Can you hear me Major Tom? News, narratives and contemporary military operations: the case of the Italian mission in Afghanistan

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Series Details Volume 27, Number 2, Pages 224-244
Publication Date 2018
ISSN 0966-2839
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This research explores the relationship between public narratives and the Italian military contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (2001–2014). Despite attracting little attention in the literature, Italy has been one of the most crucial contributors of multilateral military missions around the world in the post-bipolar era. Italy has remained consistently engaged militarily in Afghanistan over the entire period of the ISAF mission. However, the country’s involvement has been characterised by differing and controversial views and perspectives among Italian political actors and the media.

This study aims to reconstruct the core features of the strategic narratives and the media frames around the military intervention and it does so through a Qualitative Content Analysis on a collection of almost 200 articles published by four main Italian national newspapers. The goal of this paper is twofold: on the one hand, we systematically retrace the main discursive patterns and frames employed by the newspapers on the ISAF. On the other, we evaluate whether in the case of military interventions, the Italian media unveil critical inconsistencies and competitive arguments or whether they function as a repeater of the dominant political discourse. Thanks to the case study, we find that the Italian media supported the mainstream narratives.

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