by Austin Bay
September 20, 2006
Remember the "Arab street," that riot-in-the-road featuring
flammable Israeli flags, Saddam Hussein posters, clenched fists and chants
threatening "Death to America"? The street may have lacked pavement and a
fire hydrant, but it had beaucoup television cameras.
Flames, clenched fists and death threats -- a heart-pounding
collage of sensational imagery and rhetoric. What more could a TV exec need
to attract audience eyeballs?
Recall the talking heads who told us in 1990, after Saddam
invaded Kuwait, that "the Arab street" was going to rise en masse, as an
ur-proletariat, which would support Saddam against the West. If you need
documentation, check out a few old PBS "NewsHour" transcripts.
But the mass rising didn't happen. Why? Because the Arab street
was, to a great extent, the creation of television cameras. Political
operatives -- no doubt many on Saddam's payroll -- knew they could attract
the sensation-hungry camera crews and use the media to project the
operatives' preferred "image of anger."
Twenty-first century Islamo-fascist terrorists, however, have
refined the model and moved beyond an image of anger to a new form of
prepared global ambush that integrates murder, terror and instant media.
The ambush technique coordinates blood-spilling violence with
sensational imagery and rhetoric using a dispersed network of media
operatives, guerrillas and terrorists. Networked, Coordinated Blood-spilling
plus Sensationalism -- hence the technique's acronym: the CBS ambush.
Since May 2005, we've seen the CBS ambush employed effectively
on three notable occasions, the latest being Pope Benedict's remarks at
In May 2005, Newsweek ran its phony Guantanamo Bay prison "Koran
flushing" story. Violent riots broke out in several predominantly Muslim
countries. The riots in Afghanistan attracted particular attention. Indian
military analyst Bahukutumbi Raman wrote that those riots were incited by
"well-organized agents of the Hizb ut-Tahrir terror gang."
The Newsweek story gave the terrorists an emotion-laden
"grievance trigger." The ambush consisted of violent riots and a prepared
deluge of anti-American propaganda. The vicious riots not only attracted
further global media coverage, but also intimidated Muslims who oppose
terrorist organizations and their violent interpretation of Islam.
In September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten
published a series of editorial cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad. The
cartoons attracted political protests and several violent threats, but the
cartoons were no international cause celebre. In fact, an Egyptian newspaper
published several of the cartoons in an article condemning the
But in January 2006, waves of orchestrated, coordinated violence
broke out in predominantly Muslim nations and in Muslim neighborhoods. The
terrorists and political operatives promoted a "clash of civilizations"
propaganda line, with the cartoons as the "grievance trigger."
Pope Benedict's Regensburg ruminations provided another CBS
Benedict -- in a speech that examined historical relations
between Muslims and Christians -- quoted the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II
Paleologus, a ruler whose empire consisted of little more than the city of
Constantinople. Muslim Turks had all but dismembered his realm. Manuel II,
engaged in a dialog with a Muslim Persian scholar, challenged the Persian to
show him "just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find
things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the
faith he preached."
An imprudent quote by a man on a global podium? Yes --
particularly since popes blessed several sword-bearing Crusades. It is,
however, a defensible quotation in the context of an academic lecture. The
pope pointed out the dialog between Manuel II and the Persian examined "the
truth of both (religions)." But context doesn't matter when triggering a CBS
ambush, only the superficial trace of historical grievance and the energy of
emotional slight. The "distributed" violence following the media
magnification of the pope's remarks included firebombing Christian churches
(in several Muslim countries) and the execution-style slaying of a Catholic
nun who worked in a hospital in Somalia. A hospital administrator said her
murder was "not a random act."
Executing a CBS ambush requires the implicit cooperation of
sensationalist media -- media that delight in emotional slights and rarely
probe beyond the superficial. Until that implicit cooperation ends, the
Islamo-fascists will continue to exploit this productive stratagem,
achieving propaganda victories designed to ignite a "clash of civilizations"
and brutally intimidate their Muslim and non-Muslim opposition.