After September 11th 2001 there has been a growing awareness in the West that counterterrorist efforts  will not be successful  against global jihadism without   a long-term strategy of soft power designed to conquer the hearts and minds of Islamic communities around the world. Although the struggle against Al-Qaeda must  necessarily  employ the instruments of hard power  (military and police force), the latter will not be effective in the long-run if the West does not  develop and implement  a  strategy of soft power  (the power of ideas,  of culture,  of information, of mass communication, of education) to undermine jihadism.   The arrest or physical elimination of one or more members of a jihadist organization will only be a short-term success if jihadism continues to recruit, indoctrinate and train new members. Al Qaeda is implementing its own soft power strategy including  propaganda, disinformation and psychological warfare activities. This strategy, which reflects an advanced adaptation to  the new environment  of  globalization and the information revolution pursues two basic objectives: (1) In the Islamic world (including Islamic communities in the West)  jihadist strategy aims  to radicalize Islamic populations, widen popular support for global jihadism and spread  feelings of  hatred  for the  West, the US, Israel and  Judaism.   One of the methods used is to spread paranoid conspiracy  theories of a “Zionist-Christian alliance”  against the Islamic world. (2) In the West, jihadist strategy aims to intimidate and demoralize public opinion,  undermine popular consensus and support to governments, weaken the public’s faith in the capacity of governments to protect them from terrorist attacks, spread confusion and guilt feelings in countries that have been attacked by jihadism

During the Cold War the West, led by the United States,  successfully employed soft power and strategic influence to contain the expansion of communism in Western Europe and in other regions of the world. This eventually led to the breakdown of the Soviet system.  One of the key challenges of the 21st century is   developing a  long-term Western strategy  to  undermine  jihadism using the instruments of soft power,  including the media,  education, cultural influence,   support of reformist and modernizing movements within Islam and  currents of Islamic thought that are critical of jihadism.  Such a strategy should aim at creating a more positive and attractive image of  Western societies and progressively diminishing the attractiveness of the jihadist world-view.       

softpowerejihad.pdf

For further information please contact me at the e-mail address below or prof. Sergio Germani, academic director of the conference(l.germani@unilink.it) . To register please contact Mr. Francesco D’Arrigo (f.darrigo@ceasonline.eu).

Advertisements