A Fearful Scimitar: ISIS and Asymmetric Warfare

Excerpted from a Forbes.com article by Craig Hatkoff and Irwin Kula: First James Foley. And now, just moments ago, Steven Sotloff. The insanity continues. How does any one make sense of what to do about ISIS? This second beheading ups the ante for President Obama whose tan suit attracted as much attention as the substance of the heavy topics being discussed at last week’s impromptu White House press conference. But one comment really stood out. Explaining his position on ISIS in Syria, Obama said, “we don’t have a strategy yet.” This comment didn’t sit well with anyone. What the hell do you mean we don’t have a strategy?? Or might President Obama secretively be engineering a paradigm pivot in U.S. foreign policy?

However inartful his choice of words might have been and uncomfortable this admission makes us feel, upon further reflection, not having a strategy actually might be the best strategy of all at least for now. Why do we say this? Perhaps he or his “folks” have watched the rather harrowing ISIS “recruiting video” that is circulating on the Internet: Clanging of the Swords IV (now complete with English subtitles) produced by al-Furquan Media available courtesy of LiveLeak.com among others. This 62-minute highly-stylized video very artfully chronicles ISIS’s brutal, systematic hunting and killing of Safawi Shia infidels (Maliki supporters and sympathizers) and unrepentant Sunni’s who participated in the Sunni Awakening. It leaves nothing to the imagination. (WARNING: This video is extremely graphic).

The video triggers the take down policies of most streaming sites so you might have to do a little searching but you will find it. We warn you Clanging of the Swords is among the most graphic and disturbing videos you will ever see. Yet while completely unnerving it is chillingly “compelling”—certainly as a recruitment sizzle reel. Brand management buttressed by social media and the new jihadi chic fashion have arrived as tools of terrorism. We are not even sure what to make of this video, but for us it provides an unexpected perspective on President Obama’s quandary: What exactly are we supposed to do?…


Read the full Forbes article online on the Off White Papers blog. Originally written by Craig Hatkoff and Irwin Kula and published on September 2nd, 2014, the Off White Papers are part of Forbes’ Leadership section, contemplating the deeper, disruptive angles of historically and emerging innovations from healthcare and politics to arts and culture.   

Angela Brugioni