The war on terror is a form of political warfare and a battle of narratives which the United States is not winning. The rise of anti-Americanism in the world is a critical metric that the U.S. government must both understand and reverse if it is to reduce the threat to the homeland. Because of the power of the Internet and the global media environment, terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda spend considerable time not just planning attacks, but how to promote them after the fact. The United States must engage more forcefully and realistically in this war of ideas. It must get inside the decision-making cycle of communities that give terrorists explicit or tacit support.
One way to do this is to promote the development of independent global media. The State Department, not the Pentagon, should have the lead on public diplomacy and strategic global communications. The United States should support the expansion of genuinely independent and privately owned media around the world where none exist.
Middle East outlets have been complicit in supporting violence against U.S. interests, but the natural impulse to attempt to control content is a mistake. What is needed is a genuine marketplace of ideas that expands legitimate debate and encourages the peaceful resolution of differences. The United States, rather than vilifying existing outlets such as al Jazeera, should engage them repeatedly, challenging when appropriate editorial decisions viewed as promoting violence and conflict.
To read more ideas about how to improve our homeland security, please see: