September 14th, 2011

I’ve posted here a few times about online conversations between enemies [here, here and here], but yesterday’s twitter-fight between a Taliban spokesperson (@abalkhi) and the public affairs office of NATO’s ISAF (@ISAFmedia) was quite different in tone — a brief taunting match, keenly watched by interested parties, the major issues being who has been most responsible for civilian deaths, and which sources you can trust.

The Guardian reported it, @leoshane storified it, and Abu Muqawama put it in perspective in his blog with this terrific quote from George Orwell:

…the real weapon was not the rifle but the megaphone. Being unable to kill your enemy you shouted at him instead. … On the Government side, in the party militias, the shouting of propaganda to undermine the enemy morale had been developed into a regular technique. In every suitable position, usually machine-gunners, were told off for shouting duty and provided with megaphones. Generally they shouted a set piece, full of revolutionary sentiments which explained to the Fascist soldiers that they were merely the hirelings of international capitalism, that they were fighting against their own class, etc., etc., and urged them to come over to our side. This was repeated over and over by relays of men; sometimes it continued almost the whole night. There is very little doubt that it had its effect; everyone agreed that the trickle of Fascist deserters was partly caused by it. … Of course such a proceeding does not fit in with the English conception of war. I admit I was amazed and scandalized when I first saw it done. The idea of trying to convert your enemy instead of shooting him!

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