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The headline said, “U.S. Intensifies Effort To Blunt ISIS’ Message.”

The story lede said, “The Obama administration is revamping its effort to counter the Islamic State’s propaganda machine, acknowledging that the terrorist group has been far more effective in attracting new recruits, financing and global notoriety than the United States and its allies have been in thwarting it.”

And the body of the story quoted a senior State Department official as saying, “We’re getting beaten on volume, so the only way to compete is by aggregating, curating and amplifying existing content.”

The contest for the hearts and minds of the world’s Muslims, and perhaps for the future of global society, waged on the modern battlefield of Twitter and other social media.

And then there is this quote, from the fictional character Yoshida Hayato in “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet,” set in late 18th Century Japan: “The present is a battleground where rival what-ifs compete to become the future ‘what is.’ How does one what-if prevail over its adversaries? The answer, ‘Military and political power, of course!’ is a postponement, for what is it that directs the minds of the powerful? The answer is ‘belief.’ Beliefs that are ignoble or idealistic; democratic or Confucian; Occidental or Oriental; timid or bold; clearsighted or delusional. Power is informed by the belief that this path, and not another, must be followed. What, then, or where, is the womb of belief? What, or where, is the crucible of ideology? Academicians of the Shirando, I put it to you that we are one such crucible. We are one such womb.”

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