Even in its final months, the Obama administration continues to pour taxpayer money into its disastrous projects designed to “counter violent extremism.” The projects have failed, and were foredoomed to fail because of the administration’s policy of denying and ignoring the enemy’s motivating ideology.
The New York Times reported Thursday:
[T]he Obama administration has revamped a program designed to lure foreign fighters away from extremist groups like the Islamic State, focusing on a series of new advertisements and social media posts that seek to appeal to emotion rather than logic.
Emotion, logic, whatever. No such approach can work as long as the administration refuses to admit what inspires Muslims to join jihad groups in the first place.
This latest bout of wishful thinking and fantasy-based policymaking comes at a high cost to the taxpayer:
Money for the program, which is managed by the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, tripled this year, to $16 million, after administration officials concluded that past efforts that had attempted to scare potential militants away from the extremist groups were not working.
At least the government correctly concluded that, indeed, the programs were not working:
[M]ultiple reboots have shown how hard it has been for these programs to find traction. … [R]ecent attacks in Turkey, Iraq, France and Bangladesh seemed to show extremism has been spreading.
But this time, the Times assures us, it’s going to be different:
The new initiatives have been tailored to keep the United States government’s involvement as low-key — and in some cases, as secretive — as possible, because overt American backing for some projects had turned off the exact group of disaffected young men that the campaign is trying to reach.
So the State Department finally realized that Muslims who hate America will not be dissuaded via appeals from … America?
Baby steps! Still — not going to work. The Times reports:
“[T]hese new efforts include using Facebook videos, Instagram ads and other social media that have been designed to convince young men and women that joining the militants’ fight means breaking their mothers’ hearts, tearing apart their families and leaving their loved ones to lives of emptiness.”
So the latest plan from the Obama administration rests on this assumption: A young man who thinks he is serving Allah in a cause commanded by the supreme being — and who thinks that being killed will secure a place in Paradise for himself and (in accord with statements attributed to Muhammad) for his family — will be dissuaded by realizing his mother might miss him.
The State Department is forbidden, as a matter of policy, from studying or understanding the jihadi worldview. They instead operate under the assumption that Muslims aspiring to jihad have the same basic values and priorities of modern secular Westerners. This assumption is, at best, unproven.
This Keystone Kops myopia is longstanding. The Times writes:
[P]ast 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.
The willful blindness necessary to believe that jihadis — who repeatedly avow that they “love death” — could be dissuaded from jihad in any significant numbers by fear of death is breathtaking. It epitomizes how wrongheaded the administration’s approach has been from the beginning.
Even the Times acknowledges this about the initiative, while citing unnamed “critics”:
[The initiative] was unlikely to have done anything to dissuade young people from joining either Al Qaeda or the Islamic State.
However, while the New York Times admits that the administration’s program to dissuade jihadis has thus far been completely ineffective, it has no idea why.
In reality, all possible versions of this program are doomed to failure because they manifest no understanding whatsoever of the jihadis’ worldview, beliefs, assumptions, motives, and goals. None of this is surprising, since the Obama administration has forbidden the examination and discussion of all of that.
Take, for example, one image that the State Department published on Twitter. It says:
Women under ISIS are enslaved, battered, beaten, humiliated, flogged.
Obviously this would deter someone from becoming a jihadi only if he already thought it was terrible for women to be enslaved, battered, beaten, humiliated, and flogged.
The State Department wonks who came up with this weren’t allowed to learn from the Qur’an. So they obviously don’t know that the Qur’an mandates the enslavement of infidel women (4:3; 4:24; 23:1-6; 33:50; 70:30) and the beating of disobedient women (4:34).
A Muslim who knows that is unlikely to be troubled by the prospect of the Islamic State beating or enslaving women.
The Times adds:
On Sept. 11, 2014, for example, an Al Qaeda leader posted on Twitter that ‘on this day, in 2001, the USA’s largest economic shrine, the idol of capitalism was brought to the ground.’ The State Department quickly responded on Twitter by posting a photo of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, wearing a Rolex watch: “Nobody’s a bigger fan of the fruits of capitalism than so-called #ISIS Caliph.”
This, too, was myopic: from an Islamic standpoint, the Rolex was not a sign of hypocrisy, since Islam does not have the reverence for asceticism that Christianity has. Rather, it was a sign that Allah had blessed the caliph, since blessings are promised to the pious in both this world and the next – and those blessings specifically include the spoils of war against non-Muslims.
The caliph could have been signaling to his followers: “Kill an infidel, take his Rolex.”
No matter how much money they pour into it, this program will fail on the drawing board until the State Department drops its willful ignorance about the ideology that fuels and motivates the jihad.