Small Wars Journal

Losing the Information War and How to Win

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 4:45am

Losing the Information War and How to Win

Michael Anderson

We are losing the information war. We face an enemy ideology that crafted and shaped an enduring, effective message, near perfecting dissemination and application to relevant target audiences- the disaffected around the globe- while we remain, at best, reactive and, at worst, counter-productive in our own messaging. The extremist ideological message of groups across the Islamic spectrum from Sunni to Shia, Al-Qaeda and affiliates, or ISIL, and other splinter group across the Levant, Maghreb, and the world, are even drawing adherence from developed nations. To secure the proliferation of Western ideals and values of freedom and free-thinking, there must be increased focus on the information war, reshaping the approach to messaging, bringing it on equal or superior footing to the physical efforts across the globe combating the enduring tide of extremist thought infecting the world’s disaffected.

In principle there is a new worldwide, existential ideological struggle, reminiscent of the Cold War of the 1950s-1990. This time the Western public is failing to acknowledge the degree of the struggle. The power and influence of public opinion is seen as either indifferently effecting the messaging struggle or counteracting what limited efforts are attempted.

The Cold War began with open acknowledgement of what the struggle was about, famously enunciated by Winston Churchill’s Westminster speech- “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent… The Communist parties, which were very small in all these Eastern States of Europe, have been raised to pre-eminence and power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian control.”[1] These opening Cold War comments sound eerily familiar for a new ideological war with new protagonists and antagonists. There was a clear strategic message of democracy versus communism. In a broader context this applied a consolidated, unified message giving motivation, spirit, and resolution for the long struggle of the West against the onslaught of communist persuasion. This came from clear, consistent messaging, even if reality at times was complicated with “democracy” supporting convenient totalitarian regimes to combat communist spread in Latin America and Asia, or communist tolerating democratic/economic facades to support their states’ attempts to materially keep up with the West. The message today needs to be a clear one, crafted to speak to freedom of choice (not particularly democracy as understood in a political sense) versus total subservience to a singularly allowed dogma (essentially oppression of choice). Instead the West mainly conducts an emotional counter-messaging response to “atrocities” and “horrors” perpetuated by extremist ideologies. While this is relevant and should be an aspect of the messaging campaign, it lacks the resonance alone to effect persuasion in the disaffected fence-sitters, nor does it demoralize the enemy.

Like the Cold War, this has not been a total war of physical dominance, with zero-sum dilemmas, although, like the Cold War’s so-called “hot spots”, there has been elements of physical violence utilized to influence the broader context. Where there was Korea and Vietnam, there has been Afghanistan and Iraq; where there was low-intensity struggle over Latin America’s future, there has been over Africa’s. More importantly than the shooting wars strategically is the war of messaging ideology:  support and reassure the final rightness of the cause and victory, persuade the undecided and disaffected, meanwhile undermining the claims of the other, discouraging their will to continue and faith in their victory.

Extremist ideologues are not united among themselves, and neither were the Soviet Union and Red China. Extremist of the Sunni-Shia split are in no way unified, but both pose a threat to an ideology of free choice. For the West diversity is part of the strength and message, and even in the Cold War – what was perhaps the greatest unity among free-thinking societies – had splinters, such as the temperamental relationship between De Gaulle’s France and NATO. What is different is the unity of messaging, and the extremists cleverly and effectively target the discontented audiences and identify their vulnerabilities.[2] The predisposition of the disaffected audiences in the new global connectivity and individualism of the West allows them to reach across borders more effectively than communist messaging ever did, exponentially increasing the insider threat and demanding improved unity of internal messaging as well as external. This goes to the West’s failure to properly message its ideological stance versus the extremist view, resulting in a lack of internal fortitude much less capitalizing on free-societies support for the fight.

