Ethical Issues Related to Communication and CT

Communication efforts within operations of counter-radicalisation and counter-terrorism (CT) are crucial for the success of approaches chosen by a government body, private or civil society organisation. However, ethical questions may arise.

We will lay out some key issues which are more or less likely to cause concerns:

  • arbitrary goals and objectives
  • excessive or inadequate measures (substantially, structurally and in time)
  • disproportionate leveraging
  • unwarranted misgivens in mitigation and through delegation
  • misappropriations of operational leads
  • intransparencies
  • nepotism
  • corruption
  • spreading in trying to limit ripple effects (expansionism)
  • perceived irreversibility (due to erroneous determinism)
  • monism and binary thinking
  • maintenance of ops or associated, underlying assumptions
  • irrational group effects, reinforced by a lack of good leadership
  • gaps in practitioner training

There have certainly been tendencies towards inappropriate scale, scope, and intransparencies. They can, but need not, be due to hidden agendas.

Highly questionable is alleged irreversibility, even after errs, leading up to a continuation of unethical operations, which may be condoned by op leaders. (I hint to the fact that psychological operations are linked to sustenance.) There can, hence, be tendencies toward continuations of patterns of actions by agents (clinging, possibly due to bandwagonism), whereas an op is no longer legitimimizable. Agents may have previously misconstrued, or still consider themselves to be tasked.

All of the above calls for diligent planning, execution, mechanisms of control and oversight.

Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
January 2019

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