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ISIS' Maoist Strategy
Richard Spencer makes an interesting point:
Ever since Isil emerged in its current form in 2013, military and and political analysts have been saying that its success is due to its grasp of both tactics and strategy.
Its strategy is essentially Maoist - the comparison has not been enough made, but now that Isil has declared itself an agent of Cultural Revolution, with its destruction of history, perhaps it will be more. Like Mao’s revolutionaries, it conquers the countryside before storming the towns.
Even now, the fact that much of its territory is rural or even desert is seen as a weakness. But it is beginning to “pick off” major towns and cities with impunity. In fact, where society is fractured, like Syria and Iraq, the “sea of revolution” panics the citizenry, making it feel “surrounded” by unseen and incomprehensible agents of doom.
Like Mao, Isil uses propaganda - its famed dominance of social media - to terrorise its targets mentally. Senior Iraqi policemen have recounted being sent images via their mobile phones of their decapitated fellow officers. This has a chastening effect on the fight-or-flight reflex.
It then uses actual terror to further instil chaos. Isil’s main targets have been ground down by years of car bombs and “random” attacks. It seems extraordinary, but one of the reasons given by Mosul residents for preferring Isil rule is that there are no longer so many terrorist attacks: not surprising, since the “terrorists” are in control.
Only once your enemy is weak, divided, and demoralised, do you strike.
You then do so with an awesome show of force - one which can mislead as to the actual numbers involved.