Digital Health and Digital Media Tools Questionnaire

  • How important it is for governments to use digital media tools (such as websites and SNS accounts/pages) to communicate with the public? Do you think they should embrace these tools or ban/ censor their use? Use examples to explain your point of view.
  • How important is the use of digital media tools in grassroots movement (a movement that is bottom-up and starts with the people)? In what ways can digital media tools help grassroots movements grow? Some examples of such movements are the Occupy Wall Street movement or the Arab Spring. Provide an example of such a movement and explain how digital tools played a critical role in this movement.
  • How might digital tools be employed in health campaigns? Whether it is to promote lifestyle changes or prevent certain behaviors, what are some ways digital tools like SNS, blogs, text messaging, and smartphone apps can be used to improve health outcomes? Support your ideas with specific examples.
  • More and more information about health can be accessed online. What are some of the benefits and issues of this information being available and easily accessible? What about issues of accuracy and credibility? Use specific examples and cite readings where appropriate.
  • 744867
    EJT0010.1177/1354066117744867European Journal of International RelationsGrove
    Weapons of mass
    participation: Social media,
    violence entrepreneurs,
    and the politics of
    crowdfunding for war
    European Journal of
    International Relations
    2019, Vol. 25(1) 86–107
    © The Author(s) 2017
    Article reuse guidelines:
    DOI: 10.1177/1354066117744867
    Nicole Sunday Grove
    University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, USA
    Since 2012, North American and European civilians have regularly engaged in combat
    operations against the Islamic State in the globalized and decentralized battlefields of
    Iraq and Syria. This article focuses on two aspects of this phenomenon. First, I argue
    that these combatants represent a different kind of fighter from both private military
    contractors and battlefield laborers profiled in the private security literature insofar as
    capital is a means rather than an end in the innovation of violence. I refer to these fighters
    as violence entrepreneurs. The relevance and limits of Schmitt’s writings on enmity and
    his theory of the partisan are examined in the context of these contemporary networks
    of security, mobility, and killing. My second argument centers on how online platforms
    for the distribution of small-scale donations to these fighters and their self-crafted
    missions facilitate hyper-mediated forms of patronage, where individual donors are both
    producers and consumers of security in ways that further distort distinctions between
    civilians and combatants. The imagined communities that support these combatants,
    both morally and financially, through the banal networks of Facebook and peer-topeer funding platforms like GoFundMe suggest a radical deviation from conventional
    organizational structures and capacities for waging combat. Crowdfunding congeals
    these new geopolitical networks in the authorizing of individuals to determine their own
    singular forms of enmity, mutating the conditions of possibility for the sovereign decision.
    Carl Schmitt, crowdfunding, ISIS, non-state combatants, partisans, violence
    Corresponding author:
    Nicole Sunday Grove, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, 2424 Maile Way, Saunders Hall, 608,
    Honolulu, 96822, USA.
    In February 2016, Patrick Maxwell, a former US Marine, was arrested for beating,
    threatening to rape, then running over a 70-year-old taxi driver with her own car in
    Aruba. Grace Angela picked Maxwell up outside of a nightclub in Palm Beach, where he
    had asked to be taken to his hotel. When they arrived, he reportedly refused to leave the
    vehicle and demanded to be taken to a pharmacy instead, where he also refused to get out
    of the car. Angela described Maxwell as suddenly becoming violent, repeatedly hitting
    her in the face while threatening to sexually assault her, until a witness tried to intervene.
    Maxwell then stole Angela’s car, running over her leg and torso in the process. She survived the attack with a broken nose and seven broken ribs (Geerman, 2016).
    One year previous to the incident, Maxwell was profiled by the New York Times as an
    American “fighting ISIS” in Iraqi Kurdistan. The four-minute video documentary features Maxwell describing his use of Google and Facebook to decode how to travel to
    Sulaymaniyah, Iraq in order to engage in combat operations alongside the Kurdish
    Peshmerga (Bofetta and Philipps, 2015). In response to a question posed by the filmmakers (the question was not included in the audio), Maxwell ruminates: “I did hope … that
    there would be a chance to split some heads … yeah [sound of gunfire].… As a private
    citizen, I’m going to have an adventure, essentially, and that’s my own business.” What
    would inspire someone to believe they were Foucault’s arcane sovereign, the decider of
    who lives and who dies, capable of declaring their own war? In stepping back from a
    horrific act of violence directed at an elderly woman working nights as a taxi driver, to
    the experience of possessing an extreme form of freedom to “split heads” without seeming limit or consequence in the nebulous warscapes of Iraq and Syria, there is a continuity in Maxwell’s actions as his own army of one that links the causal violence of an
    assault in Aruba, and more explicit forms of combat in Iraq within the same sovereign
    My focus in this article is on North American and European civilians traveling overseas to engage in combat operations against the Islamic State in the globalized and
    decentralized battlefields of Iraq and Syria. In what follows, I outline two arguments.
    First, these combatants represent a different kind of fighter from private military contractors (PMCs) and other battlefield laborers profiled in the private security literature. For
    this new combatant, violence is not simply instrumental in the pursuit of capital, territory, or some other gain, but rather is an end unto itself in the innovation, enjoyment, and
    the metanoia of violence. Adapting Grove’s (2016a) concept of the violence entrepreneur, I situate the emergence of these fighters within contemporary forms of globalized
    and mediatized warfare. My second argument is that the imagined communities who
    support these fighters — morally, affectively, and financially — through the banal networks of Facebook, online donations pages offered via web-content management systems, and ‘peer-to-peer’ funding platforms like GoFundMe suggest a radical deviation
    from conventional national and corporate organizational structures for waging combat.
    Major debates in the literature on private security take place within a particular economy of violence, where violence is instrumentalized toward a goal, a form of compensation, survival, or some other end (see Abrahamsen and Williams, 2010; Avant, 2005,
    2006; De Nevers, 2009; Leander and Van Munster, 2007; Spearin, 2008). In other words,
    European Journal of International Relations 25(1)
    violence is effectual is some way insofar as this literature attempts to explain why combatants do what they do. For example, Avant’s (2005) discussion of the historic role of
    private security, their proliferating forms and services within a “transnational market of
    force,” and their linking with criminal networks positions private security actors within
    a particular relationship of monetary and other modes of exchange. In Krahmann’s
    (2012) discussion of changing legal constructs and distinctions between mercenaries and
    private security actors, monetary gain is also a shared motivation among these actors.
    This is similarly true of what Danny Hoffman (2011: xii) refers to as laborers of the battlefield, or those individuals for whom armed conflict is one mode of work among limited or forced alternatives in an increasingly militarized global economy. The expression
    of violence as a means does not foreclose that PMCs or those exploited bodies drawn
    into colonial, political, and economic confluences of relations driving conflict around the
    world cannot possess complex motivations for doing what they do. The libidinal investment in work of all kinds is often complex. However, there are certain structural differences between self-styled “ISIS hunters” and other non-state combatants that turn on
    these differences, and suggest the emergence of new modes of combat that are already
    underway, but have been largely sidelined as a curiosity.
    My emphasis on Schmitt’s theory of the partisan as a framework for theorizing the
    violence entrepreneur is motivated, in part, by the regular invocation of the partisan as a
    concept and ‘style’ of warfare for understanding the contemporary exercise of sovereign
    power with regard to non-state violent actors, as well as shifts in the organization of
    contemporary combat (see Schulzke, 2016; see also Kochi, 2006; Shapiro, 2008; Slomp
    2005; Werner, 2010). Further, the constituent elements of the partisan seem to prefigure
    coverage of anti-ISIS fighters in popular media, for instance, in their mobility, their
    negotiating novel modes of networked warfare, and in their willingness to engage in
    combat operations apart from state-led militaries. This prefiguring is given form in the
    common, but misguided reference to the anti-fascist Abraham Lincoln Brigade during
    the Spanish Civil War when attempting to give conceptual and legal context for understanding the activities of anti-ISIS combatants (see Hennessy-Fiske, 2017; Keating,
    2011). As I will argue, anti-ISIS fighters lack the ideological coherence that would allow
    them to graft onto Schmitt’s (2004: 21) “revolutionary activist.”
    For Schmitt, sovereignty is defined by the power to decide on the friend–enemy distinction, and the ‘way of life’ that defines the force that gives war meaning. This way of
    life and its opposition, the enemy, is the definitive entity in determining the structure of
    political conflict. Insofar as the friend–enemy distinction is determined by the state, it
    centers on a nationalist quality. The partisan’s challenge to the state centers on the threat
    they pose to the state’s monopoly over the political, or the ability to determine the friend–
    enemy distinction. Yet the partisan’s lines of enmity are still premised on a collective
    way of life that bears a familiar resemblance to the national, even if not in state form.
