Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Winds of War: Storylines - What the Islamists Have Learned to Defeat Us

A couple of weeks ago, Michael Novak wrote in the Weekly Standard, “If I were an Islamist, a terrorist, a sworn foe of democracy, here is what I think I would have learned from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is what I would write down in my hard-earned manual of instruction.”

His article goes to list the things that the Islamists have learned to defeat the USA in future wars. Here is some of what they learned.

  • Today, the purpose of war is sharply political, not military; psychological, not physical. (Correct. As I have said, this war is currently over men’s minds not geography.)
  • Warfare is not, these days, won on a grand field of battle. Nor is it won by the force that wins series after series of military victories. Nor is triumph assured by killing far higher numbers of the enemy. The primary battlefield today lies in the minds of opposing publics.
  • The main strategic aim of war today is to dominate the mind of the enemy's public, and then ultimately to dominate the mind of that public's leaders.

He gives examples.

  • At what moment did the war in Vietnam come to an end? At that precise moment when America's leaders decided that they could not resist the unrelenting storyline of the enemy, which had long prevailed in their own press. The press surrendered first, then the leaders of the nation.
  • Observe that the Cold War ended not in an explosion of unprecedented violence, but rather at the precise moment when the Soviet elites no longer believed their own storyline. Superior ideas cowed them, superior will, superior narratives.

And what about our current storyline?

  • The weaker political will yielded to the stronger will. Yet, as always, will followed storyline. First comes narrative, then the acts that give it flesh in history. What we have discovered in Iraq is the weakest link in the ability of the United States to sustain military operations overseas. That link is the U.S. media. They are Islamists' best friends

I’ve spoken about this before. The MSM believes it no longer represents a nation or a particular culture. They see themselves as above all national interests and reports the news as if it were a global news entity. In the process, Novak invokes Maxim # 1: To defeat America, impose upon the imagination of its media your own storyline. Andin t heir rush to be all news to all people, the MSM forgets that in this struggle between civilizations, there is a side that does not represent the best interests of the free press. You’d think they’ve learned that lesson from the Mohammed cartoon controversy. But no, locked in the mental chains of political correctness, they are “fashioning nooses with which to hang us from the hemp of multiculturalism and tolerance”.

  • Besides, brothers, there seems to be a psychological tic in the minds of American journalists, which prevents them from understanding that our terror is ultimately aimed at them. Today, yes, they think it is aimed at their government, and will cripple their political opponents within that government. Without qualm or fear, therefore, they do the Islamist’s bidding day after day. Willingly, gleefully, with much self-congratulation, they pump the Islamist storyline into the bloodstream of the Western public.

In a Think-Israel piece entitled “Can the West Defeat the Islamist Threat? Here are 10 Reasons Why Not” by David Selbourne, the idea of a strong storyline as a weapon comes up again. He speaks of the West’s storyline of freedom and liberty and the doctrines of market freedom, free choice and competition which have made the West’s economies the best in the world. But when it tries to stand up to the Islamist’s storyline, freedom and liberty produced kinks in the armor that the Islamists use to undercut the many success the West’s culture has achieved over the last few hundred years.

  • The seventh reason lies in the moral poverty of the West's, and especially America's, own value system.

He means that our freedoms have produced excesses that the prurient values of the Islamist can live with and will not live with because they see the classless side of our culture and feel theirs is far more superior while at the same time blind to the stagnation and constipation of t heir own culture. Or, as Sheikh Mohammed al-Tabatabi told thousands of worshippers in Baghdad in May 2003: "The West calls for freedom and liberty. Islam rejects such liberty. True liberty is obedience to Allah."

If we’re to win this clash between civilizations we need to tighten our storyline and then aggressively purser it both in our culture and society and advance it as a weapon against the Islamists.

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