In fact, the West has been more effective messaging its societies that they are not in an existential struggle with few people realizing the magnitude of the ideological struggle and nature of the current “war on extremism”, or that the West is even still at war with extremist ideology after repetitive assertions about “no boots on the ground” or “advisors only” in these extremist contested hot spots, while rhetoric highlights other growing nation-state threats. Lost on most is the full extent Americans and military assets regularly deployed on nearly every continent supporting local forces- serving essentially as “proxies”- or even the residual combat forces in Afghanistan and uptick in the Middle East. Of course, there is the sensational raid or attack that breaks through and gets Americans tuned in for a news cycle, but that fades.

If there isn’t a strong message for a war of ideas, persuading internal support much less persuading the undecided, it internally conveys how good things must be if the impact is small enough on daily life to accept a continued struggle- that the opponent’s ideology is depraved enough to support limited engagement but not enough for a full commitment. The American public accepted over sixteen years of open war, but barely even comprehend what it’s about, or has been for, with some veterans struggling with this and they were the actual practitioners. What is the message? What is it against? Not knowing or watered-down messaging is an inconclusive strategy in a war of ideas.

With the decision to not fully marshal the public support behind an information campaign like the concerted one during the Cold War, any attempts to properly wage an information war remain hindered, leaving limited efforts disjointed and ineffective. The messaging war should be the frontline, but remains a secondary effort, whereas the enemy sees it as a primary tool in the prolonged struggle- the long game. We are dominant at the shooting war, but they maximize messaging to recruit and continue the strategic struggle no matter our tactical or even operational successes. Their skills at the information war can negate our actual successes in the shooting war by turning it against us through propaganda, increasing recruitment of disaffected and displaced.

Without properly convincing the West that this ideological struggle is existential and on par with “communist world domination” of Cold War-era, we cater to the safe side of our values and sensibilities. This is not a call to compromise values, but rather accepting hard times call for tough measures. It is war, after all, at least if properly conveyed to public society. As a society, core values must be maintained, and hold those in power accountable. Just like a shooting war, rough things happen, people die and are killed, and if lines are crossed, those are held accountable. Likewise, if in the information war messaging tactics and techniques cross the line then those are held accountable. This largely applies to values like free-speech or profiling, and certain general liberties. It can be a dangerous path, much like prolonged exposure to close combat can be to individuals, but without closely managed and mitigated risk there is no reward.

One of the most concerning dangers involves the backlash of the public against all Muslims if there is a concerted messaging campaign targeting the extremists. A valid concern, and should be definitely addressed through concerted positive messaging of the good done by moderate Muslims both within the West but also internationally. Often the international Muslim communities pay a heavier price in the fight against extremist oppression, and yet, without properly buttressing an internal view of our allies within public dialogue it leads to an under-appreciation of the shared cause, reflecting poorly in occasions of bias and mistrust of Western Muslims, both detracting from unity against extremism, even inspiring extremists more and improving their very recruitment messages.

In the messaging endeavor, it is cherished values of free-speech, equality, openness, and inclusiveness which the enemy exploits. These qualities must not be allowed to completely cripple messaging against the enemy. Rhetoric should not be tempered, and messaging be assertive, promoting our ideology over theirs and why it is better. We should not fail to target their messaging preemptively through all means because fear of how it might look. Whether it is doing more to block website access, influence servers and grids, or conduct character assassinations of notable extremist. This would be the information operations in conjunction with raids and aerial strikes. Self-restricting in any way other than morality, clearly maintaining the rule of applicable law, is detrimental to the overall intent. We need to build a coalition within ourselves against the enemy, the way we were united publically, openly, and energetically against communism in the Cold War. The ability to undermine the opposing message exists in the robust Muslim citizenry supportive of freedom and peace, not to mention a worldwide Muslim community that likewise has a stake in the information war for the “hearts and minds” of its people. With a positive, well-crafted and legitimate message we can have our own citizens sharing the targeted audience’s personal belief system help message why the free-thinking ideals provide a better world to the undecided and disenfranchised around the world, simultaneously disparaging the extremist’s message of hate, persecution, and oppression.

