On CNN discussing US counter-ISIS propaganda

Ashleigh Banfield of CNN invited Dr Waller to appear on her show to discuss a segment on US propaganda efforts against the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists. The US State Department seems very proud of its “Just Say No”-style videos designed to persuade prospective ISIS recruits from joining the cause. [September 5, 2014]

Ashleigh seemed very skeptical – and rightly so – about the effort, and CNN invited me over for an interview. She called the State Department videos “embarrassing.”

I hadn’t seen the State Department videos until the live CNN broadcast, and tried not to show how appalled I was at the very premise of them. (They relate just fine to civilized audiences, but they don’t get into the heads of prospective recruits.)

Instead, I argued that the President should have used his bully pulpit at the NATO summit in Wales to hold the state sponsors of ISIS – especially Qatar – accountable, and to treat the funders, organizational backers, and ideological authorities supporting ISIS the same way we would treat the terrorists themselves.

Ashleigh Banfield and I agree that the State Department’s counterpropaganda campaign against ISIS is ’embarrassing’ and ‘pathetic.’

I also said that NATO’s declarations to single out ISIS would inadvertently help ISIS recruit even more jihadists, that the emphasis on fighting ISIS as an organization (rather than fighting the ideology that animates the terrorism) would not solve the problem.

This clip from CNN is truncated so it doesn’t contain the full interview. Click here for the full transcript.

What is more likely to work is a total commitment to absolute victory, an us-against-them approach that will force regimes like Qatar to decide who’s side it’s on, and military assurances to the local tribes supporting ISIS out of a sense of self-preservation.

The biggest point, given our country’s lack of strategic communication capabilities, is to convert the ideological and financial sectors of ISIS support in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and elsewhere, into opponents – by any means necessary.

I didn’t say it on air, but in my view, the US won’t take a strong stand against Qatar because Qatar has managed to corrupt the leadership of both political parties here in Washington. Until we force Qatar to choose absolutely between us or the terrorists, Qatar will continue to use its gas money to play both sides.