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We Invented It, Let's Use It

Thursday, June 22, 2006

As the "global war on terrorism" enters its fifth year, it has become increasingly evident that the United States and its allies are involved in an ideological war, in which propaganda and moral suasion will play a large part. Some Bush administration officials, such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, have recently jettisoned the "GWOT" moniker in favor of the less martial and more comprehensive "struggle against violent extremism." National security advisor Stephen Hadley has also begun emphasizing the ideological nature of this conflict, recently telling a reporter that the United States is involved in "more than just a military war on terror" and must offer an alternative to the "gloomy vision" of Muslim extremists.

A key part of any foreign policy aimed at winning such a battle of ideas is public diplomacy -- government-funded efforts to communicate directly with foreign publics, largely through broadcasting. The role of Radio Free Europe in the Cold War, for example, is an undeniable testament to the power of this tool of statecraft against an ideologically motivated enemy. ...

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