A roundup of the smartest takes on politics and global affairs
The Islamic State’s Je Ne Sais Quoi — Foreign Policy
“…the Islamic State may be a psychopathic organization, but that doesn’t mean that the vast majority of recruits attracted to it are. It’s not cynicism, disillusion, and dystopia that the Islamic State is trying to sell, but rather hope and identity, as well as personal and religious fulfillment…And the fact is for all its clever negative messaging to combat the Islamic State’s propaganda, the United States lacks an effective counter-narrative — indeed it lacks a narrative that even begins to compete with the emotional resonance and power of either the online savage theater of choreographed beheadings or the more uplifting appeal of “come and be part of a community that will give you purpose and direction.”
In the battle over hearts and minds in the Middle East, ISIS is mopping the floor with the US; why? There are lots of reasons, but one of the biggest has to be Washington’s weak social media game. Washington does social media like McDonald’s does social media—grudgingly, acknowledging that this is the way the world moves today but secretly pining for the simpler times when it was king…
Don’t get me wrong: ISIS is absolutely depraved and desperate, but it comes across as authentic to its target audience. It is selling hope and the possibility of a different future to the many people who look around at their lives and wish for something, anything else. That’s a powerful message. There are few things that American’s can learn from ISIS, but transmitting authenticity is one of them.
Pols and Polls Say the Same Thing: Jeb Bush Is a Weak Front-Runner – FiveThirtyEight
“Of course, it’s not clear whether money raised through a super PAC or other independent groups differs in its predictive power from money raised by a candidate. Super PACs in their current form are too recent a development to know for sure. If money is predictive because donations from a lot of individuals foretell future support, then Bush’s haul this year is less likely to mean something because super PACs raise a lot from a few donors. If early money matters because it says something about organizational strength, then Bush’s super PAC edge could put him over the top.”
Strong analysis, but why would anyone think Bush is a front-runner? I predict that there’ll be a solid 6 front runners minimum over the course of the race. Donald Trump will not be one of them.
A Private Sector Solution to the Migrant Crisis – Politico EU
“Founded by Christopher and Regina Catrambone in 2014, MOAS is the only private organization of its kind, and has saved the lives of more than 4,500 migrants stranded at sea. The group’s current mission, which began on May 2 and will run until the beginning of October, has already saved around 2000 souls… MOAS is a private enterprise, the only one of its kind, so the movement of its vessels across the Mediterranean is virtually uninhibited, a tremendous logistical advantage.”
I’ve already written about this story earlier in the week. Here’s the short version: there’s a migration crisis in Europe and European governments aren’t doing nearly enough to solve it. Luckily, others have picked up the slack. My pick of the week.
The GOP is Not Going to Win This Election on Foreign Policy – Foreign Policy
“Republican candidates for the party’s presidential nomination are out-hawking each other on the stump as the campaign gets underway: With the exception of Rand Paul, all the Republican candidates would repudiate the Iranian nuclear deal, would counter Russian aggression more forcefully, give more support to Israel, and exterminate the Islamic State. And even Rand Paul has been trying to stake out less isolationist ground. But there are several reasons to think Republicans are overstating the strength of foreign policy as a winning electoral issue in 2016.”
Sadly, I agree that foreign policy will not win anyone the presidency. But this is where Hillary’s most vulnerable, so it’s going to be far more important than 2012. At this point I’m willing to vote for anyone who can just present a coherent foreign policy that doesn’t collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. A political scientist can dream, right?
Foreign-affairs columnist Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy