President Look At Me Looking At Me will never stop mistaking jaw, jaw for war, war:
President Barack Obama has warned that Muslim community leaders are in danger of losing the propaganda war with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and are often too “boring” to prevent their young people from getting radicalised.
Paying Isil a back-handed compliment for the effectiveness of its gruesome social media outreach campaign, Mr Obama said it was imperative to reach young Muslims and address their social, political and economic grievances in a way that they understood.
“By the way, [to] the older people here – as wise and respected as you may be – your stuff is often boring,” he told a White House summit on combatting the rise of extremism, “compared to what they’re doing. You’re not connected. And as a consequence, you are not connecting.”
Obama is correct to a limited extent — propaganda is an effective tool of war. But when propaganda is disconnected from reality, then populations dismiss it and become weary. A good proof of that comes from wartime Imperial Japan. State radio kept claiming big victories on land and sea over the Americans, but listeners couldn’t help but notice that each “victory” was was on an island or in a body of water closer to the Japanese Home Islands. You didn’t have to be a cynic to start tuning out those claims of victory.
And so it goes with the fight against ISIS. Their propaganda isn’t effective only because it has Hollywood production values (although that is a part of it). ISIS propaganda works because it romanticizes and glamorizes the truth — and the truth is that ISIS is enforcing its vision of Islamic law and taking new territory despite months of Allied air attacks.
Meanwhile, President Look At Me Looking At Me’s answer to the horrors of Boko Haram has consisted of little but hashtag games on Twitter.
One kind of propaganda works, the other doesn’t.
In the unlikely event that “Muslim community leaders” start winning some actual battles against ISIS, their social media efforts will amount to squat. The fact that Obama is pinning his hopes on “Muslim community leaders” while actively spiting real efforts by the Egyptian and Jordanian militaries tells you everything you need to know about the White House’s propaganda…
…it’s nothing but victory after victory, each one getting closer to home.