    What differentiates Schmitt’s partisan from the violence entrepreneur is that the violence
    entrepreneur does not acknowledge any government or national way of life, that is, any
    sovereign above the individual combatant, in determining the political and the contours
    of enmity.
    This is not to say that violence entrepreneurs are post-political or without politics.
    Rather, social media has furthered the structural conditions for individuals to determine
    their own relations of enmity, and to engage in fluid spaces of battle around any number
    of mercurial and self-crafted targets, from exorcising personal demons, to alleviating
    post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to carrying out eschatological religious missions,
    to having ‘real’ experiences that would make for rousing stories back home. Here, sovereignty is not simply a trade-off of varying degrees between the state and the partisan,
    but rather materializes out of new forms of mediation and communication within geopolitical and informational spaces that are much more difficult to map.
    This brings me to my second argument, which centers on how crowdfunding has
    become integral to the organization of contemporary networks of security, mobility, and
    killing. Today, the organization and distribution of small-scale donations to fighters and
    “missions” facilitate hyper-mediated forms of patronage that allow individual donors to
    become consumers and providers of security in ways that further distort the distinction
    between civilians and combatants. These new digital economies point to the reorganization
    of decision-making and the funding of military and combat operations from governments
    and the collection of tax dollars, to small-scale contributions funneled to single combatants or supporting initiatives of the donor’s choice. Thus, platforms like GoFundMe
    allow for a form of collective action that states previously had a structural advantage
    over in terms of fighting wars. By tapping spare dollars, crowdfunding allows, in a limited capacity, for circumventing the classic collective action problem of national
    As an intervention in the theorization of the partisan, crowdfunding congeals new
    geopolitical networks in the authorizing of individuals to determine and act upon their
    own relations of enmity, altering the material spaces in which that enmity can or should
    be expressed. For some fighters and their benefactors, crowdfunding platforms function
    as a kind of prosthesis that allows people to participate in wars within alter-nationalisms
    that exceed and evade existing state forms. As flexible imagined communities, these ad
    hoc collectives of anti-ISIS fighters and their supporters may articulate themselves as a
    Christian nation in one instance, a human nation in another, and the defenders of a
    Kurdish nation after that. These collective assemblages of identification possess remarkable plasticity and heterogeneity, while holding together sufficiently to finance and
    execute war-like operations. As such, they can exist in simultaneously looser territorial
    continuity and more exclusive community membership than that of traditional nationstates, where their flexible and comparably mobile morphology is made possible
    through polysemous discourses surrounding recruitment and ‘duties,’ information sharing, and the organization of material support through these new ‘democratizing’ platforms. While these activities do not fully displace the collective action benefits that
    states continue to possess in the form of taxation or nationalist mobilization, social
    media and crowdfunding allow for the introduction of a new iPhone-ready competitor
    on these networked battlefields.
    I have drawn from a range of sources and literatures in my attempt to give conceptual form to violence entrepreneurs, including scholarship on private security (Avant,
    2005, 2006; Avant and Sigelman, 2010; Krahmann, 2012), new media theory
    (Ettlinger, 2016; Lovink, 2016; Wark, 2012), ‘dark’ tourism or thanatourism (Lisle,
    2004, 2016; Stone and Sharpley, 2008), US Senate Committee and US Department of
    Homeland Security reports (2008, 2016), documentaries and printed interviews
    European Journal of International Relations 25(1)
    featuring anti-ISIS combatants, and original analyses of several websites, including
    crowdfunding campaign pages created by individuals attempting to travel, or who
    have already traveled to Iraq and Syria for the stated purpose of fighting ISIS. Rather
    than focus on violence entrepreneurs’ individual motivations for fighting and their
    experiences on the battlefield, my aim is to map the cartography of bodies, communications, material resources, and the geopolitical imaginaries of globalized battlefields
    that organize collaborative ventures between violence entrepreneurs and everyday
    citizens. I am also interested in the new economies of violence that frame these relations, and exceed the state form without supplanting it entirely. In other words, I am
    interested in the conditions of possibility for violence entrepreneurs to actualize any
    particular desire to kill, rather than the origin or content of these desires.
    I intentionally omit discussion of fighters sympathetic to the Islamic State, or any
    other ‘Islamic’ group in my analysis. My detour around what are referred to as “foreign
    jihadis” is meant to highlight how we experience the space and the stakes of violence
    marked by ISIS, and how this violence is framed a priori by discourses, affects, and
    technologies of mediation that distribute our attention toward “Arab” violence against
    the “West.” This move is inspired by Rancière’s (2009: 24) description of politics as:
    the configuration of a specific space, the framing of a particular sphere of experience, of objects
    posited as common and as pertaining to a common decision, of subjects recognized as capable
    of designating these objects and putting forward arguments about them.
    As a provocation, I am interested in the anxieties that may emerge from the purposeful
    absence of ISIS fighters and the threat of ‘jihadis’ in this work, and want to resist conditioning the arguments presented here, even indirectly, through equivalences or concessions that identify ISIS as ‘just as bad’ or ‘worse’ in any effort to resolve that anxiety.
    Further, I find that the inclusion of ‘foreign jihadis’ does not complicate, nuance, nor
    further elaborate on the concept of the violence entrepreneur beyond a focus on North
    American and European “anti-ISIS” combatants; it contributes only to who can be a
    violence entrepreneur rather than what a violence entrepreneur is.
    As an additional provocation, we should consider how the phenomenon of global
    “ISIS hunters” reflects more than just an internalization of North American and European
    strategies of decentralizing and externalizing the enterprise of security overseas. Critical
    perspectives on private security have compellingly elaborated on how the outsourcing of
    security as “the new Western way of war” (Shaw, 2005, cited in Hoffman, 2011: 255)
    emerges as a cultural logic of violence within domestic territorial boundaries (see also
    Abrahamsen and Williams, 2010; Verkuil, 2007). Civilian militias continue to construct
    narratives about themselves as defenders of their nation against an internal, primarily
    (but not exclusively) Muslim, enemy and have been increasingly emboldened to act in
    this capacity, for instance, in the patrolling and bombing of mosques, and in concert with
    the rise of fascist elements in the US, the UK, and Europe. It is important to consider how
    the media work to depoliticize the actions of violence entrepreneurs in Iraq and Syria by
    focusing on their sentimental motivations, and on sensationalist lines of questioning that
    center on whether or not they have killed members of ISIS (a common question in
    These discourses function to normalize the privatization and individualization of
    combat with different effects and consequences. One consequence, I speculate, may be
    the increasing breakdown between conventional understandings of domestic policing
    and the purview of national armed forces, where armed individuals and citizen militias
    continue to ‘fill in’ where they determine the government’s failure or inability to act in a
    particular capacity. The ambivalence toward civilian militias and anti-ISIS combatants
    should be considered alongside other historic forms of colonial and settler violence, and
    how these forms of violence resonate with, for instance, US border patrol groups like the
    Minutemen, the French Génération Identitaire’s crowdfunding campaigns to target refugee boats (Townsend, 2017), and state responses and engagements that run the spectrum
    from casual tolerance and disavowal, to active collaboration (Brown, 2010), to criminal
    prosecution (Agence France-Presse in The Hague, 2016; Froelich, 2017).
    Put simply, violence entrepreneurs may overlap with these groups but they are not
    limited by any particular construction of the political, nor are they motivated by any
    notion of a nation linked to a state. They are ideologically fractalized but not post-political. To understand this new fighter more substantively beyond discursive formations
    that position them as either vigilantes or civilizational warriors requires interrogating
    what is new and transformative about social media in the so-called “age of terror” alongside the formation of new publics, political techniques, and practices of mediation.
    The “connective morphologies” of the violence entrepreneur
    Regardless of the details of their personal narratives, as a contemporary media figure,
    violence entrepreneurs have taken on a kind of mythical quality in the international
    ‘fight against ISIS.’ The proliferation of these combatants in Iraqi Kurdistan and
    Northern Syria appears to coincide with the ‘official’ end of the US war in Iraq on
    December 18, 2011, and later with the intensification of the Syrian conflict in 2012.
    Early coverage of these combatants’ activities frequently coalesced around a group of
    American and European “volunteers” with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units
    (YPG), called the Lions of Rojava. Facebook played a major public relations and
    organizational role for the group; their original page garnered tens of thousands of
    ‘likes’ from around the world, and was actively used to recruit foreign fighters to
    combat zones where the YPG was active. Facebook also functioned as a communal
    space where supporters could inquire about providing and coordinating material
    resources for these fighters, as well as commiserate about not being able to travel
    overseas themselves.
