Since 2014 the Dutch government has participated in the international coalition that is fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. It has been argued that the coalition’s military strategy is paradigmatic of ‘vicarious warfare.’ Airstrikes play a crucial role in the coalition’s vicarious strategy to defeat IS. The framing of these airstrikes by the Dutch government differs from accounts from a civilian perspective. It is argued that the narratives of Syrian refugees in the Netherlands that possibly contest the framing of the Dutch government are a potential source of political blowback. In studying the dynamic of this potential for blowback, this report compares the framing of the Dutch government and the narratives told by Syrians using ‘framing contests’ and ‘narrative analysis’ as analytical lenses. The combination of both lenses made the government’s as well as the civilian perspective accessible and comparable. In addition, combing framing contests with narratives sheds light on the relation between frame and narrative analysis. Frame analysis has been used to study the Dutch government’s perspective on the coalition airstrikes. Episodic interviews, thematic and, on the other hand, narrative analysis have been used to collect data on and analyse the civilian perspective of Syrian refugees in the Netherlands. By getting insight into the civilian perspective in aerial warfare, this research also contributed to the academic debate on the (in)efficiency of airstrikes, and the connected debate about the dangers of blowback from aerial warfare.
Kindermann, N. (2019). (Un)Contested Frames: Frame resonance, narratives and the danger of blowback from airstrikes by the international anti-ISIL coalition.