Knowing that we would be interested, a reader recently sent us a an article entitled, “A Broader Conceptualization of Islam and Terrorism” by J. Keith Akins. It can be found here (in pdf format), as a part of Issue 45 (2nd Quarter 2007) of Joint Force Quarterly, which is published by the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) under the aegis of National Defense University.
Mr. Akins’ article makes excellent reading. It is a thorough and well-documented overview of 21st century jihad terrorism as it is practiced all over the world, not only by Al Qaeda, but by all the loosely-connected radical groups which are found wherever Muslims live.
The current manifestation of Great Jihad, which I call the Third Wave, is largely waged as form of a fourth-generation warfare. On page 67 of his article, referring to Insurgency and Terrorism: Inside Modern Revolutionary Warfare by Bard E. O’Neill, Mr. Akins writes:
Fourth-generation warfare occurs when a militarily disadvantaged belligerent seeks “to convince enemy political leaders that their strategic goals are either unachievable or too costly for the perceived benefit. The fundamental concept is that superior political will, when properly employed, can defeat great economic and military power.” Fourth-generation warfare is designed to “ensure political rather than military success.” Another new development is that in 4GW, “fighting will not be limited to nation-state relationships. Rather, opposing factions will be divided by race, religion, or class.”
The concept of 4GW was devised long before Islamic terror became the primary preoccupation of our national defense, but it is entirely applicable to the current situation. The Third Wave of the Great Islamic Jihad is perhaps the most sophisticated form of 4GW that human beings have ever devised.
From page 68:
The existence of a global jihadist movement using 4GW to spread Islam around the world can be demonstrated by examining the:
- continuum of conflict in Islam
- theological basis of jihad
- omnipresence of jihad
- concatenation of Islamist organizations.
Continuum of Conflict in Islam. The U.S. Army conceptualizes warfare as part of a spectrum of violence. As part of this spectrum, war includes conventional war, guerrilla war, terrorism, infiltration and sabotage, and media war, or propaganda. Fourth-generation warfare incorporates all of these forms of conflict, as does the global jihad.
And it is in the last of these forms of conflict — propaganda — in which the Great Jihad has proved to be the most effective. Let’s not mince words: they’re beating us hands down in the propaganda department.
The Islamists know how to turn the major Western media organs to their side without the titans of the press even being aware of what has happened to them. It’s not just the ridiculous fake photos, or the Pallywood video productions, or the stories of imaginary massacres of poor disabled Muslim orphans.
It’s the steady drumbeat of negative coverage, pessimistic reporting, one-sided accounts, and self-hating editorial content. All of this acts to turn public opinion in the West against the Counterjihad, and is accomplished by the Islamists at very little expense, simply by utilizing the weak points of our culture as weapons against us.
They can tie our governments in knots with accusations of racism and “Islamophobia”. They have forced us into a reduced scrutiny of Muslims by playing on a combination of white guilt and our own inherent cultural tolerance. They literally get away with murder by cloaking the most abominable practices under the heading of “religion”.
Yes, indeed. They’re very good at what they do.
According to Mr. Akins (page 69):
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Propaganda is a carefully calculated and designed series of messages “that attempts to change the target’s perceptions, cognition, and behavior in ways that further the objective of the propagandist.” Jihadist propaganda is designed to convince Westerners that:
- Jihad has nothing to do with war.
- Any Muslim arrested on terrorism charges is a victim of unconstitutional profiling and is not guilty.
- All religions produce terrorism, so Islam is no different from Christianity.
- There is a moral equivalence between the deliberate targeting of children and military operations against enemy forces.
- All antiterrorism efforts are unconstitutional or racist.
The primary jihadist propagandists in the United States are the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Most of their propaganda falls under the Islamic strategy of Taqqiya, or “deception” (Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Book 52:267-270). Many other forms of propaganda are taken directly from the al Qaeda manual.
The ultimate goal of Islamist propaganda, of course, is to convince the West that there is no global jihad movement, there is no “holy war” in Islam, and Islam is inherently a peaceful religion. The violence perpetrated daily wherever there are Muslims is purely coincidental and completely unrelated to Islam, and even to mention such things is an example of prejudice against Muslims.
Theological Basis of Jihad. A particularly troubling aspect of Islam that most people raised in Western secular society have great difficulty accepting is that, unlike other major religions, Islam not only approves of but also requires war. We find this hard to accept largely because of an arrogant form of ethnocentrism that makes us believe that everyone in the world wants to be a middle-class American. We assume that everyone wants freedom, democracy, peace, and dialogue, that everyone is willing to negotiate and compromise, and that everyone believes in religious freedom. We are in many ways reliving the days of Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” and find it almost incomprehensible that there are millions of people in the world who, if given a free election, would vote for a totalitarian theocratic regime.
