May 12, 2015 | Quote

The Tweet, Mightier Than the Sword? Cory Booker Seems to Think So

The war against ISIS has sunk this far: The Obama administration’s anti-terror propaganda is castigated as both critical and woeful by Sen. Cory Booker (D-Twitter).

Booker is New Jersey’s governmental master of political social media. His Newark mayoral tenure included tweeting at citizens that his help was on the way, whether it was fixing potholes or shoveling a snow-filled walk.

For him, the medium can seem to be the message. After watching him Thursday, I wonder whether victory would be easily at hand if he just sent out this admonition: “I’m going to bring those ISIS badasses down!”

Still, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was less focused on our profound Middle East policy failures that have assisted ISIS’ emergence than on the uncomfortably snazzy production values of their beheading videos.


ISIS is quite good at messaging, concurred Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He was another witness at the hearing on social media, radicalization and terrorism chaired by Ron Johnson, a blowhard Wisconsin Republican.

But he also noted how the messaging of both ISIS and the U.S. “have been exactly the same”: We each spotlight the brutality of ISIS.

Of course, for ISIS, the more the merrier with grotesque acts since “it shows they are stronger than other groups and can impose its will,” said Gartenstein-Ross.

When it was Booker’s turn, he lamented the Obama administration’s “disengagement,” called our social media attempts laughable and derided what we spend on “old school media” like the Voice of America. He said we should use some of the same techniques used in politics to achieve “virality.”

Hmmm. Should we contract out to the vaunted Obama 2012 re-election team or some cadre of 20-somethings at Buzzfeed? “7 Lessons Your Cat Can Teach You About Islamic Extremism.”

The federal government, said Gartenstein-Ross, is like a legacy industry struggling to adapt. We need a start-up culture in the bureaucracy, in part to attract the best people and dispense with overlapping internal constituencies and aversion to experimentation.

But is it all gloom and doom, as Booker and others say? I asked Gertenstein-Ross the next day.

He noted new, sharp leadership at a key State Department office that oversees counterterrorism communications. And, he reminded, the U.S. has had an awful image in the region for decades. The new leaders have said the right things. Will they now actually do them?


Read the full article here