What if Washington had concluded that this competition required not more military might, but more and smarter investment in education, innovation, energy and the environment, and the full unfolding of America's soft power?
Almost 10 years after 9/11, the United States has a new window of opportunity to regain the initiative in the “missing battle” of the campaign against terrorism. That is, a sustained soft power effort to win the battle for hearts and minds in predominantly Muslim countries.
Evidence of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay... furthered the perception that the United States was at war with Islam - despite extensive public diplomacy campaigns by the State Department to portray America as a country where Muslims were not only free to worship, but were part of the American social fabric.
The sixth paper in the 2011 series of CPD Perspectives by CPD Research Fellow (2009-2011) Kathy R. Fitzpatrick has been released.
A website to teach schoolchildren in Britain about the events of 9/11 and "demolish conspiracy theories" surrounding the attacks has been launched by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. He said the website would help to "provide a controlled demolition" of the conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that took place a decade ago on Sunday.
It is in this context of winning Muslim hearts and minds that, 10 years after 9/11, Obama now has such a precious political window of opportunity to relaunch the campaign against terrorism. Seizing the moment would require the US giving higher priority, as it did during the Cold War, to public diplomacy, broadcasting, development assistance and exchange programs.
In this sense, overcoming 9/11 revisionism is, perhaps, the greatest challenge facing American public diplomacy in the coming decade: So long as such conspiracy theories persist, Arabs will continue to view American policies aimed at preventing “another 9/11” as thoroughly illegitimate since, as they see it, 9/11 is just a big American lie.
Over the past ten years since 9/11, event after event in and outside Afghanistan has overshadowed the need to connect with the Afghan people and to deliver on their basic expectations for peace, justice, and prosperity. Even though NATO member-states increasingly appreciate the importance of public diplomacy at home and abroad, they have largely faltered to engage and listen to the Afghan people on how to secure Afghanistan.