Maneuvering within Islam`s narrative space
January-March 2018
By: Brian L Steed

The final process is tectonic in that, like physical tectonic forces, it can be abrupt and significantly transformative in a single event. Also, like the physical counterpart, narrative tectonic events tend to work off generations of pre-existing stress that can be released in a single event. The single events are not transformative in and of themselves, but they are transformative, and sometimes radically so, because of the pre-existing conditions inclining the landscape toward change.

In each category, there are examples of people who are thinkers or doers who provide depositional, erosional or tectonic effects. There are also events, some natural and many man-made, that can provide the same variety of effects. The difference is in the speed of the effect. Depositional is the slowest and most consistent. Erosional can be either slow or fast, though it tends toward an opposingly similar consistent approach, as does depositional. The speed and drama of change comes from the tectonic people and events.


Iraq, during the US-led invasion known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, serves as an example of this construction of narrative space. Iraq is used here because earlier the basic narrative for Iraq was laid out with respect to why Iraqis believe that the United States created and operationally supported ISIS. As previously noted, the primary narrative with which American forces dealt in Iraq was negative. Even though the invading force removed an unpopular leader, Saddam Hussein, it was still an invading force and the very act of invasion was depositional as it demonstrated US desire to weaken Iraq.

A brief history of Operation Iraqi Freedom is that the US government, along with other coalition partners, invaded Iraq in 2003, overthrew the government of Hussein and created the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), with the intent of granting sovereignty to an amenable Iraqi government as soon as possible. The CPA issued two orders in quick succession that removed all Ba’ath Party members from current and future government service and disbanded the Iraqi military. The US military, instead of handing things off in less than a year, remained in Iraq for more than eight and a half years, only leaving at the end of 2011.

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