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03 January 2007

Magical realism and information operations

The beliefs, and processes of belief formation, of target audiences in information operations has always been underappreciated by operations planners and intelligence officers alike.

The Economist has an excellent piece examining one of the more pervasive beliefs in the Islamic world, and the impact of that belief on the narratives surrounding the Long War.

This is not the first time that elements of the fantastic have been noted in the propaganda of the jihad. In fact, many of the near legendary aspects of the Afghan conflict against the Soviets drew heavily upon this tradition, and was built upon by militant Islamists in other theatres.

Outside of those primary targets, similar narratives have been encountered even in what one would consider otherwise secular and “reality-based” environments from European political discussions to Asian business settings, proving time and time again that cognitive factors cut across cultures, education systems, and professions. Memetic influences rely upon common initial human conditions.

So the intelligence professional would be well advised to look to the smokeless fire…

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