Indicators of a way forward exist, exemplified by the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center. This center, an interagency group created in spring 2016 from Executive Order 13721, “leads the coordination, integration, and synchronization of government-wide activates directed at foreign audiences abroad for the purpose of countering violent extremism and terrorism.”[3] It includes elements from the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, the Intelligence Community, Broadcast Board of Governors, and USAID. An important aspect of this nascent tool in the information war is the granting necessary authorities, technology, personnel, and budgetary support to move it to the forefront of the campaign to counter extremist ideology worldwide, not just ISIL. The momentum behind this center is precisely the direction needed, to include balancing direct campaigning against extremist messaging with facilitating likeminded partner nation and non-governmental groups adding credence to the messaging.[4] Though primarily focused on counter-messaging to increase extremists’ group defections and preempt recruitment, it is largely focused on ISIL and is reactive.

Returning to the Cold War model, the Global Engagement Center needs further authorities with independence of action, similar to the Cold War-era U.S. Information Agency. The USIA was an independent agency centralizing the strategic level information campaign against the Soviet Union, but was closed in 1999 for budgetary measures.[5] Closer modeling the Global Engagement Center after this is a fuller step to empowering the current joint interagency attempt.

The messaging effort cannot be encapsulated purely in the Western government outlets of official statements, public speeches, and overall efforts of the respective Public Affairs Offices, or when overseas with foreign audiences, the Military Information Support Operations (formerly Psychological Operations). In conjunction with these key efforts and those of coordinated partner outreach efforts like those of the Global Engagement Center, encouraged and facilitated non-government methods need to be made. This will increase the amount of messaging, but diversify it, adding to credibility for outlets independent of, though facilitated by, the government. Much as the government funds and supports independent think-tanks, research, and historical preservation efforts, resulting in publications of studies, reports, and literature on these subjects, likewise grants, projects, and funding should be provided to encourage outside independent groups and authors to add to the public messaging under the auspices of these government managed programs. These should be inclusive of increasing fellowships and grants to civilian institutions and organizations in addition to similar government sponsored programs. The result of private, civilian institutions and individuals promoting the key messages desired along with official government sponsored products would exponentially add to the positive effect in credibility and in totality. Proliferation of thought and simple increasing of voice are impactful.

Three aspects are integral to successful information warfare:  a clear message to persuade undecided, to inspire and reassure support of the adherent, and lastly to discourage and undermine the resolve of the opponent’s message. To return to Churchill’s Westminster “Sinews of Peace” speech, “When American military men approach some serious situation they are wont to write at the head of their directive the words “over-all strategic concept.” There is wisdom in this, as it leads to clarity of thought. What then is the over-all strategic concept which we should inscribe today? It is nothing less than the safety and welfare, the freedom and progress, of all the homes and families of all the men and women in all the lands.”[6] During the Cold War, the West knew where they stood and how they were right and thus unaffected by what communist might say or claim, because the internal messaging was clear. The information war was waged aggressively at home and abroad. And the West won the Cold War. The West knows how to win this war. Until openly building popular support with a clear message, allowing effective counter-messaging, and dismantling the opposing ideology through identifying the targeted audience and persuading them against the extremists, tactical victory will only continue in the “whack-a-mole” shooting war conflicts ongoing for nearly two decades. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center is a small start, but only addresses part of the problem- nothing of internal consensus building-, and is far too minimized in comparison to other “tools” in the war on extremist ideology. The information war must be the main front to win, and therefore must be properly supported and executed; winning over the disaffected, convincing them this is best for them and their guaranteed future, and being unapologetic about why it is and why the enemy is not only wrong, but adverse for their personal good. At that point, the focus can shift, allowing concentration on the physical elimination of the remaining adherence of the opposing view. Until the scales are tipped back from the extremist’s dominance of the message to the disaffected, all that remains is simply killing new and old adherents to the extremist views.

End Notes

[1] Sir Winston Churchill, “The Sinews of Peace” speech delivered at Westminster, 5 March 1946, text from The International Churchill Society,, accessed 3 May 2017.

[2] John Williams, “Counter-messaging Daesh”, in Special Warfare, July-December 2016, pp. 47.

[3] Williams, “Counter-messaging Daesh”, p. 47.

