“Wars today cannot be won without media. Media aims at the heart rather than the body, [and] if the heart is defeated, the battle is won.”

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We failed to learn the lesson of this war

The US failed to predict a swift Taliban takeover and that may — in part — be for the same reason the War on Terror was doomed from the beginning. US leadership — from 2001 all the way through 2021 — consistently underestimated the role that information operations played in the Taliban’s power. Although we identified this misstep years ago, the evidence suggests we may have erred one last time.

The US and ISAF should have carefully studied Taliban propaganda and attempted to learn from the Taliban’s information operation strategies. Quite simply, the Taliban clearly know what resonates with the Afghan population, and the narratives and stories presented below will clearly reflect this. They understand relevant cultural referents and themes, and of course local traditions. We quite simply do not.”

Taliban Narratives by Thomas Johnson