Rumors in Iraq a guide to winning hearts and minds
Kelley, Stephanie R.
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This thesis proposes the study of rumor as a guide to the battle for hearts and minds in Iraq. It reviews existing rumor theory to identify how rumors function and what we can learn from them. Rumors often serve as a window into a community, and can provide valuable information for developing a campaign to assess, monitor, and gain the support necessary to defeat insurgents. This thesis employs two distinct typologies to analyze over ten months of rumors in Baghdad, Iraq. The motivation typology provides indications of Iraqi sentiment, and suggests unrelieved anxiety and fear is likely contributing to widespread hostility towards the US-led Coalition. Indications of unrealistic expectations are also evident, potentially contributing to hostility levels as they go unrealized. The subject typology identifies overarching concerns of the Iraqi people, and suggests there are specific fears inhibiting cooperation with US counterinsurgency efforts. This thesis then examines rumor remedies. Because they rely on effective communication skills, American and Arab cultural communication styles are contrasted and integrated into tailored remedies for Iraq. The findings in this thesis could assist Coalition information campaigns by alerting them to existing Iraqi perceptions so they can tailor messages to address significant concerns and fears.