Islamism is winning the cognitive war – thanks to manipulative and gullible journalists

I have a piece up at my blog at the Daily Telegraph:

Islamism is winning the cognitive war – thanks to manipulative and gullible journalists

Anyone who remembers the halcyon dreams of the 1990s, of civil society spreading the world over, heralding a new peaceful, global millennium, must marvel at the path the young 21st century has taken. Even those who paid attention to global Jihad before the millennium could not imagine how vulnerable the West would prove in the coming, wildly asymmetrical war. Those who, over the course of the last 13 years, have awakened to the ever-growing danger of Islamism and to the astonishing inability of decent people – Muslims and non-Muslims – to effectively oppose its aggressions, owe themselves a brief lesson in cognitive warfare, and a second look at the nuclear bomb of that warfare, the Muhammad al Durah affair.

All asymmetrical wars take place primarily in the cognitive arena, with the major theater of war the enemy’s public sphere. The goal is to convince your far more powerful enemy not to fight. In defensive cases, from the Maccabees to the Vietnamese, this has meant getting imperial powers to “go home.” But Islamists who want to spread Dar al Islamconduct an offensive campaign: how to get your targets to surrender on their own home ground? In this seemingly absurd venture, they have had remarkable success.

The mainstream news media – their journalists, editors, producers – constitute a central front of this cognitive war: the “weak” but aggressive side cannot have success without the witting or unwitting cooperation of the enemy’s journalists. The success of global Jihad in eliciting our media’s cooperation with their goals

Palestinians, like most belligerent armies, propagate stories about how vicious and hateful the enemy. The primary audience for this propaganda is the home front, which it incites to vengeance of the most ruthless kind, even justifying killing children in cold blood.

But since 2000, and for reasons that beg for serious investigation, the Western media has almost systematically presented these “lethal narratives” as news even though some/many of them are patently false. The dominance of such “lethal journalism,”  undermines the very fabric of the civil society upon which, ironically, Western journalists depend for their freedom.

The nuclear bomb of current Jihadi cognitive warfare, is the Al Durah Affair. The story first hit the airwaves on September 30, 2000, and marks the takeover of “lethal journalism” among Western Middle-East correspondents. According to France2’s correspondent from Jerusalem, Charles Enderlein, Israeli troops targeted and killed a defenceless 12-year-old boy and badly wounded his father. The story spread like wildfire, an icon of hatred. Not only did global Jihadis use it to recruit for Jihad, but Europeans seized upon it for a substitution theology that freed them of Holocaust guilt: the Israelis were the new Nazis and the Palestinians the new Jews

Read the rest

19 Responses to Islamism is winning the cognitive war – thanks to manipulative and gullible journalists

  1. mika. says:

    Islamism is “winning” the cognitive war on the fascist/nazi CIA propaganda outlets – thanks to Vatican/CIA directives to their propaganda operatives. There, corrected.

  2. Bill Suits says:

    Sir, I was one of your students in 1990-1. It was an honor to study under you and it is heartening to see you on the side of civilization. Thank you for what you do.

  3. f quigley says:

    I wish to return to the central point made by Mr Landes:

    “But since 2000, and for reasons that beg for serious investigation, the Western media has almost systematically presented these “lethal narratives” as news even though some/many of them are patently false. The dominance of such “lethal journalism,” undermines the very fabric of the civil society upon which, ironically, Western journalists depend for their freedom.”

    The serious investigation he calls for must begin on two fronts, the corruption and disintegration of bourgeois knowledge and ideology, and the equal disintegration of the so called left of today.

    Thus the two avenues open to humanity are cut off from it.

    Capitalism itself is in crisis and offers no way forward, nor in my estimation can it, such are the economic cum political contradictions in the system.

    But due to the corrupt leftism there is no other way out through them either.

    So is there a way out of the crisis? And if there is not you have nihilism leading to fascism.

  4. mika. says:

    Journalism or Germanism..
    an age of rampant and official information deception..
    http://feedly.com/k/12ADFJo

    Same trick, same purpose, by the same people.
    Nothing is coincidence. Nothing is by accident.

