Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Newsweek publishes glossy "Killing ISIS" coffee-table book

Newsweek Magazine offers a special heavily illustrated supermarket booklet, “Killing ISIS: America’s All-out Assault on a Global Threat” , no individual author or editor listed.

The book comprises three parts “ISIS Rising”, “State of Terror”, and “Striking Back”.

The overall tone of the book is that US policy – agreeing with the Iraqi government to leave on a timetable (Bush made that promise) and leaving a power vaccum, combined with civil war in Syria, allowed the cancer to arise.

The book reinforces the brutality of the group (although we can make comparisons to the Nazis and even the Khmer Rouge) but it also notes that the group is trying to drive the last Christians from the Holy Lands.

Maybe the most important report appears on p. 64, “Storming social media: ISIS’s intuitive understanding of how we communicate today marks it as a threat born-and-bred in the digital age”. 

 ISIS amazingly has command of first-rate media production values, and its recruiting videos appeal to teens and young adults who don’t fare well in an individualistic western world.  The US government does not have the smarts to produce counter-propaganda videos to counter a “revolutionary” or mass-movement mindset, but the book points out that the Kurdish media network Rudaw has had success in getting youth to watch its more subtle product.  ISIS recruiting on social media has led for calls for more censorship by social media companies (especially Twitter)  It could lead to calls to sharply reduce ungated normal user expression on social media as we know it today.  Does the First Amendment protect the mode of distribution as well as the speech content itself?  

Wikipedia attribution for picture from Raqqa by Lazhar Nefiren under CCSA 2.0 

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