The Economist LOLs

by Joshua Foust on 5/26/2008 · 3 comments

Péter Marton did much heavy lifting in properly mocking The Economist‘s latest attempt to sound erudite on Afghanistan. I just wanted to highlight one more LOL-worth sentence:

The Americans are learning the tricks of the Great Game quicker than the British, who invented it.
Subtext: the war against Taliban and other militias (now called AAFs, Anti-Afghan Forces by ISAF/U.S. command, in their seemingly monthly rename of an enemy they never bothered to define well) is TOTALLY LIKE the proxy and small wars between the British and Russian Empires across the entirety of Central Asia for more than a century.
Dangling Issues: Who is our Shah Shujah? Who is their Dost Mohammed? And who is our Sikunder Burnes? And who is the new Vitkevich?

Alas, this is not the first time The Economist has babbled incoherently about Afghanistan, or elsewhere in Central Asia for that matter. Then again, they’re not exactly out on limb in relying on shallow metaphor and gross stereotype when discussing the region. Just… few other publications are so damned pretentious about it.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Afghanistanica May 26, 2008 at 8:05 pm

I do recall (not personally) that the Great Game was given some fuel (and a later blast from a fire extinguisher) by some salacious tabloidesque reporting from England by certain rather shady publications.

Contemporary examples of shady reporting from all across the spectrum is available ad nauseam. But of course The Economist is nowhere near the bottom half of the media barrel.

Joshua Foust May 26, 2008 at 8:30 pm

And if the Economist were a run of the mill British tabloid, I probably would have ignored it.

Michael Hancock May 27, 2008 at 1:13 am

I can’t believe I’m doing it, but I might actually defend the Economist on this one.

It’s important to remember that the Economist’s audience probably knows the Great Game a great deal better than USA Today’s audience, though not in as much depth as the average Registan reader. Trying to paint allegory onto a passing analogy isn’t the best course of action Unless you want to mock them.

So, I’d say that it’s not all bad to remind their readers that what is happening today isn’t so incomprehensible when you recall that it’s the same place that Rudyard Kipling, Curzon, and the lot were dealing with. Especially considering that the Economist is aiming primarily for British readers.

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