How the Western Media Reinforces Islamist Propaganda

This is a short blog entry. I am focussing on the recent attacks by insurgents or gangs on the Egyptian government checkpoints in the Sinai. Immediately there were  a spate of articles from the pundits and gurus  pontificating that these attacks indicate  a new dangerous phase of the Islamists war against the al Sisi government. Some are forecasting a civil war, others outlining a sophisticated  campaign  plan being conducted by the Islamists that would rival the planning of Caesar, Hannibal, Napolean etc.

Of course all this hype only elevates the status of the islamist gangs, many being smugglers, and long time criminal elements, and provides them with  propaganda that no multi-million dollar social media campaign could possible accomplish. Despite all the wailing and belaboring of the gurus on our inability to match the ISIS in the social media wars, the war will be won on the battlefield with weapons that kill, by soldiers and security people who know the enemy and are highly trained to kill.

I am not saying that social media, as a recruiting method, is not important. It is very important, and our efforts to counter the enemy have been ineffective, primarily because we seem to think that by using arcane, highly nuanced Qu’ranic arguments we can dissuade potential recruits, who in many cases cannot even read Arabic, and have only a smattering of Islamic knowledge, from joining the Islamists. They are drawn by a number of factors, but among the top are the perceived battlefield successes of the ISIS and other similar groups. The Western media by  acting as a megaphone for these “successes” are acting as the best recruiting poster the ISIS has.

The mindlessly  repeated  mantra heard at the top of the U.S. administration, that the war against these zealots and thugs cannot be won militarily, has crippled our thinking and our doctrine. It has become a useful excuse for doing little or nothing. Drones and airpower will not win. Airpower never has, and drones for the most part act as useful weeding out tool for older Islamist deadwood to be replaced by younger more imaginative  leadership. We continue to live in a cozy bubble of denial, constructed and promoted by our lack of national and Western leadership.

About Tex

Retired artillery colonel, many years in a number of positions in the Arab world. Graduate of the US Military Academy and the American University of Beirut. MA in Arab studies from the American University in Beirut along with 18 years as Middle East Seminar Director at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Served in Vietnam with 1st Inf Division, Assignments in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, plus service with Trucial Oman Scouts in the Persian Gulf. Traveled to every Arab country on the map including Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
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3 Responses to How the Western Media Reinforces Islamist Propaganda

  1. Absolutely agree, Tex. Social media can NOT win you a war but may help an army to win one.

    • Tex says:

      You are absolutely correct. We need a social media campaign that understands what draws the recruits to ISIL. Focussing on Islam only detracts from the fact that many of the leadership in Iraq and Syria are old Ba’athis and Sunni Arab nationalists. We need people to counteract the ISIL who have been there, know these Islamist types, and are not just relying on Books about Islam.Thanks Samah

  2. I have argued that many well-intentioned efforts to counter ISIS propaganda (@ThinkAgain_DOS, for example) actually do the opposite. They misunderstand the purpose of ISIL’s “horrific” acts, and amplify the message.

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