If you’re looking for an article calling Trump a terrorist, look elsewhere. This is a quick analysis of how Trump’s political campaign echoes a lot of the “guerrilla” asymmetric tactics ISIS has had in its own conflict. Their ideologies are vastly different, but in the information age there appears to be successful strategies people can employ. Here are just two:
Under Spend Your Enemy. Donald Rumsfeld was frustrated that insurgents and Al Qaeda was spending millions while the US was spending billions. There was a strong belief among Islamic Fascists that they could economically break the US, bankrupt us, and we could no longer intervene in the Mideast. Not a crazy idea since that is what happened to the USSR in Afghanistan. Now look at Trump. On Cinco de Mayo, he let loose a simple tweet with a taco bowl. That same day, Hillary Clinton released her first attack ad on Trump. Oh, you didn’t hear about it? Neither did I until I listened to Mike Slater talk about it. As Slater mentioned, Trump kept the spotlight on him. Not mentioned was that attack ads aren’t cheap. Thousands if not millions paid for advertising, production, and other costs. Trump took a cell phone picture and shared it on twitter and took the headlines – for free.
The Credibility Gap. It amazes us in the West how a barbaric entity like ISIS attracts people. It’s even more crazy that ISIS survives while it is attacked by every other Muslim regime and several Western Powers. Yet, it still has supporters. It’s because the forces against it don’t have credibility in the region. The US is not a credible actor in the Mideast because we failed to articulate a clear and consistent strategy that the people there can attach to. The “Arab Street” doesn’t see the US as someone they can trust to act in their interests after coups in the ’50s and backing regimes like Saudi Arabia. In the GOP primaries, the GOP establishment and Republican candidates in turn attacked Trump. His numbers didn’t drop but they rose, even with his own gaffes, because the GOPe and several candidates lacked credibility with a large swatch of conservative voters. If someone without credibility attacks someone that may be a new option, people gravitate to something new. This is why attacks on Trump failed. Bringing out Romney, who was never a standard bearer of the party after 2012, floundered. You need to provide a credible option to counter these movements. Cruz wisely saw this and avoided direct attacks until he established some credible base which gave him some states. Ultimately, Cruz went into attack mode as there was nothing else to do. It was credible option versus credible option. By that point, like ISIS in the Mideast, Trump was well too established.
Again, I’m not saying Trump and ISIS are aligned or anything related. Except that the tactics of both have interesting similarities for those interested in talking tactics.