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On militarizing the concept of Thought Police

[ by Charles Cameron — a renewed emphasis on the war of ideas? ]

A cluster of items from JM Berger‘s twitter feed this morning gave me pause for thought — but I was careful not to think anyway.

Here’s the basic concept:

The most overt example:

Independent corroboration:

Connecting the dots:

And for the Illustrated Executive Brief:

2 Responses to “On militarizing the concept of Thought Police”

  1. Traderbarn Says:

    There’s a difference between saying you won’t be allowed to think something or you won’t be allowed to form a state based on those ideas. For example, in the U.S., you are allowed to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, you just can’t do anything to implement that view. But even if we accept the point as outlined above, the military most certainly can destroy thoughts. It may not be morally acceptable, but if you kill enough people any society will collapse; i.e. there aren’t too many Nazis in Germany today.

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    I agree that you can kill the hosts of an idea, even if as the saying goes, you can’t kill the idea itself. But I also posted the above slightly tongue-in-cheek, because we could use a little levity in the grim arena of terrorism analysis, and also fairly seriously, because I think ideas are best countered by activities that demonstrate the superiority of contrary ideas.
    I think this comment today is relevant to the more general issue of wars of ideas:

    ISIS might be able to splatter gore across the news cycle, but Al Qaeda could win the hearts-and-minds battle, which, as those who cringed through the Iraq War understand, is often more important than the military campaign.

    I’m a poet, so story-telling is important to me — but I’m also worried by the tendency to promote “narrative” as the be-all-and-end-all solution, because it reads to me like a PR exercise, when in practice our actions speak louder than our words.
    IOW, it is our foreign policy, and in particular our military activity, that constitutes our narrative as perceived by others, regardless of what the State Department may tweet – and if we want our narrative to counter hostile narratives, PR approaches alone won’t do the trick.
    Countering violent extremism is a difficult and perhaps “wicked” problem, rich in feedback loops and opportunities for unintended consequences.

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