- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 25, 2002

One of the realities of living in an information age is that television, the Internet, radio and other forms of public information are decisive in shaping pubic opinion.
In the 1981-1982 fight in Europe over matching the Soviet Union's military build-up by fielding mobile missiles in several of those countries, success required a strong public- information campaign in order to sustain diplomatic initiatives.
In the late 1940s, a significant American education and information campaign in France, Italy, Greece and other countries played a major role in the survival of freedom and the defeat of communist tyranny. Today, when America is faced with an organized, ruthless minority that is gaining ground through dishonest propaganda and through violence, the United States must not only meet its security challenges but also its information challenges.
When we win militarily, we must also be prepared to win culturally, informationally and economically. Because people everywhere want to be safe, healthy, prosperous and free, they look to the United States as a leader in that quest, and where they see a real opportunity of success in attaining the freedoms they so desperately want, they will be strongly in favor of allying with America. We must implement fulfillment campaigns in Afghan-istan and other countries after we defeat the extremist wing of Islam. Instead of exit strategies, we have to create fulfillment strategies that enable governments like that headed by Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai to create safety, health, prosperity and freedom for its citizens.
We have been successful in the past in Germany, Italy and Japan after World War II, and South Korea after the Korean War. If we apply the same techniques and the same investment of capital, values and education, we can succeed again today.
Our continuing effort to defeat the extremist, fanatical wing of Islam, and those Islamic dictators who would acquire weapons of mass destruction, promote disorder, barbarism and genocide, requires a five-pronged ongoing strategy.
First, where necessary, the United States and its allies have to be the guarantors of physical safety against terrorists, the murderers and the committers of genocide.
Second, having established safety, the United States and its allies must employ strategies of wealth creation based on private property rights, the rule of law, a rewarded work ethic, information age technological infrastructure, modern systems of health and health care, and the culture of freedom and self-government. This is only partially a resource issue. Most of the failures of development in the last four decades have been failures to export the ideas that underpin wealth-creation. That is largely a function of public diplomacy or public-information operations.
Next, when confronted with a coherent ideological opponent such as Nazism, fascism, Japanese militarism, communism or the extremist fanaticism of Islam, it is necessary to develop a countervailing intellectual communications effort on behalf of freedom, modernity and individual rights. Young people growing up have to be given the choice between hatred, violence and tyranny and the alternative of peace, opportunity and freedom. Only a systematic educational and public-information campaign can truly provide this choice. In our current conflict, the madrasas of extremism have to be replaced with schools that educate young men and women into productive modern lives that are the basis of prosperity and integration into the modern world.
Subsequently, in order to sustain these first three efforts there has to be a strategic public-information campaign that explains to our own people, our allies in Europe and around the world, the non-fanatical, non-extremist elements in the Islamic world and others of our efforts, our sincerity and our idealistic goals. A campaign of this nature and scale has to be run within a framework acceptable to the White House, but the White House cannot run it. A single key figure, probably in the State Department, should be empowered to coordinate all American public information operations on a daily basis with the White House. To the degree possible, our allies in non-governmental organizations should be recruited, included and involved in a broad public-information strategy and campaign.
Fifth and finally, it is imperative that the White House lead the daily public-information effort because the president is so decisively the primary communicator of the American system. The administration should shape and direct the first four stages but it should implement only the fifth stage.
The United States is today unprepared to engage in a public-information campaign on the scale needed to create safety in the 21st century. The ultimate scale of resources needed to defeat the extremist, fanatic wing of Islam will resemble the resources we used to defeat communism. The combination of educational efforts, communications campaigns, covert activities, economic assistance, and aggressive efforts to communicate our view of reality were the underpinnings for the nearly 50-year containment of Soviet communism.
Creating a stable, safe world requires a public-information capability and a public-diplomacy capability far beyond anything we have developed to date. The emerging information age has new requirements for tactical information on a daily basis and complex requirements for the Internet, cell phones, satellite television, radio and long-term educational efforts. These activities can often be implemented by non-governmental organizations, but the resourcing and the general strategies and systems implementation require government leadership.

Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.


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