Sunday, October 05, 2014

Quote of the Day: The Strategic Value of Threat Deflation

From a lengthy essay by a professor of national security comes this thought:
... the rhetoric about ISIL has given the group prestige it does not deserve. Washington may inadvertently help ISIL’s recruiting efforts by hyping its capacity for mayhem.   
... The group has already proven adept at propaganda; it does not need our help and we should not give it.  
What say you?


Eric said...

It needs to be done nonetheless - outlining and evaluating the bad guy goes to the question of 'Why We Fight'.

On the question of 'Why We Fight', 2 suggestions:

Anonymous said...

It is pretty stupid to think that if we didn't talk about ISIS that they would just go away. Actions have consequences but so do inactions.

Some people know about the brutality of ISIS but not everyone. IMO, there is merit in exposing their atrocities. It may well contribute to ISIS recruitment on an small level with people who don't have any problems with crucifixions, beheadings, enslavement, and sexual torture but it will be a turn off to those inspired by being a white knight.

"Would-be radicals are also more likely to gravitate to an organization that seems to be at the vanguard of what they see as a struggle against the infidel West, especially if they believe it is strong enough to win. (It is probably no accident that Al Qaeda has suddenly jump-started its own propaganda, including the announcement that it has opened a franchise in India.)"

I hate to break it to the egghead but AQ has been seeding affiliates as a strategy. Indeed, ISIS started out as an AQ affiliate based in Syria to fight in Iraq. It has been going on for a long time. There would be an affiliate in India regardless of Obama's actions and speeches on ISIS.

The author places too much emphasis on our actions and ignores the fact that there are other players with their own goals and motivations. Talking or not talking about ISIS isn't going to change these group's motivations. Thinking this way is the height of arrogance and borders on bigotry.

Mostly though, I think we have an obligation to acknowledge the world as it is. To have an understanding of what is going on rather than view the world through ideological fairy tales like ISIS is motivated out of the desire for better political representation in Baghdad or poverty.

"Finally, the administration should take current intelligence out of the public debate. Only then can it hope to inform U.S. strategy without becoming a political football."

The author seems to think the opposite of me, that we shouldn't know what is going on. That our leaders should not talk about it. That knowledge must be hidden and controlled by a select few.

It should be a political issue. Could you imagine Brookings arguing that the Iraq war shouldn't be a political issue? That Bush should have conducted the invasion in secret? That the public shouldn't learn of Gitmo or Abu Ghraib?

This guy is really just arguing for hiding things from the American public that look bad for Obama or that could lead to the populace putting pressure on Obama to take action.

- wodun