General Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. military and NATO commander in Afghanistan, wants to change strategic communications goals there from a "struggle for the 'hearts and minds' of the Afghan population to one of giving them 'trust and confidence'" in their government and their future. He also wants to focus on exposing insurgents' "flagrant contravention of the principles of the Koran," which is already a talking point for U.S. military-funded public relations contracts in Afghanistan. The Washington Post notes that "McChrystal's approach mirrors one that U.S. intelligence operatives are taking covertly, with some success, in the Middle East, where direct and indirect support is being given to Islamic leaders who speak out against terrorists." In his assessment (pdf) of the situation in Afghanistan, McChrystal also stressed the importance of cultivating third party advocates -- "getting 'authoritative figures' such as religious leaders and tribal elders to deliver the messages 'so that they are credible.'"
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