From 6/2/13

I read the FT from time to time. The gap between the first-class quality of its microeconomic reporting and its total lack of understanding on macro issues, especially those to do with world affairs, politics, and war and peace is astounding. The editorial writers of this admirable institution are simply wrong 99 percent of the time when it comes to world issues. I sometime wonder if it is due to naiveté or bad faith.

The article published on Thursday May 30th: “To Defeat Terror We Must Destroy the Jihadist Brand,” is a recent example and probably a fairly extreme one of this “brand” of hypocrisy/bad faith. Not only does it not say anything, not only is it reusing a worn-out notion and one that should be discredited, but it is full of self-promotion of the writer. All this on the main editorial articles page of the FT.

The notion that in order to win the war on terror, we need to win their “hearts and minds,” has been around for a long time and is simply nonsense. How exactly, other than being who we are, are all these appeasers and “do gooders” proposing that we win the hearts and minds? I have never seen a practical set of ideas or proposals to achieve that “win,” and this article is not any different. They are always very strong on what we should not do—to quote: “and any action we take must not result in reinforcing the extremist brand.” That is a code, reinforced by the rest of the article to mean: do not attack extremists. Do not use military action and other covert means, lest they will turn others against you. Woooo! I am so scared.

I have to say that whenever I hear this gobbledygook, I ask myself who gives these people space to air their ideas? Does anyone have the critical mind to ask what do they recommend that we do? Just sit and turn the other cheek? What in the liberal, free, western and democratic civil society do we need to change so that our “brand” will win their hearts and minds? Are we perfect? Of course we are not, but we will never be. We can seek perfectionism but we need to know that we will never get there. Our humanity is already superior, our values more correct, our society more civilized. That’s a fact. We LIVE and therefore our brand is strong. But that does not mean that we do not need to defend our freedom. As the saying goes, freedom is not free.

Coke beats Pepsi (or the other way round, as the case may be) by using ALL commercial and legal means at their disposal. The point is that they fight for their brand supremacy using all tools available to them. They do not just sit there and wait for the consumers to recognize that their brand is better. Our brand—free society—is better, but having had it out there and available for everyone for decades still did not convince jihadists that it is better. Indeed it just makes them angry and envious, jealous. The problem with jihadists is NOT that they think their brand is better, they KNOW it is not. It is THIS that makes them so angry. The fact that they do not enjoy the benefits of freedom and prosperity—this is what makes them turn to fanaticism, murder, and mayhem. To suggest that we should do nothing other than to “advertise” our brand better is nonsense.

No, we already won the “brand” war; we won the hearts and minds already. We now just need to defend them against those who are trying to destroy them using force, BECAUSE we won already.

As always, this article does not provide ANY, not ONE idea, of how to win the “hearts and minds.” It does, however, disparage everyone else other than the author—the British government, civil servants, neo-conservatives, everyone. But it blatantly tries to promote the role for the author and his “counter terrorism think tank.” Wow that is a mouth full.

Why would the editorial board of the FT publish such a bland article missing any specific value, yet at the same time, allow such overt promotion of the author if they were not blind or naïve?