This looks like good news:
U.S., Allies See Progress in Selling Al-Qaeda As an Enemy to the Muslim World“, Walter Pincus, Washington Post (28 April 2008) — Excerpt:
“More and more Muslim and Arab populations — [including] clerics and scholars — are questioning the value of al-Qaeda’s program,” Juan Carlos Zarate, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, said Wednesday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Or, it might be bad news:
“Using Info Operations to Defeat AQ“, Marc Lynch, posted at Abu Aardvark (29 April 2008) — Excerpt:
Thanks to Matt Armstrong for tipping me off to the online proceedings of the 2008 Unrestricted Warfare Symposiumat Johns Hopkins, which includes an interesting set of briefing slides by Col. Karen Lloyd of J3, Joint IO Warfare Center. The interesting part of her presentation was what appears, from the slides, to be some frank discussion of what the US is currently doing in the information operations arena against al-Qaeda, including from Slide 6 …
… Now, compare this to an April 23 speech at the Washington Institute by deputy national security advisor for combatting terrorism Juan Zarate called “Winning the War on Terror,” which offered four examples of the “growing rejection of the al-Qaida program and message”:
These examples offered by a senior American official to an American audience in support of the claim that “al-Qaeda is losing” (persuasive enough to merit a story in the Washington Post) mirror, nearly point for point, the examples presented by Col. Lloyd of successful US information operations aimed at defeating al-Qaeda.
But this only makes it more important to highlight yet again the very real risks of “blowback”, conventionally defined as “the consequences that resulted when an intelligence agency participated in foreign media manipulation, which was then reported by domestic news sources in other countries as accepted facts.” In this case, the blowback effect would be Americans coming to believe our own propaganda about al-Qaeda and then formulating policy based on our own disinformation.
It’s one thing to “fabricate stories”, “exploit disillusioned jihadis”, or transmit a narrative that “al-Qaeda is losing” in order to weaken al-Qaeda with Muslim audiences and counter their propaganda. It’s another when such information operations then filter back into our domestic policy debates or into the policy-making process (or, worse yet, if shaping the domestic arena is actually the point – but that’s a slightly different set of issues).
Prof Lynch assumes (or pretends to assume) that this ‘info blowback’ from foreign info ops to the America public is inadvertent. I doubt that, and recent disclosures support that guess.
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Other posts on this topic
- News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW!
- The 2 most devastating 4GW attacks on America, and the roots of FM 3-24
- The media discover info ops, with outrage!
- Only our amnesia makes reading the newspapers bearable