mistrust of America in Europe Ever Higher, Muslim Anger Persists’’ (16 March 2004),¼206, accessed 8 September 2004.

46. Blinken, ‘‘Winning the War of Ideas,’’ p. 105.

47. Derek Kinnane, ‘‘Winning Over the Muslim Mind,’’ National Interest (Spring 2004): 94.

48. Hady Amr, ‘‘The Need to Communicate: How to Improve U.S. Public Diplomacy with the Islamic World,’’ Analysis Paper, No. 6, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution (January 2004), pp. 31–2. For more on the failure of the U.S. battle for Muslim ‘‘hearts and minds,’’ see David E. Kaplan, Aamir Latif, Kevin Whitelaw, and Julian E. Barnes, ‘‘Hearts, Minds, and Dollars,’’ US News & World Report (25 April 2005): 22.

49. ‘‘Commentator Analyzes Recent Bin Ladin Tapes, Sees U.S. as Losing ‘Information War’ against al-Qaeda,’’ Al-Ansar (Internet) (20 November 2002), FBIS.

50. Abram N. Shulsky, ‘‘Comment,’’ in Barnett and Lord, Political Warfare, p. 106.

51. See, e.g., White House, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, D.C.: White House, September 2002), p. 6.

52. Anonymous, Imperial Hubris, p. 136. For a useful discussion on countering transnational revolutionary ideologies, see Mark N. Katz, ‘‘Speaking Freely: Defeating Islamic Fundamentalism,’’ Asia Times Online, 26 February 2005,, accessed 3 March 2005.

53. See, e.g., White House, Office of Management and Budget, ‘‘Department of State and International Assistance Programs’’ (7 September 2004), www., accessed 7 September 2004.

54. Zachary Selden, ‘‘Neoconservatives and the American Mainstream,’’ Policy Review (April–May 2004),, accessed 7 May 2004. For a representative expression of the administration’s views, see ‘‘State of the Union Address,’’ 2 February 2005, releases/2005/02/print/20050202-11.html, accessed 13 June 2005.

55. John Gray, ‘‘Global Utopias and Clashing Civilizations: Misunderstanding the Present,’’ International Affairs (London) 74:1 (1998): 149.

56. White House, ‘‘Dr. Rice Addresses War on Terror’’ (19 August 2004),, accessed 24 August 2004.

57. David Ignatius, ‘‘A Copernican Foreign Policy,’’ Washington Post (7 September 2004): 23.

58. Paul Eedle, ‘‘Terrorism.Com,’’ Guardian (London) (17 July 2002): 4.

59. See, e.g., ‘‘Liberal Muslim Scholar: The Term ‘Jihad’ Is Misunderstood by Islamist Clerics,’’ MEMRI Special Dispatch Series, No. 699 (23 April 2004),¼subjects&Area¼reform&ID¼SP69904, accessed 8 September 2004; and ‘‘Arab Liberal: Most Islamic Ideologues, Organization Leaders Advocate Violence,’’ MEMRI Special Dispatch Series, No. 696,¼subjects&Area¼reform&ID¼ SP69604, accessed 8 September 2004.

60. See, e.g., Paul Eedle, ‘‘Al-Qaeda Takes Fight for ‘Hearts and Minds’ to the Web,’’ Jane’s Intelligence Review (August 2002): 25.

61. ‘‘Saudi Armed Forces Journal on the Jews: ’The Fabricated Torah, Talmud, and Protocols of the Elders of Zion Command Destruction of All Non-Jews for World Domination,’ ’’ MEMRI Special Dispatch Series, No. 768 (20 August 2004),¼subjects&Area¼antisemitism&ID¼ SP76804, accessed 9 September 2004.

62. The Saudi authorities have made progress in this direction, having banned hundreds of extremists from preaching in mosques. Max Rodenbeck, ‘‘Unloved in Arabia,’’ New York Review of Books (21 October 2004), articles/17477, accessed 26 October 2004.

63. ‘‘Muslim Cleric Faces New Attack Over Visit,’’ Daily Telegraph (London) (11 July 2004),¼/news/2004/07/ 12/ucleric.xml&sSheet¼/portal/2004/07/12/ixportaltop.html, accessed 20 October 2004.

64. Kevin Myers, ‘‘The Fishy Heart of the Entente Cordiale,’’ Sunday Telegraph (London) (4 April 2004): 22.

65. ‘‘Usama Bin-Ladin, Others Sign Fatwa to ‘Kill Americans’ Everywhere,’’ Al-Quds al-Arabi (London) (23 February 1998), FBIS.

TOPICS: Extended News; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; globaljihad; randcorp; warofideas; wot

1 posted on 07/01/2007 2:49:49 PM PDT by Valin
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To: Valin


2 posted on 07/01/2007 2:53:42 PM PDT by WorkerbeeCitizen (An American Patriot and an anti-Islam kind of fellow. (POI))
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