Maybe If We Stop Talking About ISIS, They'd Just Go Away

An Indian Muslim man holds a banner during a protest against ISIS, an Islamic State group, and Friday's Paris attacks, in New
An Indian Muslim man holds a banner during a protest against ISIS, an Islamic State group, and Friday's Paris attacks, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

But actually...

According to Peter Beinart, Senior Fellow at New America, the best way to defeat ISIS is to not exaggerate the threat that it poses. That's not a new idea but one that deserves a push and maybe a little building out, especially in light of recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. In a nut shell the idea is this:

Terrorist organizations need attention and public validation to survive. They don't have the resources or numbers to have any real affect on major world powers, like the U.S., so they try and tap into the hearts and minds of individuals around the world. This perception of success byway of dummy Twitter accounts and gory execution videos drives recruitment and spreads their ideology, ultimately (in their minds at least) leveling the playing field.

David, over time, becomes a comparable opponent to Goliath. ISIS's noteworthy propaganda machine is a strong driver of this fear. Their utilization of all things digital media has ostensibly created some equal footing for the terrorist organization by aggrandizing individual small-scale attacks.

This is, of course, a farce; ISIS by no means has the military might to match any major world power and has wildly implausible maximalist objectives. David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency specialist, explains that organizations like ISIS utilize new media to spread intimidation and provoke war (check out his book Counterinsurgency Redux). More often than not these organizations can't meet goals due to insufficient resources, so they utilize what's available to them, i.e. the Internet.

It's like a toddler wailing for attention from their parents. They will scream and make small messes here and there in order to get what they want. The more attention the parents give the child, however, the more frequent and larger the messes become.

I don't argue that eradicating ISIS from all news media will make the organization disappear, but giving it less credit and analyzing attacks through non-ISIS lenses, may help reduce their presence in public consciousness. ISIS, like the toddler, would have to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to get back our attention.