New article by Dan Byman and Christine Fair in the Atlantic entitled, “The Case for Calling them Nitwits” encourages mockery as a potential approach to combating al-Qaida. Money quote:
They blow each other up by mistake. They bungle even simple schemes. They get intimate with cows and donkeys. Our terrorist enemies trade on the perception that they’re well trained and religiously devout, but in fact, many are fools and perverts who are far less organized and sophisticated than we imagine. Can being more realistic about who our foes actually are help us stop the truly dangerous ones?
I’ve been advocating this approach (and actually doing it myself) for years now. Remember my “Jihadi Love” video (i’ll post below). The response within the community early on to my blog was mixed. Some in the CT “establishment” saw my approach as “potentially problematic, muttering behind closed doors that my blog was just too “extreme.” Mockery wasn’t something we should be encouraging in such serious times, they counseled.
Well, over the past year, I’ve seen more articles and discussions about the fact that mockery and satire might in fact be a useful approach. There are two reasons for this. First, practical necessity. The CT establishment has proven itself to be of limited use in countering the ideological movement. Yes, we are now highly effective in targeting individuals and organizations, but where the USG’s efforts are weakest is in countering the movement. Despite the millions of dollars and the countless conferences on the topic, more Americans have sought to go operational in the past two years than ever before.
Second, a generation of actual subject matter experts have increasingly moved into positions of influence, replacing those old-hand “security” experts. Since, as I’ve argued for a long time, the devil is in the details, those best equipped to identify those details and turn them against the AQ movement are starting to have their voices heard.
I agree that a multitude of approaches are key to allowing the jihadist movement to destroy itself and I’m glad to see Dan and Christine’s article getting some good traction. In support of their argument, I resubmit to you…. “jihadi love..”