  5. w.w.wygart says:

    I think I have a handle on the basic concept of cognitive warfare as Prof. Landes describes it, what I have always wondered though is how much of what we see going on is a consciously planned and developed strategy – doctrine – or an ad hoc series of responses that have more to do with how Arab or Palestinian culture works and how Western cultures responds.

    For instance, it seems to me that you could alternately describe ‘cognitive warfare’, in a limited sense, as simply getting in front of the camera as much as possible act like yourself – childish, self-involved and self-righteous – and wait for the inevitable reaction.

    A lot of what we see produced by “Pallywood” the “rushes”, the fakes, the fabrications are so childishly primitive, so easy to see through that I often wonder how its creators expect anyone to believe it, and how much of this could more appropriately be described as magical thinking on the part of the Palestinians and their dupes; magical thinking in precisely the same way that a small child might invent the story of space aliens stealing cookies out of the cookie jar to cover for his own misdeed, the child thinking [magically] that if Mommy believes him then *maybe* it will actually be true and he won’t then be guilty [but he will still have been able to enjoy the cookie!].

    I wonder because Asymmetrical Warfare on the other hand is a well defined and well developed doctrine by the people, the Chinese for instance, who are employing it. We know this because we have obtained the studies that members of their general staff have written. We in the West talk about “cognitive warfare”, my question is do the cultures who we are talking about call it cognitive warfare too? Do they talk about it? What do they think they are doing? I actually don’t know, which is why I’m wondering.

    So, is all of this best described as ‘Cognitive Warfare’, this insidious strategy that Westerners don’t know how to respond to, or is it that we simply don’t know how to respond to a culture that lies – or can’t tell that it lies – so habitually and so vociferously that we start to believe it ourselves because it feeds directly to our own neurotic tendencies?

    Another example I’ve used recently is that of my hypo-pathological liar nephew – twelve years old, a real trip to watch in action – goes for the big lie first, then sticks with it tenaciously, even if Mommy knows damned well what really happened. The boy will take it to the point of ego annihilation [his own] before relenting then: tears, confession, sniveling, to bed. The strategy almost always works for the nephew because the parents have a real resistance to taking the situation to the existential level that the child is willing take it to. The child on the other hand doesn’t know what he’s doing consciously or why it works – he just knows he’s getting over on parents, and that it works. What’s really interesting is that the boy’s brother and sister are nothing like this, it seems very innate, very much his temperament – a family pattern gone wrong somehow.

    W^3

    • Richard Landes says:

      excellent comment. love the description of the 12-year old. and if his parents are reluctant to call his lies, imagine how reluctant they’d be if he had a gun and explosives. imagine Enderlin’s dilemma faced with Talal lying to him. can he call him on it? will he make a permanent enemy if he does?

      as for the larger question of C.W., i’ll address it in response to other responses below.

  6. @ Wygart
    We in the West talk about “cognitive warfare”, my question is do the cultures who we are talking about call it cognitive warfare too?

    Yes, they have a concept for it. It is called “Tackiya”, which is basically a licence to lie. But i don’t know much about it. If you Google “tackiya” …

    • @ Wygart

      So, is all of this best described as ‘Cognitive Warfare’, this insidious strategy that Westerners don’t know how to respond to, or is it that we simply don’t know how to respond to a culture that lies – or can’t tell that it lies – so habitually and so vociferously that we start to believe it ourselves because it feeds directly to our own neurotic tendencies?

      We, the western public, don’t respond at all because we don’t know the Islamists are lying. Everyone who exposes the Islamic Pallywood gets marginalized by the media and the intelligentsia as an Islamophobe, and our media continue disseminating the Islamic lies. The public doesn’t know what is going on. The media, on the other hand, acquiesce to the lies for various reasons, the two most prominent of which are that the journalists and their bosses have adopted (and helped disseminate) the politically correct paradigm (PCP) of the conflict, a paradigm which sees the conflict as an Israeli racist and imperialist Goliath oppressing an innocent colonized Palestinian David. Here is a must-read article by Dr Landes on Paradigms PCP1 and PCP2:

      http://www.theaugeanstables.com/reflections-from-second-draft/paradigms-and-the-middle-east-conflict/paradigms-and-the-middle-east-conflict-pcp-1-and-2/

