The Strategic Weaponization of Narratives
A penetrating analysis of weaponized information–one of the most pressing dangers to open societies
Now more than ever, communities across the world are integrated into a complex, global information ecosystem that shapes the nature of social, political, and economic life. The ripple effects of actors trying to manipulate or disrupt this information ecosystem are far more severe than the primary effects that are merely being felt in the information space. In fact, the weaponization of narratives has already shown its potential to transform the character of conflict in the twenty-first century.
Subversion examines how malicious state and nonstate actors take advantage of the information space to sow political chaos. Andreas Krieg reveals how the coordinated use of weaponized narratives can achieve strategic-level effects through a six-stage process. Preying on vulnerable states and communities to find the fault lines within societies, these campaigns begin in the information space with an ultimate goal of producing tangible results (such as changes to policy or voting behavior, or spurring political violence). Krieg closely examines recent subversion campaigns by two states in particular, focusing on Russia’s interference in Western public discourse and the United Arab Emirates’s demonization of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
Subversion will provide scholars and policymakers with a comprehensive understanding of one of the most urgent threats in international politics along with recommendations on how vulnerable communities can become more resilient.
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1: The Sociopsychology of Truth
Chapter 2: Challenging the Gatekeepers of Truth
Chapter 3: Subversion and the Contest of Wills
Chapter 4: Digital Authoritarians and the Exploitation of Liberation Technology
Chapter 5: Subversion and Russia’s Concept of War in the Twenty-First Century
Chapter 6: Little Sparta’s Counterrevolution, or How the United Arab Emirates Weaponizes Narratives
Chapter 7: Towards Information Resilience
About the Author
"Subversion is now the norm, not the exception, in our information age. In this rich and complex work the author ranges widely from the philosophical understanding of 'truth' to the activities of troll factories in Russia. Now that the Great Power conflict is very much alive, Krieg's insights are particularly timely."—Christopher Coker, director, LSE IDEAS
"Andreas Krieg’s Subversion is a compelling and worrisome assessment of the grave dangers posed by disinformation campaigns. Krieg’s key argument is that external powers are increasingly able to disrupt civil society by creating and distributing political narratives that sow discord within the body politic. Krieg’s categorization of critical vulnerabilities—cognitive, infrastructural, and physical domain of the information environment—provides readers with an efficient way to structure the problem. The subsequent chapters deliver detailed assessments of the importance of each of these critical vulnerabilities."—Marc Genest, Forrest Sherman Professor of Public Diplomacy, Naval War College,
"A timely and essential contribution to today's national discussion about the impact social media, Artificial Intelligence, and related technologies are acerbating the insidious polarization and nefarious manipulation of the American public, Subversion: The Strategic Weaponization of Narratives is an impressively informative, usefully organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation."—
"A timely and essential contribution to today's national discussion about the impact of social media, Artificial Intelligence, and how related technologies are acerbating the insidious polarization and nefarious manipulation of the American public, Subversion: The Strategic Weaponization of Narratives is an impressively informative, usefully organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation."—Midwest Book Review
"[T]his publication is a must-read for every household in a democratic society given its content affects us on an individual as much as a societal level."—Irish Tech News
Andreas Krieg is an associate professor in the School of Security Studies at King’s College, London. He is the coauthor (with Jean Marc Rickli) of Surrogate Warfare (Georgetown University Press, 2019) and the author of four other books. Outside of academia, Krieg works as a geostrategic consultant at his London-based political risk firm, MENA Analytica Ltd.
252 pp., 6 x 9
252 pp., 6 x 9