Strategic Narratives, Public Opinion and War
Winning domestic support for the Afghan War
This volume explores the way governments endeavoured to build and maintain public support for the war in Afghanistan, combining new insights on the effects of strategic narratives with an exhaustive series of case studies.
In contemporary wars, with public opinion impacting heavily on outcomes, strategic narratives provide a grid for interpreting the why, what and how of the conflict. This book asks how public support for the deployment of military troops to Afghanistan was garnered, sustained or lost in thirteen contributing nations. Public attitudes in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe towards the use of military force were greatly shaped by the cohesiveness and content of the strategic narratives employed by national policy-makers. Assessing the ability of countries to craft a successful strategic narrative, the book addresses the following key areas: 1) how governments employ strategic narratives to gain public support; 2) how strategic narratives develop during the course of the conflict; 3) how these narratives are disseminated, framed and perceived through various media outlets; 4) how domestic audiences respond to strategic narratives; 5) how this interplay is conditioned by both events on the ground, in Afghanistan, and by structural elements of the domestic political systems.
This book will be of much interest to students of international intervention, foreign policy, political communication, international security, strategic studies and IR in general.
Table of Contents
Preface by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer 1. Introduction, Beatrice De Graaf, George Dimitriu and Jens Ringsmose Part I: Theoretical Debates 2. The Possibilities and Limits of Strategic Narratives, Lawrence Freedman 3. Searching for El Dorado: The Legendary Golden Narrative of the Afghanistan War, David Betz 4. Great Power Politics & Strategic Narratives of War, Alister Miskimmon, Ben O’Loughlin and Laura Roselle Part II: Country Perspectives 5. The War in Afghanistan: Australia’s Strategic Narratives, William Maley 6. Elite Consensus and Ineffective Strategic Narratives: The Domestic Politics Behind Canada's Commitment to Afghanistan, Justin Massie 7. Czech Strategic Narrative on Afghanistan: Ideological Reactiveness and Domestic Political Contestation, Nik Hynek 8. "For our own security and for the sake of the Afghans" : How the Danish public was persuaded to support an unprecedented costly military endeavour in Afghanistan, Peter Jakobsen & Jens Ringsmose 9. French Strategic Narratives, Public Opinion and the War in Afghanistan. 2001-2012, Ronald Hatto 10. "War-like Circumstances" – Germany’s Unforeseen Combat Mission in Afghanistan and Its Strategic Narratives, Robin Schroeder and Martin Zapfe 11. Hungary in Afghanistan: A default narrative for a Particularly Prudent Public, Péter Marton and Péter Wagner 12. The winter of our consent? Framing Italy’s "peace mission" in Afghanistan, Fabrizio Coticchia and Carolina De Simone 13. "Fighting" versus "Reconstructing". Framing the Dutch mission in Afghanistan, Beatrice De Graaf and George Dimitriu 14. Poland’s Strategic Narrative on Afghanistan: Getting the Best of Both Worlds, Gorka Winter 15. A Catch-All Strategic Narrative: Target Audiences and Swedish Troop Contribution to ISAF in Afghanistan, Erik Noreen & Jan Angstrom 16. Communicating Afghanistan: Strategic Narratives and the Case of UK Public Opinion, Rikke Bjerg Jensen 17. The Longest War Story: Elite Rhetoric, News Coverage, and the War in Afghanistan (USA), Tim Groeling and Matthew A. Baum 18. Conclusion, Beatrice De Graaf, George Dimitriu and Jens Ringsmose
Beatrice De Graaf is professor for the History of International Relations & Global Governance at the Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
George Dimitriu is a Research Fellow at the Netherlands Defence Academy.
Jens Ringsmose is associate professor at the Center for War Studies, University of Southern Denmark.
'This volume is a must-read to understand 21st century conflict. In today's supercharged world of social networks, instantaneous communications, and suddenly constructed narratives, national leaders must bring their publics along. The long, difficult, and still unfinished NATO campaign in Afghanistan offers many lessons -- both good and bad – for how to approach to aspect of creating security in a highly complex world.' -- Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander at NATO 2009-13 and Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA
'How states explain their participation in conflict is not a passive reflection of a policy position, but actively shapes the scope of the conflict itself, and frames how actions are understood by the enemy, one's own side, and other audiences. So strategic narrative matters. This admirable book, focused primarily on strategic narrative and domestic audiences, serves as a guide for policymakers and students of contemporary conflict.' -- Emile Simpson, Harvard University, USA
'How do Western governments persuade their publics of the necessity for fighting "wars of choice"? This fascinating volume explores the importance and effectiveness of different national strategic narratives for the war in Afghanistan and, in so doing, explains why some Western states were more successful than others in sustaining public support for this long and costly war.' -- Theo Farrell, King's College London, UK