    Over the last five years, anti-ISIS combatants have since been featured on daytime
    talk shows, in local news stories, in documentaries, and in other publications including
    the New York Times (Philipps and Brennan, 2015), CNN (Lister and Ward, 2015), the
    BBC (Yildiz, 2015), New York Magazine (Wiedeman, 2017), The Washington Post (Sly,
    2017), VICE News (Hume, 2017), The Daily Beast (De Visser and Dickey, 2014), and
    Rolling Stone (Harp, 2017), among many others. A film adaptation of the Rolling Stone
    (2017) article “The Anarchists vs. the Islamic State,” produced by and staring actor Jake
    Gyllenhaal, is underway at the time of writing. The film, framed as both a “Middle
    Eastern drama” and a “true story,” centers on a “ragtag team of American volunteers,
    European Journal of International Relations 25(1)
    Figure 1. Author screenshot of individual campaign page (August 2015).
    socialists, and outcasts” who aim to “beat ISIS” and set up an anarchist collective “amid
    the rubble of war” (Kit, 2017).
    Media coverage has tended to focus on these fighters’ personal experiences in battle,
    with attendant narrative structures usually depicting them either as soldier-heroes (Miller,
    2015) or, alternatively, as picaresque rogues (Percy, 2015). Anker’s (2005) articulation of
    melodrama as a mode of popular cultural narrative framing the events of September 11,
    2001 is helpful for understanding how these combatants’ actions have been staged as a
    battle between good and evil amid the hyper-amplification of media coverage of the
    Islamic State’s recruitment efforts online, which has been to the detriment of more substantive engagements with this other ambiguous phenomenon. Further, the specter of the
    domestic radical in support of ISIS has eclipsed the hundreds, perhaps thousands of
    foreign fighters who have or are designing their own missions and rules for combat.
    Today, online threads for coordinating such combat ventures abound on survivalist
    sites (Max Velocity, 2014), Reddit threads, and even in “How To” articles on viral websites describing step-by-step guidelines for joining foreign fighters abroad (see Didziulis,
    2016). Many of these fighters have also used crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to
    solicit small-scale financial contributions from individual donors for the purchase of
    plane tickets, weapons, and armor, and also to solicit monetary support upon their return
    as payment for their self-crafted missions (see Figure 1).
    New “non-profit security providers” that focus on recruiting and providing support to
    those who wish to “volunteer” in the “fight against ISIS” have also emerged. These violence entrepreneurs, in the form of the firm, coordinate production processes, vet and
    deploy recruits, procure capital, and make strategic decisions with regard to their own
    individual combat activities in Iraq and Syria. One such organization, Sons of Liberty
    International (SOLI), was founded by Matthew VanDyke, a self-proclaimed “freedom
    fighter” and Christian solider against ISIS. VanDyke had previously ‘volunteered’ with a
    Libyan militia to overthrow Qaddafi, and later recruited US combat veterans to “train”
    the Nineveh Protection Unit (NPU) in Iraq against the Islamic State (McLaughlin, 2015;
    Pizzi, 2015). SOLI, which was profiled on the History Channel, claims to be the first
    security contracting firm run as a non-profit. It openly engages in international recruitment activities, and runs independent missions to Iraq to provide “security training and
    consulting” to “vulnerable populations” that allows them to “defend themselves against
    terrorist or other insurgent groups” (
    A second and related example is the 1st New Allied Expeditionary Force (NAEF), an
    organization founded by Ian Bradbury, a former Canadian Forces infantry non-commissioned officer, which coordinates logistical support for anti-ISIS fighters. The NAEF is
    currently run by a rogues’ gallery of former military and private contractors, including
    two other former Canadian infantrymen, a US Marine Corps Reserve Officer, a US
    Combat Military Police Officer, a former Canadian Forces Warrant Officer, and a former
    US military contractor who “served” in Iraq ( In a 2014 interview with
    Canada’s National Post (Bell, 2014), Bradbury explains that he started the NAEF to
    assist his friend Dillon Hillier, a retired corporal who left the Canadian Army to join the
    Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq to fight ISIS. In Bradbury’s words, the NAEF “serves to provide individuals [who] have made the decision to go volunteer in Iraq with secure information, and secure contacts to minimalize their risk upon arrival.” The NAEF also enlists
    its own screening process for potential “volunteers.” As Bradbury describes: “They have
    to have at least military training and deployment. They have to have functioned in a
    conflict environment before and proven to be able to deal with those stresses.” Bradbury
    continues: “we definitely didn’t have the expectations for it to be what it is … it was a
    small venture that was started to support a few friends and from there it’s turned into
    what it is right now” (Bell, 2014). In the interview, Bradbury claims that in 2014, he was
    contacted by more than one hundred people asking for his assistance to enlist with
    Kurdish forces after The Post ran an article about a former Canadian infantryman leaving
    Alberta to fight ISIS. According to Bradbury, the majority of these individuals were
    Canadian, however others were distributed across the US, the UK, Australia, New
    Zealand, and Norway.
    These sovereign acts of killing are not without historical precedent. Grove (forthcoming,
    2018) references early antecedents of the violence entrepreneur in his discussion of
    Bernardo de Vargas Machuca’s (1599) The Indian Militia and Description of the Indies,
    often cited as the first counterinsurgency manual, and the “freelance” paramilitaries who
    tasked themselves with eliminating indigenous resistance to Spanish colonization alongside Vargas Machuca in the 16th century. Vargas Machuca’s translator, Kris Lane,
    describes these paramilitaries as “roaming the American backcountry from New Mexico
    to Chile” and participating in “punishments” or castigos against “indigenous rebels,
    thieves, and fugitives.” The environment of the Indian in the manual functions as a total
    space for war, one in which successful settlement and governance of the colonies is
    predicated on warlike relations, and where the imagined geographies of the “savage” at
    the edge of state control allow for direct forms of killing and violence that would have
    been proscribed elsewhere, and when done to others (Bjork-James, 2015).
    According to Lane, these militiamen increasingly saw themselves as part of a new
    professional class, an identification that emerged from designing their own violent
    European Journal of International Relations 25(1)
    missions of conquest, often in the hopes of eventually being recognized by the king in an
    official capacity through acquiring post hoc payments or government posts. As Grove
    (forthcoming, 2018) remarks, Vargas Manchuca wrote The Indian Militia as a kind of
    “job application,” one that would create counterinsurgency as both a means and an ends
    in the colonization of the Americas, and thus invent a “new world” through particular
    forms of violence that would be legitimated after the fact, and not before. What differentiated early iterations of the violence entrepreneur from other mercenaries and freelance
    privateers was not only that they sought out and defined their own conflicts rather than
    being hired to fight or provide protection, but that they also considered their actions to be
    informed by the ‘spirit’ of the sovereign, even when not acting directly in the service of
    the sovereign.
    Other proto-forms of the violence entrepreneur can be found in the organization of
    untrained settler militias and “local volunteers” to replace white American soldiers at
    border forts, and along the boundaries of what was considered “Indian Country”
    (Weigley, 1973). Many of these settlers took up their own missions, engaged in organized massacres, and expanded the range of territory through brutal forms of colonization
    beyond the official borders of the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Kiowa nations. Upon the return
    of the Regular Army in 1865–1866, a permanent Indian Country border was no longer
    feasible as a policy (Weigley, 1973:155–156). Consequently, these marauding missions,
    while not acting directly in the service of the state, paved the way for other forms of state
    building and annihilation that included the westward expansion of the Union Pacific and
    Kansas Pacific Railroads, and the actualization of America’s homestead policy in the
    1860s (Weigley, 1973:156).
    These early settlement tactics were “practically and conceptually normalized” as a
    means of state warfare in, for example, the direct targeting of cities and agricultural
    resources in later iterations of 20th century colonialism and during both World Wars
    (Grove, forthcoming, 2018). Further, these forms of violence resonate tactically and in
    forms of intensity with groups like the Ku Klux Klan, militia groups like the Oath
    Keepers, and even in the passive response by Canadian police to Soldiers of Odin antiimmigrant foot patrols (Lamoureux, 2016).
    My point here is not to suggest a developmentalist trajectory between Vargas
    Manchuca and anti-ISIS militants. Rather, I want to gesture toward what Grove calls a
    “connective morphology” between different mutations in warfare. That states may eventually supplant or envelop the violence entrepreneur, or that their interests may overlap
    at times, does not mean that the violence entrepreneur is bound by this convergence.
    Instead, the innovation of new forms of violence is enlivened by reverence for a cause or
    order that is neither incidental to nor coincidental with the state. In addition, given the
    significant variance across states in Europe and North America in response to the activities of these ‘freelance’ combatants, it is difficult to substantiate any one particular
    approach by states to the actions of violence entrepreneurs in light of the diversity of
    these actors, their motivations, and operations.
