by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Over the past few years, much has been said and written about the growing incivility in our country. From the news media to social media to the man in the White House, coarse name-calling has overtaken measured, civil discourse. There are myriad reasons this is a dangerous trend, but we need to understand and bear heavily in mind one in particular. Our growing incivility is a grave threat to our national security.
To understand why, look at the D.I.M.E. paradigm, a way of military thinkers have devised of looking at instruments of national power. The acronym stands for Diplomacy, Informational, Military, and Economic. Beneath these four levers of power exist all of the ways and means that every country may employ to exert power and influence.
In three of these areas, the United States has unquestioned dominance over all other nations on earth. But in the informational area, that dominance is nowhere near as certain. Informational levers of power include public relations, communications, and, most importantly, propaganda. The United States’ offensive informational capabilities are second to none, but our defensive capabilities are hampered by one of our most cherished institutions: the First Amendment.
While an ultimate good, freedom of speech is also a dangerous hole in our ability to defend against the growing threat of propaganda operations.