Jihad Tech: Mujahideen Secrets v. 2.0

Picking up on a MEMRI dispatch, Computerworld ran a story on a software package designed to help al Qaeda operatives put strong encryption on their files and messages sent over the Internet. The new encryption tool is called Mujahideen Secrets 2 and appears to be an updated version of easier-to-crack software that was released early last year, said Paul Henry, vice president of technology evangelism at Secure Computing Corp. in San Jose. Douglas Farah frets […] Read more »

Do We Need A New War-of-Ideas Dept?

by Steven R. Corman As reported yesterday by Sharon Weinberger at Danger Room, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has resurfaced on the lecture circuit, calling for the (re-?) creation of (something kinda-sorta like) the old USIA (but not really): We need someone in the United States government, some entity, not like the old USIA . . . I think this agency, a new agency has to be something that would take advantage of the […] Read more »

Reviews are In, and They’re Not Good

by Steven R. Corman Yesterday MEMRI released two dispatches on Middle East media coverage of President Bush’s just-completed visit. The Egyptian dispatch is mixed, harshly criticizing Bush but reaffirming the strategic importance of the U.S.-Egypt relationship. But what really caught my eye was the dispatch from Qatar. Qatar is generally considered one of the more moderate Arab states, but you would never know it based on these commentaries. There is obviously great personal animosity toward […] Read more »

The Difficulty of Definitions

by Steven R. Corman  Writing in the CT Blog, Jeffrey Imm argues that “any blueprint strategy for national security must define Jihad, must address it within the national security threat, and must also define a national policy on the ideology of political Islamism.” But, Imm says, we have no such definition, and Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood fall into what he views as a dangerous grey area.  He describes the case of Major Stephen Coughlin, who […] Read more »

Mullen Says We Need to Listen

by Steven R. Corman Yesterday the pay-per-view service Inside Defense released a story about a memo sent on December 14 from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England. The Admiral is (rightly) concerned about the military’s approach to strategic communication. Sounding themes from recent CSC white papers and posts in this blog, Mullen believes, according to the story: You can’t be “strategic” in the classical sense […] Read more »

Shoot First, Persuade Later

by Steven R. Corman In today’s New York Times, General Charles Dunlap Jr. argues that the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual is being misinterpreted and that we must deal with insurgents the old-fashioned way–by killing them: Unfortunately, starry-eyed enthusiasts have misread the manual to say that defeating an insurgency is all about winning hearts and minds with teams of anthropologists, propagandists and civil-affairs officers armed with democracy-in-a-box kits and volleyball nets. They dismiss as passé killing […] Read more »

Strategic Communication on a Rugged Landscape: Principles for Finding the Right Message

Steven R. Corman & Kevin J. Dooley For approximately the last decade, the United States has been moving to centralize and more tightly control its messages. Accelerating this trend, U.S. strategic communication efforts under the current administration follow the dictum that effectiveness equals control of a singular message. The problems with this approach were described in a previous CSC white paper. But there is also a more basic issue: How do we know when we […] Read more »

Next Up: OBL Ringtone?

by Steven R. Corman The crew over at As-Sahab Media has been busy recently, producing a new meandering video screed by Azzam the American calling for the bombing of President Bush on his Middle East visit, and a cell phone download library featuring the most requested rants of Osama bin Laden and his sidekick Ayman al Zawahiri. Rumor has it that in the works is a new ringtone featuring bin Laden singing the Billie Holiday […] Read more »

Strategic Communication on a Rugged Landscape

by Steven R. Corman Today the CSC has released a new white paper that is a companion piece to our Pragmatic Complexity paper from last year. This paper applies another idea from complexity theory, Kauffman’s Rugged Landscape Model, to the problem of finding the right message. The link and executive summary are below. Strategic Communication on a Rugged Landscape: Principles for Finding the Right Message For approximately the last decade, the United States has been […] Read more »

Nothing Succeeds Like Success

CSC friend Matt Armstrong a.k.a. Mountainrunner has a new post at Small Wars Journal about the importance of capitalizing on recent gains in Iraq by following through with success in the reconstuction effort: The U.S. needs to take a systematic, holistic “whole of government” approach to reconstruction and stabilization that puts the focus on meeting the basic needs of the people in these countries. This shouldn’t be about what the U.S. needs or wants, but […] Read more »