Friday, September 18th 2015
“President Obama needs new ideas, new leadership in the intelligence community and a plan of action that will produce results quickly, to blunt the momentum of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) . . .” writes Dr. Ben Carson, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. His op-ed appeared in The Hill on September 17, 2015. Here are some excerpts:
This is an ideological conflict and an intelligence war, in some ways similar to the Cold War, where information and ideas clash across the globe. Today, this war is constantly viewed from a distance on laptops and televisions. But where is the counter messaging? The battle for the minds of the young and confused has yet to be undertaken by our side.
We monitor ISIS websites, and watch in horror as beheadings and various human atrocities appear anew every 24 hours. We issue warnings here at home to be vigilant. Yet we seem unable to muster a grasp of the obvious: We are losing this war while America looks and feels afraid at home. By the jihadists’ measure, they are winning. They have changed our country, created a republic of fear and, as Osama bin Laden predicted, his enemies are destroying themselves.
How do we counter and destroy this brutally administered war of ideas in the midst of a terrified civilian populace? The actions we have undertaken since Sept. 11, 2001, have not produced the desired results. We must change personnel, thinking and tactics while simultaneously setting new conditions for success based on a sober assessment of where we currently are. This is the only way to truly move forward. John Paul Jones said, “Those who will not risk cannot win.” I regard this as wise counsel for today.
Let us now establish a list of some specific suggestions.
Wage relentless ideological and information warfare: Monitoring ISIS websites is not a strategy. We must wade into the ideological war using allies, native-speaking assets and principle networks. There is a necessity to recruit people who live in the chaos; we need to work with agents who could not possibly pass a government background investigation and polygraph. We must engage, answer and actively participate in the ISIS information flow. This must be complemented with a new Voice of America that pounds creative messaging, hitting sensitive issues head-on, while pushing relevant messaging into the cyberspace discussion.