Friday, December 18, 2015

Quotable: WSJ report on countering the ISIS narrative

Thursday, December 17th 2015
“Many strategists say military advances will show little progress unless more work is done to eliminate the militant group’s financing, counter its propaganda and cut a diplomatic deal among among world powers on Syrian rule,” report Julian E. Barnes, Stephen Fidler, Gordon Lubold, and Philip Shiskin.  Their article, “The War on Islamic State,” appeared on the website of The Wall Street Journal on November 20, 2015.  Here are some remarks that touch on Public Diplomacy:

  • The Paris attacks and the downing of a Russian airliner have heightened determination in Moscow, Paris and Washington to defeat Islamic State, a challenge easier said than done.

  • Many strategists say military advances will show little progress unless more work is done to eliminate the militant group’s financing, counter its propaganda and cut a diplomatic deal among world powers on Syrian rule.

  • The West also faces polished recruitment efforts by Islamic State propaganda machine, officials said. Islamic State operatives have made a big push via social media to project a positive vision of life in its so-called caliphate—both to residents of territory it controls, as well as to Muslims abroad.

  • U.S. and European officials say the West hasn’t been effective in countering Islamic State propaganda because, in part, it lacks the credibility and immediacy of messages relayed by friends and relatives connected to Islamic State. One way might be to have defectors tell their stories, scholars say.

  • “I think we are really struggling countering the narrative,” said Colin Clarke, a Rand Corp. political scientist who studies terrorist groups. “I don’t know if we thought long and hard about it, or devoted enough resources.”

  • Some commentators have raised the prospect of using cyberattacks to cut off Islamic State from the Internet, disrupting its ability to post videos or employ social media.

  • The reach of U.S. cyberweapons remain one of the military’s closest secrets, making it difficult to know how effective they would be against Islamic State’s decentralized propaganda campaign. The U.S. military is wary of deploying cyberweapons because once they are used, the Chinese and Russian military would get a good look and develop countermeasures, military officials have said.

  • U.S. lawmakers have pressured social media companies such as Twitter Inc. to close accounts used by Islamic State militants or supporters. The companies have moved to block these accounts, but militants can quickly open new ones using different personal information.

Author: Donald M. Bis

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