Terrorist Ideology Hearing Highlights U.S. Short-Comings in Winning War of Ideas

Terrorist Ideology Hearing Highlights U.S. Short-Comings in Winning War of Ideas

WASHINGTON, DC –Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senator Kit Bond, stressed the importance of today’s open hearing on terrorist ideology, which highlighted the need for the United States to focus on public diplomacy.

"The Global War on Terror is about 20 percent kinetic and about 80 percent ideological. We should never miss an opportunity to capture or kill any terrorists who rear their heads, but ultimate success depends on focusing the weight of our effort on the ideological front, to reach would-be terrorists before they turn to violence. To do this effectively we need to understand the role that ideology plays in motivating, radicalizing and legitimizing violent extremism," said Bond

Bond praised the hearing’s three witnesses for providing the Committee important insights into this complex and difficult problem. Stephen Ulph, Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation; Kim Cragin, International Policy Analyst at the Rand Corporation; and Daniel Kimmage, Regional Analyst at the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have conducted research on terrorist ideology and have spent extensive time in Arab and Muslim regions of the world.

The United States has a long way to go before we become competitive in the war of ideas, Bond admitted. He used the situation in Iraq as an example. While there been significant progress, the United States needs to do a better job of public diplomacy. Bond pointed out that on his recent trip to Iraq, he was proud to see first-hand a mosque in Ramadi that American soldiers rebuilt but was disappointed the United States has not spread the word on this and other good news stories.

"The U.S. military has made a real difference in Iraqi communities like Ramadi, but our government is not doing an adequate job of spreading the good news," said Bond.

Bond emphasized that while Iraq is a good example of where the United States needs to do a better job of public diplomacy, this need is part of a larger and more important worldwide effort.

"The war of ideas and public opinion is not just critical in Iraq, but is crucial to the broader war on terror. The terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere in the world understand that the only way to win the war is not just militarily, but with constructive engagement and effective public diplomacy."