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  1. #1
    Council Member
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    Oct 2005

    Default Strategic Narrative

    This site may be of interest to some. I just started looking at it, so too early to comment one way or the other.

    We live our lives embedded in a system of narratives—those stories that tell us who we are, where we came from, our roles in relations to others, and where we are going in the future. An explicit understanding of this system—and the ability to navigate and change course within it—is critical when we are seeking to achieve solutions in complex situations.

    Yet it can be challenging to gain a holistic view of our own stories, those of others, and those that drive public events and perceptions, especially amid dynamic events and information overload. This site is dedicated to tools and insights that grapple with this challenge to develop successful strategies to bridge divergent narratives, engage or collaborate with others, and achieve goals.

  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Mar 2006



    A good catch this blogsite and I was struck by this passage:
    It is more important to try to shape behavior than it is to change people’s attitudes.

    Having spent half a day discussing 'Prevent' I was glad I'd got that comment to hand.

  3. #3
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Dec 2005


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post

    This site may be of interest to some. I just started looking at it, so too early to comment one way or the other.
    Some really interesting stuff there,good post Bill.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2005


    I ordered the book "Behavioral Conflict" and will provide my assessment after I read it.

    I like the ideas presented, because it ties into something I read and found interesting recently about Chinese strategy (not that they actually follow it). Basically they recommend not opposing the trend, but to ride the trend and then try to shape it instead of change it (in this case, instead of changing people's attitudes). As Bob's World stated in one of his posts, if you're going to oppose the trend, it will require constant energy (control), and once you remove that energy the trend will continue. I suspect we'll see this unfold in Afghanistan once we remove our energy from the problem.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2012

    Default strategic narrative


    Thanks for having noticed Strategic Narrative. I have been checking in at and learning from the contributors at Small Wars Journal for years. I used the site a few years ago to do an informal survey of the ways that “narrative” was being used in the defense community (the results are in "Narrative as an Influence Factor in Information Operations," in the 3rd quarter 2010 IO Journal)

    Your kind words, and your remarks on “going with trends” got me to sign up and actually show my face here. From my vantage (not as a member of the military but as a close observer of the role of communication in it for the last decade), this point you and others are making about “going with” instead of “forcing against” is crucially important in the information realm as well. I have said in a number of venues that the concept of “counter-narrative” is counter-productive—it simply produces potentially lethal versions of shouting matches. The beauty (and challenge) of information contained in narrative form is that it is porous.

    Narratives are composite, shifting things and they will inevitably reveal open areas, points of vulnerability, or internal contradictions—gaps between what others say and what they do--into which new information that directs a story in a more favorable way can be inserted. I thought that the language of “counter-narrative” may have begun to wither but someone who works at NSC recently told me that there, at least, the concept of “counter narrative” is alive and well as a communication strategy.

  6. #6
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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  7. #7
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Nov 2008


    On narratives, I have long believed it is much more effective to think about "competing" narratives, rather than developing "counter" narratives.

    To counter tends to lead one to taking opposing positions, whereas in my experience and study one is most likely to find best success by agreeing with much of one's opponent's narrative, and taking it out of their context and placing it into one's own.

    As an example, AQ narrative had three main platforms:
    Remove Western influence over the politics of the Middle East,
    Remove "apostate" governments from power in the Middle East,
    Unify the nations of the Middle East as a Caliphate.

    We have been "countering" that narrative for 10 years with little effect, because each of those platforms contains a great deal of logic, albeit wrapped in crazy and violence.

    The West could, however, compete a much more effective narrative built around the key concepts of the AQ platform:
    1. Concede the point that yes, the Cold War led to an excessive degree of Western meddling over the governance of the Middle East, and that at the request of the governments of the region has remained in place long past the expiration date of the Cold War necessities. It is indeed time to re-evaluate and re-assess the role of Western Powers in the region and how they best pursue their vital interests in the region as it exists today.

    2. Clarify that "apostate" governments are not the issue, but certainly there are many governments that are out of step with large segments of their populaces. Arab Spring is grim testament to this fact. The West should encourage greater dialog between the leaders of the region and their people, and the necessity of exploring appropriate vehicles to satisfy the people's evolving need for a legal voice on governance.

    3. While an ideologically extreme Caliphate is inappropriate for helping the nations and people of the Middle East to engage on more equal and effective terms with other regions of the World, certainly some construct along the lines of the European Union may well be worth exploring and we support such efforts.

    Once one steals the logic from their opponent's position, it often only leaves them with crazy and robs them of their influence as well.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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