If you live in America, you have probably heard of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
You may have heard about the Islamic terrorist group in the summer of 2014 when they began securing large chunks of war-torn Syria, or when a video was released showing an American journalist being beheaded. Or perhaps you noticed the group when President Obama announced a sustained counter-terrorism campaign targeted against them. It is hard to avoid hearing about the group known as the ISlS and, as a result, ISIS has gained unwarranted status as a global threat.
This is in large part a reflection of America’s media coverage of events in the Middle East, which is interrupted only briefly by coverage of crises in West Africa and Ukraine. American media has effectively disseminated the images and words of ISIS around the world, inadvertently aiding ISIS in their media campaign designed to spread the word of their prophet and recruit followers.
ISIS has made a concerted effort to produce media for mass consumption. Video productions are consciously scripted in English and often narrated by British members. ISIS also recently released their third issue of The Daqib, a monthly magazine intended to recruit support from around the world. The publication is written in well-crafted English and accompanied by a surprisingly professional layout.
Despite their destructive objectives, ISIS has an exceptionally well-formed PR department—so well-designed and effective it has given ISIS a larger-than-life appearance. In reality, ISIS does not present any greater threat than other terrorist groups such as Al Queda. Although it has targeted United States citizens, the group’s concern is not with the American people.
American intervention may or may not be the correct solution, but it is clear that President Obama had little choice in the matter when launching another American offensive in the Middle East. This time, the President was not looking to combat dictators, oil barons or WMDs—he was quelling American hysteria.
It is a vicious cycle: President Obama’s reactionary policy-making is a response to our own hype around future terrorist attacks, but by taking invasive action in the Middle East, Obama legitimizes American fears and grants ISIS the widespread promotion it desperately craves.