Category Archives: Middle East

March 19, 2012

The Definition of Strategic Narrative: an Evolving Concept in International Affairs

In an earlier post, I outlined ways in which the term strategic narrative is used in current practice,  in public relations—as an element of marketing—and in the academic field of international relations.  This post returns to the evolution of the term as an applied concept in foreign affairs. According to International Relations professor Alister Miskimmon …

December 28, 2011

2011: Year of the Protest Narrative

E.M. Forster famously distinguished events that are yoked only by their temporal order from those that we would consider a narrative (which he called “plot”), in which events are causally linked, with this pithy comparison: 1. The King died and then the Queen died (2 events tied only by temporal order) 2. The King died …

October 14, 2011

Afghanistan Narrative, Still Wrong, but Reparable

Earlier this month, Benjamin Hopkins and Magnus Marsden, authors of the forthcoming Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, argued strenuously in a New York Times Op Ed that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is as culturally inept as it was when we went to war a decade ago. The American obsession with viewing Afghanistan though the …

August 10, 2011

Verifying Sources in the Era of Amateur Video

The competing narrative continuing to unfold about the ongoing violence in Syria reflect how completely amateur video has now transformed our understanding of what “news” is. Activists’ homemade videos have shattered the idea that the Syrian government’s claim to be restoring “stability” to towns under attack from “armed terrorists” can be taken at face value. …

July 20, 2011

Narrative in Complex Decision Making: an Interview with Mary Crannell

Mary Crannell is one of those people whose broad intelligence and enthusiasm are hard to contain, as I learned when we met recently through a shared acquaintance.  As the president of Idea Sciences, a decision-making support consultancy based in Alexandria, VA, Mary spends much of her  time thinking about what technologies and processes will help …

July 2, 2011

Review: “The End of the West: the Once and Future Europe”

English political theorist and former Labor Party MP David Marquand’s recently published The End of the West: the Once and Future Europe, comes at an opportune moment.   The Greek financial crisis, U.S. jibes at NATO, and the suggestion by disgruntled British conservative party members that the UK quit the EU foretells a continental reckoning at …

June 7, 2011

Egypt Uprising Narrative as Youth, New Media Driven: Wrong

NPR’s Michele Norris interviewed Egyptian blogger and software Ala’ ‘Abd Al Fattah on June 6 about his role and perceptions of the uprising in Egypt that brought down the Mubarak regime earlier this spring.  Among Al Fattah’s insights: the narrative of events in Egypt as a primarily youth led and Internet driven and urban are …

May 30, 2011

U.S. Should Stop Asking if “They Like Us”

The September 11 attacks spawned a public mania in the United States for uncovering whether people in other parts of the world “like us,” and if not, understand why they “hate us.” Ten years later, the U.S. State Department and, more broadly, national security community is still using this uninformative metric. It is time to …

May 19, 2011

NY Times tells the Story of the Story of Obama’s Mideast Speech

The degree to which communication’s globalization has changed the way we think and talk about the news is evident in today’s reporting on Obama’s Middle East speech.  Once upon a time, communication-via newspaper, radio, what have you—was considered a transparent vehicle conveying to readers and listeners what was happening on the ground. Not so any …

May 2, 2011

“Global Drops out of “War on Terror” in post-bin Laden Narrative

When President Obama addressed the nation and the world last night to report Osama bin Laden’ death, I was surprised by the absence of a global element in his message.  Obama is known for his multilateral, global approach to foreign affairs, and it the lens through which he seems most comfortable framing American actions in …