Information infrastructure and social adaptation in rural Afghanistan
Wilson, John Mark.
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This thesis explores whether the expansion of cellular phone networks and community-based radio broadcasting into rural Pashtun communities could create operational vulnerabilities for the Taliban. Divergence is observed between the population's adaptive behavior in response to the Taliban's rural information strategy and the expansion of the information infrastructure. This study shows that this variance in the population's responses could create an operational vulnerability for the Taliban. The success of any expansive information strategy, however, may ultimately be limited by the population's fear of Taliban reprisals and other inhibitors, such as illiteracy and inexperience in operating advanced technologies. To counter this condition, information strategists should implement cellular phone and community radio-based programs in areas where an embedded security apparatus, such as the Village Stability Platform (VSP), can enhance local security conditions. By reducing the Taliban's capacity for using violence to intimidate the population, developmental advisors embedded within the VSP can implement tailored cellular phone and community radio programs that exploit local incentive structures more effectively. With persistence, the benefits of these information systems will become increasingly apparent to the population, weakening Taliban influence.
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