This poll is infuriating. Well, not the poll itself, but what it tells us about the utter failure of the U.S. and NATO to communicate to the local Afghans.
The poll says that 92% of Afghan men in the Taliban strongholds of the Helmand and Kandahar provinces HAVE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF 9/11!!!! Unbelievable.
It is definitely hard to win the hearts and minds of Afghans to side with us instead of the Taliban when they are completely unaware of why we have our military in their country! If they are unaware of 9/11, then I think it's safe to say they have not heard even the most basic messaging from the U.S., and could not view our military there as anything else but an unprovoked invasion by a foreign military.
If I was in charge of the U.S. military, the first thing I would have done way back in 2001 is air drop in hundreds of thousands of tiny radios with enough batteries to last a couple years and then start broadcasting a message that could be picked up on those radios. I also would have dropped millions of leaflets over every single town or village until in would be almost impossible for anyone in the region not to understand what provoked us to come there and why they should side with us instead of the Taliban, or at least why they should moderate the Taliban and kick out all the Al-Qaeda types.
I know literacy it very low in the rural Afghanistan regions, so I'm not sure if distributing a newspaper would have helped much (that actually goes for the leaflets too), but I would have tried that too.
Getting the messaging right from the start could have saved thousands of U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians lives.