Friday, October 25, 2013

Is MISO Missing The Boat on Islamic PSYOP?

I’ve been asked by some readers to be a bit more controversial. It would seem that the US approach to MISO and PSYOP in the Arab is just the place to spice up the conversation.

It seems that one of the reasons why MISO and PSYOP in the Islamic world, perhaps particularly in Afghanistan seems so frustrating is that the Western world may be ignoring long standing cultural norms in favor of relying on Western approaches to MISO as a catalyst to resolving conditions in the host country.

Much of what we do in MISO and PSYOP can be thought of as trying to influence people caught in a conflict where the US and our allies have intervened. Often this involves supporting the host nation government such as in Iraq and Afghanistan or potentially a rebel force as may be the case in Syria.
US MISO are carried out in order to support the CDR’s mission and operations based on our doctrine and the mission at hand. 

While never stated, certain fundamental axioms are always in play. For example, the Western approach favors face to face negotiations without fixing blame. Westerners believe that the substance of the situation is more important than the form.

In researching Islamic dispute resolution methodologies I have found that these premises are pretty much opposite of the classic Islamic view. (see: (which is also the photo source) and

According to those references and the lecturer in the West Point, program, while Westerners may indeed prefer face to face, the Islamic position is that they would be better served if negotiations were carried out through an influential intermediary. This is why the Palestinians often want the President of the US to intercede as the honest broker.

While substance is at the core of Western approaches, perception and form are more in tune with Islamic expectations. Classically  an Islamic dispute resolution would start by the clear assignment of blame so that one party may be viewed as a victim and the other as a perpetrator. The victim would be expected to seek revenge as a means of regaining the damage to their honor done by the perpetrator. The perpetrator on the other hand would be expected to seek reconciliation through apologies or other means.

Keys to success here are to recognize that revenge is part of the natural order of things and that restoration of honor is the desired end result.

Even these few points illustrate the major perspective differences between the West and Islamic dispute resolution processes. 

Perhaps the time has come for Western MISO to adapt the Islamic perspective in Afghanistan as a means of dealing with the American withdrawal from Afghanistan  in a manner that is more in line with Islamic expectations and which ultimately would lay the ground work for a more lasting peace than would be possible under the typical Western influence strategies.

1 comment:

Voodoo said...

The problem is that it's taken 10 years for us to even recognize that this is an issue. It's ridiculous. Those of us in the community who are familiar with other cultures have been trying to explain this for years already.