[4] Ibid, pp. 48-49.

[5] John A. Nagle, Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern war in Theory and Practice, (New York:  Penguin Books, 2015), pp. 135-136.

[6] Churchill, “Sinews of Peace” speech administered at Westminster, 5 March 1946.


About the Author(s)

Michael Anderson is a U.S. Army infantry officer. He previously served as executive officer for Special Operations Command - Forward (Central Africa), commander of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, 53rd Infantry Brigade; battalion S3 plans officer in 2-124 IN; rifle platoon leader in B Company, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division; as troop executive officer and a dismounted scout platoon leader in C Troop, 1st Squadron, 153rd Cavalry Regiment (Reconnaissance Surveillance Target Acquisition). Other assignments included assistant professor of Military Science at the University of Central Florida Army ROTC; and as a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History. He earned a bachelor's degree in history and political science (international relations) from the University of Central Florida, and a master's degree in military history from Norwich University. Previous publications include "Staff Ride, Dade's Battle, Florida, 28 December 1835: A Study of Leadership in Irregular Conflict" published by CSI Press and "The Price of the Salute" in Infantry Magazine (January-March 2017).


Given the help provided to me by Warlock, let me offer my argument below in possibly a more clear and concise manner. Here goes:

It is:

a. Not that "we are losing the information war" that explains why -- for all our efforts -- for every enemy that we "remove from the battlefield" (at home and abroad) (a) two or more enemies appear to take their place and (b) alliances and "networks" -- worldwide it would seem -- form against us. Rather, it is:

b. The clear rejection (by national leaders, statesmen and, most importantly, by untold numbers of average citizens/average Janes and Joes of different states, societies and civilizations) -- of our effort to transform their states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines -- which best explains these phenomenon. (ALL these folks believing that, by way of these such unwanted transformations, and in one way or another, their "ox will be gored?")

Such was the case with states and societies confronting unwanted "transformation" by the Soviets/the communists during the Old Cold War, and such appears to be the case with states and societies confronting unwanted "transformation" by the U.S./the West today.

Given this reality, then how can the U.S./the West -- with a straight face and with integrity --

a. Continue to call these such, massive, varied, and indeed worldwide resistance movements "extremists?" (Herein, understanding that these include both great nations [Russia; China] and small, both state and non-state actors [ISIS; AQ] and -- given the replacement levels at the various "battlefields" -- untold numbers of average citizens/average Janes and Joes?) And/or

b. Suggest that it is by way of an "information" effort/campaign (which better explains how we intend to destroy these folk's way of life, way of governance, values, etc., and replace same with our alien and profane versions?) that we will "win?" (Given the above, "force" would seem be the tool in the tool-box that we will most likely be required to use. Yes?)

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

As long as we remain in denial of:

a. The -- often significant non-appeal -- of our unusual and unique way of life, our unusual and unique way of governance and our unusual and unique values, attitudes and beliefs. (See Huntington's "Clash of Civilization" for a detailed description of these.) And, accordingly, in denial of:

b. The reality that our worldwide "transformational" efforts (including information campaigns related to same?) are clearly producing more enemies than friends. (Again: see two enemies produced for every one taken off the battlefield; alliances and networks formed against us; these, including and both great nations and small, both state and non-state actors and, most importantly, untold numbers of average citizens/average Janes and Joes?),

As long as we remain in such denial, then, I suggest, we will continue to -- quite understandably it would seem -- consider, propose and produce possibly very poor, and often very counterproductive, solutions. Yes?

Outlaw 09

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 4:59pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

This is the 1st U.S. government #RussiaReport to detail exactly how Putin operates, from a toolbox that includes military invasions, cyberattacks, disinformation, supporting fringe political groups, and weaponizing energy, crime & corruption.

Summary here:

EU Mythbusters
‏ @EUvsDisinfo
Which countries are the most frequent targets of pro-Kremlin disinformation? Yes, it’s the three countries seen as Russia’s “top enemies”. Read & share the fresh #DisinfoReview

Outlaw 09

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 4:40pm

Perfect example

The Steele Dossier that we hear so much about. In fact there are deliberate RIS disinformation elements slid in by GRU and SVR into the report but overlooked is the simple fact that it has largely been proven to have been correct.

