The United States and its allies have been very thorough since the 9/11 attacks at waging war to root out radical jihadists. But they’ve done a lousy job at fighting the effort to win the hearts and minds of those most vulnerable to the lure of jihadist propaganda.
Since 2001, radical jihadists have expanded their areas of influence across a broad swath of southwestern Asia, the Arab world and Africa.
Their ranks are growing, not shrinking, largely because of their effective use of social media to reach out to disaffected young Muslim men and women around the world.
The United States and European nations have failed to devise a persuasive counterargument to the radicals’ recruiting efforts.
A major reason President Barack Obama must redouble efforts to bring Muslim countries into the fight against Islamic State radicals is that jihadists want to use the spectacle of Western occupation troops as a potent tool in their recruitment campaigns.
Jihadist propaganda typically depicts U.S. forces as evil infidel crusaders coming to occupy Muslim land. And this message appears to be resonating.
Moderate Muslim leaders in areas where jihadist wars are raging, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia, appear to have ceded the ideological battleground to the radicals.
Nothing in modern history compares to Adolf Hitler’s murderous rampage. But the Islamic State is coming close, which is why its forces must be attacked on all fronts, including the ideological one.