Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Winning the "War of Ideas"

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns defeating and destroying ISIS. Barack Obama claimed that ISIS was the “JV team” and did not cause any concern. We watched helplessly as ISIS grew and took over territory, and the President of the United States did nothing. He could not even call them Islamist terrorists. His administration developed a plan to fight terrorism called “Countering Violent Extremism.” He did not define the real problem.

            Donald Trump declared that his top foreign policy priority was to defeat and to destroy ISIS. He defines the problem as Islamist terrorists. This is a big deal because a problem must first be identified in order to solve it. Trump put a name on the problem – Islamist terrorism - and is now looking for solutions.

            In his article titled “Top 10 Waysto Make War on the `War of Ideas',’” James Jay Carafano shares some ideas on how to fight the war against Islamist terrorism at home and abroad. Here are his ten guidelines for the new administration in this critical battle.

10. Help Americans understand the changing nature of the war. The global face of Islamist terrorism looks far different from when President Obama took office. Americans understand that, but grasping how the threat has changed can be difficult in a hyperpartisan America where politics define views on foreign and security policy….

9. Do not allow efforts to be captured by ulterior motivations. … Advisers must be carefully vetted. No adviser should be a government stooge or a cheerleader for administration policy, but they all must have an unshakable belief in democracy, equality, tolerance, freedom of speech and the rule of law.

8. Focus on Islamist Threats. Islamist terrorism is among the most dangerous destabilizing threats in the world today. The movement of foreign fighters is particularly challenging. And political Islam both threatens democracy and promotes extremism….

7. Limit domestic programs and keep them modest in character. … American Islamist terrorists are a tiny data set of any data set other than other terrorists. U.S. programs ought to be scoping for specific communities and threats where a particular need is identified rather than focusing on a broad, national scope.

6. Focus domestic programs on counterterrorism. The main goal should be to identify and interdict criminal activity related to terrorism. Programs should give special attention to activities, such as proving material support, that are precursors to criminal acts.

5. Make domestics programs bottom-up. Washington should not be dictating the needs and scope of programs to state and local officials and law enforcement agencies….

4. Emphasize support to the field in overseas programs. Although ISIS and Al Qaeda are global phenomena, they manifest themselves based on local conditions…. U.S. efforts ought to be prioritized and resources pushed to support local programs and be well-integrated with regional strategies that complement other efforts to address radicalization with other instruments of national power and regional partners.

3. End handouts that don’t deliver. The United States ought to scrupulously review programs to ensure they are supporting our strategic priorities….

2. Avoid obsessing over social media. Despite what you may have heard, social media is not the root cause of radicalization….

1. Drop the label. “Countering Violent Extremism” is an overly vague term. Lacking clarity and precision of scope and focus, it contributes little to explaining what government programs should be….

            These are great suggestions for fighting the war on terrorism. We must win the “war of ideas” before we can destroy terrorism. Helle Dale at The Daily Signal added an eleventh point about “the importance of information and communication in defeating the enemy.” She writes:

For that, the United States government has powerful tools – in particular, the civilian entities of U.S. International Broadcasting under the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

These broadcasters are legitimate and important tools of U.S. foreign policy, and have been ever since they were created in World War II.

The U.S. government has devoted millions of dollars over the last 15 years toward expanding these broadcast services to the Middle East and Afghanistan, with varying degrees of success….

The Trump team must now create a comprehensive broadcasting strategy to reach and inform audiences who are trapped behind enemy lines, often by autocratic Islamist regimes. This should become part of a clear, focused, and revitalized counterterrorism strategy.

            As we can see from this list, there are many actions that the U.S. government can take to fight Islamic terrorism. The most important thing that our leaders can do is to persuade Americans that there is a problem by defining it clearly and then convincing all Americans to support the fight. 

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