3 Homeland Security Rev. 1 (2009)
Reexamining the War of Ideas and Us-Them Differentiation: Implications for Counterterrorism

handle is hein.journals/homlndsr3 and id is 3 raw text is: The Homeland Security Review, Vol. 3, No. I (Winter 2009).

Reexamining the War of Ideas
and Us-Them Differentiation:
Implications for Counterterrorism
DR. ADAM LANKFORD* THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA
ABSTRACT
The global struggle between Western powers and Islamic terrorists has
been marked by violence, but at its core it is a war of ideas more than a
battle of military might. In order to finally make progress in this ideologi-
cal struggle, the U.S. should consider reducing the psychological barrier
of us-them differentiation, which exaggerates differences between op-
posing sides and makes it psychologically easier for each group to harm
the other. It is extremely difficult to control how Al Qaeda portrays Ameri-
cans, but it may be possible to change how Americans views terrorists and
terrorist sympathizers. Taking this step could help improve communica-
tion and mutual understanding across the fault lines of the conflict and
increase opportunities for several critical diplomatic and social initiatives
that could bolster homeland security and counterterrorism efforts.
Introduction
The global struggle between Western powers and Islamic terrorists
has been marked by bombs, missiles, hijacked airplanes, improvised
explosive devices, gun battles, and more. On both sides, thousands of
people have suffered the consequences and been left dead and crippled
as casualties of war. However, at its core, this conflict is a war of ideas
* Dr. Adam Lankford is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at The University of
Alabama and the author of Human Killing Machines: Systematic Indoctrination in Iran,
Nazi Germany, Al Qaeda and Abu Ghraib. From 2003 to 2008, he helped coordinate
Senior Executive Anti-Terrorism Forums for high-ranking foreign military and
security personnel in conjunction with the U.S. State Department's Anti-Terrorism
Assistance program. Dr. Lankford has researched a range of topics related to aggres-
sion, violence, counterterrorism and international security. He received his Ph.D.
and M.S. from American University and his B.A. from Haverford College. Please
direct correspondence to: Dr. Adam Lankford, Department of Criminal Justice, The
University of Alabama, P.O. Box 870320, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0320. Email:
Adam.Lankford@ua.edu; Phone: 205-348-9901.

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