Terrorists rely on the media to magnify the effects of their attacks. The media is also “the battlefield of ideas” for waging political and ideological warfare. In fact, a good case can be made that the real battleground in the GWOT is the media and that the only terrorist victories are in the media.
Nineteenth-century terrorists relied on newspapers and the telegraph. Twenty-first-century terrorists crave video imagery via television and the Internet. The Internet is also useful for spreading rumors. Thanks to the Internet, a rumor is now heard the same day by several million people instead of a few dozen.
The Bad Guys can terrorize people thousands of miles from the scene of their latest atrocity. Plenty of “journalists” and other enablers profit from disseminating their propaganda. If it bleeds, it leads. My favorite Westphalian nation-state has done a good job since 9/11 protecting my homeland physically while leaving us almost entirely unprotected from Islamist efforts to influence our emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and behavior. The regularly constituted organs of public information shrink from confrontation with internal oppositional elements who also seek regime change and diminished American power in the world. Cynicism, pessimism, hatred of key leaders, thought control through political correctness, and undermining respect for Western Civilization through multiculturalism benefit enemies foreign and domestic.
Who can engage domestic enemies in the War of Ideas?