Media Tell-tales of Defeat

I remember an anecdote, where a Japanese man knew his side was losing because the Glorious Victories were being won closer and closer to Japan…

Same hymn, different verse, from the article Islamic State’s Collapse. Death of the IS Propaganda Machine.

A few excerpts:

The Islamic State group’s propaganda machine used to be confident, promising that its self-declared caliphate would be “lasting and expanding.” But in recent months, as the group’s territory has shrunk, its messages have as well.

Far from the boastful, self-aggrandizing videos of the past, the group is now urging fighters to resist and not run away from the battlefield. The quality of the videos has dropped as well after some of the extremists’ most prominent propagandists and producers were killed.

Slickly produced IS propaganda videos shot from multiple angles with religious songs in the background used to spread fear among the group’s opponents, with gruesome footage of beheadings, shootings, confessions of detainees and sophisticated attacks against their rivals. In the videos, the group boasted that Muslims from all over the world were flocking to what they called the “first caliphate” since the fall of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

Now the videos mostly urge fighters to be steadfast and call on the local population to join the group after hundreds of IS fighters have been killed over the past months.

“The propaganda of the organization has become zero to be frank. It indicates their collapse and that the group is retreating,” said Omar Abu Laila, a Syrian opposition activist now based in Germany who is originally from Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour, held by IS. “Their calls for people to join the group are signs of weakness.”

This is somewhat culturally conditioned: while all winners are confident (regardless of species or culture or religion), not all are boastful, or at least not obviously so.

(But many are boastful, of course!)

“They have produced 158 videos since November … and none of them were professional like ‘Salil al-Sawarem,’” said Hisham al-Hashimi, an expert on IS who advises the Iraqi government. He was referring to a video — “Crack of the Swords,” in English — that was released days before IS captured Mosul in the summer of 2014 and was widely believed to have helped speed the collapse of Iraqi forces defending the city.

“Today … there is nothing that differentiates between their (videos) and those of other … rebel factions,” al-Hashimi said. “It only calls for defensive operations, suicide bombings and to be steadfast. Nothing more.”

Good propaganda does not make itself. Which strengthens the case for targeted assassinations, old-school or from orbit. Cue the PCs…

Social media networks keep closing accounts created by IS propagandists but the group has so far been able to create new ones. In one widely circulated text message on social media, followers were urged not to publish the group’s link so that it wouldn’t be closed because “we are being subjected to a harsh campaign.”

I know that most everyone wails and cries when the shoe’s on the other foot: but it’s still faintly nauseating to hear. Especially from such a brutal and vicious group of killers.

Glad to see them fail, glad to see them die.


But the end of the Islamic State this doesn’t mean that the West is going to return to normal… not by a long shot.

In the Empty Quarter, everyone knows the difference between top-down National, Imperial, or Corporate warfare… and bottoms-up Racial, Tribal, or Religious warfare.

It’s not that the latter is more powerful than the former: to the contrary, the organized top-down guys can get more resources and better trained men to the front, nearly every single time.

The problem is that there is no single leader for the latter group, no one to say “we have won” or “we have lost”. And if properly riled up, the bottom-up fighters simply cannot be defeated on their home turf, short of genocide.

(This has occurred in Imperial history, from time to time – and not just in the Vilani-dominant First Imperium, either! Consider the Imperial Navy and her preference for Red Zoning worlds where ‘mistakes were made’.)

It’s quite likely that, five years from now, the Islamic State will be just another grim tale from the history books. But that won’t stop the explosions in Europe.

Perhaps the PCs can experience both kinds of warfare. Someone who can handle both kinds of conflict successfully could charge a pretty penny for his services…

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About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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