Why is a barbaric medieval caliphate so much better at social media than Washington?
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is running a brilliantly effective social media campaign. With the group rebranded as the Islamic State (IS), its grisly messaging gets attention and discourages resistance to its military operations, both where it is fighting and among countries that might be inclined to intervene against it. After it took Mosul, IS streamed video of its men executing dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers -- which very likely helped encourage the choice of Iraqi security forces to quietly desert their posts. IS live-tweeted its military advance through Iraq, showcasing the bravery of its fighters and what little resistance Iraqi security forces offered. It threatened decapitations in London's Trafalgar Square. And as the United States was busy playing its World Cup round-of-sixteen game, IS tweeted a picture of a decapitated head with the caption that it was the Islamic State's ball.