Osama bin Laden and the power of ‘going negative’

June 27, 2011

The story that appeared last week that Osama bin Laden was considering changing the name of Al-Qaeda attracted considerable attention including a lively debate about what the new name should be.   The other thing that attracted my attention in the story was the importance that Bin Laden attached to the effect of civilian casualties caused by Al-Qaeda operations particularly in Iraq.  It’s interesting because part of James Glassman’s analysis of US communications during his tenure at State was that the US should focus on Al-Qaeda and seek to discredit it rather than trying to persuade people to like the US  (or dislike it less).  Of course the underpinning reality here is Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi’s embrace of indiscriminate violence in Iraq but  if we can rely on a single story instigated by unidentified sources this suggests that Glassman’s emphasis was correct.

Given that the conventional wisdom among political campaigners is that negative campaigning works this apparent impact of bad news for Al-Qaeda shouldn’t be a surprise.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: