What is Weaponized Narrative?

Weaponized narrative is an attack that seeks to undermine an opponent’s civilization, identity, and will. By generating confusion, complexity, and political and social schisms, it confounds response on the part of the defender.

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How Does Weaponized Narrative Work?

A fast-moving information deluge is the ideal battleground for this kind of warfare – for guerrillas and terrorists as well as adversary states. A firehose of narrative attacks gives the targeted populace little time to process and evaluate. It is cognitively disorienting and confusing – especially if the opponents barely realize what’s hitting them. Opportunities abound for emotional manipulation undermining the opponent’s will to resist.

 

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How Do You Recognize Weaponized Narratives?

Efforts by Russia to meddle in the elections of Western democracies – including France and Germany as well as the United States – are in the news. The Islamic State’s weaponized narrative has been highly effective. Even political movements have caught on, as one can see in the rise of the alt-right in the United States and Europe. In short, many different types of adversaries have found weaponized narratives advantageous in this battlespace. Additional recent targets have included Ukraine, Brexit, NATO, the Baltics, and even the Pope.

 

How Can You Help?

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Join our Operations Directorate, and contribute examples and ideas that advance our understanding of how weaponized narrative can be defended against, and how it can be utilized.

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Join our Research Directorate, and contribute examples and ideas that advance our understanding of weaponized narrative.

The Weaponized Narrative Initiative is a project of the non-partisan Center on the Future of War, a partnership between Arizona State University and the independent Washington, D.C., think tank New America.