We are at war, it’s true, but it’s not the same war you are thinking or talking about. It’s not a war fought with weapons although weapons get involved; it’s not a war of nations although nations are interested in; it’s not a religion war although religions are engaged. A battle where religion is a flag but not a real object, a label but not the real product. So when Politics, Media, and Opinion Leaders debate about it, which war are they talking about?
Stop for a minute your instinct to bomb the world and think about it:
Someone talks about unconventional war but the right word should be “Guerrilla marketing” (never a name was more appropriate), an unconventional marketing strategy to grasp the public attention on products, reaching the best result with a small budget. And what is the best mean if not fear?
Isis is playing on the Western terror, trying to radicalize Western positions, encouraging Western instincts, nourishing Western nightmares with a simple message: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. ISIS shoots us, we shoot ISIS; ISIS bombs us, we bomb ISIS. But who should we bomb?
Jihadi John was a British citizen and some of the killers in Paris attack were French. Should we bomb London or Paris? Of course not. We are fighting an unconventional war and the traditional approach doesn’t work. It has not worked so far and probably it will not. Jihadi John is a product of Western media and he is now a post-mortem idol for Isis supporters in Western countries more than in Middle East.
It may sound paradoxical but Western countries and Isis are fighting a marketing war, competing for the same market niche: Muslim young people. The reason why Isis seems to win this match is their knowledge of our weakness. They know that the more we isolate and discriminate Muslims, the more they will be able to turn new young frustrated Muslims into an easy target to enlist.
During the sad days after the Paris attack the best messages were the ones spread on social networks by young Muslims all over the world: “not in my name”. It was the first right answer to the terror. Eventually this is also a war that involves moderate Muslims because (and above all) ISIS has been destroying their culture, their religion, their territory and their dignity.
Both in war and in marketing, alliances are essential and an unconventional war needs an unconventional answer: we don’t have to deactivate bombs but kamikazes.