Catching Up With al Qaeda

"America should hire al-Qaeda's PR Agent," argues Matt Armstrong. Iraq, he says, has become "a stage" for "a new public diplomacy that insurgents understand, and the U.S. State Department doesn't. ... An Islamic version of the story of David and Goliath, IED videos posted on YouTube and elsewhere are the new 'war porn.' Whereas Americans are addicted to grainy green images of high-tech bombs raining down on the enemy, insurgent supporters prefer images of grassroots combat that sticks it to the Man. While insurgents effectively use images to generate and maintain support—even using graphics, banners, and music in their online videos—the United States clumsily shapes our public image with symbols like the newest 'Crusader castle' in the Middle East, otherwise known as the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad."