Online and In Control: WhatsApp Fingered

August 17, 2021

I read an interesting article called “Did America just lose Afghanistan because of WhatsApp?” I am not sure the author is going to become the TikTok sensation of policy analysis. The point of view is interesting, and it may harbor some high-value insight.

The write up states:

Open source reporting shows that rather than rocking up and going toe to toe with the Afghan national army, they appear to have simply called everyone in the entire country, instead, told them they were in control, and began assuming the functions of government as they went:

The Taliban let the residents of Kabul know they were in control through WhatsApp, gave them numbers to call if they ran into any problems. https://t.co/TPOZt8AQsm pic.twitter.com/QhggIWYymx

The article contains other references to Taliban communications via social media like Twitter and WhatsApp. The author notes:

WhatsApp is an American product. It can be switched off by its parent, Facebook, Inc, at any time and for any reason. The fact that the Taliban were able to use it at all, quite apart from the fact that they continue to use it to coordinate their activities even now as American citizens’ lives are imperiled by the Taliban advance which is being coordinated on that app, suggests that U.S. military intelligence never bothered to monitor Taliban numbers and never bothered to ask Facebook to ban them. They probably still haven’t even asked Facebook to do this, judging from the fact that the Taliban continues to use the app with impunity. This might explain why Afghanistan collapsed as quickly as it did.

The articles makes another statement which is thought provoking; to wit:

And as a result, they [the Taliban] took Afghanistan with almost no conflict. I suspect this is because they convinced everyone they would win before they showed up.

The write up contains links and additional detail. Consult the source document for this information. I am not sure how long the post will remain up, nor do I anticipate that it will receive wide distribution.

Stephen E Arnold, August 17, 2021

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