The New York Times reported today in an article, “U.S. Dropping Snark for Emotional Appeals to Thwart Extremists,” that the U.S. State Department has now admitted that its program to convince Muslims not to commit violent jihad against Westerners has failed. That’s what I thought would happen. I have blogged about this, accusing the State Department and Pentagon of a lack of wisdom in their scare tactics.
This U.S. propaganda program is operated by Global Engagement Center. They spent $16 million on this effort last year. They use the internet with videos or drop airborne leaflets in Syria or Iraq, the scene of battles with ISIS. One leaflet had a gross image of a militarily-dressed jihadist beginning to go through a huge meat grinder, with blood squirting everywhere. The message said this would be the result of fighting against U.S. forces. The U.S. State Dept’s seal was affixed to some of this material.
But the Obama administration now concedes that such propaganda has had the opposite effect desired. That is, it caused recruiting by the Islamic State to increase double in numbers in the past year.
The NYT article says, “Past efforts from the administration had sought to frighten potential jihadists with warnings that waging war against the West would get them killed, but officials concluded that the warnings actually served the opposite purpose of glorifying militancy.”
In January this year the government hired Michael Lumpkin, a former Navy SEAL, to head up this program and change it for the better. The strategy is now to disassociate this propaganda from the U.S. Thus, the Sawab Center in Abi Dabi, UAE, is now being used, with funding even coming from that government that is opposed to ISIS.
Now they have turned from using logic and smug sarcasm to emotion. For example, they send messages that such jihadists who are martyrs break their mother’s hearts and those of other family members. But I think such men have already thought that out and made their decisions that won’t be changed with such arguments.
Our government, which believes in the separation of church and state, refuses to enlist religious experts including historians for guidance in how to ideologically oppose such radical Islamic organizations as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. That is where our efforts toward overcoming this phenomenon should first be centered. Otherwise, we are not fighting fire with fire.
The main motivation of these Muslim terrorists is being martyred and their immortal souls immediately going to heaven to receive rewards. Going to heaven when you die is a concept first taught by Greek philosophers and later adopted by Christians and some Jews. It is not biblical. The Old Testament says clearly that when people die their unconscious souls go to Sheol (67x in Hebrew Bible) where they await resurrection, either for blessing or condemnation at judgment. The Quran teaches repeatedly about resurrection and judgment, even more than the Bible does. But Islam, which began in the seventh century AD, arguably got its idea of the immortality of the soul from Christians and Jews. Christians of the first two or three centuries strongly opposed the Greek concept of the immortality of the soul. And the Greeks chided Christians for this because they believed the physical body was the source of sin and that only spirit is pure and good. John A.T. Robinson, one of England’s top New Testament scholars in the 20th century, said (In the End God, 104), “heaven is never in fact used in the Bible for the destination of the dying.”
I think the U.S. needs to tell this factual history in its propaganda program directed against these Islamic terrorists. It might cause some of them to refrain rethink their ideology and not blow themselves up, and take many other to the grave with them, because of it.