    We should, however, consider why governments have been so ambivalent about giving up their monopoly on the use of force with regard to said combatants. Even in those
    examples where criminal prosecution has been pursued, popular support has complicated
    clear lines of legitimacy and illegitimacy. Such was the case with Dutch citizen Jitse
    Akse, who was arrested in 2016 on suspicion of killing ISIS militants, then released amid
    public protests against the Dutch prosecution service (Agence France-Presse in The
    Hague, 2016). What is clear is that these combatants challenge the presumption of a
    zero-sum balancing of sovereignty between states and foreign fighters, which often
    frames contemporary applications of the theory of partisanship, and reveal how states
    have and continue to maintain ambiguous relationships to such irregular combatants
    through flexible relations of permissibility, cooperation, and discipline.
    While the critical theoretical intervention here, as I discuss in more detail in the next
    section, is how violence entrepreneurs restructure the conditions of the sovereign decision, there are other mechanisms that they share in common. One, I would argue, is their
    investment in exploiting imbalances and discrepancies in the institutional conditions and
    opportunities for committing extreme forms of violence that would otherwise be illegal
    or impermissible in either civil or martial contexts. In other words, they are defined, in
    part, by their willingness to take advantage of opportunities for experimenting with acts
    of violence that emerge out of discrepancies in legal and other institutional checks on
    combat and killing to pursue their own ends, or their own sovereign decisions on enmity.
    Negotiating pure uncertainty, I would wager, may also be part of the appeal of engaging in these particular iterations of violence. Violence entrepreneurs present themselves as
    specialists in taking risks and bearing certain forms of uncertainty, but their specialization
    is in the direction of violent life insofar as they are assumed to bear the financial, legal,
    and moral obligations of their actions. In their risk-bearing capacities, violence entrepreneurs must make decisions based on certain forms of speculation. They must assume that
    they will be able to reach their destinations and gain access to weapons, that these battlegrounds will remain open to them, and that they will not be killed. They must also assume
    that they will be able to circumvent possible legal and/or economic consequences for their
    actions. For instance, while the author is not aware of any US or Canadian citizen who has
    faced charges after returning from engaging in combat in Iraq and Syria, Danish citizen
    Joanna Palani, who reportedly killed 96 “ISIS militants” in 2014, is said to face charges
    for violating Danish anti-terror laws after returning to fight with the YPG in 2015 when
    she had been explicitly banned from doing so (Froelich, 2017). The pleasure of participating in extreme forms of interpersonal violence exists, in part, because this mode of killing
    takes place within a volatile and shifting landscape of security, and within gaps of state
    control over security environments, broadly conceived. The lucky fighters, like Jordan
    Mattson, a US Army veteran, get to revel in their violent adventures on BBC News, while
    the unlucky ones, like Canadian John Gallagher, who was killed in 2015 while fighting
    with the YPG, have their coffins saluted on Canada’s “Highway of Heroes” (Miller, 2015).
    The heterogeneity of enmity
    Combatants “taking the fight to ISIS” pose challenges to state-centered notions of sovereignty that compare to traditional partisans. Yet despite popular attempts to locate them
    on the front lines of a hyper-civilizational conflict, these fighters do not, in fact, share a
    ‘way of life.’ Consider, for example, Hanna Bohman, a “fashion model-turned-freedom
    fighter,” who fought in Rojava with the YPG. In an interview with CTV Vancouver,
    Bohman describes her reason for fighting: “I needed to do something with my life. I was
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    bored” (Wells, 2017). In the same interview, Bohman emphasized that she had originally
    wanted to fight in the Crimea conflict, but then later chose to fight in Syria because she
    had the time and money to travel. Compare Bohman to Jordan Matson, a Fox News
    favorite, who fought in Rojava. Matson articulated his own reasons for traveling to Syria
    in a recent interview around his disappointment in not being deployed to Iraq because of
    personal issues with another soldier. His inability to “follow in the footsteps” of his
    father, who served two tours in Afghanistan, drove him to Syria: “I felt like I had not
    completed what I had set out in life to do. I had set out to do a deployment and serve my
    country” (Handelman, 2016). Interviews with other fighters similarly reveal a heterogeneity of motivations for killing that seem to unravel and then refortify, giving way to
    aggregate fragments of identity that coalesce around an incentive to violence rather than
    any one particular political goal.
    What nascent political commitments do exist among these fighters rarely adhere to any
    of the three forms of enmity that Schmitt theorizes. The political, for violence entrepreneurs, is not structured around what Schmitt (2004: 7) calls the “conventional enmity of the
    contained war” of states against states. In this particular formation, the limits of enmity lie
    in the classical law of nations. In fact, a common reason that anti-ISIS combatants give for
    undertaking these missions is the failure of states to adequately respond to the global threat
    that ISIS poses. The political for these fighters also does not correspond to what Schmitt
    terms “real enmity,” which frames the partisan struggle. The limit of real enmity is territory, that is, the defense or liberation of a homeland. Most of these fighters do not articulate
    their motivation for fighting ISIS in the context of a commitment to the formation of a
    Kurdish state, which complicates aligning violence entrepreneurs with the terrestrial character of the conventional partisan, and their connection to an organic sense of place.
    Schmitt’s third notion of absolute enmity describes the idea of war as unlimited in
    the sense that one’s enemy becomes an abstraction, and where war is no longer instrumental, but rather is absolute insofar as it is no longer directed at any one particular
    enemy or opponent (Schmitt, 2007, 2004; see also Chandler, 2009: 255). The partisan
    of an absolute nature points to the loosening of their telluric character, which is supplanted by the global reach of the partisan’s zealotry. Schmitt gestures toward Marxist
    insurgents committed to global revolution, where the combination of absolutist ideology corresponds to an absolute enmity that would annihilate all opposition to this
    particular way of life. Brace Belden, an untrained combatant featured in the aforementioned Rolling Stone article and self-described lumpenproletariat, may arguably
    fit within this category of enmity in his efforts to defend a “socialist enclave” in
    Rojava. There is more that could be said here about the privilege of mobility and
    political ‘experimentation’ that allow these particular fighters to chose whom, where,
    and when they fight. Still, other anti-ISIS fighters who similarly expand the global
    reach of the partisan have means and ends that are sporadic and partial, despite their
    transnational reach. What is important to note here is that violence entrepreneurs, in
    their excessive investment in their own ‘way of life,’ which is itself constituted by
    singular decisions over enmity in the form of whom they target and why, demand that
    we dilate Schmitt’s distinction between the individual and the state. The diversity of
    anti-ISIS fighters shows a wide array of individualisms, as well as singularities that
    are committed to collective, although diasporic, communities.
    It is also important to note how anti-ISIS fighters have emerged at the nexus of decentralized warfare and what Foucault (2008: 160) identified as the “formalization of society on the model of enterprise,” or the selective withdrawal of the state from social
    welfare, and the proliferation of normative and institutional demands to adopt entrepreneurial modes of behavior at every junction of contemporary life. The violence entrepreneur reflects a cartography of libidinal investments and displays of force that organize
    and innovate violence around models of entrepreneurial behavior, and, as such, reference
    the limits of Schmitt’s position that private individuals have no political enemies
    (Schmitt, 2008: 51). Where certain constituent elements of the partisan intertwine with
    those of violence entrepreneurs, their willingness to propel themselves into battle overlaps with global economic imperatives for workers to increasingly self-organize, to find
    ways of economizing their “productivity” and capabilities, and to extend models of
    enterprise to violent forms of life.
    For Foucault (2008: 219), the collapsing of labor and human capital allows for the
    extension of economic analysis and interpretation to bleed into all forms of life previously thought to be outside the realm of the economy. Thus, any action that one takes to
    achieve a desired end can be read as investing in one’s own human capital, from attaining
    an advanced degree to purchasing new body armor. As Read (2009: 30) suggests, this
    allows us to situate the generalization of the ‘entrepreneur’ and its correlate notions of
    speculation, risk, and investment as part of a politics of neoliberalism and as a mode of
    subjection. Here, antagonisms produced from social and economic insecurity can be
    redirected toward the individual, while maintaining existing distributions of wealth and
    relations of exploitation under capitalism.
