Yes, But Are They on Twitter?

The front page of today’s New York Times features an Alissa Rubin piece about how Taliban leaders are responding to the U.S.-led mission’s counterinsurgency efforts by urging their own fighters to cut down on civilian casualties, with mixed success. This part, about the media angle to the conflict, wasn’t entirely new, but I still found it interesting:

The Taliban can shape the narrative about attacks sometimes before NATO public affairs even puts out a statement. Unlike the NATO press machine, the Taliban are willing to give details, and while some are patently exaggerated or wrong, others have just enough elements of truth that they cannot be entirely ignored.

Bruce Riedel, who led President Obama’s review of the administration’s Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy, described the information war as critical. “You have to respond in the propaganda war in a very quick time cycle; you can’t put out a statement saying, ‘We’re looking for all the facts before we comment,’ ”Mr. Riedel said.

When analysts talk about how this is a political as much as a military fight, they’re not kidding. Do we have any expert campaign consultants hanging around D.C. who are looking for a way to serve their country?

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.