Category Archives: War and Violent Conflict

May 4, 2016

If You Want to Generate Strategies for Future Success, Start with Narratives and Metaphors

Terms like metaphor, myth, story  and narrative are not necessarily the first that come to mind when considering how to develop a future-facing national strategy.  But they should be.  This point was made in brilliant ways by the participants at the Atlantic Council’s second annual Global Strategy Forum in Washington DC earlier this week. Metaphors …

April 24, 2013

Post-Boston: A More Effective Battle of Ideas (Part II)

Boston Marathon

Reprinted from The Globalist,  April 24, 2013  Instead of getting sucked into heat-of-the-moment reactions to Boston, let’s base our responses on a more stable paradigm of contemporary global terrorism. To fight a battle of ideas successfully, one must first show what one is going up against. Amy Zalman makes the case that there are three …

April 24, 2013

Post-Boston: Keep Calm and Think Clearly (Part 1)

Boston Marathon

Reprinted from The Globalist, April 23, 2013 The Boston Marathon bombings provide an opportunity for the United States to consider how to combat extremist ideas more effectively than it did a decade ago. But this is not the time to let fear and uncertainty drive us into misguided and — as importantly — ineffective forms …

December 15, 2012

Narrative for Survival: My Grandmother’s Story

Stories can save lives. In One Thousand and One Nights, Sheherezade uses her storytelling talents to end King Shahrayr’s plot to punish his unfaithful wife by punishing all of the women of his kingdom.  Having put to death the unfaithful Queen herself, the King embarks on a plan to marry a virgin of the Kingdom …

July 21, 2012

How Power Works in the 21st Century

We live in stories.  That is, we are always in the process of trying to make sense of what is happening to us and around us.  That process drives us – to vote, to go into the street and fight for a nation, to make changes in how we consume, or to do none of …

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 …

February 3, 2012

Behavioral Economics Go to War

Review of Behavioural Conflict, Why Understanding People and their Motivations Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict, by Andrew Mackey and Steve Tatham I cannot think of any books about warfare’s future that come across as hard-hitting, full of actionable pragmatism, and deeply humane all at the same time.  But Behavioral Conflict: Why Understanding People and …

November 19, 2011

Announcement: U.S. State Department Strategic Narratives Public Meeting

At the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA, November 29 From the State Department Announcement: The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will hold a public meeting on the topic of strategic narratives November 29, 2011, in Santa Monica, CA, in partnership with the RAND Corporation. The meeting will take place at the RAND offices …

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 …

September 11, 2011

Lessons in Patriotism

Patriotism—love of one’s country—is a treacherous emotion. Too little of it, and we aren’t motivated to make necessary sacrifices on behalf of our national brothers and sisters.  Too much of it, or too much of the wrong sort, and exclusionary nationalism—in the form of various ethnic and religious hatreds– takes over.   The challenges of getting …