Dec 1, 2022Liked by Paul Cobaugh

RE: Chaos as strategy - Peter Pomerantsev has some interesting observations on the Russian strategy of 'decomposition' as developed and perfected in East Germany at the end of the Cold War. Russia has for decades used chaos-as-strategy to their advantage in their psyops and cyberops, since they realise that it's much easier to break things than mend them. But as you note, they may have thrown one too many stones in their Crystal Palace.

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Thank you for the link to your article on Ukrainian narrative identity - very interesting indeed. I also have found the push towards a stronger Ukrainian identity focus for Russian speaking Ukrainians very interesting.

Ukrainians have also been exceptionally skilled at identifying shared meaning/identity with the (what remains of) the liberal West and building a pro-Ukrainian Western audience.

I completely agree with your implicit argument that the USG has a LOT to learn from the Ukrainian skilful handling of narrative and messaging.

This article gives a succinct summary of the high-level concepts at the heart of narrative warfare theory, and I'm glad to have your current state-of-theory synopsis here.

I've been busy working at a lower level - identifying specific strategic narratives and specific narrative strategies in the US and the UK media which support or challenge their respective governments' approach to the conflict.

Emma Bucher's 'War of Narratives' piece in RUSI identified a number of strategic narratives appearing in the UK/US press which I'd also noted, and I was glad that Prof Maan shared the link. It's a big world, and networks need dense linkage to benefit their members...

A favorite piece illustrating a prime narrative strategy - the summary of the meme war for Ukraine which appeared in Daily Kos (here, if you haven't already seen: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/12/1/2139261/-How-Ukrainians-have-fought-back-with-humorous-war-related-memes-from-Saint-Javelin-to-NAFO)

BTW, Prof Ben O'Loughlin has particular expertise in Ukraine - I hope you'll get a chance to meet him when he's in the US this winter.

One last note on your Ukrainian narrative identity - very fruitful think piece. I followed your logic and terminology throughout...with one exception. I'm not sure I know the meaning of 'meaning'....not trying to be difficult here (it comes to me naturally!), but I think 'meaning' plays such a key conceptual role in your argument that it's worth expanding in future essays so that interested folks like me can follow the logic everywhere it goes.

Cheers, Maggie

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