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29 October 2006

Non-state interests grappling against sub-state actors

We have long lamented the failures of public diplomacy, strategic communications, and information operations in the Long War. Fundamentally, organizations mired in the bureaucracies of the early Cold War and a 1950’s state-centric model have failed entirely to understand and adapt to the new information environment. Their processes are broken, their subject matter expertise is non-existent, and their raison d'être is simply not tied to the mission but rather to the iron rice bowls from which they feed. While a number of very good men and women toil honestly at the labour, with some measure of success, they serve a flawed machine.

Meanwhile, the enemies of our country’s and our allies’ interests continue to evolve apace new tactics, techniques, and procedures for propaganda and deception which are increasingly difficult to even identify, let alone defeat. They exploit layers of hostile connectivity enabled by new technologies in ways both unprecedented and unimagined – largely because they are in the new environment while our side convenes endless studies and planning sessions rather than engaging in the fight out in the marketplace of ideas.

In the best of all possible worlds, your authors would never have recommended that the defense of our country’s intellectual space against direct efforts by radical Islamists be entrusted into the hands of a free-lance jazz musician working in his spare time. But the fight comes whether or not those who would be forced to fight it are ready; and the unique nature of the Parallel World is such that every position is on the front line in this distributed non-linear battlespace.

Thus, we note with fascination the efforts of the Ikwan to engage Charles Johnson, for purposes undetermined. In short, we are watching non-state entities grappling against sub-state actors – largely as a result of the failure of the state entities tasked to that mission and that fight.

This has been going on for longer than most have noticed. It is only recently that it has become so obvious as to be unmistakable. And where the information environment leads, the kinetic environment inevitably follows. This is troubling…