    Contra Foucault’s (2008: 225–226) focus on the new self-motivated subject of entrepreneurial individualism as the driver of their own decisions about risk and action in a
    neoliberal order, Schmitt (2008: 29–30) remains concerned with the problem of sovereignty, and the sovereign decision being located within the state as “an organized political entity that determines the friend–enemy distinction.” This distinction is resolutely not
    constituted in what he terms the “private-individualistic sense” that reflects an individual’s emotional or habitual state (Schmitt, 2008: 27–28). For Schmitt (2008: 28), “an
    enemy exists only when … one fighting collectivity of people confronts a similar collectivity,” and this enemy is “solely the public enemy.” Thus were the friend–enemy
    distinction to disappear, so would political life vanish altogether. However, insofar as
    self-styled anti-ISIS fighters organize violence around an entrepreneurial sensibility
    toward combat and killing, they angle off from constituent elements of Schmitt’s partisan
    in profound ways. One critical insight is that while anti-ISIS combatants may fight for a
    ‘way of life’ similar to Schmitt’s core animating force of enmity and the political, the
    violence entrepreneur does not require the consistency of ideology found in, for example, the Marxist insurgent to be capable of fighting beyond the territorial confines of the
    state while also remaining political. Another is that the processes that Schmitt describes
    are also indebted to racialized and civilizational cartographies that territorialize and
    deterritorialize violence in unevenly distributed ways.
    Moreover, the assemblage of ad hoc imagined communities built online through
    social networks and funding initiatives, and the mobility and lethality of individual fighters, complicates the chain of causality between partisans and the sovereign decision as
    European Journal of International Relations 25(1)
    articulated by Schmitt. In Schmitt’s formulation, the source of meaning and enmity is
    established prior to the partisan; in some sense, it is the constitutive condition of possibility for the partisan. Schmit does not account for how the partisan and the sovereign decision over enmity would or could coincide. However, for violence entrepreneurs, causality
    is more ambivalent and less decisionistic at an instant. Here, a complex relay of resonances, affects, goals, decisions, ressentiments, traumas, and interests come to make a
    decision even if what or who decides is the assemblage, rather than a single enunciative
    point that one might call a sovereign (see Grove, 2016b).
    The addition of the exotic structure of the assemblage is necessary here to see how the
    political emerges in the mediated and globalized milieu of anti-ISIS fighters and their
    actions. Additionally, the notion of individualized enmity coheres the violence entrepreneur as a category of combatant that allows us to trace the conceptual resonance between
    fighters like Jordan Mattson and Hanna Bohman, when the rhetoric of “fighting ISIS”
    presents only one layer in the radical heterogeneity of ‘ways of life’ that these individual
    combatants seek to articulate in shared combat zones. If it is possible for private persons
    to have enemies, and for new forms of communication and mobile finance to create other
    zones of the political apart from what Schmitt had envisioned, then this necessarily disrupts the sequence and priority of the causal chain from the sovereign, to the political, to
    war. Otherwise, anti-ISIS fighters would be rendered mere criminals, and we see that
    they are not. If each act of killing is merely murder, then there is no reason to investigate
    further. Yet, violence entrepreneurs continue to function as the drivers and symptoms of
    a mutating field of the political and war. Thus, more than simply pointing to a tension in
    Schmitt’s logic whereby the “source” of enmity in the global partisan becomes murky,
    the violence entrepreneur demonstrates something much more than a conceptual lack.
    They demonstrate an empirical mutation in the sovereign decision.
    Crowdfunding for war
    I have suggested that is it more than just the violence entrepreneur’s resolve to intervene
    that is changing the nature of contemporary warfare. New digital economies have also
    led to transformations in how security is desired, experienced, and organized. Today,
    platforms like GoFundMe and other manifestations of the crowdfunding economy have
    allow for information, energies, bodies, money, and other “assets” to move between geographical distances through interactive online communities (Langley and Leyshon,
    2017). What I am interested in here is how the proliferation of crowdfunding platforms
    and related forms of digital economic exchange are also restructuring warfare insofar as
    these platforms allow for violence entrepreneurs to act on their own atomistic constructions of enmity.
    The use of crowdfunding for self-crafted missions in Syria and Iraq parallels similar
    patterns in the adoption of Big Data and crowd technologies by different forms of
    governance in providing public goods. Today, new “civic crowdfunding” models have
    emerged as a means of organizing public service provisions through “market-like bidding
    mechanisms” and social platforms for planning, funding, and implementing investments
    in public infrastructure and other forms of community development (Ashton et al., 2017).
    More directly related to the question of warfare, insofar as security is considered a
    national public good, there is no shortage of debate over how the commodification of and
    multiplicity of providers of security has displaced this provision from the modern state
    (see Stern and Öjendal, 2010, citing Zedner, 2009; Williams, 2010). These arguments
    resonate with the concerns of some of Schmitt’s interlocutors, who assume that irregular
    combatants reflect a trade-off of sovereignty insofar as they threaten the state’s monopoly over determining the structures of enmity (see Slomp, 2005).
    Yet, the practice of crowdfunding self-crafted missions for combat is more radical in
    scope than either of these examples suggest. It is true that ‘peer-to-peer’ funding platforms are altering conditions on the battlefield around the exercise of state power, a
    dynamic that raises important questions about capability, responsibility, and legality.
    However, they are also altering the conditions for the sovereign decision itself by exploiting entrepreneurial and collaborative logics of platform participation to reorganize the
    interstitial spaces of permissible and impermissible killing.
    This happens, in part, through the ways in which violence entrepreneurs and their
    ‘supporters’ position themselves relative to imaginaries of state and market failure, and
    how these networks emerge within what Çalişkan and Callon (2010: 14–16) call “market
    encounters” in digital space. In Langley and Leyshon’s (2017: 5) terms, the notion of
    market encounters suggests that platforms do not simply create markets through software
    codes that allow for the management of distance between users. Rather, platforms themselves play an affective role in the “co-creation” of value between users, and in the coordination and curation of networked connectivity. Put differently, crowdfunding platforms
    allow combatants and donors to imagine and make manifest new ‘national’ communities
    around the provision of atomistic violence that mutate the sovereign decision over
    enmity, but within a larger ecology of technological sociality.
    Consider, for example, “Jamie Lane ISIS Hunter’s” individual GoFundMe page (see
    Figure 2) and the attendant description of the campaign: “Jamie Ray Lane took it upon
    himself to take the fight to ISIS on his own … the least we can do is pull some cash
    together to get him back on his feet.” In the campaign description, Lane’s former status
    in the US Marine Core (USMC), and his previous tours in Iraq from 2004 to 2008 function
    as part of a marketing strategy, where his competence to deliver a particular product —
    “hunting” members of ISIS — is but one among many forms of security provision. These
    narratives are complemented by other images of Lane in his USMC fatigues, as well as
    commentary from donors about “counting on your Marine family” and “sending cookies,” which patterns a US tradition of sending care packages to soldiers overseas.
    Like other violence entrepreneurs, Lane is distinguished from ordinary combatants in
    his willingness to “go it alone” and in acting outside of the institutional constraints of a
    state military. Lane’s campaign page also draws on the familiar vernacular of both private
    security and popularized forms of vigilantism in his pursuing individual forms of enmity
    and creative violence. Yet, what is particularly innovate about the use of these digital economic platforms and ‘democratizing’ technologies in this instance is how platforms make
    it possible for micro-decisions and micro-actions to accrete into sovereign decisions.
    Similarly, non-profit security firms like SOLI and the NAEF disrupt the causality and
    scale of the sovereign decision as imagined through regulated combat populated by
    national militaries, state-contracted private security actors, and battlefield laborers. These
    groups, also supported via crowdfunding individual donations online, are shifting the
    European Journal of International Relations 25(1)
    Figure 2. “Jamie Lane ISIS Hunter” crowdfunding page. Author screenshot, September 2017.
    organization of decision-making and the funding of military and combat operations from
    governments and international institutions, to individuals and small clusters of ‘freelance’
    combatants. Drawing on the organizational structure of the firm, they frequently adopt the
    vernacular of ‘human security’ and humanitarian intervention, while providing individual
    donors opportunities to direct their pledges to specific “missions,” or toward equipment
    of the donor’s preference, including shooting targets, body armor vests, and GoPro cameras “to capture high quality video … of battles against ISIS” (see Figure 3). Certainly, in
    aligning themselves with traditional partisans such as the YPG, in seeking out contracts
    with local actors, or by calling one’s cluster of fighters a “non-profit security provider,”
    these firms are attempting to tap into existing languages of security provision in order to
    circumvent the possible moral threat of vigilantism and accusations of war crimes. Further,
    these funding platforms allow for a form of collective action that states previously had a
    normative monopoly over in terms of fighting wars.
