Political information, war and peace

UNSW Canberra Academics Involved: 
Dr Tim Aistrope

One cultural driver of terrorism is that people develop suspicion, or paranoia, about western foreign policy – or so the story goes. It’s a convenient, clean and easy-to-digest explanation of a complex subject that was common in western counter-terrorism policy after 9/11 and persists in current CVE policy, and it’s one that Dr Tim Aistrope refused to accept.

Aistrope’s work has looked into conspiracy and paranoia in relation to radicalisation, and particularly the role of social media as a place where political information is propagated and contested. That has led to studies into political warfare carried out online by state and non-state actors, which he refers to as ‘cyber-enabled information operations’.

The main audiences for his work are scholars of international relations and political culture, as well as policy makers in the fields of terrorism, radicalisation, cyber security and social media.

Aistrope has presented at conferences around the globe, including in Melbourne, San Francisco and Bangkok. His book, Conspiracy Theory and American Foreign Policy, has enjoyed a symposium and several reviews. Many articles, supported by op-eds, have been published by Aistrope around his findings. One article called 'Social Media and Counterterrorism Strategy’, published in the Australian Journal of International Affairs, is now on the journal’s most-read list.