A recent New York Times article notes that anti-American jihadists in Iraq are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their use social media outlets (such as YouTube and Google video) to spread their message of hate.
Terrorists are now posting videos of attacks on Americans as a means to (a) amplify their “successes” (b) recruit new foot soldiers for their cause and (c) boost morale throughout the jihadist movement.
I am not suggesting that Americans follow suit. Posting these disgusting videos are in violation of the Geneva Conventions, and Americans should not stoop to that level anyhow.
Still, the fact that these videos are being integrated into mainstream Web sites raises a public relations dilemma.
Americans are in a difficult spot in Iraq. We can’t leave because doing so would cause Iraq to spiral further into chaos. The American Soldiers’ efforts to help stand up an Iraqi military is the only thing in the way of total anarchy in the Middle East.
On the other hand, we can’t stay because recent polls indicate our presence is resented by the Iraqi people and further souring attitudes towards America. The longer we stay, the more attacks on American Soldiers occur. The more they occur, the more they are filmed. And the more they are filmed, the more they are posted on YouTube to recruit new terrorists to attack American Soldiers.
The only way out is to win the war of ideas – the public relations battle. So how do we win when our enemy is using (effective) tactics that we find deplorable?
I wish I had answers.