Frequently dismissed as trivial or unimportant because untrue, rumors are a potent in the information war that characterizes contemporary conflicts, and they participate in significant ways in the struggle for the consent of the governed. As narrative forms, rumors are suitable to a wide range of political expression, from citizens, insurgents, and governments alike. The authors make a compelling argument for understanding rumors in these contexts as "narrative IEDs," low-cost, low-tech weapons that can successfully counter elaborate and expansive government initiatives of outreach campaigns or strategic communication efforts.Narrative Landmines - The Explosive Effects of Rumors in Syria and Insurgencies Around the World
The authors suggest that the most powerful rumors fit into “rumor mosaics,” collections of stories that together suggest a narrative. When a narrative and its mosaic connect well with the people’s experiences, hopes and fears, they are more likely to be believed. (In the case of the cattle inoculation program, Iraqis had seen more cattle dying than usual, and also saw their history as full of foreign depredation; these fed the poisoning rumor.) The people respond accordingly—“Rumors are the reality of the citizens who believe them.”Emile Simpson: This is the strategic narrative we need in Afghanistan now - "(By ‘strategic narrative' I mean the explanation of actions: the lens that we propose to people through which to view the conflict.)" Tom Ricks: What a strategic narrative is -- and how to use it.
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