Now take a serious look on how it is being used as a form of info warfare by a US political party in the defense of the President and to discredit the FBI.

So in fact info warfare cuts both ways.

Then after all the massive chatter on how fake the Dossier is then this suddenly appears to clear the info warfare air.

"Top intel Republican can’t name a single falsehood in the Trump-Russia dossier."

So it is not only Russian info warfare that is concerning, it is also about some in the US who are using the same Russian tactics inside the US against the US.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 4:25pm

Sorry but after an intense year of my IT company here in Berlin battling daily and even hourly with Russian trolls and bots coupled with US ultra right trolls and bots, this article does not even come close to understanding what is defined in Russian non linear warfare as "information warfare" used primarliy in the first four phases of the 8 phase process.

Until such articles are written by authors who have spent some time in the social media trenches and fully understand exactly how even now Russian info warfare is in fact doubling down the debate about whether we are winning or not is a mute point.

Notice that even this author does not refer to the Russian 6Ds of propaganda, DEFLECT, DISTORT, DISTRACT, DISMISS all designed to create DOUBT and DISTRUST.

Until you understand exactly this then you cannot move on to countering it.

We are in fact losing and the sooner we accept that and use the 380M in approved Congressional funds to start countering it the better off we will be, but wait, why has the WH not approved the use of those funds is a valid question.

Right now there are four main counter info warfare orgs and individuals who are doing a great job in push back and none of them reside in the US, they are all European based.

Why is that.

"He who controls the narrative, controls the information war".

And we are a long way from controlling the "narrative"......

Bill C.

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 5:11pm

In reply to by Warlock

Can you provide us with something that substantiates/confirms/helps verify your thoughts above?

If so, could you also possibly indicate how this understanding might effect -- and/or how this understanding might be used if-at-all to our advantage -- in the Information War?

(Note: And if United States Army Special Operations Command is seriously considering, re: our current conflict paradigm, S.P. Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations," then maybe we should also. Yes?) (See the bottom of Page 6.)


Fri, 01/12/2018 - 8:25am

In reply to by Bill C.

Where we differ is your continued insistence that this is a deliberate, organized strategy to remake the rest of the world in our own image, rather than making it up as we go along. If only we were that organized.... Stop dressing it up as a clash of civilizations, and figure out who's ox is being gored...who's losing power, position, or money. There's your resistance.

Bill C.

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 4:59pm

In reply to by Warlock

In these cases then, wherein, a foreign expansionist power (think the Soviets/the communists yesterday and the U.S./the West today) -- seeking to "modernize" the entire Rest of the World more along this foreign power's own, unusual and unique (and thus often alien and profane), political, economic, social and value lines -- herein threatening:

a. Not only the "existing power structure" of these targeted Rest of the World states and societies but also critically:

b. The "existing ways of life," the "existing ways of governance" and the "existing values, attitudes and beliefs" of the average citizens/the average "Janes" and "Joes" of these outlying states and societies. (Much as the advance of communism threatened -- not only the U.S./the West's "existing power structures" -- but also, oh so obviously, the way of life, etc., of the U.S./the West's average citizens/average "Janes" and "Joes?")

In these such instances then, is it not understandable that these "resisting alien and profane modernization" entities (in both the Old Cold War versus the Soviets/the communists back then, and likewise in the current era and versus the U.S./the West today, includes both great nations and small and both state and non-state actors?) would not be attracted -- but, indeed, would be repelled (and, thus, stimulated to rebellion and cooperation with each other in the service of same?) -- by the foreign expansionist power (again, think the Soviets/the communists during the Old Cold War and the U.S./the West today):

a. Standing on their roof-tops.

b. Shouting through a megaphone (or through the internet today).

c. This foreign expansionist power's intent to:

1. Destroy the existing political, economic, social and value institutions and norms of these targeted Rest of the World states and societies and to:

2. Replace same with their (the alien and profane "expansionist" foreign power's) own such structures?

(In this manner, for example, to fulfill Churchill's ["world revolution?"] "overall strategic concept" -- which was/is "nothing less than the safety and welfare, the freedom and progress, of all the homes and families of all the men and women in all the lands.”?)

