Friday, December 09, 2005

War Footing: Book calls for US political warfare offensive

A new book by one of Washington's most prolific defense experts calls for the United States to employ political warfare as a strategic weapon against its rivals, adversaries and enemies abroad.

Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney makes the recommendation as Step 8 in War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World.

War Footing is a brand-new release by the Naval Institute Press.

Contributors include Victor Davis Hanson, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, Daniel Goure, Bruce Herschensohn, Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, USAF (Ret.), Claudia Rosett, Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, USA (Ret.), Rep. Curt Weldon, and yours truly.

Some of the policy prescriptions in Step 8:

The United States needs to take a number of steps, urgently, to inaugurate a program of political warfare.

1. Stop evading the issue. No government strategy to date for the so-called "War on Terror" has included political warfare as an element of the American arsenal.

2. Devise, staff up and begin executing a political warfare strategy. Countering the [enemy's] ideology must be its principal focus.

3. De-legitimize Islamist extremism in the eyes of Muslims, and especially its potential supporters. We need to show that, while violent Islamism is certainly a problem for us in the West, it is a vastly greater problem for the Muslim community.

4. Use our strengths. The good news is that Americans are among the world's experts at political warfare. The bad news is that we mainly use it against each other: after all, the strategies and tactics of any hard-fought election campaign are precisely the stuff of applied political warfare. The talent, creativity, ingenuity and, yes, ruthlessness of top-flight political campaign strategists of both parties should be mustered for the purpose of fighting our enemies and helping our friends - rather than fighting each other.

5. Invest in the instruments of political warfare, including public diplomacy . . . [which] must be viewed as a form of political warfare.

6. Use the Internet as a tool of political warfare. In particular, the power of creative web sites, webcasting and blogging should be aggressively exploited.

7. Strengthen the CIA clandestine services, and authorize and fund them for long-term strategic political warfare.

8. Grant the Department of Defense the primary responsibility for political warfare. Just as the State Department leads in public diplomacy, the "warfare" side of communications is legitimately a Pentagon function and must not be assigned to our diplomats.

9. Don't forget political warfare in non-Islamist areas. The US must combat adversarial political warfare wherever it arises, even in countries traditionally considered friendly.

10. Reinforce and strengthen our friends. By demonstrating that there are not only consequences for opposing us, but also real and tangible benefits from supporting us, we can maximize the chances of our success.

Winning a political war is, in the end, a question of credibility. When nations stand firm for what they claim to believe in, they are perceived as credible. When they appear unwilling to stand firm - regardless of their rhetoric - they are vulnerable to their enemies' more decisive use of political warfare. With the fate of the Free World hanging in the balance, we cannot be (or be perceived to be) weak and irresolute. Toward this end, we must wage political warfare effectively, convincingly, and decisively.


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