Information Warfare: Be Careful What You Start Because You May Not Be Able To Stop It


July 28, 2014: Politics is often described as a popularity contest. Even dictators and monarchs pay attention to popular opinion. That includes some of the worst tyrants in the last century, like Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. All leaders try to create popular opinions that help them stay in power and generally get their way. Sometimes, however, leaders create popular opinions that assume a life of their own and even get in the way of leaders.

Case in point is the Middle East.  While the United States has a “favorable” rating of over 50 percent worldwide, it is under 20 percent in the Middle East. This is the result of Arab government deciding to not accept, under any circumstances, the creation of Israel in 1948. Many Middle Eastern leaders have come to regret that decision, but it has become so strongly entrenched in popular attitudes that it has proved impossible, so far, to reverse. Some leaders have tried to, only to find rivals and Islamic radicals pouncing on them for being un-Islamic and a traitor. This pathological hatred of Israel reflected on the United States, which never wavered in its support for Israel, the only working democracy in the region (with the possible exception of Turkey, if you ignore several military coups and the current, increasingly unpleasant, Islamic party running the country).

Worldwide, the democracies tend to get along with each other and the in democracies the United States has much better popularity ratings. The two Cold War tyrannies, Russia and China, still foster anti-American sentiments, even though the U.S. made the first move to improve relations with China in the 1970s and rushed to the aid of Russia after the Cold War, and the Soviet Union, ended. While popular opinion in China and Russia is generally anti-American, the neighbors of both those countries tend to be hostile to their large neighbor and friendly towards the United States.

The lesson, “be careful what you start because you may not be able to stop it” is often ignored by national leaders and then regretted for a long time after.



Article Archive

Information Warfare: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close