Arming for the Second War of Ideas

Arming for the Second War of Ideas by Matt Armstrong, 20 January 2009, at Threats in the Age of Obama

Today, perceptions created and forged by words and deeds, some of which may be violent acts, are part of orchestrated efforts to gain strategic influence over friends, foes, and neutrals.

…America’s adversaries have quickly adapted to the new environment using information as force multipliers. Today, bullets and bombs have a much smaller impact than the propaganda opportunities they create – opportunities to influence public opinion and build public support.

…While the U.S. has come around to the importance of public opinion, forward progress is, at best, slow. Policymakers and legislators continue to debate the role of persuasion through means other than brute force to national security imperatives from economics, health, terrorism, and war. Our adversaries, however, are moving ahead and increasingly using the tools and techniques developed within the United States.