Information Warfare: May 14, 2002


Information Warfare operations in Afghanistan are covering a lot of bases, most of them out of sight of the media. The United States is supporting Afghan media organizations to get back into business, at least those that intend to practice basic journalism (reporting the news) and not those that are propaganda operations for one faction or another. The U.S. is still broadcasting radio programming into Afghanistan in the major languages. There are also continuing efforts by civil affairs troops and psychological warfare units to improve the U.S. image within Afghanistan. These efforts are difficult because of the culture of corruption within Afghanistan. The local tribal chief or warlord expects to receive the goodies from foreigners, and then distribute them as he sees fit. But the American policy is to get the aid down to the people who need it. This is causing some friction so far, and threats by the local strongmen. But no one wants a visit from U.S. troops or warplanes, so the unhappiness has not gotten physical in most cases.

There are continuing efforts to get Americas point of view on the Afghanistan war out to Moslem media. This is hampered by the Moslem world's focus on what's going on in Israel. Then again, with Afghanistan off the radar in the Moslem media, there is less negative and erroneous reporting to deal with. And then there are newspapers in countries like Pakistan. No one is saying anything about this, but the traditional way to get positive press in Pakistan, where the U.S. needs favorable coverage, is to use cash. The CIA has, in the past, played by the local rules and bribed journalists in competition with the local government and political parties. 


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