With futuristic speed, Afghanistan is being sent back in time, to what is often called a “dark age” of Taliban domination. The Afghan population is bearing witness with digital age tools, which means the heartache and terror is just a click away, filling cell phone screens and TV sets, if the world wants to see.
While there were relatively few sources of video as Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday, there were endless posts on social media:
— Former president Hamid Karzai also used FB to communicate with citizens. He posted a video message wishing for peace while standing with his daughters.
— Rumors of the Taliban’s presence in Kabul rocketed across social media platforms as journalists posted videos of the US helicopter evacuation effort. Other videos showed traffic jams along major arteries and emptied-out neighborhoods elsewhere.
Sign of the times
When I interviewed Megan Stack four days ago, she predicted this. She said we’d see a ton of “citizen journalism and decontextualized cell phone videos” as the Afghan government crumbled. Phones are the difference-maker since 2001, she said, when there were practically “no computers in Afghanistan.”
It all happened so fast
The Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan was, many analysts said, shocking but not surprising. It was widely expected, but not so soon. Maybe this was a failure of imagination as well as a failure of American intelligence. When I sat down in the CNN anchor chair just before 11am ET, the international desk moved an URGENT that said “Taliban have entered Kabul.” So we began the hour with the news of the Afghan government’s collapse. We ended the hour with Kylie Atwood’s reporting that the US flag was down at the embassy. It all happened so fast…
Afghan journalists are “absolutely petrified”
That’s what Clarissa Ward told me during one of her live reports from Kabul on Sunday. She said Afghan journalists, particularly women, are “absolutely petrified” by the Taliban takeover. “They’ve been doing bold and incredible reporting for many years, and now there’s a very real fear that they might face retaliations for that or that certainly they won’t be able to do their work anymore.”
Newfound anonymity for Afghan women
Newfound attention for the “forgotten war”
The banner headline atop Monday’s edition of the US military’s proudly independent newspaper, the Stars and Stripes, says “IT’S OVER:”