Military Force and Culture Change: Systems, Narratives, and the Social Transmission of Behavior in Counter-Terrorism Strategy   [open pdf - 405KB]

"US national security strategy calls for the use of military force to shape cultures beyond US borders. However, the relationship between the use of force and changes in cultural processes is poorly understood. Operationalizing culture as socially transmitted behavior, and treating culture systematically using open systems theory, best allows us to understand the perils and prospects of acting upon culture with force. In particular, this thesis explores the narrative and storytelling dimensions of culture, offering a theory of story that can be used to drive innovative counter-terrorism strategies and structure general principles for prevailing in the story war. Using case studies from the British Iraqi Mandate on the failure to treat culture systemically and from Hizballah on the generation of surrogate consciousness and alternate identity, the analysis derives general guidance for strategists and policymakers concerned about the force and culture equation. It can be used to generate new research programs in counter-terrorism (such as exploring the neural mechanisms undergirding radicalization), fill in gaps in intelligence collection and analysis, and pave the way for modeling and simulation of the force/culture interaction for the purposes of planning good effects-based operations."

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