    Crowdfunding platforms do not simply shrink the distance between funders and volunteers through networked communication. They are, in fact, a driving factor in the
    emergence of new types of security actors and infrastructures. Transformations in data
    storage and encryption may allow the general public to feel more comfortable participating in these kinds of activities, which can work to normalize peer-to-peer microlending
    in the context of combat operations. Yet, even more pressing is their impact on the reorganization of the sovereign decision, and how the exchange of information and words of
    support create distinct communities around campaign initiatives that gesture toward an
    excessive value and a libidinal investment in supporting particular modes of violence
    that actualize the everyday public’s desire to be “part of the action.”
    In a very basic sense, the use of these platforms for funding foreign fighters overseas still attests to their horizontalizing and ‘democratizing’ function. Yet, by rendering
    Figure 3. SOLI donation page. Author screenshot, April 2017.
    their politicization visible, we see that their structural function does not exclude the
    organization of warfare. Crowdfunding can just as easily be organized to help a friend
    after a flood or support an independent film as it can for arming an anti-government
    militia or treating another country as a recreational battle-park. We should consider
    how sites like GoFundMe, as new technological appendages to the violence entrepreneur, produces an ideological flattening effect where there is no differentiation between
    helping to offset someone’s medical expenses, and donating US$10 to a Kalashnikovtoting avatar in Northern Syria.
    In sum, the crowdfunding story is more than a functionalist argument about capability. The communities that use these platforms are also created by them, thus circulating
    the affective inspirations for intervening in particular conflicts to begin with. Kaempf’s
    (2013) consideration of the structural shift from multipolar to heteropolar mediascapes,
    and the impact of this transformation on the experience and mediatization of warfare is a
    useful framework for considering how shared experiences of simultaneity become nearly
    instantaneous rather than just imagined, where conflicts that are thousands of miles away
    unfold in real time. The affective connections charged by these immediate communications and the swarm of new socialities and publics that emerge around them inspire new
    identities and alter-nationalisms that take shape around galvanizing events. For example,
    a “mission” can seem urgent amid the constant barrage of enraged and conspiratorial
    warnings of the impending imposition of Sharia law in places like Kentucky. Further, the
    circulation of capabilities, new collectives, fear, anger, desires for meaning, and impending crises of which decisions over enmity take place further complicate the decisionistic
    and individualized image of sovereignty proposed by Schmitt. The assemblage and the
    points of singularity that emerge from the violence entrepreneur constitutes a political
    that comes to define forms of combat significant at the scale of geopolitics.
    European Journal of International Relations 25(1)
    Governments have always gone to great lengths to homogenize and channel enmity
    within what Althusser (2014) calls the ideological state apparatus. Here, the heterogeneity of enmity found within any singular bounded territory is subordinated and arranged
    in ways that allow for the expression of those impulses for the good of the nation or
    group. Further, insofar as states and non-state organizations provide opportunities and
    resources for the expression of individual forms of enmity, what the Islamic State or antiISIS fighters can and cannot capture as structures of enmity themselves rely on a
    state/non-state binary as a means of exercising whatever form of enmity a fighter may
    possess. Escaped forms of enmity, like Patrick Maxwell, may break away from the
    organizational structures of state militaries, or from the protocols and directives of PMCs
    in contemporary combat zones. However, new communications technologies and platforms for mobile finance mean that states and non-state organizations are no longer
    necessary to the construction of the political. Individuals, in their expression of singular
    forms of enmity, do not need to follow either the strategic or affective jurisdictions of
    states and non-states.
    Violence entrepreneurs demonstrate how persisting attachments to state-centrism and
    the individual as actor obscures new arrangements of sovereignty and the political built
    by contemporary forms of networked communication and combat. While people have
    always maintained heterogeneous reasons and motivations for going off to war, new
    digital economies and participatory media are converting motivation into novel organizational types of combatants and communities that support and inspire them. Temporary,
    idiosyncratic, and, at times, singular forms of enmity are created in ways that challenge
    our inherited presumptions about the unity of the sovereign in the sovereign decisionmaking over friends and enemies. Today, novel ways of life, often disconnected from
    discrete territories or nationalities, have armies ranging from lone warriors to those with
    capabilities competitive with nation-states.
    What makes violence entrepreneurs political in the Schmittian sense is that all of
    these fighters are trying to repel or even eliminate another way of life. Even if a particular way of life does not reach the level of a ‘civilizational’ conflict, the organizing logic
    of enmity still requires the decision of us versus them, of friend and enemy. Matthew
    VanDyke’s eschatological religious mission against ISIS, and the kind of ‘bro’ libertarianism that motivates American students to treat Syria like their own recreational battlefield (Taub, 2013) are not more or less political. In all of these cases, and in all of the
    varieties of violence entrepreneurs discussed here, the sovereign decision comes from
    somewhere exterior to the state, in either the complex assemblages and ad hoc imagined
    communities of crowdfunding networks, or the autopoetic singularity of a one-man
    army in Aruba. Each group or singularity thrives on the milieu of lawlessness, risk, and
    a willingness to kill and be killed. Telescoping from the first dollar raised for the plane
    ticket to Iraq, to the last time a “volunteer” pulls the trigger, we see that the hundreds,
    if not thousands, of actions — from fundraising to killing — require an image of the
    political and its animating way of life as the condition of possibility for the violence
    I am grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the editors at EJIR for their thoughtful comments on
    an earlier draft of this article. Selections of this research have been presented at talks and workshops sponsored by the Université du Québec à Montréal (2016), Lund University (2017),
    Stockholm University (2017); and the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (2016, 2017). In
    particular, I would like to thank Baljit Nagra, Rex Troumbley, Marwa Daoudy, and especially
    Jairus Victor Grove for their close readings and constructive feedback.
    This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or
    not-for-profit sectors.
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    Author biography
    Nicole Sunday Grove is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai‘i at
    Mānoa. Her research interests are located at the intersection of international relations and transnational Middle East politics, focusing on issues of security, gender, technology, visuality, and popular culture. Grove is the recipient of the 2016–2017 Fulbright Scholar Award in the Middle East
    and North Africa Regional Research Program, and is an Associate Editor for the journal
    International Political Sociology.
    JOURNAL OF POLITICS, Vol. 81, No. 2 (2019)
    Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media
    Matthew A. Baum
    Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications
    Harvard University
    Philip B. K. Potter
    Associate Professor
    University of Virginia
    Democratic publics have always been at a disadvantage when it comes to constraining their
    elected leaders’ independent foreign policy preferences. By its very nature, foreign policy leads
    to information asymmetries that disadvantage average citizens in favor of governing elites. An
    important and unresolved question, however, is whether this disadvantage has deepened with the
    advent of the Internet and the fundamental changes in the media and politics that have ensued.
    We argue that it has. The current information and political environments erode constraint by
    inclining constituents to reflexively and durably back “their” leaders and disapprove of
    opposition. These changes short-circuit the process by which citizens can informationally “catch
    up” with and constrain leaders because views that contradict citizens’ prior positions are less
    likely to break through when media are fragmented and siloed. These changes have important
    implications for key literatures that link democracy to foreign policy behavior including those on
    the democratic peace, audience costs, rally effects, and diversionary war. The current
    information environment may also contribute to instability in foreign policy, since holding public
    support in place past the point when it might otherwise shift can contribute to sudden and
    destabilizing changes in public opinion that undercut commitments abroad.
    Keywords: Media, Public Opinion, Foreign Policy, Democratic Peace, Audience Costs, Rally
    Effect, Diversionary War, Democratic Constraint, Fake News
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    The information environment has fundamentally shifted over the past two decades, but
    scholarship has failed to keep pace.1 We know a great deal about the relationships among media,
    public opinion, and foreign policy in a paradigm dominated by newspapers, broadcast television
    and the Post-war consensus. However, existing models break down in the context of fragmented,
    Internet-driven information and highly polarized public opinion. For years, scholars (ourselves
    included) have failed to fully grapple with the implications of these changes, falling back on the
    arguments that most news on the Internet was still produced by traditional media and that most
    people still obtained their information from traditional sources. Time has rendered these defenses
    increasingly untenable. Our goal here is to set an agenda for reappraising these relationships in
    the context of the current technological and political landscapes.
    Many of these changes are causally intertwined. Along with the shifting media
    environment have come inequality, populism, and rising nationalism in many western
    democracies. These transformations pose major questions for leadership accountability in foreign
    policy. When satellite and Internet technology first emerged many hoped that the resulting
    volume, democratization, and accessibility of information would lead to a new media golden age
    and a more engaged and informed public. Over time, this optimistic vision has given way to fears
    that information silos and misinformation make it ever harder for citizens to productively engage
    in democratic politics in general and the foreign policy process in particular. We ask then, is
    foreign policy today more (or less) constrained than it was in the prior media, information, and
    public opinion environment?
    We would like to acknowledge excellent comments from Neil Narang and valuable research
    assistance from Kevin George.
