The Narrative Space Blog

This blog is meant to be a forum for sharing my thoughts on a variety of topics relating to maneuvering in the narrative space. 

The Las Vegas Shooter a Soldier of the Caliphate

The 1 October 2017 shooting in Las Vegas and the rapid claim by ISIS of the shooter as a soldier of the Caliphate has generated several articles and comments by lots of people.  Many of those writing and speaking on this topic addressed the claim of responsibility by ISIS as a grab for notoriety and not a serious claim.  Some have made the argument that ISIS has rarely done this in the past and should be taken seriously until more is known.  Others piled on by scoffing at the claim and linking it with Twitter statements weeks earlier where ISIS followers took pleasure in the destruction and suffering caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  These commentators argued that ISIS’ claim of responsibility for Vegas is as silly as them claiming responsibility for hurricanes hitting the United States.

Those who are scoffing and dismissing the ISIS claim are seeing this too literally and missing something very important.  This is not like fact-checking a political leader or some other public figure.  To understand this claim, one must approach it from ISIS’ perspective.  This is not about fact.  This is about narrative.

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Thoughts on the Aftermath of Mosul

13 July 2017

I read a New York Times piece titled “Iraqi Prime Minister Arrives in Mosul to Declare Victory Over ISIS” where the Iraqi Prime Minister almost stated that Mosul was liberated.  Not quite, but he was really close.  The same article also stated that ISIS holds an area about 200 meters by 50 meters and that was expected to be reduced (my word, not theirs) within the next day or so.  A friend asked me for some thoughts regarding what is after Mosul.  I share some of my response here.

First of all, congratulations to the Iraqi Security Forces and all of the coalition partners who have assisted them in this difficult task.  Regardless of futility toward ultimate Middle Eastern peace, this is still something an accomplishment worthy of pride.  ISIS are bad guys and it is good to kill them and remove them from the equation. 

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What Comes After the Defeat of ISIS?

21 March 2017

There are a lot of good articles currently published and numerous smart and well-informed people who have written on this topic (see the In the News page or download the Comprehensive Bibliography from the Downloads page to see what I am talking about).  Despite these other sources, I feel that I need to write a brief assessment of predictions for a post-Mosul/Raqqa ISIS* world because people have asked for my opinion and this is a way to capture that opinion for future reference.

Assuming that Mosul and Raqqa fall in the next several weeks or months I believe there are five possible outcomes.  Of course, reality is that a sixth outcome will happen that will include to some degree or another elements of each of the five I mention.  I encourage a reader to see the five as part of the nutrition pyramid from which they can build a healthy meal of regional prediction.

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Understanding Orlando - Crowd-Sourced not Lone Wolf

15 June 2016

The tragic events of 12 June 2016 in Orlando Florida have reignited debates that have mistakenly raged for years – debates which have dragged to the surface a term used during each of the attacks on U.S. soil in the last several years: Lone Wolf.  I have never been clear about what this phrase means.  I think this tries to express the notion of a single terrorist who operates independently of a larger organization and then conducts the attacks at a time and place of his or her choosing.  Such a term may have applied a decade ago, but the world of global terrorism is manifestly different today then in 2006.  The term no longer fits. ...

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