PsyWar Can Destroy Islamism

Bill Levinson,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Bill Levinson

Militant Islam has proclaimed openly its Allah-given right to dominate the world, exterminate Jews, and kill or enslave other infidels like Christians, Hindus, and those it deems to be the wrong kinds of Muslims. The last ideology that talked about annihilating Jews and ruling the world came with a swastika, and it killed forty or fifty million human beings before the civilized world stopped it. Psychological warfare is the only weapon of war that is legal for anybody to use during peacetime, and it is the only weapon of war that can win without killing. Let's use it to destroy this latest incarnation of what we thought we put down for good in 1945 before it grows too large to stop.

The destruction of an entire ideology through nonviolent persuasion sounds like an impossibly tall order--until we remember that Martin Luther almost destroyed the Catholic Church with nothing more than hand-powered printing presses. It would be strange indeed if modern delivery systems for psychological warfare such as the Internet, radio, television, and mass-produced leaflets, could not do the same to the driving force for terroristic violence against the Judeo-Christian world, women, gay people, and the wrong "kinds" of Muslims (the chief victims of Islamist violence). First, however, let's cover some basic tenets of propaganda and psychological warfare.

Colonel Paul Linebarger was a relatively obscure hero of the Second World War and Korean War. He was obscure because he never earned a combat medal, but he was a hero for saving thousands of enemy soldiers, along with the Americans whom they would have taken with them had they fought to the death. "Surrender" was shameful to Asians, but they could honorably "cease resistance" instead. Linebarger told the enemy to do this by shouting their own words for duty (the Way) and humanity: zi ren dao. Dao is the same thing as Tao, or The Way, of Asian philosophy. English-speaking soldiers were eager and ready to accept the enemy's zi ren dao. Linebarger's outstanding book on this subject is probably the most authoritative source available.

PsyWar Basics

(1) PsyWar is decisively effective. "Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society." Linebarger, however, wrote that the Communists proved that the figure is closer to two percent. This explains how a handful of Nazis, who made the effort to study psychological warfare intensely, were able to take over one of the most advanced nations in Europe.

(2) Propaganda must be simple, visceral, and convey the desired message in seconds. The propaganda that both the Lutherans and the Catholics used during the Reformation consisted extensively of simple woodcut images that were comprehensible by somebody who could not read.

(3) The Propaganda Man is the person to whom we direct our argument. This means the propaganda must be tailored to each Propaganda Man (or woman); "one size fits all" emphatically does not work.

(4) Effective propaganda is honest. As defined by Linebarger, "Propaganda consists of the planned use of any form of communication designed to affect the minds, emotions, and action of a given group for a specific purpose." Appeals to donate blood, warnings against driving while drunk, and encouragement to get cancer screenings are propaganda by definition. Hitler proved that you can get away with a big lie but, more often than not, the instant the Propaganda Man catches you lying to him, you are finished.

(5) Direct negative propaganda against the enemy leaders, and not the rank and file. Linebarger warned against defining the enemy too widely. When we direct hatred at the enemy followers, we enrage them and encourage them to continue to fight. The idea is to discredit the leaders to get the followers to walk away from them. Here is an illustration from Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Note how the destitute subjects are carrying a fat king on their backs. An image of this nature could be directed at any enemy nation whose rulers live lavishly while the people go hungry.

Divide the leaders and followers A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)

The most of King Arthur's British nation were slaves, pure and simple, and bore that name, and wore the iron collar on their necks; and the rest were slaves in fact, but without the name; they imagined themselves men and freemen, and called themselves so.  The truth was, the nation as a body was in the world for one object, and one only:  to grovel before king and Church and noble; to slave for them, sweat blood for them, starve that they might be fed, work that they might play, drink misery to the dregs that they might be happy, go naked that they might wear silks and jewels, pay taxes that they might be spared from paying them, be familiar all their lives with the degrading language and postures of adulation that they might walk in pride and think themselves the gods of this world.  And for all this, the thanks they got were cuffs and contempt; and so poor-spirited were they that they took even this sort of attention as an honor.

Talking point: "Why isn't your mullah a shahid (martyr)?" The mullahs and ayatollahs who promise teenage boys and young men celestial harems of 72 virgins for suicide missions never seem to be in any hurry themselves. The best propaganda exposes the enemy leaders for manipulating their followers with arguments they do not even believe. This is usually the point at which the followers tear them apart.

The context was this article by Mona Charen:

As for what a true martyr can expect, Chief Mufti of the Palestinian Authority police, Sheik Abd Al-Salam Skheidm, spelled it out in 1999: "From the moment his first drop of blood spills, he feels no pain and he is absolved of all his sins; he sees his seat in heaven; he is spared the tortures of the grave; he is spared the horrors of the Day of Judgment; he is married to 70 black-eyed women; he can vouch for 70 of his family members to enter paradise; he earns the crown of glory, whose precious stone is worth all of this world."

The nice thing about a racket like this is that, if the Mufti is lying, the shahid cannot return to demand his money, or his life, back.

Hire Native Speakers, and Possibly Former Islamists

Another propaganda pitfall is to use translators to whom the Propaganda Man's language is a second language. The bilingual propagandist may deliver a textbook-perfect literal translation, but it will lack the idioms and nuances that a native speaker would provide. The best people for the job are probably native speakers who have turned their backs on militant Islam.

Conclusion and key takeaways

(1) Martin Luther almost destroyed the West's dominant religion with hand-powered printing presses. We have the Internet. Let's put it to work.

(2) Islamism has nothing to offer its followers but poverty, violence, and squalor. Judaism, Christianity, and mainstream Islam offer peace, scientific progress, affluence, and freedom from want. This is why militant Islam must prescribe the death penalty for apostasy.

(3) The failure of Islamist religious demagogues to perform suicide missions proves they do not believe their own propaganda. The instant the man who claims to be God, or to speak for God, bleeds like an ordinary mortal, his former worshipers will rip him to pieces. This is what happened to Danny Dravot in Kipling's The Man Who Would be King.