      Even if some journalists are willing to tell the truth, they will be pressured by their ilk not to do so – actually, the very fact that they know in advance that their peers are going to pressure them is deterrence enough for any well-intentioned journalist to say the truth. At the end of the day, it has become a bad habit for all journalists to misreport on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

      The second reason is that the journalists are afraid of the Islamists, so they’d rather present the Islamic side of the story – not very wise to go against Hamas’ wishes, the guys can get so angered that they detonate themselves among any enemy.

      http://www.theaugeanstables.com/category/intimidation-of-msm/page/2/

      • @ Wygart

        I forgot to mention that the Islamic lies have poisoned the minds of the western public because some of us (and i will not mention the name “Wygart” names!) do not respond to our duty to go the blogosphere and fight back in the comment sections the Islamic propaganda. :P :P :P

      • w.w.wygart says:

        Well, if you check your Greek/English dictionary, next to the English word ‘chicken-shit’ you might find the picture of a guy who’s on-line avatar looks like Schiller on acid [or if you take enough acid looks exactly like Schiller!] On the other hand you might just find a guy who doesn’t like wasting his time in arguments at on-line forums where civil discourse between opposing views is essentially impossible and whatever you have to say simply isn’t going to change anyone’s minds, whether that be at Mondoweiss, SkepticalScience or RealClimate. Mostly I’m just trying to keep up with what’s going on, and exchange ideas. I pick my battles carefully, my own family is generally about as far as I will go to burn my social creds to trying to change anyone’s mind-set-in-stone.

        To paraphrase William Blake, ‘If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed’ – I’m not quite so optimistic – either that or I lack the necessary rhetorical skill. You tell me, does Wygart get through to anyone? Even here, have I actually changed anyone’s minds about anything? I find that most of the time all I wind up doing is casehardening my opponents position – not very productive. To make a biblical analogy, I don’t like playing the role of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart against my own point of view.

        W^3

        • @ Wygart

          Hey, i was just teasing you. Anyway, word-of-mouth is not a futile exercise, you can never know for certain that there will be no impact on the audience from your arguments. There are people who have not made up their minds or are not imperviously committed to their current views on the I/P and the Islamist threat. If what you now say were the case, then people shouldn’t engage in online debates.

  7. Richard Landes says:

    we don’t want to know they’re lying. it’s almost as if we’re dupes on principle. Andrea Koppel (Ted’s daughter) working for CNN made some very telling comments i cite below:

    Andrea replied, “So when Israeli soldiers slaughter civilians in Jenin, that is not equivalent?”
    Israeli: “What are your sources? Were you in Jenin? How exactly do you know there was a slaughter?”
    Andrea: “I just spoke with my colleagues who were there, and they told me of the slaughter.”
    Israeli: “Did they actually see the shooting, the bodies?”
    Andrea: “Palestinians told us about the slaughter.”
    Israeli: “And you believe them without evidence. Could they possibly be lying and distorting facts.”
    Andrea: “Oh, so now they are all just lying??” [sic]
    The Israeli became emotional in describing that his children are afraid, his friends have been murdered, and if this goes on, “We could lose our lives or we could lose our country.”
    Andrea, “Yes, you will lose your country.”
    At this point, I interrupted the two of them and asked Andrea Koppel, “Did I just hear you correctly– that you believe the current crisis will lead to the destruction of the State of Israel?”
    Andrea: “Yes, I believe we are now seeing the beginning of the end of Israel.”

    Now I left on the last part, because it’s important to see where this kind of thinking goes (read the whole thing), but I especially want to deal with Koppel’s principled dupedom. I must believe what the Palestinians say, lest I be a racist (or some other very un-liberal designation). It turns out the “Jenin Massacre” was the first massive case of DurahJournalism in which the news media (and the UN-NGO complex) participated in a feeding frenzy of demonization of Israel which literally inverted reality by mainstreaming Palestinian lethal narratives (patent lies) as news.