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    While additional research is needed, we argue that the preponderance of evidence points
    to an overall decline in democratic constraint on foreign policy. The current information and
    political environments, which lack significant moderation — by prominent voices from a neutral
    media or popular engagement with opposing viewpoints — incline constituents to reflexively
    back “their” leaders and disapprove of opposition leaders. These effects become particularly
    stark stark in two party, majoritarian systems, such as that of the United States where a
    polarizing public sorts into just two baskets: “us” and “them.” Prior work models a disengaged
    and uniformed public that begins ill-equipped to constrain leadership’s foreign policy, but can,
    under certain circumstances, catch up by drawing on heuristics such as casualties or elite discord.
    The current media and political climates short-circuit this updating process. Contrary views less
    frequently break through when media are fragmented and siloed, the little that does is easily
    dismissed as “fake news,” and polarization makes elite discord within these silos ever more rare.
    This, however, does not necessarily mean that leaders get whatever they want all the
    time. Mechanisms that hold public support in place past the point when they might otherwise
    shift can contribute to sudden and destabilizing changes in public opinion on the relatively rare
    occasions when they do occur. Public opinion, which has always been fickle when it comes to
    foreign policy, therefore becomes even more susceptible to sudden cascades of change that
    undercut foreign policy commitments. Put differently, leaders may enjoy greater “elasticity of
    reality” under present conditions, but nothing stretches infinitely (Baum and Potter 2008). When
    something that is stretched very far reaches its breaking point, the consequences are can be
    These changes have profound implications. If citizens cannot or do not obtain the
    information required to accurately appraise leaders’ performance they cannot then reliably hold
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    their leaders to account. Democratic constraint on foreign policy then recedes and many of the
    mechanisms that distinguish democracies when it comes to foreign policy come into question.
    There is less reason to believe that democracies will behave peacefully toward each other, that
    they they will have greater credibility than their autocratic counterparts, that they will be
    selective in the fights that they engage in and consequently more likely to win, or that publics
    will reliably rally in support of their leaders in the face of conflict. In other words, these changes
    require a wholesale reappraisal of what we think we know about how democracies conduct their
    foreign policy.
    Social science is just beginning to meaningfully grapple with the trends that are driving
    foreign policy in the age of Trump and, building on that work, our contention is that much of
    what is commonly treated as idiosyncratic at the present political moment is, in fact, systematic.
    The consequences for public constraint on foreign policy are therefore predictable. Personalities
    may exaggerate some of these trends in the immediate term, but they are not likely to disappear
    after the next presidential election. Our hope is that by rebuilding the models of media, public
    opinion, and foreign policy constraint that we developed a decade ago we can reorient the
    discussion in a more productive direction.
    The World as it Was
    The literature on public opinion equates foreign policy knowledge with foreign policy
    engagement (Delli Carpini, Keeter, and Webb 1997; Holsti 2004, Ostrom and Job 1986). The
    common holding is that, in normal times, typical Americans know little (and care less) about
    foreign policy. They therefore generally do not engage with it unless they receive some signal
    that their attention is warranted–typically in the form of casualties or loud elite disagreement
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    (Holsti and Rosenau 1984; Mueller 1973; Zaller 1994). This informational asymmetry and
    corresponding inattentiveness gives leaders a relatively free hand in the day-to-day conduct of
    foreign affairs, absent some media whistleblowing that activates public engagement (Rosenau
    Crucially, the action in this model comes from a traditional media that is beholden to
    elites (particularly those within the executive) for authoritative information, but also responsive
    to the public as the market for its product. As long as the public was unengaged, the media
    remained a lapdog (to elites) for fear of alienating its suppliers. Once the public became
    activated, however, the media became a watchdog for fear of losing its customers (Baum and
    Potter 2008).2
    The result was a world in which leaders had a broad informational advantage (and
    corresponding discretion) at the outset of a typical foreign policy initiative. If, however, the
    initiative was or became relatively high in salience, like a military conflict, this gap narrowed
    over time as media and the public became more informed and effectively “caught up” to leaders
    We spend much of this article describing the negative consequences for democratic constraint
    on foreign policy that emerge from changes to this “traditional” media arrangement that
    prevailed for approximately four decades after World War II. It should, however, be
    acknowledged that this “golden age” was certainly not perfect on all dimensions. In the days of
    Walter Cronkite, news was biased with regard to gender, race, and class. It also tended to be
    resistant to alternative (but sometimes very accurate) perspectives in favor of the relatively
    monolithic elite opinion that prevailed on many issues in that period.
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    (Baum and Potter 2015). The same process unfolded for other areas of foreign policy, like trade
    negotiations, albeit typically more slowly.
    Figure 1 illustrates this dynamic by tracing the typical path of the foreign policy
    informational advantage enjoyed by leaders, relative to the public (that is, the information gap).
    In our view, this gap limits democratic constraint on foreign policy, giving leaders a relatively
    free hand. As the primary traders of information in the marketplace—simultaneously beholden to
    leaders for their supply of this key commodity and to the public for demand—the traditional
    media played a central role in narrowing this gap over time.
    Figure 1–Closing the Information Gap*
    *from Baum and Potter 2008
    As we have noted, in most periods public attention to foreign policy (and as a direct
    corollary, demand for foreign policy news) is and has been very low, resulting in an equilibrium
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    favorable to leaders at the outset of an engagement. (IGt1) represents this relatively large
    information gap at time t1. However, several factors—including casualties, elite discord, and
    evidence that leaders have “spun” the facts beyond credulity (a concept we term the “elasticity of
    reality” and will return to)—can prompt the public to increase its demand for information from
    the media, thereby narrowing the information gap. At least historically, this became more likely
    as an engagement dragged on, (represented by the smaller information gap of IGt2 at time t2).
    The traditional media played a crucial role by producing this dynamism. Absent some third actor
    controlling the flow of information (or if such an actor were merely a passive conveyor belt),
    leaders would have no incentive to respond to changes in the public’s demand for information.
    Similarly, the public would receive few or no signals that they should increase their demand for
    What has Changed?
    The short answer is that the media changed in ways that make it harder for this process of
    information convergence to take place. This is, in a sense, a disappointing outcome. The
    fundamentally altered media landscape that we now face was, in the early days of its emergence
    and evolution, heralded as a democratic advance that held promise for a more informed and
    engaged public in general and with respect to matters of foreign policy in particular. This was,
    for example, the notion underpinning arguments about the “CNN effect”—the idea that public
    opinion, driven by dramatic video images of human suffering from 24-hour satellite news, would
    pressure governments to take military or humanitarian action abroad that they would otherwise
    avoid (Mermin 1997; Sobel 2001; Jacobson 2007). While the tenor of that literature was often
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    negative, as scholars viewed that public attentiveness as potentially driving policy in suboptimal
    directions, the process was undeniably democratic.
    The relative merits or downsides of the “CNN effect” for the quality of foreign policy
    were, however, inconsequential, as the phenomenon itself mostly failed to materialize. With the
    exception of some anecdotal accounts of the U.S.-led intervention in Somalia in 1992 (e.g.
    Sharkey 1993; Maren 1994), most studies found no consistent evidence that CNN and its ilk
    were contributing meaningfully to either public knowledge or engagement. The explanation
    likely stems, at least in part, to a basic miscalculation with regard to what media would do with
    the extra hours at their disposal—to appeal to audiences (and advertisers) and control costs in the
    face of mounting competition they filled the time with opinion, “infotainment,” and repetition,
    rather than digging deeper in hard news. Independent news gathering capacity actually withered,
    especially when it came to costly foreign correspondents and bureaus. This hollowing out of
    overseas reporting further empowered leaders as sources of foreign policy news.
    Cable and satellite television are generally credited with pushing news providers to
    differentiate their offerings in order to appeal to consumers with distinct tastes and preferences
    (Baum and Kernell 1999, Baum 2003, Prior 2005). But they turned out to be only the very
    beginning of a much deeper process of media fragmentation. The emergence of the Internet, and
    later social media, shifted the information system into an entirely new paradigm.
    In the news ecosystem, the result has been the ongoing proliferation of so-called soft
    news – a blending of news and entertainment – and partisan news outlets (Baum 2003, Groeling
    and Baum 2008). Partisan news, in particular, has weakened the information commons that had
    prevailed in the roughly four decades since World War II, whereby typical individuals shared
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    mostly overlapping information streams, and hence a common understanding of the problems
    facing the nation and the world (if not necessarily agreeing on the solutions).
