The Media: The Terrorists’ Battlefield
As the title suggests, the book commences on the premise that in contemporary conflict, - ‘war amongst the people’ - the objective is public opinion. Conventional warfare between clearly identifiable armies is no more: now armies are sent to neutralize insurgents, armed militias and terrorists amongst a civilian population, preferably with the latter’s consent. A state’s actors in combating terrorism - the military, the police or the security services - may achieve tactical successes against the terrorists, but strategic success cannot be achieved unless the government and its agencies can both maintain the consent of its population and discredit the goals of the terrorists they face. The media have a vital role to play in both these criteria of success: they must challenge the methods used by governments to ensure the legitimacy of the latter’s counter terrorist policy and practice, and they must find a balance between reporting incidents of terrorism and serving the terrorists’ interests.