IN THE JOURNAL | COVER STORY
Maneuvering within Islam`s narrative space
January-March 2018
By: Brian L Steed

Iraqis glean further support for their narrative from political speeches such as those made during the 2016 US presidential primary and general election campaigns. Democratic candidates said that the Islamic State was created through the actions of George W Bush and the invasion and occupation of Iraq (2003-11). In contrast, Republican candidates and pundits on the right blamed the creation of the Islamic State on the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq in 2011 by President Barack Obama. In either case, all sides of the American political spectrum feed into the narrative that the United States, one way or the other, created ISIS.

In sum, the liminal Iraqi narrative is that the United States and its coalition allies have a singular purpose of making the people of Iraq suffer. Additionally, the United States wants to protect Israel, and keeping Iraq weak and divided by Shiite and Sunni killing each other serves that purpose. The Iraqi people have seen what the United States does when it is serious about a problem: it deploys tens of thousands of forces and mountains of gear and material. That is not what the United States did in the fight against ISIS. The United States, through its technology, can control all of its actions and sees and knows what is happening throughout Iraq – or so the narrative goes – and thus nothing happens by accident. Therefore, if bad things happen, the United States knows it and can do something about it, if so desired. Because ISIS continued to exist for years after Obama called for its destruction, then the United States must not want to defeat them as it claimed.

In summing up this discussion on the construct of narrative, this is about the way humans process information and make decisions. The stories are the real world and they matter. The structure and organization of stories is based off the narrative morphology. It gives shape to the stories and purpose and direction to the characters in those stories.

Dead space

Where one stands determines what one sees. The location of an observer is further impeded by the morphology of the surrounding terrain. If one is at the bottom of a valley then it is clear that visibility will be more limited than if one stood high on a hilltop. The area that one cannot see or that a weapon system cannot engage from a given position is called dead space, as it affords opportunities for opponents to move unobserved and/or unengaged.

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