Yet both history and current events tell us that this is exactly what we are facing. In Islamic cosmology, all the Earth is divided into two regions, the House of Islam and the House of War. The House of Islam includes all lands ruled by sharia, or Islamic law; the House of War includes those lands yet to be subdued.
We aging armchair generals in our little corner of the blogosphere are limited in what we can contribute to the Counterjihad. We can’t patrol the back alleys of Baquba or drop bunker busters on Natanz.
But when it comes to 4GW propaganda, we have every capability that the mujahideen have. In fact, we have more, since our websites are not routinely taken down as soon as they appear.
Not yet, anyway.
So what are the objectives of the Counterjihad propagandists?
Here’s a partial list of the strategies we are attempting, some aimed at our enemies, others at the dispirited and isolated folks on our own side:
- Ridicule. Make the enemy into a laughingstock. Show him how ludicrous, outmoded, hilarious, and downright stupid Islam is.
- Solidarity. Reach out to people of the West who have similar opinions and are willing to take a stand in their own little corners, but who have been hitherto unconnected with one another.
- Penetration of the mainstream. This is difficult, because the MSM are firmly in the enemy camp. But the major news organs are always hungry for the sensational, and are ready to pick up on anything outrageous that will draw viewers’ attention. The Motoon crisis demonstrates that the message that the media think they’re sending — in this case, the intolerance of the racist and Islamophobic Danish press — is not necessarily the one that their viewers receive. Millions of people outside of Denmark experienced a secret thrill of satisfaction when they learned that the Vikings had the guts to stick it to ol’ Mo.
- Subversion of enemy institutions. The media, the academy, the nomenklatura of the chattering classes, and the national and local government bureaucracies are all arrayed against us. But as word spreads, members of these institutions who secretly disagree with received PC wisdom become part of a clandestine Counterjihad network. Gates of Vienna has dozens of informants who send us messages from within the redoubts of the enemy, and we’re only a small blog. The major Counterjihad blogs are coordinating a huge reticulum of subversives who are boring from within the dominant and treasonous bastions of our culture.
These are just the highlights of what can be done. But we need to realize what we are doing, become well-versed in the formal theory that lies behind it, and coordinate with others engaged in similar activities.
In the last hundred years or so propaganda has gotten itself a bad name. Thanks to Josef Göbbels and the Comintern, it has become synonymous with lying and distortion in the service of a totalitarian ideology.
But the word originally meant simply the spreading of information. There’s no reason why the practice of it shouldn’t be an honorable one. We’re unabashed propagandists here at Gates of Vienna.
We make no bones about our ideological stance, but unlike Newsweek, CNN, and The New York Times, we don’t disguise our propaganda as objective reporting.
The propaganda war is the most crucial part of the Counterjihad. The combined might of the Arab countries was insufficient to overpower even the tiny state of Israel, which defeated them utterly without the help of any allies. Muslim military power is a joke; even the Iranian nuke will have no value except as a more potent form of terrorism.
Yet with a few tons of crude explosives and a huge supply of suicidal zealots, Islam has managed to turn the West into a collective pile of quivering jelly, ready to cater to the tiniest whims of the Muslims. That’s a pretty impressive feat.
Our job is to help replicate for the Counterjihad the propaganda successes of groups like Al Qaeda. What works for them will work for us.
First of all, our networks must be distributed and decentralized. It’s not enough to organize with a cell structure, like the old Communist Party. After all, the CP had a top-down control structure, with Lenin and Stalin calling all the shots. Its reaction time in the face of changing circumstances was comparable to that of the Byzantine Empire.
In contrast, Osama Bin Laden does not command legions of obedient subordinates. Innumerable small groups share his goals, are inspired by him, and work to effect the same results. This allows them to respond quickly and flexibly as new situations develop.
Their propaganda is effective because it is quick and cheap. They rely on viral methods and the internet to spread the word. A video or message will be posted on a website only long enough to be copied and spread.
The same methods can work for us. In fact, they already have: the “Turban-Bomb Mohammed” cartoon by Kurt Westergaard spread like lightning in the right-wing blogosphere. It is probably the single most common image —with the exception of the burning Twin Towers — that can be found on Counterjihad websites. The recent “Flaming Mo” video may well experience the same process after several iterations, especially once the MSM finds out about it.
I’ve been aiming for simple and effective iconic images for the same reason. Holger Danske and the “Islamophobic and proud of it” button spread quickly because they immediately evoke something that people already know to be true. If it’s the truth and it speaks to you, then you will want pass it on. The propaganda has done its job.
The “Islamophobe” button spread all over Europe very quickly, and you can find it on sites that have never heard of Gates of Vienna. We had only a few hundred readers at the time I created it, but the iconic message extended well beyond our range.
So that’s our model: cheap, effective, and quick. Oh, and one more thing: don’t sweat the copyright.
But we’ve got a long way to go to catch up. The enemy is at least a decade ahead of us in 4GW propaganda.
It’s double time from here on out.