Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Soft Underbelly of the West: A Brief Introduction to Jihadi Cognitive Warfare in the 21st Century

I recently attended a meeting where I was asked to speak briefly about cognitive warfare. Here are the remarks I prepared.

Cognitive War’s goal is to convince a more powerful enemy not to use its superior force, but rather to surrender without a fight. Most often this is a defensive war: like the Maccabees, get the enemy to leave. Advanced modern democracies, however, both immensely powerful on the battlefield and immensely vulnerable in their public sphere, have created conditions favorable to a new phenomenon: invasions by weaker military powers who seek to convince the enemy to surrender on its own turf.

None of these invasive insurgencies has had a greater and more unanticipated success than global Jihad, whose goal is to submit the entire world to Dar al Islam. The audacity of this idea, that Islam could conquer the West, that the Queen of England would wear a burkah and the green flag of Islam would fly from the White House, that Jihadis could bully and manipulate the West into surrendering to their demands for Muslim dominion, struck most Westerners as ludicrous, a bad joke at best.

And certainly, if one looked at the situation in later 20th century, such a dream seemed impossible to all but the most committed millenarian fanatic. Indeed, if we imagine the mindset of someone with such outrageous hope – that the entire world will either convert or bend the knee to Islam – he might have prayed as follows at the approach of 2000 (a Muslim apocalyptic date):

Oh Allah, the all-merciful, give us enemies who…

  • …help us to disguise our ambitions and acts of war, blinding themselves to our deployment targeting them.
  • …accept those of us who fight with da’wah (cogwar) as “moderates” who have nothing to do with the violent “extremists.”
  • …chose these false “moderates” as advisors and consultants in intelligence and police services, and as community liaison.
  • …attack anyone, including Muslims and ex-Muslims, who criticize Islam.
  • …believe that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,”
  • …teach themselves a version of Islam where they don’t even know about Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb.
  • … treat anyone who warns about our intentions for world conquest as a paranoid, conspiracy-minded, war-mongerer.
  • …adopt our apocalyptic enemy (Dajjal), so that they turn against their most important ally.
  • …legitimate our terrorism as “resistance” and denounce any recourse to violence in their own defense, as “terrorism.”
  • …respect the dignity of our beliefs even as we heap disdain on theirs.
  • …introduce our intimidating “Street” in the heart of their capital cities..

And may those who so act, play prominent roles in their public sphere. Only then can we, your loyal servants and agents, accomplish your will, that the entire world become Dar al Islam.

Alas, those prayers have been answered singly and collectively, again and again, since 2000, so consistently, that were I Muslim, I’d be convinced Allah indeed wanted us to conquer the world. So we infidels now find ourselves – and by “we” I mean the modern democratic West – on the defensive, even though our advantages, both military and cognitive, still far outstrip those of our foes. Secular democratic Europe only commits suicide over the next thirty years if it continues to speak and act as it does now, not because it lacks the cultural resources with which to resist. On the contrary, like our military advantage, the West’s cultural repertoire is immensely greater, more flexible and resilient than that of Muslim theocracy.

In significant part Jihad’s astonishing success comes from finding the West’s soft underbelly – anti-Zionism. Starting with the Al Durah hoax in October 2000, Jihadis have gotten the most outspoken of the Western “progressive” left to adopt their Antichrist – the state of Israel.

The destruction of Israel has immense significance, both military and symbolic, for Jihadis. And getting the West to abandon Israel, whether as part of a moral crusade (BDS), or “for the cause of peace” (Oslo Logic), would represent an immense victory for Jihad, possibly a decisive one that would shift the battle from its cognitive theater to open warfare in many places. It would deal a devastating blow to the West’s ability to resist the increased aggression this Western folly would inspire in Jihadis. From this perspective, the demonization of Israel is not merely a dagger pointed at the Zionist heart, but at the hearts of all Western democracies.

If you had told the drafters of the Hamas charter in 1988 that within two decades, infidels would be shouting “We are Hamas” in the streets of Western capitals, they would have responded “only Allah could make someone that stupid.” Perhaps the single greatest vulnerability of the West is its mainstream news media, which has, especially since 2000, been dominated by lethal journalism, which, pumps Jihadi war propaganda against Israel into the Western public sphere as news (from al Durah and Jenin to Goldstone and Mavi Marmara).

This lethal journalism, provides the jet fuel for comparisons of Israel with the Nazis (the adoption of the Jihadi Dajjal), for massive “anti-war” demonstrations against Israel that empower an aggressive “Muslim Street” in the West, for “Apartheid Weeks” that justify BDS.

And BDS is the prime Jihadi cogwar strategy to get the West to do the job of eliminating Israel (which the Muslims can’t), by getting them to believe the incredible, facetious claim that this is a moral act that will ameliorate the situation. Of all the serious vulnerabilities of the Western public sphere to Jihadi cogwar assault – and there are many – none is more urgently serious than lethal journalism, which effects everyone on a daily basis.

We really don’t have to be this stupid.