    The final remarks by Koppel on the “end of Israel” indicate what the mental framework of the news makers were as they passed on these lies.

    To my knowledge Koppel has never apologized for her principled stupidity and mean-spiritedness.

  8. Richard Landes says:

    on their awareness of CW

    i do think that much of the CW they conduct is ad hoc and not systematically planned. much of that is because they couldn’t expect us to be this stupid. if you had told a Hamas founder as he was signing the charter with its paranoid genocidal anti-Western ideology that within two decades, infidels would be shouting we are Hamas in European capitals, he’d have responded, “Only Allah can make someone that stupid.”

    so Pallywood is definitely a pick-up game aimed at getting on TV (for the Shabab), and promoting the Israeli-Goliath, Palestinian-David narrative frame, but when al Durah goes global-viral, and Europeans can’t get enough of it, the Jihadis see a huge opening which they immediately exploit (eg Bin Laden’s recruiting video).

    how much is now more self-conscious, as they’ve become aware of just how stupid and vulnerable we are, is a different matter.

    • Dr Landes

      so Pallywood is definitely a pick-up game aimed at getting on TV (for the Shabab), and promoting the Israeli-Goliath, Palestinian-David narrative frame, but when al Durah goes global-viral, and Europeans can’t get enough of it, the Jihadis see a huge opening which they immediately exploit (eg Bin Laden’s recruiting video).

      how much is now more self-conscious, as they’ve become aware of just how stupid and vulnerable we are, is a different matter.

      I would venture that by now Palywood production has become very conscious. I believe that the Palestinian demopaths have fully understood the European predilection to bash Israel, and that they feed it any way they can.

      The Israel-is-intentionally-killing-children meme, which is the offspring of Al Durah western journalism, is readily employed by Arab demopaths in order to exploit both the European sensitivities and the European addiction to moral schadenfreude towards the Jews (an addiction attributable to Europe’s moral narcissism and also to Europe’s wish to clear the Holocaust-stain of having let its Jews be exterminated).

      A case in point is the following Facebook page, suggestively named “Death to Israel”:

      http://www.israellycool.com/2013/04/16/death-to-israel-facebook-page/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Israellycool+%28Israellycool%29

      Somehow, the Arabs who set up this page, managed to combine their call for the annihilation of Israel and the genocide of the Israelis with photographic/artistic depictions of Israel as a child-murderer. Talk about moral inversion…

      Their demopathic projection of their own genocidal tendencies on the Israelis probably would have stayed an intra-Muslim affair, if the appeal of Al Durah journalism had not made it abundantly clear that Europe (and the Lefty US) likes this show.

      But now that the Arabs see that they can sell their Israeli-Goliath vs Palestinian-David story, they have a perfect motive to export their Pallywood journalism. I am almost sure that the staged videos of today are a product with the West as its ultimate target market and are produced very self-consciously.

      That’s the sort of monster that irresponsible western journalism breeds – Islamists lying in plain view about both their own monstrous intentions and Israeli conduct, while the Euros (me excluded!) are cheering them on oblivious to the fact that they will be the next target of the Islamists – and, probably, the only victim of the Islamists, for i don’t believe that Israel will go down in the end.

  9. @ Dr Landes

    …but I especially want to deal with Koppel’s principled dupedom. I must believe what the Palestinians say, lest I be a racist (or some other very un-liberal designation).

    This must be the single most important reason for the perpetuation of both the Al Durah journalism and the western public’s willingness to side with the Palestinian narrative: peer pressure to conform to the prevailing paradigm of the conflict, lest they be morally bullied, and there are not many willing to suffer such a blow to their self-image.

    Irrespective of the reasons that gave birth to Al Durah journalism and to the western public’s susceptibility to it, the fact is that now any journalist who goes against the pro-Palestinian grain will be ostracized, and any European citizen that publicly speaks out for Israel will have to through a kind of moral inquisition by her peer group.

    The Law of Inertia applied to the Israel-Palestine conflict predicts that our moral narcissism will take the path of least resistance and acquiesce to the Politically Correct Paradigm that has been increasingly in vogue the last 13 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>