Mobile Phones Combat Taliban’s Afghan “Information Wastelands”

From Bloomberg-BusinessWeek:

“We found that Afghans in the most-troubled, insurgent- held areas lived in information wastelands dominated by militant propaganda,” [U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke] said March 17. “We are fighting back with a revamped strategy that puts the people and their ability to communicate at the forefront of our effort.”

Joanna Nathan, author of a 2008 report on Taliban propaganda for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, cautioned that expanding mobile-phone capacity isn’t enough to counteract the Taliban. They have dominated the war of words by exaggerating victories and fueling conspiracy theories, she said.

“It’s not the words, but how credible is your message,” said Said Jawad, Afghan ambassador to Washington. The U.S. must not only “respond to propaganda but deliver and make a difference in people’s lives.”