The book, provisionally titled How We Were Misled About Syria: strategic communications via academia, is to examine how the historical record of the war in Syria has been influenced by strategic communications. It investigates the ways in which a surprising number of scholars, like the general public in the West, have been drawn into accepting a one-sided narrative. The book does not attempt to comment directly on the historical record, but it does point up some of the ways in which greater epistemic diligence than encountered in some of the literature of recent years is both necessary and possible.
The book will include an introductory chapter (not yet posted) that sets out more fully its aims, objectives and methods. But it is hoped that the material of other chapters now posted in rough draft form will be of some interest both to academics and to a wider readership. (An outline of the chapters posted so far, and how they fit together, can be found here.)
These are first drafts and very rough. They are posted in the hopes that they may be of some interest and that readers may have comments that would help flesh out any significant missing details or correct any errors.
The aim of the chapters posted so far is to establish that there has been a strategic communications programme at work that has influenced the information reaching Western publics about the war in Syria but has been misleading about the realities of the situation. Chapter 1 reviews the evidence for the fact of a strategic communications programme being operated by UK, and allied nations, with regard to Syria. Chapter 2 reviews evidence indicating that the information reaching Western publics already in 2011 was consistent with the key narrative promoted in support of overarching goals of the programme. What has then to be ascertained, in Chapter 3, is whether and how the strategically communicated information differs from information that would have been more deliberatively generated through epistemically diligent inquiry. It examines sources from 2011 that are in the public domain but were unreported in the mainstream media. Chapter 4 introduces some of the early evidence that suggests an important objective of the strategic communications programme has been not only to promote a certain narrative but also to impose a meta-narrative that effectively places certain contrary views beyond the bounds of epistemically warranted and ethically acceptable debate.
The aim of the rest of the book is then to assess how that strategic communications programme has influenced and constrained academic inquiry. Further draft chapters will be posted online in due course.