Food for thought -- for those involved in the "information war?"


Wed, 01/10/2018 - 12:37pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Of course such things as "values," "traditions," etc., also apply, since they can influence distribution of power and privilege as much as the formal political structure, especially in places like the Islamic heartland, where Islamic values and traditions *define* political power. Your example above of mandatory education for women and girls is a perfect example. What greater threat to the existing power structure than providing half the population the means to independently absorb and interpret information! We imposed similar restrictions in earlier history, for much the same reasons.

The fact that insurgency and counterinsurgency seem to have reversed roles is more about the way we define the terms than any real change. We call ourselves counterinsurgents in Afghanistan, for example, because we threw out the existing national government and replaced it with a new one. But ask an Afghan tribesman, and he might say that the only "government" he ever recognized was his local imam...since a bunch of foreigners and their lackeys in Kabul are trying to replace that guy, *they're* the insurgents, and he's part of the counterinsurgency!

Bill C.

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 5:45pm

In reply to by Warlock

I do not disagree with the "existing power structure" aspect of your argument above but, as the following items appear to illustrate, such things as "values," "traditions," etc.; these also seem to clearly apply -- today much as they did in the Old Cold War -- and especially as to our, much like the communists before us, (a) clear "transformational" message, (b) exceptionally well-understood "overall strategic concept" and (c) activities undertaken in their name:


The overt attack on Afghan social values was presented, by the resistance forces, as an attack on Islamic values. This was also seen as an attack on the honor of women. The initiatives introduced by PDPA (the communist Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan) -- to impose literacy on women and girls -- inevitably raised questions as to the potential role of women outside the home. This provoked defensive actions from men, concerned with protecting the honor of women with their families, and to also ensure that traditional roles of women within the domestic sphere continued to be performed. It also generated fears that the important roles of women, as the primary vehicles for passing traditional and Islamic values from one generation to another, would be undermined if they were exposed to external and, particularly, non-Islamic values. This enabled the exiled radical Islamic parties to claim leadership of the resistance and to also declare a jihad.


(Item in parenthesis above is mine.) (On Page 58, in Chapter 4 entitled "The Soviet Military Intervention."

Kilcullen also seems to have noticed, and commented on, the "values," the "traditions," etc., aspect of contemporary conflicts.


But, in several modern campaigns — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chechnya, for example — the government or invading coalition forces initiated the campaign, whereas insurgents are strategically reactive (as in “resistance warfare”). Such patterns are readily recognizable in historical examples of resistance warfare, but less so in classical counterinsurgency theory. ...

Politically, in many cases today, the counterinsurgent represents revolutionary change, while the insurgent fights to preserve the status quo of ungoverned spaces, or to repel an occupier — a political relationship opposite to that envisaged in classical counterinsurgency. Pakistan’s campaign in Waziristan since 2003 exemplifies this. The enemy includes al-Qa’ida (AQ) linked extremists and Taliban, but also local tribesmen fighting to preserve their traditional culture against 21st century encroachment. The problem of weaning these fighters away from extremist sponsors, while simultaneously supporting modernization, does somewhat resemble pacification in traditional counterinsurgency. But it also echoes colonial campaigns, and includes entirely new elements arising from the effects of globalization.

END QUOTE (See bottom of Page 2 and top of Page 3.)

Thus, "modernization" efforts (Soviet/communist-style and/or U.S./Western-style); these are bound to run head long into (as the examples above illustrate?) -- not only "existing power structures" -- but also existing ways of life, existing ways of governance and existing values, attitudes and beliefs (and those common folk who cherish, depend upon and champion same)?

