On August 29th, President Obama claimed a no strategy policy when it comes to dealing with ISIS. Pundits have been chatting this up and twitter continues to rage about the President’s public comment. US rhetoric has been bumped up significantly, after ISIS announced the beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotlof.
There are some common problems with the way that the US has handled their media approach to the ISIS problem. President Obama and the State Department talk about ISIS with varying measures of disdain. The rhetoric is inconsistent likely based on which “expert or analyst” has been dishing out their flavor of expertise.
Another problem is the disparity with how the US talks about the ISIS issue. In the last week, President Obama has said that ISIS is a serious impact to the people of Iraq but does not mention the people of Syria. With ISIS claiming the beheading of two Americans, James Foley and Steven Sotlof, President Obama has correctly taken time to reach out to those families to express his condolences.
There are many other journalists who are or have been victims of ISIS. However, many Syrians have felt disillusioned that the US and others have not mentioned the Syrian journalists and those of other countries who have lost their lives to ISIS, while others are missing. These journalists have played a very important part in getting the story of Syria and ISIS out to the media, through Middle Eastern or Asia media.
Can ISIS Be Beaten by a Media War?
The US State Department has started a media war against The Islamic State aka ISIS,” in hopes of preventing any more young Americans from joining the terrorist group in Syria or Iraq. The video, “Welcome to the ‘Islamic State’ land,” was produced by the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications and then posted on a dedicated YouTube channel. It is a straightforward and sometimes “graphic” view of what it is to be associated with ISIS.
In addition to the ISIS video, the State Department has a team of Counter Terrorism Specialists who engage terrorist groups directly including ISIS through social media to learn more about them. ISIS voraciously tweets about their bad acts on twitter, so the State Department doesn’t have to go far to get engaged with ISIS. In fact, ISIS probably looks forward to the opportunity. Any forum to sound off is a good deal for them.
Driven By Resentment Over Egregious Actions
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), ISIS has been known through history, as “Settling the Score.” The government of Iraq has been running anti-ISIS “public service ads” on television that are downright scary. If the imagery doesn’t get the message across, the ending line states it very clearly – “ISIS – Settling the Score.” In fact, the Iraq public service ad makes the State Department video look understated.
“ISIS is settling the score of all egregious actions ever taken against their kind.” In recent history, they are specifically after those who opposed them in Iraq and Syria; however, their vision runs much further with scary talk of “sights on Medina and Mecca.” They chatter about having been wronged in Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Libya, and Central Africa. However, probably the nearest historically prominent event that ISIS considers a “score to be settled” is the Sykes Picot Agreement of 1916 which broke up the Ottoman Empire. With the border between Syria and Iraq blurred, ISIS has said emphatically they have “broken the Sykes Picot Agreement.”
Interestingly or not, ISIS has shown its ugly brand of terror recently in Palestine saying it supports Hamas, and in Libya declaring the Islamic State – Libya. ISIS has also recently declared the entire East Africa area as “the Islamic Land of Habasha.” Most Oromos and Ethiopians in this area resent the use of the name Habasha as it is semantic and oppressive; and under this rule these people would be considered apostate.
What the United States and its allies are missing is very important. While ISIS might be a hard core satanic terrorist organization, they do not use those “bad actions” to attract new converts. This is primarily because ISIS does not see themselves as “The Terror Group of All Evil and Mayhem.” On the other hand, they see themselves as “the saviors of people of their kind who have been wronged through history.” They battle for the “hearts and minds” of their followers. This winning of hearts and minds falls to their press officer, Abdullah the Belgian, who drives around in a preaching van with his young son.
ISIS believes they have been called upon to establish a Caliphate that will protect those devout Muslims such as themselves. This is why as they campaign for followers they use a soft touch approach and look to the west for new members, not only to fight but for professionals to run their cities. They are looking for engineers, physicians, teachers and other needed professionals.
Future of Caliphate
ISIS is not simply a terrorist organization, they are a darn smart terrorist organization grounded by an ideal and driven by a vision.
President Obama will announce his strategy for taking on ISIS on Wednesday after outlining his strategy to Congress on Tuesday. The President is expected to “outline the nature of the threat as serious, but not an imminent threat to the homeland and the strategy for confronting it.” ISIS will be listening intently. He said on the evening news on Sunday that the strategy will be that “the US will go on the offense.
Obama may think that the impact to the homeland is not direct or immediate, however, he should reconsider. US business is in immediate danger of being impacted in Iraq and Kurdistan. Additionally, should ISIS spread in any direction from Syria, US Business will be impacted immediately. When US business is impacted offshore, the pain is definitely felt onshore.
This would be true for the European Union, Great Britain, and Australia.