    By allowing news consumers to self-select into ideologically friendly news
    environments, cable and later satellite TV eroded this information commons, while also making
    it more difficult for leaders to reach beyond their partisan bases to persuade citizens to support
    their policies. The Internet accelerated these trends by greatly lowering the costs of production
    and distribution. This allowed many more information niches to emerge, making it easier for
    consumers to select into information streams that more perfectly matched their personal
    preferences, largely walled off from dissonant messages that might appear in competing
    information streams. The Internet thereby initiated an evolution from an era of fragmentation to
    one of hyper-fragmentation.
    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the promise and reality of social media followed a similar arc to
    that of cable and satellite television. The initial hope was that social media could counter this
    hyper-fragmentation. After all, most people – who are not, after all, political ideologues
    (Converse 1964) – build their social media news feeds around shared interests or prior
    relationships that have little to do with politics. This opened up the possibility of incidental
    exposure to alternative viewpoints. People who became Facebook friends out of, say, a shared
    sports interest, would occasionally encounter contrary political perspectives among their virtual
    friends, whose political orientations might be orthogonal to their sports preferences. While such
    incidental exposure happens, it turns out to be more the exception than the rule. Instead,
    information distribution patterns on social media have evolved in ways that exacerbate rather
    than mitigate hyper-fragmentation (Stroud 2011).
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    Moreover, the algorithms developed by social media platforms are designed to keep
    eyeballs locked in place by buffering against exposure to alternative viewpoints. The demanddriven (individual preference based) self-selection of the late 20th Century has increasingly been
    married to a supply-driven (platform algorithm based) narrowing of content exposure. As
    platforms learn what we most like to consume, they become increasingly adept at serving it up to
    the exclusion of contrary information that might induce us to look elsewhere. The end result is a
    public that is more fragmented and polarized than ever and so more difficult than ever for leaders
    to reach with their messages. The paradox is that too much information, when combined with
    fragmentation, can contribute to a less informed public.
    These changes fuel political polarization. Social media’s primary tendency has been to
    create informational silos rather than cross-cutting linkages, but these services also increase
    polarization by feeding consumers ever more extreme versions of their own preferences (Tufekci
    2018). These are, of course, profit seeking enterprises, so it is unsurprising that consumers
    contribute to this dynamic in that they prefer more extreme content (as indicated by their
    behavior if not their their reported preferences) and by contributing more extreme content
    themselves (Bigley and Leonhardt 2018).
    This polarization manifests in foreign policy, where it can have pernicious effects (Jeong
    and Quirk 2017). Schultz (2018) notes four ways in which it makes foreign policy harder: 1) it is
    more difficult to get bipartisan support for ambitious or risky undertakings, particularly the use
    of military force and the conclusion of treaties; 2) it is hard to agree across parties on the lessons
    of foreign policy failure, complicating efforts to learn and adapt; 3) the risk of dramatic policy
    swings from one administration to another of the opposite party complicates long-term
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    commitments to allies and adversaries; and 4) the vulnerability of our political system to foreign
    intervention is heightened.
    The consequence of these overlapping changes is the collapse of the information
    commons, hyper-fragmentation, and the the erosion of the media’s role as neutral arbiter. There
    simply is no figure in the contemporary era analogous to famed CBS News anchor Walter
    Cronkite, once regarded as the most trusted person in America. Today, Americans increasingly
    view any information inconsistent with their preexisting beliefs as suspect, while uncritically
    accepting as truthful any consonant information, particularly if the source shares their partisan
    preferences (Baum and Groeling 2010). This makes it easier for actual misinformation to enter
    the system, as was evident in Russia’s successful efforts to disrupt the US presidential election in
    2016, as well as in the proliferation of so-called fake news, particularly online, during and after
    the election. It also makes it far more difficult for typical individuals to discern truth from
    fiction, and hence for leaders to persuade any but their devoted supporters.
    This represents a fundamental departure from the media’s traditional gatekeeper role. In a
    highly competitive, hyper-fragmented environment in which traditional journalists must compete
    for attention with overtly partisan media, amateur journalism, and social media, the traditional
    arbiters of information quality are no longer able to play their role. There are simply too many
    access points for alternative sources to reach the market (citizens). And even when they do
    succeed in gaining attention, they are no longer trusted to convey truthful information. A
    consequence is that journalists are less able to hold politicians to account. Voters that oppose a
    given president will do so regardless of media messages, while the president’s supporters are
    largely immune from influence by unflattering information about “their” president.
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    Combined, these systemic changes have profoundly influenced what we termed a decade
    ago the elasticity of reality; that is, the extent to which elites are able to successfully frame
    foreign policy events independently from the actual content of those events (Baum and Potter
    2008). Whereas elites traditionally enjoyed a great deal of latitude, especially in the early stages
    of foreign policy events, the changing environment summarized above appears to have altered
    the relationships between the three key actors in the model – citizens, elites, and the media –
    with important implications for the capacity of citizens to constrain their leaders in foreign
    The current constellation of disruptive forces acting on the elasticity of reality might
    usefully be collapsed into two broad categories: centripetal and centrifugal. Beginning with the
    former, centripetal forces are those that tend toward collapsing the elasticity of reality. Among
    the most noteworthy centripetal forces are citizen journalism and social media, on the one hand,
    and polarization and media (hyper) fragmentation on the other. The first two facilitate more rapid
    capacity of citizens and journalists to gain information independent from the government. The
    second two inhibit leaders from reaching citizens with their preferred policy frames.
    Social media sometimes can, we argue, narrow the elasticity of reality and potentially
    speed up its collapse by pushing more information into the information marketplace more rapidly
    than was possible in the traditional media environment. Whereas journalists once depended on
    briefings and interviews with policymakers, and citizens, in turn, depended on the curated
    representation of events offered by those journalists, today citizens learn about unfolding events
    in real time, often directly from the source. In the context of a military conflict, this might entail
    twitter messages from people on the ground in an overseas war zone. At the same time, amateur
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    journalists and bloggers compete with their professional counterparts to break major stories
    about a conflict and frequently to challenge official versions of events.
    Both social media and citizen journalism represent primarily, albeit not exclusively,
    “bottom up” channels of influence, empowering citizens relative to journalists and elites. They
    can potentially narrow the elasticity of reality by challenging elites’ preferred frames on events
    or pushing competing frames into the market. Once a competing frame enters the market, it may
    be picked up, and thereby magnified, by traditional media. This process, when it occurs — and if
    the information emanating from bottom-up sources is reliable — shrink the elasticity of reality,
    thereby constraining leaders’ capacities to control the framing of events. These processes
    therefore appear to empower citizens relative to elites, while at the same time weakening the
    intermediary: journalists.
    A polarized citizenry within a hyper-fragmented media environment, in turn, limits the
    efficacy of leaders’ rhetorical appeals. It is simply more difficult to sell frames to distrustful
    citizens who can easily opt out of receiving leaders’ messages if those leaders are not fellow
    partisans. Instead, competing frames offered by partisans from both sides resonate within each
    sides’ preferred media ecosystem while gaining little traction beyond its own niche. This, in turn,
    makes it harder for leaders to impact public opinion. Virtually any information is contested as
    false and unreliable by one or the other side of the political spectrum.3 Those contestations
    delegitimize the entire media, even if one side may be more inclined to disbelieve a particular
    Brody’s rally-round-the-flag theory, which we implicitly accepted and upon which some of our
    framework rests, holds that elite consensus leads to opinion rallies, whereas elite discord leads to
    their absence. Arguably, we are heading toward a world in which elite consensus becomes rare,
    and consequently opinion rallies become rare events.
    Baum & Potter — “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy in the Age of Social Media”
    story. This delegitimization process seems likely to further undermine the media’s role as
    intermediary between citizens and leaders. The proliferation of misinformation via social media
    exacerbates this undermining of the media’s traditional role by reducing public confidence the
    veracity of media reporting.
    Turning to centrifugal forces, here we describe factors that increase the elasticity of
    reality. Many of the same factors described above – social media, media hyper-fragmentation,
    partisan polarization, misinformation – paradoxically contribute to this latter tendency as well.
    They do so by introducing more noise into the market, making it more difficult for citizens to
    figure out what is actually happening, thereby advantaging leaders’ framing of events. With
    partisans from both sides and their sympathetic media sources offering competing narratives that
    may tend to cancel each other out, and social media offering numerous perspectives of uncertain
    reliability, leadership, thanks to the bully pulpit, is best situated to rise above the din and be
    heard. After all, while the traditional media has lost the near limitless, broad-based access to the
    public it once commanded, it still far outstrips competing partisan niche media, in terms of its
    ability to reach many millions of people with a single report. This advantages leaders’ preferred
    frames, relative to any plausible competing frames, thereby expanding the elasticity of reality
    and reducing democratic constraint.
    The net effect on the elasticity of reality of these competing centripetal and centrifugal

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