Finding a Counter-Narrative to Terrorism in the Age of ISIS

  Fran Townsend .  Image from

Fran Townsend.  Image from

A couple days ago, I watched an interview with Fran Townsend, the former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor to President George W. Bush.  She's incredibly smart and has some good insights on the war on terror.  Well worth watching- it's an hour long. 

The one thing that struck me is that halfway through, she acknowledged that the US had a poor counternarrative to ISIS' recruitment tactics.  She says the first response that the US has to get right is to deny them the battlespace to do their recruiting- the internet, and the second response is to fill that space with the counternarrative.  But, she says,

It's a frustration.  No administration has been particularly good at the counternarrative.  ... I think as a government, we are never going to be good at this.  Not because we don't want to be, but we ought to have mechanisms by which we can fund it and not control the content, for those who will create the counternarrative.... But the state department has been not very effective and not very good.  And that's not a criticism of this administration- none of us are very good at it....

I thought that was a bold admission.  I do see the Enneagram as being a perfect counternarrative for those who seek truth in the weeds of egoic distortion, but it would be a weird, weird partner with the US government.  Does anyone have any idea how that would look? 

I mean, the Enneagram provides a breathtakingly accurate map of the nine different personality types.  Each map provides a lateral topography for how each type looks when they ascend to enlightenment (non-reactivity), to being the most reactive and unhealthy at the bottom of the emotional intelligence scale, where they're a danger to themselves and others.  That's Don Riso's work with the Nine Levels of Health.  So important for understanding radicalization.  Those who have been radicalized have simply walked past the Red Flag fear of the bottom of the sixth level of health (we're descending down into very poor emotional health here) and are dwelling in upside-down land where they are healthy, but inhabiting the danger zone, looking at us as if we're unhealthy.  They're looking at all our warts in Levels 4-6 and saying "we need to fix this with the egoic truth of Levels 7-9".  Although that's the point; unfortunately our ego is this phantasmic mirage that doesn't get real no matter how close we get to it.  The metaphor I heard from Sandra Maitri is that it's just the projection of a movie onto a screen- if you put your hand up, you can see the movie being projected onto your hand, but it's not like it's a real thing that you're holding.  That's what we need to be made aware of at all levels.

But can you do "outreach" with the Enneagram?  Do you have to let the Enneagram find who it needs to find, or do we just live by example?  Do you promote it through google search somehow?  How do people think the Enneagram can play a role in those toying with the idea of descending into levels 7-9?