But there does seem to be some confusion about how to defend our principles in the face of violent extremism. Glassman argues that “the aim of the war of ideas is not to persuade foreign populations to adopt more favorable views of America and its policies…America’s image is not at the center of the war of ideas. Our priority is not to promote our brand but to help destroy theirs.” In other words, our public diplomacy must intellectually critique violent extremism, but cannot defend our own way of life or our principles.Along the same lines, Kim Andrew Elliott quotes Jeffrey Asjes pointing out Glassman's intellectual incoherence:
If our public diplomacy were to move in this direction, it would be a positive but insufficient development. There are, quite simply, two objectives to public diplomacy: to defend through rational argument the moral legitimacy of our principles, and to undermine the principles of our opponents. One cannot be achieved without the other.
Even James "War of Ideas" Glassman does not like the term "war of ideas." "On Friday at the New America Foundation, the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, James Glassman, spoke about America’s strategy in the so called ‘war of ideas’. ... Glassman’s speech took on an amused tone when he mentioned that he himself disliked the name ‘war of ideas’, despite his unofficial title as its ‘commander in chief’. He insisted that the name has connotations that imply a simple, two sided ‘us vs. them’ struggle. Instead, Glassman was adamant that the objective is not to get anyone to accept our own ideologies, but rather simply to have them reject ideologies that promote unprovoked violence." Jeffrey Asjes, Partnership for a Secure America, 27 July 2008.