Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ridicule is a powerful weapon. Let's use it.

It's time to add ridicule to our propaganda arsenal against our terrorist enemies and other adversaries.

Incessant, morbid portrayals of an individual, movement, or nation as a mortal enemy might rally support for the American side, but they have a shelf-life that gets tired over time. Constant specters of unrelenting dangers risk sowing defeatism and chipping away at our own morale. Abroad they risk making the U.S. look like a bully in some places and surrender the propaganda advantage to the other side. The questions at this stage of the war are:

* Do we inadvertently aid our enemies and potential enemies by taking them too seriously?

* Does our relentless portrayal of individuals, ideologies, movements and philosophies as mortal dangers to America enhance the enemies’ status and prestige?

* Is it an unsound political strategy to hype the image and power of the enemy and the few leaders who personify it?

* Is there something else the United States and its allies should be doing in their attempts to discredit, undermine and defeat the enemy?

My latest article argues in the affirmative. It suggests that US strategy includes undermining the political and psychological strengths of adversaries and enemies by employing ridicule as a standard operating tool of national strategy.

* Ridicule raises morale at home.

* Ridicule strips the enemy/adversary of his mystique and prestige.

* Ridicule erodes the enemy’s claim to justice.

* Ridicule eliminates the enemy’s image of invincibility.

* Directed properly at an enemy, ridicule can be a fate worse than death.

For the full text of my article, "Ridicule: An Instrument in the War on Terrorism," published by the Institute of World Politics, click here.

For a pdf document of the draft, click here.

(Bag search parody image courtesy of ThePeoplesCube.com. For larger image of the poster, click here.)

5 Comments:

Blogger SoftWalker said...

A very interesting piece, which brings to mind the Monty Python skit about Doug and Dinsdale Piranha.

However, I don't think the government of Israel will be able to use ridicule to ward off suicide bombers.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Marc C said...

Dear Professor:

Kudos for your original and engaging whitepaper on this topic at the IWP. I wonder if you've had a chance to read Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner. In the book, the authors chronicle the tale, among others, of Stetson Kennedy. They credit Kennedy with almost single-handedly bringing the KKK to its knees using a form of ridicule, delivered through comics and radio programs. This might be an interesting example to analyze for any of your future work on this subject.

Also, please check out the posters and signs at protestwarrior.com, a wonderful example of using ridicule to deflate an opponent.

Regards,
Marc C (hallmarc@fastmail.us)

7:39 PM  
Blogger Osama said...

I couldn't agree more! That's why I'm proud to announce my new development deal with FOX Network for my new show, "O, Sama!"

More at my blog, Osama's Place:
http://www.osamasplace.com/?p=27

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