Young girls reading

Philip Seib breaks down the U.S. State Department's latest report.

Some conventional public diplomacy measures are not suitable for countering violent extremism (CVE) because they are mismatched against extremists’ more aggressive tactics. But this week, the U.S. State Department has taken a significant step forward by announcing that it will place greater emphasis on development aid in its CVE efforts. A joint strategy that will better coordinate State Department CVE projects with USAID should bring new substance to public diplomacy that has CVE potential.

May 24, 2016

Mark Dillen on combatting Russia's bot-automated information war. 

In an extraordinary act of culture and courage, a Russian orchestra performed in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra recently liberated from the Islamic State, but Western media mocked the event, notes Gilbert Doctorow.[...] The orchestrated performed a concert of Bach, Shchedrin and Prokofiev in the Roman Amphitheater to celebrate the return of culture to a UNESCO site desecrated by its Islamic State occupiers.

It was a small blip on television news screens at the end of April. Reports of the death of Mohammad Shafi Armar, the head recruiter of the Islamic State (IS) in India, in a U.S. drone strike in Syria, got buried in the din of India’s domestic news. [...] The spate of arrests of Indian sympathizers this year alone has proved that ‘Brand ISIS’ has found its foothold in India.

In 2016 interviews, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter compared the ISIS base in the Middle East to a tumor, demonstrating the cancer analogy had embedded in the administration’s thinking: "There are metastases elsewhere – Libya, Afghanistan…." The analogy, while sobering, offers a useful way to think about the strategies to challenge the Islamic State.

As counter-attacks continue in the Middle East, the Islamic State’s activities in Africa, especially North Africa, are increasing. These activities include a defining characteristic of the Islamic State—its use of the Internet and social media to strengthen its control of territory and advance its extremist agenda.