Herein (minus near-universal acceptance), a clear (foreign-driven) "modernization" message -- and/or a clear (foreign-derived) modernization "overall strategic concept" -- these tending more to aggravate, rather than to prevent, conflict?

(Thus, better to approach these matters in more of a stealthy and clandestine -- rather than in a more "in your face" -- manner? Why? Because the choices the populations make -- when confronted with "in your face" alien and profane modernization -- [a] may not be to your liking and [b] may be used, to significant advantage, by your opponents/your rivals against you?)


Tue, 01/09/2018 - 3:25pm

In reply to by Bill C.

You've found an acolyte. :)

"When the Soviets/the communists, during the Old Cold War, attempted to transform the entire Rest of the World (in that case, more along communist political, economic, social and value lines) at least two critical things transpired:

1. Numerous states and societies were not attracted -- but indeed were understandably repelled -- by the thought of such an alien and profane "transformation;" one which clearly threatened their individual and unique ways of life, ways of governance, institutions and foundational values, attitudes and beliefs.

2. The Soviets/the communists' great power rivals, understanding that they had "common cause" with much of the Rest of the World (who were similarly repulsed/threatened) -- (a) came to interact with same in an attempt to thwart the Soviets/the communists' "world transformation" designs; herein, (b) logically and strategically championing such things as "local/ traditional values.""

Oh, bollocks. Numerous states and societies were repelled by Communism because it changed the existing power structure in those places. And the West formed common cause with those states and societies by helping preserve the existing power structure. Dressing it up with "ways of life, values, and beliefs" just confuses the issue.

If the current "overall strategic concept" of the U.S./the West (some version of Churhill's "It is nothing less than the safety and welfare, the freedom and progress, of all the homes and families of all the men and women in all the lands.”); if this such "overall strategic concept" of the U.S./the West is - as I expect that it is -- already exceptionally well-known throughout the world today,

Then might we consider that it is exactly this such "messaging"/exactly this such "overall strategic concept" which is -- not the "cure" to our problems -- but, rather, the root cause of same?


The essence of the U.S./the West's such "message" -- in what we might consider to be our New/Reverse Cold War period of today -- is that U.S./the West is determined to transform all the outlying states and societies of the world; this, more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines. (In this manner, to bring "safety and welfare and freedom and progress" to the entire Rest of the World?)

When the Soviets/the communists, during the Old Cold War, attempted -- likewise through exceptionally clear "messaging" and "overall strategic concept" -- to transform the entire Rest of the World (in that case, more along communist political, economic, social and value lines) at least two critical things transpired:

1. Numerous states and societies were not attracted -- but indeed were understandably repelled -- by the thought of such an alien and profane "transformation;" one which clearly threatened their individual and unique ways of life, ways of governance, institutions and foundational values, attitudes and beliefs. (Same-same with the threat posed by U.S./the West's "world transformation" messaging, initiatives and "overall strategic concept" today?)

2. The Soviets/the communists' great power rivals (the U.S./the West back then) -- understanding that they had "common cause" with much of the Rest of the World (who were similarly repulsed/threatened) -- (a) came to interact with same in an attempt to thwart the Soviets/the communists' "world transformation" designs; herein, (b) logically and strategically championing such things as "local/ traditional values." (Much the same is occurring with certain of the U.S./the West's state and non-state actor enemies today?)


Given the failure of the Fukuyama thesis, the U.S./the West seems to understand that "messaging" -- which confirms our "overall strategic concept" (which, in effect, threatens the way of life, the way of governance and the values, attitudes and beliefs of the other states and societies of the world and, thus, tends to drive these folks into our enemies' hands?) -- that this such "messaging" is likely to do us more harm than good.

Apparent Solution:

a. Tone down the "messaging" (plays directly into our enemies' hands/does not provide sufficient recruits to our cause)? And

b. Work by, with and through friendly regimes -- rather than via the populations -- this, to (a) achieve the state and societal transformations (more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines) that we require and to (b) thwart the "containment" and "roll back" efforts of our adversaries? (Such things as Security Force Assistance Brigades to be seen in, exactly, this such light?)