Can Texting Help Afghanistan?
Seriously, that’s the gist of a panel next week at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
The peace-building think tank wants to explore the lessons of SMS-based relief campaigns for victims of the Haiti earthquake and Pakistani military push against Taliban insurgents for the Afghanistan conflict. Both were heavily promoted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and both appeared to have some ameliorative impact, though precisely how much is unclear. Richard Holbrooke, the administration special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, is going to give the keynote at the panel, and in attendance will be his two key communications aides, Vikram Singh and Ashley Bommer.
The panel doesn’t appear to think texting is a substitute for a political or economic or development strategy. But here’s what it’s looking at:
- Improving governance – rule of law and anti-corruption
- Countering extremism – media development and counter-insurgency
- Delivery of essential services – education, health, agricultural development, commerce
Text Taliban geospatial coordinates to ISAF headquarters.