Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2011

Humanitarian soldiers, colonialised Others and invisible enemies: Visual strategic communication narratives of the Afghan war

Noora Kotilainen

August 2011

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


This paper examines the current visual strategic communications endeavour of the Afghanistan International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation, which is designed to influence public opinion within the participant coalition nations. The aim is to track down what kind of means, messages and narratives the Western strategic communications machinery topically uses, in order to more effectively convince and address the domestic publics of the desirability of the operation. I concentrate on analysing the communication and image building endeavour taking place in Internet and new media surroundings, and namely bite into visual images constructed for the communication. For material, I use the ISAF media Flickr photostream, which is a large and frequently updated set of online photographs presented by ISAF.