Winning the Battle but Losing the War? Narrative and Counter Narratives Strategy
Perspectives on Terrorism
Since 9/11, intelligence and security services have become particularly concerned about radical ideologies and have looked for ways on how to counter them. One of the strategies has been to develop a counter-narrative. Some authors, including those of this article, are concerned that, in the marketplace of ideas, the West is losing market-share. Communication failures with the Muslim world were cited in a report by a U.S. Department of Defence Advisory Committee as early as 2004. The puzzle this article explores is why, having recognized the problem early on, the data suggest that further ground has since been lost. We posit the problem as having to shift the discourse from one focusing on a single counter-narrative to one of tailoring communications to target specific audiences. The article traces methodological and empirical shortcomings that are at the root of the problem and builds on these findings to develop a model to strategize about counter-narratives.