Conspiracy, misinformation and public diplomacy
in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy
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This chapter examines the practical manifestation of the War of Ideas strategy in United States (US) State Department public diplomacy, as well as more recent counter-radicalisation efforts under the Obama Administration. It does so by focusing on several programs involved in direct engagements with anti-Americanism and extremist ideology: the Counter-Misinformation Team, tasked with debunking instances of misinformation and propaganda, and the Digital Outreach Team (DOT), which engaged online with Muslim people thought vulnerable to radicalisation, as well as attempting to discredit jihadi recruiters. I show that the Arab-Muslim paranoia narrative flowed through into this public diplomacy effort and infused it with the same delegitimising dynamics identified in the War of Ideas doctrine, undermining the purported aim of engagement with Arab-Muslim people.

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