Some excerpts from Shrinkwrapped
Jihadi extremism is a growing ideology. Sunni extremism and Shia extremism are merely different manifestations of an underlying supremacist ideology which has grown in response to the failures of the Muslim world in the face of modernity. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda in Iraq are all different franchises and brand names. Franchises are successful when there are markets for their products, consumers, and workers to support the enterprise. Financial support, an eager population ready to consume the product, and an army of willing workers are all required for a franchise to thrive. Al Qaeda, the McDonald's of Islamism, and Hezbollah, the Burger King of Islamism, have been growing their franchises for years. It is only post-9/11 that the West has begun to offer alternatives. Unfortunately, the alternatives the West offers are completely incompatible with the cultures in which we are attempting to gain market share. We offer Sushi (democracy backed by the US military) and Tofu burgers (Western "soft" power) and as a result find few takers.
The Muslim world contains a combustible mix that is amenable to Jihad and inimical to modern liberal capitalist democracy. There is an extremely large cohort of young men with very little opportunity to achieve status, huge sums of money that have been generated by their parasitic perch on the primary source of the world's energy supplies, a culture that supports a supremacist ideology, and an information environment that facilitates the spread of Jihad propaganda.....
Complexity and fact have almost no chance in the short and medium term against a simple, convenient narrative. For example, the Nazi narrative was simple and convenient: Jews and other inferior peoples kept the Aryans from achieving their natural dominance. No amount of counter-narrative made much of a dent in it within the native German population. It required unconditionally defeating the Nazis in the kinetic war in order to discredit their ideology. We are facing a similar situation with radical Islam.
It should be clear to anyone who spends time in the blogosphere that reasoned debate based on complexity and fact has very little persuasive power. One of our great blind spots in the West is that we imagine ourselves to be so firmly wedded to our rationality that we do not realize how often we use our rationality to support emotionally charged and irrational ideas. Complexity and nuance are poor allies in the fight against a powerful ideology.
The West has lagged terribly in this aspect of the war. Six years after we realized we are in a war with a determined and amoral enemy we still have not even begun to engage him in the information war. We have no easily understandable counter-narrative to use against the allure of Jihad with its promises of glorious martyrdom and blissful, eternal sex.
Until we can find a way to discredit the Jihadis with a more powerful counter-narrative or find a way to destroy their ability to organize and survive (ie, via the kinetic battle and the financial struggle), the war will continue no matter what we do. Since there appears nowhere on the horizon any evidence that we are ready, willing, and able to mobilize our forces (since our intellectual elites, MSM, Hollywood do not see themselves as being stake holders) for engagement in the information war, the long war seems aptly named.
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