Story of the Caliphate: Understanding the Islamic State through Narrative Analysis   [open pdf - 1MB]

"In the summer of 2014, the Islamic State catapulted into the international spotlight with its gruesome execution videos and savvy use of social media. Ever since, the United States and its allies have struggled to clearly articulate both the nature of the threat posed by the Islamic State and a coherent strategy for managing it. The author argues that the United States can do neither effectively without first understanding the Islamic State's narrative. First, this paper defines the role of narrative within conflict studies and the nuanced differences between narrative and propaganda. Second, it provides a summary of the Islamic State's current narrative along with an overview of the organization's evolution, structure, and media apparatus. Next, this paper presents a theme-based content analysis of the Islamic State's official magazine, Dabiq, arguing that it advances the Islamic State narrative by promoting the following five themes: Islamic legitimacy, statehood, belonging, righteousness, and engagement. Finally, this paper concludes by defining the policy implications that arise from understanding this narrative and the way in which it conflicts with the United States' strategic messaging thus far."

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Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library: http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/
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